What to Eat for Winter's Last Hurrah

The calendar SAYS it’s spring, but the wild weather we’ve been having here on the east coast sure doesn’t seem like it. Somewhere between “the best defense is a good offense” and “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, we came up with last night’s dinner idea.


On the table in a couple of hours, while we watched the freezing rain coating the trees outside: Apple braised veal shank with roasted winter vegetables. We started with some delicious veal shank from Halifax’s Seaport Market. Four servings meant we would have leftovers for today’s lunch.

After browning the shanks in olive oil, we put them aside on a plate and added a sliced onion, a sliced clove of garlic, and a stalk of celery to the pan, stirring until translucent. At the same time, we reconstituted a package of wild dried mushrooms in 1-3/4c boiling water and 1/4c or 60ml apple brandy in a heatproof measuring cup. 2c/500ml of apple slices went in next, along with 1c/250ml of sliced fresh mushrooms, and the reconstituted fungi and their broth. A sprinkle of tarragon and nutmeg rounded out the flavour.

We nestled the shanks in the vegetable mix, and covered it in preparation for the next step.

Meanwhile, in a separate casserole dish, we put a carrot, a small turnip, and some sweet potato, roughly chunked. This was tossed with dried rosemary, and 2T/30ml each of olive oil and maple syrup.

Everything went into a 350F oven for the remainder of the 2 hours. The meat was strictly “do not disturb”, but we stirred the veg about 3 times.

Our conclusion? Winter WILL go away eventually, but until then, we will stave off the chill with one last go at some of our favourite winter recipes.

Sweet Start to a Rainy Sunday

Cherry Apple Crisp

Before our recent holiday, we packaged up any fruit we couldn’t finish, and threw it in the freezer. These sweet dark cherries and apple slices came in handy when we wanted a warming breakfast for a gray, drizzly spring day. Brown sugar, rolled oats and butter formed the crisp topping, spiced up with a shake of cinnamon. The addition of some tangy, fat-free yogurt made it just right.

For two:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a heatproof glass dish, put 3 cups of fruit. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix 2c/500ml large-flake oats, 3T/45ml brown sugar, and 1/4c/6oml melted butter with a shake of cinnamon. Pour this on top of the fruit and bake – 30 minutes if you use fresh fruit, or 45 if you use frozen, as we did.

Top each serving with 1/4c or 60ml of yogurt.

Comfort = Grammy Food

Storm of the year! Here we are, having been tested by snow, ice and wind. Fortunately so far all is intact, we have heat and light, and we have managed to clear a path to the road.

What made us leave our walk-to-the-subway-and-avoid-the-elements existence? Who knows. But the call of this land is strong and the battle of the wind and water seems to actually strengthen our pioneer spirit. What we do know, is that the pioneers knew sustenance when they saw it. Our Grammy was a comfort food expert, and she always made us feel better by serving this: onion gravy pork chops with mashed potatoes and veg (any veg!)

Travel safely wherever you are, and honour your grandmothers. They’re worth it. And while you’re at it, learn to cook the favourite thing they make. Someday you’ll need it.



What Tastes like Sunshine?


When we were kids, my grandmother used to make this simple salad in the wintertime – usually for breakfast, but sometimes as a surprise for lunch. It consists of peeled and cubed oranges and pink grapefruit, with a small sprinkling of sugar a teaspoon, maybe a tablespoon if you are making enough for the whole family. I’m sure it can be made without the sugar, but somehow it helps the juice along.

These days we still have it for breakfast, usually with a slice of peanut butter toast, or occasionally a yogurt. And when we have it, we remember her, and smile.

Our Salad had "Taginessence"


It snowed overnight, which we suppose is Mother Nature having the last laugh after we were so excited at yesterday’s promise of spring. We’re fighting back, though, by having a lunchtime salad that combines the flavours of a winter Tagine with the crunchy green-ness of spring.

On a bed of greens, we added celery slices and chopped up last night’s leftover lamburgers. The dressing consisted of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maple Dijon mustard from Kozlik’s. To top it off, some feta, raisins, and pine nuts gave us a salty-sweet finish with just the right spiciness.

Our Grill is on the Lam(b)

Yesterday Mother Nature gave us a peek into springtime, with bare lawns, sunshine, and temperatures above the freezing mark. We knew the forecast was for snow, so after a long walk, we wanted to take advantage of this temperate turn of events while it lasted.

On the grill: lamb burgers – topped with feta cheese, a little corn relish, and some Dijon, with a green side salad to make sure it really felt like spring!


Into the Inky Blackness We Go

The days are getting longer, and yet it gives us an increasing perspective on the night. When we leave for work in the dark, and arrive home in the dark, it is hard to appreciate that time when the indigo sky highlights the trees and there is a time of beautiful contrast.

On the “official” first day of spring, we had the trifecta of indigo light, wind, and waving trees. In celebration, dinner consisted of an inky squid pasta, combined with the season’s veg…celery, carrot, onion, hothouse pepper, and some Altantic salmon. It was a great combo that fed our tummies and souls.



After putting in nearly an hour on the rower, we’ve earned our reward. We’re unsure what to call it – not quite an egg burrito, more like an omelette wrap – with slices of hothouse tomato that remind us what’s in store. Although it’s spring today in name only, seeds are being sprouted for the garden and we look forward to more fresh vegetables on the table.

Breakfast can get a day of healthy eating off to a great start, and this one is going to be grand.


The Feast Continues – Saints be Praised

Our family traditional dinner for St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage – or more colloquially, “boiled dinner”. And the feast was had, in all its glory.


For many years, we wanted to make Mom’s day-after breakfast, but, mysteriously, the corned beef would always disappear overnight while the young ones lived at home, or be eaten up because we had company. Finally, here we are – empty nest, and we’re making a hash of it!


Here’s to the approaching spring – and all your family traditions, whatever they are. Long may they last.

Spring Forward and Wake Up!

Adjusting to the time change? Start the day with a spicy breakfast that will wake up both you…and your taste buds. With a busy week ahead, we need to make sure we are fueled-up and energized to make the most of every opportunity.

On the plate, a healthy and budget-conscious combo – leftover olive, onion and mushroom whole wheat pizza is topped by a poached egg. We sprinkled two salt-free spice blends on top; one lemony and the other with a hint of chipotle. Sliced blood orange add a few extra vitamins and enhance flavour with a citrus note. After a week of “road food”, we’re especially grateful for a taste of home.


With a salad, this would also be a great dinner time combination for those of you who have given up eating meat for Lent.