Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween candy.. trick or treat?

It's that time of year when parents are out shopping for Halloween candies and kids are getting excited to eat all of those Halloween treats.

But I have heard a lot of talk lately about people skipping the Halloween treats for healthier options or for non food items.

I get that we have a childhood obesity problem but I don't think skipping Halloween treats is going to solve the problem.   I think it should be used as a teachable moment in how to eat in moderation and to understand that these candies are treats and only for special occasions.

When I was a kid there weren't a lot of overweight kids.  I was thin until I became a teenager and probably gained weight more from lack of exercise than what I ate.

What was different when I was a kid was that a lot of the Halloween treats didn't have as many chemical stabilizers and trans fats to keep these things on the store shelves for months.   Most of the candies were high sugar but probably less added chemicals.   We also didn't drink gallons of carbonated drinks and drive through meals.   Our parents would cook family dinners and would only have desserts on special occasions like Birthdays or other Holiday events.   Halloween was always a special day where kids let loose and got all kinds of treats from people in their neighbourhoods.   We generally knew most of the houses we went to and our parents would toss out the apples for fear of tampering and any other treats that looked suspicious.   We were taught to make our treats last because we weren't going to get any more for a long time.  Most of the kids I knew didn't eat the whole thing all in one shot.  We picked out the stuff we didn't like and traded with our siblings or friends or just tossed it out.  I would only be left with the treats I loved after it was picked through.   I would have a couple of treats a day and would make it last about a week or two.

I believe that a kid can have a little candy if they are getting healthy meals provided the rest of the time. It's all about balance and moderation.  I think it's more important to teach the kids what they are eating and what's good and what's bad for them and have them learn how to control eating the bad things and choosing the good things.   This is a skill that kids will need for life.  

I learned this because my parents only addiction was cigarettes and chocolate and since cigarettes weren't appealing to me the chocolate addiction was something I inherited.  My parents would hide chocolate in the house so that we wouldn't eat it all.   But I think that made us want it even more.  My brother was a blood hound for chocolate and he could practically sniff out it's hiding spot.   It might have been better for them to just leave it in the open and make it not a forbidden item.  Case in point.... my parents had a small cabinet filled with liquor bottles for the parties they would have about once a year.  They never dipped into the bottles unless my mother was cooking something that needed alcohol or someone came over that they might offer a drink to.  It wasn't hidden and it wasn't something that was a big deal.  I never touched the alcohol and to this day I am not much of a drinker and only have liquor around for cooking and for parties.   Chocolate on the other hand is always not far away and I crave it consistently.

Maybe that is the solution to drug and alcohol problems.   Leave it out in the open and make it no big deal and maybe people wouldn't want it as much.   You always want what you can't have.

So my thought is let the kids have their Halloween Candy... maybe you can find healthier versions like dark chocolate covered almonds or something but let them eat candy and teach them that it's ok to eat but not to abuse.

We shouldn't punish kids and deprive them of things that made life fun for us when we were kids.  Halloween and other holidays are the stuff that provide life long memories.  That's what life is.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dim Sum - Uptown chinatown

Skip Chinatown and head to Chinatown North

Everyone thinks that you need to either go to Chinatown in Toronto or to Richmond Hill to get good Dim Sum in the City, but on this lazy sunday I proved that you can find some better than Chinatown Dim Sum in North York.

I live in a mostly Asian centric neighbourhood in the Willowdale, North York area of the city where you can get Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai food within blocks of each different ethnic restaurant venue.  About a 5 minute drive or a couple of subway stops away from where I live are a few places that you can get Dim Sum.  I love to have Dim Sum on lazy rainy sundays because it's the kind of food that is quick and slow at the same time.  You can get a whole bunch of quickly made dishes and take your time sampling a bunch of different things and even more if you go with a bunch of friends.

I was pretty hungry and knew that I couldn't wait to meet up with one of my friends to go for Dim Sum  so I checked out NOT JUST DIM SUM on Finch Ave. West.. just west of Yonge Street in North York.  I dropped in just after the normal lunch hour or when Dim Sum is normally consumed which is fairly early in the day.  There were only a few tables with people but they seemed to enjoy what they ordered.

It's not a fancy place but I have seen much worse places in Chinatown.   I was immediately served by one quiet but efficient waitress who provided just the right amount of service needed which I appreciate.  She had tables to clear but made sure the diners were tended to first.

I pretty much knew what I wanted to order but had a look through the checklist Dim Sum menu to decide what to order.

I ordered Chinese Broccoli, I figured some greens would balance out some of the heavy carb and fried Dim Sum dishes that i knew I was going to order.

I like to order the Pan fried Radish Cake because it's something I would never make at home and I like that it's a little different and most people don't order it.

I ordered my favourite Har Gow..
 steamed shrimp dumplings.

I also ordered a Green Onion pancake, also something that is a little different and not always available at some Dim Sum places.

And lastly I ordered Glutinous Pork Deep Fried Dumplings.

A good test for Dim Sum is if there is a puddle of grease left on the plate after you have eaten something fried like the fried dumplings or the Onion Pancake then they probably don't know how to do Dim Sum properly.

The Har Gow had a delicious and lightly seasoned shrimp centre with melt in your mouth shrimp instead of what you sometimes find with rubbery shrimp and hard rice outer layer.  These Har Gow's were like little pillows of shrimp goodness.

The Green Onion Pancake had a nice green onion flavour in a light and flaky pastry dough with a nice crunch to it.

The Glutinous Pork Dumplings had a nice sweet and savoury taste and the outside was crispy while the inside was creamy and light with a hint of sweetness.  I have had these in other places and after you eat a few they can sometimes feel like oil bombs in your stomach,  these ones were cooked at the perfect temperature to make them light and not greasy but still retain the soft interior.

The Chinese Broccoli was cooked perfectly with the chlorophyl green bright and still retaining all the vitamins you want from a healthy greens dish.   There was a bowl of oyster sauce on the side and the waitress brought bowls of chili sauce and chinese mustard to go with the dishes.

The Radish cakes were nicely fried with a nice crust on the outside but still soft on the interior.  It was seasoned well and didn't leave the typical grease pool behind that I have seen on many radish cake plates after I cleared my plate.

Overall I have to say that it was a winning Dim Sum experience with all the dishes that I ordered being really tasty and a quick lunch of really satisfying but also light little dishes.

Think outside the Chinatown box and look for a great little hidden gem close to where you live.  You never know if you will find something worth not driving all over town for.

In the past few months I have had a lot of underwhelming meals but it was nice to go to an inexpensive little place and be pleased with everything I ordered from the menu.

Try a little neighbourhood exploring for yourself and who knows what you will find.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chef Michael Smith chats about Fast Flavours

It was one of my friends birthdays this month so instead of buying each other gifts that just take up space we now give each other food related gifts like cooking demos or chef cookbook chats.  It was his birthday this month so I signed up to go see Chef Michael Smith chat about his new cookbook Fast Flavours at George Brown College.  My friend loves watching his tv show and so do I so we were really excited to go and see him.  

I saw him recently at the Word on the Street where I was surprised to hear him rant about how not feeding your kids proper food was like slow child abuse.  He got on a huge rant about feeding kids so much junk food that they are all developing allergies to everything these days.

So I had a feeling he would have really passion filled Q&A answers after he did his interview with Cookbook Store owner Alison Fryer.
It turned out that I asked him the last question of the night about what he thought about Mayors like New York's Bloomberg banning the 64oz soft drinks.   He agreed that kids shouldn't be sold that kind of excess and he thought it was good that he took a stand.   While I agree that kids shouldn't drink that much sugar in their drinks there isn't really anything to stop them from getting 2 - 32 oz drinks back to back either.   Is this enough to stop the obesity epidemic?  I don't think so.   He thought that junk food should be taxed like cigarettes.   My thought is that some of the toxic substances that are put into the foods at manufacturing should be banned instead, like high fructose corn syrup which is what is actually causing the obesity epidemic.    Here's a thought... what if they couldn't put it into products ...then people couldn't buy them...  hence... the people who can't afford to pay these taxes wouldn't have to pay for the burden of the healthcare system while the manufacturers reap profits.    

My thought is that if toxic substances or food additives that are known to contribute to obesity are changed to non toxic substances then maybe everyone wins....   people won't have to walk around supermarkets with magnifying glasses and dictionaries to figure out what's in the products they are consuming if they are actually indicated what it is.   Some ingredients are disguised as other things or modified to some other thing or are genetically modified without telling the consumer.

I don't think everyone in North America is going to give up convenience food in one day and switch to a 100% plant based diet so I think the answer is to make some of these toxic products disappear so that the only choice is to buy whole foods and start going back to eating real food and making things from scratch where you know what's in them.   You won't get 100% of the population to switch but we don't need a thousand toxic products tempting the exhausted media brainwashed parents into buying easy convenience food to get food on the table for their families.

As Chef Michael Smith said banning something like Foie Gras in Los Angeles because of cruelty to the  duck is ridiculous because other animals like cows and pigs are treated just as badly.  But that's real food.   What about banning toxic chemical filled products that can sit on supermarket shelves for a year without going bad.   Well because the big corporate manufactuers would protest and won't have subsidized jobs for people.

The whole thing is a political toxic soup and there is no simple answer but my thoughts are to start to rethink what is allowed to go into the products before it gets to the consumers to have to do detective work to figure out whether it's going to kill them to consume that product.

It seems I hit a nerve when I asked Chef Michael that question because he got really passionate about it and Alison thought he should run for Mayor of Toronto and everyone in the room seemed to agree.   i think he would make a great Mayor.   He knows right from wrong and has Integrity and passion.    I am not sure our current Mayor has those qualities but that's a whole other story.

One thing that was funny was standing next to him while taking a photo,  I am only about 5 feet tall while Michael Smith is somewhere around 7 feet tall.   Do I look short or what?

About his Cookbook. ....  it's a beautifully put together book filled with recipes that anyone with basic skills can make in their own kitchens which makes it a cookbook that will get used instead of sitting on a shelf.   The photos are large and beautiful and the recipes are written easy to read instead of fine print on colored paper it's clear black large enough print on white paper, making it easy to flip through the book and organize your kitchen accordingly.   I hope to make one of the recipes in the near future.

I love Chocolate Fondue

When you think of the 70’s food trends you think about Fondue pots, but Fondue is back; the proof being a new fondue restaurant opened in Richmond Hill recently.  Fondue is a great way to bring friends together at a dinner party.  It can be a simple but decadent and guilty pleasure dessert or appetizer depending on whether you make chocolate or cheese fondue.   My favourite (not) so guilty pleasure is a Classic Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries for dipping.  It’s so quick and easy..  Heat chocolate, dip strawberry = food love.

Chocolate is the simplest thing to make but tastes like the most decadent thing to eat.

What's not to love...  good chocolate, heavy cream and some booze or flavouring like Brandy or Kahlua mixed in.  You can even spice it up with hot pepper spices if you want a mexican style chocolate.

My first short film was called Potluck.  It was about a potluck party of course but I had 2 fondue pots set up in the party scene, one for chocolate fondue and one for cheese fondue.   The chocolate fondue was a great prop for a food gag and I think made it a fun shoot to be on when we finished shooting.   Eat the props.  Best way to tear down a set.   Eat it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Risotto to Arancini - leftovers to leftovers the Italian way

Risotto to Arancini the Italian Way

The Italians are genius' when it comes to food and leftovers.   Cold Pizza....great.   Reheated Lasagna still great.   Polenta leftover and then fried even better.

This week I took a few leftover things like Roasted chicken and chicken stock I made from the roasted chicken bones and roasted vegetables and used them to make a great Risotto with frozen peas, leftover white wine and some Pernod and of course the king of cheeses, Parmesan.

The next day I had lots leftover still in the fridge and in the genius Italian way I turned the leftover rice into Risotto Balls.   Normally you add mozzarella cheese in the middle and roll in egg and breadcrumbs but I skipped the mozzarella since it already had chicken and peas and loads of parmesan in the rice.
I don't know who invented this idea of what to do with leftover Risotto but it was a brilliant idea.   Risotto balls are just as delicious as the Risotto was on the first bite.   No crappy leftovers here.

I am not a leftover lover normally unless it's a rethink and re purpose in a smart way like adding grilled zucchini or something into a vegetable lasagna or using stale bread for a fondue, crouton or bread crumbs.   Maximizing efficiency and taste.

I loved both versions of this tasty spin on Arborio Rice and encourage you to think about your leftovers they way people used to have to use every last bit of their food in whatever way not to waste any money or food in their families.

In North America we waste way too much food and living by myself makes me guilty of it way more than I would like to admit.   You have to be super creative or plan your meals for what you will do if there are leftovers.  Whether you turn them into something else, freeze them, can them or just give it away to friends.   Try and think about it before you end up tossing it into the garbage can.  

Remember what your mother used to say...."there are children starving in Africa that would love to eat your food".... it is true and because we heard it so much we stopped thinking about it.

Today is World Food Day in the US...  a good day to think about people in the World that don't have enough food to eat on a daily basis.

Appreciate your food and respect what you do with it.

Bryce Wylde's My Status Test Kit - test your levels

Bryce Wylde is an amazing Naturopathic Doctor who speaks on many tv shows.  He also has a practice to help people using alternative therapies.

I really want to do this so that I know what I really need.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Houston we have a problem - we need money for food.

When I can't sleep I think about things and for some reason my mind went to thinking about the Free the Children organization and their food drive.  I am currently don't make any income but I am fortunate to still have food to eat but I know there are other people who may be working or not that don't even have anything in their fridges or pantry's.   I went on to the Free the Children website to find out some info on their food drive that they are doing for Halloween and I clicked on a link to the Food Banks Canada website and a report that shows the Food Bank use in 2011.

Here are some of the statistics that jumped out at me.....  One thing I noticed that I can relate to is that most of the food bank users were women who were renters.  Most of the people are on social assistance which indicates to me that the system doesn't work if people can't even get food with the amount they receive on assistance.   The system needs to change.   Personally,  I don't want to apply for assistance and would rather max out my credit cards than be forced to give up everything I have worked so hard to get over my lifetime.

I find it shocking that so many people in a city like Toronto which is one of the biggest cities in Canada can have so many people that are struggling to get food on their tables.    Food, shelter and clothing are basic necessities which everyone should have the right to matter who they are and where they live.   That applies to Third World countries and Big Cities.   We need to rethink the way we look at poverty and how people end up in poverty.   Something needs to change.  If you can't eat, you can't live.   It's as simple as that.  This is what the Occupy movement is fighting for.

Have a look at these Shocking facts from the Food Banks Canada report:

In March 2011, 851,014 people were assisted by food banks in Canada. Food bank use is 26% higher than in 2008, and this fact sends a clear message: the effects of the recession are still being felt across the country. As a result, a near record number of people are unable to afford enough food for themselves and their families.
Fifteen months after the end of the 2008-09 recession, food bank use was essentially unchanged from the same period in 2010. Almost half of food banks actually reported an increase in the number of people they assisted in March 2011, compared to the year before.
During the HungerCount survey period, 4,188 organizations participated in collecting information. Their records show that 93,085 people made the difficult decision to ask for help from a food bank for the first time. Requests for help came, in every province and territory, from a wide range of Canadians: people with jobs, on social assistance, and on pensions; single people and families with children;
renters, homeowners, and the homeless; those whose families have lived here for generations, and new Canadians.
Food Banks Canada, in partnership with provincial associations, food banks, soup kitchens, and other food programs, has collected data on the need for charitable food assistance annually since 1997. This wealth of information allows us to see that food bank use increases and decreases with the health of the economy – for example, the number of people helped by food banks decreased steadily during the economic boom of the mid-2000s, only to shoot up during the recession, and stay elevated in the current year.
The HungerCount survey also shows that while food bank use moves with the economy, there appears to be a stubborn limit to how low the need for assistance can fall. Food banks have been helping more than 700,000 separate individuals each month for the better part of a decade, through good economic times and bad – a fact of life that the majority of Canadians find unacceptable. This report provides a snapshot of the problem, and offers constructive recommendations that will improve the economic health of people assisted by food banks and drastically reduce the need for food assistance.

38% of those receiving food were
children and youth under age 18.
47% were women and girls.
4.4% were seniors over age 65, rising to 5.7% in rural areas.
10% self-identified as First Nations, M├ętis, or Inuit.
11% were immigrants or refugees –increasing to 18.5% in large cities.
4% were postsecondary students.
Key national findings
851,014 separate individuals received food from a food bank in March 2011; while this is down 2% from 2010, it remains 26% higher than in 2008 and is the second highest level of use on record.
93,085 people, or 11% of the total, received help from a food bank for the first time during the survey period.
In rural areas, 114,122 individuals – or 13% of the national total – received food from food banks; 10% of them were being helped for the first time.
Food banks assisted 2.5% of the Canadian population in March 2011, compared to 2.6% in 2010 and 2.0% in 2008.
Food bank use in 2011 was 20% higher than in 2001.
The 851,014 individuals who received food in March 2011 were members of 349,842 households:
40% of these households were composed of single people living alone.
24% were single-parent families with children.
23% were dual-parent families with children.
12% were couples without children.
Household income came from a variety of sources: 52% reported social assistance as
their primary source of income. 18% have earnings from current or
recent employment. 13% receive disability-related income
supports. 7% live primarily on pension benefits. 5% reported having no source of
income. 2% reported student loans and
scholarships as their major source of income.

The majority of those helped by food banks are renters – 63% pay market rent and 22% live in subsidized housing.
Nationally, 7% are homeowners – in rural areas, this figure rises to 15%.
6% are homeless, i.e., living in an emergency shelter, group home, on the street, or temporarily with family or friends.
2% live in band-owned housing, increasing to 5% in rural areas.

Low income, whether in the short or long term, is at the root of the persistent need for charitable food assistance in Canada. Food banks began operating in the early 1980s, near the beginning of a long period of economic transformation that saw major sectors of the Canadian economy – manufacturing, forestry, farming, fishing, mining – recede as sources of jobs and income. Public supports for those in economic difficulty have been scaled back, with both social assistance and Employment Insurance becoming more difficult to get, and providing less to those who are eligible. It has become harder to find and keep a good job, and nearly impossible to afford even basic food, clothing, and adequate shelter, if one is receiving government assistance for any length of time. It is an unfortunate reality that food banks have grown, by necessity, to fill the gap.
Our recommendations focus on the need for governments to provide adequate assistance to individuals and families during times of need, and on how we can better support people to become resilient citizens. They include:
Increasing federal and provincial support for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing, and the creation or expansion of housing subsidies.
Working with social assistance beneficiaries and other stakeholders to design an income support system of last resort that helps our most vulnerable citizens become self-sufficient.
Ensuring that Canada’s most vulnerable seniors are not left to live in poverty.
Improving Employment Insurance to better recognize and support Canadians in non-standard forms of employment,
as well as older workers facing permanent layoff from long-tenure positions.
Prioritizing, at the federal government level, the need to drastically improve the labour market outcomes of disadvantaged workers.
Investing in a system of high-quality, affordable, accessible early learning and child care.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Soupstock - Woodstock for Foodies

It was a beautiful day in Toronto today and perfect for a huge gathering of Foodies in the Woodbine Park near the beaches for SOUPSTOCK.

This was the first time I have attended this event which felt like a kind of Woodstock for Foodies.   Complete with muddy grounds but luckily no rain.

Soupstock is an event that brings together between 180-200 chefs from all over Ontario and some from further away even.   It's purpose is to draw attention to STOP THE MEGA QUARRY.

 It is an Eco event that is presented with the David Suzuki Foundation with the support of the local chef community who come out and provide a variety of hot soups that you can purchase for 3 samplings for $10.  It's a bring your own bowl and spoon event but there were vendors on hand selling bowls if you forgot yours.

The event ran from 11am to 4pm but by the time I got there close to 3pm there were already vendors that had sold out of their soups and started to pack up.  So I don't know what I missed.   All I know is that there was a huge line up for the lobster soup.

I tried 2 soups and opted to pick up some Brick street buns for my 3rd ticket.

I tried a Potato and Leek soup with a bit of chevre and croutons on top.  It was delicious and had some sort of herb or flavouring that I am still trying to figure out.

I also tried a Japanese soup that seemed like it would be a really healthy soup with mushrooms...not my favourite but I know they are good for me  and it also had carrots and I think daikon radish, chicken and a bunch of other things that I wasn't sure about.  It was very flavourful and something I know I wouldn't have made at home so it's always nice to try something you know you will never make yourself.

Even with the muddy ground and no tables or seats it was still a huge event that was well attended.   This should be a sign to city councillors that Torontonians want something other than hot dog vendors and sit down restaurants.   We want food events that we can attend with friends and family and have a choice as to what and how we eat.

I am glad I was able to attend even though I wasn't able to get there until close to the end but I still got to try a couple of soups and see what a great even it was.

Next year I will make sure I don't have anything planned so that I can go early and sample some great soups.

And on a side note... I am not even a big soup person but it's nice to try some different soups to maybe expand what you think about soups.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Loblaws Administrative job cuts

Loblaw Companies Limited - Loblaw Announces Leaner Head Office Structure

I wonder if some of these job cuts are a direct reflection of the beef recall's and the general public's distrust for the big corporate way of getting their food.   I was in a local producer's shop yesterday and the guy at the store said business has been increasing since the beef recall.  

I think big changes in the food system are going to happen soon.     What would happen if everyone just stopped eating meat?  Meat is the biggest cost to a grocery budget and probably what the big supermarkets make most of their money on.

I can't say this is good news as a person that normally makes a living doing administrative jobs I am finding they are all drying up to "save costs".    This is why I have turned to writing more food blog posts.

I find it sad that food is being wasted because of bad processing safety measures.   If al the food we waste in North America could be shipped to developing countries before it's wasted then there wouldn't be any hunger in the world.

We need to find answers to some of these problems or there won't be food for anyone in the world soon.

World Food Day 2012 | Nepal Information Platform

World Food Day 2012 | Nepal Information Platform

Monday, October 15, 2012

World Food Day October 16, 2012

Tomorrow is WORLD FOOD DAY.

I am planning on going to this event hosted by Films That Move.

Media Advisory: Toronto Celebrates World Food Day October 16, 2012

What are you doing for World Food day?

What:World Food Day Toronto
When:Tuesday, October 16th 6:00 - 9:30pm. Reception at 5:30pm
Where:Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre
585 Dundas Street East, East of Parliament Street
Tickets:Free tickets at
Twitter:              Hashtag #wfd2012 #foodTO

Films for Foodies

My first short film was called Potluck.  I figured I would make a film that combined my love of food and entertaining in a short film.   It didn't turn out exactly as I planned but it was a fun experience.

The NFB has a bunch of Films for Foodies online that you can watch here:

Some other Foodie films you can check out if you can find them are:

Hiro dreams of Sushi
Big Night
Babette's Feast
Julie and Julia
Supersize Me
Eat Pray Love
What's Cooking
No Reservations
The Mistress of Spices
Woman on Top
Mystic Pizza
Soul Food
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
Food Inc.
Forks over Knives

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are Beef scares turning people into Vegetarians?

Are you afraid of Meat?

With the current Recall of Beef from the XL Foods plant in the news lately it has been scaring consumers into being afraid of what they eat.   Is this a good thing?  I don't know but I think it's sad that the actions of One processing plant can take down the whole Beef Industry.

Personally I haven't bought any meat since the Beef Recall but for a couple of reasons.   I like to get hormone free meats when I can but I can't afford to buy a lot of meat right now so I haven't bought that much meat in general.  

Although I haven't bought any meat when I went to Whole Foods Market on Thanksgiving day there were a whole lot of people standing in front of the Meat Counter.   There was a huge sign hanging above the counter listing where they receive their meat from,  like local farmers like Baretta Farms for their chickens and other local farms and stores like Cumbrae meats for their other meat.

When you buy your meats at a regular grocery store you don't know where your meat is coming from so nobody is accountable until multiple people get sick.  

When I went to The Big Carrot Market to interview nutritionist Julie Daniluk for my documentary I also interviewed their PR person who told me they track all their vendors and can track back to the source of where they are getting their products at any time.  They have a relatively small meat section but their meats are generally from local suppliers such as Baretta Farms again or Yorkshire Valley.

There are some good Food Markets like Organic Garage in Oakville who try and go out of their way to carry quality safe products but since ever grocery store has to order their meat and produce from other suppliers can they always trust their sources but they are responsible and ethical enough to pull anything right away if there is a problem but it takes a bit longer for the larger chains to get it through their systems to make a change?   

Are people being scared into becoming vegetarians?  

The subjects of my EcoLoser documentary had decided to give up red meat as part of their monthly challenges a few months ago.  They say they don't miss the meat and they decided to give it up because of the amount of resources it takes to produce beef.    

But on the flip side..   what happens if everyone is scared into giving up Beef?   What happens to the local farmers who produce Beef and other products?   Will they be driven out of business?

Think of the Beef industry in Alberta, what if everyone stopped eating beef from Alberta?   
What would happen to their economy?
It's sad to think that ethical farmers may be driven out of business because of unethical processing plants.  

Things need to change in the food production industry.   Processing plants need to be accountable and transparent and be fined for any health infractions or shut down right away.    If they feel it on their bottom line things will change.   If their bottom line is increased by lax practices then we are in BIG TROUBLE in the future.

Have you changed the way you think about your food?  
Have you been considering becoming vegetarian because of the recalls?
Have you changed the stores you shop in?

Over the past year I have tried to make an effort to buy as much local, organic and hormone and pesticide free products as I can but something like E. coli can happen to even Organic producers if proper food handling practices aren't strictly enforced.

In a city full of condos we are at the mercy of these food providers as we can't exactly have a cow or chickens on our balconies.

We need to find a way to make people accountable for the food they produce and make sure that they are doing the right thing or they need to be shut down.

Sometimes I think I should become a vegetarian for the fact that I know it would be better for me financially,  better for the environment and also better for my weight, but unfortunately I love food and love variety in food and like the taste of beef and chicken and pork.   But I am going to be very careful in the future of where my food comes from and maybe buy less and maybe pay more for suppliers that have extra measures in place for food safety.

Be Safe... know where your food comes from and make sure you store and cook your food properly.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner for One

Thanksgiving was never a Holiday tradition in my family so I didn't grow up dreading or looking forward to Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner but because I don't have Turkey Dinners I like to have it sometimes.   The first time I had a proper Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner was when I was working at Sunnybrook Hospital.  They would make a full Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner available in the cafeteria of the Hospital for the Staff.   They would have 2 seatings to cover all of the staff.   It wasn't the greatest Turkey Dinner I ever had but it's where I gained a bit of a taste of it.

One year I decided it was time that I tried to cook a Turkey just to see if I could do it properly in case I ever had to make one for other people.   At the time it was just my mom and brother that were there to eat it so there was a whole lot of Turkey leftovers.  My mom never really liked Turkey either,  she liked the dark meat of chickens or chicken breast breaded or roasted on the bone to keep it moist.   I suppose she probably thought Turkey was a bit bland and dry.  Well I mastered my first Turkey roasting with flying colors.  I did it the easy way and bought a Butterball and just followed the directions.  It's pretty no fail if you can read cooking instructions.

Well now that my mom is gone I don't have family to share a Turkey with, but I still decided that I want to have that great Thanksgiving Meal anyway.   So what if I am only one person and it's a lot of work to cook a big dinner.   Well I think it's more messy than hard work.   My sink is full of dishes and my stomach is now full of my TURKEY DINNER FOR ONE.

Instead of buying a whole Turkey, even if it's a small one it's still way too much food that would go to waste since I only like the white meat anyway.   I could make Turkey stock but there is really no point in wasting a whole Turkey.  I decided to pull a Turkey Breast out of the Freezer and just place it on a bed of vegetables in a roasting dish and seasoned it with stuffing flavours since I skipped the stuffing.


I cut up the following and added it to the roasting dish.

2 Carrots
1 Parsnip
2 small onions
3 garlic cloves unpeeled
1 celery stalk

and spiced the whole thing with the following.

Smoked Paprika
Sweet Paprika
Rubbed Sage
Bay leaves
Olive Oil

and I added a cup of water so that it would make some sauce in the bottom of the pan from the drippings.

If you have the skin on the Turkey that's even better to retain moisture and add flavour to the Turkey Gravy.

I cooked it until the vegetables were cooked and the Turkey reached the proper internal temperature as indicated by a Cooking Thermometer.

I took the Turkey out of the oven when it was done and set it on a cutting board to rest.
Then I took the vegetables and reserved them in a bowl.  You can covert the bowl with tin foil to keep it warm if you need to.

Then with the left over juice in the roasting pan I put it on the stove and added a tablespoon of flour and a cup of water.   Bring to a boil and stir until it thickens and add seasonings to taste if needed.

I also made frozen peas... I won't explain that since they were just boiled.. I think you can figure that out.

I also made cranberry sauce from frozen cranberries.   The directions are on the package, although I never follow them.   I just kind of eyeball it so that I can control the sugar.

And I took a shortcut and made some Pillsbury biscuits.   I supposed if I had a bigger kitchen and more room to put things I probably could have made biscuits from scratch but they were a minor part of the dinner so that's where I saved the time and effort.   Although homemade biscuits are always infinitely better.

And there you have it... THANKSGIVING DINNER for ONE.

You don't have to wait for other people to enjoy your dinner the way you want it.   If you want a traditional family style meal figure out a way to modify it and make it for yourself.

If you are creative you can eat what you want without waiting for anyone else.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.     Now go and Eat some Turkey.

Here's the leftovers in Mason Jars ready for another meal.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rocco DiSpirito feels at home in Woodbridge, ON

Last night Celebrity Chef Rocco DiSpirito was on hand to sign his new Cookbook "Eat this now" Italian at the Chapters/Indigo Bookstore in Woodbridge, Ontario.

I have been watching Rocco on his own shows and on many of the daytime talk shows making lots of tasty dishes.   I decided to drop by and meet Rocco and pick up one of his cookbooks at his book signing.

Rocco was right at home with a mostly female and Italian background crowd.  Rocco spent the time before the actual book signing flirting with the women,  talking family with one woman and giving the men a call to action to be better boyfriends and husbands.   He circulated the crowd sharing stories, info and cracking jokes in Italian.   He is a very personable guy and seemed to enjoy entertaining the crowd and at one point said he loved it here and said he should move here.   I think he would be right at home in Woodbridge, ON and I am sure he would have a lot less hectic life than in New York.  He even mentioned how easy it was to get around here.   I guess in comparison to New York rush hour I guess you could say that.

The reason he was there was to promote his new book "Eat this now, Italian" where he travelled to Italy to learn from the Italian grannies on their techniques to making real Italian food.   He then deconstructed some of the recipes to try and lower the caloric values for each dish.  He called it a "labour of love" and I think this journey began with the influence of his Italian mamma whom he learned how to cook authentic Italian dishes from that started his career.

I didn't pick up that book because I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to Italian food.   Fresh, simple ingredients cooked properly and not overdone.   Less is more in most cases of real Italian food.   Something like a Caprese Salad,   (Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzerella, Basil and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper)   that's it.   It really doesn't need deconstructing so I skipped that book but picked up one of his previous books that has a variety of recipes and other comfort foods like Mac & Cheese which is hard to make tasty and reducing the calories.   That's the recipes I need help with.   Or the things like chocolate chip cookies.    Italian food seems easier to me because it really is healthy if you just bump up the vegetables and cut the portion sizes and just modify a few things.

Once I finally got to Rocco to get my book signed he said "did I meet you before", I said "No" I don't think so".  He said "you look very familiar".  I said who knows...maybe facebook, twitter.    I know I have never met him directly before but maybe I have seen him at some food show or something in the past that I don't even remember.   But I think I would remember meeting Rocco don't you?  Maybe a past life thing.....  who knows.... maybe I look like someone or everyone is starting to look familiar after he has met so many people.   Either way... I suppose it's nice to have someone say that you look familiar as if they know you already.

If I ever run into Chef Rocco again I will definitely say we have met before and hopefully I will be able to tell him some of my favourite recipes from his book.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Arsenic in Your Food

Arsenic in Your Food | Consumer Reports Investigation

I just ate some take out rice and had to hope that it was prepared the proper way.  I am assuming since it was mushy and tasteless that it was probably rinsed... but who knows.

It seems as though you play Russian Roulette when you buy food these days...   you aren't safe buying Beef, Rice, even vegetables have pesticides and e coli or other things on them..   You can't starve so I guess you just have to figure out ways to build your immune system to be able to handle anything you attempt to eat these days.

The only way to totally control your food is to grow your own food in a green house using filtered water and Organic seeds and hope that no run off water seeps in anywhere.    But since this isn't too realistic for most people you have to take your chances.    My recommendation is to take loads of Antioxidants.   I am trying a new one and will comment in a couple of weeks whether I feel a difference.

Stay as healthy as you can and try and make the best choices you can.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food Revolution Day 2013


300 volunteers in 55 countries have already enrolled for our global day of action with more to follow.

October 1, 2012 – Jamie’s foundation projects in the UK, US and Australia are once again joining forces on Friday, May 17, 2013 for the second Food Revolution Day. In Toronto, Canada, Linda Matarasso will be coordinating the day’s events.  The festivities will continue across the world throughout the weekend.

Linda Matarasso said: “Food Revolution Day had an incredible start in 2012 with fantastic events all over the world.  In 2013, I will be doing everything possible to make it an even bigger success and I’d like to ask anyone from the community who cares about our food and our future to contact me to find out how they can get involved.”

Jamie Oliver said: “This is all about people power.  If enough of us stand up and say that we care about where our food comes from and that we demand better food education for our children, then the governments of the world will start to listen.  Ambassadors like Linda Matarasso are doing an incredible job and I can’t wait to hear about what everyone’s doing in May.”

The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation launched its first-ever Food Revolution Ambassador Program in 2012 to inspire, educate, and empower people everywhere to stand up for real food. The voluntary Ambassadors are on the ground working towards a Food Revolution and they are the ones who will make Food Revolution Day 2013 that much stronger. 

Food Revolution Day and the Ambassador Program aims to engage leaders throughout the year and reach communities worldwide.  The monthly events and challenges will bring together an international community of foodies, chefs, parents, educators, companies and activists to arm people with the knowledge and tools to make healthier food choices.

People everywhere can visit and to find out how to get involved, download resources and toolkits and request to bring food education to their school or workplace. Visit to see our growing army of global volunteers. More than 165 cities worldwide from New York City and Buenos Aires to Nairobi and Singapore, are taking action.

About the Ambassador and their community

I volunteer for the Food Revolution and give my spare time for free to further the mission of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. The Food Revolution has selected a number of volunteers from around the world who showed a deep commitment to real food and I’m thrilled to be one of them.

Ambassadors will be holding local community events to demonstrate real food and share recipes and cooking techniques for families to adopt in their own homes.

About the Food Revolution

The Food Revolution is a global movement that allows people who love food to come together to share information, talents and resources and also to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues. All around the globe, people work together to make a difference.  The Food Revolution is about connecting with your community in schools, restaurants and local businesses.  We want to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone.

About Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver is the founder and driving force who inspired millions around the world to join the Food Revolution. In 2010, as part of the ABC TV series, Jamie’s Food Revolution, Jamie worked to improve school food and set up a community kitchen in Huntington, West Virginia to teach people how to cook from scratch. Although difficult at first, it received a great response and a second series followed tackling school food and eating habits in Los Angeles. Jamie set up the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, to continue this work across America and inspire people everywhere to stand up for real food. The Food Revolution is now a global movement, reaching communities around the world through a network of volunteers, tackling the obesity epidemic and diet-related diseases with better food education and cooking fresh, real food from scratch.

About Jamie’s other foundation projects

Jamie’s Food Foundation (JOFF) is a US non-profit organization and forms part of Jamie’s global family of foundation projects, including the Better Food Foundation in the UK and our partners, The Good Foundation in Australia. The Better Food Foundation has a number of activities, from providing unemployed and disadvantaged youth with professional training in the Fifteen apprentice program to teaching adults to cook in Jamie’s Ministry of Food centers to campaigning for better school food to teaching kids to grow and cook food as part of The Kitchen Garden Project. In Australia, The Good Foundation has teamed up with Jamie and the Good Guys to open and run Jamie’s Ministry of Food centers as part of a community-based campaign to teach adults and youth how to cook from scratch.
All of Jamie’s foundation projects aim to educate, empower and inspire people through food and support the global Food Revolution, joining forces on our annual day of action, Food Revolution Day.