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A Little Free Library & a Wintry Cream Soda

The first time I discovered a Little Free Library was on one of my walks through our neighbourhood when we lived in Toronto. I was out with my dog and it was getting dark after a long summer evening. The library was somewhat in the shadows under the Norway maple trees that line the streets of many neighbourhoods, including Roncesvalles and Parkdale. We straddled both neighbourhoods, so an evening walk could take us in either direction--Roncesvalles being the preference for that particular evening.

Scotland Adventures with Baby / Leek and Mushroom Soup

The Isle of Mull is a mystical place to drive through. It is on our itinerary because we have to pass through it to get to the Isle of Iona. We set out as early as possible with Llewyn (our then 5-month old) and all of our gear because we know it is going to be somewhat of a drive from our B&B. Little do we know about single-track roads and passing places and the misty fog that rolls in and obscures the view of oncoming vehicles. Many times we think we're in for a head on collision as I grip the side door (once I gripped Zak’s arm on the shift, forgetting that I was sitting on the opposite side of the car!) and hope we don't slip off of the edge of the unforgiving road with no shoulders. Too bad for Zak: he isn’t able to take in the views because of his constant attention to the road.

Italy Adventures / Basic Vegetable Stock

Sign up for my newseletter and you can download the e-book Soup Vignettes that I wrote while I was in Italy.

 

Last year around this time I went on my first writing residency in Tuscany, Italy. I set out to write a personal essay on soup. What came out of it was a series of vignettes about my relationship with Zak and how soup is intimately intertwined.

Living Wild

Wild

adjective

(Of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated: “a herd of wild goats,” “wild strawberries.”

It’s all a little wild: my cooking, my garden, my adventures outside, my desire to travel, my experience raising my son, my inspirations, and my ambitions. Part of it stems from the fact that I get to see the world anew through my son's, Llewyn, eyes and explore with him. I’m excited for wild things that will happen.

Knowing a recipe by heart: Oma's zweiback

They got engaged by mail. He always likes to say how she got engaged two weeks after him. He knew she would say yes.

Her young love and the excitement of moving to a new country was sweet. Reality also set in. Speaking only low German is not very practical in Canada. Once they were settled and had started a family, she sent her first child to school and realized how quickly her young daughter was dropping German in favour of English.

Book Response: The Beauty of Humanity Movement

A couple of years ago, I heard Camilla Gibb read from her book The Beauty of Humanity Movement. What captivated me about her story was her personal introduction. She based the story off her own visit to Vietnam and the particular pho seller that she visited on the street for many of the days that she was there.

There’s something about the repetition of visiting a place again and again, or eating the same soup over and over again that I feel represents as close as a visitor will ever get to knowing what a place is like.

Becoming the Editor of My First Cookbook

Last fall, I wrote a blog post about my First and Favourite Cookbook. Simply in Season was the first cookbook I purchased when I moved out for university. It has been a staple cookbook in my kitchen and even still, in many cases it is the first cookbook I go to after a long day of work and it’s time to eat. It’s part of a series of three cookbooks, and all of the royalties go to support the work of the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief and development organization started and run by Anabaptist churches that works for peace and justice.

Early Spring in San Diego

I spent the last week of March in San Diego. The farmers’ market in Little Italy was bustling. I was excited to discover that most of the spring fruit and vegetables that I usually wait for until May/early June were already in season and out for sale in the farmer’s stalls. I couldn’t help but indulge in some strawberries and asparagus, along with many other fruits (oranges and lemons, of course). I also discovered a mysterious fruit, the cherimoya, which I will tell you about!

Borscht: Shared Family Histories

This past week and next week the Olympians will be fuelling up on borscht as Russia expects to serve over 70,000 gallons of this soup with Soviet roots. Borscht became a staple recipe in my family from the many decades that my ancestors lived in the Russia before and during the Revolution. There are many different versions with minor ingredient variations as you travel from Ukraine through Russia and then make your way across the ocean to North America. Anya von Bremzen mentions in her NPR interview that borscht has its North American versions thanks to Jewish immigrants, but there were also many Mennonites that fled the Russia at the start of the revolution in 1917 through the mid 1900s and brought their versions to North America too.

Fudge from Paraguay: Baking with Oma

I arrive at Oma’s house to the smell of caramelizing cocoa and sugar on the stove. She started her pot of fudge right after I called her from the car. I was running late and she couldn’t wait. She was excited to make fudge together.

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