Tag Archives: Books

The G20 Series: Canada!

14 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

How many times have you heard someone say that Canadians define themselves by what they’re not, that to be a Canadian is to be defiantly not American?

I’m not here to argue that this sentiment is wrong, but I do believe that we arrive at the conclusion as a (perhaps insecure) response to our perception that the world sees us as the same as the United States, only nicer, and more polite. We saw this at its worst during the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in Vancouver this year. (Ugh, how is it that if you spout clichés in the form of slam poetry, we’re supposed to think it’s actually profound?)

Sure, we can conjure images when we think of other countries – Italy? Pasta! China? Dim sum! India? Curry! Middle East? Hummus!

Canada? Maple syrup and back bacon!

I’m here to argue that Canada actually is something, that it has a distinct cuisine, and it only has a little to do with our friends to the south. Herewith, I propose a number of statements to support my thesis.

1. Canada is a country of regional cuisines. From Newfoundland’s toutons, to Quebec’s tourtière, to Saskatchewan’s Saskatoon berry pie, what we eat is highly localized.

2. Canada is a country of international cuisines. Thanks to our embracing of immigration, our food is influenced by dishes that come from almost every country of the world.

3. Canada has a very deep culinary history. And if you haven’t looked, there are books that outline this history. It comes from long before the Europeans arrived on this continent. Aboriginal food, for example the “three sisters” – beans, corn and squash (check out the soup recipe on this page, by the way) – are staples that appear on almost every Canadian table during the late harvest.

4. Our national cuisine is a hybrid of regional, international and historical influences. It’s distinct, but it’s not in your face. Poutine may come from Quebec, but somehow, we think of it as belonging to all of us. (Sorry Quebec, but I promise it’s always best with chicken gravy from a truck somewhere at the side of the road on the Gaspé.)

5. Americans try, but they can’t steal our stuff. For example, in Vermont they claim to be so great at making maple syrup. Well, Canada makes 80 per cent of the world supply. And we also have way more hockey gold medals.

6. And, um, maple syrup is awesome. Seriously. I could drink the stuff out of a glass.

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Review: Fresh Food Fast

1 Jun

freshfoodfastCooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast: 5 ingredient, 15 minute recipes

Edited by Mary Kay Culpepper

Review by Chris Garbutt

My wife and I have a new game  – I pick a cookbook, and I have to cook any recipe she chooses from it. When I gave her Fresh Food Fast, she had her work cut out for her. There are more than 250 recipes, which all look easy and delicious.

So, would it be the Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Peach Chutney? Or the Scallops in Buttery Wine Sauce? Pork Medallions with Spicy Pomegranate-Blueberry Reduction?

Wait a minute. I didn’t notice that one before. That last recipe has both of our favourite fruits (pomegranates – hers, blueberries – mine). Well, some other time.

My wife settled on the Halibut with Quick Lemon Pesto, served with Grilled Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper with Corn. Our fish place didn’t have halibut, though, so we went with black cod. And we had run out of propane so our grill pan had to replace the barbecue. This was a quick and tasty meal, served on a weeknight, with little cleanup. My kind of meal.

I will say that very few of these recipes have the titular five ingredients (most have eight or nine). And some of the “ingredients” feel a little like cheating – calling for Parmesan and roasted garlic dressing “such as Newman’s own” doesn’t seem fair. I mean who just happens to have that exact kind of dressing in their fridge?

On top of that, I suggest that you never believe a cookbook that offers you 15-minute recipes, unless the instructions end with “remove from microwave.”

Still, our meal, while not ready in 15, was still on the table in less than a half-hour, and I can’t argue with the taste. Fresh food fast, indeed. This one is destined to be a regular on the kitchen shelf.

Buy My Book – The 30 Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing and Working From Home!

27 Nov

bookcover-30-second-commute-stephanie-dickison1I have written a book about my career as a pop culture, book and restaurant critic. It will be available in just a few months – February 2009 – but you can reserve a copy for you (and everyone you know!) RIGHT NOW!

Many thanks for your support!

Warmest wishes,

Stephanie Dickison

Monday Review: Grow Organic

8 Sep

Grow Organic

Made with Care – DK Publishing

By Stephanie Dickison

Organic produce is unbelievably in demand, so why not grow your own?  This book gives you the lowdown on how to get plump, juicy heirloom tomatoes, but also adds in helpful advice to growing organic herbs and plants and even flowers.

I shared this book with my Dad who has a plentiful garden in the backyard.  Full of peppers, onions, herbs and cukes, he was able to implement some of these methods to his ongoing crop and said that he’ll change some of the things he’s doing in the next planting, which I think happens sometime in October.

And even though I was born without a green thumb, I found the instructions easy to follow, the advice incredibly helpful and the layout of the book clean and friendly.  And I’m not even a gardener!  Just imagine how much you’ll get out of it…

The Made with Care line is a “cleaner, greener book,” made with “the most ethical and environmental processes we could source.”