Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sial Canada Show 2015 - new products

The Sial Canada Show started today in Toronto and I went down to the Direct Energy Centre to check it out.

It's a huge show with loads of things to try.  There is a very large section dedicated to cheese from all over the world.  I got as far as England and Scotland before I had to stop eating cheeses.  There were also lot's of people slicing up Serrano ham and other hams.  Lot's of jams, jellies, spreads and some other interesting things.

I really liked the Activate water product that has vitamins in the cap that gets released when you open it.  The Pistachio praline was also an interesting product.  I also talked to the owners of a new "Craft Soda" as they call it with unique flavour blends. I don't have a photo but one that I enjoyed was a lemongrass lime flavour. There was fudge packaged to look like salami that you just slice up and serve.

In the why didn't anyone do this before category was the mini croutons from Belgium in different flavours.  Croutons are always too hard to stab with a fork and take over salads.  This way they can be spread through salads.

This year the show's country of honour is Indonesia with a section dedicated to Indonesian products.

During the show 17 WINNERS OF THE 2015 OLIVE D'OR CONTEST were announced.

There are also the 10 finalists for the Innovation Award that are being showcased at the show and one will be chosen as the winner during the show.

Doi Chaang Coffee Co. - Social Medium: Organic and fair trade coffee in 90% biodegradable pod. 12 individually wrapped pods. Innovations: packaging, manufacturing process, marketing positioning. Country: Thailand & Canada/British Columbia. Booth #2245

Exotico - Sumatra Robusta Green Coffee: Instant green coffee for fitness. Low in calories. Drink hot or cold. Innovations: component – recipe. Country: Indonesia. Booth #418

Fantino & Mondello - Dry Salami: Gluten free salami bites in a resealable bag. For appetizer. Innovations: component – recipe, packaging. Country: Canada/Québec. Booth #1735

Fresh Attitude Fraiche - Teriyaki, Stir Fry: Asian inspired vegetables and noodle mix in microwaveable and resealable bowl. Innovations: component –recipe, packaging. Country: Canada/Québec. Booth #2428

Haskapa - Haskap Juice Drink: Haskap juice in a slim bottle. Made from 187 haskap berries, lightly sweetened. Innovations: component – recipe, packaging. Country: Canada/Nova Scotia. Booth #2307

Malimousse - Seafood Dip: Specialty dip with Greek yogurt and fish or seafood. Innovation: component – recipe. Country: Canada/Québec. Booth #2209

Nupasta - Konjac Angel Hair: Gluten free. Ready in 1 minute. Made with konjac root and non-GMO soy. Innovation: component – recipe Country: China & Canada/Ontario. Booth#1745

Omax - Nutritious and Delicious Bar: Nutrition bar sold in chilled or frozen range. Preservative free. Innovations: component – recipe, marketing positioning Country: Canada/Québec. Booth #2215

Pure - Infused Maple Syrup: Spice-infused maple syrup in a sophisticated bottle with wooden cap. Innovations: component – recipe, packaging. Country: Canada/Nova Scotia. Booth #2307

Walter - All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix: Natural handcrafted Bloody Caesar cocktail mix. No monosodium glutamate, isoglucose, colors or artificial flavors. Innovations: component – recipe, manufacturing process. Country: Canada/British Columbia. Booth #2241

This year they will be donating funds to Second Harvest and Celebrity chef Bob Blumer will be there on thursday for the cheque presentation.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Could you live on $1.75 a day?

Could you live on less than $1.75 a week?  I might not be Gwynneth Paltrow and rich but I already know that I probably wouldn't last longer than a day.  I don't have a job right now and probably should be living on less than $1.75 a day for food but I have been relying on my credit cards and the fact that I am able to sometimes attend food events because of my food blog so I am able to eat food I like most of the time.  But what would happen if I didn't spend years building my credit?  Well I would probably be one of those people that aren't able to eat 3 meals a day or  I would have to go without a lot of meals.

Starting April 28th, 2015 there is a challenge to Live Below the Line from April 28 to May 2nd.  Five days to live on less than $8.75.  I won't be participating in this challenge because I already know that I spend more than $8.75 on just one meal most of the time but I wanted to write this blog post i support of people that are living this way in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. this week and for people all over the world who are food insecure.   The point of this challenge is to raise money for 10 different charities and to raise awareness.  I am doing my part by raising awareness because I know that I am not an effective fundraiser and won't be officially participating in the challenge.

If you would like to participate you can either join the challenge or donate funds to someone that is participating or just donate.  Here is the link if you would like to participate:  https://www.livebelowtheline.com/ca/challenge

There are lots of resources on the website including a Living Below the Line Cookbook.  I had a look through the cookbook and decided to make a modified version of the pancake recipe.  I added lemon zest and dash of vanilla cinnamon maple syrup to the blueberry topping.  I also added cinnamon to the pancakes.  This would probably bump up their estimated cost of $0.58 for a portion.

Adapted Recipe

1 cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
3/4 cup of milk

zest of half a lemon
handful of frozen blueberries
2 tbsp of sugar
juice of half a lemon
dash of vanilla cinnamon maple syrup or equivalent

Mix all of the pancake ingredients into a large measuring cup and mix until combined.  I use a measuring cup so that it's easy to pour into a pan.  Less clean up.

For the syrup add a handful of frozen blueberries and add the juice and zest of half a lemon.  Add the sugar and a splash of maple syrup for flavour.   Cook until the syrup can coat the back of a spoon.

In a frying pan heated on medium heat Add a bit of oil or butter to coat the pan and then pour the pancake mix into the pan.  I made one large pancake and had enough for 2.  When bubbles form flip the pancake and cook on the other side for a minute or so.  Remove to a plate and serve with the blueberry syrup on top.

This is just one meal and I know that breakfast is the easiest meal to eat fairly cheap during the day but what about the rest of the day.   Could you survive? 

I bet that I could survive by making soups and rice and things like these pancakes and find ways to make them taste ok but I know that I would miss protein and more substantial meals.

If you can afford to donate.  If you think the challenge is easy, try it.  
Let me know how it goes....

good luck.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Food Revolution Vegetarian Cooking Challenge

Who:  Dorothy Pang Food Revolution Day Ambassador
What: Vegetarian Cooking Challenge for Food Revolution Day
Where: Nella Cucina on Bathurst Street
When:  Sat. Apr. 24, 2015
Why:  Getting people back in the kitchen to cook real food and raise awareness for Food Education.

Dorothy Pang one of the new Food Revolution Day Ambassadors for Toronto, organized a Vegetarian Culinary Cooking Contest for her first ever Ambassador event.  She organized about 30 young adults into about 5 teams of 4-5 people.   The event was held at Nella Cucina a large Culinary store with a cooking demo space upstairs.

The teams arrived and after registering and getting some information about the event they were treated to some Rawlicious Collard Wraps and Rise Kombucha beverages and coffee from Boxcar Social and cookies from Sweets from the Earth.

After getting their teams organized and having a quick bite for energy they broke into their teams to start formulating their creative plans starting with the basic mandatory bowl of ingredients:  kale, lemon, garlic, beets, and a bottle of Good Food For Good sauce.

They were then allowed to choose ingredients from a pantry of various vegetables, pastas, canned beans and herbs and spices which were generously provided by Sobeys, and a few from Fresh City Farms.

There was a lot of excitement as the teams hustled to get their dishes together.  A lot of high energy buzz in the room.  A lot of people had never met and had to come together as a team to create original dishes from the challenge.

Let's just say they pulled out all the tools that Nella Cucina had in their kitchen.

They had just over an hour or so to complete their dishes before presenting them to the judges who were myself, fellow Ambassador Carol Harrison and Tanya from Nella Cucina and Dorothy's boyfriend as the added judge because he was dying to try everything.

Richa, Dorothy, Carol, Linda
Good Food for Good's creator Richa was on hand to assist the teams in choosing the sauces and providing suggestions and Carol tried to assist in answering questions while I was busy taking these photos.  After they completed their dishes the presented their dishes to the judges one team at a time. They all tried to one up each other and there was a lot of thought to their presentations.
A lot of colorful dishes and unique combinations.


We had a score card for each team and it was almost unanimous that we chose the last team who produced 4 dishes including 2 desserts, one of which was the chocolate covered beets. They also made a beautiful fresh chopped salad and a pasta dish and phyllo wrapped bananas. Their team was called "REVOLICIOUS"  kind of appropriate don't you think.

The winning team won Sobey's gift cards, Aroma Espresso Bar Gift Cards and products from The Detox Market.

Dorothy also raffled off some other prizes including limited edition chopsticks from Chef Susur Lee.

Everyone said they had a great time and they would do it again.  We were all please with the outcome.

We all have to thank Tanya for letting us extend our time and one of the participants Henry who was a champion for sticking around to help us tackling the massive quantity of pots, pans, dishes and utensils.  He helped clean up for about 2 hours.    Maybe next time we should say it has to be a one pot wonder as part of the challenge.

We encouraged everyone to go online and sign the Jamie Oliver petition for Food Education and we took a great group photo at the end of the night.  I am hoping they all spread the word about Food Revolution Day and go to other events in the future.

Great job Dorothy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bareburger- Good for your soul and the planet

Who:        Food Writers
What:       Menu Tasting
Where:     BAREBURGER  - 111 Dundas St. W. Toronto
When:      Earth Day - April 22
Why:        To launch the new International Franchise for New York's Bareburger Restaurant

Twitter/Instagram:  @bareburger  #bareburgerTO

I spent my Earth Day Dinner in the best possible way.  I spent it with some of my favourite Food Writers at a brand new restaurant called Bareburger. The first International franchise extension from their New York location.  It just opened in the last couple of months in a really great location on Dundas just west of Bay Street.  It will cater to the Ryerson students, the City Hall, Hospital and other government offices and since it's not far from the Eaton Centre it's also convenient for tourists looking for healthy burgers and sides. We were introduced to owners Ragu and Euripedes (EP) and Chef Andrew who were all very excited to share their food with us.

It was fitting that we had our dinner on Earth Day because they have set their food standards very high.  They are kind of like the Chipotle of Burgers where their priority is to serve the best quality local food.  All of their meats are Free-Range, Pasture Raised, Humanely Raised, Antiobiotic, Gluten & Hormone FREE.  Their fried items are cooked in NON GMO  Canola oil. Their food is not only better for the planet it's better for your health and the health of the community where the restaurant lives.

Ok I know you want to know how the food tastes.  I am happy to say the menu isn't just regular burgers and fries.  Their young Executive Chef Andrew has created a great menu with the classic burger and fries fare and then added stepped up additions to the menu.

Their menu has a lot of choice so as Chef Andrew stated he never gets bored of eating food on the menu.  For their burgers there are 3 different kinds of buns, select a patty from choices of beef, bison, elk, wild boar, duck, turkey sweet potato & wild rice, black bean & quinoa.  Nine different kinds of cheeses, 4 different kinds of bacon, 11 different kinds of sauces, 5 different spreads and 13 different vegetables.

We sampled 3 different kinds of burgers:

  1. The Standard had beef, colby, stout onions, dill pickles, special sauce on a brioche bun.
  2. The Blue Elk was Elk, Amish Blue cheese, back bacon, stout onions, pineapple relish on a sprout bun.
  3. The El Matador was Bison, cheese curds, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, green leaf, pico de gallo on a brioche bun.
They were all amazing,  I think my preference was the El Matador because I loved the toppings.

The Sides:

Onion Rings were the first thing we tried and were served with about 8 different sauces and sweet potato fries.  We all shared plates so I only got one onion ring and one sweet potato fry but wow were they delicious.  Incredible crunch on the onion rings and the dipping sauces were all influenced by big bbq locations in the U.S. where the chef and the owners had lived or spent time.  A really great blend of flavours and they use agave instead of sugar to sweeten some of them.

We also had Poutine with smoked brisket and Montreal cheese curds.

We tried a couple different salads:
  1. Guapo Chop - little gems romaine lettuce, cheese curds, pickled jalapenos, red onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla chips and avocado basil dressing. Ours was served with the most amazing buttermilk battered fried chicken breast pieces.
  2. Cali Fresh - Baby spinach, cauliflower hummus, red quinoa, grape tomatoes, watermelon radish, red onions, sprouts, lemon tahini dressing.
We also tried a Vegan addition of their Farmstead Collard Slider with sweet potato and wild rice patty, cauliflower hummus, tomato and baby kale wrapped in Collard Greens.  Probably not something I am likely to order because there were other things I preferred more but a great choice for restricted diets.

And finally after we were all completely stuffed out came some amazing Ice Cream cookies and a Black & white milkshake.  The ice cream cookies served were 3 different flavours, an apple pie ice cream and oatmeal raisin cookie, a peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate cookie and my personal favourite a roasted marshmallow ice cream in a snickerdoodle cookie.  They use Greg's Ice Cream and the Marshmallow flavour is my favourite flavour of all of their flavours.   The black and white milkshake was vanilla and chocolate ice cream with coffee beans and chocolate syrup on top.

It was a delicious meal and the owners are all passionate people with a lot of integrity. They love Canada and were told about opening here by one of their suppliers.  What I thought was really interesting was the fact that they had a lot of their vendors at the media night.  There is an obvious genuine connection and mutual respect between them which is always a sign of a successful operation.  There was so much attention to detail from the marketing materials to the design of the space to the combinations of ingredients. All carefully thought out.

As a Food Revolution Day Ambassador I can honestly say that I whole heartedly recommend going to this place.  
It's a lovely space, the people are very accommodating and the food is just amazing and it's all a win win situation for everyone.  I hope they like Canada so much that they open another location in North York so I can become a regular or maybe I need to get another job in the area.  I worked in that area a few years ago and wish they were open then because I know I would have been there a couple of times a week for sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A letter from Jamie Oliver

A Letter from Jamie Oliver

Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/jamieoliver

As you may know, recently I launched a global petition to fight for compulsory, practical food education for all children in schools across the world.  Within a month, we had well over 700,000 signatures but now I really need your help to get more.  

I profoundly believe that it is every child’s human right to have access to food education from a young age. It’s only with this knowledge and understanding of food, where it comes from, how it affects their bodies, and how to grow, cook and enjoy it, that we will be able to fix the terrible state of global health as it stands today.

To give you just one stat, according to the World Health Organisation, 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese around the world in 2013.  Under the age of five.  Something is seriously wrong with our relationship with food and we need to act now before our health services around the world become overwhelmed by the effects of preventable
diet-related disease.

I really need as many people as possible in every country to sign this petition and share it with their friends all over the world. With enough support, we can create a movement that’s powerful enough to force governments everywhere - including yours - to take action in the fight against diet-related diseases, and I really believe this is possible.

We’re lucky today that we can harness the power of technology like this to make our voices heard easily, instantly and ultimately, with impact. In 2014, my annual day of action, Food Revolution Day, created more than 1.4 billion impressions on Twitter in under 24 hours, all centred around the importance of food education, so I know you guys care.
Quite simply, I believe that signing this petition is the first step in changing the world. That’s a bold statement I know, but I’m confident that by harnessing our unified, global voice, we have the power to shape the future.

Let’s look at what I’m dreaming of here – it’s really not rocket science. I simply want every child to plant seeds, to witness food growing, to tend to it, nurture it, harvest it, have fun cooking it, and most importantly, to enjoy eating it and sharing it with the people they love. This is absolutely the heart of the solution – food education is a complete necessity in reversing the poor health of future generations.

Think about it, any school subject can be taught through food – weighing ingredients in maths, planting and growing in biology, provenance in geography. I’m talking about an understanding of food that should instinctively and naturally be part of every day life, so it carries across the core subjects and can be easily embraced to widen that level of knowledge. 

Already, there have been hugely positive steps in the right direction – last September, the government in the UK implemented the School Food Plan making food education compulsory in schools across England. And we’re not alone – Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden are all applying similar strategies. But there are so many more countries where we must drive change.. 

Here’s why this petition will work – people power. You really can’t underestimate it. Over the years, I’ve worked with many leaders and politicians, and the one thing they’ve all consistently voiced is that if we demand change, they’ll action it, and that’s exactly what we did 10 years ago in the UK for my School Dinners petition. The campaign felt fruitless at the start but we put school food firmly under the spotlight, we were successful in getting new money put into schools and there’s been radical transformation across the whole system, with many schools going above and beyond what I ever thought possible. That’s people power for you, pure and simple.

I’m privileged in my position that I can reach a wide audience easily, and that’s why 30 seconds of your time to sign this petition will allow me to spread this fight even further, to get food education onto the upcoming G20 agenda and, from there, to all corners of the world. Good health, happiness and well-being should be our priority as individuals, no matter where you live and what stage of life you’re at.

Over the past 15 years I’ve consistently, and often successfully, campaigned for better public health, so please trust me when I say that with your help, we can make a profound difference. Please sign and share the petition with everyone you know today, and together let’s change the world. We need to arm our children with the life skills they so urgently need to lead healthier, happier, more productive lives.  I’m optimistic for our children’s future.


Jamie Oliver – April 2015

Earth Day - A Smarter way to grow plants.

Smart Pots that let you grow food from your phone

I was recently introduced to a very interesting project underway in India called Greenopia. A young team of farming experts, designers and technologists have come together to make growing food at home and gardening easier for the urban population around the world.  
It's great for people that don't have green thumbs like me and busy people that travel or spend a lot of time away from home but want to be able to grow herbs or other kinds of plants but just don't have the time to keep up with taking care of their plants.
Greenopia, is a sleek smart pot that allows us to grow food at home and care for it even when we’re not around. The internet enabled pot can track soil pH level along with need for water and sunlight.
What's interesting about this app lets us water plants with just a click of a button. The Greenopia community also gives us the option to share and learn experiences from users located world over.

Mani, Co Founder of Greenopia shared his idea behind the project, also believes that food ties everyone together. "We noticed that getting fresh food and ingredients was becoming incredibly difficult. Simultaneously, urban professionals were unable to take good care of their plants – that’s when we thought of creating a technological solution that resolves both problems.”
Greenopia smart pots are made to be virtual gardening assistants that can give you advice and actionable guidance that help keep your plants healthy. 
Greenopia recently won the Indo-Russian MTS Innovatsii Award for 2014. 
They are currently crowdfunding for this unique project on WishberryWith a contribution of an amount as low as $80, you can own a Greenopia smart pot. 
The deadline is 30th of April, so if you need some gardening help from this smart pot to change the way you garden and grow food at home, help them out here: 
If you’ve got 10 minutes, have a look at their informative video.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Food Revolution Day Plans

This past weekend some of the Food Revolution Day Ambassadors in Toronto got together for Brunch to chat about all of our individual Food Revolution Day plans.

Food Revolution Day -  15 MAY 2015 

We have lot's of events leading up to the day and afterward.

This year we have a lot of different things on the go.

1.  The first one coming up is Dorothy Pang's Vegetarian Culinary Competition at Nella Cucina  on Bathurst Street in Toronto on Sat. April 25th.  I will be one of the judges along with fellow ambassador Carol Harrison.  

2.  Susan Ng will be getting my Grade 13 school Northview Heights involved on May 15th with some cooking classes.

3.  Mardi Michels and Mary Catherine Anderson will be hosting a parent and child hands on class at Royal St. George College on Food Revolution Day.

4.  Chef Mary Hulbert will do a cooking class for an after school program at St. Alban's Boys and Girls Club on Food Revolution Day.

5. Christine Barisheff will have events at Jean Augustine Centre for Youth Empowerment and also and adult event at Cirillos Culinary Academy.

6.  Jen Farr will be hosting a Food Revolution Day party at her home on May 16th.

7.  Carol Harrison is going to be doing a cooking demo with her kids on Rogers television and has plans to do some in school cooking classes.

8.  I will be doing my Wonky Veg cooking demo at Hendrix equipment on May 16th.

We all volunteer our time and couldn't do these events without the assistance of great partner sponsors.
Thank you to our Host venues:
We also rely on assistance for our food, supplies and prizes to make these events successful.

My sponsors include:

Sobeys for food donations and prizes
Fresh City Farms with generous support of fresh vegetables for the photo above, cooking demo and gift certificates for a prize draw. 
Good Food For Good for fabulous products for recipe demo and prize draw
Aroma Espresso Bar for having a special Food Revolution Day Special on May 15th which includes a Chopped Salad, Mediterranean Sandwich and a free Mint Tea.  They are also providing gift cards.

Other sponsors contributing to other Ambassador Events include:

An easy way for you to participate without leaving your chair is to Sign Jamie Oliver's Petition for Food Education here:  www.change.org/jamieoliver  Sign it!. and Share it!

For more information about Food Revolution Day on how you can join us check the website at:

Follow the global hashtag feed #foodrevolutionday
and the Toronto team at #foodrevTO

Follow me @lindamatarasso on Twitter and Instagram
or Join the Toronto Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/FoodRevolutionDayToronto

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Food & Drink Market this weekend.

What:  Toronto Food and Drink Market
When:  Visited Apr. 10th
Where:  Direct Energy Centre
Cost:  $15 at the door
Website: Toronto Food and Drink Market.

I stopped by the Food and Drink Market on the 1st day of the show Friday afternoon.  It's taking place at the Direct Energy Building at Exhibition Place.  I think I must have spent as much time getting there and back as I did at the show.   Was it worth it?  For me probably not because I have seen many of the vendors before at other shows.  It's a small show in comparison to the Green Living Show or the Delicious Food Show but it's easy to work your way around the show if you don't want to walk around for hours.  There is a food truck alley in the middle with a few new trucks.  I tried the Butter chicken Mac and Cheese from NaanSense one of the new trucks.  I was underwhelmed by the Mac and cheese which wasn't very hot but I really liked the spinach and mango salad that came with it.
A couple of things that I tasted that I liked were the Gluten Free Fish Tacos at the Toppits booth.
I also liked the Red Pepper jelly at a lady named Phyllis' booth.   Then there were the fun T tea guys with some nice Chai tea.  I wanted to buy their tea bottles but already spent too much money.

I did have a long conversation with the owner of Unstick an interesting new product that you use to cook with.  It's kind of a substitute for parchment paper or tin foil.  It comes in different kinds for baking trays and grilling and frying pans.  In a few different compositions.  I picked up a couple to try.  I got the one for the bottom of the oven.  You can re use them and all you need to do is wash them.  Easier than cleaning an oven.  The warranty on it is 5 years.

I started my day with some chocolate Cannoli's from Holy Cannoli.  Had 2 for $2 so that was kind of my breakfast I guess.

There were a few beer and wine vendors and lot's of tea but since I don't drink beer and wine I can't say much about them.

I took the TTC to the show this time because parking down there is a bit of a mess but it took me an hour and a half to get there and an hour and a half to get back.   Friday madness.. the TTC was packed and when I took the Dufferin bus back to Dufferin Station there was a bit of a walker war on the bus with 2 guys with walkers trying to park them at the front of one of the new buses.   Who designs these buses?  They are just dumb... They might lower for a senior to get in but then they can't fit their walkers in the bus.   That's a whole other story..  So that went on for about 10 minutes while other people were trying to get by and move them around.  All I know is it really is harder to get around to these food events these days that sometimes I don't know if it's worth the effort for some of them.

Saturday has a ticketed event with Chef Susur Lee and Sunday has a free limited space demo with Lisa Marie restaurant owner and Fidel Gastros food truck owner Matt Basile.

I would say it's worth going to see Susur or Matt if you can but the cost adds up pretty quick if you pay to get in, parking, pay for samples and then the cost of Susur Lee's Masterclass is $50.   I was lucky last summer to get a free class with Susur at one of his restaurants so he is well worth seeing but be prepared to dish out a bit of cash.

Oh and you get some samples of Triscuits, Cover Leaf toppits and some chips on the way out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Food Revolution Day TO Event

Here's the newly designed flyer by Hendrix Toronto for my Food Revolution Day Event that I am hosting there.  Hope you can drop by and check out some great Wonky Veg food.

Please share this flyer with all your foodie friends and culinary challenged ones too.

Register on EVENTBRITE for a chance to Win Prizes at the Event,  here's the link:

Friday, April 3, 2015

My version of Passover

Happy Passover to everyone observing Passover traditions with Seders over the next couple of nights.

Last year I celebrated Passover by inviting 3 of my friends over for dinner.  Not my original idea, but one of my friends wanted to do something for Passover.  At the end of it all I spent about 3 days preparing everything,  the food was delicious but my bar cart was a casualty at the end of the night and I spent the next couple of days cleaning up.  In total I spent about $200 on food for 4 people.

Well this year I just don't have that kind of money to spend on one meal, although my friend kept trying to justify it by saying I would have all the leftovers.  He was also supposed to chip in to cover a bit of the cost but that never happened.

So this year it's me alone but I will do my own version of Passover.   Although I have cousins who have their own busy lives I don't have my own family to spend Passover with but I am ok with this and if you knew my family you would understand why.

So this year I am going to do a combination of things I make and things I buy.  I know lots of people just cater their whole Passover dinners these days but there are some things that I just like to make myself that are better but some things are just not as cost effective to buy for 1 person.

For example,  I went to a Thornhill deli and picked up a small container of chopped liver.  Although mine is much better I always make too much and I can never finish it.  I also bought some sweet Gefilte Fish.  I never make this,  my mother would make it once every couple of years, it was never a regular thing and it wasn't something I was ever interested in making.  It's a bit of a long process and you have to search out special white fish.   For one person this is just a whole lot of time for a couple of pieces of Gefilte fish.  I also picked up 1 potato latke to try and realized that I like my latkes a whole lot better so I made a batch of them from scratch this morning.  You can see the difference in the photo of the 4 dishes all of those things were purchased at the Deli or other stores.  The latke photo on the top of the page are my own.  The one that I purchased was dense and greasy and it wasn't that flavourful either.  I add parsley flakes to mine and pepper and grated onion.  This time I also tried a trick I picked up from the Foodshare cookbook where they separate the eggs and whip the egg whites and then add them to the whole mixture.  This makes them a lot lighter than the usual latkes.   Most of the time I just make a Rostii style potato pancake that's crispy with no onions or eggs.  Just potatoes.

The other things I always make myself is Chicken Soup because it's really easy, it just takes a bit of time but I can control the amount of salt and flavour and I know there are no additives to it.  I use a package of Matzo balls though when I want matzo balls because it's just easier and it always turns out that way.  We always had a debate in our family,  my cousins preferred hard matzo balls while I like them light and fluffy.

I also make the Charoset which is a mixture of fruits and nuts.  I like to add Brandy and figs to the dates with walnuts and apples and cinnamon.  It's kind of like a chunky sweet spread that makes plain matzo's taste a whole lot better.  It's actually a great thing to have any time of day because of the ingredients, well you can skip the Brandy but it does infuse the flavour of it.  It would be a great thing to have with cheese even after Passover.  If you skip the apples and use only dried fruits you can keep it a lot longer.

I never buy Macaroons but I bought some to try and I think I prefer the ones I made myself last year.  I just didn't bother to make them this year.  A case of too much time and not worth making a batch just for myself.

One thing that occurred to me was that most of the foods seem to be either beige or brown.  I am not sure why that is exactly but I do know that my mother the color loving person that she was always made a special dish of roasted peppers with tomatoes that my cousins loved.  Yes it's not traditional but it tasted good on matzo's.

I am skipping the all day brisket making and will just make a piece of roasted chicken breast which is a whole lot healthier and more traditional for my immediate family.  My aunt would make a really dry brisket but my mother would make a roast chicken instead.  I don't think she knew how to make Brisket.  Probably better that she made chicken well instead of dried out brisket I suppose.

Well I am skipping any family drama and all the boring prayer books and other things that go along with the Passover traditions and I am just going to stick to eating some of my favourite Passover foods and honouring some of the things I learned from my mother and my aunts Passover dinners.

Enjoy your Passover dinners may they be tasty and stress free.