Holiday Shortbread for Lazy Bakers

Does the thought of Christmas baking put you squarely in one of these categories?

  1. You start collecting holiday recipes in June, and dream of red and green sprinkles in July.
  2. You would rather clean out your basement than attend a Christmas bake exchange.
  3. You have a local “go-to” bakery for their qualified help.

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Morning Glory Muffin Recipe Inspired by The Flowers of La Toussaint

In France, there is always a school vacation at the end of October, when children and teachers have a week of reprieve from the classroom, and each other. The holiday extends to most public facing businesses on November 1st. You can certainly expect the post offices, banks, grocery stores and government offices to be closed on that day.



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Curried Squash Soup for Halloween


Nutmeg sat up when she received an email from her girlfriend, Wild Rice, who had trained in the kitchen at cooking school in London. It was not the cheery note that grabbed Nutmeg’s attention, but rather the new recipe that was contained in the text, a warm blend of pumpkin and Thai flavours. This recipe is not from the famous cooking school, there is no need to be chef material, read on, anyone can make this simple soup.

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Brian’s Fruit Stand in West Vancouver

A hearty Mexican dinner erased the results of a terrible golf game, and the Cadillac margaritas could only be followed by “one more drink.”

Palm Desert bedtime hours be dammed!

Nutmeg is relatively certain that she does not need to layout the rest of the evening for you. It was late and the next morning required copious amounts of strong coffee.

How Brian feels about his produce Continue reading

Gluten-Free Whole Grains A Journey from Keyboard to Slow Cooker

GFWholeGrainsFinalCoverWith the Internet, email and social media – does anyone get real mail these days?

Needless to say, Nutmeg was thrilled to find a copy of Judith Finlayson’s The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook, buried under the innumerable junk-mail fliers for duct cleaning, roof repair and debt consolidation.

Judith took some time one spring afternoon to talk about this book, and how her career path (from keyboard to slow cooker) got her to where she is today – working on her 15th cookbook!

Her professional life began in book publishing, in her words as a “glorified secretary.” Judith moved into editing and then to well known Canadian magazines such as MacLean’s. Her career stops included freelance work, recipe development and a long running Globe & Mail column. She was always interested in food related journalism, although her articles also covered a broad range of women’s and social issues. Even while juggling a busy career and editorial deadlines over a twenty-year period her passion for food remained constant.

Judith was not classically trained in the kitchen. She spent a few years “cooking my way through Julia Child’s book” – her introduction to French kitchen methodology. Subsequently, her passion has taken her to many global regions including Mexico, India and Thailand to work with masters in these cuisines.

The first book came together by hazard; her husband who is a publisher had the idea in the late 1990s to create a cookbook focused on high-end slow cooker meals. This was at a time when slow cookers were hardly the height of kitchen fashion. He approached at least seven top chefs to ask if they would be interested in working on this project. NO – was the resounding answer. Finally, he reached the end of his list and asked Judith whether she would consider the venture.

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Ancient Apricots

Literally as old as the hills, the fruit of the apricot tree are confirmed to have been domesticated since the Bronze Age. Although, the exact origin of the tree is debated;

  • there is evidence of consumption of the fruit in both China and India between 3-4,000 B.C.
  • the apricot in dry format was certainly exchanged along Persian trade routes.
  • the scientific name, is Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum), likely as a result of the ubiquitous presence in Armenia since antiquity.
  • The fruit was eventually introduced to the Greeks and then adopted by the Romans.

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Blessed Almonds Sign of Spring in Provence

Early in the year in southern France, the almond tree is the first to bloom. The small white or pale pink flowers typically appear on the trees in February. A welcome sign that spring may be close at hand in Provence.

Almond Tree in Flower

The almond tree is small; at full maturity it may reach a height of 10 meters, with a trunk diameter of 30 centimeters.  The trees typically start bearing fruit after about 5 years.  The almond is technically a fruit, not a nut, from the same family as the plum or cherry (Prunus).  This decidedly old tree has been a part of different cultures and human nutrition for eons. There are several mentions of almonds in the bible. It is believed that growth in almond tree cultivation closely followed human migration near Mediterranean shores.  Despite the fact that the almond tree is native to warm European climates, the large majority of global yield is now US based, in California, at 45% of world production.

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Scents of Christmas Sweet Citrus Tart

Close your eyes.

Is there a particular aroma or flavour that instantly evokes Christmas in your mind?

Mulled wine
Rum eggnog
Smoky log fires
Fresh Pine bows
Warm chestnuts
Buttery shortbread
Striped candy canes
Oven Roasted turkey
Warm cranberry sauce
Fresh baked gingerbread


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Languedoc Food and Wines

It would be impossible to describe in any significant detail, the unique culinary treasures of the Languedoc region in a single blog post. Nutmeg has decided to take you on a little driving tour to share a few Languedoc food and wine highlights.

Classic Lunch

The Étang de Thau is a natural seawater lagoon. The lake is about 20 km long and relatively narrow at 8 km wide, it separated by a sand bar from the Mediterranean Sea. The Étang de Thau joins the Canal du Rhone at Sète and the Canal du Midi at Agde. The lagoon is a valuable water body for the production of shellfish in France, including oysters and mussels. The oysters and mussels grow in farms, in the waters of the Étang, once harvested; they are marketed as Bouzigues Oysters. The mistake that Ginger and Nutmeg made was to go to the village of Bouzigues on a Sunday at lunch time, with no reservation. There was not a parking space to be had, and the restaurants were full. The group had to return to Meze to find a roadside restaurant, the shellfish was delicious and the white wine a perfect match.

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