For Great Canadian Chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk, All Food Comes Home


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For Canadian chefs and wives Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk, food has always been a family affair. That’s what their beloved Toronto farm-to-table restaurant Ruby Watchco (now closed) was all about, seasonal local ingredients, showcased in cozy dishes, served family style. “We wanted to cook for you like we would at home,” Crawford explains.

Now, the duo are bringing the ethos behind their restaurant to their new cookbook “Hearth & Home: Cook, Share and Celebrate Family Style”, in which they share over 140 comfort foods – like succulent honey and baby ribs. garlic or cornbread with sweet and crumbly onion. – which you can mix and match for parties with your loved ones. It’s an approach to food that has lasted their entire lives for as long as they both can remember.

For Kirk, a native of Peterborough, Ont., Some of his earliest memories were in the kitchen. She was five when she got her first apron – navy blue with red polka dots – and she and her mom made an apple pie together for her dad. But it’s the weekends, full of good times with the family, that really stand out.

“My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she cooked during the week, when it was more about trying to get food on the table,” she says. “But on Sundays, Dad was cooking, and he always made one of his favorite things – lamb or roast beef. It was so special to see everyone helping out. “

Kirk, an award-winning chef who has also worked in the UK, New York and at the Four Seasons in Toronto (where she met Crawford), remembers the first thing she cooked on her own: a Beef Stroganoff with noodles homemade, a recipe she found in one of her father’s magazines. She was 12 at the time and asked her parents for permission to tackle the dish solo.

“It didn’t go quite well,” Kirk said, laughing. “I don’t know if my dad had ever eaten Beef Stroganoff before, but it was the best he ever had.”

Crawford’s father, “a wonderful cook,” is also at the heart of some of her most vivid memories. What stands out most about the famous Toronto chef, known for his visits to the Four Seasons in Toronto and New York, is the variety of recipes in his vast repertoire. In their house, enjoying a dish like beer fish and chips with a homemade tartar sauce was not out of the ordinary.

“It was inspiring,” says Crawford, also known for shows like “Iron Chef Canada” and her best-selling cookbooks. “He really encouraged my brother and I to go into the kitchen and cook with him. It has become such a fun part of our day. We all participated, and then we would have that time around the table. ”

Crawford and Kirk's daughters, and up-and-coming little chefs, Addie Pepper (right) and Gemma Jet Aubergine.

These first experiences laid the foundations for their culinary career and their life together at home. And from their new home in Peterborough, Ont., It’s a love they also pass on to their daughters, Addie Pepper, 4, and Gemma Jet Aubergine, 2.

It starts in their garden, where the girls help grow and pick fresh produce, like Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, corn and butternut squash. Crawford and Kirk are both advocates for sustainable eating and believe it is important for their children to know where their food comes from.

Of course, there is also plenty for the family to do in the kitchen. A favorite is the weekly pizza nights. Crawford and Kirk prepare the dough, Addie and Gemma unroll it, and each chooses their homemade toppings.

“It’s wonderful to see the food through their eyes and to see their wonder at how delicious it is,” says Crawford. “Their sheer joy is breathtaking. They love to cook; they love to season, taste and create. It is absolute magic.

"Home and house," by Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk, Penguin Canada, 264 pages, $ 40.

Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk’s tips for involving kids in the kitchen

Start with cooking. Baked goods recipes usually provide plenty of opportunities for kids to get involved, whether it’s measuring dry ingredients, pouring everything into a dough, or mixing everything together. And they’ll be delighted at the prospect of sweets, of course. “There are a lot of things they’ll love – like the smell of ginger, vanilla or cinnamon – that will excite them and awaken their senses,” says Kirk.

Look for utensils suitable for children. Once you and your kids are comfortable being more active in the kitchen, get them some cooking utensils that they can actually use. Look for mini whisks or spatulas, or even try a kid-safe nylon serrated chef’s knife that they can use to practice chopping.

Create a routine. “It’s really important that you’re not in a rush,” Crawford explains, adding that you have to be intentional with your kids in the kitchen. Spend some time each week in the kitchen. Maybe you cook your meals every Sunday and they help you wash or chop veggies, or maybe you pick a day to make a favorite recipe, like baking a batch of gingerbread cookies.

Let them be part of the process. Cooking is probably not an everyday thing, so if you want to bring your kids into the kitchen more often, just ask them what they want to do. If they don’t have enough know-how yet, have them grab some handy tools or ingredients, like a can of chickpeas. “Let them participate more and more as they become familiar with the skills,” says Crawford. “They’ll almost instantly become those little junior chefs. “

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