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Shelley Adams cooks up recipes for family life

Cooking writer part of 'Tasting the Divine' workshop at Whistler Writers Festival



Whistler hosts the 2014 Writers Festival from Oct. 17 to 19. Pique is running reviews of books by attending authors to celebrate. For information and tickets: www.whistlerwritersfest.com

Time can slip by pretty fast when you're raising kids. Thinking back through the last 15 years, I remember family milestones like a flipbook of images flashing by in my brain. Many events and many, many meals. Some of my most cherished go-to recipes are from the Whitewater Cooks series.

I was first introduced to Shelley Adams's cookbooks as a mother of three boys on the east coast of Vancouver Island. As my family and I have grown, so too have Adams's offerings as she has created her cookbook empire. Each book reflects the stages of the author's life. As I work through her recipes, I notice each dish reflects back on my own life stages.

Blending her love for cooking and skiing, Shelley Adams and her husband moved to Nelson in 1985. The West Vancouver native purchased the resort of Whitewater Winter and managed the lodge's Fresh Tracks Cafe. In response to guest requests, Shelley shared her recipes in the national bestseller Whitewater Cooks: Pure, Simple and Real Creations (2005). I remember being seated at the café's long tables with steamy-backed outdoor enthusiasts who fortified themselves with hearty dishes like the Ymir Mountain Curry Bowl — found in her cookbook. How I loved the stew-like vegetarian meal, even more than the quiet time to myself with my husband out skiing with three rambunctious pre-schoolers.

The standard was set high for the second national bestseller Whitewater Cooks at Home (2009). Filled with summertime images and recipes that surely nourished Adams's two teenage children, the cookbook was designed to help create delicious food to serve at home. The complexity of the Chicken Quesadillas with Pumpkin Mole Sauce is a Mexican hat dance for adults and kids alike. My boys, now in school, had no idea ingredients like chipotle, cumin and cocoa powder were buried in the sauce. Adams truly knows the art of cloak and dagger in the kitchen.

Adams's son and daughter were then off to university, giving her more time for herself to entertain. Whitewater Cooks with Friends hit store shelves in 2011. Her mantra, "Great recipes are meant to be shared," is evident in the number of servings created per recipe (average of six to 10). So I recently decided to thank my husband's friends with a sexy batch of Gazpacho in a Glass with Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salsa. The group couldn't get enough of the succulent summit on this chilled tomato soup that they piled onto garlic-olive oil crostinis. This recipe was a glimpse into my future. I will not always be cooking for my kids.

Adams will showcase her newest cookbook, Whitewater Cooks with Passion at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. Recipes in her new work include ambitious plates such as Drunken Prawns and Duck Pho, but it was the Rosemary & Sea Salt Brownies that captured my curiousity. Using sea salt in sweet desserts was something I discovered on a recent gastronomic adventure in Paris. My husband and I's first trip without kids in 17 years. Like Adams, I too am pursuing new passions both in and out of the kitchen.

As part of the Whistler Writers Festival, award-winning author Shelley Adams will participate in the chef reception and book signing, Tasting the Divine: Cooks with Books on Friday, Oct. 17 at 6:15 p.m. at Millennium Place. Adams will be joined by fellow authors Lisa Ahier of SoBo and Eric Arrouze of A Gourmand in Training. Tickets are $15 and include appetizer samples. A cash bar is available.

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