Monday, April 22, 2013

Green Kitchen cupboard multi taskers

          Green Kitchen Cupboard Multi-taskers

Today is Earth Day around the world and I have been thinking about how the products that I use in my kitchen can also be used for other tasks outside of cooking.

Here's a quick list of Kitchen Ingredients that you can use to clean, moisturize or freshen other things.

1.  Baking Soda
Great for using in drains, used as a cleanser for pots and pans and in laundry.

2.  Vinegar -
Great to use with baking soda to clean the drains in your sinks,  great for glass and windows when diluted with water,  You can use it in your laundry cycle to get rid of odours and as a substitute for fabric softener.
Today I used it to clean my drains and also on my shower head to clear the calcium deposits.

3.  Coconut oil
This one is a great one because you can use it as a body butter or even as a lip balm.   You can eat it, cook with it and use it on your body.

4. Oil
Oils like Olive, Hemp, Almond oil can all be used for conditioning your hair or as a moisturizer on your body.   You can probably also use it to keep your cutting boards in good condition.

5. Oatmeal
Oatmeal is great to use for a facial.

6.  Salt
Salt makes a great copper pot scrub when mixed with real lemon juice

7.  Lemons
Lemons are great for adding to all purpose cleaning sprays as a disinfectant.
It's also great to use with salt as a pot scrubber (see above)

8. Honey
Honey can also be used on your lips, as a moisturizer and in your hair or even in a bath.

I bet there are a whole lot more uses for things our grandmothers had on their shelves because that is probably all they had in some cases.

We didn't know we needed a 100 different bottles of cleaners until manufacturers created products to sell to us on tv.

More and more I am trying to look at things we did in the past that are better for our health and the environment.

If you think about it you will realize that real food seems to be the answer to a lot of the world's problems.  Health, the environment and also the economic impact of the cost of goods we purchase and of course the cost of producing, packaging, marketing and selling these products.

A lot of companies would go out of business if we all just bought 10 products that did double duty in the kitchen, the bathroom and in cleaning our homes.    HMMM.. what a concept.

If you have any other multi-tasking food ideas feel free to post them in the comments section.

These are just a few of the most common ones that I know of but I know there must be a whole lot more.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Foodies Forever Event - Win a Set of Knives!!!

You never know how an event will be when it's the first one ever held.  I decided to attend an event called FOODIES FOREVER this past week to check it out and see what it was all about.
It was hosted by Cooking with Cutco and held at Liason College in downtown Toronto.   It was my first visit to Liason College so it was nice to check it out.

I went by myself and didn't know anyone there, but I still had a great time except for a minor little accident.
Yup, I cut my thumb.  I was trying to cut an orange with a knife that was a bit too small for the task and ran out of orange and knife and only thing left to cut was my thumb.

So you are now wondering why was I cutting an orange for an event?

Well this event was a room full of food and event bloggers who were going to participate in a group event where everyone prepared the meal using knives by Cutco.   I have never heard of these knives before even though they have been around for years.  They normally sell them to cooking school students and have the students become distributors.  Kind of like the Tupperware of Knives.  But now they want to expand their reach through food bloggers to get other people that are interested in food to be aware of their knives and cookware.

For the event we arrived and mingled for about a half an hour with them passing around delicious appetizers and once everyone had arrived they split us up into teams and then we headed into the kitchen.   The rest of my team consisted of a lot younger group of Asian girls and a couple of guys.  They had a lot less cooking experience than I did and it seems that the person in charge of leading us did too.  It was her first time doing this demo and she had to rely on pages of notes and seemed to be a bit nervous.  It's funny that I am the one that cut myself because most of the other people in my group were very unsure of how to cut things and I was worried about them cutting themselves and then I did. Irony I guess.  They had 3 different fairly simple recipes for us to put together using the knives so that we could all try them out.  I don't have Iron Chef knife skills but I kind of know how to cut things.   I don't cut myself very often.  I think I might have cut my fingers maybe 4 times in over 30 years of cooking, so that's not so bad I guess.  These knives were a little different than the knives I am used to an of course probably a whole lot sharper than mine are at this point.They were a really nice group of people and once I cut my finger it was up to them to finish all the cutting.   I tried to help instruct and keep things clear.

We put together a Kale Salad with a citrus dressing and a Quinoa dish with vegetables and cut some baguettes to have with hummus.   Once we finished making this food we went in to the dining room to eat it and listened to a couple of speakers while we were having dinner.  After we ate these dishes we went back to the kitchen to make a fruit salad with an interesting poppyseed dressing.

And then back to the dining room to eat the fruit salad and then they had a draw for prizes, things ranged from some cookbooks to a tablet.
 I ended up winning a Pop Up Telegram with
Chef Shahir Massoud from Black Sheep food co.   A pop up telegram is basically a chef that shows up somewhere and prepares a meal.  It could be anywhere.   So I asked him if he could pop up at my Food Revolution Day party to help me out with it.   It was like winning an extra pair of hands for me.

After the dinner they asked if anyone was interested in having a home party.   I passed on that because most of my friends have either been cooking for years and have everything they need or they don't cook at all.  Nothing in between it seems.   I think it's a better thing for young foodies just getting together and learning how to make food, more suited to the group I was partnered with.  I have done a lot of the home parties and found that I didn't have the kind of network that were interested in spending money on things so I already know it wouldn't work for me.   But I met a lot of nice people and some other food bloggers and we had a really healthy and great dinner.

We also got to take home some Chateaux Des Charmes wine from an Ontario winery who was the wine sponsor there, and we all got one of the smaller knives,  some got a peeler and I got a filet knife I think.

It would have been a great thing for me if I would have been aware of it when I was in my 20's when I was working in a Hospital with lot's of people that did cook, but now that I am out of that environment things have changed.  People cook less, get more take out or go to more restaurants.
30 years ago people would go out to eat maybe once or twice a week, but now they might cook something at home once or twice a week and that could even be something like making a frozen pizza.

There are so many fast food and upscale restaurants in this city and people have such busy lives these days that a lot of people have given up on trying to make a full dinner at home.   People are more fragmented in their daily lives.   I have been trying to cook at home more but I find it's an every other day thing.   I made a big pot of goulash today that will probably end up going into my freezer and I still have some leftovers in my fridge so I don't  cook everyday because it's just me and I find that when I do I don't do much else.   In order to balance my life out a bit I will cook when I am inspired and eat out when I need a break.   That is one of the reason's my blog isn't just about cooking or restaurant reviews.   I like to shake things up a bit in the food world.  It's the one thing in my life that I am able to change when I am in the mood to.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looking for Local food at the Green Living Show

Denise Livotti owner of Petits Chefs Academy in Vaughan and I visit the Green Living Show at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto to chat with Agatha Podgorski of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance about supporting local farmers and chefs from all over Ontario.

Agatha and Denise
 Foodland Ontario presented the Culinary Adventure Pavillion section at the Green Living Show  this year.

"The Ontario Culinary Adventure Pavilion raises awareness of the environmental and health benefits of choosing fresh, sustainable and local farm foods all year round, and showcases Ontario’s unique culinary tourism industry".

I wanted to connect food and being green and how the 2 things are in sync.

Denise and I tried some of the food that was presented at the show and found it all very delicious.

There were also lots of teas, hot sauces and other various food samples at the show to try.

Perch Tacos from Hooked
Bacon buttertarts by Madelyn's Diner
Porchetta sandwiches from Niagara Speciality Foods
Orange soda braised turkey on a bun from Port Restaurant

Chocolate from Chocosol

One booth that I really liked was the TerraCycle booth where they had rows of plastic containers containing things that can't normally get recycled but they have set up a service for consumers to send a box of specific items to them free of charge and they recycle them into products like bags etc.  All of those juice boxes and shampoo bottles can have a second life now and not sit in landfills that are ever mounting around the globe.  

I enjoy going to the show to see new and innovative products that combine great design and a practical approach to making things better in the future.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shark Fin Soup - The dumbest Food on the Planet

I love Food but Shark Fin Soup is one of the Dumbest Foods you can eat in the World.   I have never had it and never will.

Why is it dumb?

Well,  why would you want to eat a soup that the main ingredient is harvested from Sharks and only the fins are used the the rest of the Shark is tossed back into the water dead or alive.  Shark fins are now sold on the Black Market.
This is what they look like when they are harvested... Appealing?  I think NOT.

Filmmaker Rob Stewart has been on a mission to stop the culture of people wanting to eat this so called "delicacy" and change what it does to our planet in the process.
Rob Stewart first documentary SHARKWATER came out a few year's ago and he thought that what he learned from making that film was shocking and wasteful and has been on a mission to help inspire people to make a change that can affect the eco systems of the world.   He found that he was only scratching the tip of the iceberg with Sharkwater and his journey continued with the just released Documentary REVOLUTION.  It is in theatres now.  I encourage you to go and see it.   I saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival and I was blown away by how shocking it is and also how beautiful it was at the same time.  A totally inspiring film.  You will see the power that kids have in changing the future of the world they will grow up in.   Sharks are not as dangerous and scary as people think and they have an impact on our eco system.  Every species has a specific job to maintain the eco balance of the world.  When Sharks are dumped back into the ocean dead or alive it offsets the ecosystems of the waters.   You don't live in an area that has Sharks?  But if you think of the Food System Chain somewhere down the food chain Sharks will effect what you end up eating one way or another... whether it is by a fish you do eat or by the water you drink.  The water, the air and the land is all connected to what goes into us.  That's why it is important for you to give S*%T.

Check out the trailer here:

Today I went to see Rob Stewart speak at the Green Living Show in Toronto and was inspired by his passion and his resolve to make a difference.


1.  Watch Sharkwater and go see Revolution in the Theatres and take your friends.   Show them this trailer.

2.  Tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  The Twitter handle for the movie is @film_revolution

3.  Don't eat Shark Fin Soup and don't support restaurants that do.

4.  If Shark Fin soup isn't banned where you live then tell your local politicians that you want it to be banned and get all of your friends to send letters and call them.   If enough people complain they have to do something.

5.  Know where your food comes from and who produces it.

I hope this film gets nominated for an Academy Award next year so that a Whole Lot of People will go see it.   It had one of the best opening day numbers for a documentary but it needs to keep getting people in those seats to support the film.

They have set up an indie gogo campaign to develop an App that will help you do the right thing when it comes to buying things and supporting things and making the right choices.   If you are able to support them there then that can make a difference as well.

This film was one of the best films I watched at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September and I hope that a lot more people can get to see it in the theatres now.

Support a documentary that can fix our planet.

Why am I supporting this??   Because I have a food blog because I care about the food we eat, and I also make films with my company Integrity Films and support people who make documentaries that can make a difference.   Rob Stewart is a filmmaker with Integrity... and since my film company is called Integrity Films I want to support someone like Rob and see that his work continues.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Food Revolution Day - Mexican Fiesta -Toronto 2013

Join Jamie Oliver and people all over the World for a  Food Revolution on 
Food Revolution Day 
FRIDAY MAY 17, 2013

When I will be Hosting a 

Hands on Mexican Cooking Event on 
Friday May 17, 2013

7pm to 10 pm 
at Aphrodite Cooks Cooking School 
on Weston Rd.

Learn How to make Guacamole, Salsa, Ceviche and Homemade Tortillas.

Limited to 20 guests 
Cost $10 to cover food and drink costs.

There will be Great Photo Opportunities and some Prizes too.

RSVP. for this event on the Food Revolution Website and for more information contact me through our Facebook Page or through this blog.  
(Email address not published to avoid spam)
For more information about Food Revolution Day

Join the Toronto Facebook Group on this Page:

And Follow the Toronto Team on Twitter  @FoodRevToronto at
#FRD2013 Hashtag

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cookbooks and Cakes - 30 years at the Cookbook Store

I dropped into the Cookbook Store today for their 30th Year Anniversary.  That's a HUGE Milestone for a Bookstore in Toronto or anywhere these days.   The thing is that they only sell cookbooks.  The Cookbook Store is a fixture on the Yonge Street strip across from the Reference Library and just around the Yorkville area of Toronto.

 Alison Fryer the owner is somewhat of a Cookbook Author champion and the best PR person for celebrity chefs we have in this city.  I see Alison everywhere these days,  George Brown College for Chef's cookbook launches,  Word on the Street where there are cookbook author chats, and on shows like Cityline and Breakfast television showing off drool worth cookbooks.
Today was especially fun because some of the best bakers in Toronto sent over a bunch of cakes to celebrate the store's 30 year milestone.   Former employees and fans of the store dropped in to wish them another 30 years plus of success.

There were so many cakes that were too beautiful to cut,  like these ones from George Brown and All the Best Fine Foods, and One.

Also in attendance were Chef J.P. Chalet from Ici Bistro and Le Matin bakery.   And I spotted Marion Kane who was having sugar overload and Chef Higgins from George Brown College who has taught so many of the Chefs in this city.
James Cunningham the host of the Food Network show EAT ST. popped in to sign his Eat St. Cookbook and he took lot's of photos with everyone including me. He was super nice to everyone.  Eat St. is one of the shows that I watch on Food Network that makes me want to eat my TV.
It was a fun afternoon of Cake and Cookbooks and chatting with people that love to cook and love to eat.   I wish they would do an Open House like that every year.
I picked up a copy of the Eat St. Cookbook so the next time I watch the show and want to eat something I see at least I will have the recipes.
It was a fun afternoon at the Shop and I only tasted a couple of things in case you were wondering.   I picked up one of my friend Adell's little cookies to go and I tried the Croquembouche.. this one on the left.  It was delicious.  Reminded me of  something my mom's friend would make for special occasions as a kid.  My mom's friend's were all French so this was normal for them.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Food Revolution Day 2013 - Toronto

A couple of weeks back I got together with a couple of members of the Food Revolution Day Ambassadors Team from Toronto and Vaughan and we created a video to promote this year's Food Revolution Day on May 17th.  I went out and bought a whole boat load of fresh vegetables and we did a Blind Taste Test with a bunch of kids at the Petits Chefs Academy where our Vaughan Team Ambassador Denise owns a cooking school for kids.  They were pretty smart and food savvy kids but I managed to stump them on a couple of vegetables.  It's my mission for all kids to know what vegetables are and to try things they have never tried.  How can anyone know what they like to eat if they have never tried it?  We did a blind taste testing on 3 different vegetable dishes.  Artichokes, Celery Root and Kale chips.  They didn't like the artichokes too much but they loved the celery root salad and thought it was coleslaw and they ate all of it.    2 out of 3 isn't too bad.   I wanted the kids to do a blind taste test so that they would try a vegetable without first judging it on how it looked.  That way they only decide from the taste and the texture, although we did allow them to smell and touch it.   I used a vinaigrette on the artichoke hearts so they didn't like the fact that it was oily.  Oh well... next time I would try and spinach artichoke dip.  I bet they would like that.

I was inspired to become an Ambassador after seeing what Jamie Oliver had done in the U.K. with the school lunches and then on to a school in the U.S.   It made me realize that kids don't get exposed to a diverse array of foods other than what they can afford or what they eat in their homes or their friends and families homes.  We need to bring back food education in schools and teach kids where their food comes from and what it is, what to do with it, how to preserve it, and what it tastes like.  Food is a necessity for everyone's life, so I don't understand why this necessary knowledge isn't taught in most schools and why convenience food is subsidized but healthy food isn't.   We need to reverse this so that childhood obesity becomes a disease of the past like the plague.

I am going to edit a bit more video from the day but here is a short clip just to get you inspired to Join us on May 17, 2013.