British hospitality and an event with Jamie Oliver

London Bridge in the fog. The view from the galleries of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Cheery Christmas markets. Mince pies from Harrods.

I pondered every little detail of my recent trip to London, as I tossed and turned, draped over two airplane seats. Flying over the ocean for hours on end, I finally summed it up in one word: hospitality.

The British have had a long-standing reputation for being polite, but everything my sister and I experienced went far and above common courtesy. It was enough to leave a lasting impression, and oddly enough, made me understand my dad’s preoccupation with good manners.

It started at the airport, receiving friendly assistance as we sorted out the public transportation to central London. (If you’re taking notes, buy the Oyster card and hop on the Piccadilly line.)

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Dairy-free Spiced Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate Pumpkin Baked Doughnuts

In October, we lug home golden pumpkins and red-skinned apples from the markets and transform them into a sideboard of sweets for a Canadian Thanksgiving celebration.

The correlation between Thanksgiving baking and cooler fall temperatures is no coincidence. My kitchen begins heating up with crimped pies and tender cakes right around the time our evening walks start requiring scarves and sweaters. It’s a good balance.

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A garden inspired picnic

I‘m currently running around trying to pack for a little family getaway to Prince Edward Island, but I have a recipe up over on Jamie Oliver you won’t want to miss.

It’s a spontaneous snacking weeknight supper that tuned into a little garden-inspired picnic. I brought outside for us to nibble on while we wound down from the day. The children buzzed around barefoot on the lawn, chasing chickens, while I walked Danny through a garden tour and we got caught up on our respective days.

It turned out to be one of my favourite meals from the week, and one I plan to reproduce several more times before the summer is over.

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A sugaring off season finale

From the window above my desk I can look out past the garden beds and into the forest where a pale green carpet is taking over the brown forest floor.

All over our quarter of an acre urban homestead, signs of spring are revealing themselves. The garlic has emerged from its long winter hibernation and the rhubarb is quickly shooting forth leaves.

Our sugaring off season is over; tomorrow we will be removing our taps and giving the buckets one final wash. It was a short season, but one with many highlights, including one Saturday under blue skies…

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What do oatmeal and Jamie Oliver have in common?

I‘m not so good at beginning new things in life. I worry about failing and not meeting standards; I tend to circle projects for a while, observing, and yes, dragging my feet.

Because I know this about myself, I was eager to get my first post for Jamie Oliver published and behind me. I have plenty to say on the subject of kids in the kitchen and, once started, should have no trouble making myself at home in my new digs.

It would have been far too easy to obsess over a topic for that first blog post, so I enlisted Noah to help me come to a quick decision together: Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal. It’s a hot breakfast that we love, and he can prepare it nearly all by himself, so it was perfect for kicking off a series on cooking with family.

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