Posts Tagged ‘Darcie Friesen Hossack’


The last time I made granola, it was hard to tell the difference between the pebbly clusters of seeds and oats, and the bits of broken teeth that were later replaced with a crown.
Today, however, when I wake to my first morning in Waterloo, where I’ve come to speak to audiences at Conrad Grebel Univeristy College, I find Hildi in the Breakfast Room off her 1950’s kitchen. She’s been up for hours already, busy with the work of a retiring-but-still-busy scholar.
I, on the other hand, am still on Pacific Time, and have never been a morning person. So it’s noon — a little past — when Hildi asks whether I’d like breakfast or lunch.
Breakfast, definitely.
“Granola, yogurt and fresh mangos?” Hildi asks, adding a query about how I slept.
Now, it has to be noted that I am no-talent, a pretender and a hack when it comes to sleeping.
Others lay their heads upon their pillows and set their consciousnesses adrift on a lake of dreams.
I take half a blue pill and hope for oblivion to pull up over my head like a sodden blanket, then later wake with a mouthful of taste like dirty coins.
However, how I slept is less important this morning than where.
“Well enough,” I say. And it’s the truth.
Considering a three hour time change, chronic insomnia, and nerves that should be stripped down to their wires by the reading and lecture I’m to present tonight, I did sleep rather well enough.
“It’s a lovely guest room,” I add. It’s also the truth.
Graciously windowed and flooded with airy light, the room, the house, is a testament to better builders from a more accountable time. And here, in this same room where I last night unpacked my pillow from home, I know, have also slept some of the greatest living writers whose books I have ever trembled before.
Rudy Wiebe, father of Mennonite literature and Order of Canada recipient.
Patrick Friesen, Governor General finalist. And David Bergen, Giller winner.
Miriam Toews’ accomplishments are too many to count, and my fangirl status too embarrassing to note. And Sandra Birdsell is not only a Giller finalist, but my teacher from the Humber School for Writers, whose work I return to whenever I need to feel completely inadequate as a writer.
Altogether, they are writers of such loft that I get dizzy just looking up.
And yet, even though Hildi, a scholar of English, and Peace and Conflict Studies, has spent her career ensuring writers of Mennonite heritage are heard in a crowded room, there are no airs here.
There is easy conversation, warmth of spirit, and generosity of self. And there is Hildi’s granola.
“I brine my walnuts,” she says when I ask why this reduced-fat granola is better than any other. Better than cookies.
A few minutes later, Hildi’s husband Paul joins us for mid-day espresso, as Hildi writes down her granola secrets for me to take home and share with all of you.
Already, this trip has been worth the flight from West to East, and I begin to wonder what other kitchen secrets I might yet glean before I head home.


Hildi’s Granola
5.5 c rolled oats
4.5 c nuts (selection of almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts)
3/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 coconut oil
scant ½ c brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine well. Spread onto two large baking sheets and bake at 325F for 20-25 mins.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt.
Fold in 2 cups dried cranberries or cherries. Cool completely before storing, refrigerated, in an airtight container.
Brined Walnuts
1 lb raw walnut halves
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup kosher salt
In a large bowl, dissolve salt in water. Add walnuts. Let soak for three hours: drain.
Spread walnuts into a single layer on a baking sheet. Allow to dry in a 170F oven for 5-6 hours, stirring periodically to encourage even drying. The nuts will have a crispy, somewhat crackly texture when thoroughly dried. (Under-drying will result in the nuts being vulnerable to mold.)
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


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Depending on the paper, next week’s food column, or the week after that,  is all about Writers Reading Recipes.

It’s more than the very good idea of Book Madam Julie Wilson! It’s a literary feast, with celebrated authors lending their voices to tempting dishes. Better than bedtime stories. Almost as good as eating. Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer even reads in Flemish.

So find someplace quiet, have a seat. Take a pen with you. You might want to make a grocery list.

Writers reading recipes begins with a series of readings by five authors. Listen in here!

In order of appearance:
Julie Wilson, “Tender Eggs with Cream and Chives”
Sarah Leavitt, “Pumpernickel Bread Ring”
Iain Reid, “Coconut Ginger Lentil Soup”
Darcie Friesen Hossack, “Rollkuchen”
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer


Teri Vlassopolous reads Aunt Gwen’s Fried Egg Sandwiches in “H is for Happy” from An Alphabet for Gourmets, by M. F. K. Fisher, published in 1948.

Teri Vlassopoulos’s first book, Bats or Swallows, was published by Invisible Publishing in Fall 2010. She’s not only a good friend of mine from writing school, but we were co-short-listed for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Her favourite meal is breakfast.

In the third instalment,

Writers Reading Recipes continues with Kim Moritsugu reading “Butterscotch Brownies” from The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.

Kim Moritsugu is a creative writing teacher, food blogger and the author of four novels and one novelette. Visit her at The Hungry Novelist and kimmoritsugu.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KimMoritsugu.

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Also published in The Kelowna Daily Courier and Kamloops This Week, find the story and recipe by linking to The Calgary Beacon.

If you have any leftovers (doubtful), heat and shred meat, then make sandwiches with grilled sourdough bread and crumbled blue cheese.

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Every so often I get a letter from a reader that erases any doubt about why I do what I do. There’s the Christmas card from a woman who told me she’s kept,  for years, a newspaper clipping from a story I wrote about Christmases spent with my Mennonite grandparents (men in the living room cracking nuts, women in the kitchen, kids in the basement…all of us waiting for our holiday brown paper lunch bags, filled with nuts, mandarines, hard candy and $2 bills). Her experience, she said, was much the same. She’s kept my clipping, I’ve saved her card.

This morning, I received another keeper.

I’ve met so many warm-hearted people while reading and touring with Mennonites Don’t Dance. Many have taken time to tell me stories about where they’re from, their own Mennonite roots. Some of the stories are familiar, all appreciated, many hilarious. Like this one, where Alice Gro explains how she came to use more than 14 plums on her platz.

Congratulations on “Mennonites Don’t Dance”!  As an avid reader of your (and Dean’s!) Courier column, I eagerly awaited your book!  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend your launching at the Kelowna Library, but a few days later I was able to scoop a signed copy for myself and for each of my 4 sisters!  They were great little gifts to take down to the  Penner family Thanksgiving gathering at the coast.

Your stories were as wonderful to read as I expected.  I did not have the “prairie experience my self; I was born after my parents had moved to that B.C. Mennonite mecca –  Yarrow.  (Daughter of Raspberry Penner, who was son of Postman Penner – you know what I mean.) Some of that old prairie ethic certainly did come along for the ride, though.

I had a good laugh at your reference to Peach Pie in “Ashes”.  That instinctive frugality hit me as I was making my contribution to the Penner Thanksgiving feast: Plum Platz.  All my life I thought it was a “given” that  it took exactly 14 plums to make a 9×12 Platz.  Here I was, making 4 of those suckers, and STILL had pounds and pounds of those prolific fruits still on the counter.  The thought of making MORE Plum Platz was crazy-making!  Oh! Wow!  What a thought!  I could STAND THE PLUMS ON EDGE!  I could fit 30 or 40 plums in each pan!  Genius!  (Big hit at the dinner party too!)  We  Mennonites (using the term loosely here) still have some built-in traits, that’s for sure.

Anyway, thanks for the book.  The stories were very thought-provoking.  I am delighted to note that even non-Mennonites are “getting” it, and I am looking forward to more from you!


Alice Gro

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Official reviews will start tricking in soon (shudder). In the meantime, here’s where Mennonites Don’t Dance has shown up so far. Thank you so much to everyone who’s bought a copy!


Stories to Savour, by Lori-Anne Charlton Poirier, The Pear Tree

Cooked Up Stories, by Portia Priegert, eVent magazine

Mennonites Don’t Dance, by Portia Priegert, ABC BookWorld

On First Books and Chicken’s Feet, by Teri Vlassopoulos, author of Bats or Swallows: And Other Stories

BookClubBuddy, by Pearl Luke


Thistledown Press

HSW Literary Agency




Good Reads

Amazon.com Author Central

Books by and About Mennonites


Books by Teachers and Alumni of Humber School for Writers


Publicity for Darcie Friesen Hossack, by Susan Toy (Alberta Books Canada)

Book Club Buddy, by Susan Toy

Holy Cluck!, by Trish Tervit

And a Darcie in a Pear Tree, by Vicky Bell

Well, at least some people listen to me... by Susan Toy (Alberta Books Canada)

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