At Home with Rebecca Wellman

A Note from the publisher

We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.

Meet Rebecca Wellman

Well. This is new.

I am learning, and quite quickly, that a global disaster is hard on the brain. It was a fast downward spiral it seems, to where we are at today. One Wednesday in mid-March, I was sitting with friends having a drink at a local haunt, and by the next Wednesday I was not allowed to see them. Or worse yet, hug them.

As it was for many of us, that first week of drastic change was a tough one for me and even while I adapt, it continues to be tough. There was anxiety and worry and a lot of fear. The unknown. The unfamiliar. The unfathomable. Fear about the virus itself, fear for the people who were ill and losing loved ones (this can’t be happening) and fear of the disruption this would cause our economy, our communities and our daily lives. I needed to talk about it a lot. I think many of us did. An outward processing, so it seemed, of this strangeness that was enveloping our planet.

It’s been about a month now, that we’ve been learning about and adapting to this global weirdness. I have, with some resistance, accepted that it’s OK to slow down; that it’s fine that I’m not Marie Kondo-ing my entire apartment; that I spend more time figuring out what to watch on Netflix than I do tweaking my website or taking that online course or writing masterpieces. As a self-proclaimed (and often annoying) perfectionist, this is change, and as a result, there is an inward turn for me. Between frequent WTF moments, I am finding opportunity for some personal growth (see aforementioned perfectionism). This seems to be coming naturally, or forcefully some might say, as I am quieted and stopped by the world’s new chaos.

Instead of succumbing to the media pressure of ‘getting it all done and then some’, my garden is top-soiled. My apartment is clean, (why can’t anyone drop by now?) and I go days without getting into my car. And that is good enough. I’ve connected with people I haven’t talked to or seen in years, as we gather on Zoom (with cocktails) and laugh and visit as if we were together in person. Last week, I made dinner with my BFF in Vancouver. We cooked the same recipe at the same time (with cocktails), listened to tunes, then sat down over Zoom (serious shoutout to Zoom, amiright?) and ate together. In the earlier weeks, I had driveway visits with a friend or two, all properly distanced of course (and yes, yes, there were cocktails there too) so we could talk and analyze and project and try to find logic in the situation. This is getting less easy however, as we are encouraged to distance more, stay in our homes and isolate, separate, isolate some more.  It’s not easy, but it is increasingly important as we continue to attempt to flatten this curve. And so we do it.

One thing that remains the same for me and is always a familiar comfort is spending time in the kitchen, and having access to our grocery stores is a great relief. I am a food writer and a recipe developer and it is spring time! Naturally, it is in my blood to take advantage of the bounty, where I can and where it is available. As editor-at-large for EAT Magazine, I miss our Victoria restaurant community and I find it so challenging to watch them suffering. When I can, I take advantage of the newly created takeout options and hope that we all remember to support our favourite establishments. This is it folks. This will be the only way they survive.

I have taken to flipping through my cookbook collection, one of them being my own book, First We Brunch, which showcases all of the wonderful breakfast joints in Victoria and surrounding areas. Sad to not be able to visit the restaurants themselves; happy that the book contains recipes that I can make myself at home.

One of my favourites is Green Pie from Charlotte & the Quail, which I’m very happy to share with you all.

Through all of this physical and mental turmoil, I feel incredibly fortunate to live in Canada. We are encouraged (and not forced, thus far) to stay in our homes. We have a supportive government who has the ability to provide financial aid and who keeps us informed. We have access to food and supplies and what can be considered better than bare necessities by far. This is all difficult, yes, and we certainly have our moments, but we still have freedom and compared to so many, I feel extremely privileged. I find it funny how drastic things need to get in order to encourage change. While I certainly did not see this coming, I feel hopeful that even though we stand further apart, the situation continues to bring us closer together.

Charlotte and the Quail — Green Pie

Excerpted: First, We Brunch
Serves 8–10

This pie is fantastic. It’s super versatile in that you can use up all your greens from the garden or the refrigerator. The flour creates the impression of a crust without having to make anything separately. It’s very much part quiche and part frittata. Don’t skip the fresh herbs if you can help it, and know that you can use regular all-purpose flour, if you prefer. This is lovely served with a fresh green spring salad.

  • 10 cups fresh greens, (chard, kale or spinach, or a combination)
  • 1 small yam, skin on, sliced into rounds about ¼ inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour blend or regular flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup diced green onions,
  • ¼ cup chopped soft herbs (dill, any type of parsley, thyme, garlic and chives all work well)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place a large pot on the stove over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp of water. Add all of the fresh greens to the pot. Bring the water to a boil and, using tongs, toss the greens around the pot for about 8 minutes, until wilted. Remove from the heat and place the greens in a colander in the sink. Let cool. Using your hands, squeeze any excess moisture from the greens. Chop roughly and set aside.

Toss the yam slices in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, being sure to coat all sides. Season to taste with salt and pepper and place in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet—no overlapping! Roast in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until almost cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat another 1 Tbsp olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 20–30 minutes, until the onions are softened and caramelized. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the yams from the oven and set aside. Turn down the oven heat to 350°F.

In a large bowl, place the eggs, milk and the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the salt, flour and baking powder and whisk together until blended.

Cover the bottom of a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate with the cooked greens, green onions and chopped fresh herbs. Layer the caramelized onions overtop and then pour the egg mixture over them. Place the yam slices on top of the whole surface.

Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until the centre of the pie is firm. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


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