Archive for Cookbooks

DIY Body Scrub from the Kitchen

I have no idea how Christmas snuck up on me this year.

No, actually, I do. My head has been firmly buried in the edits of my book, and now Christmas is in just a few days! Eeep!!

If you are scrambling around at the last minute looking for hostess gifts, or something for your girlfriends, I am about to save your proverbial bacon.

You can make them something. Something from things that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen.

I recently got this new book, The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty: 125 Recipes for Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cruelty-Free Makeup, Skin and Hair Care, written by Sunny Subramanian, who runs the popular Vegan Beauty Review blog. 

It’s packed with all kinds of recipes for beauty products–from soap to shampoo to makeup to masques–that you can make yourself. Now, that sounds like it might be a lot of work, right? Especially when you can buy that stuff in any drugstore? Sure. But here’s the thing; whether you are vegan or not, we should all be concerned about what we’re putting on our skins. So much of what we buy in the drugstore is loaded with chemicals and preservatives, and we put it on on our skins, where it can be easily absorbed. So, I’m all for trying out some beauty products that are a little closer to nature.

Let’s take coconut oil for example. I use that stuff on everything! I cook with it, fry in it, and I also use it as a moisturizer after the shower. It makes an amazing, and incredibly effective, eye makeup remover (even with tough waterproof mascara).

Sunny’s book is full of tips like this; naturally-sourced ingredients that are actually good for you, and how to use them or incorporate them into recipes.

But back to the issue at hand: last minute Christmas gifts for your girlfriends.

I’m a big fan of this brown sugar, coconut oil scrub. First of all, those exfoliating microbead thingies have been banned in Canada, finally, because we know how terrible they are for the environment. This recipe uses brown sugar instead, and pairs it with coconut oil, which both moisturizes and binds the whole thing together. You can whip this stuff up in about 5 minutes, add whatever kinds of essential oils you like, package it in some pretty jars, and bam! Done.

By the way, the dollar store is a great place to get pretty glass jars on the cheap. Print up some pretty cards explaining how to use the scrub to go with.

DIY Body scrub

Vanilla Latte Body Scrub

(recipe courtesy of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty: 125 Recipes for Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cruelty-Free Makeup, Skin and Hair Care)


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup ground coffee
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder or 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (or combo of oils)


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave, melt the coconut oil.
  2. Pour the oil into a bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine.
  3. To use: scoop out a small amount of the scrub while in the shower, and massage over skin in a circular motion. Rinse well.


Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Pots de Crème

Last week, I got to have lunch with one of my culinary heroes.

I got an email from Margaret, a local publicist, inviting me to a lunch with the new writers of the Best of Bridge series of cookbooks: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal.

best of bridge crew

Now, I’ve been a big fan of @DinnerWithJulie for ages, and even worked with her briefly a few years back when she did a cooking demo at The Wellness Show while promoting Spilling the Beans (Sue has a co-author credit on that one, too). So I was stoked to hang out with these ladies (whom I aspire to be when I grow up) and learn more about what they were currently working on.

Over Najib’s Special and falafel at Nuba, we chatted up a storm, and they talked about their latest venture: Best of Bridge.

The Best of Bridge cookbooks have been an institution in many Canadian kitchens since 1957. These are real recipes. They’re not frou-frou or chi-chi. These are real ladies, cooking real food in real kitchens, which is why they are so immensely popular.

Just over a year ago, it was announced that the original ladies were retiring, and the crown (spatula?) was being passed to Julie, Sue, and Elizabeth.

Their first cookbook? The Family Slow Cooker.

If you know me at all, you know how crazy I am for my slow cooker. And especially this time of the year. I’ve flagged a bunch of recipes to try over the coming, cooler months, but Julie and I got into a conversation about dessert in the slow cooker. Not traditional, but doable.

She mentioned a recipe for a pot de crème that uses the slow cooker as a bain marie, and it blew my mind a little. Of course! It makes perfect sense that you could cook any kind of a custard-y dessert (like a flan, creme caramel, creme brulee) in a slow cooker in a few inches of water. So, I rushed home to try it.

It works. Really well. Try it.

I love this kind of a dessert, because it’s creamy and rich and I loved this particular salted caramel take on it. I will eat anything salted caramel.


Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Pots de Creme

(recipe courtesy of Best of Bridge: Family Slow Cooker)


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Large-flake sea salt (like Maldon) for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, place the milk and whipping cream, and slowly bring them up to the boil, but don’t let them actually boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a larger saucepan, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar with the salt, water and corn syrup. Bring up to a boil, and then allow to boil until large bubbles form and being to pop at a slower rate. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the hot milk cream/mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp of brown sugar and the egg yolks. Whisk in the vanilla. Now, add in a few spoonfuls of the hot caramel/milk mixture and whisk well to temper the eggs. Finally, slowly pour a stream of the caramel/milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to catch any eggy bits that might have cooked, and skim off the top foam with a spoon (wish I’d done that).
  5. Divide the mixture between 4-6 ramekins, 500 ml wide-mouth mason jars, or cute coffee cups. Fit them all into the bottom of your slow cooker. You can stack ramekins on top of each other if need be to fit them all in.
  6. Boil some water and carefully pour it into the space surrounding the ramekins, so that it comes about halfway up their sides.
  7. Cover, and cook on high for about 2 hours, or until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly in the centre. Carefully, with tongs, remove the custards from the water bath. Allow to cool in the fridge, then sprinkle with a little Maldon sea salt before serving.







« Older Entries Recent Entries »