mama down.

Is there anything worse than the flu bugs you get from a baby?

I know, I know, of course there is.

But at this moment, eyes and nose streaming, ears clogged, throat raw, sleep-deprived and generally miserable as I am, I am finding it hard to keep some perspective.

In fact, I am so miserable that there is really only one thing I am willing to eat – and it is pictured above.

This silken, soothing custard is the ultimate comfort food to me, and my childhood dish of choice when anything really unbearable came my way.

Give me this, and some hot water with lemon and lots of honey (no whiskey, I promise), and I may live to see another day.

Baked Vanilla Custard
adapted from the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook

2c milk
1/2c sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
a sprinkling of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a kettleful of water. Lightly grease a one-litre ovenproof dish.

Combine milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until milk is very warm (do not bring to a boil, or you will have a curdled mess rather than a silken dreamy thing to eat) and sugar dissolved.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs an vanilla. Pour milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Pour custard into prepared dish, and sprinkle with nutmeg. Place dish in a roasting pan and place in the oven; pour boiled water into the roasting pan, until it reaches half way up the sides of the custard dish.

Bake 25-35 minutes, until almost set. Remove custard from roasting pan and leave it to cool, in its dish, as long as you can. It might be marginally better cold, but I never get that far.

Serves two greedy people.


I don’t know how people who are not stress-eaters cope with their stress.

When faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, I can think of nothing that offers more solace than food – and the more indulgent, the better.

(I recently read a magazine article on the merits of shopping, written by the wonderful Lynn Crosbie. She made reference to an era when, instead of going out and buying things, women would get together to eat bourbon-soaked waffles and watch bad T.V. I’m pretty sure she was joking, but at this moment in time, a waffle soaked in bourbon? Nirvana.)

So it was that after an epically trying day not long ago, I found myself scouring the cupboards for a snack that might improve things. I was aiming for something chocolatey and sweet, but filling – so I wouldn’t have to think about eating again for a while.

Mindful of my nursing baby, I was also hoping for something that wasn’t completely devoid of nutritional value. I settled on baking some gluten-free brownies from my new favourite cookbook.

While I was waiting and waiting and waiting for them to bake (my one complaint about the gluten-free baked goods is that they require a little more patience than their wheaty sisters), and to atone in advance for the overindulgence that was imminent, I made some granola.

This is the granola that I have been eating since I was a child, and it never fails to transport me to a kinder and gentler time.

Gwenn’s Crunchy Granola

This is basically a template. I don’t think even my mom, whose recipe it is, ever makes it exactly according to these specifications, so go with whatever is in the cupboard that suits your taste.

7c oatmeal
1c wheat germ
1 1/2c unsweetened coconut
1/2c dark brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4c sesame seeds
1/2c raw sunflower seeds
1/2c raw cashews
1/2c natural almonds
1/2c water
1/2c vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first nine ingredients in a very large bowl, and mix well.

In a large glass measuring cup or similar jug, whisk together water, oil, and vanilla.

Pour liquid ingredients into oatmeal mixture and mix well – I use my hands for this part, but a wooden spoon would work too.

Divide evenly between two large rimmed baking sheets and bake 30-40 minutes, stirring granola about halfway through cooking time.

Cool completely in pans before transferring to an airtight container.
Makes about 12 cups.