Big Grapefruits, Squid and Roses…

Biscuit for Two with Rosehip Jelly |

I’ve had a few great recipes posted to the Pete’s Fine Foods blog recently:  a Valentine’s Day treat – Biscuits for Two with locally made rosehip jelly and coconut cream – which was a simple favourite in our house.

Then there was my attempt, at long last, to satiate my lust for Cantonese pastries with this spin on steamed custard buns, infused with the flavour of pomelo.  It worked:  I no longer have to show up at my favourite Cantonese bakery on a Monday only to wilt in disappointment that it is the one day they are closed.  My kitchen has been inaugurated, and I can whip up custard buns at my leisure.

Pomelo Steamed Custard Bun |

Finally, there was this simple salt and pepper calamari recipe, which I jazzed up with a beautifully vibrant seafood rub mixed into a classic aioli.  

Classic Calamari with Dave's Aioli |

So, as you see, my kitchen and camera are getting just as much love as always, but it’s being funnelled in a slightly different direction.  I’ve been doing a lot of other food and related writing lately as well, and it’s hugely gratifying.

Date Night Feta Dip with Pistachios, Chili Honey and Mint

Feta Dip | 

My love language is most definitely, undeniably, food. It took me a long time to see the pattern: my personal rewards for a job well done, reasons to get together with friends that had fallen out of touch and ways to to connect with my husband all centred around eating great food. When my husband and I first moved in together, I remember being shocked by my own domesticity, and it was during that time that I learned to massage the starch from arborio rice to make the perfect risotto, and took up the challenge of creating a multi-course Indian meal on my stove with two broken burners. I realize now that it was the best way I knew how to show him how much he meant to me, and that I was committed to the life we were growing together. I have a twinge of sadness, nowadays, when I realize that the realities of the 9-5 with two kids in tow (one of whom is fairly particular, in the way of toddlers, about what she eats) has caused us to rely more on those quickly whipped together weeknight standards that lack the flourish of Sunday dinner, or a romantic meal for two. My heart is in it, surely, but there rarely seem to be enough hours in the day.

Feta Dip | 

I love the idea that a fellow food blogger and food-as-love-language enthusiast Ashley Rodriguez had: once a week, she and her husband put their three children to bed and then share a special dinner date together in the comfort of their own home. The concept resonated strongly with her readers, and she published a cookbook called “Date Night In” just recently. It occurred to me, though, that an evening of sharing food with my love doesn’t even have to be as elaborate as a three course meal with accompanying cocktail: it can be as simple as a creative snack assembled easily and enjoyed together – even for only as long as a small bowl of whipped feta and fancy crackers lasts. This dip is remarkably exquisite considering the ease with which it can be pulled together; the flavours of sweet heat, fresh mint and salty cheese are punctuated by each crunch into a lightly roasted pistachio, and soon you’ll find yourself chasing down the perfect combination of these components to top each cracker.  

Feta Dip |


How do you connect with your partner or other loved ones? Do you make it a regular habit?


This is a cross-posting from my new blog, Nalumana Women’s Wellness. 

Feta Dip with Pistachios, Chili Honey and Mint
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  1. 1 cup feta cheese
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup pistachios, lightly roasted and chopped
  4. 1/4 honey
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  6. 1 tablespoon mint, chiffonade
  1. Combine the honey and chili flakes in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blend feta cheese and olive oil. You may need to adjust the amount of olive oil depending on the consistency and moisture of your cheese: the mixture, when blended, should be smooth and creamy.
  3. Place whipped feta in a serving bowl. Top with pistachios, chili honey and mint. Enjoy!
Adapted from Segovia Tapas Bar
Adapted from Segovia Tapas Bar
Purple House Café

Toast with Peach Butter and Cinnamon Sugar

Toast with Peach Butter and Cinnamon Sugar |

You know when you have something really important to say to someone, and then the gravity of your own as-yet-unspoken words catches in your throat, and pretty soon it’s been weeks and you’re still living with thoughts in your brain and feelings in your heart that you somehow haven’t managed to express?  And the more time that passes, the more weight your words carry as you begin to think too much about how to say them, and where to begin.

That’s how I’ve felt, for the past few weeks, about returning here.

Do I just come back, smiling, with a recipe to share, and hope that you’re still out there?

Or do I tell you that I got quite dramatically knocked off my game for what appears to be nearly three months now, and I’m only just now clawing my way up to the surface of a really challenging time in my life?

As I had shared earlier in the summer, my hubby was deployed overseas this year, and has been gone since July.  I thought I was prepared for the challenges of raising our two-year-old on my own for eight months; I thought I had a game plan.  And then, just two weeks after he left, we found out that we were expecting a baby.  

Toast with Peach Butter and Cinnamon Sugar |

It’s easy for me now, resplendently exploding into my maternity clothes and the second half of my pregnancy, to speak plainly about the exhaustion and revulsion that kept me out of the kitchen for months (and, let’s face it, still does, many days of the week).  About my seemingly uncontrollable emotions, and worse, the way they played out as I tried to parent my girl during the most frustrating moments of toddlerhood.  Most disconcertingly, there were many days and nights that I had less than no energy; I was apathetic and flat after tears had run their course and exhaustion had left my body wrought, and all I wanted to do was to close my eyes against the world.  

Though I am thrilled to be pregnant, solo parenting while pregnant has been lonely and sad, exhausting and frustrating.  And, those heavy emotions aside, someone who eats takeout burritos for lunch and Cheerios for supper (the two of us, perched on the couch; me, hoping I can wolf down my O’s fast enough to sneak a snooze in before the latest episode of Dora finishes) makes a piss-poor food blogger.

And so it is.  Having to give up just about everything but the most essential commitments so that I can get through my days has afforded me the perspective to know the difference between what’s necessary and what’s important, what’s frivolous and what’s meaningful in my life.  It released me to pay more attention to what I need to stay okay; I’ve spent more hours reading and knitting than in the glow of my computer screen lately.

For the record, things are going better now than they were.  I’m finding some space to cook simple and nourishing food, ways to exercise my body, patience and tactics to parent in a way that aligns with my values, at least most of the time.  The end of this deployment is firmly in sight, just in time for me to better hone my ability to say “I don’t have this.  I need help.”

Toast with Peach Butter and Cinnamon Sugar |

I’ve come back gently, with something that’s not really a recipe at all, but more of an idea.  An idea, I should add, that shows its age:  I conceived and photographed this in the summer when peaches were in season and when a local toastery had just opened up, demonstrating that the little city I live in may just catch on to a food trend early every so often.  Nevertheless, here it is, no less tasty and perhaps somewhat seasonal, with the warmth of cinnamon sugar, or adjustable, with the addition of clementine or cranberries.  Just cut butter into small cubes and throw in a bowl, adding your choice of fruit or flavour.  Use your hands to kind of smoosh the ingredients together, and turn out onto a piece of parchment paper.  Use the edges of the parchment to shape the butter into a log.  Chill to set, and serve on toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.




Cherry Chia Jam

Cherry Chia Jam |

Dear Kid,

When I have read you the same book 467 times, 

Please help me to remember the dimples on your fingers.

When it is 10p.m., and you have asked for three more stories, a drink of water, a new pair of pyjamas, the opportunity to poop on the potty for the very first time, a different stuffed animal, another different stuffed animal, your daddy, your gramma, your aunt, and to wear a pair of pink patent leather shoes to bed,

Please help me to remember the feel of your gossamer hair on my cheek as you tuck your head into my collarbone.

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