Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trailer: Taste the Waste of Water



I have been dealing with spoiled food waste over the past few months but this video puts it all in perspective for the world.

I think as a single person it is starting to make more sense to eat out then it is to buy food and try and use it all up before it goes bad... that limits the variety of foods you can consume because you would have to buy foods that can be used in a few days.  Add organic foods to the mix and your shelf time is even less.

what is good for the planet may not be as good for the single person's diet.  

I don't know how you get a full variety of foods as a single person unless you are a master of cooking and planning or you have an extra freezer.    I am still trying to figure it out living in an apartment.

Chocolate Making at the Mad Bean

Making chocolate


Do you have any friends that have everything they need and you don't know what to get for them?

Well I have one of those friends and we have sort of made a pact not to buy each other stuff.  He has a house full of stuff and I just unloaded a house full of stuff.   We both share a love of all things food and he has taken the year long culinary program at George Brown College.  So we now try and find food related things to do for our birthdays.   For my last birthday in May he got me a gift certificate to go to a chocolate making class.  He was out of town and then I had to cancel one because I was out of town so we finally got a chance to go to the class last night.  We both had a very stressful day so it was a nice diversion.  Although it was about 100 degrees in there it was still fun.

The chocolate making class that we attended was held at the Mad Bean Coffee house on Eglinton Ave. West in Toronto.  And it was presented by Chocolate Tales.

I didn't learn too many new things that I haven't learned from watching people like Jaques Torres the New York City chocolate master on tv.  I have also taken cake decorating courses and used to many years ago attempt to make chocolates to give as gifts.  I have also made chocolate truffles over the years.  But I think some of it was new for my friend and it was just a fun thing to do together.  
It was really more of a chocolate decorating, rolling and finishing class.   The instructor had already prepped melted chocolate, ganache sheets for us to cut and roll and white chocolate to decorate.
The photo above are the chocolates I decorated, dipped and rolled.

We sampled melted chocolate with added ginger, cinnamon and cayenne.

After we finished decorating the chocolates and they were set we were then given some packaging supplies so that we could pack up our chocolates in little gift boxes.   If you love chocolate this might be a fun thing to do with a bunch of your friends.




Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Ex - Food Heaven or Hell?

The Ex not a great place to look for healthy food.


I have been feeling sick for the past few days so I haven't been in the mood to do any cooking or other heavy duty household duties.   But I was getting stir crazy at home and wanted to go down to the Ex today because it was the last day of the Food Truck Frenzy and the same day that my favourite Food Network Chef Chuck Hughes (Chuck's Day/Week Off) was doing a food demo... well more like chatting while his restaurant chef was doing some cooking.  I am starting to feel like I am stalking him at this point since I was sitting in the audience and listening to him talk and then all of a sudden he says "Hi" and looks in my direction.  I didn't even realize he was talking to me... so out of it still from being sick and just kind of didn't expect him to stop mid sentence and say hi.  So I had a 30 second delayed reaction and then all I did was wave... still out of it... he says "she doesn't look happy to see me"...  of course I was...   he was my diversion for the day so that I didn't sit at home being sick and feeling miserable.   Going to see Chuck is more like going to see a stand up comedian lately.   He spends the whole time telling stories, cracking jokes and answering questions.    I have been trying to arrange an interview with him for my documentary and finally met his publicist face to face.   I always find it weird to email someone you haven't met and ask for something when they have no clue who you are and if you are legit or not.   So now she knows who she has been emailing so that made the trip down to the Ex worth it.    I had to think about going today because it is getting really expensive to go to the EX these days unless you go after 5 which I have been doing the past couple of years.   But since it was the last food truck day and only day for Chuck Hughes I forked out the $16 admission price and because I wasn't feeling 100% I drove down and then had to dish out another $25 for parking.   Paying for parking was well worth it when I finally left and didn't have to wait for a packed bus to the station because by that time I had just left the FOOD Building Oven and was so hot I just wanted to drive up the parkway with the windows open.

I went into the Food Building to see what Bacon Nation was all about.  Bacon on a stick, bacon wrapped hot dogs and some other concoction with Nutella which just thinking about it makes you want to toss your cookies.

I was also on the lookout for other weird foods new to the Ex this year.  I walked by this booth and saw this picture of a hot dog in a chocolate eclair.  I used to love chocolate eclairs when I was a kid but this one I don't think so.

Then I spot this food vendor selling food in a cone.  I suppose this makes sense since there isn't really enough seats to sit down and eat your food properly in the Food Building and since it's a million degrees in there anyway it's always better to hand hold your food while walking out of the building.  They had Sheppard's Pie in a cone and some chicken thing and a few others savoury things I can't even remember now.

So it made me wonder if this was Foodie Heaven or Hell?  Most things were either stuffed in a bun, deep fried, with bacon,  sweet and savoury mix or all of the above as in the case of the krispy kreme hamburger or the eclair dog.   All I kept thinking about is all the people with The Ex Food hangover that had to go and buy some pepto bismol or tums to get through their day.   All the sick little kids hurling all over the place and the parents saying "never again" but then doing it again the next year.

What about the people who are Vegan, Vegetarian, eat only Kosher or Halal or Raw food diets.   I guess the Ex would be Hell for them.
Is it Heaven or Hell for a foodie or food blogger?  It was kind of a mix of both for me.




The Heaven this year was the lineup of Food Truck Frenzy where I picked up some Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos from the Gourmet Gringos food truck.  Even though the fish was fried it had a nice light fresh batter with some crunchy slaw to balance the hot/cold/greasy/fresh taco.   One of my other favourite food trucks Buster's Sea Cove who had their Lobster Roll and Shrimp and Fish Tacos had a huge lineup.  I would have gone for that but decided to try one of the other trucks to see how it compares.  It was good but Buster's is still my fav.

A couple of hours later I went back to the food trucks but wasn't in the mood for the mostly brisket and pulled pork and taco options that the trucks had so I ventured into the Food building to see what I could get.

I managed to find a baked potato vendor and had a mexican baked potato.  There you go... something not deep fried.   Only one person in the line ahead of me.   The big lineups were for all the deep fried, greasy, heart stopping foods you could find at the Ex.  So I suppose it's like a license to eat whatever you wouldn't normally eat when you  go to the Ex.




One of my All Time favourite things I almost always get when I go to the Ex is the Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich.   The Hot Waffle sandwiched between the cold ice cream hits all the sensory spots.  Cool and refreshing and also warm and comforting.   A friend of mine just went to the Ex and had almost the same things to eat as I did.   So there is food for everyone there.   You just have to do a little searching to find it.

The Food at the Ex.. Heaven or Hell?  
You Decide.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Craft Service - Food on Set

CRAFT SERVICE

In filmtelevision or video production, craft service or crafty refers to the department which provides food service and beverages to the other departments or crafts. In addition to policing the set they set down layout boards and protect the set area, as well as provide buffet style snacks and drinks. The crafts in film refers to departments such as camera, sound, electricians, grips, props, art director, set decorator, hair and makeup, background.  (from Wikipedia)

    food on set


I wear many hats and one of them is the hat of a freelance Makeup Artist.  Although I have been busy doing other things and haven't done any makeup jobs for a long time I decided to say yes to an offer to do the Makeup for a Short Film in St. Jacobs, ON.   You are wondering what that has to do with food?  Food is really important in making a difference in the experience you have working on a set and can make or break having the cast and crew feeling comfortable and happy.

Life on a film set is pretty crazy and hectic.   You throw a bunch of people together who in some cases have never met and they all do different things but they have to work together as a team to get the job done as fast and as great as possible.   When you work in film you work very long hours, an average day is 12 hours and it sometimes goes even longer.   We had one 15 hour day one of the days on this set.  It is customary to provide meals on set for the cast and crew to keep the team fuelled and also to keep them on set and ready to go at the same time.

A "Craft"table is set up for the crew to be able to graze for food when there are breaks in between takes.  The usual food for craft tables include high sugar and high carb foods.  Typically things like donuts, muffins, bagels, and junk foods.

The "CREW" is generally filled with men who prefer meat and carbs so if there are vegetables they don't go over as well as a Pizza might.

This is a picture of a sugar type of cake that was set up on the "CRAFT" table.














This Pasta Plate was one of the Lunches which occurs at any time of the day depending on start time.  Generally it's supposed to be 5 hours after the call time.   This lunch was served at 3pm.   It was a tasty pasta with sausage and tomato sauce with some garlic bread and caesar salad on the side.   So you could imagine a whole crew of people yawning an hour later after the carb high dips.  This is a typical meal and is what the majority of the cast/crew like.   But there are exceptions that always have to be dealt with.  We had a few vegetarians on set and it can be very difficult for them to get what they need to be satisfied.  They are sometimes limited to salads.

When you work on a film set you can't leave the set unless you are one of the runners, so you can't just pop out to pick up your lunch.   An average day could start at 8 am and go to 11pm leaving no time to be able to get your own food so that is why it is generally provided for the Crew to keep the production going.    When the catering is Great the Cast and Crew function a lot happier.  Variety and filling and satisfying meals is the key to a happy crew.

Never underestimate the importance of Food in the equation in making a great film.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What to do with a mushy watermelon?

What do you do when you cut open a watermelon and it's mushy and mealy?


It's summer and nothing refreshes you more and says summer than Watermelon or ice cream.  But what if you picked up a beautiful watermelon and then when you cut it open the watermelon fruit inside just turned into mush.   You can't take it back to the store since you cut it so what do you do with it?   You don't want to throw it out but it's not that great to eat either.

The FIX - A Watermelon Granita


I cut this watermelon opened and was ready to cut it into chunks to have in the fridge for a quick snack but it just cut into mushy chunks instead.   I was ready to toss the whole thing out when I thought about making a granita from the juice of the watermelon.   So I scooped out all the flesh from the inside of the melon and tossed it into the blender to puree.   I poured it through a mess strainer to get rid of the seeds and fibre pulp.   Leaving the juice in the bowl for a granita.   Granita is an Italian ice that is normally made with lemon juice or coffee but any fruit liquid can be made into a granita as well.

I added some Agave syrup so that it would dissolve into the liquid and then i added a travel size of Tequila to make it interesting and boost the flavour.

Pour the mix into a shallow container, preferably a glass one because you will have to scrape it with a fork halfway through the freezing process.

Put the shallow container containing the watermelon mix into the freezer and when the mix is half frozen take it out and with a fork pull through it to make it granular.   Put it back into the freezer and let it continue to set.   You can keep running the fork through it if you want a fine ice crystal.   You should have watermelon ice once the mix is completely frozen.  You can then put it into a Tupperware type of container with a lid and keep it in the freezer and serve as you like.

If you are having a dinner party serve it in a Martini glass as dessert for a fancy dessert and if you have Mint on hand add a sprig of mint as a garnish.   You could add mint to the granita as well if you like the combination of mint and watermelon.   You can experiment with adding flavours if you like.






Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Locavore at Riverdale Farms

The Locavore Sarah Elton chats at Riverdale Farms.


This week I combined my exploring farmer's markets for this blog with my Directing job of working on the Documentary Eco Losers.

I met up with the Locavore author Sarah Elton at Riverdale Farms this week to discuss her book and how it relates to helping the Eco Losers Family with their year long challenge to change their lifestyle.

Sarah talked about how she looks forward to things being in season and thinks it makes food more special to only have it when it is at it's peak of freshness. She stressed that the reason she prefers to be a locavore is because the food tastes so much better.

She decided to start thinking about where her food comes from when one of her children came home with a shrink wrapped cookie that was made in China.  She decided it was time to investigate where the food her family was eating was coming from.   In an effort to be socially responsible and feed her children the best possible food they can have access to.   It changed her whole way of life and sparked the book The Locavore.   Sarah is a journalist who has gone on her own personal journey to make better choices.

We did our interview in front of an area where there were cows relaxing in a fenced in area of the Farm.  I swear one cow was very interested in our conversation as the cow just watched our every move.  If you think about cows having intelligence then I think you would think of how you eat a bit differently.

After we wrapped our interview we both picked up some local food from the Farmer's Market at Riverdale Farms.

On a side note.  It took me about a half an hour to head down to the market by car to meet with Sarah but it took over 45 minutes sitting in gridlock on the Don Valley Parkway at 4pm to get back home.    Reinforcing my thoughts on shopping local and being able to support local communities.   Sarah had the luxury of living near the market but unfortunately I didn't.   But it did make me think about food transport and how many trucks there are on the highways these days.  And while I was sweating sitting in my car on in the hot afternoon rush hour sun it made me think about how the weather around the world has changed dramatically and how governments aren't acknowledging that there has been a shift in the world.

Pick up Sarah's book and if you can make some changes in the way you buy your food and influence more people to do that then maybe we can encourage grocery stores to buy products that come from shorter distances instead of Asparagus from the U.S.  maybe it can come from a farm in Ontario.   Just a thought.

Mexican leftover soup

Save the leftovers Mexican Soup.   OLE



Once again my fridge was packed full of bit of leftover food that individually don't amount to much but toss them all in a pot and toss in some water and some extra bits and it turns into some Mexican leftover Soup.   

The thing about buying food from farmer's markets is that you pick up what you know you can only get at limited times and in short supply.   So for me sometimes I buy food without really planning my meals.   I have found over the years that planning my meals doesn't really work for me.  When I have packed lunches for work I always end up forgetting that I brought lunch and would go out to get something.  Or I wouldn't feel like eating what I brought...or the last minute lunch invite or leftover food from a meeting or someone bringing something in.   A lot of food has gone to waste over the years and this is another attempt for me to save some of it before I would have to toss it in the garbage.

What I had on hand......

Leftover ingredients:

cooked corn from the farmer's market 
cooked onions
homemade salsa
cooked bacon

Extra Ingredients added:


A can of Black beans
2 cooked chicken breasts
Cilantro
Salt and Pepper
Chipotle Pepper
2 tbsps Salsa verde
2 tbsps Oil
2 -3 cups of water

Garnish:

Lime
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream
Cilantro

Directions:

I added some oil to the bottom of a stock pot and then added the onions, the salsa, the corn and the bacon.
Add the Salt, Pepper and chipotle pepper.
Add the salsa verde

I added a couple of cups of water and let it cook for a while until the flavours developed.   

I cooked 2 chicken breasts in a frying pan with salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and cooked until golden brown.  Once it's cooked you can shred it into little strips and then add it to the stock pot.

Add a can of rinsed black beans to the pot.

Adjust seasonings to your taste and cook until the chicken takes on the flavour of the broth.

It should take about 40 minutes of cooking but you can adjust to how intense you want it or not.   The longer you cook it the chicken will break down and the vegetables will all blend together.

Ladle it into a bowl and squeeze a pice of lime to brighten up the flavour.
Add a spoonful of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro and add some tortilla chips or tortillas fried and cut into strips.  I used some leftover Mad Mexican chips.

Adding bacon isn't typical in making this soup but it added a great smoky flavour and really gave it a great rounded taste.

It's basically a meal in a bowl.   And it saved my fridge once again.   

I can probably freeze some of it now that the weather is cooling down it would be a great fall meal.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Saving my Potatoes SALAD

Yukon make these potatoes Gold!..    My Olympic vegetable pun of the day.



While I was cleaning up in my kitchen I pulled out a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and noticed that they were starting to sprout.  I am getting tired of always having to throw food out so I was trying to think of something pretty easy to make that could keep for a few days and could be great for the summer.

The only thing that came to mind was a creamy comfort food Potato Salad.   So I decided to make some Saving my Potatoes Salad.

Growing up my mom always made potato salads in the summer because she could cook it on the stove and with a few ingredients have something we could eat right out of the fridge for a few days.  That meant less work sweating it out in the kitchen.

My mom's potato salad was always made with a french vinaigrette as her background has French cooking influences.

My Yukon Gold Creamy Potato Salad is a little more mixed up.   More like a fully loaded baked potato and a little side salad all mixed up together.

Ingredients:

5 or 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 garlic clove
1 green onion
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup mayonaisse
1 celery stalk
2 mini pickles
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 strip of cooked bacon
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried or fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: You could also add Hard Boiled eggs, green or red peppers, or carrots.

Directions:

Cut the potatoes into  1 inch cubes and rinse in water.  You can scrub them and leave the skin on or you can peel them.  I chose to peel them because they weren't super fresh.

In a large pot fill with water 3/4 of the way to the top.   Add salt and potatoes and boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl add the garlic clove, I used a rasp to grate it so that you wouldn't get chunks of garlic.   Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard and wine vinegar and mix.  

Chop the celery into a small dice and add to the bowl.   Chop the pickles into tiny pieces and add to the bowl.   Chop the parsley and the green onion into a fine chop and add to the bowl.   Add the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chives.

When the potatoes are cooked drain them and toss them into the bowl while they are still warm.   Mix until the potatoes are thoroughly coated with the dressing mixture.  

Crumble or chop the crispy bacon into small pieces and add to the top of the potato salad.

You can serve it warm or cold out of the fridge.    Because it's made with mayonnaise and sour cream do not let it sit out for an extended period of time.


It should make about 4-6 servings depending on how big the potatoes are and how big you like your serving sizes to be.

The only cooking required was the boiling of the potatoes and the cooking of the bacon.   But you could omit the bacon and add other vegetables.  

You can adjust to your preference as it's a very flexible thing to make and great for guests.

One of my favourite summer time foods.



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gastroposter's eat and talk food

That's me on this button that I received at a recent Gastropost community get together at Little Anthony's Italian + Bar in downtown Toronto.  The reason for the get together...  well no reason except they must have been curious to meet the faces behind all the weekly food missions that people all over Toronto have been posting to Gastropost that have been going into Saturday's National Post Gastropost section.  

I have been to a lot of events and festival parties but this one really was all about food and people that love food.   When we walked in we were greeted by the Gastropost staff who gave us buttons of our gastrosketch pictures.. as above.  So we could identify each other without having to wear those never sticking stickers.  Then the drinks started to flow.  I asked for something citrusy if that's a word and they promptly handed me something that looked like lemonade but was an alcoholic version.  I don't know what it was called but it was great.   They had some charcuterie platters set up on the bar.


Brushetta and risotto balls circulating.   But the best part was that we were asked to submit our favourite pasta memories which were food influences for the chefs menu.   They had little gastropost sketches beside the food that it influenced.   That was a great touch.
It was great to meet some fellow Gastroposter's and the Gastropost team.    This is s very new community and I am happy that I joined in early on in it's development and can't wait to see what things are in the future of all the Gastropost community.

Back to School & Work Lunches

September is either a sad or happy time of year.  You are sad that summer is over but if you are going back to school you can be excite...