The perfect combo of salty, sweet, spicy and fresh
It’s cold in the morning and the dark comes early at night. With too much to do and not enough time, the holiday rush is making us sluggish, anxious and well, maybe a bit cranky. A popular request for comfort food usually leads me to rich sauces and slow-cooking. But today it was a great relief to chop plenty of fresh veg on the fly. It led to a wok full of vibrant colours and a final dish with a welcome crunch providing just as much comfort as hours of stewing. Get out of your cold-weather funk…now!
I love it when great things come together. Had some fresh mozz on hand and as fate would have it, was graciously gifted with some lovely homegrown heirloom tomatoes from a client (thanks Heather!) and a kind neighbour (thanks Chris!) dropped off some gorgeous basil from her garden box the very same day. The stars aligned on a plate of bounty kissed with fruity extra-virgin olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic. Simple pleasures!
Housemade fennel & black peppercorn capicollo courtesy of a friend makes its way onto stuffed dates!
Pitted dates stuffed with slivered almonds and blue cheese wrapped in sliced fennel black peppercorn capicollo before they meet the broiler for tonight’s Garden Party! Perfect way to mark the end of the school year for happy folks!
The recent passing of Mother’s Day gave me pause. I grew up with the good fortune of always having a delicious homemade meal to enjoy with my family at the end of the day. How my mother managed to put it on the table after a full day of work with two hungry children I will never know. She always made it seem so effortless.
The other day while making yet another feeble attempt at organizing my life, I stumbled upon a true treasure – my old hand-written recipe book with its pages tattered and stained with meals gone by and held ever-so delicately together with a withering rubber band.
My Original Recipe Book
It took me back to the time when it must have all begun – likely at about the age of 9 when I started collecting recipe cards and magazine clippings, later jotting down my favourite recipes for comfort foods created by my mother. This brought me immense pleasure – the taste for something, the collecting of things, the process, and the tasty end result. The amazing thing is that this now crumbling recipe book has accompanied me through so many journeys including more than one trip across the Atlantic. With much optimism, I carted it with me on one such journey to work as a nanny in France where I thought its contents would somehow endear me to a family whose language I barely spoke. Happily it worked wonders. It then had a place on my shelf in university and has been with me in every space I have ever lived in since then.
Making room for the new ones…the original is still squished in there on the bottom right!
My working life has spanned across many industries but two diplomas and several working kitchens later, I now find myself not only cooking for pleasure, but cooking for my livelihood. My collection of recipe books is now vast (and growing…) and I visit those pages regularly both for inspiration and to deepen my knowledge. Sure there are recipes online (and kudos to technology) but I still love the feel of a book with all of its handwritten notes that somehow tweak the original to a state of perfection – perfect only to me perhaps, but a feeling of triumph all the same. All of this and still, that worn out childhood tome of culinary tips, tricks and favourites remains at the top of my list.
The greatest gift of all – a Mother’s Day Pancake Platter complete with pomegranate smiles!
I now have the honour of passing on that inspiration to my son. Sure we play with all kinds of things but perched on a stool in the kitchen, he smiles, asks me questions (sometimes telling ME what to do) and chats comfortably showing me a side of cooking that I never would have known.
On Mother’s Day, I woke up to this lovely creation created by my son. I smiled and thought that hopefully one day this tattered old recipe book will embark on yet another voyage and eventually find a new home.