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For years, Jann Arden’s fans have been getting an intimate look at her life via social media, where she posts about everything from life on the road to her role as a caregiver for her aging parents going through illness. Her posts soon evolved into a new book that’s part memoir, part cookbook. Feeding My Mother came from Jann’s experience watching her father struggle with dementia, and her mother suffer through Alzheimer’s. The book is full of cozy meals she’s cooked throughout the years for parents, and she recently returned to The Social to share some of those dishes with us.

RootVegetables.jpg

Fennel, Green Onion and Radish Slaw with Creamy, Spicy Peanut Dressing

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced (save a few fronds for garnish)
  • 10–15 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2–3 green onions, sliced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (I like salted ones)
For the dressing
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. I use the common round red radishes, but you can use any type of radish you have on hand. I have used a mandolin and I’ve used my food processor and I’ve done it by hand with a sharp knife— slice the fennel and radishes any way you choose, just don’t chop your darn fingers off.
  2. To make the dressing, put everything in a small bowl and mix very well. It takes some elbow grease for sure. It’s very thick to start off with, but loosens up as you get going. Set aside, then give it another quick mix before you pour the whole works over your salad.
  3. Take your sliced fennel, radish and green onion, and put them in a large bowl. Mix them up with your fingers. Toss with the dressing.
  4. Chop up some of the fennel fronds you’ve saved and sprinkle over each serving of salad. Add some crushed peanuts on each dish as well—as little or as much as you like.
 

Noodles.jpg

Easy Vermicelli Bowl

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 pkg vermicelli noodles, thick or thin, entirely up to you and what you can find at your grocery store
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 bunch broccolini or broccoli, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 15–20 snow peas
  • 1 red pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 1 tsp sesame oil salt and pepper
  • chili flakes or hot sauce(optional)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 2–3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. This is something Mom really likes me to whip together on nights when we get home late from seeing Dad. It’s vegan, too.
  2. Soak your noodles in hot water as per package instructions. They usually need 7 or 8 minutes to soften up.
  3. Get a wok or large saucepan going over high heat. Add your coconut oil and ALL the veggies. Add the soy sauce and stir constantly for 3–4 minutes. You want them to be crunchy—not soft and without colour.
  4. Add your sesame oil for the last minute, along with a little salt and pepper, and I personally like some chili flakes or hot sauce.
  5. Drain the noodles and get yourself a bowl. Serve the noodles with the veggies on top with a handful of crunchy peanuts and some green onion. The very last thing I do is sprinkle it with some rice wine vinegar—I love the bite it provides.

Pizza.jpg

Foolproof “Tested a Thousand Times” Pizza Dough

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 tsp fast-rising yeast (or one packet, if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 generous cup very warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. I used to do this by hand, but now I use my KitchenAid with the dough hook. Doing it by hand works just as well, but needs elbow grease and some patience.
  2. Combine your yeast, sugar, warm water and olive oil in a large measuring cup. Stir gently and set aside. Put your flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir well.
  3. When your yeast has activated (a few bubbles on the surface), add it gradually to your flour as you mix it on a slow setting. Make sure it’s not too wet—you want the flour mixture to be able to form a ball and NOT stick to the sides. Same goes if you’re mixing by hand. Add a little more flour if you need to.
  4. Then I leave my mixer on knead for 7 or 8 minutes. Remove the dough and set on a well-floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball and knead a few more times. (Or knead by hand on a well-floured surface until the dough feels springy.) Cover with a clean tea towel and leave it for an hour to rise. It’s now ready to roll out and use!
  5. Put it on your pan, cover it with a little tomato sauce and your favourite toppings, and bake at 450 for 15 minutes.
  6. You can also use this dough to make naan bread. Pull off a small ball of dough. Roll it as thin as you can and fry it in a hot frying pan. I use spray oil directly on the piece of dough and I sprinkle it with a bit of salt. Flip it when you see the dough bubble up—it will only take a minute on each side, if that.

RoastChicken.jpg

Roasted One-Pot Whole Chicken Dinner with Spuds and Peas and Carrots and Onions

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 large white onion (or whatever onion you happen to have on hand)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus more as needed)
  • salt and pepper pinch cayenne
  • 1 roasting chicken (they are usually between 3 and 4 pounds)
  • 2 tbsp seasoning salt (your fave)
  • 3 whole garlic bulbs (yes, I mean the whole thing, not 3 cloves)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or fresh, if you have them)

WHAT YOU DO:

This couldn’t be more straightforward.
  1. Preheat your oven to 425˚F.
  2. Cut up the carrots, onions and potatoes in medium-sized chunks. Put half of them in the bottom of the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cayenne. Plunk the chicken on top of the veggies. (I rinse the chicken and pat it dry because that’s what Mom always  did.)
  3. Smother the bird with olive oil and rub in your seasoning salt and some  pepper.
  4. Stuff the rest of your veggies around the chicken, including the garlic with the tops of the bulbs cut off with a sharp knife. Don’t slice your fingers off as I have done several times.
  5. The pot I use belonged to my mom’s mom—it’s an oval ceramic pot that is stuffed to the hilt by the time I have everything in there. I can hardly get the lid on, so don’t worry if you think your pot is too full.
  6. Drizzle some more olive oil on the veggies and add a bit more salt, pepper and cayenne. Cover and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Don’t worry about it, it’s fine.
  8. At the 45-minute mark, take the lid off and try not to burn the hair off your arms. I have done that a million times and I never seem to learn, but perhaps you will heed my warning. . . .
  9. Put the chicken back in the oven for 20 minutes. You can tell a chicken is cooked by looking at the legs (drumsticks)—if the skin has split away from the joint to the rest of the body, you’re in good shape. Throw in the peas in the last ten minutes. Your other veggies will be a little charred and broken down but that’s perfect! You can take a fork and pull at the flesh of the leg to make sure it pulls away easily.
  10. Do not take the chicken out of the pot. Take the whole pot out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes and then cut it up IN the pot and get all the juices and the veggies mixed up in everything. It should just fall apart. You don’t have to do anything fancy with carving this thing, just cut or pull it into pieces, then dish it up with some of that roasted  garlic and the juices and veggies and call it dinner.
  11. Save the carcass for soup. I throw the whole thing in a resealable bag and use it later in the week.
Excerpted from Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss. Copyright © 2017 Jann Arden. Reprinted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.