Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Fish Au Gratin

A lovely dish, full of comfort and warmth.   My father used to say that fish was ‘brain food’.  This is ‘brain food’ that the stomach will also love.

Great when it’s hot out of the oven, and this recipe can also be fully cooked, then frozen.   Thaw on countertop and then reheat to warm through.  This dish is always enjoyable.

Jaine’s mom’s Pecan Pie

I’m a day late for Pi Day…oops.

Recipe by Mrs Ross, photos by Gayle Hurmuses

Use with Pie Crust recipe

*Note: Jaine tells me that it’s important to use white sugar, rather than brown (flavour)…and I have discovered that agave syrup is a great substitute for the corn syrup.

I also cut the syrup portion by 1/3 and increased the pecans to make up the volume. For me personally, this makes a very satisfying pie.

We are one!

Article and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses and Hurmuses family archives,  featured image by Brandi Deziel

A year. 58 recipes, a couple of dozen articles, many reviews, and 16 contributors with more coming soon!

Grampa's store, Main St, Vancouver
Grampa’s store, Main St, Vancouve

It’s been an exciting year and a growing experience full of opportunities to meet great people, to try new foods, and to share the love of cooking.  At the end of the day, that’s what this site is for, to teach about food, to discuss it, and to share a passion for food and its annual rituals.

On the Ptarmigan
On the Ptarmigan

I grew up cooking, in a food industry (fish exports, restaurants, grocery markets) household where everyone not only cooked, but each had their own specialty. Funny thing, we were all so busy cooking that it’s one of the few activities we don’t really have pix of us doing.

My folks would regularly host parties with 100 people or more and we’d cook as a family enough food to feed all of them. Christmas dinners were often for 35 to 40 people, with furniture moved out of the way and tables brought in from everywhere.

The National Cafe - Vernon, BC. - Uncle Jeff
The National Cafe – Vernon, BC. – Uncle Jeff

In those days it was a lot more common for people to preserve their own foods, and it’s what I grew up doing…certainly during my childhood. Both my mom and Mrs Davidson the next door neighbour, would each can bushels of food every year, with Mrs Davidson having the edge on volume and variety.

BushelTomatoes1I don’t make everything myself from scratch, but have always made it part of my objective to know how to do so, to understand how things are made and how to work with the seasons. There are some things that I always want to do for myself, or I’d simply do without them…like canned tomatoes.

For me, there is no comparison between home canned tomatoes and even the best that one can buy commercially. In a pinch, I might consent to use commercial tomatoes for a pasta sauce, but never for tomato soup, where the taste of the fruit itself is the key note.

Last year I did one bushel of tomatoes and really ought to have done two, as I usually do. The sauce was gone in a moment and I’m already down to only 3 quart jars of tomatoes, which I could easily use up in a week. I still have a good amount of ketchup and salsa…which makes me happy.

Sadly, my computer was held hostage to an evil repair company in September (note to self, always go to the Apple Store) and I was unable to post almost anything during that month, although I certainly did a lot of canning and preserving. I’m planning to post some of those retroactively, as soon as time permits.

Canned Tomatoes, Salsa, and Ketchup
Canned Tomatoes, Salsa, and Ketchup

That bushel of tomatoes netted me 7 litres of canned tomatoes, 3 litres of tomato sauce, 16 pints of salsa, and 9 pints of ketchup. The ketchup is entirely bonus, as it’s made from the skins and cores of the tomatoes, which most would normally toss out. It’s almost the best part of cooking a bushel of tomatoes simply to get the ketchup.

The thing about canning is that it’s not about the money you save, it’s about the quality you get…and it’s about owning the food you eat and share with the people in your life.  It’s a great family project, and adds enormously to the appreciation of the food we eat.

Grape leaves
Grape leaves

This website celebrates the importance of the seasons as part of the calendar of food and of keeping us grounded. It’s a reminder that everything we eat comes to us directly out of the earth. So, this year, as last year, we’ll look at planning a garden for cooking and follow that process all the way through to cooking from the garden, preserving the harvest and later use of that food during the winter months. Over time, we’ll look at planning these activities year over year…one doesn’t need to make every canned item every year…if you’re not a nomad, you can plan your preserving in 2 or 3 year cycles, or join a canning exchange group in order to assure a good variety of canned goods.

From seed to jar, food always provides a context for being grounded, for following the seasons, enjoying the best of food as it appears, and setting some of it by for later use in the winter.

Yes, it’s work, but it’s a joyful celebratory labour that creates fun from beginning to end and it’s an act of love and caring to share with the people who are important in your life.

Grampa Hurmuses Turkey
Grampa Hurmuses – The Turkey Master

Margaret’s Coconut Curry Soup

No one likes to think about flu season, but when it’s with us, there’s nothing like spicy food to cut through the fog of grumble-nothing-tastes-good-today.

Here’s a nice hearty, spicy, and warming soup to thin the blood, make you sweat just a bit and make you feel so much better! This is the first of several spicy rich recipes to help us through the cold…and the colds.

Thanks to Margaret Turney for this one!

Potato Latkes

Recipe and photograph by Gayle Hurmuses

My friend Lindsay was looking for his latke recipe, so decided I would write up this one. I make several variations on the theme of Latkes, but this is a good basic type, and my general favourite.

My preference is to fry them in chicken fat, applesauce is a popular accompaniment. I like sour cream, but this is of course not kosher if they are fired in schmaltz (chicken, duck, or goose fat).

If you plan to serve them at room temperature, or are making them for a Hanukah event, of course fry them in oil.

No Knead Sourdough Bread

Before baking, with rosemary, rock salt, and sesame seeds.
Before baking, with rosemary, rock salt, and sesame seeds.

This is dead easy and makes great  bread!

Our simple instructions for the  Sourdough Yeast Culture can be found at this link.

As to the flour used, this is mainly a white bread recipe, but I often use a combination of 2cups white, 1cup whole wheat, and 1/2 cup flax meal.

Also, ideally one would use  “Hard Wheat” flour, but All Purpose will work. For specialty flours, one can often find these in bulk food stores, especially the “health food store” variety, and also in gourmet shops.

The original instructions call for a dutch oven, but I currently don’t have one, so used a  ceramic casserole dish. I also used a pyrex casserole, but it broke, so I don’t recommend them for this.  The temperature shift between the hot casserole and the room temperature bread is almost certainly the culprit.

have a perfect le creuset in the same size...you think I would have remembered to switch them for the photo styling. *le sigh*.
Just after being removed from the oven

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a favourite for many, and simpler to make than most believe. As with all soups, the key is the right ingredients; a good stock, fresh onions and the right kind…not the cheapest by the bag onions, but big, juicy, sweet ones…Spanish onions, Vidalias, something with a full flavour.

Aside from any quantities given here, a good rule of thumb is one onion, 1.5 – 2 cups of stock , and a couple of teaspoons of port or sherry (I prefer port) per serving.

One personal favourite trick is that while the soup is simmering, I like to toss in a few parmesan rinds to add body and flavour. This is a nice trick with most soups, but especially good with French Onion, as it normally does get finished with cheese.

For a vegan stock ,Alison Cole recommends Better Than  Boullion. We are looking for a great recipe for one though.

Sunflower Bread

My Deaf Smith Country Coodbook
My Deaf Smith Country Coodbook

From the Deaf Smith Country Cookbook, this Sunflower Bread is my favourite whole wheat bread recipe ever.

It’s softer and fluffier than the Phyllis’ Bread that we also published yesterday and I love the sunflower seeds in the flavour. Sesame seeds are a nice addition as well.

You’ll notice that this recipe calls for milk, as does the Purity Flour White Bread, in both cases, I often use the milk to make ricotta, and then use the whey from the cheese making  for the bread.

Dea fSmith Country Coodbook
Dea fSmith Country Coodbook – Later edition

Phyllis’ Bread

Photos by Gayle Hurmuses and Gisela McKay

This recipe comes from the Deaf Smith Country Cookbook, by Marjorie Winn Ford, Susan Hillyard, and Mary Faulk Kock, and is one of my favourites.


When making truly whole wheat bread, you’re going to have to accept that it’s simply not going to raise to the same degree of fluffiness as white bread.

It’s especially important to make sure to knead it fully without going too far.

One thing that I watch for when kneading, to know when to stop, is when the outer layer of the raw kneaded bread begins to tear, rather than simply stretch.

While you don’t want to under-knead bread, you also don’t want to overdo it either. Gluten is a living thing and gets tired of working, just like you do.