Foods you love but shouldn’t

February 2, 2009

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I know what you’re thinking: how can you, Dana McCauley, cookbook author and scathing critic of chemical-filled, manufactured abominations say that you love these cookies?

My answer: it’s easy!

Although I generally do strive to eat foods (including cookies) made from fresh, whole foods, I am human and these marshmallowy cookies filled with fake flavoured jelly will always be a pleasant once-in-a-while indulgence since they remind me of my grandmother. She used to buy them for us to have together as a treat and even looking at this picture reminds me of being splayed out at the end of her bed, eating these cookies and drinking too-sweet orange pekoe tea.

Do you have food that you love but shouldn’t? Something that reminds you of a wonderful time in your life that tastes better than it should just because you once shared it with someone special?

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Cracking up

September 18, 2008

A proliferation of crackers makes me wonder just how much cheese people are eating. Truly, it seems that every day I find a new cracker in the store or in the arms of a PR package-carrying courier.

According to the American Dietetic Association, 75 percent of men and women snack at least once a day. Moreover, information I found from a 2007 e-newsletter published by Food In Canada magazine showed that cracker volume sales were up 4% over 2006 sales. Seems like the cracker business is hot!

But with so much new choice and prices as high as $7 a box, it’s more difficult than ever to make choices in the cracker aisle. With the holiday entertaining season just around the corner, the stress in that part of the grocery store is palpable! (Okay, so I exaggerate. Get over it!).

In my typically altruistic fashion, I’ve done some sampling and share with you now some of my top cracker finds:

Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps Fig and Olive
Ace Bakery Cranberry and Raisin Artisan Crisps
Stacy’s Pita Chips
Petite Maison Pain Rustique Rosemary & Sea Salt


Better than a pocketfull of sunshine

August 14, 2008

While the pop song “A Pocketful of Sunshine” might be stuck in my head this morning, I have to say that I can‘t see what good could really come from having a pocketful of sunshine even if it was possible in the first place. No, there are definitely problems with the whole idea. Instead, I suggest a roster of foods that I think outshine sunshine as a pocket content any day:

Dufflet’s chocolate covered sour cherries
Planter’s dry roasted peanuts (unless I’m with Martin, of course)
Shelled edamame
Caramel corn
Chimes ginger chews
Spicy chili pepper hummus (What? Like sunshine would be any less destructive to fabric?)
Balderson old cheddar and granny smith apple slices
Wild blueberries
• Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies


Doughnut making: a patriotic duty

June 3, 2008

We knew that doughnuts weren’t health food when I was a kid but my grandmother still made them often. (Other regular items on her menus were cinnamon buns, a silky, chilled potato and Swiss chard borscht finished with sweet, rich cream and a slew of other super yummy stuff that today would be classified as ‘bad.’) My Baba’s doughnuts were light, fluffy yeast leavened pillows that she either dusted with icing sugar or served with homemade jam. I didn’t drink coffee in those days but they would have been great with java.

In those days, making doughnuts was great fun but unnecessary because Canada was still a Mecca for doughnut lovers. We had Tim Horton’s and Mister Donut where onsite several times a day fresh donuts were fried and glazed. Anytime you went to one of these shops, rows of doughnuts sat ready to help you through your sweet craving.

Today Mr. Donut is a faded memory at best and Tim Horton’s is now in the coffee and sandwich business. As a result, they’ve modified their doughnuts to streamline production. In fact, I heard the doughnuts now arrive at TH stores frozen and par-cooked. The result is that their doughnuts are sadly heavy and much less appealing than they once were.

Due to these changes in the Canadian restaurant landscape, I’ve had to dust off my doughnut making skills and fry up my own at home when I get a hankering for my national snack. There’s just no other way to get a satisfying doughnut.

You’re likely reading this post and thinking that I’ve flipped. In light of what we all know about nutrition, how can I be advocating making doughnuts? Before you close your mind, remember: doughnuts are part of our Canadian food heritage. We must put our health aside to preserve our culture for future generations. It’s our patriotic duty to dig on doughnuts! Honest.

Ready to get started? The doughnuts pictured above were made using the basic coffee cake dough in Anne Willan’s classic Lavarenne Practique cookbook but I’m sure any other coffeecake dough would work as well (for fritters try brioche dough). If you prefer cake doughnuts, try this recipe from the Homemaker’s archive.

Also, if you know a place that still sells great doughnuts, be sure to note it below so that we can all support these noble destinations.


More about grilled cheese

March 25, 2008

Grilled cheeseI know I wrote about grilled cheese in January but here I am with these crisp, buttery examples of cheesy goodness on my mind yet again. As I mentioned in my first post, I served mini grilled cheese as one of many hors d’oeuvres at my holiday party. I also saw them served at several catered parties I attended during the festive season. Now, well into the spring season, sightings of cocktail party grilled cheese sandwiches continue: triangular grilled cheeses (really a little too big to be considered canapés) were served at the wonderful Queen Street Unmasked party held at the Drake Hotel to raise money and awareness for mental health prevention and treatment. Then, at Terroir II Symposium, the grilled cheese lollies pictured above were on offer by the chefs from C5. So cute and really yummy!

Isn’t it interesting that as much as full-sized grilled cheese are still a wonderful choice for lunches and dinners, they seem to be taking over for mini quiche and spanikopita as the ubiquitous hot, cheesy hors d’ouevres of choice?