Friday, February 27, 2015

TEDXManhattan Viewing Party

2015 TEDXManhattan Viewing Party Event

I am very excited to be hosting a TEDXManhattan Viewing Party at my home in Toronto on March 7th, 2015.  The TEDX talks will be all about the state of the future of FOOD which is in line with my FOOD REVOLUTION DAY mission.  I have invited some fellow Food Revolution Day Ambassadors along with some of my food savvy friends to attend the live streaming viewing of these talks.  Thanks to the great generosity of CHIPOTLE Mexican Grill my guests will be munching on some great and healthy food catered by them and I will also have the owner of GOOD FOOD FOR GOOD come over to demo her new line of Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Preservative free sauces and spreads.  
You can get more information to either host a Viewing party or attend one by checking out their website for information.
Here is a run down on what the event is all about and the talk times and topics:
TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2015, at the TimesCenter in New York City.  Below is the list of speakers along with their topic.  Order is subject to change.
2015 Run of Show (02/21/15)
Registration 9:30 – 10:30. Webcast begins promptly at 10:30 (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
Session 1 – Sharing the Vision (10:30 – 12:15)
Intro: Tom Colicchio
Speaker 1 – Danny Meyer – Fine dining and chain restaurants – the evolvement and overlap of the two
Intro – Urvashi Rangan
Speaker 2 – Anim Steel – Food justice
Intro – Paul Lightfoot
Speaker 3 – Ali Partovi – What’s the real reason organic food costs more? (Hint: It’s not because it’s more expensive to produce)
Intro – Megan Miller
Speaker 4 – Stephen Reily – How do cities build platforms to help the local food economy achieve sustainability and scale?
Film clip: The Meatrix – Re-make and re-launch of the hugely successful 2003 viral phenomenon
Intro – Wenonah Hauter
Speaker 5 – Michele Merkel – What is legal is not always right – fighting for justice in rural America
LUNCH  12:15 – 1:30  (Webcast offline/break)
Session 2 – Shaping Our World (1:30 – 3:30)
Intro – Andrew Gunther
Speaker 6 – Stefanie Sacks – How small changes in eating can make big differences
Intro – Peggy Neu
Speaker 7 – Robert Graham – Teaching doctors about the importance of food to health
Intro – Michel Nischan
Speaker 8 – Marcel Van Ooyen – Scaling up local food distribution to take it from niche to mainstream
Intro – Sunny Young
Speaker 9 – Joel Berg – The only real way to end hunger in America
Intro – Ann Cooper
Speaker 10 – Dana Cowin – The power of ugly vegetables.
Speaker 11 – TEDxManhattan Award Winner – Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine. School. Kids. Community. Food. The educational community center Steve is building in a school in the Bronx.
Speaker 12 – DJ Cavem (with Alkemia Earth) – Health education through art and hip hop music
BREAK  3:30 – 4:10 (Webcast Offline)
Session 3 – Lighting the Future (4:10 – 6:00pm)
Intro: Sam Van Aken
Speaker 13 – Henry Hargreaves – How end-of-the-world doomsday preppers are thinking about their food 
Film clip: Anna Lappe – Real Food Media Project winner
Speaker 14 – Shen Tong – Investing in food businesses       
Intro –  Lance Price
Speaker 15 – Kendra Kimbirauskas – The good food movement and the explosion of factory farms in the U.S.
Film clip: Regina Bernard-Carreno and Alison Cayne
Speaker 16 – Danielle Nierenberg – Why the food system will fall apart without women farmers
Intro: Myra Goodman
Speaker 17 – Nikiko Masumoto – Farming and a vision for farmers

Change the Way You Eat

Based on Change Food’s
Guide to Good Food
1. Educate yourself – Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing guide that answers all sustainable food questions, so you need to learn what you can about the food industry and decide for yourself who deserves your support. The following books are a great place to start: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Hope’s Edge by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé, Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel. For more recommendations, check out Grist’s Favorite Food Books of 2010:
2. Shop sustainable – Where do you get your food? If you answered farmer’s market, CSA or food co-op, you are already concerned with sustainability. Wherever you shop, choose local, organic and/or sustainable items over their industrial, non-local counterparts. When buying meat and dairy, look for free-range, pasture-raised, and antibiotic free. Seek out items with less packaging or skip the packaging altogether by buying bulk items with your own bags. To find sustainable farms, restaurants and markets near you, visit Eat Well Guide or Local Harvest.
3. Ask questions – One of the greatest benefits of buying your food straight from the farmer is talking directly with the person who grew the food. We ask our farmers all sorts of questions, from ‘what’s the most delicious way to cook this lamb chop’ to ‘what’s integrated pest management’ and ‘do you use any synthetic fertilizers’? If your local grocery doesn’t carry local or organic foods, ask the manager about it! You’d be surprised at the buying power you plus a few friends possess. Check out Huffington Post’s Seven Great Questions to Ask Your Farmer or visit Sustainable Table’s Question Guide.
4. Eat Less Meat – Eating lots of meat is not only bad for you, it’s bad for the environment. Eating less meat can reduce your chances of developing chronic conditions like some types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Meat, especially from industrial feedlots, is hugely energy intensive, requiring thousands of gallons of water and approximately 40 fossil-fuel calories for every edible calorie. When you do want to eat meat, make sure you support farms that raise and slaughter their animals in a humane and sustainable way. For recipes and resources for going meatless, visitMeatless Monday.
5. Eat seasonal – No matter the season, our supermarkets are filled with a vast array of produce from all around the world. But just because you can find a stalk of asparagus in January doesn’t mean you should eat it! Eating seasonally means buying produce that’s grown locally and eating it right away. Local food has a lesser environmental impact, is fresher, and is produced by your community. That means eating seasonally is healthier for you, your community and the environment! To find a Farmer’s Market near you, visit Local Harvest. To find a CSA in NYC, visit Just Food’s CSA finder.  You can also find Farmer’s Markets and CSAs at the Eat Well Guide.
6. Grow your own – There’s no better way to know your farmer than to be your farmer! Growing your own food guarantees the most healthful, freshest, and satisfying produce you can get your hands on. From a few herbs or sprouts in your kitchen window, to a full veggie patch at your local community garden, growing your own food is the coolest way to go green. For NYC dwellers, find a garden through Green Thumb. If you have high hopes and a tiny apartment, check outWindowfarms!
7. Cook – Eating out poses many challenges to the sustainable eater. How and where does the restaurant get its ingredients? How much food do they throw away? What’s their water consumption? The only guaranteed way to know your food is prepared sustainable is to see the meal start to finish; from buying (or growing?!) the ingredients, through the peeling, chopping, roasting, sautéing, and plating, clear to the last delicious bite. For culinary inspiration, visit Chef Michel Nischan’s recipe page.
8. Drink Local – Approximately 33% of the 2.4 million tons of PET plastic discarded every year is from water bottles—that means 800,000 tons of plastic water bottles will sit in a landfill for thousands of years before decomposing. Bottled water is no safer than tap water; in fact most bottled water is tap water! Trash the bottle and drink your local tap instead. To uncover more facts, watch the story of bottled water at Food & Water Watch. If you need a water refill, visit to locate a spout, or download their app!
9. Get Involved – Change happens because dedicated people like you support it. Decide on the issues that matter most to you and start or join the campaigns that protect them. Visit non-profits that are fighting for good, clean food like the Environmental Working Group and Slow Food USA to get started.
10. Enjoy! Eating can and should be the simplest joy we all have. Sharing a meal brings people together in a way that little else does. Knowing that the food you eat is grown with care for the environment, farmers, animals, and your own health will only add to your joyful food experience. For tips on creating a loving food environment, check out Laurie David’s new book “The Family Dinner.”
A simple way to help change the way you eat is to support local and nonprofit sustainable groups around the country. Below are affiliated with, and recommended by, our speakers and sponsors.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

Have you ever come across a recipe on social media that looked so good that you had to try it?

I was going through my social media stream today and came across a recipe on FOOD52 for a Vegan Chocolate Cake and I looked at the ingredients and they were all pantry ingredients that I had.  There was no waiting to soften butter, no small appliances,  just some ingredients, 2 bowls, a cake pan, measuring cups and spoons and then into an oven for a half an hour.

I don't make a lot of cakes and generally make more cookies and brownies but this one seemed to call me to make it.

This recipe is by Margaret Fox and can be found on the FOOD52 site for Vegan Chocolate Cake.

I followed the recipe and the only thing I changed was that I added cinnamon to bring out the cocoa and it's also a healthy spice so I had to add something good.

Here's how mine turned out.  It looks pretty close to the Food52 recipe which doesn't always happen.  So this recipe gets a thumbs up from me.

I won't list the recipe.. but urge you to go to the Food52 site and get the recipe and try it for yourself.

What I really liked about this recipe was that you didn't need any butter, eggs or a lot of labour intensive mixing.  The only thing that stood out as unusual was the addition of Cider vinegar.  All of the ingredients should already be in your pantry if you do bake anything.

I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Yes I was hungry but it's nice to have a chocolate cake recipe you can whip up in less than an hour in case you have unexpected guests coming over or in need of a quick Birthday Cake.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Entourage Oscar Party

The Academy Awards have become a bit of a marathon of for those binge TV watchers just a normal viewing time.  You start watching the red carpet arrivals at 6:30pm and the show doesn't end until after midnight usually.  I watched the hours of pre Oscar shows on E before I headed out to the Restaurant Bar Drums and Flats in North York to watch the show with my fellow Film Festival Entourage Team.  We were light on our usual team's attendance so one of team members brought a bunch of his friends who may not be as interested in what is being said on the show as we were.   We take our viewing pretty seriously because we all participate in the Oscar Pool and also because we may or may not have seen or met a lot of the celebrities that are up for awards.  We try and see as many films as we can during the Toronto Film Festival and we try and get together to see as many nominated films as we can during the lead up to the awards.

This year we switched venues because our usual spot wasn't available.  The event manager Lisa at Drums and Flats was very accommodating with our group and I think she really enjoyed the whole Oscar Theme Party in the Bar.  I arrived early to set up some of the decor and props I had and Lisa had already had gold balloons scattered around the bar and the entrance and had hanging decorations strung up from the ceiling.   I added my red carpet at the entrance and another one in front of a photo wall that I set up for a bit of fun.  I took a bunch of photos but I think I missed a few people.   I also brought a film real, fake Oscar, and had some bags of popcorn and gold glitter decorated sugar cookie stars.  You can see them in the previous blog post.   I had set up the bags of popcorn along the very long 20 person deep table that we had and people munched on it after their dinners.  At that time of the Oscars when everyone starts to get bored and the energy level starts to dwindle I brought out the sugar cookie stars and some gold chocolate coins to get everyone's energy back up.

Drums and Flats is a bit of a sports bar that has only been opened for less than a year or so.  They have pizza, wings and various other bar style foods on the menu.

I ordered the Chicken Tenders and had onion rings on the side.  The chicken was very tender and I think it was made from fresh chicken.  It didn't seem to be frozen ones.  I have to admit that I enjoyed it but was still a bit hungry afterward and probably should have ordered something else to go with it.  My friend Lisa ordered this pizza and she could only finish half of it.

And now to the Awards.  I couldn't decide on a few picks so I did some research which all failed me so I only got 15 right this year.  So I didn't win the Oscar Pool.
But Norma from our Entourage Team won the Big 1st Prize which included the Oscar Pool money, we each contribute $5 so she won $85 and also got gift cards donated by Aroma Espresso Bar and I filled up a gift bag with some other swag and more cookies.  Unfortunately she wasn't feeling well and left early so she wasn't there to get the prize at the end of the night so we will have to get that to her this week. 
Brian who arranged the venue and brought a bunch of friends won the 2nd Prize of a $50 gift card for Drums and Flats and a Gift card from Aroma Espresso Bar and I put in some cookies as well.

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of Lucy who won the 3rd prize of a $25 gift card for Drums and Flats and Aroma Espresso Gift Card and cookies.

Bur here's a photo of Lisa our great Drums and Flats Host who helped me make the place look like a Hollywood Oscar Party.

Thank you very much to Drums and Flats and Aroma Espresso Bar for providing our Oscar Pool prizes and to Drums and Flats for providing their great space for our Oscar Party.

Maybe I will win the Pool next year.  It's always a crap shoot, you never know who's going to take all the unexpected wins until the last minute.

More Oscar Fun same time next year.   Now it's back to real life until September when it all starts to rev up again.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oscar Party Food


Sunday February 22nd is the 87th Annual Academy Awards.  I have been going to an Oscar Party at a Restaurant/Bar for the past 10 years with my Toronto Film Festival Entourage Team and I will be bringing a few things to make the party a little more interesting during commercial breaks.  A couple of those things are in this blog post.   But if you love the Academy Awards and prefer to stay at home or have a private Oscar Party with friends and family then these Golden Theme Foods might help set the mood at your big Oscar Bash.

Think GOLD like the Golden Oscar Statues that the winners will be taking home and look for foods that fit into that theme.

You can set up a snacking station with homemade or commercial popcorn and even set up a seasoning bar for guests to customize their popcorn toppings.
Suggested toppings include:

Salt and Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
Truffle Oil
Cinnamon Sugar
Cajun spices
Smoked Paprika
You can also make colored sugar like golden yellow to sprinkle on for a sweet taste
Caramel Corn if you are skilled or you can just pick some up.

There is also a local Popcorn Company in Kensington Market called The Toronto Popcorn Company who make popcorn in all sorts of flavours and colours.

You can also scatter about things like Gold Chocolate Coins or the already dressed up in Gold wrapping classic Ferrero Rocher chocolate.

I tried out Chef Lynn Crawford's new Frozen Shrimp line of foods created by Waterview Market with a bunch of different seasoning flavours I decided to choose their Maple Mustard flavour because it has a golden hue and it's kind of Canadian too.  I added a touch of Turmeric to bump up the color a tiny bit.  You can either serve it on a bed of rice or you can skewer them like I did here.

I also made a Fancy Salmon Spread with both Smoked Salmon and poached salmon.

Poach 2 pieces of fresh salmon fillets in a broth that has Onions, bay leaves, salt, lemon, peppercorns, mustard seeds, tarragon, parsley and celery until the salmon is opaque.

Flake the salmon into a bowl with 1 package of chopped up smoked salmon and 2 diced green onions, about 4 pieces of fresh chives, a tbsp of fresh parsley and zest of a lemon and the juice of half a lemon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and mayonnaise or you can use creme fraiche or yoghurt even.  Chill until ready to assemble.

I added a teaspoon of the salmon mixture onto a Rice cracker and topped it off with Balsamic Pearls that I found at McEwan Foods grocery store.  It's pretty easy and looks very luxurious.  If you have money to splurge you can top with expensive caviar but I bet a lot of people will love the balsamic pearls.

Want to have something a bit more substantial?  Why not eat what the Celebrities eat then.
What do a lot of the Hollywood Stars eat after the Academy Awards if they don't hit the after parties?  Would you believe it's IN-N-OUT Burger.   They love to hit that drive through and inhale an Animal Burger or whatever their favourite is.   Why not make In N Out Inspired Sliders for your party.

I made a Special Sauce with Ketchup, Mayo and Relish.  
I used some mini Ciabatta buns but if you can find mini slider hamburger buns use those.  Brioche buns might be good too.
Cut up some lettuce, I used some butter lettuce that I had.
Slice a great vine ripened tomato and add salt and pepper.
Have some sliced cheddar.
For the hamburger patty use fresh ground Chuck if you can get it or just the best quality ground beef you can get.  Just add salt and pepper to season it before you cook it in a frying pan.

To make it animal style add yellow mustard after you brown each side and let it crust on the burger.

To assemble toast the buns.  I have heard that they toast them on the grill and they get the grease from the grilled meat.  Either way make sure you toast them.  Then spread some special sauce on the bottom of the bun.  Add a slice of tomato and then a piece of lettuce.  Top with a mini burger slider and then add a slice of cheddar cheese.  Add the top of the bun.  Voila... you In N Out inspired sliders.

Another popular Governors Ball food by Chef Wolfgang Puck is his Chicken Pot Pies.  You can make some mini ones yourself and bake them in muffin tins.   I picked up this great Chicken Pot Pie at McEwans grocery store because I didn't have the time to make them myself.  This one was delicious.

And I also made some Golden Sugar Cookies that you could either give out as take home gifts or just have for dessert with some Mocha Ice Cream or something.

I had to search high and low to find some gold sprinkles and found some at Party City.  I also used a buttercream food color paste to glaze the cookie.   I used Butter Baked Goods Sugar Cookie recipe for the cookies. 

So get creative and see what else you can come up with.   I found a small red carpet at Marshalls the other day even that I would have at the entrance to my door to welcome guests.   I have a cheap party runner that I am taking to the bar we are having our party in.   I wanted to take my new little red carpet but think it might get ruined by the street salt and snow around town right now.  

I am also going to set up a Red Carpet for photos that we can pose our hearts out on and take some fun pics.   I did this when we had the party at a friends condo party room in the past and I am glad we did it because I took a photo of my friends husband who has since passed away.  Create memories and take photos so that you have those forever.

And now a few of my Oscar Picks:

Best Picture:  BOYHOOD
Best Actor:   Eddie Redmayne
Best Actress:  Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Arquette
Best Supporting Actor:  J.K. Simmons
Best Director:  Richard Linklater
Best Documentary:  Citizen Four but I lived Finding Vivien Maier.
Best Foreign Film:  Will probably be IDA

I am still trying to figure out the rest of them.. The technical ones are tougher.

Good Luck in your Oscar Pools and hope you have a great time watching the Red Carpet Arrivals and the Academy Awards.

and the Oscar goes to....................

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year Foods


Today is February 19, 2015 and it's Chinese New Year.  It's the time of year where most Asian people celebrate their start of a new year.  

This year is the Year of the Goat
this year is the Wood Goat here's some info from China Highlights

Wood Goats (1955, 2015)

People for whom the Wood element and Goat zodiac sign align for their birth year are amicable, gentle, compassionate, and ready to help others. They get along with their friends and colleagues in life.
They have to do everything themselves because they cannot get help from their family members but, luckily, they have a happy family life owing to their good wife.
Wood Goats often live alone or feel lonely in married life, and their spouse often travels. However, they have a steady marriage bond; what's more, it's very hard for a third person to come between them.

The cool thing about Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is the fact that they celebrate it with certain foods.  All of these foods are symbolic to certain things relating to health, wealth and luck mostly.  I will try and tell you the ones that I know.  

Here's how the food relates to symbols:


The longer the noodle the better.  Never cut your noodles when you are cooking them.  They are meant to be slurped because they symbolize long life.  If you want to live a long life eat long noodles.


Symbolize Luck and Wealth.  Usually they are placed at the entrance to a home or they are served to guests or brought as gifts.  It is better to have one with a stem on it because that symbolizes life as well.


Dumplings are supposed to symbolize Gold Inglots so the dumplings are meant to symbolize Wealth.

Dumplings are pretty easy to make.  You can buy the wrappers from an Asian grocery store like T&T Supermarket.  You just add the fillings and use a bit of water to seal the wrappers tight and then steam, or pan fry or deep fry.
These dumplings were made with ground pork, green onions, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, salt, and a tiny bit of soy sauce.  Served with a black vinegar dipping sauce.


Red envelopes with gold chocolate coins are given out to mostly kids during Chinese New Year and they symbolize Happiness and Wealth.   I like this one.  Who doesn't want to get chocolate.


This is not traditional in Asia but has been adopted in North America and given out at the end of the meal in restaurants.

The other Food that I don't have a photo for is a WHOLE FISH.

This symbolizes abundance.  You would cook and serve the fish whole.  The head is a delicacy in some places.  Generally in a lot of Asian cultures they use almost all of the food in some way or another and do not waste very much food.  Bones, fat, skin etc are used in soup broths and other things.  It's a very eco practice that isn't as popular in the West.

Try some Lunar New Year Foods if you can this week.

Some places you can find New Year Celebration foods in Toronto are:

The ShangriLa who have a special Tea menu.
Markham Village have lots of celebration events and lots of restaurants in Markham to try.
Chinatown downtown.  Lot's of restaurants and other events as well.
LUCKEE Susur Lee's restaurant has a special Dim Sum menu as well as other special items for Chinese New Year.
There is also an Event called YUM CHA that takes place on Sat. Feb. 21st.  with a bunch of local restaurants making dim sum.

Try making some dumplings or search out some of these great places to check out.