The Matriarch

I love my middle name.  “Anona”.  It’s unique; I’ve never heard of it anywhere else before. Plus, it’s a palindrome! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love my middle name.  And, I love where it comes from.

My great-grandmother on my mother’s mother’s side was Ruth Anona Leitch.  Her parents died when she was young, and she was raised by her grandmother.  I’m told you would hear Ruth Anona before you saw her, because her laugh was big enough to precede her.  She was the first Anona, as far as anyone around now can tell.  My own mother, and especially my grandmother, have never been big on sharing stories from their childhoods.  It’s always been something that you have to work a bit to draw out of them.  Which is funny, considering how much the women in my family love to talk!  And yet somehow, stories of Grandma Anona always seemed to come more easily.  Whether it’s from that, or our shared name, I’ve always had a special connection to her.

One of the last times I was home visiting, I slept over at my Grandma and Aunt’s house.  I cooked them dinner, we played Yahtzee, and then we started looking through things of long ago times that my Grandma had been hanging onto for all these years.  I asked questions, they reminisced, and old stories were told to me for the first time.

So in honour of Mothers’ Day, here is one of my favourites about the matriarch of our family, Grandma Anona.



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Why wait?

Tray of Maple Millet Granola Knusprige Muesli Vegan

I do this thing, where I put things off. I procrastinate. I wait.

It’s not because I don’t want to do these things. (Well, sometimes it is, too). I postpone the things I do want to do. I’m always waiting for the perfect moment or the right time. To read the stories. To write that blog post. To try that recipe. To go see that place. To say what’s on my mind.

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Baking with Maddy: The layers of Semlor



I can remember when Maddy first decided that we would be making Semlor. For weeks, she had debated whether or not to go to Sweden for Easter, and these traditional sweet buns seemed to be one of the biggest draws. After she resolved herself to stay in Berlin for the holiday, Maddy began the search for bakeries or cafes that sold her beloved Swedish delicacy. Unfortunately, she had no success. As Easter neared and she despaired, one day I suggested…why not make them ourselves? She blinked, thought it over for a second, and then her face lit up, the perfect solution to her Semlor problem!

So, we made them ourselves.

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Baking with Maddy: The Interview

Here’s the transcript from my interview with Maddy, where we talked about baking Semlor and what these traditional Swedish buns mean for her.  You can read what it was like for us to bake Semlor together here and you can see Maddy’s recipe for Semlor here .

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Recipe: Semlor, Swedish Easter Buns

After our adventure baking Swedish Easter buns, Semlor, Maddy graciously translated her recipe from the original Swedish.  This one was translated from, but her mum’s recipe comes from a classic Swedish recipe book, one that is so important they actually have two copies of it!

“It’s from a Swedish recipe book. It’s actually a really famous Swedish recipe book, that every household in Sweden should have, and probably does. It’s called “Sju Sorters Kakor” which means ‘Seven Types of Cake’ and it’s just filled with biscuits and cake.”

Sounds good!  Thanks Maddy!

Check out “Baking with Maddy: The layers of Semlor” for a look at what baking Swedish style was like, and what this recipe means for Maddy!

A Semla ready to be eaten

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Watching what we eat

The clouds lay thick over the city and the days are short and grey. It’s cold, wet, or both, and people on the street wear the weather on their faces. But every winter, for a short time in February, Berlin gets a little brighter as the Berlinale comes once again.

The Berlin International Film Festival, the “Berlinale”, is in its 66th edition this year, and it never fails to create a bright buzz throughout the city as locals and visitors alike come out of their hibernation to takeover Berlin’s cinemas.  This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the festival’s “Culinary Cinema”, a programme designed to tell stories from all corners of the food world. Here are the films from the programme that I’m most excited about…

Berlin International Film Festival 2012 post screening talk with logo

After a film, Richard Hübner, 2012 © Berlinale

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A time to give thanks

Leaves on fire in Treptower Park

October. Cool winds and damp mornings. Shorter days and low light. Trees turning from simple green to bouquets of red, yellow, and gold. Leaves drying and falling and crunching satisfyingly under boots. Warm soup and thick sweaters. Hot cocoa in cold hands. The scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves spreading from the oven throughout the house, warm and inviting. The tingle of every precious ray of sun, before the hurry home to hibernate for a night.

October is my favourite month, and Thanksgiving, the Canadian fête of the autumn harvest, kicks it off. Falling on the second Monday of the month, it was just last week that I was celebrating with friends across a full and happy table.

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Ice cream, an “Angsthase”, and the goodness of strangers

Once upon a Wednesday, Zwolf and I starred in our very own fairytale. At least, that’s what it felt like. What happened seemed more like something from a storybook than real life. In real life when something goes wrong, there’s rarely anyone rushing to your rescue, but last Wednesday, two strangers came along and gave us the perfect happy ending!

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Heisser Hobel at "Food Truck Book and Film Feast":

“If you like what you’re doing, people will feel that”

I went to an event by myself.

I sometimes forget how fun it can be to do stuff on my own, but then I go and check out a cool event like “Food Truck Book and Film Feast” at Markthalle Neun last Wednesday, and I have a blast! I went thinking, oh you know, this could be interesting, but before I knew it, I was nodding and laughing and asking questions and getting answers and bopping along to a great soundtrack with a giant smile on my face like a total weirdo! Literally. And the best part is, I left feeling so energized and inspired about food! Which, for an aspiring food blogger, is probably a good thing!

Florian Rohrmoser dishing out his Spaetzle

The event was hosted by Stadt Land Food with support from Mobile Kino and Street Food Thursday. It started with a Q&A panel moderated by Per Meurling of Berlin Food Stories and featured a trio of interesting characters. Representing the food truck owners were Florian Rohrmoser of Heisser Hobel, who makes outstanding Kaesespaetzle (the Schwabian version of mac and cheese, but taken to a whole new cheesy level) and Cesar Cotta of Zwei Dicke Baeren, the guys who brought ice cream sandwiches to Berlin. Rounding it out was Nicola von Velsen, one of the authors of the recently published “Food Trucks. Kreative Kuechen auf Raedern”. Just like each speaker had their own niche in the food truck scene, they each had their own perspectives.

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