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No Dear, it’s not a phase

When I was a kid, I was weird.

  • I liked wearing a flowery embroidered purple tunic with just about anything (it was my favourite top).
  • I wore horizontally striped socks with skirts.
  • I carried a book bag years before any of my schoolmates. What I thought was cool never synced up with what was considered cool.
  • I was a complete clutz, not coordinated at all.
  • I was taller than most of the boys in my class, and I didn’t wear a bra until senior high school.

My mom always let me be me. She would check with me as I got older sometimes, maybe offering another alternative for consideration, but she supported my final decisions.

Mostly, I liked being weird. I have always enjoyed quirky things, new adventures; they attracted me. It’s a lot of why I became such a foodie, wanting to try new tastes and understand how to incorporate them. Becoming a sommelier was a perfect fit – it’s a bit of a nerdy pursuit, learning all that history and geography and tasting wine but then spitting it out.

When I took up gardening, I found another weird way to express myself. Just like that embroidered top, the flowers that attract me are unique:


Crown Imperial

I can’t remember the name of this one, but my mom suggested it 😄

Lily of the Valley


For some people, all this is just too much of a difference. It can scare them away. I have been very fortunate to find some wonderful friends over the years, but often I’ve encountered folks who just don’t know what to do with me, or how to respond to all my weirdness.

I remember asking my mom one particularly tough day at about the age of 15, “All of this is just a phase, right? It will pass, I’ll grow out of it, won’t I?” Without hesitating, she answered, “No dear, it’s not a phase. You’ll have to learn to live with it.”

I think back then I figured she was kidding. It took me another few years to realize that I was born NOT to fit in. The more I tried to be a part of the cool crowd, the more they disliked me. I should have connected the dots, knowing that my tastes were different. Once I understood that others who had similar (equally weird) tastes were my tribe, then I stopped trying to explain the differences as a way of being accepted.

On this Mother’s Day as I strolled through my garden, and as I crafted the olive-wood smoked oil & vintage balsamic vinaigrette for our salad with dinner, I was thinking of my mom and her encouragement of my true self.

She was always a traditional Mom, making great cookies and putting notes in my lunch and sewing my Hallowe’en costumes… but the best thing my mom did for me was help me understand who I really am.

Thanks, Mom. Cheers!



Are you a slow cooker? Or is that just a crock…

One of the trends in the kitchen of late seems to be cooking in a crock pot. I wrote about it in my local weekly column (you can see that post here). On of my readers requested vegetarian recipes that are made in a slow cooker, and as I don’t have one I couldn’t offer any advice at all. I found out there are whole websites and even an app devoted to this topic!

One recipe I found that I liked was from a British cook and it reminded me that we don’t all speak the same language in the kitchen, even when the words are all in English. I have included the recipe for Sweet Potato Stew in my archives with the required translations… Do you know what it means when it says “put the stoneware on the hob”?  I am always charmed by these idiosyncracies, and I have become somewhat of a geek about learning the significance of different expressions. Many years ago when I wrote my first cookbook I had to research terms so I could cook recipes; for example, I had never heard of a dessert spoon as a measurement – I didn’t even know how big (or small) a dessert spoon was!

Research on the internet is a slippery slope, and this search was a good example. I started looking for recipes and found a Facebook page that has great information not just on recipes but also what they call “frugal living”. (Apparently crock pots fit that lifestyle.) Wise Bread’s list of slow cooker recipes for “Lazy Vegetarians” had a great sense of humour. Then I narrowly averted being swayed by shopping sites (it is the biggest shopping week of the year, don’t you know). I took a small detour to check out a few entertaining ideas, but then came back to my search and finished off with a recipe that isn’t vegetarian but does showcase a trendy veggie: Slow Cooker Kale & Chorizo Soup.

crockpot we are what we eat

Maybe I’ll have to get a slow cooker one of these days… some of these recipes look pretty good 🙂 Please let me know what you think if you try any of them! A word of caution: please remember to reheat any leftovers to boiling to ensure any bacteria is killed. If you’re like me and you don’t own one yet but are interested, I found a great first-timer’s tip sheet and a good review post from the folks at The Kitchn.

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