mastering the art of fig jam

fig jam

This week I made fig jam twice. The first time I made a tiny batch – a taste really – a single jar. Just for fun. I had some dried figs that I wanted to use and some gorgeous, incredibly sweet empire apples that tasted like candy apples. I was fancying fig jam on savoury sandwiches. Fig jam and ham. Bacon, lettuce, and fig jam. Peanut butter and fig jam. In the end, I had a friend coming for lunch and I made  parsnip soup and roast chicken, lettuce and fig jam sandwiches on seed bread. (more…)

Anaïs Nin and a classic Italian Bolognese sauce

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“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” (more…)

slow cooked leek, bacon, and split pea soup

leeks
It’s Sunday and the early morning sunshine is streaming in lighting up trails across the floor as dust motes swirl in the sunbeams. The coffee pot is on. Ella Fitzgerald is singing her heart out in my living room. I am assembling recipes and ingredients all over the kitchen – preparing for a cooking marathon. I text my daughter who lives only a couple of blocks away. “Do you have any bay leaves?”  I ask her.  (more…)

Kingston WritersFest and gasp – chocolate orgasm cakes

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Last week was Kingston WritersFest – an epic literary affair for readers and writers held annually in late September. The event has become one of the premier writers festivals in Canada and one that changes the cultural landscape of the small town of Kingston.

Since 2009 when Kingston WritersFest began in earnest – it has attracted a huge variety of writers and readers from all over the world. The headline acts have included Margaret Atwood, Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee, Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates, and this year, Wally Lamb. Equally importantly, hundreds of other authors writing on every conceivable subject have graced the platforms of WritersFest – reading, teaching writing classes, and engaging in thousands of important literary conversations, both on and off stage. (more…)

a $450 kitchen makeover and some lemon rosemary hummus

007I’ve just moved for the second time in six months. I’m really hoping it will be the last move for a while. At least for a year or two. But I know enough to never say never. I actually like moving. I like shedding possessions. I like the challenge of a new space. I love getting organized – making a place my own. I find houses interesting. I love the chance to reinvent myself. (more…)

quick Korean beef

Korean Beef

It seems a little fraudulent posting this recipe. First of all – it’s scarcely a recipe. Secondly – it’s all over the Internet in various remarkably similar renditions. Nonetheless, having recently gone wheat-free to see if I can eliminate migraines, I’m trying all kinds of new dishes – this was one of them. It took me by surprise because it is so good.  (more…)

memories of love: toad in the hole

toad-in-the-hole

I’ve written about my paternal grandfather before and I’m sure I’ll write about him again. He was a big, strapping, handsome Yorkshireman with beautiful blue eyes that crinkled and smiled when he smiled – which was often. He had a fabulous Yorkshire accent. He called everyone Love. “Eeeee Luv,” he would say to waitresses and shopkeepers and neighbours and really, anyone and everyone who crossed his path.

When I was very young, my grandfather lived in the Yorkshire Dales – in an old stone house with a terraced garden down to the river where he grew roses and peas and lettuce. I’m sure he grew other things too but what I remember especially were the roses and peas. The roses were fragrant and beautiful – so many varieties and he was tender with all of them. We always had a vase of roses in the house – pink were my favourite. The peas – we picked straight from the vine and ate. Sometimes he would send me into the garden with a small pudding basin to collect peas for dinner and the pair of us would sit together later, shelling them, just before he cooked them. When they appeared on my plate for dinner they were perfection – sweet, lightly buttered, often served with a bit of fresh mint. Whenever I eat peas now, I think of my grandfather. And when I think of my grandfather – I think of love. (more…)

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