Cauliflower Cake

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It’s easy to see from this little blog how greatly my family inspires me in the kitchen. You’ll now see a new menu item called “in the kitchen with…” where I stalk my family members and play paparazzi while we make and bake. Sister is up first!

Sister is vegetarian. She makes things like black bean burgers and ratatouille and soup. Sister likes to eat peaches and berries and parmesan cheese. And she’s an excellent cook! It not only comes natural to Sister, she loves it. We are kitchen sisters.

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Since Sister lives in Halifax, I don’t get to see her very often. So we do a lot of FaceTime (or as my Dad calls it: AppleTalk) and usually the topic of food comes up. It’s usually something like, “so what did you have for dinner tonight?”, and then that spirals into a 40 minute conversation about a new recipe or new cookbook. And we love us some Ottolenghi.

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Monster Cookies

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These cookies are the first thing I ever remember making or baking. Ever. This is it – this is where I think I first fell in love with the kitchen. Not surprisingly, my Dad made these when I was growing up. They were (still are) the best. He got the recipe from my maternal Grandma Rosey, who got the recipe from her sister-in-law (my Great Aunt Dot), who apparently got the recipe from her neighbour. I can’t remember not eating these, they were simply a part of my childhood, and now are a part of trying to be a grown up.

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I think I started to make Monster Cookies with my Dad when I was in high school, or perhaps late junior high. I remember bringing them to school for my friends, which hasn’t really changed much because I still enjoy sharing them whenever I make a batch. People love these! And here’s why: they are chewy and just a little crumbly, none of this crisp cookie stuff going on here; they are nutty from the nuts (duh!) but also from the oat flour; they are perfectly chocolate-y, there isn’t too much or too little chocolate in each bite. These cookies are ridiculously good.

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Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

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We’ve never been to Thailand, but it’s a bucket list destination for sure. My assumption is that this soup is not really Thai, perhaps more suited to western tastes. I could be wrong (hope I’m wrong?), but either way this soup is totally delish. I think I could eat it every day.

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Thai curry paste is accessible and so versatile. You can make excellent sauces using a stock or broth or coconut milk to dilute. You can slather it on a protein like chicken or tofu and grill it. You can whisk a bit with olive oil and seasonings to make a salad dressing. You can also stir it on a mixed veg and roast it (I’ve never done this, someone please do it and report back!). It’s in virtually every grocery store. And it’s lovely. You will like it, I promise.

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Banapple Bran Muffins

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You already know how much Marcus and I like muffins. So here’s another one that is really, really delicious and healthy and filling. I first made these muffins when I was living in Fort McMurray. And I – not at all exaggerating – made these once a week. I used to take one to work every morning and eat it right away when I got off the bus. Always with a cup of tea because I didn’t like the coffee on site, it gave me energy to start my long day.

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I like bran muffins, and just bran in general, a lot. I first came across this recipe on allrecipes.com because I was searching for easy bran muffins. And my one condition was that the recipe used bran cereal since it was in my cupboard. The fact that there’s a banana and an apple in these beauties was just gravy.

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Fizzy Italian Pear

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I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in BC. I pretty much had the greatest childhood that was exactly aligned with what I needed as a kid. I remember dancing in the living room to Gordon Lightfoot, and running around the backyard picking all of the petals off of my Mum’s garden. I remember my Dad making burritos, and my Mum laying on the floor next to the fire, and playing hide and seek in the cul de sac we lived in. Not much of those things has changed now that I’m an “adult”, actually. And I grew up next to the best neighbours.

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Paul, Diana, Emily and Kate lived next door. Emily was four years older and Kate only one. They were my sisters and were the absolute coolest. I wanted to say what they said (and how they said it), look the same way, listen to the same music. So – influential is an understatement. It was like having another set of parents and my second family next door.

We moved to Calgary when I was ten, and at the time it felt nothing short of traumatic. Our family has always stayed close with our dear neighbours, and have gone back to BC to visit many times. Marcus graduated a year before I did and we did the long distance thing between Waterloo and Calgary for a year. The spring before I graduated myself, we met in Vancouver for a little west coast vacay, as Marcus had never been to BC and had never met my second family. And we stayed with Paul and Diana of course.

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