Storms Turn Newfoundlanders into Zombies, not Hoarders.

Whenever a storm is on the way in Newfoundland everyone takes the empty shelves and long line-ups at grocery stores as evidence that Newfoundlanders, particularly those in the St. John’s area, overreact to coming inclement weather by stocking up on enough food to survive being snowed in for weeks. The truth though is that is not actually the case. The longer line-ups before storms is not due to irrational hoarding, it is just a matter of everyone who needs to get groceries in the next day or two going to the grocery store because they may not be able to get out of their driveway the next day. If you combine two days of grocery store volume into one you will end up with a very crowded grocery store. Though storms don’t turn Newfoundlanders into hoarders, they do turn them into zombies.

Since I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the house tomorrow, I stopped into the grocery store today to pick up a few things for the weekend. The place was busy, but not overrun with people by any means. The people who were there, however, almost to a person, were all scuffling along in a slow, almost ominous gait.

Normally at the grocery store, most people look like they have somewhere to go after their grocery shopping; they are pushing their carts, around, grabbing items decisively, and scratching items off their lists. Today, as with every time there is an approaching storm, everyone seemed confused. Some were just standing there, staring confusedly at items, unable to process whether to buy three yoghurts to get the multi-savings or just get the one package. Those who were moving were doing so only barely, as if they were unsure exactly why they were in the store or what they were supposed to be doing, but just knew that they weren’t supposed to be standing still. So they moved. Barely.

Multiple times I had to squeeze past a logjam of people with shopping carts pushed by people who weren’t taking anything off the shelves. I excused myself but none of them seemed to notice my presence, even though I was passing inches in front of their faces. I’m not sure if they noticed any of the items in the store. I can only assume that 15 minutes before closing the store staff took all these people by the elbow and lead them to the checkout.

I’m not sure why storms have this effect on people, but I suspect it may have something to do with people going to the grocery store before they were planning to and not preparing a grocery list. I cook a lot and am in a grocery store pretty much every day or two and people generally seem like normal human beings when I’m there, but whenever a storm is on the way easily two thirds of everyone in the store start acting like zombies.

Pizzas Are Not Pies

A pizza is no more a pie than a boiled egg. Everyone knows this. A pie is something you have for desert that involves having a base and a top of pastry with some sort of blueberry, apple, or pecan based filling inside. A pizza may be served at either breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but never as a desert. The only type of pizza that you could perhaps refer to as a pie would be a Chicago style deep dish pizza, which has the same depth as a pie and has a crust that vaguely resembles pie crust. There is absolutely no excuse for referring to any type of conventional pizza as a pie.

People who refer to pizzas as pies are generally insufferable hipster-types who never stop looking for ways to make themselves feel superior. “You’re a Tim Horton’s drinking simpleton who scarfs down pizza while I am a sophisticated person who eats pizza pies.” Christ. If you want to make yourself feel superior than go find yourself an Ethiopian restaurant.

In normal times it wouldn’t really matter if some self-important hipster went around calling pizzas pies, but we are not living in normal times. Donald Trump was just elected partly as a reaction to the growing numbers of insufferable and obnoxious pseudo-sophisticates who were constantly rubbing their misplaced sense of superiority in people’s faces (that and the intervention of the Russians and a press release from the head of the FBI…). Every time someone refers to pizza as a pie another Trump voter is created.

Stop Putting Bacon on Everything

Bacon wrapped everything is awful. Bacon wrapped scallops, bacon wrapped pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken, bacon on pizza; all terrible. Bacon isn’t like eggs; you can’t poach it, boil it, or bake it, so why on earth would anyone think it makes sense to put it in an oven? It’s like steaming a T-bone steak.

I love bacon and take pride in cooking it properly; not too crispy but no pieces of raw fat either. When you cook the bacon in a frying pan and the fat renders out and then helps cook the strips of bacon evenly. When you wrap bacon around something and bake it in an oven there is no such effect and you end up with a pile of disgusting half raw bacon fat.

Wrapping something in bacon is essentially just a way of saying that you either don’t know how to add flavour to a chicken breast or scallop or are not interested in making the effort. If you really want to add some flavour to something using some salty and flavourful meat then use something thin that cooks quickly like prosciutto. Or you could just google “scallop recipe” and pick one that doesn’t involve bacon.

Though wrapping things in bacon is the worst misuse of bacon, putting bacon on pizza is not far behind. Even in the hottest of pizza ovens the bacon will still be half raw. There is absolutely no reason why you would ever need to put bacon on a pizza. If you want a salty meat on your pizza just use pepperoni or ham.

Bacon is meant to be eaten at breakfast with eggs and toast. If you want to be adventurous and use it outside of breakfast than make yourself a BLT or club sandwich. If you ever feel tempted to use bacon for anything else than stop what you’re doing and go buy yourself a cookbook.

No knead bread

Most people, even those who do their fair share of cooking, never bake their own bread, not because they don’t like the taste of fresh, hot out of the oven bread, but because it is just so much work and makes such a mess. When people think of making homemade bread, they typically have visions of a mother or grandmother laboriously kneading bread in kitchen completely covered in a layer of flour, but thanks to a brilliantly simple breakthrough, you can now make your own bread without any kneading at all.

When I say that you can make bread without kneading it, I’m not talking about buying a bread machine or some fancy mixer; I mean that you can make great bread with just flour, water, salt, and a small bit of yeast with about 2 minutes’ worth of active preparation time. All you need to do is mix the flour and salt in a bowl with a larger than usual amount of water and a lower than usual amount of yeast.

Though the active cooking time is minimal, the process does take much longer as you will need to allow the mixture to rise overnight, so if you have people coming over on short notice you will have to pick up a loaf at the grocery store. Once you let the bread make its initial rise over 12-18 hours, then knock it down, put it in a well-oiled loaf pan and let it rise again for 2-3 hours, at which point you pop it in the oven and bake it as you would with any other bread. This works with virtually any kind of bread you want to make, from classic white French bread to any kind of whole grain you’re into.

This is how all bread should be baked from now on. Normally when you find a way to cut down on the work involved in the kitchen there is some sacrifice of quality or taste, but that is not the case with the no knead method. In fact, most bakers will tell you that the prolonged rising period helps to build more flavour. The reality is that you probably wouldn’t be able to detect the difference between a slow rise, no knead bread and a quick rise, kneaded bread, but that’s not the point; the reason for using the no knead method is that it allows you to make a loaf of bread that tastes as least as good as the traditional method but is only a fraction of the effort and mess.


  • Mixing bowl
  • Circular thing
  • Pizza stone
  • Pizza peel


  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water


Whisk together all the dry ingredients then stir in the two cups of water with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 12 to 18 hours. After the initial rise, place a sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel, coat it in olive oil, then coat a spring pan in olive oil and place it on the parchment paper. Knock down the dough and dump it into the spring pan. Sprinkle some flour over the dough, then sprinkle flour over a cotton cloth before placing it over the dough. Allow to rise for about three hours or so. Place a pizza stone in the middle rack at least a half hour before you are ready to bake the break and set the oven to 415 degrees. Place a baking tray in a rack just below the pizza stone. When the dough is finished rising, remove the stone and slide the parchment paper and the pan onto the stone and put back in the oven. Pour one cup of water into the pan underneath the stone and through about a half cup into the bottom of the oven. Close up the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.

The Art of Not Following Recipes

Perhaps the best skill for any home cook is learning how not to follow recipes. That may seem like an odd thing to read in a book that contains a bunch of recipes, but I would very much encourage you to not follow the recipes in this book, or more accurately, to not follow the exact recipes. Recipes should be looked at not as a rigid set of instructions, but as a source of ideas and inspiration.   If you want to get the most enjoyment out of any recipe, you need to learn how to customize the recipe best appeal to you and your dining companions.

The most important thing you need to understand about recipes is which ingredients you should modify and which you shouldn’t. Building a recipe is a little like building a house in that there are some ingredients that are structural and some which are cosmetic. If you get a set of house plans, you can easily change the colour of the paint or the type of moldings without consulting with the architect, but if you start making changes to the foundation or the roof trusses you may find your house collapsing on top of you after you build. The same goes for recipes; if you tinker too much with the structural ingredients you may find your recipe collapsing into an inedible mess.

Every recipe has a foundation of recipes that make up the underlying structure of the dish as well as some flavouring ingredients like herbs and spices that give it some added character. Provided you have an understanding of what herbs and spices pair with various foods you can go ahead and modify quantities or make substitutions without any worries of ruining your food.

Understanding the structural ingredients in baking is particularly important. You generally should stick pretty close to the recipes ratios of things like flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. While cooking may be more like an art, baking is much more of a science, so you should not be too much a maverick when it comes to the structural ingredients in baking recipes. You can feel free to aggressively add or take away flavours. For example, you can take any recipe that calls for raisins and substitute chocolate chips, or double the amount of chocolate chips. One of the most reliable rules to live by in baking is to always substitute chocolate chips for raisins. Don’t like walnuts in something? Then use another nut or no nuts at all. It won’t make a difference.

When you are identifying structural ingredients, you need to look at what that ingredient is doing to the dish. Is it adding flavour, is it carrying flavour, or is it assisting the cooking process? When you add flour or cornstarch to a stew, it is doing little or nothing to alter the flavour of the stew; they are just meant to thicken the liquid in the stew. You can choose not to use any thickening ingredients in a stew, but you need to be aware that you will be fundamentally altering the look and texture of the stew. Substituting sage for rosemary will only affect the taste, not the structure. It is the culinary equivalent of changing the colour of the kitchen.

Later in this book I will provide a great recipe for baked chicken wings that uses baking powder. The baking powder makes the wings attain a level of crispiness that you might have thought was only possible with a deep fryer. You should feel free to modify my recipe by using spices with more or less heat or going with some more savoury spices, but if you don’t want to use baking powder, then you should just look for another recipe. It is the use of baking powder that distinguishes the wing recipe. Likewise, using these same ingredients with ribs will lead to spectacularly awful results.

You may have noticed that I have not referenced onions or garlic as structural ingredients. That is because I do not generally consider them to be structural ingredients, and even though most chefs seem to think that onions and garlic must form the base 95% of all recipes, I believe that in many, if not most cases, you can easily alter or omit these from recipes without hurting the taste. In some cases you may even improve the taste. Of course, there are recipes like French onion soup, garlic butter, or aioli sauce where onions are garlic are clearly the foundation of the recipe, but for many recipes their importance is overstated.

After understanding the structural ingredients of a recipe, the next most important thing to understand is what you like and what you don’t like. Some people like fiery hot spices while others will get physically sick from so much spice. If you don’t like too much spice and a recipe calls for jalapeño, then you can substitute poblano for it. If you prefer things the hotter the better, then substitute a serrano pepper. Garlic content can also affect people in different ways. A lot of professional cooks have built up a tolerance for garlic that the average home cook simply does not have. You will routinely encounter recipes that call for an entire head of garlic, but unless you are roasting the garlic first, most of your dinner guests will be overwhelmed. Personally, when I see a recipe that calls for an entire head of garlic I just use a clove or two.

Recipes are suggestions, not commandments. You are not going to turn a great recipe into a vomit inducing mess just because you used a half a teaspoon more thyme or left out a clove of garlic. Not only should not worry about altering a recipe, but you would be better off if you actively looked for ways to alter recipes, even ones that you enjoy.

Don’t Serve Egg Salad Sandwiches at Parties

The Egg Salad sandwich is to sandwiches what the Hawaiian is to pizzas. It doesn’t matter how many guests you have, how many sandwiches, or how many types of sandwiches you serve, if you have egg salad sandwiches you are going to have a bunch of festering warm egg salad sandwiches lying around at the end of the party. In the history of parties and get-togethers, there has never been a single recorded instance of any kind of social event where egg salad sandwiches were served and not left over. If you want to serve an egg based food at a party then bake a cake.

Eggs are meant to be eaten hot off the pan with bacon or ham in the mornings. They are not meant to be mashed up with mayo and left lying around at room temperature for hours. I like eggs and eat them all the time, but that does not blind me to the fact that egg salad sandwiches are disgusting, and become increasingly so every minute that they spend lying around in an overheated living room on a Sunday afternoon.

I understand the temptation to make these awful things. They are inexpensive and easy to make; you can whip up a hundred sandwiches in 10 minutes with a jar of mayo, a dozen eggs, and a couple loaves of Wonderbread. And if you are planning the type of afternoon social gathering that lends itself to sandwich trays, there will no doubt be a 60+ year old woman who loves egg sandwiches who has taken an active role in the planning of said social gathering. She will almost certainly offer to make a hundred sandwiches for you, which will help her feel like she made a great contribution of a hundred sandwiches. You certainly don’t want to be ungrateful or unappreciative, but this situation can be easily diffused by saying that someone at the party has an egg allergy. If you don’t want to run the risk of being caught out in that lie, just say that you already bought a pile of ham on special and ask her if she wouldn’t mind making them for you. That way she gets that satisfaction of helping without having to spend any money. It’s a true win-win.

If you are going to serve sandwiches at a party just stick with some combination of grocery store sliced meat. Cured meats like ham and salami would be at the top of the list since they are designed to be able to lie around in a warm living room for a while, but the reality is that all grocery store sliced meats are well salted and will hold up just fine no matter how long your gathering drags on. To be on the safe side, this might be one of those times when you might want to avoid the more expensive versions that claim not to use preservatives.

Lettuce Wraps

I’m not sure if PF Chang’s invented lettuce wraps or if they are just really good at making them, but pretty much everyone I know who like lettuce wraps first tried them at that restaurant and almost every lettuce wrap recipe you will find online states that they are trying to replicate the PF Chang’s wrap. Every recipe you find, as does mine, will include some combination of hoisin and soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and green onions. I am not a great lover of ginger, so I go with just a half teaspoon of ground ginger, but if you are a ginger fan you can certainly grate up or cube some whole ginger, but I would argue that if you are having some picky eaters over for supper I would stick with just a little of the powder. Likewise, it is always a safe bet err on the side of too little sesame oil than too much. It is powerful stuff and if you use too much in this or any recipe it can quickly overwhelm all the other ingredients.


  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Half teaspoon sesame oil
  • Half teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Half dozen diced green onions
  • A pound or so of ground chicken
  • A head of lettuce (or a package or two of Belgian endives)
  • Couple tablespoon sriracha sauce


Fry the ground chicken in a large pan with a little olive oil. When the chicken is just about done, dump all of the ingredients except the green onions and sriracha sauce in a mason jar and give it a good shake before pouring it into the pan. Stir it around a few times so all of the meat gets coated in the sauce, then let it simmer on medium-low heat until the sauce reduces and thickens. While the sauce is simmering, break apart the lettuce into big leaves. When the sauce has reduced and thickened, toss in the green onions and give them a quick stir, then fill up the lettuce leaves with the filling and serve. Sriracha sauce makes a great topping but it isn’t for everyone, so serve it on the side so your guests can decide for themselves if they want it. There is plenty of flavour already built in so sriracha is by no means required. If you want to serve these as appetizer I would recommend using Belgian endives instead of lettuce if you can find them. They are naturally cup shaped so you can just fill them with a spoonful or two of the filling and people can eat them with one hand without making a godawful mess.

Stop Saying “Fee and Chee”

In recent years, Newfoundland has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, helped in part by a great advertising campaign, a popular TV show set in St. John’s, and more recently, the cheap Canadian dollar. One of the things that tourists find interesting about Newfoundland is our unique accent and vocabulary. While most English speaking Canadians speak almost the same way (Nova Scotians’ annoying use of “somewheres” notwithstanding), Newfoundland, since it is an island and was among the first places in North America to be settled, has maintained a unique dialect.

The best example of Newfoundlanders’ unique version of English would be its continued use “ye”, the plural form of you. Anyone who has read Shakespeare knows that English, like almost all other languages, used to have a singular and plural version of the word “you”, such as tu/vous in French. For some reason this died out in most of English speaking world but has been preserved in Newfoundland.  The worst example of Newfoundlanders’ unique version of English would be the phrase “fee and chee”, which some townies have started using as slang for fish and chips.

There is not a historical term that has its roots in 16th century English, it is an invention of 21st century townie hipsters with an irrepressible longing to be different just for the sake of being different. If you could go back in time to the 1890s and asked someone for “fee and chee” you would starve to death before anyone figured out what you were asking for. Same goes for the 1990s for that matter. The expression has no roots in Newfoundland culture or history. It was probably invented by some guy in Southlands five years ago and somehow has spread faster than the Zika virus.

Just to be clear, I actually like the invention of new words and phrases. Google should be considered a verb because it is useful and makes sense. “Fee and Chee” is not useful and makes no sense. It has the same number of syllables as fish and chips, so why would you create a slang phrase that is no shorter than what it is replacing? The only valid reason for anyone to use the phrase “fee and chee” is if you forgot to wear your hemp necklace and want to make sure people know that you are a hipster.

There is No Reason for Risotto to Exist

Of all the things you can make at home, risotto provides by far the worst return on your investment of time and effort. Not only does it take a lot of active cooking time and effort, but even if you are successful, all you are left with is some soggy rice. With most things that are cooked in a pot, you simply throw in the ingredients, bring it to boil or simmer and then you either just wait until it’s done or give it the occasional stir. Frying on a pan usually requires constant attention but whatever you are cooking is usually done in a couple of minutes. Risotto is unique in that it combines all the time of boiling with all the effort of searing.

Rice is generally one of the easiest things you will ever make. You throw some rice in a pot with some water and gently boil it until the water is gone. You can throw in some herbs and spices, you can fry it in some oil; whatever way you prefer you will end up with a decent tasting side dish. There is simply no compelling reason for risotto to exist as a dish. Why would you invent a rice cooking technique that requires ten times the effort and just leaves you with a glob of soggy rice? If you’ve never seen risotto, just imagine your dog eating an entire pot of rice, taking a nap for 15 minutes, and then waking up and vomiting it back into the pot. If you’ve never seen a risotto recipe, it essentially involves cooking rice in a pot by adding a little bit of broth at a time and stirring repeatedly. Apparently there is some reason why you can’t just dump in all the broth at once and boil it off like any other rice, but I have no interest in learning what that reason is.

I’m not one for reality cooking shows, but a few years back I watched bits and pieces of a couple seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, and if memory serves me correctly, ever episode involved at least one scene where Gordon Ramsay was screaming at some chef for messing up the risotto. Keep in mind that all of the contestants on that show cooked for a living, and they were still regularly messing it up. If you try to make this at home you will probably mess it up, and even if you don’t your dining companions will probably hate it anyway. If you do like risotto then go out to a nice Italian restaurant and let someone else worry about cooking it.

Stop Ordering Vegetarian and Hawaiian Pizzas

Pizza is far and away the most popular food for parties and casual get-togethers. There are all kinds of pizza makers who will deliver pizzas right to your door, you can eat it with your hands, and your guests aren’t left with any bones to discard. Just order up a bunch of pepperoni, deluxe, and cheese pizzas and everyone will be happy, yet for some unfathomable reason virtually everyone orders the two most universally hated pizzas in the world; Hawaiian and vegetarian.

No matter where you have your party, whom you invite, or how many pizzas you order, the leftover pizza will always include Hawaiian and vegetarians. If you ordered a hundred pepperoni pizzas and one each of vegetarian and Hawaiian, the pepperoni pizzas would be the least likely to be left over. Everyone hates these two pizzas yet everyone insists on ordering them. If you ask your guests if they want either of these pizzas they will all nod yes, but when the pizza arrives they will all dive into the good stuff first. Only when there are no other options will you see people grudgingly reach for the veggie or Hawaiian. 90% of these pizzas are eaten at room temperature or below.

The greatest marketer of all time is the person who convinced the world that they needed to put pineapple on a pizza. Pineapple isn’t a pizza topping, it’s a desecration. Putting pineapple on pizza is like putting an ice cube in glass of fine red wine or mixing single malt scotch with Pepsi. What is the purpose of Hawaiian pizza anyway? At least vegetarian pizza has some ostensible purpose; to provide a pizza option for vegetarians. There is no need for Hawaiian pizza to exist. It’s as if it was invented for the sole purpose of ensuring that there would be some leftover pizza at parties. I am not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that no pizzeria anywhere in the world has ever had a person purchase just a single Hawaiian pizza. It is only ever sold with a bunch of other pizzas to someone holding a party or event who has fallen for the myth that there are people who actually like Hawaiian pizza.

As I mentioned above, vegetarian pizza at least has a reason to exist, but that is still not a reason to ever have one at your party. I want to be clear that when I say that you should never order a vegetarian pizza, I am not saying that you should never order a pizza that has no meat on it. The problem with vegetarian pizza is that it is typically just a bunch of random vegetables thrown on without any thought as to how they go together. The hallmark of any truly great pizza is that it does not have too many toppings, but people who make vegetarian pizzas feel like they need to compensate for the lack of meat by piling on every vegetable they have.  If you want to serve your guests a meat free pizza, order up a margherita. The simple combination of mozzarella, basil, and tomato works perfectly. Even carnivores will often have themselves a slice. If your local pizza takeout doesn’t have a margherita, just order a plain cheese pizza. It may be simple, but it is better than the chaotic mess that is the vegetarian or the abomination that is the Hawaiian.