Friday, September 28, 2012

The city removes free food from Occupy's community garden.

The Right for Food for those in need.

I believe that it is the right of EVERYONE to have basic food and clean water at the least.   That's why this act by the city is so very sad and once again a loss for the people that need it most.   If there are no jobs there are no opportunities to earn a living to buy food.   If people make minimum wage and have to pay rent in this city they usually have to sacrifice food in order to keep a roof over their head to keep that minimum wage job as many employers won't hire people without a permanent address.

There is a community group called Not Far from the Tree that will pick produce from public spaces to feed the most vulnerable.

I see nothing wrong with planting a sustaining garden for people that don't have places they can get food.   It would be different if illegal drugs were planted but to remove cherry tomatoes because it's considered mischief is ridiculous.  Once again this shows why so many people have to turn to food banks in the city.   The need for food banks ever increases while the ways to find a way to lessen the need for them doesn't.

Please read this article in the Globe and Mail for the full story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tesco - Virtual Subway Store in South Korea -

The Future of Grocery Shopping.

South Korea is leading the way in innovation for the home.

Don't you wish you could do your grocery shopping with your cell phone when you get stuck in the subway?   This is awesome

Baking Soda - Good for everything

Your mama knew best and so does Fran Drescher

When I look back at what my mother used in our home when I was a child it seems that what she did then is coming back around as being the right thing to do today.

Case in point:  BAKING SODA

We always had Baking Soda in the house.  My mother used it for cleaning, in the fridge and for baking.  I never thought anything of it until recently when I have been doing research about toxic home products and also in looking at foods we eat and what things do to our bodies.

Baking soda has been and is still safe for human consumption, although you wouldn't want to consume bucket loads of it but if you used it to clean things in your home and it got onto your food you would be safe to eat it.

Actress and Cancer activist Fran Drescher who is a Cancer survivor is trying to inform people about products to use to eliminate risks for Cancer and has created an event called Smash Cancer Bash.   This is a U.S. Based initiative but there is a link to get the information for hosting your own party.   In that kit there was a list of uses for Baking Soda that I thought would be great information to share regardless if you or someone you know has cancer but for the good of the planet and your current and future health and it also helps with your budgets.    If we started using products like Baking soda and vinegar manufacturers would stop producing toxic home and personal care products.

Have a look at this list and see if you can make this work for yourself and your family.


1. A box or small bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator, freezer, or any cupboard will keep away unpleasant odors.
2. Similarly, baking soda will keep away garbage odors; sprinkle the bottom of the pail, and then sprinkle again after you put a new bag in.
3. Grease fires can be put out by sprinkling them with baking soda.
4. To clean surfaces, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth. Wipe, then rinse with clean water.
5. To remove stale smells from food containers, rinse out with hot water and baking soda. If the smell persists, let the container soak overnight in the baking soda and water mixture.
6. To clean silver, use a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub the paste onto each item, then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
7. To remove scuff marks or grease spills from the floor, sprinkle with baking soda and then wipe with a warm, damp cloth. This is even safe for no-wax floors.
8. For burnt-on food in the bottom of pots, sprinkle with baking soda, then add hot water. Let soak overnight; the dried food will come loose much more easily.
9. To remove scents from a carpet, sprinkle with baking soda. Let stand for at least 15 minutes, then vacuum. Repeat as needed.
10. If there is a smoker in the house, put baking soda in the bottom of each ashtray to keep away some of the stale smoke smell.
11. Baking soda in the litter box will help prevent odors.
12. To quickly clean pets and remove “wet dog” odor, sprinkle with baking soda and brush out their fur.
13. To help remove spills, blot as much as possible. Then clean as you normally would. When finished, sprinkle with baking soda. Vacuum. This will decrease the chance that some of the spilled item will remain in the carpet and cause unpleasant odors later.
14. To remove stubborn stains from most surfaces, use a baking soda paste (3 parts baking soda, 1 part water). Apply, let stand, then scrub or wipe clean.
15. Hairbrushes and combs can be cleaned in a baking soda solution.
16. To avoid clogged drains, pour 1⁄4 cup baking soda down weekly. Rinse through with hot water.
17. Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with baking soda to keep cleaning fresh.
18. To remove grease stains, either add baking soda to the wash load or pre-treat the stains with a baking soda paste.
19. Pre-treat diapers in their pail with baking soda. This will keep odors from becoming overpowering between washings.
20. If you keep a laundry hamper, add some baking soda every day to keep the hamper from smelling between emptying.
21. Baking soda can be used to help clean up grease spills.
22. To remove burnt food from the grill, sprinkle with baking soda, then soak. After several hours, the charred pieces will come loose easily.
23. Lawn furniture can be easily cleaned with a rinse of 1⁄4 cup baking soda and 1 quart warm water.
24. The children’s pool can be cleaned and have mildew removed by washing with baking soda in warm water.
25. Before packing away your camping gear after a trip, sprinkle with baking soda.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Food Bans - Where do we draw the line?

Banning Foods

I was watching a documentary on CBC last night about cities that were banning certain foods.   In New York the Mayor has banned large size soft drinks which seems stupid to me because if people wanted more pop they would just buy another one which just produces more packaging waste.

In California they are banning Foie Gras because of pressure from people saying that it is cruel the way they force feed the ducks.  This practice has been going on for generations and all of a sudden they want to ban it?  How come people in France aren't fat and they eat foie gras?
Hmmm, maybe it's because they don't eat it in excess.

They want to ban Salt in Canada and there are places in Europe that want to tax fast foods.

Here's a thought!...

1. Why doesn't the government go after manufacturers that sneak all sorts of things that aren't real food into the food we buy?

2. Why doesn't the government provide a tax incentive benefit to people that maintain healthy weights?

3.  Why doesn't the government fine farmer's that use toxic pesticides on their crops?

4.  Why doesn't the government provide tax incentives and subsidies to farmer's that grow Certified Organic Foods?

5.  Why doesn't the government legislate food education programs in schools to teach kids how to eat for their health and provide them with the tools to make the right choices and teach them how to buy and prepare foods and have only healthy foods available in schools instead of vending machines.

6.  Why don't we have healthy drive through restaurants instead of McDonald's and Tim Horton's on every corner.   Why doesn't someone find a way to have a drive through where you can drive in a pick up some cooked Kale instead of french fries?

7.  How is the government planning on enforcing these bans when they can't even afford to pay their debts?

8.  Why is the government banning foods in restaurants when they receive their goods from other sources?

9.  Why is everyone in North America getting fatter every year?  Is it because of foie gras?  How many people do you know eat foie gras on a regular basis?  I have never had foie gras in my life.   Do you think people in a small town living on assistance are buying foie gras?

10.  Why is there a ban from salt from restaurants but no regulations on the amount of salt and chemicals put into processed foods?

When is all of this going to stop?   When are we going to totally going to lose our right to make our own choices?

To me the answer is education and having healthy options that taste as good and cost the same as unhealthy options.  If someone had a choice between baked sweet potato fries and fried white potato french fries and they were the same price then they could make a fair decision on which one they would choose based on their preference and how concerned they are about their own health.

The reason I am overweight is because of my own food choices and the fact that I spend way too much time sitting on this computer.  But it's my choice.
I sometimes choose to eat healthy and sometimes I choose to eat something I know isn't good for me.

But what I know is that it's not always easy to make informed choices when manufacturers or providers lie and hide things that are in the foods we eat.

That's what the government should have their hands into... not banning foie gras and salt.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Food Inspirations - BBQ steam buns

Try something new

For the past few months I have been trying to get inspired by taking on new Food Missions that are posted on the GASTROPOST website that appears in the National Post on saturdays.   Every week they post new food theme missions that you can try to do and post onto their site.

This weeks food mission was to TRY SOMETHING NEW.  I started thinking about ethnic foods and if there was any ethnic restaurants in Toronto that I have never tried or things that I have been wanting to try.  There wasn't anything extreme and new that popped into my mind and it seems that Toronto goes through food trends.  The current trend is Tacos, which isn't anything new but it's just people experimenting with the things they are putting into tacos.

There are lots of things I will probably never try like Chicken Feet, fried crickets, fish eyeballs and other assorted weird animal products.  At least that I know of.  Considering the GMO food these days you never really know what you are eating anymore.

But anyway I thought it would be a challenge to try and think of new things to try and when I eat out over the next week I will try and look for new things if I can.   But last night I went out for dinner with a friend and we wanted to have
Dim Sum and since I live in a very Asian neighbourhood in North York we ventured out to a fairly new place called MANDARIN GARDEN Restaurant on Yonge Street just south of Finch Ave.   We had a glance at the photos posted in the front window and saw that they had a few different dim sum dishes so we decided to check it out.  I really like the nice Chinese Lanterns hung on the front of the restaurant.  They caught my eye when I drove by when they first opened.

The interior was clean and bright and the lady that served us was very friendly and efficient.   We ordered 3 dim sum dishes.  An egg and green onion pancake, a leek and pork potsticker dumpling and a steamed shrimp and pork dumpling.   
They were all made really well and the dumplings were perfectly seasoned and really flavourful.  The way I would have made them if I made them myself.  
Really authentic and tasty.

The people next to us ordered something that was very curious looking.  It looked like two flat white things skewered onto 2 bamboo sticks.  I asked our waitress what it was and she said it was BBQ steam buns.  So I decided to order it to try it.  I saw BBQ steam buns on the menu and thought it was the typical dough bun filled with BBQ pork and steamed.  But I was so wrong in this one.

It was a BBQ steam bun cut in half and then sprinkled with chilli spice and maybe other spices and then it was cooked BBQ style so it had a BBQ smokey flavour.  There wasn't any meat inside but you got the taste as if it was kind of meaty from the smoke.  I suppose this would be a great vegetarian substitute.  I never would have thought of something like that.  It was really interesting and so simple at the same time.

While it may not have been an adventurous new food sampling it was a good food inspiration on things I would never have thought to put together.

I am going to be on the look out for new things this week in my own hometown.   This new thing was right in my neighbourhood so you don't have to travel to China to try new foods,  just head to Chinatown North in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Recharge Soup

Fall Green Recharge Soup

I am not a big soup lover, probably because when i was a kid and i wasn't feeling well my mom would always make chicken soup or some sort of soup.  So I suppose I equate soup with feeling sick and it being like a natural medicine.   The more I learn about food the more I realize that there is a lot of truth to the fact that food can be medicine.   After spending the past 11 days running around at the Toronto International Film Festival and not eating or sleeping right I was feeling very depleted.   I decided to make yesterday a recharge day to rest and refuel for the week.   In my quest to recharge I made a detox recharge everything in it big pot of soup.   I wanted to use as many different vegetables as I thought would work together to make a healthy and tasty soup.  I used some frozen Cookin Greens Athlete's Mix to save some time and get more healthy greens into the soup without the chopping.


1/2 chopped cooking onion
1 whole red chili
1 large garlic clove
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
2 carrots cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tbsps tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp parsley
1 cooked and sliced Andouille or Chorizo sausage (optional)
2 small white potatoes chopped into chunks
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
Shrimp shells
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups of water 


I started with some shrimp shells that I had saved to make a fish stock and put them into a large Dutch Oven pot filled with water and salt and at a rolling boil I put the shrimp shells in and boiled for about 15 minutes with Old Bay Seasoning.  Once the shrimp has released the flavour from the shells you can remove the shells and start adding the rest of the ingredients.  Add the potatoes, onions, cabbage and carrots and cook about 15 minutes.  Add the lentils, tomato paste, garlic, chilli's, tomato sauce, smoked paprika and salt and pepper.   Cook for about 10 minutes and then add the parsley and cooked Sausage and red wine vinegar and the Cookin Greens.  Cook for another 15 minutes to release the flavour and defrost the Cookin Greens.    Cook long enough to blend all the flavours and keep the greens still bright.    The whole cooking time should take about an hour but you can cook it more or less depending on how much you want to develop the flavours.  I find that layering the flavours and adding the ingredients based on what takes the longest to cook is the best way to make sure it all blends together well and retains the best flavours.

Serve it with a great piece of french bread and you have a filling meal.

It will yield about 6 servings.

This soup freezes well and is great for those cold winter nights when you are out all day and want something to warm you up quick.

This soup is a great soup to get your protein and greens and give your body a great kickstart to a bit of detoxing.   You can omit the Andouille sausage and use vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian but the shrimp stock and sausage adds a lot of cajun flavour that boosts the whole flavour of the soup.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The downside of being a Foodie

Being a Foodie isn't always a great thing to be in my life.

Being fussy about food makes me unhappy when I see food done badly.  It always seems to be a waste to me.  As an example, last night I went to a Volunteer party for the Film Festival I just volunteered at.   It was at a downtown nightclub and we were given beer, wine, warm pop, my least favourite bottled water and limited vodka.   I am ok with that as I know it's expensive to provide alcohol for 2000 party hungry volunteers.  But being a foodie and having to scrounge for cold pizza doesn't exactly get me excited to stand in a dark and really loud house music playing bar all night.  No presentations or speeches or thanks...just loud music.   Thank you for having a party to thank us but for me I would have preferred to stay home and ordered my own pizza hot and the way I like it.  

So it occurred to me today that being a Foodie makes me extremely fussy and to others it seems that I am ungrateful.   It's not that I am ungrateful it's just that foods affect the way I feel and how much I enjoy myself.  I would have been happy with grilled cheese sandwiches if they were hot and not burned but after taking 40 minutes to drive downtown and pay for parking to eat cold pizza it just makes me just wonder if it's worth my time going there.  If it wasn't for some of my great team members I would have left after 10 minutes.   I don't have anything against having pizza,  I would have just been happier if it was fresh and hot and not ice cold.  I am not one of those people that can survive on hot dogs and pizzas everyday.  Having a slightly advanced palate makes it hard for me to just eat anything and be happy with that unfortunately.  I wish I could just eat anything and not care but I can't.

I know what it's like to host a volunteer appreciation party because I had to host one when I was a volunteer coordinator.  We didn't have a lot of money for the party so instead of spending the money on pizzas that wouldn't feed all of the volunteers I decided to make wraps and a few other fresh things and a huge decorated cookie that I made to thank the Volunteers.  The festival founder loved it and all the Volunteers thanked me for making the food.  They all seemed to love it.  I think they appreciated the effort I put into trying to give them an enjoyable party.

While I don't expect a festival with 2000 to hand make food for their volunteers I would like to see some creativity and effort put into going the extra mile that is expected of the volunteers when they provide their time and energy.   I have been attending these volunteer parties for over 10 years and they seem to get progressively worse and I know what they were like in the past and you did feel grateful that they had gone out of they way to hold a party for all of the volunteers.  It now feels like an obligation.

What I would like to encourage film festivals to do is to find a sponsor that is willing to impress the volunteers who will in turn shower you with future business and praise.   It can be done.

Giving someone great food shows them that you love and appreciate them.

Volunteers deserve great food.  Not just any food.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Film Festival diet

At this time of year I have to set aside my foodie side to make way for my film side which makes me a bit cranky by the end of 11 days of the Film Festival Diet.

If you want to know why Celebrities are skinny you just have to know what they have to do.    In this week of the Toronto International Film Festival there is a whole town full of celebrities that have to dash through hotels and buildings to escape being bombarded by paparazzi and fans.   They have to stand on red carpets sucking everything in for a good press photo.   Then they get dragged all through buildings for screenings and press conferences.  So when and what do they get to eat?   Well they may have to go for hours without seeing any actual real food if they are a high demand celebrity with a jam packed schedule.   They might get a drink or some snacks in a Green Room or maybe some appetizers at an industry or film party but they can't exactly go to a regular restaurant and sit down and have a meal without people bothering them for a photo or an autograph.   If you had to go through 11 days of that you would probably be skinny and tired too.

For me I volunteer at the film festival and start my shifts before the dinner hour and then end my shift at midnight most of the time.   We don't get any food or drink provided so we have to wait for a break in between films to go and get some food.   Sometimes we have time to get a sit down meal and sometimes we survive on popcorn from the theatre or whatever people are handing out around the building.

Last night the film was very long so we were able to go have a sit down meal and it made me realize why I get so exhausted by mid festival.   Just the fact of not being able to stay hydrated and eat meals at your normal body clock time messes with your whole energy level and after a few days of it you feel like you have a permanent hangover.  

Sometimes I think to be a Celebrity you have to be able to stand in uncomfortable clothing for long periods of time and go without eating or sleeping for days.   Maybe that's why they get paid big money.

Anyway...back to the food part.   People think that there is a large flowing amount of food and drinks at all the film parties but after a few days of eating meat on a stick or fried foods you crave a substantial meal or something that isn't going to flatten you on the floor.

My energy boosting meal at Shoeless Joe's last night was this seared Tuna salad.  It might be the only time of year I seek out healthier food and can't stand the quick junk foods.

If you wonder why a lot of celebrities become Vegetarians and Vegans and live off of smoothies and things like that it's because their life doesn't allow them to eat leisurely peaceful restaurant meals unless they have a huge security team in tow.

So the next time you see a celebrity in a restaurant think about what it would be like if someone kept you from eating a good meal every day of your life.   You might think twice before asking them for a photo or autograph when they are trying to eat a plate of food.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Season of Tomatoes

Hot Summer -Tasty Tomatoes

With the long hot summer that we had this year there is an abundance of tomatoes sprouting up and available in backyard gardens, farmer's markets and grocery stores.

I even have a small cherry tomato plant on my balcony and had 3 tiny little tomatoes this season.

Yesterday I drove out to Oakville to film the EcoLosers family at home and doing some eco tasks.
They attempted to plant edible fruits and vegetables to cut down on buying products with packaging and in an effort to keep their food more local.  They didn't end up with the variety of foods they planned but they have a huge amount of tomatoes.  They seem to have a few varieties of tomatoes and as in all harvests they all become ripe close to the same time leaving you with a huge amount of tomatoes to do something with.

So yesterday we seperated the tomatoes to have them in 3 ways.

1. With the cherry tomatoes we cut them and placed them in a food dehydrator to make sundried tomatoes without the sun.   The sun would have been great but it was late in the day and since it's raining today that wasn't an eco option yesterday.

2. The tiny grape and teardrop tomatoes were kept separate for summer salads.

3.  The larger plum and beefsteak tomatoes were dunked into boiling water and peeled and food processed to make a quick tomato soup.

By next weekend they will be overrun with tomatoes and will have to think about preserving some of them in jars for the winter months.

There is nothing like the taste of a fresh off the vine and fully ripe summer seasonal tomato.   Remember those tomatoes you bought at the store last winter?  Do you remember how they tasted?   Isn't it better to wait for the best time to eat them or find ways of preserving the summer harvest to have them in the winter.   While you can't keep a fresh tomato in it's full form ready to cut in the winter you can find ways to preserve the flavour of tomatoes to use in cooked dishes in the winter.

One great thing to do if you have a backyard garden and have kids is to show them and teach them about the fruits and vegetables that you grown and keep them involved so that they know where their food comes from and what to do with it.   Skills for their future life.   These are skills generations before us took for granted but we have to think about future generations and restore the history of what food used to be.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Leslieville Farmer's Market community

Exploring the City's Farmer's Markets

In my quest to find the best Farmer's Market in Toronto I finally went down to the Leslieville Farmer's Market just off of Eastern Ave.

The first thing I noticed was that I was able to find free parking which is sometimes hard to do at some Farmer's Markets.  I don't know if it was because of the long weekend but I was very happy to not have to drive around for 10 minutes looking for a spot or having to pay for parking when I wanted to spend the money on the food at the market instead.

The second thing I noticed was that this market had a lot of vendors and a nice variety of vendors, from Organic fruits and vegetables to fresh baked bread to some prepared foods for the shoppers to snack on while attending the market.

I tried the Vietnamese Coffee Pop from Augies's Pops and the Watermelon Lemonade from another vendor and the fresh made Belgian Waffle with Chocolate Caramel sauce from another vendor.

My friend even picked up a couple of free jackets from a swap table.

I really liked this market as it was set up well and had a great community feel.   I will go back to this one, especially since one of my friend's lives about 10 minutes away from the market so it might be a nice sunday thing to do during the summer.

I picked up a nice variety of foods:

Le Matin Chocolate croissant and brioche, although I wanted a baguette but they were gone in 10 min.
A Spinach and Goat cheese quiche
Garlic chevre cheese
Jalapeno peppers
Daikon radish

the baguette, fish and lemon came from Hooked on Queen St. who were also at the market.

so a nice assortment of foods and I have already eaten all the tomatoes in a tomato sauce.

I would recommend this nice little farmer's market if you are looking for a family outing or even a nice sunday shopping experience on a lazy sunday.

Those tomatoes turned into this great bowl of Linguine.

Paulette's- Donuts and Chicken in Leslieville

I was reading about a new little take out place called Paulette's which is in Leslieville in Toronto.   I have a friend named Paulette so I remembered the name.  While I was in Leslieville for the Leslieville Farmer's Market I stopped into Paulette's to try some of the fried chicken for lunch.  

I have to say the Chicken was very good.  There aren't a whole lot of places that do fried chicken well in the city.  Only about a handful I think and mostly hard to find.  This tiny little cute spot had the friendliest counter help, dressed in old style diner whites with a black bow tie.   There was some thought put into the design of the shop, simple but with a retro and modern feel.    The chicken was crunchy and well seasoned without being overpowering and the chicken was juicy and tender inside.  The chicken comes with a choice of dipping sauces. I tried the tandoori sauce but realized that the chicken tastes great on it's own and doesn't need the flavour changing sauces.  I shared a combo with a friend and we got the Mac & Cheese as the side.   I would skip this one.  It was way too salty and didn't have that creamy comfort food taste that you look for in a good Mac & Cheese.

They have fancy donuts there too but since I just had a waffle at the farmer's market I skipped the donuts but they seemed to be popular with the other customers.

Paulette's is on Queen Street on the South side, the storeront is painted a minty green and it's just a tiny little spot but worth looking out for when you are craving some good fried chicken.