Susan Sampson, you blew my mind!

In yesterday’s Toronto Star, Susan Sampson featured a recipe that seemed a lot like my go-to healing broth (which I consume at least once a week) – except it had a new, very compelling addition: GREEN TEA!


The idea absolutely floored me. Green tea is basically the only thing I could add to healing broth that would make it any MORE healthy, but I never really thought of eating/drinking tea in soup before. Thankfully, Sampson was dutifully perusing Tea Cookbook: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Tea Lovers by Tonia George to develop an adapted recipe.

The soup begins by nearly-boiling 6 cups of water then steeping 4 green tea bags for 4 minutes along with some pieces of ginger. You could use jasmine tea. JASMINE. Lemongrass. I would add lemongrass too.

I'm trying this for dinner tonight.

You can follow Sampson's recipe if you're a methodological engineering type, or you can make your own tea soup.

I'd toss in some collards because I've been loving them lately, maybe snap peas or broccoli too. Sampson suggests bok choy, which is a personal fave. I like a little boullion too.

I'd add some delicious mushrooms for umami-ness. If you wish to use dehydrated mushrooms, just soak them in some kettle-boiled water, enough to cover. Once they've plumped up, toss them into your broth mix along with their liquid.

Cook noodles separately in salted water. You can use rice noodles, soba or whole wheat spaghetti. The noodles are the heart of the meal.

Finish the soup with your selection of all/any of the following: fish sauce, soy sauce, lime or lemon juice, sesame oil, hot sauce/cayenne powder/red chili flakes, chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, chopped spring onion, bean sprouts or sprouts of your choice.

I'm so excited.

A Secret No More

Imagine it's a long weekend in Canadian February. You go up to Al's lovely cottage near Belleville to spend some quality time relaxing with pals and watching the Olympics. You may or may not also be a food blogger.

While you're up there, you take a trip into town with Andrea and she casually mentions 'dropping by' the cheese place. You think, "Yeah, that sounds pretty cool." You don't realize the cheese place is Prince Edward County's Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co., which has recently been awarded the title of greenest dairy in North America.

You are impressed with the selection of goat and sheep cheeses. You sample every item they have on hand, eventually selecting a Lavender Bagel Chèvre, a Bonnie & Floyd rind-washed Sheep's cheese, and a Lost Lake soft rind goat's cheese. Since it's Valentine's Day, you sample their seasonally delicious goat cheese chocolate truffles and may or not get one for your boyfriend. (It's up to you.)

Andrea tells you all about Fifth Town's green practices. The cutting-edge, $2-million facility is the first dairy in North America to receive platinum-level certification from LEED, the highest level possible. The facility uses power from a windmill and eight solar panels. Cheeses are chilled in man-made, underground caves that stay cool naturally instead of wasting energy on refrigeration. Even whey is filtered into water with a $75,000 bio-wetland system. On top of all this, cheese packaging is either biodegradable or recyclable and all ingredients are sourced from eco-conscious farmers.

You chat with Petra Cooper about the company's awards: first place in the aged goat cheese category at the prestigious American Cheese Society Awards this past August.

You feel excited, like you have stumbled upon a special secret, something exciting and groundbreaking that you want to share with your blog readers. You craft a Pulitzer prize-winning blog post.

And then you see a couple days later that Toronto life has written a piece on Fifth Town!

Too much left unsaid

That title is a little dramatic. The reality is simply that there are so many things I want to blog about that I might as well just do a brief round up.

From The Kitchn, they highlight a new trend of repurposing inepensive grinders to make custom spice blends.

This is mine:

Slashfood reports that the European Food Safety Authority has been studying the addition of smoke flavourings to foods. They have found eight out of eleven varieties studied contained chemicals that could cause cell damage. (1) Yeesh. (2) Is that really that surprising? We all know that blackened food or smoke on/around food contains carcinogens.

In other food news, Nadia Arumugam wrote a compelling piece for Slate Magazine that advises readers to ignore expiration dates. She highlights how the conservative these dates are:
To account for all manner of consumer, manufacturers imagine how the laziest people with the most undesirable kitchens might store and handle their food, then test their products based on these criteria.
Read the full article here.

Check back later this week for my highlights from Canada's more sustainable dairy farmers.

In the meantime, I leave you with a question that Slashfood recently raised: food porn or just porn?

Dark & Stormy

Bondi Beach, Festival of the Winds

Dark and Stormy

2 ounces dark rum
8 ounces ginger beer

Pour rum and ginger beer in a highball glass and stir gently. Add ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge. Makes one portion.

The Dark and Stormy is the national drink of Bermuda.

The Fifth Taste

The UK is all in a tizzy over this week's unveiling of Umami in a Tube. The purée is called 'Taste No. 5'. In addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter, umami has been recognized as a distinct flavour in Japan for 102 years.

The word comes from the Japanese word for taste and was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a Tokyo chemist. He decided umami was the flavour result of foods that contained a lot of glutmate, which is a building block of protein.

Umami gained a lot of mixed attention from the public as people associated it with monosodium glutamate (MSG.)

It captures the essence of savouriness, the pungent, earthy flavour that occurs in foods like steak and mushrooms. Some also use the words brothy or meaty to describe its taste.

Umami transcends cuisines from all over the world, found in seaweed from Japan and parmasan from Italy. It's also prevalent in Wortchesterchire sauce, fish sauce, Marmite and human breast milk. Mmm... Caesar salad is very umami too.

I go through phases with HP sauce where I want it on everything: eggs, burgers, salad dressing. When I actually start to really think about it, my mouth waters.

This new umami in a tube can be added to basically any food you can think of. It has been created for the UK market by food writer Laura Santtini and the formula includes porcini mushrooms, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, black olives, garlic and tomatoes.

I hope I can get my greasy little paws on a tube soon!

Chip off the 'new' block

While Americans were giddily enjoying images of Oprah, Letterman and Leno as well as Megan Fox taking a bath, we Canadians were treated to more and more and MORE Olympic promo.

You may have also caught a commercial for Sunchips' new compostable chip bag. The first 100% compostable bag in the world will be available to Canadians as of March 2010.

They have also partnered with the Composting Council of Canada to educate Canadian municipalities about the compostable bag and how it can fit into municipal green bin programs.

This whole campaign actually won the Grand Prix and two Golds at Canada's Cassie Awards so expect to see some clever advertising around this product innovation!


I got the chance to try out Kale this weekend. Located just north of Yonge and Eglinton, the simple restaurant offers wholesome vegetarian food in a pleasant space. 

The food is served buffet style with two sections for hot and cold foods. I tried a squash-filled perogie, baked tofu, roasted potato and eggplant curry. From the salad foods I tried roasted organic beets, soba noodle salad, steamed kale and broccoli and marinated, roasted asparagus. You pay by weight for the food. The girl who worked there said most people average around $12 for a plate.

One of my food reviewing criteria lies in the need for the restaurant to offer something I cannot do at home. In the case of Kale, offers sheer variety. The selections of dishes are simple. I could roast beets or put together a tofu salad at home, but I could not have the variety of delicious, nutritious dishes that they do.

My companion and I each had a fresh juice ($6.50 for a small). Mine was beet, carrot & ginger, one of my favourite combos.

I loved Kale and I can't wait to go back. It's a simple, healthy option for clean eating. They have a system that works. If you are vegetarian or prefer to eat healthy food, I suggest you try it!

Photo Credit: Edyta
Rating: 4/5

Kale Eatery
2366 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 963-8624

Serenity Now

I've been having a hard week.

I feel like my blog has even been suffering. I look over posts, fraught with spelling errors and formatting issues and I feel embarassed and inattentive (paring knife, not pairing.) Sometimes I think using the blogger platform itself might come off as amateur. (I know other people have written on this subject, such as Eden Spodek.)

Maybe this will sound like a justification of sorts (and maybe you should interpret it as such), but I think the mistakes are ok. I have to remind myself that blogging is a fluid form of communication.

Sometimes I generate more content than a newspaper staff writer would. I have a busy 9-5 day job and I don't have a copy editor; I'm a one man show. I don't write about anything I don't want to and it warms my heart to interact with people and discuss ideas. I love blogging and it brings me great joy.

I'm simply declaring to myself and to you that I'm ok with mistakes  because they demonstrate that blogginf is personal, fast and sometimes because that's what makes blog honest and , that sense of reality.

In the meantime, I am comforted by the fact that this hasn't just been a hard week for me. I know others, including Megan Telpner from The Appetizer had a rough one too. (Click here for her recipe for healing turmeric tea.)

Happy Friday!

Industrial Design

The simplest and most intuitive designs can have the most profound effect.

You may have seen the news about Heinz's new dual function ketchup packets (more like a tub), designed for dipping OR squirting and holding three times more volume than the previous packages. This should please Canadians since we are the second-greatest consumers of ketchup in the world.

The new design looks like a chubby, little iconic Heinz bottle. Cute!

In other packaging and design news, people have been freaking out about the milk bags that are available to us in Ontario. In a recent YouTube video, Sheryl Ng demonstrates cutting the milk bag with scissors and placing it it in its jug. The video was used to demonstrate a small difference between Canadians and Americans. The rest of the world has reacted by thinking we're weirdos.

Cathal Kelly outlines some great information about jugs versus bags in the Toronto Star. Please also have a look at Ng's viral video below. (Check out the comments from around the world too! People are really getting worked up.)

Ng's next video entry will educate international viewers on ketchup and dill pickle chips.

Finally, did you hear about the new pint glasses they've been working on in England? They can't be shattered so pub owners are hoping they will reduce incidences of violence. Read more about it here.

Two Princes

I like to eat my apples by cutting slices off with a pairing knife. The first time I cut into a Red Prince apple, I almost cut myself. 
"On the knife," you ask?
"No, on the apple: the dense, pear-like flesh of an apple. My knife cut an edge on the apple so sharp that it almost cut my lip."
She trails off, her mind drifting to the 8 year old cheddar in the fridge.
I'm convinced that the people at Red Prince have been following me because they certainly know my taste. 

Lately, my apple habits have undeniably moved towards crunch: Fuji, Royal Gala and Honeycrisp are good friends of mine.

The Red Prince fulfills my crunchly, crunchly desires, but has a finer, smoother texture with a robust and filling flesh. It's quite juicy, but not too juicy.

I like it a lot.

Red Prince apples come from Europe originally, but are now grown locally in Ontario by Global Fruit, a Clarksberg Ontario company that is dedicated to sustainable growing practices and increasing local product for consumption. The company is also responsible for farming Honecrisp apples, which are one of my recent favourites. (Super juicy!)The apples are also packaged by another local company called, Martin's Family Fruit Farm.

To promote the crowning of new apple royalty, Red Prince is launching a 30-Day Civility Challenge. The Red Prince Twitter account will feature a civility task each day for thirty days, such as, "smiling at a stranger you see today" or "offering to do the dishes."
The challenge kicks off tomorrow in the PATH system for all ye downtown Bay Street folk.

Photo opportunities will be available with the Red Prince himself. Louise Fox, etiquette Queen, will be on hand offering advice on civility. Visitors can also receive good karma through hand massages. Finally, 10,000 Red Prince apples will be given away. And they are delicious- really, you might be surprised how much you want to talk about them.

Red Prince Civility Event
PATH System (underground)
Exchange Tower - 130 King St. W.
First Canadian Place - 
11 AM-2 PM

Michael Smith on American Iron Chef - Was it fixed?

This post isn't going to please any American readers out there (or the members of my nuclear family - who are all currently in the US.) Thankfully this blog is based in Toronto!

There have been discussions in Taste TO, Toronto Life and the Toronto Star who felt that the results were unfair. Even American blog, Slashfood, pointed out that giving the secret ingredient of avocado to Bobby Flay, king of Southwestern cuisine, seemed dubious. Michael Thomas Hastings wrote, "It'd be like giving Morimoto seaweed or Mario Batali basil. "

I don't think he necessarily should have won the competition, but to lose by 14 points was insulting. Chef Michael Smith is a James Beard Award winner after all!! Sheryl Kirby from Taste TO rightly pointed out that Iron Chef Bobby Flaw's presentation was hideous compared to Smith, but Flay received a score of 14/15.

Smith's presentation was whimsical and charming, definitely creative. He made anchors shaped out of potato dough,

Co-judges Donatella Arpaia and Anya Fernald were humourless and didn't appreciate any of Smith's creativity. I actually had to change the channel at one point because the whole debaucle was too hard to watch and he looked miffed off!

The theory that I have developed for the injustice of the battle results is as follows. Bobby Flay is Mister America-Yankee extraordinaire. He even owns a Restaurant in NYC called Bar America. USA! USA! Bobby Flay love-in! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

By contract, Michael Smith is the defector, the dodge-drafter (not literally.) Although he is NY-born, he has chosen a quieter, humbler life in Canada where he lives on the ocean in PEI with his wife and son.

I think he lost because of underlying sentiments about his expatriatism. Full stop.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Did you watch the show? Did you think the results were justified?

PS In case you're feeling bad, Chef Smith is currently involved with food logistics for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He'll be just fine.

Eat delicious & healthy lunches this week

Sometimes eating salad is misery and other times you have a salad that makes you think you could eat only that food for the rest of your life and be happy. Word to the wise, it usually includes proteins AKA treats or rewards.

Chef Salad

lettuce (Romaine, green leaf, iceberg or a mix)
Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
roasted turkey breast, shredded
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
tomatoes, sliced
radishes, sliced
Roquefort cheese, crumbled
avocado, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
dressing of your choice

Serves 2.

Cobb Salad

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled (for instructions, visit here)
8 bacon slices
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated and torn into bite-size pieces
Fresh herbs (your choice)
2 cups chopped watercress lettuce (tough stems removed)
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound plus 1 ounce Roquefort cheese or blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Several long chive lengths for garnish

Cut the hard-boiled eggs into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, fry the bacon about 10 minutes or until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool, crumble and set aside.

Make a bed of romaine lettuce on a platter, shallow bowl, or individual serving plates. Arrange the eggs, bacon, herbs, watercress, turkey or chicken, avocados, tomatoes, and the 1/4 pound Roquefort or blue cheese in a neat pattern atop the lettuce, in rows or in a checkerboard pattern, covering the lettuce almost completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using a fork, mash in the remaining 1 ounce Roquefort cheese to make a paste. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing.

Pour a little of the dressing over the salad and garnish with chive lengths. Serve immediately. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Serves 4 to 6.

Waldorf Salad Recipe

1/2 cup chopped, slightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced (or a 1/4 cup of raisins)
1 sweet apple, cored and chopped
3 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or yogurt) and the lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.

Serves 2.

Green Thinking

I've been eating a lot of kale recently and it feels like a good thing. I put it in greens-focused healing broths with seaweed and rice noodles. I'll post that recipe later this week. It's a great 'healthy' instant noodle soup to eat at work. All you need to do is add boiling water.

Kale is packed with nutrients: calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K. It has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and ten times more lutein.

Yesterday I fried up some kale with olive oil, red onion, and garlic. Once everything was gently wilted, I tossed in a can of mixed beans (rinsed and drained.) You could use any beans you want, but I'd suggest a white bean variety. I tossed everything around, threw a little extra olive oil on and turned off the heat. A couple splashes of red wine vinegar topped it off plus a generous smattering of salt and pepper. Optional: I added some chopped parsley and cilantro for freshness, but everything tasted plenty delicious without.

I plan to eat the beans and kale along with a simple toasted curry quinoa.

I don't know what it is with the greens, but I want them all the time! In wintertime, I find it harder to eat cold, floppy salads. I want hot, hardy, chewy greens: beet greens, collards, kale, bok choy, seaweed - the darker and more evil-looking, the more I want it.

You fry, braise and roast these delicious hardy greens. I find them so versatile and often toss them into things as a game time decision.

A lot of people make greens a target point for their diets, and not just an accompaniment. My brother, the raw vegan, purchases blocks of frozen spinach to be the principal ingredient in his signature 'green smoothies'. I, personally, use frozen wheatgrass juice packets or dehydrated wheatgrass powder to ingest first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

In the past I've used green supplements such as Greens+ as well as a very affordable Trader Joe's greens formula ($9.99 USD). I would usually incorporate these powder mixed into a power smoothie to have for breakfast.

My thinking in taking these supplements in addition to my regular (generally very healthy) diet is that they are easily absorbed into the body first thing in the morning.

The likelihood of me having a morning salad on a weekday is unlikely and the effect of greens in the morning is a wondrous thing.

This movement toward eating more greens relates to the fact that greens contain chrlorophyll and help to cleanse our bodies. We hear a lot of people talking about  severe cleanses where they rid their bodies of impurities. Why not give the body a gentle, regular cleanse by focusing on leafy green vegetables?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and personal stories on green living. Do you think most of us could do with more green in our diets? Do you ever drink green smoothies or make morning salads?

Please enjoy the video below by Meghan Telpner, who is a certified Nutritionist and Holistic LifeStyle consultant. (She does those great videos for The Appetizer, National Post Online.)

In this segment, she demonstrates how to make kale chips!