Orange Cranberry Bread

I’m easily overwhelmed.

I don’t always hold up under pressure.

I only assert myself when pushed, and even then, it’s not nearly enough.

And I have this nasty habit of not believing in myself.

That’s all to say that I really don’t have what it takes to be a good chef.

At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I rushed back and forth between my stovetop and workstation at school the other night, all under the critical eye of the chef who would eventually be judging my performance on a scale of one to 100.

“It’ll be fun,” I kept telling friends and family about my starting chef school this fall.

Fun isn’t exactly the word I’d use to describe that first night. Terrifying is a bit more apt.

I was yelled at for using the wrong sink. I chopped too much onion and not enough leek. I spilled water on the gas burner and burned my finger on the oven rack. I stuttered when talking to the chef. And I got a $40 parking ticket at the end of it.

I couldn’t sleep later that night – just kept tossing and turning as I ran though every single screw-up, obsessing over how I could have done things better or whether or not the chef thinks I’m just another spastic 20-something going to chef school to “discover herself.”

It wasn’t a total flop, though. I made my chicken stock, then my soup, cleaned up my station and went home at the end of it. I learned what sink to use and where not to park. I learned that yelling “hot behind” when you’re carrying a hot pot isn’t nearly as embarrassing as it sounds, and that as much as I may want to pack it up and go home halfway through, I can stick it out and do just fine.

This experience is testing me, and will continue to test me over the next two years. It’s exposing my weaknesses, questioning my talents and thrusting me out of my comfort zone, into a competitive arena of people who are faster and better than me.

I’m not okay with it, but I’m going to have to adapt. I’ll always be the person who falls behind for stopping to help another student out, and I’ll probably never achieve the perfect brunoise. But I will learn to trust myself, and to keep my cool under pressure.

And at the very least, I’ll learn to cook with confidence.

Here’s one of my grandmother’s recipes that I’ve adapted, inspired by this amazing orange cranberry scone I had when I was in Ottawa last month with my mom and dad. And if you’d like to check out another of my grandmother’s recipes, check out my most recent post on Clean Eating magazine’s new blog!

Orange Cranberry Bread

My grandmother’s original recipe called for raisins instead of cranberries, so feel free to experiment with a variety of dried fruit, or try swapping out the orange for a large lemon.


1 medium orange, zested and juiced
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups white all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan and dust with flour.

2. In a 1-cup measure, add orange zest and juice. Add enough boiling water to fill cup. Transfer to a small bowl and add cranberries.

3. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in egg and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and stir until just combined; do not over-mix. Fold in orange-cranberry mixture.

5. Transfer to prepared loaf pan, smoothing top with back of spoon. Bake in centre of oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in centre.



Peach & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

I’m in the process of moving right now, which means every spare moment I get between work and sleep is spent enveloping my belongings in bubble wrap and stuffing them into various boxes strewn across my apartment.

It also means purging – something that a lot of people embrace when it comes time to move. I’ll admit decluttering can be a bit freeing. By getting rid of the crap you carry around, you’re admitting that you’ve moved on. You’re accepting that you’re no longer the person you were when you kept these things. It’s almost like a physical reminder that you’ve changed.

But for the most part, I find this emotionally tiring. I attach emotions to these obscure objects – a fleeting memory or feeling is associated with every receipt or grubby pair of shoes found lurking in my closet.

This shouldn’t be difficult for me by now: this will be my sixth move in as many years. But it doesn’t get any easier, the act of dismantling my home, stuffing it in a truck and transporting it somewhere new.

This is an exciting move, though, one of new beginnings. For the past year, I’ve been holed up in a tiny basement apartment in a dreary suburb outside of Toronto. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of living in a basement before, then you know what I mean when I say I’ve been suffering from the “basement effect.” Quite simply it’s the result of living two feet from the furnace, underground, with two prison-size windows providing the only measly bit of natural light available.

So obviously I am extremely excited that in less than three weeks, I will be above ground, within the actual city limits, in a beautiful apartment with real windows in a real Toronto neighborhood.

But at the moment, that doesn’t make packing any easier.

I go in bouts, where one of my different packing styles (hoarder or purger) takes over, and I’m either saving every little do-dad and dust bunny, or I’m considering chucking my passport because I haven’t used it in two years.

All of this packing and purging is taking a toll on my eating habits, as I haven’t had a whole lot of time to prepare balanced meals, and, quite frankly, most of my pots and pans are in boxes right now. As a result, I’ve been eating a whole lot of oatmeal. First it was straight-up oats and milk, then I quickly tired of that and added some cinnamon and chopped apple. That was a hit for week or two, and now I’ve moved on to this beautiful and oh-so-sweet baked version.

It’s extremely easy to make, and will keep in the fridge for a week, so you’ll always have it on hand when you need an energy boost (or, in my case, dinner).

Peach & Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Makes 12 servings.


Large rectangle baking dish
Medium mixing bowl
Measuring cup and spoons


Olive oil cooking spray
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh, jarred/canned or frozen (thawed) peach slices, drained
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp pure maple syrup, plus additional for garnish
1 tsp vanilla yogurt for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist a large rectangle baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flaxseeds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Transfer to dish and shake to distribute evenly. Top with peaches and blueberries. In bowl, whisk milk, eggs, vanilla and maple syrup until combined. Pour over top of oatmeal mixture, gently hitting bottom of dish on your counter a few times so milk distributes into oats.

3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden and edges begin to brown. Let cool. To serve, cut into squares and top with additional maple syrup and yogurt, or serve in a bowl with milk and sugar.



Melt Your Heart Blueberry Oat Muffins

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when your parents stop being just your parents, and become something a little bit more. If you’re anything like me, it happened around the same time that you started seeing little bits of Mom and Dad in your everyday motions and movements, in the little things that ultimately make you who you are.

As funny as it may sound, I first noticing these niggling bits of my parents in me when I adopted my cat, Suzie. I would, and still do, run back home after leaving for work to make sure – for the umpteenth time – that I did indeed turn off my hair straightener, lock the door, or put away all the sharp knives. Yes, it’s part OCD, but it’s also done out of love, because I know I’d never forgive myself if something were to happen to my little furry baby.

And because of this, I’ve now gained a new respect for my mom, who countless times throughout my childhood, would turn the car around not long after we left home so she could make sure her curling iron was off. It was annoying and frustrating at the time, but now I feel like it’s a common ground, shared between two very close friends.

My dad and I are two and the same – from the way we bob up and down when we walk to the way we always reach behind the product we want on a store shelf to select the second package in the row. It’s in the way we obsessively fixate on the most benign things, to the point where we bite our nails nervously while standing in front of our dressers every morning trying to decide what to wear. I’ll admit, these were once things that I teased my dad for doing – my teenage self likely made the occasional snarky comment when he refused to grab the first box of rice on the shelf at the supermarket. But now it’s just another quirk that I share with my dad, another reason to laugh when we catch each other doing one of these ridiculous things.

Now, where I once saw two authority figures in my life, I see two people whose words I covet and whose arms I seek the deepest of comfort in. They’re my parents, yes, but they’re also my friends, the people who I know I can always depend on, who see through any facade I try to present and always demand the truth from me.

And I think the real defining moment, when the relationship really started to blossom into what we have today, was when I realized that this dependence and comfort isn’t one-sided. I’m starting to see that just as much as I long for and need my mom and dad, they also lean on me, and depend on me, just like close friends.

I found this recipe in my grandmother’s archive of goodies. I’ve long been a fan of blueberry muffins, and the combination of gooey rolled oats and creamy buttermilk bring these muffins to the top of the recipe pile in my kitchen.

Melt Your Heart Blueberry Oat Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins.


Medium and large mixing bowls
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Rubber spatula
Muffin tins
Wire cooling rack


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and well drained


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a medium bowl, combine oats and buttermilk. Let stand until needed.

3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined. With a spoon, stir egg and butter into oat mixture and mix well. Add oat mixture to flour mixture all at once and stir until just moistened. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries; do not overmix.

4. Pour batter into greased muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake on middle rack for 15 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Remove from oven and let cool in tin for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on a wire rack.



Blueberry Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast

To say I’ve been lying all these years wouldn’t be entirely accurate.

I kind of always knew I wasn’t allergic to eggs. I mean, I spend a good 95 per cent of my free time baking, which for the most part means licking spoons and scraping bowls of egg-heavy batter. Technically, if I actually was allergic, I’d be a speckled mass of hives – or worse.

It’s kind of like that awkward period in your life when you know that Santa Claus isn’t real, but you go along with it anyway. Maybe it’s to protect your parents from realizing that they’d left the Sears receipt inside the present, or maybe it’s because you really, really want to hold onto your childhood, but either way, you just stay silent to maintain the status quo.

Well, it’s kind of like that. Basically, when I was a kid I got sick, and my doctor prescribed me a medicine called Bactrim. During those same few days, I also tried eggs for the first time. I hated both. Luckily for me, my body didn’t seem to agree with one of them, and I broke out into a series of itchy, blotchy hives.

My mom, always one to err on the side of caution when it came to her children’s well-being, banned both Bactrim and eggs from my reach. I didn’t complain – eggs were kind of gross and so was the syrupy medicine.

So that’s how I came to claim my egg allergy. No matter that over the past 20 years, I’ve enjoyed innumerable egg-laden cakes and batters. Not once have I even so much as had to scratch an itch afterwards.

I’ll admit I’ve used my so-called allergy as a crutch, letting it get me out of having to try foods that I simply didn’t like, particularly those wretched, fart-smelling hard-boiled eggs that would occasionally get forced upon my plate.

I’ve turned down many attempts by friends and family to get me to try an egg and “see what happens” – and despite what I may have told them, it’s not because I was afraid of breaking into spots. I just never liked the look, smell or taste of them, but to explain that to the rest of the egg-loving world has always been too difficult.

And then it happened. I was fumbling through a cookbook of mine this summer when I stumbled upon a picture of tangy cream cheese sandwiched between two thick and gooey slices of bread, topped off with a sprinkling of fresh berries and whipped cream.

Sweet lord, I thought. This is what I’ve been missing.

It started out slow. First, I made chicken fried rice, and actually made a point of trying the little chunks of eggs. Then I went even further, ordering scrambled eggs with my waffles when my boyfriend took me out for breakfast.

But this recipe is the final straw – the final admission that I, Gilean Watts, am 100 per cent NOT allergic to eggs. In fact, I’m kind of addicted to them. So much that for the past four weekends in a row, I’ve started my Saturday with a great big plate of scrambled eggs. I even crave them at weird times, like at bedtime or at 1 AM on a Friday night.

It’s crazy, I know, to be going on about the beauty of eggs, but they really are my new favourite food. To celebrate my introduction into the world of eggs, I’ve created a recipe for one of the most indulgent egg dishes, French toast.

But this isn’t just any old French toast. I’ve stuffed mine with a velvety mixture of cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, sweet vanilla and a handful of my beloved blueberries. Then I topped it all off with a simple blueberry and maple syrup sauce. Be warned: this recipe is addictive, indulgent, and very, very rich. For a twist, try adding different fruit and berries to the filling. This morning, I stuffed thin slices of banana between the bread with the cream cheese filling and blueberries – it was amazing!

Blueberry Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast
Serves 2.


Small saucepan
Measuring cups and spoons
Wooden spoon
2 small mixing bowls
Large pie dish or other wide, shallow dish
Rubber spatula


1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp flour
Dash cinnamon
4 thick slices bread
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Olive oil cooking spray

1/2 cup cream cheese (1/2 brick)
1/2 tsp sugar
Dash cinnamon
Splash vanilla extract

Blueberry Reduction
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup


In a small saucepan, combine Blueberry Reduction ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for  10 minutes, until thick and reduced.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk egg, milk, 1 tsp vanilla, flour and dash cinnamon. Pour into a large pie dish. Set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high and coat with cooking spray.

In a separate small bowl, mix cream cheese, cinnamon, sugar and splash vanilla with a rubber spatula until softened. Spread on 2 bread slices. Press 1/4 cup blueberries into cream cheese filling, dividing evenly among slices. Top each with remaining bread slices. Dip in egg mixture, letting each side sit in mixture for only 3 to 4 seconds. Immediately add to skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to serving plates.

Remove blueberry reduction from heat and stir in maple syrup. Drizzle over top of French toast, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.



Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

I learned a lot about myself today… and it wasn’t all good.

I was getting ingredients out of my cupboards to bake this afternoon when I realized how disorganized they were. Multiple bags of flour were strewn amongst three or four cupboards, the onion powder was hidden behind cupcake sprinkles and the balsamic vinegar was hanging out with the tea. Total kitchen carnage.

The tipping point was when I spotted my cat’s claw caps (these strange sheath-type things I glued over top of her claws when we lived in a carpeted apartment) and dried tuna treats next to my daily vitamins. That was it – something had to be done. So, after stuffing the muffin batter in the warmth of my preheated oven, I went about the task, hauling everything I could reach out of the cupboards, piling it all on my counter in one big heap.

It wasn’t until I started organizing the contents of my cupboards that I realized I might have a problem. Because when things are spread out, they don’t look too bad. But when you start lining up 12 cartons of chicken broth and a half dozen cans of diced tomatoes, it starts to look a little insane.

To truly understand how heavy this hit me, it’s important to know my grandmother. She was, in its most unadulterated form, a pack-rat. Her entire basement was filled – and I mean filled – with war-era pantries of non-perishable items: canned soup, tomatoes, broth, jam, shortening, anything she could possible stuff in there that wouldn’t start to smell after a couple of years.

My family always gave her a hard time about it, myself included. We accused her of prepping herself for World War 3 or some kind of apocalypse in which canned corn would become the new currency. In fact, at one point, we went through her pantry, determined to donate the goods to a food bank, only to find most of it expired in the late 80s.

So as I slid the dozenth carton of chicken broth into its place in my now-designated “broth cupboard,” I realized that I didn’t just inherit my grandmother’s innate love of cooking. I also inherited her instinctual need to hoard.

Perhaps the most ironic part is that after all those years of teasing my grandmother, I totally get why she did it. There’s something oddly comforting about opening that cupboard of broth and simply knowing it’s there.

It’s amazing how much we absorb from the people we love, without wanting to or even acknowledging it, until one day you realize you’ve got enough chicken broth and canned tomatoes to last you the next five months. And maybe it’s not so bad, because in a small way, it makes you feel like they’re still there.

This recipe is actually adapted from a cookie recipe a friend gave me. The cookies are now a staple in my repertoire, but all it took was a bit of tweaking, some additional key ingredients and a bit more baking powder to turn them into these amazing muffins.

Oatmeal Chocolate Cranberry Muffins
Makes about 14 muffins


Small, medium and large mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Rubber spatula
Muffin tins
Paper muffin liners
Wire cooling rack


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup large flake rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
4 oz baking chocolate, chopped (I prefer dark or white chocolate, or a combination of both)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a small bowl, cream butter with a rubber spatula until smooth. Transfer butter to a large bowl and mix in sugars, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in oats, cranberries and chocolate. Drop batter by rounded tablespoons into muffin liners. Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let muffins cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and cool directly on a wire cooling rack.



Strawberry Rhubarb Spread

I’ve only seen my dad cry a few times, but each instance is as clear in my memory as the last.

One of the most memorable times was on Fathers’ Day, five years ago. It was the Sunday before my high school graduation, and my family was getting ready to leave for a grad event at the local church. Not one for dressing up, my dad was at a total loss of what to wear to the slew of formal events that tend to go along with these things. Or perhaps he had it under total control – he just pretended he needed my help picking out outfits because he knew it made me happy. Either way, he needed a suitable tie, and so, for the first time since I was in kindergarten, I gave him one.

It wasn’t the tie that set him off. It wasn’t even the card, really. All I’d written inside was that I was going to miss him when I went away to university in the fall. I think, rather, that it was the mutual realization that I wasn’t his little girl anymore – I was growing up, moving out and starting my own life. And no matter how much either one of us wanted it, we would no longer be able to be a constant and daily part of each other’s lives. I think he just realized that it was time to let me go.

Rather than drifting apart as I moved further away, my dad and I got closer. As my life got more difficult, I realized I could depend on him even more that I ever did when I was living at home. I discovered that we’re more alike than I ever thought we were, from our obsessive fretting over insignificant things to our subtle ways of showing we care. I realized that he is one of the main reasons I chose to be a writer in the first place – his love of reading and, albeit hidden, love of writing encouraged me to pen my own thoughts, which eventually became my career.

I’ve always made a point of going home for Fathers’ Day, to remind him that no matter how grown up I get, I’ll always be his daughter, and he’ll always be my dad. This is the first year I haven’t been there to hug my dad, or to tell him how important he is to my past, my present and my future, and I have to admit, I’m a little cranky about that today.

I know it can’t be easy for him, either, spending the day without his little girls, who’ve both grown up and moved away to pursue our own dreams. But even if he wanted to hold it against us, he couldn’t – after all, he’s the one who showed us we could do whatever we put our minds to.

I was in the grocery store the other day when I eyed some brilliant red rhubarb stalks, freshly picked. They looked so good I had to buy them, even though rhubarb isn’t something I’d normally pick up. Then I remembered something my dad always makes this time of year, when the rhubarb patch in our backyard is in full bloom, yielding unlimited amounts of fresh, bittersweet stalks. Every June he hauls in a handful of rhubarb, cuts it up and washes it, the boils it down to a sweet, smooth spread. It’s delicious spooned on toast, or you can even pour it on vanilla ice cream for a super-sweet treat.

Strawberry Rhubarb Spread
Makes 2 large jars


Medium saucepan
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups
2 large tight-sealing jars


2 – 3 cups diced rhubarb (about 3 – 4 long stalks)
1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup superfine sugar


In a medium saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rhubarb and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until it begins to turn soft. Add strawberries and continue simmering on medium for an additional 15 – 20 minutes, until mixture is mushy and slightly thickened. Add sugar, stir until dissolved, and remove from heat. Add additional sugar to taste. Let cool in saucepan, then spoon into tight-sealed jars. Spread can be frozen for up to 3 months.



Blueberry Monster Muffins

I was seven years old the first time I went away to summer camp. Other than the constant praying and the kid who ate toothpaste on the bunk above me, I don’t remember a whole lot about that week of my life.

Rather, what sticks out in my mind is a day two months before I left for that dreaded Circle Square Ranch. My mom and I were sitting in the Harbour View Café, a tiny little family restaurant attached to the local convenience store. It’s the kind of place you see in the movies: waitresses wearing rubber shoes and aprons with pockets to hold their notepads. The curtains were outdated (even back then) and the menu hasn’t changed in the last 15 years at best.

Mom was filling out the application for me to attend the summer camp, and was going through a checklist describing my personality. She appropriately ticked off the boxes for “shy” and “soft-spoken,” but hesitated when she came to the final trait.


“Are you sensitive?” she asked tentatively. I asked her what that meant. She said it meant I got upset easily, bringing up some recent examples in which I ended up crying and storming to my room after my big sister said something silly.

Ironically enough, I got mad. Furious even. I refused to talk to her while we finished up our fries and hot dogs, and I remember starting to cry halfway through the meal, insisting that I was not the least bit sensitive – that my sister was just a bully.

In middle school, I came home from school bawling at least once a week because of something some kid in my class said or did that for whatever reason undermined my own sense of self, replacing it with thoughts of the pimples on my chin or the weird colour of my hair.

I thought it would get better as I grew up, that somehow self confidence was something that developed with age. If anything, it got worse. The slightest criticism from a high school teacher left me silenced and shaken, while anything less than an A in university was a surefire sign that I was a complete failure.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, that I should develop the elusive “thick skin.” At first I brushed it off, again assuming it would come with age. Then I started refuting it, insisting that my sensitivity was what made me who I am, that I shouldn’t try and stifle an integral part of my personality.

Well, I’m on my own now. My parents aren’t going to call someone and make it better, and I can’t just grin and bear it through a semester like I did in school. This is my life, and my sensitivity is beginning to eat away at me.

It’s not okay to come home everyday in knots, and it’s not a normal part of my personality to take to heart every little throw-away comment.

I wish I could brush off the insults. I wish I didn’t care so much about the bad things people say to me. I wish I believed in myself enough to not let anyone undermine my confidence. I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.

I’m trying really, really hard to overcome this. I’m getting better at standing up for myself in all aspects of my life. I’m beginning to see myself as not a victim, but as someone who’s perfectly capable of existing on my own, without the compliments and encouragement of others.

I’m working on it because I have to. Because I know that if I continue like this, I’m going to wear myself down now that I have no one else to stick up for me. I hate it, absolutely hate it, that I have to change, because it’s hard, and it’s a lot easier to fall back into the old habit of beating myself down.

I chose this recipe because it carries a lot of meaning for me. It was the first thing I ever baked, and it’s one of few recipes I’m able to make without having to haul out my hand-scribbled cookbook. It’s part of who I am, but it took a long time for it to get that way. These muffins were originally a disaster when I first made them more than 10 years ago; they were green, blobbish, and emerged from their cups like ghouls retreating from some kind of swamp, hence the name Monster Muffins. But I worked on them, and I kept making them, no matter how weird they tasted for those initial trial runs. Eventually, they got better, and I’m now able to say without hesitation that I’m better for them. Sometimes change is good.


large mixing bowl
wooden spoon
measuring cups
measuring spoons
muffin tin
muffin cups


1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 cups frozen blueberries


Soften butter in microwave, or leave it out at room temperature until softened. Combine butter and brown sugar until smooth, gradually mixing in eggs.

Add vanilla, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Pour in milk, then slowly stir in flour. Once combined, add blueberries and pour into muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre of a muffin.


Blueberry Pancakes

For whatever reason, nearly all my best childhood memories have something to do with blueberries. No matter what age or stage in my life I’ve been in, those delicate little blue bulbs have always been a constant, linking me back to where I’ve been and who I’ve become.

One of my first blueberry-stained memories dates back to when I was seven years old, spending my summer at the family cottage in Prince Edward Island. We spent a lot of summers there, but they tend to meld together as one. Our cottage was horribly outdated – the equivalent of a shaggin’ wagon but with a roof and bunk beds. Hell, the bunk beds even had shag carpets.

But we had a field, and I mean a real field, with acres of blueberry patches that would turn the entire landscape blue at peak season. It was glorious, that field, and I spent hours traipsing around it, stuffing the fat, juicy berries in my mouth, saving a few handfuls for my ice cream bucket.

There are a lot of things I remember about those summers spent at our cottage. I recall vividly the metallic beige of my grandfather’s old truck as it sat in the driveway, the slippery feeling of the bottom of my kiddie pool, and the musty smell of the dresser drawers.

We sold that cottage when I was eight, in order to afford our new house. I was devastated at first; the thought of never running through that blueberry patch or having freshly-picked berries and milk for breakfast was too much for me to handle.

But the blueberries never left me. Our new house, the one I spent most my life in and the place my parents still call home, turned out to have its own blueberry field, with even juicier berries that I could enjoy all summer, not just during the short weeks we were in PEI. I would plan my days around berry-picking, getting up early to avoid the hot sun, and getting back out there in the late afternoon, before the mosquitoes got bad. I picked buckets and buckets of berries; I ate a lot of them, but most I just froze. I’m fairly certain some of those berries are still hidden somewhere in my parent’s deep freeze.

The first thing I ever baked was with those blueberries – a recipe for blueberry muffins that I found in one of my mom’s cookbooks. I had no idea what I was doing, so I just threw all the ingredients in a metal bowl and stirred. I didn’t know to melt the butter first, or to stir things in gradually. When my dad found me that afternoon, I was crying, desperately trying to sum up the energy to keep stirring with my spindly little arms – the muffin mix was a certifiable disaster, lumpy and garishly green in colour.

My dad was so sweet. He saw me crying, so whatever urge he had to laugh at my unfortunate attempt at cooking was stifled. He took the bowl from my red little hands, placed it on the warm wood stove and stirred like mad. The sweat was dripping down his bald head, and droplets were falling in the bowl, but I didn’t care. He was trying so hard to fix my mistake.

The only one in my family that shared my enthusiasm for blueberries was my dog, Breagh. They say everyone has that one pet in their life that really gets them in a way that no person ever could- Breagh was mine. When I went on those berry-picking trips, Breagh would come along, racing me down the path that led to our field, always beating me by a good 30 or 40 seconds.

Once I found a decent bush, I would sit my bucket down and get to picking. Breagh, of course, would find a patch nearby, plunk herself in it, and graze at the berries within grabbing distance, pulling off entire stalks in one mouthful. Once she had depleted one radius, she would move on to another, stopping by my bucket on the way to steal a snoutful behind my back. We spent most mornings and evenings like that, in comfortable, ritual silence.

I don’t go down to the field much anymore, even when I’m home visiting. I lost Breagh two years ago to old age; the last pictures I have of her were taken in that field. The few times I have gone down, I looked for her, scanning the green for her reddish coat. It took a while to realize that I was never going to find her. The berries stopped growing the summer after she died, so there hasn’t been much need to walk down there anyway.

I’ve continued to bake that blueberry muffin recipe to this day, and I promise to post it soon. In the meantime, I’ve made my second all-time favorite blueberry dish: pancakes.


mixing bowls
measuring cups
measuring spoons
hand mixer
wooden spoon
frying pan


2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons margarine
1 cup frozen blueberries


Separate eggs, pouring the egg whites and yolks into separate mixing bowls. With mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add milk and melted butter to the egg yolks and beat. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into dry ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Stir in egg whites and add blueberries.

Coat the bottom of frying pan with cooking oil, bring to a sizzle, and pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium, flip and cook until golden.



Banana Muffins

I’ve walked down these streets a hundred times. They still don’t feel like home.

I’ve found myself in this strange state for the past four and a half years, trying to make a home for myself in a city that feels so strange. I’m carving my own life now, separate from that of my parents and my friends and all the things that are so comfortable to me.

When I was a teenager I wanted nothing more than to have my own life, to be able to start my own existence and call my own place home. Now I’m stuck here in this limbo,  clutching to a little girl’s hand but being thrown into the cold arms of an adult.

I still call my parent’s house home, but I know I shouldn’t. There’s a comfort to my old room at home, but I know it’s not quite home anymore. I don’t really know where my home is now.

I still feel like a visitor when I walk the streets of Fredericton. Kind of like I’m on some kind of vacation that never really ends, the way you form a tentative comfort with the summer cottage: you live there, but it’s not your home.

Tonight I got lost in the suburbs, in more ways than one. I looked in their windows and saw big screen TV’s and forfeited dreams. I don’t think I could live there, but then again, who does?

I’m trying to figure out where I belong, but I’m getting lost along the way. I think I over-think things, which is keeping me from coming to terms with growing up. I’m too busy trying to figure out what it means to be an adult to actually become one.

The thing is, I really love Fredericton. I love running along the waterfront, watching the sunset over the river, and the comfort of seeing all the old houses looming over the narrow downtown streets. I’m moving into one of those old houses next month, and while I’m excited for my boyfriend and I to move into our first real apartment, it scares me nonetheless. Am I ready to be an adult? Do I have any choice?


muffin tin
muffin cups
three mixing bowls
wooden spoon
hand mixer


3 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place muffin cups in muffin tin. Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cream butter and sugar, then add egg. Mash bananas with a fork, then add egg mixture and stir.

Blend dry ingredients into banana mixture. Pour into muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes, reducing temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit after the first five minutes. Muffins are ready when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.