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We don’t need no stinking’ category. Sometimes, writing doesn’t fit into a box.

Feeding the mind with a good book and a head of cabbage

Recipe: Red Split Lentils with Cabbage Cabbage may not get the same respect as other 'it-legumes' such as kale and continental chard, but the humble head is a superfood, too, and cooked up with split red lentils, it's an easy way to stew goodness By Louise Crosby One thing I’ve come to appreciate since retiring from the workforce two years ago is the Ottawa Public Library, or the OPL. What a resource. What I most love is the option to reserve, to get in line for a particular publication. It may seem dispiriting to be number 143 in the line-up, but things move quickly and before you know it, the book is yours for three whole weeks. Free! It does happen that books become available all at once, in a big wave, and there’s no way you can read them all in the allotted time, but life is like that and you just get back in line again. What books am I reading? I just started The Edge of the Empire: A Journey to Britannia, in which the author, Bronwen Riley, takes us on a trip from ...

Claude Joli-Coeur’s big plans for a better board

Movies: Interview with Claude Joli-Coeur National Film Board Chair reaffirms original vision of 'unity through diversity' with new gender parity policy but that's just the beginning of some bold moves, including a new brick and mortar headquarters in Montreal By Katherine Monk VANCOUVER –  “If the National Film Board were a person, how would you describe their identity?” Claude Joli-Coeur reflects for a second with a serious look hazing over his gentle features. Then, in an instant, a gleeful burst: “Leonard Cohen!” After serving at the board for 12 years, currently as Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson for the NFB, Joli-Coeur has spent a few all-nighters in the company of his current passion. He has the type of insight that only comes from intimacy. “The personality. The sparks. The surprise. The iconic… He grew up in Montreal and achieved world renown. He was open to different questions of identity…. Everything, eh?” For Joli-Coeur, a ...

Super Bowl: Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Food: Vegetarian Curry Laksa Recipe Whether it's pho, bibimbap or a bucket of ramen, a meal in a bowl offers a mysterious delight, and this recipe for Vegetarian Curry Laksa is a culinary treasure you can eat with a spoon By Louise Crosby There’s something appealing about a meal in a bowl, everything contained in one space, relaxed, easy eating. Think of the Vietnamese dish pho – fragrant broth, rice noodles, vegetables and herbs. Or Korean bibimbap – sizzling rice with meat and assorted vegetables, chili pepper paste and a raw or fried egg served on top. But wait, there’s much, much more. I just got my hands on Lukas Volger’s new (vegetarian) cookbook, simply titled Bowl, and realize that when it comes to this kind of eating, the possibilities are endless. I want to cook this entire collection but for starters settled on this Vegetarian Curry Laksa, laksa being a popular noodle dish sold at hawker stalls in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Although there are ...

Viggo meets psycho villain?

Welcome to my lair... This guy from the new Chevrolet commercials — the one who likes to play funny little tricks like pretending to put your phone in a wood chipper, and stopping the elevator, and forcing kids to watch someone else play a videogame: He’s creepy. And not just because he’s looking at every one of those “real people not actors” like they’re a guinea pig in his latest subterranean torture experiment, but because he's a weird pastiche of traits selected at some over-caffeinated marketing meeting where at least one person present had a beard. He’s got the hipster beard that gives him a Viggo Mortensen meets bartender cool, the ironed retro Western shirt (also hipster) and the deadpan self-righteousness of Denis Leary. And what's with the clipboard prop? That's for doctors. You can see why they wanted to get away from the clean-shaven white guy in a suit to reach the target market, but this Frankenstumper gives us the willies — and every time that giant ...

Mob Rule – The Bloodbath Begins

Mob Rule: Part One Gang wars are always brutal and bloody, but if you can't take the heat, you best get out of the place where they make the pasta. That's right, if you like your eggs hardboiled and your orange juice on the pulpy side, then John Armstrong's novel is right up your dark alley as he leads us on a continuing journey to the kingdom of Mob Rule. In this opening instalment, shots are fired, someone goes down and someone brushes off their Borsalino to live another day in the gritty city. “If Satan should ever replace God he would find it necessary to assume the attributes of Divinity.” -- Voltaire       By John Armstrong CHAPTER ONE I was already flat on the ground before I heard the bullets. We had just reached the bottom of the steps when Coriolano, my bodyguard, grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me to the sidewalk, then chips of concrete and stone were dancing in the air to the whine of ricochets and the silly sounding ...

Buvette meatballs reinvent the reliable orb

Forget all the references to Bill Murray and summer camp because thanks to Jody Williams' Buvette in NYC, meatballs are going upscale as part of the thoughtful food movement By Louise Crosby I was thinking the other day how much I love meatballs. Swedish meatballs in gravy served over egg noodles with lingonberry preserves. Middle Eastern meatballs of lamb, cumin and coriander, stuffed into a pita pocket with yogurt and cucumbers. Greek meatballs with feta, mint and lemon. Or regular Italian meatballs in tomato sauce, served over pasta with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can take meatballs in so many directions.   Then along came Buvette, a beautiful first cookbook by Jody Williams, who owns and operates a gastrotheque by the same name in New York City’s West Village, a place she describes as a neighbourhood bar “with thoughtful food.” Her recipe for Italian meatballs in tomato sauce came from the grandmother of an unnamed “talented actor from the Soprano...

Spice up the last gasp of summer: Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon is a fruit that's also a vegetable, and ingredient that can be exploited for its watery sweetness as well as its ability to play savoury base to a spicy Watermelon Gazpacho By Louise Crosby Most of us can remember eating watermelon as kids – at picnics and barbecues and on waterfront docks. It was cold and sweet, a rite of summer. It didn’t matter if the juice dripped down our chins, all over our arms and onto our shirts, it was fun to eat and no one minded the mess. Fast forward to the other day when I visited my friend Amanda at her home in the woods bordering Gatineau Park, just across the river in Quebec. A great cook, she served me a delicious lunch in her screened-in porch that started with a bright, refreshing watermelon gazpacho, a Lucy Waverman recipe published in Food and Drink magazine.  Yes, there are more refined ways of reliving this childhood memory. Watermelon, by the way, is apparently both a fruit and a vegetable. It is considered a ...

RETRO RECIPE: Salade de laitue

This treasure from Tante Marie's turn of the century cookbook, Cuisine de Famille, is called Lettuce Salad. So let us salad. (Translated from the French) This salad must be made with care, because in the cavities and folds of the lettuce leaf, you will often find insects. You have to remove them, as you must also remove the larger leaves from the outer core of the lettuce head. Wash all the leaves well. Once you've removed the big leaves, you will arrive at the heart of the lettuce. Leave that heart the size of an egg, then cut it into quarters. Let the leaves dry, put them in a salad bowl with finely chopped tarragon and decorate with hard-boiled eggs. Season with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Bon appetit!   Because so much of human history, and family memory, revolves around food, we're introducing Retro Recipe -- a new, and we hope regular, feature that looks at the cookbooks and family recipes of previous generations in a bid to better understand our bellies ...

Launch Journal: Let the ride begin…

After a whirlwind beginning to our soft launch, we take a look back at our first three weeks of ups, downs, and complete system crashes... April 26, 2015 The hardest part is starting. And that’s over. It’s been three weeks, and we’re a bit of a hairy beast. But we’re alive, and we’re standing… wet-nosed and a little wobbly, but also wide-eyed and full of wonder at the new landscape. Digital has lots of neat bells and whistles that make the whole endeavour feel like a video game, where suddenly it’s not about the writing, but about the clicks. There’s this thing called analytics, which have nothing to do with Freud at all. It’s just one of those IT words for data, presented in histogram form. And who knew histograms could be so exciting? Watching the roller coaster of consecutive lines unfold on the top of the screen was positively addictive in our first ten days: So many peaks. So many valleys. So many more peaks! So many more valleys… We were getting ...