About The Bitter Almond

Sam and Emmy
Emmy and I walking in downtown Portland

Hello, I’m Samantha, and this site is a collection of odds and ends, such as recipes made with (mostly) healthy ingredients, and other food-related tidbits.  I, gratefully, get to spend a lot of my time exploring new (to me) recipes and techniques, foods from other cultures, the history of where our food comes from, and indulging my love of cooking/baking, sharing and eating delicious foods.  I sometimes obsess over recreating something exquisite that we’ve had in a restaurant, and also enjoy developing new recipes based on some old favourites, updated to reflect our current preferences.

Helen JollyI think a passion for food and baking must be genetic; my maternal grandmother ran a tea shop during the second world war in England, and worked as a confectioner at a bake shop after the war.  I love this old picture of her; I can imagine her creating her sponge cakes, scones and other goodies in her shops.  She used to take my mother out for tea and scones to the evocatively named “Tudor Cafe”; what a treat it would be share some freshly baked scones and a cup of tea with her at the Tudor Cafe.

Following my mother’s example, I enjoy cooking our meals with natural, minimally processed, organic ingredients whenever possible.  It seems that so many people are developing food sensitivities, so cutting down a bit on the usual suspects, such as the gluten in modern wheat, dairy, and refined sugar, seems like a good preventative measure.  We don’t count calories or worry too much about fat, but try to mainly eat foods that are purported to be nutritious. I do, however, have several weaknesses…such as croissants, crepes, scones, Montreal bagels, wood-fired pizza (pretty much anything doughy, like crumpets, dumplings, kouign amann, Yorkshire pudding…).

I was lucky enough to live near a Montreal-style bagel bakery at one time (Siegel’s in Vancouver), and there’s nothing like biting into a toasty, chewy bagel that’s still warm and laced with a whiff of smoke from a wood-fired oven (it’s probably a good thing that I don’t live there anymore).  I was also lucky enough to work somewhere that used to order in fantastic Chinese lunches for special occasions, where I developed an insatiable obsession for black sesame filled fried chewy rice balls, aka Jian Dui, which, sadly, are difficult to find.


Emmy, our black lab, is my constant kitchen companion. She loves to help out, especially with the clean-up.