Monday, December 23, 2013

Food Safety in an Emergency - Food - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Food Safety in an Emergency - Food - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

My power has been off since sat night and it's now Monday.   I was planning on having a party this week but the food is probably all gone now.

News you should know.  Check this important info on this link.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Food Gifts

 Holiday Gifts Ideas  

There are a few people that I know that can't for the life of them figure out what to get as gifts for people and some people like me try their best to try and come up with ideas that are either specific to the person or a general thing that would make most people happy.

Here are some of my ideas for Gifts that you can give to people that appreciate good food or for those people you have no idea what to get that will make them happy.

1.  A Great Serving Platter something like this Hand Painted Plate.

2.  A unique box of Chocolates or Artisanal Chocoates like these Ginger chocolates

3.  A Cookbook for the Novice or Professional Chef, a Celebrity Chef book, Healthy Cooking or even an ethnic or beginner cookbook.  Always helpful.

4.  There's always a traditional mug but why not be not so traditional and get an Original mug or Artist original painted mug that shows the person you know what their interests are like this camera mug.

5.  How about a Morter and Pestel and some whole spices to kick up their dishes to the next level.  It's something most people don't think about but once they have one they use it when they want really intense flavour in their dishes.

6.  Your friends and family can't cook or too busy or just hate to cook.  Why not get them a gift certificate for a great local and special restaurant like Chef Lynn Crawford's RUBY WATCHCO.  The menu is a prix fixe menu that changes every night.   And you might see Chef Lynn cooking away in the kitchen too.

7.  Ever thought outside of the box for a Foodie gift that can double as a tree ornament?  How about getting your favourite baker a Specialty Cookie Cutter and tie a string on it and present it as a tree ornament that they can use to bake you some delicious cookies the following year.

8.  If you are a decent baker then bake up a batch of your best cookies and present them in a Holiday Tin or Wrap them in Individual bags and tie with a pretty ribbon.  People are always impressed that you went to the trouble of baking specially for them.  From easy chocolate chip to fancy gingerbread.  Just present it well and they will love it.

9.  Present treats or any little gift in a cute little lunch bag like this that can be reused long after the treats are gone.

10.  If you don't know what to get someone then why not get them a gift pack of Specialty teas and maybe present a whole Tea package.  Even if they are coffee drinkers they will appreciate the gift when they have guest visiting them and they can serve them the specialty teas.  No cooking skills or machines required just some tea, boiling water and a mug.

 11.  Is someone you know scare you when they are holding a knife?  Well you can fix that by giving them a gift of a knife skills class to teach them how to wield those sharp objects without people running in the other direction.

12.  And then there's always a safe bet of a movie.  Or pop some popcorn and give them this Dancing Snoopy and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special or maybe a food movie on DVD or tickets to go see a great food documentary like the one I saw recently " Spinning Plates" 

Don't forget the Mistletoe and Gingerbread like Snoopy is armed with.

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful if you are stumped with ideas for the perfect gift.

Foodies are really easy ...they love food and all things about food so there are endless ideas of things that would make them happy if you just look around and think outside the box.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Supporting Jamie Oliver

This beautiful photo of Chef Jamie Oliver, his wife Jools and daughter Petal started a firestorm of Instagram comments on Jamie Oliver's feed after he posted this photo this morning.   When I looked at this photo I remembered it from one of Jamie's Christmas Special's where he is making Gravy using chicken wings and other things.  His wife Jool's holding their daughter Petal who is looking on intently.  There is nothing negative about this photo or what was going on when it was taken but there is always 1 internet TROLL (Hater) who can turn it into bashing Jamie Oliver for being aligned with a Commercial Brand.   This photo has nothing to do with that and I found myself getting angry that 1 person could post a negative comment on this feed of what was supposed to be a family inspiring photo of family during the Holidays.  This Troll who will be nameless as to not giving him further attention although I am sure you can figure it out,  was then jumped on by the rest of Jamie's supporters including me.

Why this issue got me angry...   I became a Food Revolution Day Ambassador a couple of years ago after having watched a number of Jamie's shows including the ONE that motivated me to join Jamie in his mission.  That show was Jamie's School Lunches and then subsequently Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in the US.   You need to know what Jamie has done over the past few years to understand what motivates him to do what he does.   Let's start at the beginning.   Jamie has 4 children now but started his career as the Naked Chef cooking dinner for friends and family.  Once he got married and had his children he was exposed to the schools that his children were going to.  I am not a parent but I know that once you become a parent you will fight for the rest of your life to take care of your children.   As a chef Jamie saw what was being passed off as food in the School Lunch system of the schools in the UK.  and as a Chef who prides himself on making real food he was disgusted and tried to find a way to change the school lunches to healthier foods.  I am sure when Jamie stepped into this bucket of worms he didn't know how this would direct his future.  I can bet he just wanted to see kids eating proper food in the UK and in turn have his kids and their friends get a better start in life.   This project turned into something a lot bigger than Jamie could have imagined.   He had to fight the government system of subsidies and the stubborness of the school employees to make changes.  If you watched the series you would have seen Jamie break down in frustration.  You would think he would just give up but not Jamie, he moved onto the US where he teamed up with Ryan Seacrest for Food Revolution, a series of how he could affect change in families struggling with diseases like diabetes and suffering other health effects from the food they were eating.  So many of the stories made me cry and I felt like I wanted to do something to join his cause because I come from a family who didn't have a lot of money but my parents worked their butts off to provide a roof over our head and proper food on the table every night.  I come from a home where we didn't have annual vacations or fancy things but we had a fully packed refrigerator and meals that were generally mostly made from scratch every day.

Now families rely on drive throughs to get their daily meals and have lost the ability to cook for themselves and pass down recipes and memories from spending family meals together.   I have helped my mother in the kitchen as long as I can remember, starting with stirring the pot or getting things from the fridge to adding spices to taking over cooking a lot of new things.  

Jamie is trying to bring this back to families who are struggling with their children getting diabetes as a child from the dependency on cheap fast food that has no nutrients to them having learning and behavioural difficulties in school.  Cooking real food at home has a direct impact on things like poverty, health, education and crime.   Crime... yes this takes me back to Jamie's Fifteen a project Jamie created to get troubled youth off the streets and away from drugs and crime and into commercial kitchens instead.   Jamie's first incarnation was the restaurant Fifteen named after the 15 youths that started in a program he created to teach them how to work in a restaurant kitchen.  While it was a struggle and not all of the participants were 100% willing to change some were and some are still working with Jamie and his team to this day.  What if he didn't create such a program?  What would those that have succeeded with Jamie have done?  Who knows but I bet it wouldn't be feeding people and paying it forward.  

Jamie has now moved on to thinking bigger which means trying to get more money to do bigger things.  He has aligned himself as a spokesman for Woolworth's in the UK and Sobey's in Canada and other things to try and spread his message and reach.   While Jamie may be making a profit from his restaurants and books and products he isn't greedily stashing the cash into a mansion in the UK and fancy cars and clothes and lavish wasteful things.   He is trying to expand his brand for YOU and everyone else in the World.  

His new book is called SAVE WITH JAMIE and it's mission is to help YOU waste less food and make food that costs less and tastes better.   I have the book and have made this Gangnam style chicken wings
which turned out fabulous.  A little kick to the humble chicken wings.

Over the past couple of years I have tried to host events for Food Revolution Day in Toronto and have found it very difficult to get any attention and interest about the event because I was trying to direct my focus on the adults instead of the kids because there are already other local Ambassadors focusing on the kids programmes.   There is a lot of apathy and general why bother with this type of attitude.  I understand from a financial point of view sometimes it costs me more money to make food at home for certain things.  For example Chinese Food.  I am not going to make deep fried Chicken Balls or Tempura for myself or make a stir fry with a dozen ingredients because it will make up a stir fry that can feed a sports team and it isn't something that I would be able to store or freeze in a small one bedroom apartment kitchen.   But at the same time there are things I can make at home and freeze that I can cook once and store in the freezer for times I don't want to cook or don't have the time or am just plain sick of take out food.   I like to make Pulled Pork in a crock pot.  It basically cooks itself and I can store it in ziplock bags for all sorts of meals at any time.  I love to make Chili in the winter as well,  it's easy to cook and freezing doesn't hurt the flavour at all.
My fastest go to comfort and satisfying and easy meal is always pasta and tomato sauce.  I love Gnocchi and like to keep some in the freezer for a quick boil and douse with a bottle of Tomato Passata with added herbs and spices and sometimes vegetables. Easy "peesy" as Jamie says sometimes.

Back to the point of this post.  One guy on Instagram started bashing Jamie for his alignment with Woolworths for their support of Australian famers not making enough money.   Really.. what does this "loverly" as Jamie calls it, picture of his family got to do with Woolworth's and their policy.   Go talk to Woolworths if you have an issue about their policies.   While I agree that Farmer's should make a lot more money and should get subsidies from the government to grow and raise Organic Foods it's a case of a big picture of economics and who's running the food distribution system.   The farmer is a small cog in a big wheel and unfortunately they should be the big cog and the rest should be the small cogs but it just doesn't work that way right now.   Maybe you can join me and other Food Revolutioner's and help voice your opinion to make that change.  I always support farmer's because they are the people that provide food for us to live on.  I doubt everyone in the world is going to own a cow, chicken, etc and grow all their vegetables in their backyard and be self sufficient, it just can't happen anymore so we need to support the farmers and give them incentives to going back to the old farming techniques of cultivating the land and developing nutrient high quality foods with Organic standards.

This is why I support Jamie and his mission because I see the BIG PICTURE on how it contributes to the World and the future of people's health in the world.  

Please support one of these things to make a positive change:

  1.  Support Jamie and all of the projects he is trying to do.
  2. Join a Food Revolution Day event or become an Ambassador
  3. Support local farmers
  4. Shop at your local farmer's market
  5. Buy Organic foods when you can.
  6. Learn how to cook by watching Jamie's Youtube channel or from one of his cookbooks or TV shows.
  7. Experiment with food and try and make new things.
  8. Teach the kids around you about food and how to appreciate where it comes from.
  9. Know what's in your food and where it comes from and how you can find out.
  10. Write letters to your local politicians to voice your opinion.   They won't have a job if you don't vote for them so they work for you.
Follow Jamie on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc.  @JamieOliver 

Friday, December 6, 2013

KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown

KitchenAid Cook for the Cure

Today is the last day to raise money for the Culinary Showdown for the Cook for the Cure.  I only managed to raise 10% of my goal and $80 of it by baking cookies and selling them at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation Office.  Thank you to all of those of you that supported the cause.   Unfortunately I didn't raise enough money to be able to join a celebrity chef team and participate in the Culinary Showdown but all of the funds that I did raise will go towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.   If I do this again I know I need to bake cookies well in advance to raise more money or I need to meet some new rich friends.

Good Luck to those lucky top 50 fundraisers that will be participating in the Culinary Showdown on Dec 7th.

I raised a total of $250 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and received a White Apron for raising $250 or more.

I didn't get to go to the Showdown but maybe I will try again next year.