“Leeks are the softly-softly of the onion family.” Continue Reading…
Homemade Irish soda bread in 25 minutes or less – from start to finish including prep and cooking time! Continue Reading…
You know the Albert Camus quotation, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer…”?
I’m searching for that invincible summer. I think it might be somewhere that I’m not. Possibly in the Southern Hemisphere. Because here in Kingston, Ontario – it’s the last desolate dregs of winter and I’m feeling dejected, uninspired, and completely fed up.
This is the first year in several that I have not traveled to Mexico and I miss it terribly. I miss feeling completely warmed through. I miss the sunshine on my face and body. I miss sticking my toes in the ocean and eating nachos with Pico de gallo and fish fresh from the ocean. Ceviche. Ripe warm avocados fresh from the trees. Oaxacan string cheese. Tlayudas. Cocktails on the beach. And smiling, singing Mexicans riding past on their bicycles.
I’m sick of the cold. Of mornings where the thermostat reads minus sixteen degrees Celsius. Of wind chill factors in the minus twenties. Of my boots and heavy coat and hat and scarves. Of the dog tracking the salt and gritty brown sand that keeps the roads and sidewalks safe, into the house. On my morning dog walk today – even though the sun was shining and the snow was white – I just could not find my invincible summer. Gripe gripe gripe. For everyone’s sake and for my own sanity – this is my last entire winter in the cold!
The one good thing about winter, is that it’s easy to spend time in the kitchen, where I can escape into cooking – into the fragrant warmth of a loaf of homemade bread, or a batch of crumb topped banana muffins, or a pot of soup or stew. This week I made a batch of sweet potato soup and even in my misery, I have to admit – I liked it very much. This was an experiment. I usually make a curried butternut squash soup that I absolutely love. But I may just have liked this soup even more. It’s easy and fast – takes about twenty minutes in total and you can do the whole thing in one large saucepan. Plus it’s all those great things – tasty and creamy, filling, economical. Full of nutrients. And to top it all off it’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free. So even though I’ve yet to find my invincible summer – I did find a damn fine soup that should help me get through the last remaining oh-so-tedious bits of winter, when all the glory has gone out of the beauty of falling snow.
Creamy sweet potato soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, diced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- black pepper to taste
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups vegetarian stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- optional diced avocado, Sriracha sauce, pesto, and coconut cream to garnish
In a large saucepan, combine the olive oil, onions, and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. The onion does not need to be cooked and shouldn’t be browned. Add the salt, ground ginger, and black pepper. Then add the sweet potato chunks and vegetarian stock. Bring the whole thing to the boil and boil until the sweet potato is soft – about 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of your potato chunks and how high a boil you keep it at. Turn the heat off and stir in the coconut milk. At this stage you can either mash the soup with a potato masher or transfer it into your blender and pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Serve with optional toppings in small bowls so that everyone can add what they like.
If you haven’t already discovered it – Aroy-D brand coconut milk from Thailand is amazing. You have to spoon it out of the can, almost like whipped cream. And no, they’re not paying me. They don’t even know that I exist.
Goodness. It’s almost Valentine’s Day. That unbelievably commercial day celebrating that least commercial of things – looove. Continue Reading…
I love this time of year. Not because I love winter – but I love the fact that the days are slowly, steadily getting longer. I like the quiet of winter. The long dark evenings. The clean blanket of snow. The fact that it’s actually easier to sit at my desk now than it will be in six months when the garden will be luring me outdoors. Mostly, I love the fact that spring is coming, and then summer, and then autumn. It turns out that what I really love is the fact that I live in a place where we have four distinct seasons. And I spend a good portion of winter looking forward to the other three.
This one goes out to my friend Carole. She pointed out that I’d been missing in action – that I hadn’t blogged very consistently lately. Actually her words were nicer than that… Continue Reading…
If you’re afraid of sugar – just look away now. These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are sinful. And truly, I don’t normally cook like this. Or eat like this. Honestly. There’s been homemade baked beans, sweet potato lasagna, curried butternut squash soup, and a couple of beautiful frittatas, and all manner of other reasonable, healthy food in my kitchen over the course of the last couple of weeks. But as great as a kale, sausage,and feta frittata is, how could it possibly compare to a cupcake? Especially a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake?
Driving home across rural Ontario last week, en route back from a visit to my mother, I drove past a picturesque, old-fashioned farm nestled into the rolling hills. As I sailed on by, I noticed a sweet little shed at the side of the driveway with a crooked, hand-painted sign saying, “Apples for Sale.” Inside the shed were a few baskets of apples and a tin cash box. Continue Reading…
I have a bit of a habit of getting a new favourite song and listening to it so often that I wear it out. But in this case, this is a favourite song revisited. Since I heard it at dinner at a friend’s house last week, I can’t stop listening to Joan Baez’s song, Diamonds and Rust. It’s such a classic and just so powerful and incredibly, hauntingly beautiful. Continue Reading…
The love of place is as real, as strong, and as important as any love. I felt it on the wild remote coast of Tasmania. I’ve felt it over and over on visits to Yorkshire – my ancestral home and the place I spent my formative years. I’ve felt in the south of France – the north of France – the middle of France. The sunshine coast of Australia. Salt Spring Island off the coast of Vancouver. I’ve felt it in the rugged, wilderness of Northern Canada. In Killarney Provincial Park as I watched a blue moon rise over the lakes and listened to the loons call to each other. I’ve felt it the Rocky Mountains, the coast of California, in the zocalo in Oaxaca, as I watched eighty year old Mexican men dance with their wives. And too, in the most southerly bits of New Zealand as I peered out over the endless mighty Pacific Ocean looking southwards towards Antarctica. I absolutely felt it in Newfoundland. Definitely there. That was love at first sight.
I’ve fallen in love so many times, I’ve lost count. Continue Reading…