the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad

Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward, 

Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,

Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see….

from “Figs” by DH Lawrence

Continue reading “the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad”

a little Sophocles and some fabulous honey mustard salad dressing


At work this week, I came across a webpage about academic integrity. Across the top of the page was a line by Sophocles – “Rather fail with honour, than succeed by fraud.” Continue reading “a little Sophocles and some fabulous honey mustard salad dressing”

date night

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” Thank you William Shakespeare! What a perfect line – at least for this post.  Continue reading “date night”

fast, simple, tasty – garlic scape pesto

Garlic is one of those rare crops that gives you two harvests. First the scapes, which at least in Ontario, are usually ready to harvest around the summer solstice. Then the actual garlic bulbs which are harvested a bit later, typically on the first weekend in August. The bulbs can then be left to dry in the sun for a few days before storing for the winter.

Garlic scapes are lovely grilled or made into pesto which can be used on pizza, pasta, or bruschetta. This version is dairy-free and freezes well.


Garlic Scape Pesto

(this version is an adaptation of the recipe in A Taste of Wintergreen)

16-20 garlic scapes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ tsp salt
Parmesan cheese as desired. I make mine without the cheese because I think it freezes better and that way it’s also vegan and dairy-free.

Wash the scapes and chop into approximately 1-inch pieces. Process all the ingredients together in the food processor until desired consistency is reached. Bottle and use within a week or freeze.


baked cheese and jalapeño dip

It was Victor Hugo who said, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo was all kinds of things. A poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist. A statesman. A human rights campaigner.  A talented visual artist.  A Catholic at odds with his faith.  A sexually charged egomaniac.  A man with a complicated and at times, incredibly tragic personal life.  And above all, a Frenchman, even though he lived for some time in exile in the Channel Islands.

Continue reading “baked cheese and jalapeño dip”

the code of conduct for hunting wild leeks

Last week a friend shared her wild leek patch with me. I had to agree to the code of conduct concerning wild leeks: keep the location secret, pick only what you need, tread carefully so as not to damage the plants, take from the middle of the patch – thereby essentially thinning only, and in the event of somebody finding us – sit down on a log and pretend we were simply admiring the forest.   Continue reading “the code of conduct for hunting wild leeks”

cranberry, almond & rosemary crisps

These crisps are perfect served with cheese and chutney or jam. They pair well with savoury and sweet and are perfect on a charcuterie platter. You can make them in advance and store them in a tin – where they will stay fresh for at least a couple of weeks.

cranberry, almond, and rosemary crisps

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice PLUS milk or milk subsitute to make 2 cups in total
  • 1/4 cup turbinado (or brown) sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup natural, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (dried works too – use the same amount)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 4 mini muffin pans
  2. Mix together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add the lemon juice & milk mixture, brown sugar and honey. Stir gently.

  3. Add dried cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax and rosemary – and stir gently until the batter comes together and is just mixed.
  4. Divide the batter between the pans evenly. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until just browning and springy to touch. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly, preferably overnight.

  5. When the bread is completely cooled, slice as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Lay the slices on parchment on baking sheets. Bake at 300°F for about 15 minutes, before flipping the slices over and returning to the oven for another 10 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy.

  6. When cool – store in an airtight tin. Make approx 6-7 dozen.

Thai Red Lentil Soup

thai red lentil soup

When I stepped out into the dark night to walk my dog on the first evening of this New Year – there was a magnificent Barred owl sitting in the linden tree in my front yard. I stood on the front steps, stock-still, watching. My daughter, several paces ahead of me, turned to see why I wasn’t coming. I motioned silently towards the tree. She froze too. So there we stood – the three of us including the dog – transfixed by an owl.

A moment later, the owl took flight. It swooped down towards the road beyond us – coming surprisingly close to the pavement before it lifted back up and flew off with just the faintest whoosh of its almost silent wing beat, into the inky black sky. If my daughter hadn’t been with me, I might have thought I’d dreamt the whole thing. If I’d stepped out the door one minute later, I might have missed it. Owl spotting is a lucky kind of business.

It seemed like an omen – an auspicious start to the New Year. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

An owl has appeared at every critical juncture in my life. When I moved to Melbourne, Australia – a tiny Southern Boobook owl came and sat on the overhead wires along the abandoned railway-line-turned-recreation-path, directly across from my home. It stayed for weeks, softly hooting well into the night. When I moved to Brisbane, a family of Tawny Frogmouth owls inhabited a tree along my walking route. They were there for months. Not long after they flew away one-by-one, I flew away too. When I moved to my neighbourhood in Kingston, I wasn’t surprised when Barred owls started making regular appearances. And this past autumn, when I visited Killarney Provincial Park after a 34 year absence – an owl came and serenaded me all night long – hooting until the dawn chorus started up and the day began.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I am completely smitten with owls and a night owl myself. This year I’ve been watching the dark, winter night skies, thinking about how I’ve finally learned to love winter. Perhaps it’s the incurable romantic in me, but I love to see snow falling and waking up to a fresh, clean, white world. And I like the long evenings by the fire, snugged up reading, or catching up on all the films I’ve missed.

I like the seasonal change in cooking too. This year I’ve been making lots of hearty soups. This Thai Red Lentil Soup is one of my new favourites. It’s thick and hearty, easy to make, inexpensive, vegan, and extremely tasty. Make sure you use red lentils – I’ve tried it with other kinds and it doesn’t work as well. Red lentils cook down to a much softer consistency because they have the husk removed.

From a nutritional point of view – lentils are high in protein, fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Health magazine named lentils as one of the five healthiest foods on the planet. Combined with a grain – lentils form a complete protein – so serve your soup with a good multigrain bread.

One last remarkable lentil fact – Canada is one of the largest primary producers of lentils and the largest export producer of lentils in the world. Buying Canadian lentils helps Canadian farmers!

Thai Red Lentil Soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
5 cups vegetarian stock
2 1/4 cups red lentils, well rinsed
1 400 ml can coconut milk
Thai sweet chilli sauce for garnish
One bunch of fresh cilantro for garnish, washed, stems removed and chopped (optional)

In a saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil until the onion is soft. Add curry paste and stir well. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of Thai sweet chilli sauce (don’t skip this step – it enhances the taste so much) and chopped cilantro if desired.


better late than never – chipotle kale chips

kale chips

Perhaps it’s just me – or maybe it’s a wider spread Canadian issue but apparently we haven’t cashed in to the same extent on the kale chip trend which is already practically passé in the US.

Never mind, better late than never.  I ate kale chips for the first time when I was in Vermont last November. They were organic chipotle kale chips – and they were $4 for a tiny but very cute box – which contained all of about 20 kale chips. The ingredients were organic kale, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and chipotle chilli pepper. I had them with a really nice, very cold Australian white wine. And I couldn’t believe how good they were.  I’ve been making them ever since – based on the ingredient list on the package. Continue reading “better late than never – chipotle kale chips”

do the things you think you cannot do – but first – a citrus, fig & olive tapenade

olive tapenade

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Continue reading “do the things you think you cannot do – but first – a citrus, fig & olive tapenade”