Tag Archives: corn

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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Monday Review – How to Cook Everything & Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh

10 Nov

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, 2nd Edition by Mark Bittman & The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh: 1,100 Quick Dishes for Everynight Cooking by Barbara Fairchild

By Stephanie Dickison

They arrived at my doorstep with a big enough thud that the cat and I both jumped.  A big box containing two looming cookbooks meant that I was going to have to rearrange the bookshelves -again.  These were the mightiest cookbooks I’d ever seen outside of my lovely food and cooking encyclopedias that I cherish so deeply.

The one good thing about their size and weight is that really, if you are just starting out or are looking for big, basic cookbooks to cover a little bit of everything, these have got it.  All of it.

And while I know a lot of you have your own go-to cookbook like The Joy of Cooking, I’m highly recommending these.

They are so vast in knowledge and so easy to use and follow that really, no kitchen should be without them.

Here are my thoughts on each one:

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A little while ago, I told you how much I loved Mark Bittman’s Recipe Cards.  Well, the book, How to Cook Everything, 2nd Edition, just knocked my socks off.  Really.  I mean, it’s got everything: illustrations that you can follow along with, like tying meat or preparing tomatoes.  Easy-to-make recipes that are neither tired or repetitive (unlike my roster of dishes).

And here’s the best testimonial of all – On Saturday night, I stopped by the grocery store to get meat.  I had been to 2 others, but hadn’t seen anything of excitement.  However, at my third stop, I came across a fairly good sized beef tenderloin roast for $5.86.  Now, I had only ever made 2 roasts before this, so it’s not something I usually get, but it was so inexpensive and beautiful that I couldn’t resist.  However, I had no idea how to cook it.

That is, until I got home and turned to page 735, where the Roast Tenderloin with Herbs recipe awaited me.  I marinated the meat for only an hour as my Mom had stopped by for a visit.  It turns out neither Mom, me or my fella have roast beef outside of weddings and funerals, so I felt a little pressure for it to turn out well.

The recipe was an easy mixture of oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs and the only thing I had to do was check the meat with a thermometer after 20 minutes.

Folks, while it is not the best roast I’ve ever had, it was absolutely wonderful.  And I truly couldn’t have possibly done it without this book.  Later this week I’m going to tackle 22 Picnic-Perfect Salads and How to Season Simply Cooked Seafood.

This is my new cooking bible and yes, you can borrow it anytime…

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The title, The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh: 1,100 Quick Dishes for Everynight Cooking says it all, doesn’t it?  It’s from Bon Appetit, so you know it’s trustworthy (and probably anything you make from this will be better than if you’d gone it alone) and it’s all about making quick and easy dinners, which let’s face it, at the end of the workday, can be one of the most challenging meals to make and make well.

I mean, I would never in a million years think to make Crabmeat, Corn and Cumin Salad in Endive Spears, but doesn’t that sound absolutely lovely?  And what about Oaxacan Chicken Mole?  That sounds much better than the usual roast chicken breasts that I make!

My favourite thing about this cookbook is the recipes never include more than a handful of ingredients and instructions, so I can actually make pretty fancy fare in a short amount of time, which is really what I strive for most every night I cook.  And now thanks to this cookbook, I can actually rev up my own standbys.  So instead of my usual steamed spinach, I’m going to make Pesto Creamed Spinach and instead of my usual orzo, I’m pumping it up to Carrot Orzo.  Sure, they are simple changes, but I find that these suggestions and ideas really get me out of my usual cooking rut and go-to items.  It helps keep things exciting in the kitchen and I remain excited about cooking and making dinner every night, which I’m sure you know can be a challenge at times!

I am so excited by all of the new possibilities that I’m off to get some ingredients for dinner tonight!

These are the best books and really, a must have for anyone who spends anytime at all at the stove.  And hey, they’ll make the very best presents this holiday season.  I mean, there are recipes in each of these to please everyone!

Friday 5 – Fall Foods to Look Forward To

15 Aug

By Stephanie Dickison

It’s not that far away, people. We might as well start to get excited about all the squash, potatoes and stews.  And collecting recipes…

1.  Pumpkin and corn soup!  It doesn’t get much more fall than that.

2.  Well, when the cooler weather hits, fast and easy does sound rather appealing, doesn’t it?

3.  To our lovely vegetarian readers, you’ll want to skip over this one.

4.  But here, I’ll make it up to you with these squash side dishes!  I hope we’re okay now.

5.  Fall’s Most Fattening Foods.  ‘Nuff said.