I’m an information junkie. There, I’ve said it. My mind is a tank of facts and trivia that keep me amused during my down time and serve me well at Trivial Pursuit games. I can waste hours and days online float-skimming from one website to another using only links, instead of a kite. Some of them make me laugh out loud, others make me drool and some help me improve my craft as a writer or sewing/knitting/beading aficionado. The best parts of the cooking sites, besides the usually great quality of writing, are the recipe links page. Here are a few of my recent favourites.

Ontario Writers’ Conference… Word by Word – http://www.thewritersconference.com/index.html.

Check out the Photos & Videos page for previous years’ OWC presentations by noted authors like Wayson Choy and Linwood Barclay. The OWC this year is April 30th and the agenda and speaker roster sound really interesting . If you’re a writer or like hanging out with writers, why not register and attend? Thanks to Cheese and Butterflies… An Adventure in Culinary Tourism (great blog, BTW) for the news – http://cheeseandbutterflies.wordpress.com/

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever thought of making your own bacon (no, not that way. It’s about curing meat, from pigs)? Yummy. Might even feel righteous and healthy. A group of 160 bloggers are taking part in “the year of meat”.  The book on which it the project is based – Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing – is authored by Michael Ruhlman. From the majority of the 98 epistolary reviews on Amazon.com,  it seems like the man is the Master of Meats.

Charcutepalooza http://viveksurti.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/charcutepalooza-project-homemade-bacon/.

I’ve done a fair bit of smoking of meats and salmon in my little tin-box smoker on the back deck. I haven’t come up with a way to cold-smoke a whole slab of salmon, because it has to be marinated before smoking and I’m paranoid about food-poisoning, but the salmon chunks are still incredibly addictive, even after being frozen for a while. They’re great in a light cream sauce with capers and grated lemon peel over al dente pasta.

I learned, the hard way, not to run the smoker for 8 hours inside the garage, in the winter or when it’s raining in the summer, especially when the cars are parked inside. Did that a couple of years ago and everything smelled like sweetly smoky pork for weeks. Ah,  but the back ribs and pulled pork were so worth it.

Real baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum. – http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/recipes/ 

The Book

Image by jensteele via Flickr

I’ve been using The Cake Bible for so many years, entire sections are splotched and stuck together. Although some folks on Amazon have complained that Rose’s books are complex, I’ve enjoyed her explanations of the chemistry of baking and how the various ingredients interact or what happens when you substitute and the weight proportions are off. Plus, I have never had a cake turn out badly using Rose’s methods of adding the liquid ingredients to the dry. Easy, easy, easy. Try the pound cake recipes. It’s hard waiting for them to cool before eating. There’s a new book out called Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, which is now on my list of must-haves. I’ve borrowed her Bread Bible from the library. I’m a very experienced yeast and quickbread-maker (at least one loaf a week instead of store-bought)  but I found her approach to bread overly difficult and time-consuming.

Here’s another simple (in the sense of uncomplicated and easy-to-read, which is good) site that I recently stumbled upon – Vivek’s Epicurean Adventureshttp://viveksurti.wordpress.com/. The World of Food and Cooking http://sharemykitchen.com/ is written by Sergey Stoianov from Sofia. Check out the Bizarre Foods section. They’re both well-penned and illustrated sources of dinner inspiration along with recipes and cookbook listings.

And when I begin to feel guilty for mentally scarfing down all of this visually tempting food, I lumber over to the website for Calorie Count – http://caloriecount.about.com/, page through some inspirational stories and a few articles about how bad the food is that Americans regularly consume, and I temporarily repent. Then it’s off to look for reviews of some hot, new Argentinean or Chilean wine at the LCBO.

It’s a good thing my humongous monitor is an arm’s length away or there’d be lick-marks!