…on food blogging and ginger chocolate banana bread

…on food blogging and ginger chocolate banana bread

I got into food blogging in a kind of backwards way.  I had never even read a food blog before, but I had the opportunity to blog for Taste of Nova Scotia.  I felt like I needed to figure out how to blog about food double quick – before my first assignment was due.

I am a researcher at heart.  When I was a kid, during the summer months I would identify research projects that I wanted to complete while I was out of school.  I remember spending summer evenings in the air conditioned library huddled over books learning about Marie Curie, Greece, and other oddly chosen topics.

So.  When it came to learning about food blogging, I like to think I went about the task thoroughly and systematically.  As I waded through the millions and millions of food blogs that everyone and their iPhone had thrown together, a few stood out.  One of them was Molly Wizenburg’s OrangetteIt was her writing that helped me to figure out how I wanted to write about food:  in stories, not just recipes.

One of the first recipes I tried from her blog was this one for chocolate and candied ginger banana bread.  It takes plain old banana bread and makes it over-the-top decadent.

IMG_1461 IMG_1459

Here’s what you need:

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 ripe medium-size bananas

3 tbsp milk

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

Small chunks of candied ginger, to taste

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar, egg, and butter.  In a separate bowl, mash bananas; then mix with milk.  In another separate bowl (hopefully the people who eat your bread will be so inspired by its’ deliciousness that they will help you do the dishes) whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with banana-milk mixture in two parts, stirring by hand until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and ginger.

Turn batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from Orangette

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

I’m not too shy about eating mangoes in January, but at the same time, I do like to try to source most of my produce and other food from my local Farmer’s market.  I find it to be a bit of a challenge to use local produce in the winter, but it’s a challenge I’m up for.

The big thing at the market lately has been kale.


Thing is, there’s only so many kale chips a girl (and her meat n’ potatoes-loving Newfoundlander husband) can handle.  In an effort to find a new way to use kale (and to broaden my sometimes spinach, arugula and romaine-limited salad repertoire) I created this crunchy, tangy winter salad.

Here’s what you need:

(amounts depending on how many mouths you’re feeding)


1 part kale, chopped fine

1/2 part raw broccoli, chopped

1/2 part arugula, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

Handful of roasted pepitas (my favourite are from a vendor at the Halifax Famer’s Market – but they don’t have a website to link to!  You’re just going to have to check it out…they sell awesome roasted nuts too!)


1 part oil (I usually use olive oil, but a splash of walnut oil mixed in is nice too)

Juice of one lemon (two if you’re making quite a large salad)

1/4 part agave nectar (honey would do)

1/4 part dijon mustard


Here’s what you do:

Toss together all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  In a jar or tupperware container with a lid, add the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid and shake like crazy until the oil has emulsified and you have a nice creamy mixture.  Give it a taste and add more agave nectar or lemon juice depending on how sweet or tart you like your vinaigrette.


Pour the vinaigrette into the salad and toss to coat.  Enjoy!


Recipe is a Jessie original!

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

Increasingly, I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of processed food our family eats.  A necessary part of this effort has been to make from scratch a lot of the “basics” that we eat on a daily basis, like bread, granola bars (recipe soon!), and cereal.  I came across this recipe for granola and it has since become my favourite breakfast food.  In a bowl of milk or yogurt, topped with fruit and chased with a glass of orange juice, this cereal is the perfect start to my day.


Here’s what you need:

2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats

6 tbsp. canola oil

1 cup honey

¼ cup ground flaxseed

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

2 cups dried cranberries, raisins or cherries

8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.

Throw the coconut in a large frying pan, distribute it in an even layer over the pan and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is golden brown.  Transfer to a bowl and  return the pan to the burner, this time adding the walnuts and almonds.  Cook these until golden brown.  Add the oats and olive oil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are lightly toasted.

Transfer the oat mixture to a large bowl and stir in the honey, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt.

Layer some parchment paper or wax paper on a large baking sheet.  Spread the oat/nut mixture over the sheet in a thick layer and bake, stirring every few minutes, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the toasted coconut and dried fruit.  Let the granola cool to room temperature and then break it into small clusters, mix in the chocolate chips, and store in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Accidental Circus Cake?

Happy Monday everyone!  While it is my intention to post to this blog every other day, I was uploading photos from my family’s visit over Christmas last night and I couldn’t resist sharing with you these pictures of the cake my sister and I made for my daughter Ada’s first birthday a couple weeks ago.  Consider this a bonus post!


We started cutting and stacking cakes….

We started out with all these crazy complicated ideas for our cake and ended up (accidentally) with a cake that kind’ve looks like it has a bit of a circus theme going on.  Which is okay, really:  as Ada steps boldly into the world of furniture walking and pointing frantically at everything, wiggling her little body around and yelling “Ooooooh!  Waas daaaat?,”  things are getting a little circus-y in our house lately.


Then came some carelessly applied buttercream to stick the fondant to.

Have you ever made or worked with fondant?  Stay tuned – I will add a recipe later on this week.  Till then, enjoy the photos of the creation of Ada’s accidental circus cake.

The finished product

The finished product


Beet and Cashew Salad

On a monthly basis, I attend one of those potlucks that feels like a treasure trove of the most comforting recipes from each attendee’s culinary repertoire.  It’s a gathering of my fellow volunteer doulas, where we take the time to connect and participate in a continuing education seminar.

Back the truck up, you say?  What’s a doula, you ask?

A doula is a person who provides physical, emotional and informational support to women and their families during the antenatal period.  We don’t do any medical procedures, but we meet with women and their support people a couple of times before their due date to talk about their options for birthing, and then we support them fully throughout the duration of their labour.  Once the baby is born, doula supports a woman’s transition to motherhood by helping with breastfeeding and basic baby care.

That’s the technical definition.  But what does being a doula really mean?  It means sharing the fears and anticipation, living in the unknown with a woman as she nears her due date.  It means a call at 2a.m., a nervous, rushing voice on the other end of the line, “I’ve been having contractions on and off all night…”  It’s swaying with a woman who leans into you, hands clasped behind your neck, while she quietly integrates the intensity of her contractions.  Holding hands as she bears down, and witnessing awe, delight, love and relief wash over her when she holds her baby her to chest for the first time.

It is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

I’ve been a doula for almost five years now, I guess.  It was something I stumbled upon – one of those things that somehow the universe conspires to make happen, if you listen closely enough and have the bravery to trust it’s meant to be.  Along with the incredible birth stories I’ve been honoured to be a part of, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of the other women in my city who have dedicated their hearts to this work.  They are a strong, passionate, exceptional bunch.  Several of us get together regularly, and there’s always food.  These are women who are serious nurturers, and I think we all agree that sharing food is one of the best ways to care for others.

One of my favourite recipes from these potlucks is a beet and cashew salad.  I made this not too long ago to share with my family, who had all come to visit and spend time with my daughter Ada.

Okay, so this picture does no justice to this salad.  Sometimes, you have to make salads at night, when there's no natural light to take nice pictures with, and your salad looks kinda like ground beef.  That's just me being real, right?

Okay, so this picture does no justice to this salad. Sometimes, you have to make salads at night, when there’s no natural light to take nice pictures with, and your salad looks kinda like ground beef. That’s just me being real, right?

Here’s what you need:

1 raw beet, grated

1 cup cashew nuts, roasted (I use sliced almonds sometimes, too)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp maple syrup

3 cm fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp sesame oil

Salt to taste

Here’s what you do:

Combine the grated beets and nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.  Pour over the beet mixture and stir to coat.


Oh, and by the way, you should check out the blog of my friend Amy – she started blogging on the same day I did (!) and is choosing one type of food per month to make recipes with.  This month is beets!  She’s super healthy.

Recipe courtesy of Lindsay Miller, a volunteer doula at the Chebucto Family Centre.