Category: Food


A sweet Valentine’s Day shop

It being Valentine’s Day, I paid a visit this morning to our local baker /confectioner / prepared food purveyor.  Sucré Salé, located in Manotick’s east in a small strip mall off the Rideau River  has been in business for about a decade and although I’ve always been very impressed when ever I shop there, I did wonder how they would survive in this rural wilderness far from the centre of the action in downtown Ottawa.  However, survive they have, and indeed they have thrived. Continue reading

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In defence of fruitcake

Homemade Fruitcake – fresh from the oven

With the holiday season sadly behind us, I can tell you I am not one of those persons who is now trying to figure out how soon they can throw out the fruitcake they received in the last two weeks.   That’s because I love fruitcake – I make it every year, savour it over several weeks, and yes, give it to other people.

Fruitcake has always been part of our Christmas celebration for as long as I can remember.  My father loved it, and my mother worked over the years to perfect the recipe we now use; except for the marzipan icing (which she deemed too fussy), it replicates the dark, fruity fruitcakes of his English youth.  It bears almost no resemblance to a modern commercial fruitcake, which are nasty dry affairs covered in crinkly paper.  It wasn’t until my early twenties that I discovered that people, in North America anyway, tend to hate fruitcake. Continue reading

My long affair with braising

It was quite a while into my life before I came to really like meat.  As a child, I wasn’t a big fan, although we ate it almost daily at home.  Sure, I liked the processed stuff such as ham or wieners  filled with sodium and nitrates, but  a roast or a steak was not something that I relished.  Even now, I could live fairly happily without these, were it not for braising.

My first exposure to the joys of braising came with my mother’s braised short ribs.  Always succulent, her luscious tomato-y concoction took all that was unpleasant about meat, to me at least, and hid it in a delicious, flavourful sauce that softened the meat into tender strands that melted in the mouth. Short ribs day was a special day and one in which there was no struggle to finish everything on the plate. Continue reading

A Year of Magical Eating

CSA Food Share

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Food Share, late August 2012. Photo by C. Toplis

Now, I’ve always been what I call a healthful eater, having been brought up by a mother with a degree in “Food Sciences” (well, that’s what they called it in the ’50’s) who drummed  Canada’s Food Guide into us at an early age.  We were always aware what a balanced meal was: protein, starch, vegetable.  No time was this more clear than when it came to objecting to my young sister’s and my more questionable meal requests.  For a time, my mother taught a dubiously titled “Foods for Health” night school cooking class with a friend,  for which our family was the guinea-pig recipe tester.  I believe that’s where I got my first taste for millet, if in fact that’s possible.   In university, my housemates knew me as the one who always made sure we ate our vegetables.  And my husband will attest that I’ve certain broadened his vegetative horizons over the years we’ve been married. Continue reading