Condiments

Key Ingredients for Lemon, Fig and Lavender Marmalade
Lemon, Fig and Lavender Marmalade with Sarah B Hood

Last year my garden burst with lavender. This spring, only a few leggy plants survived. Too little snow. Too much thawing. Too  much freezing. Or maybe the plants sensed my neediness and fled. I need lavender this summer, and lots of it. For the esthetics,...

Avocado Tomatillo Sauce - TheMessyBaker.com
Avocado Tomatillo Sauce

It has snowed so much lately my shovel and I are on a first name basis. It sees my boots coming and says, "Hello, Charmian." I nod, pull my hat down over my ears and grab the chirpy shovel in a choke hold. Together, Shovel...

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Burma: Rivers of Flavour – An interview with Naomi Duguid

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Naomi Duguid about her award-winning book Burma: Rivers of Flavor (Random House ©2012). In April, the book won the IACP award for Culinary Travel, and just last week was awarded Gold by Taste Canada —The Food Writing Awards...

Apricot & Honey Jam - TheMessyBaker.com
Apricot and Honey Jam with Lemon Verbena

I'd officially like to apologize to apricots. For years now, I've been the mean team captain who always calls dibs on her friends and chooses the popular kids first, leaving the smaller classmates kicking the grass with their yet-to-be-broken-in sneakers and pretending that being picked...

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Muhammara – Walnut and Aleppo Pepper Dip

Muhammara (pronounced moo-hahm-MRAH) is a classic Mediterranean dish. It's a dip. It's a spread. It's addictive. You have been warned. Pitas are the authentic accompaniment, but I've been gobbling muhammara on homemade piadinas to no ill effect. Don't let the simplicity of the dish fool you....

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Rum Vanilla Extract and Butter Rum Shortbread

The vanilla extract on the left is full of seeds and has a whole pod in the bottle. The vanilla beans on the right are fresh, fragrant and supple enough to knot. Both products are Really Horrible. Seriously. They're from Really Horrible Enterprises located in Ottawa, ON. I...

Solidified ghee - The Messy Baker
Homemade ghee

This is jar of freshly stained homemade ghee - pronounced GEE. It's clarified butter pushed to the edge. Done right,  it will reward you with golden brown, nutty goodness. Done wrong? Both you and the butter will end up weeping into the compostable waste bin....

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Words of Wisdom from Chef Michael Smith and Bacon Candy
Eleven minutes and ten seconds into our half-hour interview, Chef Michael Smith uttered the most honest, excuse-free cooking advice I've heard in a long time.
I don't have much patience for those who say they can't cook. A hundred thousand generations have cooked. It's a very easy thing to do. Suck it up, buttercup. You can do it!
Oh, I'd love to put Smith and Chris Kimball in a room together and see who emerges unbruised. My bets are on Smith —and not just because he's 6' 7". He just makes more sense. To support my prediction, compare these quotes from my wide-ranging interview with Chef Michael Smith against Kimball's no-partying-allowed approach ("Cooking isn’t creative, and it isn’t easy. It’s serious, and it’s hard to do well, just as everything worth doing is damn hard.")
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Corn with Cilantro-Lime-Chili Butter
Cilantro, Lime, Chili Butter turns plain corn-on-the-cob into something special - TheMessyBaker.com This week's Gastropost challenge was to "recreate or revisit a food experience that will refresh sunny memories of summers past." With strawberries and peaches already covered, my mind went to corn — a food that leaves me conflicted. In season, corn-on-the-cob means both the height of summer and its dreaded end. The following essay was published in the Globe and Mail a few years ago. I think it's time to pull it out, pluck the corn silk from between its paragraphs and see how it goes. The recipe follows. We never had any exotic toppings when I was a kid. It was just plain butter and salt. And plenty of it.
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My Mother’s Hands | Lemon Curd Recipe
My Mother - TheMessyBaker.com These hands turn 80 this summer. These hands have picked strawberries, made jam, kneaded bread, rolled pastry. They have decorated birthday cakes, anniversary cakes and wedding cakes. They have changed diapers, washed clothes, sewn dresses, mended seams, darned socks, stitched buttons, ironed pleats. They have tied shoelaces, braided hair and wrapped presents. They have stroked sweaty hair from fevered foreheads, wiped away tears, plucked thorns from fingers, applied bandages, massaged aching muscles and held the hands of the dying. Despite arthritis, they carry on.

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