Tag Archives: cooking

Some Good: Sweet Treats by Jessica Mitton

Jessica Mitton is the author of Some Good: Nutritious Newfoundland Dishes, which was a finalist for the 2019 Taste Canada Award. Remarkably, every recipe was gluten-free, dairy-free, and made without refined sugars. Now, Breakwater Books is set to release her follow-up cookbook, Some Good: Sweet Treats, in August 2020. These dessert recipes are gluten and dairy-free as well. Recently, Ms. Mitton agreed to an interview in advance of Sweet Treat’s release. Jessica and her husband Gareth (who is also an author) currently reside in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Jessica, can you recall your first cooking experience, or when you knew that cooking was “your thing” so to speak?

The journey has been a long and winding one! I first developed a real interest in cooking and baking in my teenage years. I even applied and was accepted to a culinary school in PEI and was all set to go there after leaving high school, but I decided to go another route at that time with my studies and went to do a business degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland instead. I guess the path of culinary adventures was still one I was destined to return to as, some thirteen years later, I discovered a passion for creating delicious recipes with a healthy twist.

Was there someone that inspired you to pursue cooking?

As a teenager, a lot of my inspiration came from my family. I grew up in rural Newfoundland, surrounded by a family that loved to enjoy food – from foraging for local and wild foods to preparing and enjoying meals together. My mother and grandmother cooked and baked a lot. I had seen them pour sumptuous meals into our bowls. In the kitchen, they used to fry vegetables with olive oil and whatnot. Mostly, I was intrigued by how the food smelled so good and wondered what brand of cooking oil they were using. I think it could have been the modern equivalent of Gundry MD olive oil. Although I am certain that my family did not purchase the olive oil online like nowadays individuals can do by reading the likes of Gundry MD Olive Oil reviews. However, the oil, as it must be clearly stated, added more flavour to all the food.

Talking about my father and grandfather, they were big outdoorsmen, always hunting for wild game and fishing the pristine rivers of northern Newfoundland. I was very fortunate to grow up surrounded by an abundance of fresh, local foods. When I rediscovered my true passion for cooking and baking, my health was a big determining factor. I had some health issues that got me very interested in nutrition. After studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, I went on to continue my studies at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, where I developed the skills to create meals for healthy living and specific health concerns.

Do you have a favourite “go to” recipe when you entertain, or when guests show up unexpectedly?

I have a couple favourites! When family visits, a go-to is my Battered Baked Cod from my first cookbook, Some Good. I’ll usually serve it with a variety of roasted veggies. Another would be my Warming Homemade Chili, which is featured on my blog, https://www.jessicamitton.com/recipes/warming-homemade-chili. It makes about 6 servings, so it’s good for a group – especially on a cold winter’s day. It’s made in one large saucepan, making it easy to whip together, and it’s great to freeze and break out as a quick meal on the go (or when guests turn up unexpectedly!)

Tell us about your website, jessicamitton.com. Did you start it because you were getting so many requests for your recipes?

I originally started my blog to provide information for nutritional services I used to offer, but it has evolved to now act as a hub for a few things. I have health and wellness articles on my blog, as well as recipes, and articles from my culinary adventures. When my husband and I travel, we always create an itinerary based around the healthy-but-delicious restaurants we want to try and I catalogue these adventures as we go. Folks will also find information about my cookbooks and various services I offer on the site.

Tell us a bit more about your new upcoming cookbook, Some Good: Sweet Treats.

Baking has been a very satisfying experience for me, not only because you get a sweet treat at the end, but because the process of preparing and baking the food can itself be very therapeutic. To see the cookbook come to life is very exciting! It will be published in August 2020 and will provide a variety of different goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth (with a healthy twist)! In Some Good: Sweet Treats you will find decadent chocolate delights, oat-based goodies, muffins, cakes, square, and cookies. These delicious desserts are made in ways that are healthier and more nutritious, made without gluten or dairy, and incorporating healthier ingredients that will make everyone feel Some Good! You can stay up to date regarding the release of Some Good: Sweet Treats by visiting https://www.jessicamitton.com/.

Some Good: Sweet Treats will be released in August 2020 and a launch event will be hosted at Sequoia Trinity in Moncton. Stay tuned to Jessica’s social media pages for more details!

Photo credit: Doug Hanson.

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2CvzVWn Thanks! 

This article has been Digiproved © 2020 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy and China by Jan Wong

Jan Wong is the author of five non-fiction bestsellers, including Out of the Blue and Red China Blues, named one of Time magazine’s top ten non-fiction books of 1996. She has won numerous journalism awards and is now a professor of journalism at St. Thomas University. A third-generation Canadian, Jan is the eldest daughter of a prominent Montreal restaurateur.

“Smart, funny and thoughtful. an utterly delectable read.”

Karen Pinchin, CBC Radio columnist and food writer

Apron Strings (2017 Goose Lane Editions) is a different kind of book. Part memoir, part travelogue and part culinary guide, it will appeal to different readers on different levels. In my case, I didn’t think I would particularly enjoy reading a book about a mother and son travelling to three different countries to see how the “average” person eats and lives, but I was pleasantly surprised how easily Ms Wong drew me into the story. I would say it is 70% memoir, 15% travelogue and 15% culinary guide, with a few recipes thrown in.

“I wanted to learn home cooking. I wanted to know how ordinary folks made dinner, whether in this time-starved world they were still sitting down to dinner with their families.”

The book quickly takes us to France where Ms Wong and her son Sam (who is a cook) get lodgings with a family in the tiny village of Allex in the south of France. There they are introduced to different foods, and methods of obtaining them. They are also surprised that in their journeys, “kitchen equipment was surprisingly crappy”, many cooking with a dinner fork, or an old wooden spatula. Pots were missing lids, knives were dull, and they used the old fashioned type of manual can openers. At breakfast, Ms Wong often found herself alone:

“I would make myself a steaming mug of English tea – I’d carried my favourite King Cole teabags from the Maritimes where the tea is always strong and the people are strong and nice.”

Ms Wong has a very engaging writing style, and humorous at times too. In Italy, she watches as Mirella bakes:

“When you cook, you rely on instincts and experience. When you bake, you measure. You had to sit up straight and pay attention. Thus, I have failed almost everytime I attempted to bake a pie or a cake. Once, my cookies stuck to Teflon!”

I found the travelogue portions most interesting, for I often wonder what day-to-day life is like in other countries. It appears that in France and Italy, most of the time is spent preparing meals: as soon as one meal is enjoyed, it is time to begin preparing the next. The dishes often require many ingredients, and there’s not just one dish or entree, there are several, all requiring a different level of preparation. In China, the nouveau riche in Shanghai hire full-time cooks, so Sam his mother spent much time interacting with them and getting their life stories. This is where the real value of Apron Strings lies, in my opinion. That is why I gave it 4 stars at Goodreads. My only negative comment about Apron Strings is the lack of pictures, either of the people, the food, or the places. Perhaps a companion volume with colour pictures and more recipes is forthcoming?

“What sets it apart is Wong’s nearly-obsessively sharp observational skills, which lead to snippets of wisdom about how culture and politics influence the kitchen.” The Toronto Star

Apron Strings: Navigating Food and family in France, Italy and China by Jan Wong
Goose Lane Editions

The Kindle edition is a real bargain at $5.20!

This article has been Digiproved © 2017 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Rock Recipes: Christmas by Barry C. Parsons

This was the first-ever cookbook the Miramichi Reader was asked to review, and no sooner had I removed it from its protective bubble mailer when it was taken from my hands by my wife who proceeded to oooh and aah over every glossy page and delicious-looking photograph. She claimed the recipes called for ingredients she already had in the house, so they could be easily made (if she so wished). Looks like this cookbook already had her ‘seal of approval’! One of the best things about a cookbook can be recreating these meals without having to get all manner of weird ingredients to make them ‘perfect’. All some will have to do is check what is the best way when boiling frozen chicken or how they can crush garlic properly with a garlic press.

“My recipes…are simple and unfussy, using ingredients that you generally don’t have to Google to find out what they are.”

Barry C. Parsons

In Rock Recipes Christmas, Barry C. Parsons provides everything you need to prepare for the ultimate holiday season. From the perfect turkey dinner with all the trimmings to delectable cakes, cookies, breads, and desserts-there are even recipes for gift giving-Parsons offers the blueprint for a truly delicious festive season. A New Year’s menu is here too, with a mouth-watering ham and party nibbles for guests. This is old-fashioned family cooking at its very best, and every recipe is accompanied by a full-page colour photograph (taken by the author, who is also a photographer) to help with the perfect presentation.

A New Year’s menu is here too. This is old-fashioned family cooking at its very best, and every recipe is accompanied by a full-page colour photograph to help with the perfect presentation. Rock Recipes Christmas serves as an ideal gift, and it’s handy to have all year ’round, too!

A Rock Recipe Sampler

Here’s a few of the beautiful images from the book, courtesy of the author. These should get your mouth watering!

  • Delicious and uncomplicated recipes for the holidays.
  • Turkey Wellington
  • Cherry Pound Cake
  • Dodgers
  • Marmalade
  • Mushroom Pate
  • Christmas Chelsea Buns

Meet Author and Cook, Barry C. Parsons

Barry was able to step away from the stove for a few moments to answer some questions for the Miramichi Reader, for which I am grateful.

Can you recall your first cooking experience, or when you knew that cooking was “your thing” so to speak?

I first recall cooking, or rather baking, with my mother as a child around 9 or 10. Baking was a big thing in our family and still is. Before long my interest also branched into cooking.
I think it was the transformative “magic” that happened to ingredients in the cooking and baking processes that caught my imagination as a kid. The fact that you could take common things like butter, sugar, flour and eggs and turn them into a cake, for example, was fascinating to me. I was soon experimenting in the kitchen on almost a daily basis.
Was there someone that inspired you to pursue cooking?

My mom and aunts definitely inspired my interest in baking but my cooking curiosity was sort of self-motivated. I was a finicky eater as a kid. I refused to eat anything with yellow onions in it for example, and as I got into my pre-teen years, I learned that if I cooked supper after school, I got to control the menu. I banished the yellow onions and never looked back!

Do you have a favourite “go to” recipe when you entertain, or when guests show up unexpectedly?

I like variety too much to have a go-to recipe for entertaining. When people come over, I like to try and serve them something new that they haven’t tried before. They are also generally guinea pigs for the next recipe I’m planning for a blog post.
Unexpected guests are never really a problem because of the way we cook around here. I am a real “make do with what’s in the fridge” kind of person. It’s that kind of instant inventiveness which I’ve honed over the years, that really makes such situations stress free for me. Then again, we do mostly have a well-stocked fridge and freezer so I guess the possibilities are a bit more open than for some folks.
If I had to make something right now, there is fresh linguine, fresh basil, vine-ripened tomatoes and some shrimp in the fridge along with some kalamata olives and capers. I’d have a Spicy Shrimp Linguine Puttanesca on the table in under 30 minutes. Time me! Ha.

Tell us about your website, RockRecipes.com. Did you start it because you were getting so many requests for your recipes?

Yes indeed. Prior to starting a blog, I had almost never written down recipes that I’d come up with or adapted. I pretty well just remembered how I did it the last time if I wanted to repeat the dish later. It was a major ankle surgery that was going to have me laid up for a few months that also provided me something to do as a project to fill the time I would be off work. I intended it as a reference site for friends and family, particularly those living away from the province and it grew organically from there. I had under 200 page visits on the day I first posted to the website on September 25, 2007. Our busiest day this past year saw over 40,000 page hits. Nine years later, with over 500,000 followers across social media, over 1500 recipes posted, 3 cookbooks published, freelance writing continuing to grow, and Rock Recipes now my full-time job, it certainly has been quite a journey.

The blog itself has been a success in my opinion because of the accessibility of the recipes for everyday people who just want to get a tasty dinner on the table or bake something delicious for friends and loved ones. For the most part, although my recipes can be creative, at their heart they are simple and unfussy, using ingredients that you generally don’t have to Google to find out what they are. The majority of loyal followers would not identify as “foodies” and they really appreciate the straightforward approach to food. Those who would identify as foodies, say that approach is what they like too. In the end what both those groups of folks recognise, is that simple food can also be great food.

Follow Rock Recipes on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockRecipes

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2DB4t8v Thanks!

This article has been Digiproved © 2016 James FisherSome Rights Reserved