A picture tour of some of the highlights and favourite memories of the summer of 2010:
* Wright Landscaping
Giving money to help the people of Haiti will buy food, tents, medical supplies and other essentials, but if you want to do more than just write a cheque, or you want to donate in a different way, consider this opportunity.
The Mennonite Central Committee is looking to collect 20,000 relief kits. The kits are to include a collection of specific items including personal hygiene supplies, laundry soap, towels and bandages. The list of contents for the kits can be found at mcc.org/kits/relief.
Pack the relief kits in a box or bag and deliver by Feb. 28 to any of the drop-off locations in Canada or the United States listed at mcc.org/kits/dropofflocations. MCC will repackage the kits in new five-gallon buckets.
MCC is also collecting comforters and sheets. They can be dropped off at the same locations as the relief kits. The specific requirements for the comforters and sheets can be found at mcc.org/kits/blankets.
Fashions for chocolate lovers? Oh yeah!
On second thought, if you were wearing one of these, you’d always be able to satisfy your chocolate cravings!
If you live in the Toronto area, the place to be this weekend is the Good Food Festival at the International Centre (near the airport). Well, at least that’s where I’ll be. You’re invited too if you want to sample new food products, watch cooking demonstrations, and pick up some good bargains.
This will be my 15th year working at the Egg Farmers of Ontario‘s display. I’d hate to count how many samples of pickled eggs, hash brown omelette or pizza frittata I’ve doled out over the years or how many times I’ve explained that cholesterol in our food has little effect, if any whatsoever, on our blood cholesterol levels.
Today when I got out of my vehicle to unload the boxes of recipes and sampling supplies (we’re serving herbed egg salad this year), the parking attendant who monitors the loading dock area came over and gave me a hug. Sure, we do two or three shows every year at this venue and I usually see her at each event. She’s a real sweetheart! But seriously. Hugs from the parking attendant?! Have I been doing this for too long???
A chili cheese dog would have been the appropriate thing to munch on tonight while watching the series finale of Corner Gas and the conclusion of the show’s successful six year run. Instead I sipped on Darjeeling tea and the last slice of lemon meringue pie left over from Easter dinner.
Much of the zany activities of the quirky characters on this beloved Canadian sit com took place at Corner Gas (the gas station in the small fictional town of Dog River in the not so fictional province of Saskatchewan) or at The Ruby Cafe next door. Brent, one of the main characters in the show, ate a whack of chili cheese dogs at The Ruby over the six years. (The Ruby was the kind of place that would also have served lemon meringue pie!)
A chili cheese dog is simply a hot dog doused in chili (from a can or made from your favourite chili recipe) and topped with grated cheese.
We’re not talking gourmet dining here. Just plain good food. Or so Brent would tell you.
If you’ve never had one, it’s pretty simple to make. And, Brent would likely also tell you, a chili cheese dog is no doubt well worth whatever effort you put in to make the chili – whether from scratch or a can.
If you want to make your own chili, you have some options….
* use tomato sauce, canned pureed tomatoes, canned condensed tomato soup or chili sauce instead of ketchup
* omit garlic and/or onions
* add canned or cooked kidney beans
* add cumin or sauteed green peppers
Chili Cheese Dogs
(Makes 4 servings)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound (450 g) lean ground beef
1 cup (250 mL) ketchup
1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder
2 tablespoons (30 mL) yellow mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 all-beef wieners
8 hot dog buns
1 cup (250 mL) grated Cheddar cheese
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add garlic. Continue cooking until onion is soft and translucent, another 2 or 3 minutes.
Add ground beef, breaking it up with the back of a spoon; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes.
Stir in ketchup, chili powder and mustard; simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. (Add more ketchup or a little water to thin, if desired.) Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, grill or cook wieners as desired. Grill or toast hot dog buns, if desired.
To serve, place a wiener in each bun. Top with chili and Cheddar cheese. Open mouth wide and enjoy!
Be on guard tomorrow. It’s April Fool’s Day.
All may not be what it appears. Even at the breakfast or dinner table.
With the following “recipes”, you”ll be the one planning the surprises, serving “cake” for dinner and “spaghetti and meatballs” for dessert. Don’t be fooled into thinking these ideas are difficult. Read on to see how easy it will be to play food pranks on your fellow diners tomorrow, or any day of the year.
Meat Loaf Cake
(Makes 8 to 10 servings)
Favourite meatloaf recipe (use 2 to 3 lbs/1 to 1.5 kg) ground beef
Hot mashed potatoes (about 4 cups/1 L)
Prepare meatloaf mixture as usual but before cooking, divide mixture in two and place into two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans. Bake as usual, allowing a shorter time since meatloaf will likely cook faster as the mixture will be thinner than usual.
Meanwhile, prepare mashed potatoes using boiled or instant potatoes. The mashed potatoes should be fluffy and spreadable. Keep mashed potatoes warm until meat loaves are cooked.
Once cooked, drain fat from meat loaves. Invert one loaf onto a round pizza pan or heatproof plate. Cover with a thick even layer of mashed potatoes. Place second loaf on top and “frost” the top and sides of cake with remaining mashed potatoes.
If desired, some of the mashed potatoes can be spooned into a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and piped around top or bottom edge of cake.
Place cake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes to warm through. Remove from oven and decorate with halved cherry tomatoes. If desired, write a message on top of cake with ketchup. (If the opening of the ketchup bottle is too large to write a message easily, spoon some ketchup into a clean piping bag or a squeeze bottle with a small top to write your message.)
Spaghetti and Meat Ball Dessert
(Makes 1 serving)
Small slice of pound cake or half of a cupcake
Homemade or prepared icing
Yellow food coloring (if desired)
2 of 3 chocolate malt balls or small truffles
Ground almonds or grated white chocolate
Chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips or candy melts
Lady fingers or biscotti
Place pound cake in the centre of a plate.
If desired, tint icing with food colouring to resemble the colour of cooked spaghetti. Spoon icing into a decorating tube fitted with a large circular tip; pipe icing in a looping fashion around the sides of the pound cake (don’t frost the top) to resemble spaghetti.
Spoon strawberry sauce (meat sauce) on top of the cake to cover it. Drizzle a little over portions of the spaghetti.
Using the dull side of a knife or a grater, rough up the surface of the malt balls (meatballs). Place them on top of the sauce.
Sprinkle ground almonds (parmesan cheese) over sauce and meatballs.
Carefully melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave oven; stir until smooth. Spread chocolate over lady fingers (garlic bread). Sprinkle coconut (garlic) and green sprinkles (parsley) over top. Serve with spaghetti and meatballs.
Count yourself lucky to find these great recipes to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun being Irish for a day!
A couple weeks ago (the day after Valentine’s Day to be exact), Murray and I made the 50-minute drive from Kitchener into Mississauga (Streetsville to be exact) to have afternoon tea at The Tea Room in the Robinson-Bray House (223 Queen Street South, Ph: 905-542-7674).
The house was built in 1885 and owned by at least two families – the Robinsons and the Brays. In 1983, it was designated a building of “architectural and contextual value” by the City of Mississauga. It now houses several businesses including a gift shop, spa and The Tea Room.
The Tea Room is in the back of the building. You can enter either through the front or the side of the House. When we left through the front after finishing our tea, I noticed that a large room at the front of the house was vacant. The space had a lovely bay window looking out onto Queen Street. My first thought was that it would be a lovely area for The Tea Room to expand or move into.
But I’m ahead of myself. Let me share our tea experience.
You could order off the menu but we really didn’t give it much consideration as The Tea Room was serving a Valentine’s tea ($23 per person) which sounded really nice. It started with a delicious garden salad with sliced strawberries and cucumbers and pralined pecans. This was followed by a two-tiered stand filled with tea sandwiches, and heart-shaped chocolate chunk scones served with devon cream and preserves.
Then, because we hadn’t eaten enough yet (!), it was time to choose a dessert. I don’t recall all the choices; the first couple our server described were all we needed to hear. Murray chose a Chocolate Crepe with Amaretto Cream and Mixed Berries.
I opted for the Passionfruit and Mixed Berry Trifle, served in a tea cup.
Everything was washed done with a pot of Earl Grey tea for me and Assam tea for Murray.
The Tea Room’s servers were friendly and attentive. The decor of the two-room tea room was nice enough, although nothing outstanding. I’ll confess I wanted to straighten out the slightly askew picture hung off centre under a shelf on one wall of the room we sat in, but to Murray’s relief I managed to suppress the urge.
Other than the egg salad that was served in a slightly soggy mini roll instead of the promised croissant, the food was very tasty, especially the salad and desserts. Needless to say, we didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day!
Interested in traveling a road made from chocolate? Get on the right path by attending Follow the Chocolate Road at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener on Monday, February 9.
Folia, a baroque chamber music group, invites you to to attend an evening of music that will follow chocolate from the New World through its conquest of Baroque Europe. Interspersed throughout the evening will be chocolate trivia. And, appropriately, there will be chocolate tasting courtesy of Silver Spoon Fine Chocolates of Waterloo! How sweet is that!
The evening starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adult, $15 for seniors and students, and $5 for children 18 and under.
Tickets are available at the Centre in the Square Box Office (101 Queen St. N., Kitchener; Ph: (519) 578-1570).
The Registry Theatre is located at 122 Frederick St. in Kitchener.