I woke up this morning to shocking news of nine people injured in a stabbing at my high school. What’s so shocking about yet another violent school event? I guess nothing.

And yet I was greatly affected. Maybe it’s the first time a story like this hit close to home. Maybe since the double knife-wielding suspect is a grade nine girl. Maybe because Pickering was one of those ideal places to grow up… or was it? Maybe it was just a simpler time.

It’s possible my generation was the last to retain some semblance of innocence in our youth. We didn’t have computers permeating every moment of our lives. I learned to type on a typewriter, then a Commodore 64 and played Space Invaders on our Texas Instruments (we weren’t cool enough for Atari).

Kids still played outside – gasp – dogs and cats roamed the neighbourhood untethered, yards didn’t have fences and you could get candy for a penny… the penny still existed!


I saw a list of ten sounds this millennial group will never hear: rotary phone dials, the ping from a full service gas station as you pull to the pump, the click of a television dial. Check out this list if you want to feel really depressed.

Kvetching is a right of passage as we all get older, I guess I’m entering my “when I was a kid” phase. The world will forever be changing. I can’t even fathom the differences in life my Nana has seen in her 96 years.

I read up on Toronto in the 1930s for a novel I’m researching and they had photos of unattended baby carriages lined up outside Eaton’s… with babies in them!!! It was a parking area for mothers to leave their little ones as they shopped the department store.

Gone are the days of climbing trees and skinned knees. I will always have my precious memories of tree forts, catching crayfish in the creek and using a little thing called imagination to entertain ourselves.

The world has accelerated into a place of abbreviated language and being eternally connected without ever connecting at all.

Growing up is fraught with pain as we stumble to find our way. It shouldn’t be fraught with cyber bullying, weapon threats and the ever blazing laptop serving as a harbinger of an ominous future.

As a tribute to simplicity here is a purely simple recipe from child advocate and leader of change, Jamie Oliver. One pot, honest ingredients and vibrant taste. Power down for a few hours, enjoy this with family and talk




serves 4

Yet another yummy and delightfully easy recipe from my hero, Jamie Oliver. It’s because of his Jamie Does book that I discovered the simple deliciousness of Moroccan cooking. Their combination of spices and flavours are unique and fresh.

This recipe doesn’t stray far from Jamie’s version. I’ve added carrots for colour and texture and I’m using half white wine and half stock. Wine isn’t very authentic, as alcohol isn’t consumed in this mostly Muslim culture. I just like to cook with it, but you can certainly replace it with more stock.

I recommend checking out more tagine recipes – lamb is made for this one pot technique and makes for a special dinner party dish with minimal preparation.

Check out another Moroccan recipe right here with Chicken Bastilla Pie.




1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 2 legs, 2 thighs and 2 breasts (cut in half)

1 heaped tsp each coriander seeds, fennel seeds, ground ginger and cumin seeds

1/2 tsp each cinnamon, smoked paprika and cardamom

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves with papery skin in tact

kosher salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup each dry white wine and chicken stock

1 large onion, peeled and cut lengthwise in thick chunks

1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small) cut into wedges, feathery fronds reserved

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup mixed olives, pitted

1 small bunch each cilantro and parsley

1 lemon (or 2 preserved lemons), skin on and sliced

1 big pinch of saffron


2 cups boiling water

2 cups whole wheat couscous

a big pinch of saffron

1 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt

juice of 1 lemon



  • Combine coriander, fennel, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and cardamom in a pestle and mortar and bash until crushed. Place your chicken in a large bowl and rub all over with the spice mix and olive oil.
  • Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.


  • Place a clean and dry dutch oven, tagine or casserole dish with lid over medium heat. Add your garlic cloves and dry roast until blackened on both sides. Remove to the side to cool.
  • Turn heat to medium/high and add 2 tbsps of olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and brown, starting skin side down, about 5 minutes, until golden and crispy. Flip the chicken over and let it go another few minutes.
  • Toss in the onion, fennel and carrots. Thinly slice the cilantro and parsley stalks and sprinkle over. Stir a few minutes to soften and flip chicken over again, skin side up. Pour over white wine and allow to cook down for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the stock, olives, sliced lemon and saffron. Remove the garlic from their skins by squeezing into the pot.


  • Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour or until the meat begins to fall off the bone. Check halfway through to make sure nothing is sticking or too much liquid has evaporated. If so, add some more stock.
  • Remove the lid and stir. Turn up the heat and simmer further until it reduces to your liking. Taste for seasoning and add some more salt or pepper, if need be. Sprinkle with cilantro and parsley leaves as well as any remaining fennel tops.



  • Bring to boil 2 cups water (or stock) in a pot. Add the rest of the couscous ingredients except the lemon juice, stir and turn off the heat. Cover and leave on the burner for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add lemon juice, starting with half the juice and adding more to taste.

Serve family style or plate some couscous topped with chicken, veg and juices.


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