When Kenora is stressed, she finds baking comforting. It’s a skill she learned in childhood, from her mother. Back then, dinners involved plenty of energetic conversation, a gentle quiz about the day’s ‘current events’ as they were called and a hearty meal that included meat, fish or pasta, vegetables, fruit and baked goods. Except for a one-time miscalculation that an experimental bread pudding dessert would be well received, there were few complaints about the sweets that appeared on the table after supper.

The rituals were comforting and, given busy schedules of school, extra-curricular activities, work and volunteering, the family looked forward to spending that (usually) peaceful slice of time together. Then there were chores – cleaning the table, washing and drying the dishes and utensils then school work. Kenora swears that, as the oldest child and only girl, she developed perennially wrinkled fingers from doing dishes.

Usually on the weekends once the weather grew cold, hockey season began and the family spent a lot of time driving to and from practices and games. On Sunday afternoons, Kenora’s mother, Bernice, would enlist her four children to help bake goodies for the coming week. Spicy Molasses Cookies were a favorite. The flavour is sweet and somewhat strong, but oh so good with a hot beverage.

Note: If the kitchen is warm or the dough seems too soft, let it cool in the fridge for an hour. Your hands will get gooey and brown as you roll them into balls of deliciousness, but the final product will be worth the messiness.

Yield –   Makes about 2 1/2 dozen, depending on the size of the dough balls

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt – I mix this with the butter so it dissolves better
1 large egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup mild-flavored (light) or robust-flavored (dark) molasses
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Coarse sanding or raw sugar (for rolling – buy turbinado or coarse sugar at Bulk barn)

* She sometimes adds 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger for extra bite

Preparation

1. Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg in a small bowl.

3. Whisk egg, salt, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine.

4. Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl.

5. Scoop out dough by the teaspoonful and roll between your palms into balls (if dough is sticky, chill). Drop into bowl of coarse sugar and roll around to coat.

6. Arrange on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart (the dough will spread).

7. Bake cookies for 8–10 minutes (set stove timer and check after 8 minutes – you want them slightly under-baked). Rotate baking sheets halfway through (not absolutely necessary), until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (over-baked cookies won’t be chewy).

8. Slide paper out of baking trays and transfer paper and cookies to wire racks to cool (they’ll be too soft to move individually).

MAKE AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made and rolled into balls 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on a baking sheet; transfer to resealable plastic bags. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling in sugar then baking as directed.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/chewy-molasses-cookies-51205630

Another trick Kenora learned from her mentor, Bosco Poon, and the lawyers, former police officers and techies she works with at Barclay, Benford & Friday (BB&F) is to always bring a packed lunch, a large container of drinking water and a thermos of hot beverage. You just never know when you’ll be stuck on a stakeout that lasts far longer than you expected or you’re out of town in the middle of nowhere and your stomach is growling.

One of the dishes in frequent rotation in her insulated lunch box is Kale Salad with lemon tahini dressing.

Chopped kale do-it-yourself salad

Ingredients

Simple and easy to make anytime. Because Kale is more like coarse romaine and doesn’t absorb liquid, a big batch can keep for several days. Most of the time she substituted chopped toasted whole almonds because they stay crisp for longer.

  • 1 cup sliced or coarsely chopped almonds
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 4 lemons), red wine or cider vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon strong mustard (Dijon, etc.)
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • A large bunch of washed kale leaves, thick ribs removed with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors
  • 2 green onions, a shallot or small red onion sliced thinly
  • ½ cup dried cranberries rehydrated in 1 cup of warm water
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Optional – halved cherry tomatoes, sugared pecan pieces, chopped radish, shredded carrot

Preparation

  1. In a toaster oven or skillet, toast almonds until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a tall container, combine lemon juice, garlic, oil, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and mustard. Whip with an immersion blender. Or you can use a blender or food processor if you’re doubling or tripling the recipe to have some on hand for later. The mixture should be thick. Taste and correct seasoning to suit your taste. If you like your dressings tart, add more lemon juice or vinegar.
  3. Working with a handful of leaves at a time, cut the kale into thin ribbons. You don’t have to be precise – just make sure the pieces are more or less bite-sized.
  4. Place chopped kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Massage the kale with your fingers – the salt breaks up the tough fibers and the oil makes the process easier on your fingers.
  5. Add the onion, nuts and cranberries
  6. Pour half the dressing over the salad and mix together. Taste and add more flavor ingredients to suit whether you like it tart or sweet.
  7. If you need more dressing, add now and toss the ingredients to coat thoroughly.
  8. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Variation: make a dressing with fresh lime juice, sesame oil, crushed fresh garlic, a lashing of fish oil and/or good soy sauce and season to taste. Instead of cranberries use mandarin orange slices, add cooked chick peas or edamame and chopped peanuts.

Buon appetito!