We are Bluebarry and MC Warm Spice, a garden variety gay couple living in Toronto. This blog documents our attempt to become better cooks. Expect to see us trying to refine recipes and techniques, sharing tips that make our successes successful, and calling attention to mistakes – both our own, and those of the food writers, bloggers, pundits and chefs that so many of us try to emulate.
Another main theme is cooking within constraints. Time, money, ethics, quality, geography, climate, health… these and other factors drive us to cook in certain ways (and to cook at all, rather than going to a restaurant or buying prepared food). We don’t always meet all of our standards (sometimes, as you’ll see, we don’t even try) but on the whole, they have a profound impact on what we eat.
That said, we are different people, with different food interests and cooking habits.
Bluebarry: My food skews heavily European and North American. I have a serious Thomas Keller crush, and I frequently cook from 3 of his four books: Ad Hoc at Home, Bouchon, and The French Laundry Cookbook (in descending order of frequency). Compared to MC Warm Spice, I tend to use more animal proteins and green herbs and fewer starches, and I have a heavier hand with the lipids. I also adhere more slavishly to recipes. In the warmer months, I use a lot of asparagus, tomatoes, berries, melon and fish, and I can often be found over the Weber kettle grill. For the rest of the year, I do a lot of braising and stewing, stock-making, and pasta dishes. I like oysters better than chocolate, and prosciutto more than turkey. I like an orderly kitchen, from mise en place to cleaning as I go. I enjoy reading the comments on Epicurious recipes and seething at people who make inappropriate substitutions for 75% of the ingredients in a recipe. In a former life, I was a truffle-seeking, acorn-fed Berkshire hog.
MC: On the Kinsey Protein Scale, where 0 is carnivore and 6 is vegan, I’m probably a solid 4. (Other Kinsey scales are another matter for another blog). I try my best to be an adventurous head to tail eater, but more often than not I end up focusing on vegetables. I also like warm spices and earthy flavours. I grew up in a large family with a mother who hates to cook, who wisely said nothing and instead enlisted the help of her children. All five of us cooked from an early age, and still love to do so. Lavish cooking is now how our reserved family best says I love you, particularly to mom. I’m more of an intuitive cook, and my agenda will be to convince any readers who happen across this page that the old adage “baking requires precision, not skill” is completely wrong. Baking is an art best practiced with the fingers, the eye, and the nose.
Like many bakers, I don’t actually enjoy sweets. In my past life I think I may well have been one of the bakers at Versailles who reacted exceedingly poorly when Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake.”