Wednesday, October 31, 2012
But I have heard a lot of talk lately about people skipping the Halloween treats for healthier options or for non food items.
I get that we have a childhood obesity problem but I don't think skipping Halloween treats is going to solve the problem. I think it should be used as a teachable moment in how to eat in moderation and to understand that these candies are treats and only for special occasions.
When I was a kid there weren't a lot of overweight kids. I was thin until I became a teenager and probably gained weight more from lack of exercise than what I ate.
What was different when I was a kid was that a lot of the Halloween treats didn't have as many chemical stabilizers and trans fats to keep these things on the store shelves for months. Most of the candies were high sugar but probably less added chemicals. We also didn't drink gallons of carbonated drinks and drive through meals. Our parents would cook family dinners and would only have desserts on special occasions like Birthdays or other Holiday events. Halloween was always a special day where kids let loose and got all kinds of treats from people in their neighbourhoods. We generally knew most of the houses we went to and our parents would toss out the apples for fear of tampering and any other treats that looked suspicious. We were taught to make our treats last because we weren't going to get any more for a long time. Most of the kids I knew didn't eat the whole thing all in one shot. We picked out the stuff we didn't like and traded with our siblings or friends or just tossed it out. I would only be left with the treats I loved after it was picked through. I would have a couple of treats a day and would make it last about a week or two.
I believe that a kid can have a little candy if they are getting healthy meals provided the rest of the time. It's all about balance and moderation. I think it's more important to teach the kids what they are eating and what's good and what's bad for them and have them learn how to control eating the bad things and choosing the good things. This is a skill that kids will need for life.
I learned this because my parents only addiction was cigarettes and chocolate and since cigarettes weren't appealing to me the chocolate addiction was something I inherited. My parents would hide chocolate in the house so that we wouldn't eat it all. But I think that made us want it even more. My brother was a blood hound for chocolate and he could practically sniff out it's hiding spot. It might have been better for them to just leave it in the open and make it not a forbidden item. Case in point.... my parents had a small cabinet filled with liquor bottles for the parties they would have about once a year. They never dipped into the bottles unless my mother was cooking something that needed alcohol or someone came over that they might offer a drink to. It wasn't hidden and it wasn't something that was a big deal. I never touched the alcohol and to this day I am not much of a drinker and only have liquor around for cooking and for parties. Chocolate on the other hand is always not far away and I crave it consistently.
Maybe that is the solution to drug and alcohol problems. Leave it out in the open and make it no big deal and maybe people wouldn't want it as much. You always want what you can't have.
So my thought is let the kids have their Halloween Candy... maybe you can find healthier versions like dark chocolate covered almonds or something but let them eat candy and teach them that it's ok to eat but not to abuse.
We shouldn't punish kids and deprive them of things that made life fun for us when we were kids. Halloween and other holidays are the stuff that provide life long memories. That's what life is.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Skip Chinatown and head to Chinatown North
Everyone thinks that you need to either go to Chinatown in Toronto or to Richmond Hill to get good Dim Sum in the City, but on this lazy sunday I proved that you can find some better than Chinatown Dim Sum in North York.
I live in a mostly Asian centric neighbourhood in the Willowdale, North York area of the city where you can get Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai food within blocks of each different ethnic restaurant venue. About a 5 minute drive or a couple of subway stops away from where I live are a few places that you can get Dim Sum. I love to have Dim Sum on lazy rainy sundays because it's the kind of food that is quick and slow at the same time. You can get a whole bunch of quickly made dishes and take your time sampling a bunch of different things and even more if you go with a bunch of friends.
I was pretty hungry and knew that I couldn't wait to meet up with one of my friends to go for Dim Sum so I checked out NOT JUST DIM SUM on Finch Ave. West.. just west of Yonge Street in North York. I dropped in just after the normal lunch hour or when Dim Sum is normally consumed which is fairly early in the day. There were only a few tables with people but they seemed to enjoy what they ordered.
It's not a fancy place but I have seen much worse places in Chinatown. I was immediately served by one quiet but efficient waitress who provided just the right amount of service needed which I appreciate. She had tables to clear but made sure the diners were tended to first.
I pretty much knew what I wanted to order but had a look through the checklist Dim Sum menu to decide what to order.
I ordered Chinese Broccoli, I figured some greens would balance out some of the heavy carb and fried Dim Sum dishes that i knew I was going to order.
I like to order the Pan fried Radish Cake because it's something I would never make at home and I like that it's a little different and most people don't order it.
I ordered my favourite Har Gow..
steamed shrimp dumplings.
I also ordered a Green Onion pancake, also something that is a little different and not always available at some Dim Sum places.
And lastly I ordered Glutinous Pork Deep Fried Dumplings.
The Glutinous Pork Dumplings had a nice sweet and savoury taste and the outside was crispy while the inside was creamy and light with a hint of sweetness. I have had these in other places and after you eat a few they can sometimes feel like oil bombs in your stomach, these ones were cooked at the perfect temperature to make them light and not greasy but still retain the soft interior.
The Chinese Broccoli was cooked perfectly with the chlorophyl green bright and still retaining all the vitamins you want from a healthy greens dish. There was a bowl of oyster sauce on the side and the waitress brought bowls of chili sauce and chinese mustard to go with the dishes.
The Radish cakes were nicely fried with a nice crust on the outside but still soft on the interior. It was seasoned well and didn't leave the typical grease pool behind that I have seen on many radish cake plates after I cleared my plate.
Overall I have to say that it was a winning Dim Sum experience with all the dishes that I ordered being really tasty and a quick lunch of really satisfying but also light little dishes.
Think outside the Chinatown box and look for a great little hidden gem close to where you live. You never know if you will find something worth not driving all over town for.
In the past few months I have had a lot of underwhelming meals but it was nice to go to an inexpensive little place and be pleased with everything I ordered from the menu.
Try a little neighbourhood exploring for yourself and who knows what you will find.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
I saw him recently at the Word on the Street where I was surprised to hear him rant about how not feeding your kids proper food was like slow child abuse. He got on a huge rant about feeding kids so much junk food that they are all developing allergies to everything these days.
So I had a feeling he would have really passion filled Q&A answers after he did his interview with Cookbook Store owner Alison Fryer.
My thought is that if toxic substances or food additives that are known to contribute to obesity are changed to non toxic substances then maybe everyone wins.... people won't have to walk around supermarkets with magnifying glasses and dictionaries to figure out what's in the products they are consuming if they are actually indicated what it is. Some ingredients are disguised as other things or modified to some other thing or are genetically modified without telling the consumer.
I don't think everyone in North America is going to give up convenience food in one day and switch to a 100% plant based diet so I think the answer is to make some of these toxic products disappear so that the only choice is to buy whole foods and start going back to eating real food and making things from scratch where you know what's in them. You won't get 100% of the population to switch but we don't need a thousand toxic products tempting the exhausted media brainwashed parents into buying easy convenience food to get food on the table for their families.
As Chef Michael Smith said banning something like Foie Gras in Los Angeles because of cruelty to the duck is ridiculous because other animals like cows and pigs are treated just as badly. But that's real food. What about banning toxic chemical filled products that can sit on supermarket shelves for a year without going bad. Well because the big corporate manufactuers would protest and won't have subsidized jobs for people.
The whole thing is a political toxic soup and there is no simple answer but my thoughts are to start to rethink what is allowed to go into the products before it gets to the consumers to have to do detective work to figure out whether it's going to kill them to consume that product.
It seems I hit a nerve when I asked Chef Michael that question because he got really passionate about it and Alison thought he should run for Mayor of Toronto and everyone in the room seemed to agree. i think he would make a great Mayor. He knows right from wrong and has Integrity and passion. I am not sure our current Mayor has those qualities but that's a whole other story.
One thing that was funny was standing next to him while taking a photo, I am only about 5 feet tall while Michael Smith is somewhere around 7 feet tall. Do I look short or what?
About his Cookbook. .... it's a beautifully put together book filled with recipes that anyone with basic skills can make in their own kitchens which makes it a cookbook that will get used instead of sitting on a shelf. The photos are large and beautiful and the recipes are written easy to read instead of fine print on colored paper it's clear black large enough print on white paper, making it easy to flip through the book and organize your kitchen accordingly. I hope to make one of the recipes in the near future.
I love Chocolate Fondue
When you think of the 70’s food trends you think about Fondue pots, but Fondue is back; the proof being a new fondue restaurant opened in Richmond Hill recently. Fondue is a great way to bring friends together at a dinner party. It can be a simple but decadent and guilty pleasure dessert or appetizer depending on whether you make chocolate or cheese fondue. My favourite (not) so guilty pleasure is a Classic Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries for dipping. It’s so quick and easy.. Heat chocolate, dip strawberry = food love.
Chocolate is the simplest thing to make but tastes like the most decadent thing to eat.
What's not to love... good chocolate, heavy cream and some booze or flavouring like Brandy or Kahlua mixed in. You can even spice it up with hot pepper spices if you want a mexican style chocolate.
My first short film was called Potluck. It was about a potluck party of course but I had 2 fondue pots set up in the party scene, one for chocolate fondue and one for cheese fondue. The chocolate fondue was a great prop for a food gag and I think made it a fun shoot to be on when we finished shooting. Eat the props. Best way to tear down a set. Eat it.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Risotto to Arancini the Italian WayThe Italians are genius' when it comes to food and leftovers. Cold Pizza....great. Reheated Lasagna still great. Polenta leftover and then fried even better.
This week I took a few leftover things like Roasted chicken and chicken stock I made from the roasted chicken bones and roasted vegetables and used them to make a great Risotto with frozen peas, leftover white wine and some Pernod and of course the king of cheeses, Parmesan.
The next day I had lots leftover still in the fridge and in the genius Italian way I turned the leftover rice into Risotto Balls. Normally you add mozzarella cheese in the middle and roll in egg and breadcrumbs but I skipped the mozzarella since it already had chicken and peas and loads of parmesan in the rice.
I am not a leftover lover normally unless it's a rethink and re purpose in a smart way like adding grilled zucchini or something into a vegetable lasagna or using stale bread for a fondue, crouton or bread crumbs. Maximizing efficiency and taste.
I loved both versions of this tasty spin on Arborio Rice and encourage you to think about your leftovers they way people used to have to use every last bit of their food in whatever way not to waste any money or food in their families.
In North America we waste way too much food and living by myself makes me guilty of it way more than I would like to admit. You have to be super creative or plan your meals for what you will do if there are leftovers. Whether you turn them into something else, freeze them, can them or just give it away to friends. Try and think about it before you end up tossing it into the garbage can.
Remember what your mother used to say...."there are children starving in Africa that would love to eat your food".... it is true and because we heard it so much we stopped thinking about it.
Today is World Food Day in the US... a good day to think about people in the World that don't have enough food to eat on a daily basis.
Appreciate your food and respect what you do with it.
Bryce Wylde is an amazing Naturopathic Doctor who speaks on many tv shows. He also has a practice to help people using alternative therapies.
I really want to do this so that I know what I really need.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Here are some of the statistics that jumped out at me..... One thing I noticed that I can relate to is that most of the food bank users were women who were renters. Most of the people are on social assistance which indicates to me that the system doesn't work if people can't even get food with the amount they receive on assistance. The system needs to change. Personally, I don't want to apply for assistance and would rather max out my credit cards than be forced to give up everything I have worked so hard to get over my lifetime.
I find it shocking that so many people in a city like Toronto which is one of the biggest cities in Canada can have so many people that are struggling to get food on their tables. Food, shelter and clothing are basic necessities which everyone should have the right to have....no matter who they are and where they live. That applies to Third World countries and Big Cities. We need to rethink the way we look at poverty and how people end up in poverty. Something needs to change. If you can't eat, you can't live. It's as simple as that. This is what the Occupy movement is fighting for.
Have a look at these Shocking facts from the Food Banks Canada report:
Sunday, October 21, 2012
It was a beautiful day in Toronto today and perfect for a huge gathering of Foodies in the Woodbine Park near the beaches for SOUPSTOCK.
This was the first time I have attended this event which felt like a kind of Woodstock for Foodies. Complete with muddy grounds but luckily no rain.
Soupstock is an event that brings together between 180-200 chefs from all over Ontario and some from further away even. It's purpose is to draw attention to STOP THE MEGA QUARRY.
It is an Eco event that is presented with the David Suzuki Foundation with the support of the local chef community who come out and provide a variety of hot soups that you can purchase for 3 samplings for $10. It's a bring your own bowl and spoon event but there were vendors on hand selling bowls if you forgot yours.
The event ran from 11am to 4pm but by the time I got there close to 3pm there were already vendors that had sold out of their soups and started to pack up. So I don't know what I missed. All I know is that there was a huge line up for the lobster soup.
I tried 2 soups and opted to pick up some Brick street buns for my 3rd ticket.
I also tried a Japanese soup that seemed like it would be a really healthy soup with mushrooms...not my favourite but I know they are good for me and it also had carrots and I think daikon radish, chicken and a bunch of other things that I wasn't sure about. It was very flavourful and something I know I wouldn't have made at home so it's always nice to try something you know you will never make yourself.
I am glad I was able to attend even though I wasn't able to get there until close to the end but I still got to try a couple of soups and see what a great even it was.
Next year I will make sure I don't have anything planned so that I can go early and sample some great soups.
And on a side note... I am not even a big soup person but it's nice to try some different soups to maybe expand what you think about soups.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I wonder if some of these job cuts are a direct reflection of the beef recall's and the general public's distrust for the big corporate way of getting their food. I was in a local producer's shop yesterday and the guy at the store said business has been increasing since the beef recall.
I think big changes in the food system are going to happen soon. What would happen if everyone just stopped eating meat? Meat is the biggest cost to a grocery budget and probably what the big supermarkets make most of their money on.
I can't say this is good news as a person that normally makes a living doing administrative jobs I am finding they are all drying up to "save costs". This is why I have turned to writing more food blog posts.
I find it sad that food is being wasted because of bad processing safety measures. If al the food we waste in North America could be shipped to developing countries before it's wasted then there wouldn't be any hunger in the world.
We need to find answers to some of these problems or there won't be food for anyone in the world soon.
Monday, October 15, 2012
I am planning on going to this event hosted by Films That Move.
Media Advisory: Toronto Celebrates World Food Day October 16, 2012
What are you doing for World Food day?
|What:||World Food Day Toronto|
|When:||Tuesday, October 16th 6:00 - 9:30pm. Reception at 5:30pm|
|Where:||Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre|
|585 Dundas Street East, East of Parliament Street|
|Tickets:||Free tickets at g|
The NFB has a bunch of Films for Foodies online that you can watch here:
Some other Foodie films you can check out if you can find them are:
Hiro dreams of Sushi
Julie and Julia
Eat Pray Love
The Mistress of Spices
Woman on Top
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
Forks over Knives
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Are you afraid of Meat?
Saturday, October 6, 2012
One year I decided it was time that I tried to cook a Turkey just to see if I could do it properly in case I ever had to make one for other people. At the time it was just my mom and brother that were there to eat it so there was a whole lot of Turkey leftovers. My mom never really liked Turkey either, she liked the dark meat of chickens or chicken breast breaded or roasted on the bone to keep it moist. I suppose she probably thought Turkey was a bit bland and dry. Well I mastered my first Turkey roasting with flying colors. I did it the easy way and bought a Butterball and just followed the directions. It's pretty no fail if you can read cooking instructions.
Well now that my mom is gone I don't have family to share a Turkey with, but I still decided that I want to have that great Thanksgiving Meal anyway. So what if I am only one person and it's a lot of work to cook a big dinner. Well I think it's more messy than hard work. My sink is full of dishes and my stomach is now full of my TURKEY DINNER FOR ONE.
Instead of buying a whole Turkey, even if it's a small one it's still way too much food that would go to waste since I only like the white meat anyway. I could make Turkey stock but there is really no point in wasting a whole Turkey. I decided to pull a Turkey Breast out of the Freezer and just place it on a bed of vegetables in a roasting dish and seasoned it with stuffing flavours since I skipped the stuffing.
I cut up the following and added it to the roasting dish.
2 small onions
3 garlic cloves unpeeled
1 celery stalk
and spiced the whole thing with the following.
and I added a cup of water so that it would make some sauce in the bottom of the pan from the drippings.
If you have the skin on the Turkey that's even better to retain moisture and add flavour to the Turkey Gravy.
I cooked it until the vegetables were cooked and the Turkey reached the proper internal temperature as indicated by a Cooking Thermometer.
I took the Turkey out of the oven when it was done and set it on a cutting board to rest.
Then I took the vegetables and reserved them in a bowl. You can covert the bowl with tin foil to keep it warm if you need to.
Then with the left over juice in the roasting pan I put it on the stove and added a tablespoon of flour and a cup of water. Bring to a boil and stir until it thickens and add seasonings to taste if needed.
I also made frozen peas... I won't explain that since they were just boiled.. I think you can figure that out.
I also made cranberry sauce from frozen cranberries. The directions are on the package, although I never follow them. I just kind of eyeball it so that I can control the sugar.
And I took a shortcut and made some Pillsbury biscuits. I supposed if I had a bigger kitchen and more room to put things I probably could have made biscuits from scratch but they were a minor part of the dinner so that's where I saved the time and effort. Although homemade biscuits are always infinitely better.
And there you have it... THANKSGIVING DINNER for ONE.
You don't have to wait for other people to enjoy your dinner the way you want it. If you want a traditional family style meal figure out a way to modify it and make it for yourself.
If you are creative you can eat what you want without waiting for anyone else.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. Now go and Eat some Turkey.
Here's the leftovers in Mason Jars ready for another meal.
Friday, October 5, 2012
I have been watching Rocco on his own shows and on many of the daytime talk shows making lots of tasty dishes. I decided to drop by and meet Rocco and pick up one of his cookbooks at his book signing.
Rocco was right at home with a mostly female and Italian background crowd. Rocco spent the time before the actual book signing flirting with the women, talking family with one woman and giving the men a call to action to be better boyfriends and husbands. He circulated the crowd sharing stories, info and cracking jokes in Italian. He is a very personable guy and seemed to enjoy entertaining the crowd and at one point said he loved it here and said he should move here. I think he would be right at home in Woodbridge, ON and I am sure he would have a lot less hectic life than in New York. He even mentioned how easy it was to get around here. I guess in comparison to New York rush hour I guess you could say that.
The reason he was there was to promote his new book "Eat this now, Italian" where he travelled to Italy to learn from the Italian grannies on their techniques to making real Italian food. He then deconstructed some of the recipes to try and lower the caloric values for each dish. He called it a "labour of love" and I think this journey began with the influence of his Italian mamma whom he learned how to cook authentic Italian dishes from that started his career.
I didn't pick up that book because I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to Italian food. Fresh, simple ingredients cooked properly and not overdone. Less is more in most cases of real Italian food. Something like a Caprese Salad, (Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzerella, Basil and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper) that's it. It really doesn't need deconstructing so I skipped that book but picked up one of his previous books that has a variety of recipes and other comfort foods like Mac & Cheese which is hard to make tasty and reducing the calories. That's the recipes I need help with. Or the things like chocolate chip cookies. Italian food seems easier to me because it really is healthy if you just bump up the vegetables and cut the portion sizes and just modify a few things.
Once I finally got to Rocco to get my book signed he said "did I meet you before", I said "No" I don't think so". He said "you look very familiar". I said who knows...maybe facebook, twitter. I know I have never met him directly before but maybe I have seen him at some food show or something in the past that I don't even remember. But I think I would remember meeting Rocco don't you? Maybe a past life thing..... who knows.... maybe I look like someone or everyone is starting to look familiar after he has met so many people. Either way... I suppose it's nice to have someone say that you look familiar as if they know you already.
If I ever run into Chef Rocco again I will definitely say we have met before and hopefully I will be able to tell him some of my favourite recipes from his book.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
I just ate some take out rice and had to hope that it was prepared the proper way. I am assuming since it was mushy and tasteless that it was probably rinsed... but who knows.
It seems as though you play Russian Roulette when you buy food these days... you aren't safe buying Beef, Rice, even vegetables have pesticides and e coli or other things on them.. You can't starve so I guess you just have to figure out ways to build your immune system to be able to handle anything you attempt to eat these days.
The only way to totally control your food is to grow your own food in a green house using filtered water and Organic seeds and hope that no run off water seeps in anywhere. But since this isn't too realistic for most people you have to take your chances. My recommendation is to take loads of Antioxidants. I am trying a new one and will comment in a couple of weeks whether I feel a difference.
Stay as healthy as you can and try and make the best choices you can.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
October 1, 2012 – Jamie’s foundation projects in the UK, US and Australia are once again joining forces on Friday, May 17, 2013 for the second Food Revolution Day. In Toronto, Canada, Linda Matarasso will be coordinating the day’s events. The festivities will continue across the world throughout the weekend.
Ambassadors will be holding local community events to demonstrate real food and share recipes and cooking techniques for families to adopt in their own homes.
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