Cooking, Presence and Cock Sauce

Last month Neil and I went out to see Chef Michael Smith talk about life, food and his latest book: Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen.

Cock Sauce, Lower Right

We’ve both followed the Canadian chef since the days of his Chef at Large show, and on this (now rare) night we were actually out without Isaac, his message was poignant: presence, family, cooking, and tradition.

Chef Smith spoke briefly about how he’s noticing the decline in cooking and eating together, and how that coincided with his harried jet-setting lifestyle and the end of his own marriage because he wasn’t present with his family.

And as he shared one of the recipes from his new book with everyone – Shrimp Rice Paper Rolls with Ginger Peanut Sauce and Cilantro – he talked about sharing meals, cooking together, letting go of the need for perfection (Just Say No to Food Porn!) and the importance of building a tradition of presence with your family.

And then he splashed me with his cock sauce.

In all seriousness though, it’s so easy (especially with a tiny human around) to lose track of time and push off things like cooking and eating together as life gets busy. One of the big things Neil and I cherish from our own childhoods and want to share with Isaac is a tradition of family meals most nights.

And now that Isaac’s well on his way to eating just about everything we do (new dinner prep question: will it blend?), insisting we share whatever we’ve got on our plates, cooking and eating as a family have taken on a new significance.

Everyone in attendance that evening went home with a copy of the chef’s latest book, and in the spirit of cooking and sharing, here’s my favourite recipe from it so far: Bacon Beans with Baby Spinach.

As a general rule, I don’t like beans, and this dish is a HUGE exception. It’s creamy, delicious, blends (Isaac also gave it two tiny thumbs up), and the only change I’d make is to go ahead and double it right away. You’ll want more.

Ingredients:
8 ounces (250g) of the best bacon you can get
1 large onion, diced
4 sliced garlic cloves
1 cup (250mL) white beans, soaked overnight, drained
1 tsp (5mL) any vinegar (we used Apple Cider vinegar)
1 lb (500g) baby spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste

Slice the bacon crosswise and toss into a large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until it’s released all its fat and is brown and crispy. Add the onions & garlic and sautee until they soften. Add the beans and enough water to barely cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Finish by adding in the vinegar and spinach and stirring until the spinach is just wilted. Salt & Pepper to taste. Devour.

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2 thoughts on “Cooking, Presence and Cock Sauce

  1. Since Jackson has been eating full, regular meals, eating together as a family is something I’ve really tried to enforce. It doesn’t matter that we’re often sitting down as early as 5pm, dinner time is family time with as few interruptions as possible. Sometimes it’s eggs and toast, but it makes me so happy that Jackson is often just as happy with Indian, Thai, sushi or good ol’ meat and potatoes. Jack has also invented a cute little copycat game that he plays with Luke at the table. We eat, we laugh and we talk about our day. It might only be half an hour, but it’s a high quality 30 minutes. That recipe looks like a surefire hit. This boy would live on bacon and sausages and any other cured meat if he could, and he’s been known to scarf up plain chickpeas from the can. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love how simple and delicious his recipes are! We’ll have to try this one for sure.

    We have been cooking a lot more since Colin arrived (though not really together since one of us has to be on baby duty) and I can’t wait til he can start eating with us, both to foster good eating habits and instill our love of good food.

    (p.s. I also love whatever you did to your blog to make it easy to read on my phone!)

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