I can waste hours online float-skimming from one website to another. 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 favourites.

My friend Deb Rankine is a cookbook author, culinary adventurer, teacher and a wonderful chef. She goes by the name The Fridge Whisperer. Deb has produced a series of cookbooks that are available on her website. I have five – they’re lovely to look at, easy to use and produce delicious results every time. Try her monthly newsletter and you, too, will be hooked.

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

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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. I bought his books. I bought a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer. I’ve learned to understand the subtle taste difference that great quality, fresh spices and home curing can make to meats.

In the same vein is the website written by David Leibowitz (Living the sweet life in Paris). One of the quick meals Hub and I grew accustomed to for lunch in Italy was a charcuterie or Salumi Plate. Meats, cheese, focaccia, fresh ripe tomatoes and lots of wine – there’s nothing better, especially when eaten at a tiny table in a sun washed cobble-stoned piazza. Here’s a link to a NY Times article. This site, called Rustico Classico has a great description of the Cured Meats of Italy.

I’ve done a fair bit of smoking of meats and salmon in my Bradley smoker on the back deck. Cold-smoking a whole slab of salmon is challenging in the summer because the wood burner creates enough heat to cook the flesh after a few hours, no matter how many bowls of ice I slip under the racks.. The salmon leftovers are 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 in the garage in the winter or when it’s raining in the summer. I did that a couple of years ago and everything smelled like sweetly smoky pork for weeks. Disconcerting to sit inside the car with the scent of meat wafting around when the heater kicks in. 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

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Remember Duncan Hines and Better Crocker mixes? I’m not sure if I ever bake packaged cakes for my kids – I’ve always found them too sweet and lacking in layered flavour. I’ve been using The Cake Bible for so many years, entire sections of my copy are splotched and stuck together. 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. 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.

Here’s another simple (in the sense of uncomplicated and easy-to-read, which is good) site that I use all of the time – Smitten Kitchen.  The chef, Deb Perelman, lives in New York City and creates delectable recipes in a small kitchen. Last summer, she published her first cookbook. I sent a copy to my granddaughter to start off her collection – she loved it. Food porn at its best. Another one is called 101 Cookbooks. That one resonates with me because I had at least that many during my ‘retail therapy’ days. Both websites are well-penned illustrated sources of inspiration and recipes to suit most everyone’s tastes.

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 craft bers or new Argentinean or Chilean wines at the LCBO.

Pinterest is another delight, but after a while scrolling through the entries I feel like a kid with my nose pressed against the window of the chocolate shop. It’s a good thing my humongous monitor is an arm’s length away or there’d be lick-marks on the screen.