Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day - Tips to Waste less food


I have been thinking about FOOD WASTE for a long time now and it seems like today is a great day to do a post about some of the things I have been trying to do over the past year.  I have wasted so much food since I moved because I used to have an extra freezer that I could always put leftovers in it if there was too much.  Now that I have one small freezer and I am cooking just for myself I am finding it a lot more challenging to save money on food and still eat a variety of foods.
I hope that some of these tips will help you waste less food and money and respect the food that people break their backs to grow and sell as fresh as possible.
1.  Some vegetables can be re planted like the ends of these Green Onions.  Just put the white end into water and you will see it sprout again in a few days.   You can just snip off the tops when it grows.  You might want to change the water to keep it fresh.

2.  I just started saving all of the trimmings off of vegetables and putting them in a ziploc bag in the freezer and I will use them to make a vegetable stock that can be used for soup or other recips.

3.  Not long ago I went to a Food Waste event and they let us take home some produce so I took lettuce, tomatoes and potatoes.  With the lettuce and tomatoes I made this BLT. 

4.  I made a potato salad using the event's potatoes but another tip would be to boil a bunch of eggs to have in the fridge to either grab for breakfast or lunch or to make egg salad or to add to your salads and sandwiches during the week.  It wastes less energy to boil a pot than one egg at a time and it's a great source of protein.  I suggest buying organic because it tastes better and also if it's a reputable supplier it's better for the chickens and the environment.

5.  I also got Roma tomatoes and they aren't as good for sandwiches by are amazing for soups and Pasta sauces because they have less seeds.  It's great to use them when they get a bit soft or have blemishes.  You can also do this with peppers.  Keep the ends of the rind of Parmesan Cheese and put it in the soup while it's cooking for added flavour and then just take it out before you serve the soup. That's kind of 2 tips in one.

6.  I also went to a Food Trade show and one booth were giving out all of the breads they had on display so I took home a massive loaf of bread.  I couldn't possibly eat it all, so I made some stuffing with it.  You can make bread pudding, croutons or bread crumbs with stale bread too.  The stuffing also cleaned up some stuff in my fridge like carrots, celery and onions.

7.  Quiche or Fritattas are a great way to use up bits of cheeses and leftover vegetables and you can do it with or without a crust.   I used the one Russet potato and grated it to make the crusts for 4 of these muffin tin bird's nest quiches.  I used a bit of leftover goat cheese, gruyere, parmesan and some leftover fresh dill and some frozen spinach and the caramelized onions I made above that I save the peels from.   I ate one for breakfast and have one in the fridge for tomorrow and the other 2 I put in the freezer for a quick breakfast or lunch or snack even.

8.  One thing I need to do more often is freeze certain fruits when I buy them fresh so they don't spoil before I use them up.   Things like pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries.  They come in containers that I don't end up using it all at once.   I need to get better at this.

9.  Another thing that I should do more of is meal planning.  My plans change at the last minute and sometimes I grocery shop with the intent to make a certain thing but then I run out of energy to actually make it and then when I have the time and energy it's too late.  If you can meal plan and have a well stocked pantry of basic items that you can add to make anything that will be helpful.

10.  Batch cook as much as you can.  I wish I had a spare freezer still because it's great to make a big pot of soup stock and store in single serve containers.   It's also great to make lasagnas and either freeze portions or even half of it to put in the oven when you want a complete meal that is no fuss later.  Chilli is one of the best things to do in a huge batch because it freezes great.  You can also make pulled pork in a Crockpot using a great spice rub and a big piece of Pork Shoulder when it's on sale and let it cook while you are doing other things and when it's done shred it and portion it and store in ziploc bags in the freezer for fast tacos and other dishes.

I am not always the best at doing all the right things for the environment but these things are mostly pretty simple and they will save you money and time and hopefully less trips to the grocery store.

There are so many more ideas and I hope to do more posts in the future with more useful tips.

Let me know if you do any of these or have other things you do.

Reduce Reuse Recycle and Eat Well and Save Money.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Figures packs a POW in Yorkville

Location:  Figures Restaurant (prev. Coco Lezzone)
Address:    137 Avenue Rd
Phone:      416-900-1022
Social:      @figurestoronto

Owner:  Patrick & Nader Marzouk (&Company Resto Bar)
Chef:     Ron Stratton (&Company Resto Bar, Centro, Auberge du Pommier)

When you walk by this Avenue Rd storefront you aren't quite sure what it is with the red velvet stancions in front and the name Figures and a cartoon bubble beside it.  You peek inside and you see a Mickey Mouse sculpture and a wall of old comic books and a display of Comic Book Figures and collectibles but if you know the secret then you know there is a restaurant behind those comic book covered walls and the storefront employees are your restaurant hostesses as well as retail staff for the figures that are for sale.

As you step through the comic book covered doors you enter a whole other world.  There is a large commissioned original Art wall of Comic book figures that is both modern and classic with Mickey Mouse to the current Wonder Woman and Iron Man images.  But shhhhh,  it's all a Secret.  They don't want anyone taking photos of it because they want you to go there to experience it.  The restaurant is midsize with booths on the lower level and tables and the bar steps up from the entrance.  There is also other art on the ceiling like Pacman and a Barbie Time Magazine poster.  This is no Disneyland restaurant though,  it's made for the modern Action movie Marvel type fans who like to eat in upscale restaurants.

They don't publish their menu on their website because they want to be able to change it by the produce they have to work with.  It's not a crazy food menu but you do have to be open to eating a lot of different things to enjoy it because it won't be predictable.

Their Cocktail Menu will probably have more consistent favourites and they are pricey but they are also show stoppers and Instagram worthy.  They were created by a Michelin trained chef and they are named after movies and characters.   My friend ordered 3 cocktails but I chose the Bramble Bee, the more fruit flavoured drink.  All of the drinks are made with house made juices.  I tried the Maleficent drink and it was fantastic. It also looks really cool and arrives with a lime on top that is lit on fire.

Maleficent $19
Rarely on Target $20
Le Diable Blanc $1


Maleficent - J.P Wiser's Double Still Rye, Bruchiaddich Cassic Laddie, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, Cashew Orgeat, Fresh Sage, Activated Charcoal, Angostura Bitters  $19
Bramble Bee - Havana Club, Passion Fruit Juice, Pineapple Juice $14
Rarely on Target - Bacardi Maestro, Dillon's Absinthe, Egg White, Lime Juice, Pineapple Cordial, Almond Oregeat, Coconut Milk  $20
Le Diable Blanc: rye, Remy Martin VSOP, Dubonnet, Benedictine, fino sherry, Creole bitters. $19
Le Diable Blanc: rye, Remy Martin VSOP, Dubonnet, Benedictine, byrrh, fino sherry, Creole bitters. $19

The Menu is split up in into the sections for Earth, Sea and Land.  These are the dishes we sampled.

Beet, Chevre Truffle $14

Fettuccine Pasta with Chanterelle Macadamia sauce $22

Cherrystone Clams, Fava Beans, Kathi Lime $16
Octopus Escabeche Black Garlic $20

Lump Crab, Watercress, Old Bay $26
Lobster claw, salad, Egg Caviar $38

Oxtail Plantain, Red Stripe  $18  (photo too dark to use)

White chocolate brownie, rum soaked banana "spring roll", rum ice cream $14
The stand out dishes were the Lump Crab Cake, perfectly seasoned with the cake and crab salad,  and the braised Oxtail in Red Strip was sweet, savoury and very tender. It was probably the best value for your money.   Their fresh made pasta with chanterelle mushroom and Macadamia nut sauce was really well made and the crunch from the nuts added some great texture.
I really liked the preparation of the lobster claw.  Coated in a panko crust it was perfectly cooked but the portion was pretty small.

Figures is a bit out of the way I think because it's not near any attractions so it's more of a destination restaurant and a place you take a date you want to impress or to celebrate a special occasion.  It's a great place to have fantastic cocktails if you have a lot of cash to spend or you are a lightweight in the drinking game.

The restaurant is really beautiful and the staff provided a lot of assistance in explaining everything.

We didn't select our dishes and I wish we were able to because there are other dishes I would have liked to try.

This would be a great place to go for dinner before seeing the next Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Iron Man etc.  movie.  You get the picture.  It's a super fans dream restaurant.

Be prepared for an adventure.

*Disclaimer:  The meal was complimentary but the opinions and photos are my own.

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