Vagabond Cookbook

The best you ate on vacation? Make it at home tonight.

gulyás with coleslaw

Try the gulyás. Skip the Kool-Aid.

If the Academy Awards prove nothing else, there’s still no accounting for taste. This year, I’m overjoyed (and not just because I won my Oscar pool). Spotlight strikes a win for journalism, classic Hollywood filmmaking, and plucky do-gooders taking a corrupt system to task. It’s the best movie of the year, easy. If only we could say the same about some other Best Picture winners. C’mon, even Paul Haggis thinks Crash sucks. Crash, Forrest Gump, Ordinary People — no one today thinks these were the movies of the year (if they were any damn good at all). Still, the old, white members of the Academy nodded and lacklustre producers waddled off with their shiny, gold, Clue-inspired murder weapons. Maybe these movies suck. Maybe they just ain’t my bag. It’s hard to say when taste comes into play (and my old lit crit profs would argue that to death too). In […]

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Let’s consider some facts about birds

Can we talk? Let’s cut the crap here a minute and say what we’ve all got on our minds – turkey’s a bitch. Everyone’s favourite holiday bird is one whopping pain in the ass. Typically, you buy a frozen turkey and, after days of defrosting, it’s still an iceberg at its centre. Tear open the Butterball wrapping to unleash a septic stream of salmonella water into your vegetable crisper. Stuff it, truss it, roast on high, then low (or is that low, then high) to eventually pull out your dinner several hours later – dry like the Sahara in some parts and a glistening raw pink in others. Yummers! Happy Thanksgiving! “But, it’s tradition! You can’t have the holidays without a whole roast turkey!” Listen, I’m from Newfoundland. My family cooked a gobbler almost every Sunday. I’m well acquainted with the unparalleled warmth of seeing a giant roast bird resting […]

Grilled lamb with ratatouille

The Rest of Summer #4: Deadly is the nightshade

Don your thinking caps, nerds, ‘cause it’s time for a botany lesson. Pop quiz: What do these things have in common?     That’s right! They’re all nightshades, the classic witches’ weeds known to cause madness, hallucinations, and even death. Find them growing wild throughout South America or stored behind posters for The Craft in goth girls’ bedrooms worldwide. Double Bubble, toil and trouble. Like that movie’s cast of ‘90s up-and-comers, some are toxic while others aretempting and delicious. Along with belladonna and tobacco, farmer’s market favourites eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers all join their creepy uncles at the nightshade family reunion. “Fascinating. What is this, dude, Grow Somethin’? I’m outta here.” Hold your horses. A little plant knowledge goes a long way when fixing dinner. For instance, plant families go well together. Think about it: peaches and plums, strawberries and raspberries, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables. It’s true — just […]

Rabbit cacciatore

What Bucky O’Hare can show home cooks

Bored of pork? Sick of chicken? Well, well, well, have I got the protein for you. Don your deerstalker cap, Elmer, ‘cause today we’re going after rabbits. Be vewy, vewy quiet. People are touchy about wabbits. “Dios Mio! Not Little Bunny Foo Foo! Devon, you’re a monster!” Not so fast, Dinner Police! Rabbit is a fantastic ingredient and, honestly, there are only two reasons you’d even have that reaction. One, you’re a vegetarian. Fair enough. (I have mad appreciation for vegetarians, especially for a guy with a potful of bunny in his fridge.) It’s the other reason that gets me. If you eat meat but you bristle at rabbit, there’s one thing for certain: You’re North American. Everywhere else in the world — from the mountains of Peru to the sands of Morocco — people lap up rabbit and ask for seconds. But, run a quick poll at the neighbourhood […]