Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Model Cheese Sauce.

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

Oh Kate Moss, the poor thing. She must have grown up in one of those canned peas and shoe-leather roast beef households in England. Or perhaps smoking has stripped her tongue of the few remaining tastebuds that weren't dulled by an overdose of Branston pickle as a child. Whatever the reason, clearly the girl hasn't tried anything worth eating, because who in their right mind would say such a thing? One who has been to Paris without touching a croissant, that's who. Sigh.

As a tribute to Ms. Moss, I'd like to share a recipe for a wonderfully anti-diet cheese sauce concocted by Marnie and Megan, two very good friends of mine with whom I reunite each Christmas in Prince George. They stirred it up for a 'Three Sets of PG Sisters' brunch we had a few weeks ago, and served it over poached eggs with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. The eggs, by the way, were from chickens raised by their mom. Can't beat Jan's eggs.

Kate Moss' theory is completely vanquished by this sauce, firstly because it tastes so much better than skinny feels, and secondly because Marnie and Megan eat it and are very beautiful people. HA!

You too can combat stick-thin model theories by making this sauce, loving it, and passing it along. Please keep in mind that this recipe is just a rough guide – when I re-created it I didn't really measure anything, so just keep tasting as you go to get it just right. Essentially it's a white sauce to which you add a great deal of McLarens cheese and four special ingredients. It's perfect for eggs on a cold winter's morning.

Meg and Marn's Cheese Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ – 2 cups milk
1 container McLarens cheese
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 small or ½ large clove garlic, finely chopped
½ to 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter over low/medium heat in a small saucepan, then add the flour and whisk together to make a roux. Stirring, let bubble for a minute. Add the milk in small additions, whisking into the roux and allowing it to thicken. Once you have a thin white sauce, crumble the cheese in and stir to combine (keep tasting and adding cheese until it's reached the desired cheesy flavour and right consistency). Add remaining ingredients to taste, and more milk if it gets too thick. Serve immediately, preferably in front of an episode of Fashion File.

The pics below........Brunch, including our attempts to get into the most heavily fortified bottle of sparkling wine in existence. Thirty years of education between the six of us and I ended up having to saw the top off.
Sadly, no pictures of the cheese sauce specifically, but trust me when I say it looks delicious. Also some of winter in Prince George.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Could Eat This Book.

Now that Christmas Baking has been given it's due, I can tell you about a book I recently took out of the library. It's called A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, and I was shocked to discover it's the story of my life. The unarticulated thoughts that tumble around in my head have been taken, made sense of, and laid out before me.

Okaaaaay, so Molly Wizenberg doesn't know me from a snowball. I shall explain; she's the author of the beautifully written and wildly successfully food blog Orangette, has a brand-new book, and recently opened a restaurant in Seattle called Delancey (I reluctantly give you her blog link for fear you'll never read mine again. I simultaneously adore and hate her for being so. damn. good.) Basically, she was a food-loving academic who finally acknowledged her true passion and became a writer with no formal writing or culinary education. This is me, just not the successful part (yet. Glass half-full Linds, glass half-full.) The thoughts in her book strike chord after continuous chord with me, and I've found myself nodding vigorously in agreement with many of her beliefs regarding food and the concepts surrounding it. I'm not even finished it yet, but the most recent head-nod was due to her opinion on recipe sharing; she disagrees with people who hoard recipes and believes they should, like all great food, be shared. Sing it sister! I've always believed in passing along my favourite recipes, as long as credit is given to those who created them or, when their provenance is unknown, the person who gave them to me (hence names like “Sarah's Sister's Cousin's Hairdresser's Mechanic's Dog's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.”) Now, fair enough if you're a chef who spent three decades perfecting the signature dish that your restaurant and therefore livelihood depend on, but that delicious scone recipe you clipped from a magazine and got lots of compliments on? Spread the joy!

In A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg tells the story of her life through food; Unchronologically she shares charming, amusing, and often sad stories from her thirty-one years as a daughter, friend, Parisienne, and lover of food. She relates each of these stories to a different recipe, naming both people and food as forces of history, emotion, and meaning in her life. As a believer in sharing, after each story she includes the recipe which inspired it, most of which originated from her parents, friends, husband, or Molly herself. There is something very lovely, personal, and trusting about these recipe offerings.

Every recipe has a story. Not all are going to be terribly interesting (you made these cookies once that not even the dog would eat, the end), but they are stories nonetheless. Actually, the recipe itself can be horrible, as long as it holds significance to you or makes someone laugh. So, if you'd like a tea-on-cozy-couch-read for the holidays, I suggest this book. After all, you're not only going to get a wonderful read, but also plenty of beautiful and meaningful recipes which you'll want to make yourself. How does buttermilk vanilla bean cake with glazed oranges and crème fraîche sound for new years?

...I am also loving Sam T. Schick, who designed Delancey's website. Check out why, here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

School and Cookie Chat.

Firstly, school news. Several years ago, during a Google adventure called Trying To Figure Out My Life, I came across a graduate program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy (UNISG, a.k.a. the "Slow Food University"). I kid you not, after reading about their masters programs I actually shouted “I have found my people!” Confetti fell, fireworks exploded, and a symphony began to play. I'd found the program which, until that moment, had existed only as an unarticulated, theoretical hope in the dark recesses of my brain.

My obsession with all things food tended to make me feel odd, especially because I have always known I don't want to be a chef but never really knew what else was out there. So, as I read about UNISG, I felt like a fish living in a puddle who had just been told about the Great Lakes. I was determined to get in and simultaneously doubtful I even had a chance. With more research I found three similar programs, however they were so far out of my budget (we're talking $50 000 tuition, per year) that it all came back to UNISG. The programs do not start annually, so with the next application date in late 2009 I spent a year and a half working, saving and yes, even herding eighty goats around the hillsides of Tuscany. I sent off my completed student dossier on December 3rd and spent the next thirteen days successfully convincing myself that I had absolutely no chance of getting in. Apparently those fitful sleeps were in vain, however, because I did get accepted and will be starting the Master in Food Culture and Communications program this spring in Parma, Italy. I am relieved, excited, and happy to have so much to look forward to. Not to mention grateful for having been supported by so many people throughout the whole process. Thank you, grazie, and I will keep you updated.

*Click here to visit the UNISG website.

Not to be overshadowed by school talk, however, is Christmas Baking, because what does a higher education matter if you can't make quality gingerbread? Exactly.

I've never been the blogging type that documents every step of my recipe mis-adventures, as I think you've all seen what a bowl of sugar, butter and eggs looks like. I do, however, love to talk about it, and when I'm completely satisfied with a finished product the camera comes out. I was once so proud of a peach pie that I spent an hour taking pictures of it on the lawn. I'm sure more than one ant found it's way inside and died a very happy death. But I digress – back to this, the best time of year for baking. So far I've made triple ginger biscotti, soft ginger cookies (yes I love ginger), almond roca bars with Stephanie, chocolate caramel shortbread squares, and sugar cookies. There's more on the way, but darn you Save-On-Foods and your lack of vanilla wafer crumbs. To tide us over til the crumbs come in, our freezer has been stocked with plenty more goodies thanks to the best neighbourly arrangement ev-er. My newly retired father, with his newly purchased snowblower, has been clearing the driveway of Mrs. Wallace, a sweet elderly widower who lives across the street. Every time it snows, my father hauls out the snowblower or shovel, and to say thank you she bakes him treats. Every time. Gloriously, it snows a lot, and we've been consuming cookies, cakes, muffins and squares by the large tupperware-load. Isn't that utterly wholesome? Thank you Mrs. Wallace, thank you Dad, and thank you snow.

What would a Christmas baking chat be without a recipe? Here's my favourite one for ginger cookies, which I found on (fear not! it's a gem!)

Big Soft Ginger Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (for rolling cookies in
  • *chopped candied ginger (my favourite add-in, you can add it at any stage but it's easiest just to add it into the dry ingredients)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Bake just until the cookies have 'cracked.' Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.