A conversation about eating locally and globally

Some food for thought……

Heard an interesting conversation about local eating this morning on CBC Radio’s Q. The participants included host Jian Ghomeshi, London-based chef Peter Gordon and Toronto’s Jamie Kennedy of Toronto. They were debating whether the local food movement has created an aversion to foreign foods and ingredients.

Listen to the podcast, then check out comments from other listeners and add your own.

Personally I wouldn’t want to limit the food in my fridge or cupboards to just what’s available within 100 miles. I don’t see it as local vs global,  and having to choose one system over the other. However I do believe in eating seasonally and locally as much as possible. Why not support farmers and growers in my area, get to know the people who produce the food I eat, and benefit from the fresh flavour of foods grown close to home? And have the option to enjoy chocolate, bananas, mangoes, coconut, tea……

The County Grapevine reveals charms of Prince Edward County

I’m a food magazine junkie, always on the lookout for the latest issues of my favourites, or the arrival of brand new publications.

A quick perusal of the magazine shelves at a Kitchener grocery store tonight rewarded me with a newbie – The County Grapevine. This newcomer focuses on the food, wine, art and culture of Prince Edward County (PEC) in southern Ontario.

It seems I’m a little late getting to the party on this one; the issue I picked up is for Fall/Winter 2009/2010 (it’s a biannual publication). The magazine has been around for a while. How did I miss it??

So where exactly is Prince Edward County? PEC is an island at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. It is surrounded on the north and east by the Bay of Quinte, and is west of the St. Lawrence River. Its mild climate (by Canadian standards, that is!) has made it home to numerous vineyards and wineries.

What initially attracted me to The County Grapevine as I leafed through it in the store was the article Steeped in Tradition by tea expert Melody Wren. As a tea lover always looking for new places to enjoy a good cuppa’, I was interested to read her review of tea rooms in PEC.

Since bringing the magazine home, I’ve read and enjoyed a couple light-hearted pieces – “I was a teenage waitress” by comedian Deborah Kimmett and “Table Manners: The Lost Art of Dinner Parties” by sommelier Natalie MacLean.

I also noticed that food stylist and blogger Ruth Gangbar was credited for food styling in the magazine.

Tomorrow I’ll have to take some time to savour the food and wine articles!

The County Grapevine is available free in Prince Edward County and surrounding areas and can be purchased at Chapters, Indigo, Metro, and stores within the Loblaws chain.

Chocolate Fashions in Paris

Fashions for chocolate lovers? Oh yeah!

Okay, I’m not sure I’d wear an outfit made out of chocolate, but the chocolate fashions created for the Salon du Chocolat (Chocolate Show) and modelled in Paris on Oct. 13 are pretty amazing.

On second thought, if you were wearing one of these, you’d always be able to satisfy your chocolate cravings!

How to order and behave at Tim Hortons to make the world a better place

I’m one of those oddball Canadians who doesn’t frequent Tim Hortons on a regular basis……probably because I’m not a coffee drinker! I have sipped the occasional iced cappuccino, hot smoothee, or hot chocolate from Timmies, but my visits to this hallowed Canadian institution are rather infrequent.

While in New York City recently I walked past a couple small Tim Hortons restaurants that had just opened. These weren’t the stand-alone establishments with drive thrus we’re used to finding on every other street corner in Canada. These were small coffee shops sandwiched between souvenir shops, clothing stores and hotels on busy streets in Manhattan. I wondered how they would fare in the U.S. and how quickly Americans would pick up the Timmies coffee lingo.

Ordering a beverage at Tim’s – or at just about any other coffee establishment – has always held a kind of mystique for me since the world of double doubles, mocacchinos, grandes and lattes is not one I visit very often.

Luckily for me and all those Americans just being introduced to Tim’s, the Facebook group Tim Hortons Rules of Ordering and More (which boasts over 7,000 members!) has posted a comprehensive list of rules for proper behaviour and ordering at Tim’s. The group is for “everyone who gets fed up with people who don’t know what they want, and for workers who have to put up with this everyday.” Apparently “If people would just listen to these rules when ordering, the world will be a better place.”

For the sake of world peace, you’d be advised to read on…..

Continue reading

Funny food moments on The Office

NBC‘s The Office is my favourite sit com! Yes, some of the characters are completely over the top and the type of humour won’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoy it and look forward to Thursday nights, even now during re-run season.

I recently came across this list of 10 food moments from The Office on Chow. There aren’t video clips for each one, but die-hard fans of The Office will get a chuckle remembering these priceless food “moments” even without all the images.

These comments from Chow readers will also help you relive a few other funny foodie moments including:

* The dinner party at Jan and Michael’s

*The potato salad Michael brings to a party at his boss’ house after it has sat in his car all day (ick!)

* The Finer Things Club – a club formed for the enjoyment of art, books and culture (and the appropriate food as you can see from this clip where Jim tries to convince the group he’s read Angela’s Ashes, the book being discussed by club members Toby, Oscar and Pam.

And since we’re talking food and The Office, here’s a clip of cast members Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Martin (Angela) discussing cooking and sharing a couple easy recipes.

How to eat bacon – properly

While out for breakfast recently, I happened to glance over at a neighbouring table where I became fixated watching a fellow diner chase a strip of bacon around his plate with his fork. The crisp strip refused to be ensnared in the tines of his cutlery but the diner valiantly soldiered on, determined to win the battle with the belligerent bacon.

I was tempted to lean over and helpfully suggest that he just pick up the darn thing and eat it with his hands but according to proper etiquette, I should have been concentrating on the conversation at my own table – not spellbound by what was happening next door (which was really none of my business!).

So what is the proper way to eat bacon? According to experts on all things manners such as the Emily Post Institute, bacon can be consider finger food if it is dry, crisp and served whole. However, if it is broken into pieces, served in thick slices, or cooked but still limp, it should be eaten with a knife and fork.

Oh my!! So THIS is why so many of us are overweight?

We may have finally discovered why many of us find it so hard to lose weight and why we suffer from serious heart health issues!!

If the food images on the web site below truly reflect what some of us are eating on a regular basis, then I’m guessing it’s what we’re putting into our mouths that’s the problem! DUH!!

I was going to mention some of my favourite images on the site, but they’re all too good….I mean bad….I mean bizarre….I mean REALLY – do people actually eat some of this stuff?

Apparently the creators of the web site now have a book deal and you and your photo of calorie and fat-laden, heart attack-inducing food could be part of it. (A little weight management tip: once you’ve taken the picture of the aforementioned food, try to refrain from eating all of it!)

Check it out…..


Enjoy a chili cheese dog in honour of Corner Gas series finale

Chili Cheese Dog

Chili Cheese Dog

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!

Feasting on fish on Good Friday

Fish and chips from The Fish Hut in Kitchener

Fish and chips from The Fish Hut in Kitchener

Eating fish on Fridays during Lent or specifically on Good Friday was not part of my religious upbringing and is not now within my current religious traditions, however there we were tonight, in line at The Fish Hut in Kitchener, waiting for our take-out order of fish and chips.

The Fish Hut is our favourite place to go for fish (halibut) and chips. Tonight it was the location of choice for many others as well. The place was hopping! In fact, it was so busy the phone went unanswered as the staff steadily fried vats of fish and chips and rang up sales. Before heading to the restaurant, we had tried calling a couple times to see if it was open, but no one picked up. We decided to drive down to check things out and found the OPEN sign shining brightly and cars coming and going.

The restaurant (take-out and eat-in) is not big, and the place is not big on ambiance, but the fish (at least the halibut, which is all we ever order) is very good. The batter is crisp, not overly greasy, and not so heavy that you can’t even taste the fish. The hand-cut fries are also good. We typically share a two-piece dinner with an extra piece of fish.

I imagine that most people who came and went through The Fish Hut’s doors this afternoon and evening were Catholic as it has been their tradition to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, especially during Lent. However, surely some of those who left clutching their brown paper bag filled with fried fish were Protestant like me.

Why was I dining on fish on Good Friday? Perhaps religious solidarity with my Catholic friends and neighbours. Or maybe it was a way to commemorate the day and its religious significance in a very practical way. (Fish has meaning to Protestants too!) Or it could be that I just didn’t feel like cooking, or that we just had a hankering for fried fish. And possibly, it was just something to do.

Whatever the reason (probably a combination of all of the above!), the fish and chips tasted especially good tonight. If you live in Kitchener, you just might find me there on another Friday night. Or perhaps a Thursday…..or a Wednesday……

The Fish Hut
24-450 Westheights Drive
Kitchener, Ontario
(519) 584-2325

Dairy data: Canada’s declining per capita milk consumption

Glass of milk.jpgOver the past 20 years in Canada, the per capita consumption of fluid milks has declined, with the exception of chocolate milk.

That’s probably not surprising considering…..

* There are fewer kids today, therefore fewer milk drinkers.

* Milk competes with far more beverage options today than were available 20 years ago.

* In the minds of some kids, drinking milk isn’t that cool. Sadly, sports drinks and soft drinks or pop are often the beverages of choice. (Dairy farmer organizations are working hard to change that thinking with their current ad campaigns – Get a Load of Milk (and the Got Milk? campaign in the US) and the active promotion of the nutritional benefits of milk – Dairy Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Why Milk?)

* The make-up of the Canadian population today includes more immigrants from countries where milk drinking isn’t part of their traditional foodways.

There are a few dairy products we’re consuming in greater quantities than we did two decades ago. It seems we like our cream – table, half and half, whipping and sour! Although the per capita consumption of these foods is still well below that of fluid milk, it would appear we are increasingly finding ways to enjoy these higher fat dairy options.

It will be interesting to see a comparison of these statistics in another few years.

These are Canadian dairy consumption stats (litres per person) for 2007 (black) and 1987 (red):

2% milk  – 38.03 L / 62.53 L
1% milk – 18.3 L / stats not available until 1990
3.25% milk – 11.97 L / 28.59 L
Skim milk – 8.79 L / 5.26 L
Chocolate milk – 5.67 L / 3.99 L
Table cream (18%) – 3.11 L / 0.43 L
Half & half cream (10%) – 3.03 L / 2.89 L
Sour cream – 1.46 L / 0.80 L
Whipping cream (35%) – 1.21 L / 0.90 L
Buttermilk – 0.45 L / 0.52 L

Source: Statistics Canada and Harrowsmith magazine, February 2009