This Molasses Cookie Recipe Restored My Faith in Holiday Confections

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Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

Here’s the thing about holiday cookies that people miss: Most of them are bad. Like, moisture-sapping, gritty, too-sweet mounds of sadness bad. Nobody wants that, no matter how cutely those pucks are decorated or how festively they’re packaged. I’m over it! I want a cookie that tastes good, first and foremost. Which is why I’m forever a devotee of the OG (original glitter–bomb): Chewy Molasses Cookies.

Chewy Molasses Cookies: All You Ever Wanted

Sure, I love cookies that make a visual impact. Raspberry rugelach that shine like Christmas tree ornaments? Great! Zebra cookies with a dazzling collar of ruby–red sugar? Nice! But there’s a simple beauty in this molasses cookie recipe, a throwback from when BA contributor Alison Roman worked in our test kitchen. (Yep: The same person who brought the world The Cookies.) They dazzle quietly, showing up without needing too much attention. Plus, they make your house smell more festive than a holiday candle store, and are a whole lot less complicated to make than any of the disappointing, look-better-than-they-taste “showstoppers” that are bound to turn up at the cookie swap. What more could you ask for?

Here’s how to get started. Bump your oven racks to the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat it to 375º. Whisk together those dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, per usual. Then, combine the mixtures—no special equipment necessary!—until well incorporated. Nothing fancy, folks!

salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread

Okay, you should probably make these Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies too…

Throw some sanding sugar into a separate shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful (cookie scoops encouraged) and form into balls and roll in the sanding sugar. Plop ‘em onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and toss them into the oven. After 8–10 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through, they’re done and ready to relieve you from bad sugar cookie–tyranny.

Just like that, you’ve made a batch of beautiful, pillowy cookies that twinkle ever so slightly from that sugar bath you gave them earlier. They’re so much more complex tasting than they seem like they should be, with punchy hits of cinnamon, a kiss of cardamom, and just the right about of zing from ginger, all backed up by that just-the-right-amount-of-bitter molasses. They basically capture the feeling of hygge better than any cozy log cabin in Aspen. And after weeks of force-feeding yourself bland cookies, you could use a little rest.

The molasses cookie recipe in question:

chewy-molasses-cookies

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How Ontario’s doctors lost faith in Doug Ford — and each other

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Ontario doctors are mad.

Mad at the last Liberal government.

Mad at the present Progressive Conservative government.

Mad at the Ontario Medical Association.

Mad at their fellow doctors.

Mad at themselves.

Or mad at all of the above.

Doctors do God’s work looking after patients. But they have not been looking after themselves on the labour front of late, which is most maddening of all.

After going for years without a contract, many MDs grew to hate the Liberals in power, prompting the membership to reject a 2016 agreement negotiated by their OMA leaders at the time. Dissident doctors pined for a Progressive Conservative government that promised a good-faith negotiation — with arbitration if necessary.

“The Liberals created a toxic relationship with our doctors by making unilateral decisions,” the premier’s spokesperson declared after the Tories took power. “Doug Ford is committed to respecting Ontario’s physicians and fixing the relationship.”

Be careful what you wish for. Hoping for healing is not enough.

The Tories took Ontario’s doctors for a wild ride this week. Despite Ford’s personal promise to respect physicians and protect the process, the premier’s office pulled the plug: It would no longer be legally bound by binding arbitration. A lawyer’s letter abruptly declared the process dead and buried. The government tried to dismiss its own appointee to the three-member arbitration panel the next day.

Just like that. Promise made, promise broken.

Read more:

Ford government to return to arbitration with Ontario doctors

Tories cut cultural funding, revamp tribunals in scramble for savings

Schism within government on how to deal with the Ontario Medical Association puts premier and health minister at odds

The OMA exploded. Doctors went ballistic. Labour lawyers were apoplectic, accusing the government of not only losing its way but flouting the law.

Both sides are prone to grandstanding in labour negotiations, walking away from the bargaining table or unleashing ultimatums. But aborting arbitration, after agreeing to abide by it, is not part of the playbook if it violates a formally agreed legal framework.

The Tories’ self-serving explanation was that the OMA is now riven by divisions, and could no longer be counted upon to deliver its members if they ever reached a deal. In short, the government declared non-confidence in its bargaining opponent.

As outlandish as that assertion might be in law, it is not outrageous in reality. For it is a fact that the OMA, in a previous incarnation, reached a tentative agreement two years ago with the previous Liberal government, only to fumble the ball.

It was a compromise, as all negotiations are. But the OMA executive, having sealed the deal, couldn’t sell the deal to its members — in short, it couldn’t deliver.

Dissident doctors, led by the best-paid specialists (who resisted taking a haircut so that lower-paid general practitioners could catch up), whipped up opposition to the deal. They won the vote, defeated the deal, and ousted the OMA’s old leadership on the promise of getting a better bargain after the next election.

While the doctors were playing tough, another group of professionals took a different tack: Ontario’s teachers’ unions, who are no slouches in contract negotiations, opted to take the best deal they could get from then-premier Kathleen Wynne, who wanted to avoid pre-election labour strife.

Teachers took the money and ran — before time ran out on the election clock, and before the province’s fiscal situation deteriorated. Doctors, by contrast, rejected their own deal, rebelled against their own organization, and turned against each other.

A civil war among physicians has culminated in a secession attempt by highly paid specialists who want to create the “Ontario Specialists Association,” or OSA, to rival the OMA. The latest round of internal warfare provided the pretext for the government to opt out of binding arbitration — escalating the conflict to a nuclear war.

The stakes are high for doctors and patients, politicians and taxpayers. MDs get more than $12 billion a year — roughly 10 per cent of the annual budget at a time when the Tories are retrenching.

Having accused the Liberals of fostering a “toxic relationship,” Ford has personally poisoned the well by going back on his word. Perhaps the premier could not resist exploiting the weakness of a faction-ridden OMA — an organization that never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity with the Liberals, reposing its faith in Ford for a panacea on pay.

By week’s end, the Tories had done another U-turn. Facing ferocious pressure from doctors, or perhaps a second opinion from their lawyers, the government undid its ultimatum — and agreed to arbitration again.

Just like that. Promise made, promise broken, promise remade.

No doubt doctors are hoping for healing again. But we should all have learned by now to be careful what we wish for.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn

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The Luxuriously Roasted Salmon That’s Restored My Faith in a Boring Old Filet

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Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

When I spot “salmon” on a restaurant menu, one word automatically pops into my mind: Boring. Maybe I’m a snob, but I can’t help it. Often times, the fatty, Creamsicle-hued slab is just there to appeal to the least adventurous eaters. It tends to be handled in the most mundane way possible—maybe served as a skinny filet, seared in a pan, and flecked with black garlic or pickled beets. See? Boring.

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

But when I stumbled upon Alison Roman’s roasted salmon recipe a couple months ago, a new phrase surfaced in my brain: I must eat this. And that’s what I did. Again. And again. It was love at first click.

It’s almost stupidly simple to make. You start by thinly slicing a jewel box of aromatics—anise-y fennel, tangy-sweet blood orange and Meyer lemon, spicy-fruity Fresno chile—and toss them in a baking dish with sprigs of dill and a bit of kosher salt. Then, you lay the salmon on top of that beautiful bed of pretty things, sprinkle on a bit more salt, and shower it all with nearly a cup of olive oil.

slow roasted salmon with harissa

Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski

You can also use the same slow-roasting technique with this harissa salmon recipe.

That’s the secret to what makes this salmon so special: You’re practically poaching the salmon in all that olive oil, making it impossible to overcook (more or less). And even if you’re constantly poking the fish to be sure you don’t go over that perfect coral-hued medium-rare (at 275°, that’s like 30-40 minutes in the oven), it won’t mess up the presentation. Once the salmon is done, you break it up into hunks on whatever pretty platter you have, then scatter the plate with your perfectly roasted aromatics, replacing the wilty dill with lots of the fresh stuff. The result is the equivalent of a perfect hair day: You roll out of bed, do absolutely nothing, and somehow get tons of compliments.

Simply put, this is the recipe that has restored my faith in the maligned protein. And while I’m content to eat it myself (it works without the chiles, and with a splash of soy sauce too), I’ve also tested it on friends. This table full of near strangers immediately bonded over one show-stopping dish. The salmon is that powerful. It can bring people together, and convert even the most stubborn salmon hater into a salmon lover.

Get the recipe:

slow-roasted-salmon-with-fennel-citrus-and-chiles

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Doug Ford and Faith Goldy — what’s wrong with this picture?

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Say what you will about Doug Ford, he is a man of the people.

He is premier of Ontario’s “First Government For The People.” All kinds of people.

Like Faith Goldy.

That would be the fringe journalist who famously appeared on the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, and whose shameless white nationalism has gone viral — getting her sacked by the far-right Rebel Media last year.

Now, she is the fringe mayoral candidate who famously posed with Ford over the weekend, and whose photo has gone viral — putting the premier in political peril.

To be fair, our popular and populist premier poses for photos all the time, not least when he hosts thousands of people at a weekend “Ford Fest” with free food and drinks for his base.

Could this be a case of mistaken identity? A blind spot — personal, political, historical — earnestly explained and easily excused?

Faith Goldy, however, is not just any supporter, even if this is her sixth Ford Fest. Accompanied by her entourage of campaign volunteers wearing election T-shirts, she stands out in a crowd.

Did Ford not know who he was posing with, consorting with, smiling with — unaware of her notoriety, oblivious to her history? Hard to fathom.

Imagine, for a moment, he knew nothing about so infamous a far-right figure. An accidental photo-op.

Would not a premier of the people — all the people — want to walk back a viral image with a virulent white nationalist who wants to make Canada racially pure? Would not a responsible premier distance himself from a politician who provokes prejudice?

Would that he did. But he didn’t — couldn’t — do the right thing.

Given the opportunity, repeatedly, Ford refused to denounce or renounce Goldy and their shared photo in its aftermath Monday. Instead, as a hushed legislature awaited his explanation, he lapsed into partisan rhetoric and personal boasting that left his own Progressive Conservative MPPs uncharacteristically subdued, averting their glances, sitting on their hands.

Does Ford not know his history, our history, world history? Does the premier not know the perennial story of racism and anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia? Could someone in cabinet or caucus explain to him the role of a political leader as the embodiment of tolerance and defender of diversity?

How would others behave in his place? Would Stephen Harper ignore calls for clarification and explanation if he accidentally posed with a known white nationalist? Would our former Conservative prime minister allow his high office to normalize neo-Nazi sentiment? Would former federal minister Jason Kenney condone intolerance by association?

By comparison, consider the response of Ezra Levant, the self-styled “Rebel Commander” who fired Goldy from Rebel Media after she crossed a line at last year’s Charlottesville white nationalist protests. Sensing the distinction between polemicist and supremacist, Levant quickly distanced his already controversial media outfit from her racist rhetoric.

Now ponder the response of the politician who commands Ford Nation, who keeps reminding us that he won 2.3 million votes (never mind that he is premier of all 13 million Ontarians). Confronted with the image of a white nationalist who wants to make Canada white again — “96% euro Canadian,” as she once tweeted — how did Ford behave?

Rather than accept responsibility with humility, he opted for hubris and obtuseness by boasting, “There’s no group in the entire country that represents Toronto and Ontario more than Ford Nation does.”

But does he still stand behind the photo, where he is pictured smiling with his arm draped over her, flanked by campaign supporters in their T-shirts? Does he know Goldy, did he not recognize her?

Ford’s office declined to respond to that last question, saying only, “The Premier denounces all forms of hate, regardless of who says it. Ford Fest was a diverse event with over 7,000 people in attendance from nearly every race, religion, and community across the province. Premier Ford was made available to take pictures with everyone in attendance.”

Everyone in attendance. All kinds of people. All you have to do is ask.

No questions asked, and no second thoughts. No matter how incriminating, damaging and damning the image.


HOW DID DOUG FORD win the election? I’ll be hosting a post-election Democracy Forum at Ryerson University at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday with Progressive Conservative campaign manager Kory Teneycke and his counterparts Michael Balagus (NDP), David Herle (Liberal) and Becky Smit (Greens).

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn

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