• Travel

    Camino Day 4 – Barcelos to Ponte de Lima

    15-minute train ride from Barcelos to Tamel train station 7.5 hours walking, 26.2 km walkedThe walking hours are above from 7:30am, when we finished our coffee at the cafe near the Tamel train station, to 3pm, when we arrived in Ponte de Lima, and include stops for a rest and for lunch. It was just before dawn when we woke up to start our day; we were the first ones up, and crept out of the room with our gear to get ready in the common rooms (which is the decent thing to do when you’re sleeping in a room of ten or more). We were rushing a bit, worried…

  • Travel

    Camino Day 3 – Rates to Barcelos

    5 hours walking, 20.3 km walked(Walking time includes breaks, breakfast/lunch, etc) With two full days of walking under our belt, and not much sleep the first night, you’d think we’d be ready to sleep through anything. One of our roommates – half of a really lovely Irish couple – warned everyone in advance that he was a loud snorer, and offered ear plugs. But I don’t think anyone was prepared for this kind of snoring – sort of a sound like a dragon fighting with and then consuming a passenger jet as it was taking off. I’d declined the ear plugs, but Sammi had some spares, and so I did…

  • Travel

    Camino Day 2 – Vila Cha to Rates

    4.5 hours walking, 20 km walked Our first night on the Camino, we should have been tired enough to sleep like a pair of logs, but no, it wasn’t to be. The latecomers on the mattress on the floor were noisy, on top of being loud snorers, and sometime around 5am our meditations on how annoyed we were with those people were interrupted by the very early risers, who for some reason always have more zippers to zip and unzip and plastic bags to crinkle than anyone else. By 7:30am we were back out on the boardwalk along the Atlantic Coast, another grey, damp day, walking through spray coming off…

  • Travel

    Camino Day 1 – Porto to Vila Cha

    7.5 hours walking time from Porto to Labruge, + 10 min cab ride to Vila Cha, because the albergue was full. 26.9 km walked(walking time includes stops for breakfast/lunch and rest breaks) Our first day on the Camino started early for us, but maybe not early for most pilgrims – we’re just not morning people. Waking up at about 7:40am in the Blue Socks Hostel in Porto was cosy and comfortable, and didn’t make you want to leave immediately. We’d pre-paid for the breakfast buffet, so took a quick trip down to the crypt and ate fresh croissants, fruit, cereal, and something coffee-adjacent. Stashing some apples and croissants for later,…

  • Travel

    Walking the Caminho Portugues

    A year ago today, my sister Samantha and I landed in Portugal, ready to start our 12-day adventure walking the Caminho Portugues, the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago, and ancient pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. James. At the time, I updated fairly regularly on Instagram and Facebook, and meant to write about it when we got back, but I got swept up in this civic participation thing that I was doing last Summer and never got around to it. Now that we’re all unable to travel, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trip, and about the many photos and experiences I’ve never shared. So I’m going…

  • Roasted Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetables

    Roasted Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetables

    This is a nice quick, healthy dinner that’s very filling and tasty. I’ve often made it for dinner and than saved leftovers for lunches. It definitely tastes best warm, though it’s okay cold. It’s also great with pasta, to make it a heartier meal – I had some leftover cooked pasta, and heated it up with some leftovers of this dish, and it was great. Adding the bocconcini a few minutes before serving gives it a chance to melt, which is really nice. You could also add oregano to the balsamic vinegar mixture, or a different variety of vegetables that roast well; I’ve never tried it with zucchini, but I…

  • Recipes

    Chicken Burrito Bowls

    Usually I don’t love marinating chicken. It takes extra time and planning (at least an hour), it feels wasteful (the leftover marinade goes down the drain, and people often recommend marinating chicken in a ziplock bag, which most will then throw away), and a lot of the time the flavours aren’t exciting enough to justify the extra prep and waste. But the marinated chicken for these Chicken Burrito Bowls turned out perfectly – flavourful, spicy, and delicious – and the amount of marinade leftover didn’t feel excessive. So I totally recommend this one, and if you can leave it overnight, it’s even better. It would probably work really well for…

  • Black Bean Chipotle Soup
    Recipes,  Soups

    Black Bean Chipotle Soup

    A deliciously spicy, flavourful soup that’s warming and filling. This time of year, I like bright, spicy flavours and hearty soups that kick you out of your post-festivities malaise and get you back into the kitchen. This soup was serendipitous; I didn’t feel like cooking, and I was irritated that the grocery store didn’t have half of the ingredients I needed for the recipe I wanted to make. I felt grumpy that I had to come up with something on the fly, and thought this was going to be one of those soups that you made and ate dutifully without really enjoying it. I cooked it based on a recipe,…

  • Cassie's Banana Bread
    Baking,  Recipes

    Cassie’s Banana Bread

    This is my sister Cassie’s banana bread recipe; I made it for the first time this week. Cassie’s critique was that I mashed the bananas too fine – she likes more chunks of banana in the baked loaf. So keep that in mind! This is a nice, straightforward recipe that turns out delicious every time – or at, least every time I’ve eaten it! Cassie’s Banana Bread Ingredients 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup melted butter 2/3 cup honey (less with more banana) 1 egg, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda a pinch of salt Directions Preheat the oven to 350…

  • Articles,  Year-End Thoughts

    2019: A long walk, and then a run

    This year has been a series of pleasant surprises, which has been a real relief after a couple years with many good things in them but also many painful, unpleasant surprises. It has been disruptive, and healing, and energizing, in ways I could never have expected. A kick in the ass In February, after five incredible, successful, stressful years, the Distillery District eliminated my position. It was initially shocking, and for about an hour after I got the news I was entirely spun. But once the reality set in – five months of severance, and a bit of a rest – it felt a bit like winning the lottery. I’d…

  • Articles

    Glazed Baked Ham

    This ham recipe won converts at our 2019 dinner, because it is so damn good. And if you’re used to cooking a turkey, ham seems like a breeze – I even found myself slightly at loose ends because I didn’t realize how much less time it takes. It was awesome. If you want a really nice ham and you’re in the Peterborough area, you order from Franz’s. They didn’t pay me to say that, it’s just true. Glazed Baked Ham Ingredients Half ham, shank, bone in, about 8-12 lbs. (timetable for cooking other kinds of ham below) A bottle of hard cider or two cups of apple cider 1 1/2…

  • Baking,  Recipes,  Shaw Christmas Favourites

    Buche de Noel

    Buche de Noel Ingredients Filling 2 cups heavy cream 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Cake 6 egg yolks 1/2 cup white sugar 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon salt 6 egg whites 1/4 cup white sugar confectioners’ sugar for dusting Directions Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a 10″ x 15″ inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Filling: In a large bowl, whip cream, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.  Cake: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with…

  • Wassail – Mulled Ale
    Period Recipes,  Recipes

    Wassail – Mulled Ale

    Wassail is an old tradition, going back to pre-Norman England and possibly earlier.  There seem to be at least two kinds of wassailing: one kind carried door to door in a large wooden bowl to toast neighbours, and one to visit apple orchards (particular to apple-growing regions) or fields and livestock to ask for a good growing and harvesting season in the coming year and to scare away evil spirits. Like lots of old, regional traditions, it’s pretty confused and tangled-in with other traditions. Those traditions might have been unique from one village or family to the next, all in place for hundreds of years before anyone thought to write…

  • Mulled Wine - Glühwein
    Period Recipes,  Recipes,  Shaw Christmas Favourites

    Mulled Wine – Glühwein

    Glühwein translates as ‘glowing wine,’ and I agree that it adds a glow to the season.  In my time at the Toronto Christmas Market, the smell of mulled wine was one of the most evocative scents of the season, and a glass of it at the end of a long, cold day sent me home with a warmth in my heart. People have been drinking spiced wines since the Roman period at least, and the earliest recipe that we have is from 1390, which is older than any of the other recipes I’ve been able to find for my other festive drinks. This is another drink that was given to…

  • Eggnog
    Period Recipes,  Recipes,  Shaw Christmas Favourites


    I have never been an eggnog fan, at least not of the stuff I usually see at festive events – the eggnog that comes in a carton from the store. But I always thought I might like it a lot more if I tried making it from scratch, and this weekend my sisters and I decided to try it out – and I was right. In the older sources I can find, Eggnog is characterized as ‘an American drink,’ though it’s thought to be related to the old English possets. It’s often considered a good drink for people who are ill. I’ve read several times in modern recipes, without any…

  • Lamb's Wool
    Period Recipes,  Recipes

    Lamb’s Wool

    Lamb’s Wool is an old recipe, a drink that was made in celebration during the dark, festive season, often as part of the tradition of wassailing – in this case, a kind-of ritual toasting the apple orchards (and often other crops, fields, and livestock) to ask for a good harvest in the coming year. In the photo below, I’ve included some real rovings of natural wool from a sheep, so you can see that the colour is actually quite close to real wool. it also has a thick texture, that’s comforting, warm, and hearty. When I decided to try making it, I had a lot of research to do.  Years…

  • Cranberry Muffins
    Baking,  Recipes

    Cranberry Muffins

    Update 2019: Ten years later, this is still my favourite muffin recipe! I usually load it full of cranberries, but you can substitute other fruit – I think raspberries work really well, and blueberries would probably be great.  But I love the tart-sweetness of the cranberries, and i usually add more than this recipe calls for.  I also really like the way maple syrup sweetens the batter – it seems to blend better (in my opinion) than honey does, but either is great. 2009 Post: This is my favourite muffin recipe ever; not particularly sweet, packed full of tart cranberries, pretty much perfect.  If you’re one for the coffee-shop sugar-bomb…

  • The Perfect Omelette

    The Perfect Omelette

    Okay, the title is hyperbole – it’s a big claim to say that you can tell someone how to make the perfect omelette, and I’m still learning.  I suspect that it’s one of those things that you can work your whole life to perfect.  But this is as close to perfection as I’ve gotten it, and since I’ve reached new-to-me heights of omelette perfection, I thought I’d share. My go-to version is a fried onion and cheddar cheese omelette, but you can do any kind of fillings you like; the varieties are endless, and it’s very much about personal taste.  This one is my staple because I always have cooking…

  • Pear and Cardamom Caramel Cake
    Baking,  Recipes

    Pear and Cardamom Caramel Cake

    I love cardamom, and a couple of years ago my sister Cassie gave me a beautiful cookbook, The Cardamom Trail, by Chetna Makan.  Aside from having beautiful pictures and lots of great writing, the recipes are fantastic.  And tis weekend, I decided to try making the Pear and Cardamom Caramel Cake. I’ve never done an upside-down cake before, and it’s even been a while since I made anything in a springform pan! I had to buy a new one to make this recipe, as I made my delicious cheesecake for a friends’ birthday about a year ago, and left the springform at their place. I don’t know if it’s just me,…