About Cheryl

Cheryl is a mom to two energetic and strong-willed little girls. It’s a good thing they already like her cooking. She blogs the family’s cooking and taste adventures at Backseat Gourmet.

Convenience Food Confessions (Recipe: Crispy Waffles)

Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet

You get in the door at 5:30 pm, hockey/dance practice starts in an hour and the kids are screaming for dinner. Without even thinking about it you throw some fish sticks into the oven and open a bag of frozen peas. At least they’ll have some veggies.

Not a single one of us are immune to the power of convenience foods. Anything to get dinner on the table quick, right? Something to cook that requires no energy and little brain power? There is a reason it is called convenience food.

What I define as a convenience food, however, differs from my neighbor and the rest of the preschool moms. I imagine it is the same for you.

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The Single Parent as Cook (recipe: Crustless Quiche)

Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet

Whether your single status is essentially permanent or only for the weekend, it is hard to be parenting solo. I’ve been on my own, more or less for the last two months. I know that I’m not alone in my situation. Plenty of us have partners that travel for work or work out of town entirely, are single by choice or circumstances, or are what my sister-in-law refers to as a Mingle (a married single parent).

Aside from the need for a break every now and then, I find the most difficult part of being alone with my girls is the food. From grocery shopping with a 2 and 4 year old to finding the motivation to cook a nice meal. All of it can be enough to make me want to throw some grilled cheese and ketchup on the table and call it a day. But I ran out of bread.
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Tips for Perfect (and flavorful) Mashed Potatoes

Written by Cheryl Arkison of Backseat Gourmet

Thanksgiving is my all-time favourite holiday. I love autumn immensely, and without the attachment of religious significance it seems like there is less pressure to perform on the holiday. Rather, it is a gathering of souls, all around a table.

In my university days we started a tradition of hosting friends for Thanksgiving, dinner for those of us too far from home and/or too poor to get there. It carried on through grad school and afterwards. Even now, we seem to gather with friends more so than our immediate families. It was always a classic feast, fueled by wine, stories, and laughter. Comfort and peace too.

Regardless of the company, when the Thanksgiving turkey arrives on the table there isn’t a single person who thinks, “Hey, I wish I had a baked potato to eat with that.” No, we all want a pile of mashed potatoes with a pool of gravy to accompany our turkey. Dan Quayle jokes aside.

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Stop and Savor the Season

Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet

We’ve been going hard here at Simple Bites about preserving summer. It’s all about saving those bits of sunshine to brighten a dismal January day. But what if you need to brighten a dismal August day?

Just because the weather is great, the kids are out of school, or there is green grass to tickle your toes, it doesn’t stop the realities of life. Days can be crazy, sad things can happen, or everything can happen at near the speed of light. And we just need to stop.

We need to stop and look around to see that hey, the grass really is tickling our feet, the cherries are so juicy they explode when you bite into one, or that the sprinkler is the best invention ever. [Read more…]

Canning 101: Sweet Cherries for Winter Days

Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet

My Baba was the canning and preserving queen. It wasn’t a fun, retro thing for her. It was about survival. And survival meant more than enough food to make it through the winter. It also meant a little bit of sunshine on a cold, harsh winter’s day on the Prairies. For her, that sunshine came in the form of canned fruit.

Her root cellar was filled with more than enough food for two people and any visitors. On one special shelf were jars of jams, obviously, but also jars of canned berries and cherries that grew in her garden. With a significant sweet tooth Baba’s fruit was more like an excellent pancake syrup.

I’ve adapted her canned fruit concept and lightened things up. I’ve also added more fruits to my repertoire, and taken some out. Canned strawberries are actually quite mushy, so I prefer alternative methods of preserving their goodness long term. Now I take advantage of the stone fruit that comes out of British Columbia, our neighbouring province.

Sure, you can make loads of jam with all those peaches, apricots, cherries, and plums. But a girl can only eat so much toast. Of late, I’ve really been enjoying the whole fruit in a light syrup. Cracked open in January, spooned on ice cream or oatmeal, or eaten straight, they are indeed a taste of summer sunshine.

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