Have you noticed the price of cauliflower lately? I kid, of course you have. In fact, if the internet is any indication, there is no one who hasn't noticed the outrageous cost of a tiny head of cauliflower. There are memes, cartoons, and tweets all dealing with this very important subject. Some discuss taking out a loan or second mortgage to buy cauliflower, others dream of winning the Powerball lotto just to have the roasted cauliflower meal of their dreams.
Have you heard of Veganuary? It's a pledge to eat a vegan diet for the month of January, touted by such celebrities as Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Beyonce. For those who are curious about vegan and plant-based eating, it's a great catalyst to cutting meat, dairy, and eggs out of one's diet.
Did you know that chili is strangely divisive? People can get very passionate about it. Here's a fun psychological experiment: the next time you're at a party, randomly ask people for chili recipes. You'll be amazed by a) the wide spectrum of ingredients used, and b) the shocked faces at the description of recipes that differ from their own.
I have been thinking about desserts and festive treats, it seems, for weeks. Months, even. Rich desserts, rich appetizers, wine and cocktails and Baileys in my coffee - that has been my focus for the last little while and now, suddenly, I am in desperate need for a fresh start.
I know, I know. This whole month is a whirlwind of activities. There are parties to attend, potlucks to gorge at, concerts and performances and tournaments to applaud. Not to mention tree-trimming, shopping, wrapping, and watching Elf for the twentieth time while guzzling wine and wondering how you're going to find the energy to bake something for the class party tomorrow.
Is holiday baking fatigue setting in yet? It sure is for me. I always spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, but between November and December, that inordinate amount of time seems to triple. Basically, I'm constantly covered with flour at this time of year. There are just so many things: classroom parties, cookie exchanges, pot lucks, and at least six or seven recipes that I MUST make for my family or all will be ashes and sadness.
When my husband and I were still in the "courting" stage of our relationship, he took me to his hometown to meet his parents. His mother had made a glorious Caesar salad, complete with homemade croutons. Since it was our first meeting, I very politely ate a normal amount of salad, and I did not sneak back in the kitchen later to surreptitiously snack on handfuls of those homemade croutons, the way I would after we were engaged and they were stuck with me.
I just love the term "icebox cookies." It's so quaint, isn't it? When I think about them, I feel like I'm being transported back in time - like I'm actually baking in my kitchen wearing pumps, a frilly apron over my crinoline-lined skirt, and pearls. Oooh, this dough is too soft to use. I know! I'll put it in the icebox! Maybe one day my ship will come in and I'll be able to buy one of those new-fangled electrical refrigerator units.
Have you ever had great expectations for a recipe, and then had those expectations dashed dramatically? That happened to me the other day when I set out to make these cookies. I had an image in my head of what they should look like, and the resulting cookie was, visually speaking, dramatically opposite to what I had set out to make. In fact, these cookies - while delectable and fudgy - were possibly the ugliest cookies I had ever made. They were so unappealing in appearance, that I briefly wondered if I should start a "Cookie Wrecks" site.
We are entering the festive season, and you know what that means: parties, parties, parties! It seems like there is something going on every weekend leading up to Christmas: open houses, dinners, and let us not forget the social whirl that comes with children's activities.
I don't know about you, but I hate arriving at a party empty-handed. A bottle of wine is always an acceptable (and loved!) hostess gift, but that can get expensive at this busy time of year. Why not try a homemade gift from your kitchen instead?
I have to confess: I can't get enough chickpeas lately. I've been incorporating them into everything. God bless the chickpea. That amazing little legume is packed with protein, iron, and fibre, and when roasted, it makes an amazingly addictive, crunchy, salty snack. Roasted chickpeas must be skyrocketing in popularity, since I keep seeing bags of them on sale at the grocery store for what seems to me to be exhoribitant prices.
Have you heard about aquafaba? Aquafaba is the sludgy liquid that you drain out of a can of chickpeas before using them. Aquafaba is the slime you rinse down the sink before you make hummus. Aquafaba is also - get this - an amazing substitute for egg whites when whipped.
There's something lovely about seasonal change, isn't there? I admit that I am more of a Summer Girl than anything else; I love sunshine and warmth and fresh, local vegetables, and am loathe to say goodbye to it. However, there is something cozy and comforting about fall; the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the glory of orange and red trees against the blue skies. It feels festive and happy, somehow, even if it's the harbinger for winter.
Feta cheese. There's no better addition to Greek salads, Mediterranean pasta, or quinoa dishes. Feta cheese can give new life to a pizza or give a kick to dips and sauces. When I was pregnant with my second child I ate feta cheese almost every single day. Feta cheese and I have had a passionate love affair for years.
But what if you cannot eat dairy, for one reason or another? Should you go through your life without the creamy, salty goodness of feta cheese?
I don't know what it's like where you are, but where I live the mornings are cold and frosty, and even the sunny afternoons feel cold. I love a lot of things about fall - the boots and sweaters and scarves, the colours of the leaves against the bright blue skies, cups of cinnamon tea and the urge to bake everything. The thing I don't like about fall - other than it's the brief segue into a long winter - is that I'm cold. Every year at this time my hands are freezing and I'm constantly chilled, trying to acclimatize to the sudden sharpness in the air.
What is it about making lunch? To me, it feels like a chore of epic proportions. I like cooking dinner. I like baking things. I like busting out my waffle-and-tofu-scramble moves for weekend brunches. But making lunch can really get me down.
It's no secret that I love kale. In fact, my husband took the kids camping without me, and my first thought - right after I can watch unlimited episodes of NYPD Blue and drink wine straight out of the bottle - was that I could have a giant kale salad for dinner and no one would protest.
My best friend's daughter has Celiac disease, and one day when we were chatting about school snacks and lunches, she mentioned the difficulty of finding really tasty gluten-free "grab and go" snacks that were also nut-free. The wheels in my head started turning, especially after talking with another friend whose daughter is allergic to dairy and sugar cane, in addition to gluten and nuts. I was thinking about them both as I found myself in the kitchen, trying to create an energy bar that would fill all those needs. Was it possible?