Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Fun Ideas

Halloween is that time of year when the weather gets a bit crazy and the thoughts of all kinds of candy treats start rushing through our heads whether you are a kid or an adult.

But the pressure is on to come up with a clever costume and decorate a pumpkin well and make sure you have the best treats.

Well here are a few ideas I gathered at my office Halloween Pumpkin Carving Challenge.

1st.  Let's talk Pumpkins.

Sadly the pumpkin that was my idea but impressed my boss and her boss but didn't win because shall we say it got Trumped!..

Here is my team's pumpkin.   The SCARY FIERI

Oh well it was all to raise money for the United Way so we are all winners as they say except for Trump maybe.

2nd.  Now let's get to the FOOD

We had a potluck and I must say we have some diverse tastes in our mix.
There were beets,  some kind of chicken or bird feet, samosas, quail eggs, and falafels and more.

I knew I wouldn't have time to cook so I did some assembling.  This is a great way to make something quick or in advance.

The easy and healthy way is to take Mandarin oranges and peel them and I just stuck a pretzel in the middle for the stem.  That's it.  You will see this all over pintrest using various things.

I also took pudding cups and dumped them in individual clear cups, you can use mason jars or put in in one casserole dish but I thought it would be easier for people to just grab one and go.  Then I topped it with crushed chocolate wafer cookies and tucked a sour pumpkin gummy and gummy worms on top.  That's it.  Pretty simple and also all over the internet.  These aren't original but they are great when you don't have much time.

My clever co-workers took the same Mandarin oranges and drew faces,  I thought about doing this but went for the stripped version.   Then they found little accessories to put on them.
How cute are these?

Part of my prop for my Scary Fieri was a bowl of Popcorn, skittles and caramel eyeballs.  I wanted the eyeballs to float on top of the bowl.  They were all gone by the end of the day so I guess it worked.

I thought these chocolate chip cookies were pretty fun too, made by another co-worker.  I must say we are a creative group.

As for a Costume... we didn't wear costumes because we were busy pumpkin carving but tomorrow is costume day...   I don't know if I will wear mine at work but will put it on after work to make my favourite 2 year old smile...  Hint... it's food related... I may update this to add a photo later.. will see...

I hope some of these ideas are helpful and give you some ideas to work with.  There are so many creative and fun ideas out there,  you just need to see what you can do.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Syria A Living History at the Aga Khan Musuem

World Premiere of Syria: A Living History
October 15, 2016–February 26, 2017

I have wanted to visit the Aga Khan Museum for a long time. It's been open for 2 years now and it's an incredible structure with nothing like it in North America.  In a area of Toronto with mostly office and industry this Museum really stand out.  I was lucky to be able to visit the Museum this week for a tour of the Syria: A Living History Exhibit and also a look through the beautiful gift shop and a dinner at Chef Mark McEwen's curated restaurant Diwan where we dined on a flavourful array of Syrian dishes.   

Some of the dishes sampled were:

Lamb meatballs braised with sour cherry sauce, Fattoush salad, RedLentil soup, Pickled turnips and labneh, "Tarator" salmon crusted in walnuts and topped with pomegranate seeds, Lahana salad with cabbage and beets and a vegetarian filled phyllo pastry.

The exhibition brings together over 5,000 years of art highlighting the contributions that the diverse cultures within Syria — Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Ottoman, and Arab — have made to world heritage. A collaboration of museums and private collections in Europe, North America, and the Middle East with 48 artifacts displayed.

 Exhibition highlights include:

·       *   An eye idol from Tell Brak, Syria, carved around 3,200 BCE;
·       *   A stele with a depiction of a prayer from Tell Halaf, Syria, (10th–9th centuries BCE), still bearing the   marks of a Second World War bombing raid in Berlin, Germany;
·       *  Contemporary works by Elias Zayat (b. 1935) and Fateh Moudarres (1922–99) that merge personal   experiences with reflections on modern-day Syria.

Lion’s Head
Historic Syria, 9th8th centuries BCE
Ivory, carved
With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM.

Additional programming highlights include:

·       An illuminating symposium on Syria’s art and architecture (October 29, October 30)
     Co-organized with Professor Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, MIT
·       Lectures with leading scholars (November 10, November 13) Featuring Dr. Ross Burns, historian and author of Monuments of Syria and Damascus – A History, and Jens Hanssen, Professor of Arab Civilization, University of Toronto
·       Showcase performances with Syrian artists (October 29, November 26, November 27, December 11)
With artists such as vocalist Lubana Al Quntar (Syria’s first opera singer), composer Kinan Azmeh, and visual artist Kevork Mourad

Lion’s Head

Historic Syria, 9th8th centuries BCE
Ivory, carved
With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM.


       Backgammon/Chess Box
    Syria, 19th century

Wood, wood veneers, bone, and mother-of-pearl; inlaid
With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM.

The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, has been established and developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The Museum’s mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage while often reflecting, through both its permanent and temporary exhibitions, how cultures connect with one another. Designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, the Museum shares a 6.8-hectare site with the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, which was designed by architect Charles Correa. The surrounding park was designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic.

Monday: Closed
(except holiday Mondays)
Tuesday: 10 am–6 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–8 pm
Thursday–Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

General Admission*
Friends: Free
Adults: $20
Seniors (65+): $15
Students:* $12
Children & Youth (6–13): $10
Family Package:* $50

The Aga Khan Museum is located at
77 Wynford Drive, close to Don Mills
Road and Eglinton Avenue East in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Please visit for directions,
parking information, and TTC routes.
General Information:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Planet in Focus - Theatre of Life

My two favourite things in life are Film and Food.  I got to enjoy both of them together at the Opening Night Gala at the Planet in Focus Film Festival.  The Opening Night film at the Bloor Cinema was Theatre of Life, a film about food waste and the people that are less fortunate and effects and solutions made by the Vatican, Chefs, Designers and Artists.  The film was introduced by local Chef Jamie Kennedy and there was a Q&A afterward with local Chef Activist Joshna Maharaj and Director Peter Svatel.

Michelin star Italian Chef chef Massimo Bottura had an idea for a Soup Kitchen and mentioned it to a colleague and then it turned into a whole other thing that brought the World's Top Chefs from around the world to a Gourmet Soup Kitchen in Italy during their Milano Expo 2015.
Peter Svatel
Director Peter Svatel captures the contrast when Celebrity Chefs who's restaurants  can command hundreds of dollars for their meals decide to feed people who are at the other end of the economic spectrum.

Chef Bottura's idea was to repurpose leftover food from the Milan Expo that was donated to the Refettorio Ambrosiano Soup Kitchen. and an army of amazing volunteers and Top Chefs would create gourmet dinners for 100 less fortunate people.

Celebrity chefs such as Rene Redzepi, Ferran Adria, Mario Battali, Alain Ducasse and many others travelled to Milan and took over the kitchen to develop their own spin on the "surplus" food that was rescued each day, mostly things like stale bread and lots of bananas, it would change each day so the chefs needed to be creative with the ingredients.

The film profiles some of the displaced people that the Refettorio feeds as well as the people involved in making it happen.  There is an Italian homeless couple that prefers to sleep in a train station than stay in a shelter.  Another man looks for places to stay but sometimes sleeps in his car that he can no longer afford to pay insurance for.  There are refugees and people with disabilities and those who have just fallen on hard times.  A free meal won't change someone's life, but will provide a chance to meet new people and to have a great meal, a little joy, and a piece of cake.

This small idea from Bottura turned into a movement to use Food Waste to feed people who could not afford to buy food.  Bottura and his wife created a foundation to be able to do more around the world.

Food waste in some places, from farm to table, can sometimes average about 50%.  Half the world is living in poverty, and it makes sense to use some of this waste food to feed hungry people.  It won't fix their life but it will certainly help their quality of life.

They take the Soup Kitchen template to RIO to do it all over again.

I also attend the Opening night party at the 918 Cultural Centre on Bathurst- lovely space. Photos by the films photographer were on sale to raise funds for the foundation.

In keeping with the film's theme, the Opening Night Gala Party featured appetizers made by The Stop Community Food Centre using surplus food donated from the Master Chef TV production.

The film and the gala were really connected to the whole concept of Food Waste, using resources properly to sustain the environment in the world.   Well done Planet in Focus.

You can find out more about Bottura's foundation "Food for Soul":

"Cooking is a Call to Act" - Massimo Bottura

I think that this is the model that should be developed for every large event that generates surplus food.  In Toronto we have Second Harvest that works with local restaurants and others to rescue food and I think it would be great to get amazing chefs involved to elevate the surplus food to feed those in need.  It' would be a win-win situation to ensure long-term sustainability of our food sources.

PLANET IN FOCUS Festival runs from October 18-23, 2016.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Eat to the Beat 2016 - 60 Female Chefs - 1 Great Event

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 | 7 pm – 10 pm | Roy Thomson Hall

The countdown is on to one of the hottest food events in Toronto! Join us for the 21st annual Eat to the Beat presented by KitchenAida fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) that features 60 female chefs supporting people living with breast cancer.

Emily Richards - photo provided by Eat to the Beat
Eat to the Beat guests have the opportunity to enjoy specially prepared savoury and sweet dishes at 60 stations, along with wine, beer and a selection of non alcoholic beverages set up around Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby.

In addition to food and drink, colourful and whimsical one-of-a-kind corsets, inspired by food and created and modelled by breast cancer survivors, have become an integral part of Eat to the Beat.

photo provided by Eat to the Beat
Started 21 years ago by sisters Lisa and Abby Slater, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.9 million since its inception. Funds raised at Eat to the Beat will support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – dedicated to funding relevant and innovative research, supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community, and providing credible, unbiased information to help empower those affected by breast cancer or at increased genetic risk of developing the disease.

The 60 Participating chefs and select menu items that will be featured at this year’s Eat to the Beat include:

·         Sandra AbballeSucculent Chocolates and Sweets
·         Vanessa Baudanza and Isabelle Loiacono, The Rolling Pin
·         Wanda BeaverWanda's Pie in the Sky - Grand Marnier Nanaimo bars
·         Renee BellefeuilleArt Gallery of Ontario - cured whitefish, rye toast, tarragon crème fraiche and        pickled caperberry goat cheese and artichoke puff
·         Cathy Beneway, Creative Catering by Cathy
·         Emma BeqajEmma's Eatery Catering - lobster grilled cheese
·         Arvinda Chauhan and Preena ChauhanArvinda’s - spicy curry leaf infused chick pea dip with            tomato purée served on cucumber and zucchini rounds and garnished with noodles and curry leaf
·         Tiiu Christie and Tysa ChristieMarigolds and Onions
·         Felicia Derose Colette Grand Café
·         Donna Dooher and Michael Leary, Mildred's Temple Kitchen
·         Kyla Eaglesham, Madeleines
·         Rossy EarleSupiCucu
·         Michelle Edgar, The Sweet Escape Patisserie
·         Alison FerlandByblos
·         Mali FernandezXola Mexican Food
·         Alexandra FeswickThe Drake Hotel - Adobo pulled pork steam buns with daikon pickle
·         Trish Gill, The Emmet Ray
·         Bonnie GordonBonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts - Macaron in a variety of flavours,          homemade chocolates, and langues de chat
·         Tamara GreenThe Living Kitchen
·         Kimberly Humby, East & Main Bistro
·         Anna Janes, Cocomira Confections
·         Vanessa Le PageCake Lady - Edible Art - The Shortbread 
·         Tara LeeBar Hop - mini pork and ricotta meatballs with a tomato cream sauce
·         Jacqueline LoRuelo Patisserie
·         Erin MarcusAce Bakery
·         Lynn MendelsonLynn Mendelson Catering - million $ bars
·         Joan MonfarediPark Hyatt Hotel - tuna tartar wonton tacos with pea shoots
·         Jennifer Mooers and Chris Brown, Citizen Catering
·         Lauren Mozer, Elle Cuisine
·         Catherine O’Donnell, Willow Cakes and Pastries
·         Christine Ostiguy, Yorkshire Pudding Catering
·         Angela Panigas, The Sultan's Tent & Café Moroc
·         Chef Véronique PerezCrêpes à GoGo Spadina and Limonana
·         Jennifer Perusini, BerBer Social
·         Andrea Poirier, Inn on the Twenty
·         Karen RachlinBite Catering
·         Regular NuitPai Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai Kitchen and Bar and Sukhothai Restaurant -     "Mee kra ti" – stir fried rice vermicelli with coconut milk and tofu
·         Caroline Reid, Scaramouche - house-cured duck pastrami with celery root salad, hazelnut purée 
·         Emily RichardsProfessional Home Economist - balsamic roasted pear wedges wrapped in                prosciutto with gorgonzola dip
·         Dufflet RosenbergDufflet Pastries - cookie bar
·         Barbara Rotberg, Lollicakes 
·         Gauravi Shah, Tilde - chorizo meatballs with lime aioli and grilled pineapple salsa, bean vegballs          with roasted tomato salsa and cilantro gremolata
·         Trista SheenBar Begonia
·         Alida SolomonTutti Matti
·         Lili SullivanWaupoos Winery - cider braised lamb in a filo cup with spiked apple
·         Meghan Van HornePublic Schoolhouse @ Jackson’s Falls - polenta crisp with smoked trout,              chèvre, wild spinach and walnut pesto
·         Karen Viva-Haynes, Viva Tastings
·         Elaine Wong, The Omni King Edward Hotel
·         Winlai Wong, The Badminton and Racquet Club of Toronto
·         Jeanne Da Silva, George Brown College Chef School - edamame falafels with a cultured                      vegetable slaw on whole wheat tortilla cups and vegetarian BLT with coconut bacon, roasted                tomatoes and a spicy avocado purée on whole grain baguette
·         Vanessa YeungAphrodite Cooks
·         Eden HertzogNew Moon Kitchen
·         Leyla Kizilirmak, Art Square Gallery and Café - organic and fair trade dark chocolate boobs
·         Carmen Jeffrey, President’s Choice Cooking School

Eat to the Beat at a Glance:
DATE:              Tuesday, November 1, 2016
TIME:                7 pm – 10 pm
VENUE:            Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto (St. Andrew subway station) 
COST:  General Admission Ticket: $189 (a tax receipt will be issued for the maximum allowable amount) Tickets include dishes at 60 stations along with wine, beer and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages.
DRESS:            Smart Casual
CONTACT: or call 1 (800) 387-9816
TWITTER:         @EattotheBeat_TO
HASHTAG:        #EattotheBeat

About the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is a national community-driven charity. As the largest charitable funder of breast cancer research in Canada, CBCF’s vision is to create a future without breast cancer. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has invested over $360 million in breast cancer research, funding more than 1,400 scientific and community grants.CBCF’s investments in vital research, education, health promotion, support and information programs have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. For more information, visit