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The Custom Pantry
Look past my freshly harvested garlic and the stone fruit hogging the counter. See all those boxes lurking in the background? They were expropriating my dining table under the pretence of helping me organize the pantry. Or The Prototype, as I now call it. From last year's renovation and until last month, we shoved tinned goods and baking supplies onto a lopsided IKEA storage shelf in the dining area and a big steel rack in the living room. Like most temporary solutions, they were ugly, marginally serviceable and far more permanent than anyone imagined.
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Happy Canada Day (belated) and 4th of July (early)

Yesterday, I'd meant to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day (or Dominion Day, in the case of my husband). But that didn't happen. I blame the carbs. The day started with pancakes and waffles on the patio -- with just enough protein to keep us level. Add...

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Swamped

This is where I am. In a remote stretch of wilderness, ankle deep in murky swamp water with Yodi-knows-what nibbling at my ankles. Only when I say "swamp water" I actually mean "projects" and those pesky ankle biters are really just the "little things" that...

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My Birthday Wishes

It's my birthday. And since you are all lovely people, I just know you want to get me something. Something nice. Something special. Something I've been dying to get for myself but won't because I'm not a materialistic person. Because I'm so thoughtful (and already have...

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Five Years In
I was poking about the archives, looking for inspiration and to my shock realized that Christie's Corner recently turned 5. Five? Five! How'd that happen? As a classic ENFP, I don't stick with anything that long. Okay, I've been married for almost 9 years, but to keep things fresh I rearrange the furniture every six months. And yet, this blog has been quietly chugging along in one form or another for half a decade. What gives? To be honest, there are times I have considered throwing in the dish towel. I've often asked myself, Does the world really need another recipe for butternut squash soup? After all, other than an embarrassing amount of cat hair wafting about my kitchen and a natty TARDIS cookie jar, what sets me apart from the others? But just when I am ready to pack up my camera and wipe the virtual counter clean, a book, a person or an idea comes along that says, "Keep going." And you know me. I always do as I'm told.
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3 Reasons to Love Your Local Butcher
My local butcher shop isn't quite as picturesque as the one shown above. Even without cuts hanging in the windows or the latest specials written on the glass, I get an old-world feeling whenever I pop in. It's like I've walked into a scene from a BBC series set in small town Yorkshire, only the prices are in dollars and I can understand everything they say. Without  uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak nattering away in the background, I don't really feel like I'm grocery shopping. It's more like a friendly visit where money and meat exchange hands. While there's nothing wrong with supermarkets (except uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak), I find I'm spending more  and more of my grocery dollars at independent shops these days. At first I though it was about eating locally, but it's actually about community. After all, any chain store with a decent butcher can:
  • tell you know where your meat comes from
  • steer you towards the best (and not necessarily the most expensive) cut of meat
  • bring in special orders
  • custom cut / grind your meat
All you have to do is ask. So why go the the little guy? You likely won't fully appreciate your independent butcher (or green grocer or cheese monger) until you:
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Reality Check for Food Writers
Spend enough time doing something and it will change the way you think, mess with your assumptions, and skew your expectations. When I studied fiction writing everyone who walked into the cafe was a potential character. Their clothes, their order, their gait held clues to their inner thoughts and beliefs. Woah! Everyone noticed the dude in the just-out-of-the-box, neon green shoelaces and dirty, frayed red high tops. Right? Okay, you were busy reading the menu. But the guy who ordered the double chai latte? Come on. Was he doing a bad Brando impersonation or did he just come from the dentist. Didn't notice him either? Hmmm. Seems it's just me. Being immersed in the world of food, I thought I was safe from outing myself yet again as an oddball.
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Potatoes: This Spud’s for YOU
With dozens of product pitches landing in my inbox daily, it takes a lot for one to stand out. Yesterday, one jumped off the monitor and poked me in the eyeball. Their selling point. "[It] takes just 2 minutes to prepare in the microwave  -- no extra pots or dishes to wash." Oh, they had me at "microwave". But not in the way they intended. What left me rubbing my eyes in disbelief? Their approach. Was it to promote their product? Not so much. The aim of this campaign is: "To create humorous posts about how potatoes are a boring alternative to Fake Food In a Canister." (Note: I have changed the name of the product in question to protect The Shameless.) Too dumb to insult a root vegetable all on your own? Maybe one of these suggestions will get the creative juices flowing:
  • An image and story of talk show host potato that has put its guests to sleep
  • An image and story of a potato totally underdressed in it's (sic) plain old skin for an event
  • Showcase kids talking about how boring potatoes are and how they love Fake Food In a Canister
  • Showcase how potatoes don't cut it - they're so worthless to eat - doorstoppers, brick-fixes (spoof on home entertainment show sponsored by Fake Food in a Canister)
Apparently, it's even funnier if you drag children into it. Nothing like teaching them how to run a smear campaign early. As a proponent of real food -- and a potato lover -- I'm not taking this sitting down.
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5 Things I Never Thought I’d Have in My Pantry
KeepSecret Can you keep a secret? After going on and on about Homemade This and From-Scratch That, I've come to realize there is a spot for convenience foods in my life and in my cupboard. While I prefer fresh to tinned, homemade to reconstituted, the food snob in me has learned to make concessions. I just don't usually broadcast them for fear that fessing up will get me banned from the culinary section of the Internet -- or at least pelted with organic heirloom tomatoes. While the following items are to food what K-Mart is to fashion, they do the trick -- under specific circumstances. So here is my culinary confession. My pantry contains the following non-artisan, non-organic, far-from-fresh items. And I'm not about to give them up.

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