Happy Halloween – have you ever worn a food-related costume?

October 30, 2009

coolest-california-roll-sushi-boy-costume-37615Photo credit: www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com

I’ve just today realized that I’ve never had a food-related Halloween costume. I once dressed my infant son as a pumpkin but I’ve always had scary costumes myself.

One year my brother was a marshmallow but it was a costume of convenience: he was five and just out of the hospital from having pneumonia so my mom dressed him in a fuzzy white ‘fun’ fur coat of hers and threw a white hat on him so that he could go out trick or treating without catching a chill. Most people thought he was a Russian czar but he didn’t mind; he was just glad to be allowed out of bed!

Some of the best food inspired costumes I’ve ever seen are here on thee Serious Eats blog.

How about you? Any good food inspired Halloween costumes in your past or present?

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Taco tsunami

October 29, 2009

Shrimp tacoTacos. They aren’t just filled with chili powder spiced ground beef anymore. Recent trends have seen fish tacos win fans from coast-to-coast and so-called Korean Tacos trucks are cruising the streets in big US cities like LA, New York and Seattle. Likewise, meatless tacos and tacos that feature slices of meatloaf as the star filling have recently been featured in national magazines.

At our house, tacos are a regular menu item. We’re soft taco lovers and I’ve been known to fill our shells with pulled pork, vegetarian chili, seared hoisin glazed duck and even stir-fry.

What happens at your house? Are you a taco kit household or an anything-goes-in-a-tortilla household like ours?


Where Dana shops

October 28, 2009

Jane R - Cake Slicing 2

When the new book All the Best Recipes by Jane Rodmell came out earlier this fall, I was thrilled! Long before I met Jane Rodmell or Sue Bowman (the dynamic perfectionistas who run All the Best Fine Foods) and became their friends, I was a devoted customer.

In fact, this shop was (and remains) my ‘go to it’ destination for prepared foods that are as good as I’d make myself. From the roasted vegetable lasagna that I’ve had them make in casserole dishes so that I could serve it up like it was homemade, to the buttery, super crisp gingerbread cookies (recipe below) I buy in the store as a special treat for my son, this is a book filled with fantastic recipes.

What I’m really trying to say is: if you buy one cookbook this fall, make it this one! Happy Anniversary All the Best!

The Best Gingerbread

MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN COOKIES

•Cookie cutters (gingerbread boys and girls),
about 21⁄2 inches (6 cm)
•Baking sheets

61⁄2 cups all-purpose flour 1.625 L
4 tsp ground cinnamon 20 mL
4 tsp ground ginger 20 mL
1 tsp ground cloves 5 mL
1 tsp baking soda 5 mL
1⁄4 tsp salt 1 mL
2 cups butter, softened 500 mL
2 cups packed dark brown sugar500 mL
1 cup light (fancy) molasses 250 mL
Decorative (Royal) Icing

1. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, cream butter and brown sugar until blended. Add molasses and beat until smooth. On low speed or with a wooden spoon, gradually add flour mixture, mixing until blended. Divide gingerbread dough into 2 disks. Wrap securely in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch (3 mm to 0.5 cm) thickness. Stamp out shapes with floured cookie cutters as desired. Place on baking sheets, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake in preheated oven until firm and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size of cutouts. Be vigilant, as cookies brown quickly in the last few minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Gingerbread becomes crisp when cool. Decorate with icing when completely cooled.

Do you have a store that you can depend on for top quality food that actually tastes as good as it looks? If so, give them a plug in the comments section. In my experience, these places deserve all the support we can give them.


Topline Trends Tuesday: Crystals, cow horns and moon beams – biodynamics defined

October 27, 2009

Even if they can’t recite technical definitions of words such as organic and all-natural, most people have a strong sense of what these terms mean. However, when it comes to biodynamics, I doubt there are very many Canadians who can confidently spout a definition.

Yet, some people believe that biodynamics is the next big thing. So, to help all of us (until I started researching this post, biodynamics confused me, too) here are the essential things you need to know about biodynamics. Seariously, keep reading and you’ll easily carry on a cocktail party conversation about biodyamics! (Your grateful hosts are welcome to send me thank you cards if they like. Email me for my address.)

Biodynamics:
1. is a specific method of organic farming.
2. strives to be a unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the earth to the movement of the cosmos.
3. looks upon the soil and the farm as living organisms that are holistically linked and interdependent.
4. regards the maintenance and feeding of soil life as a basic necessity that will preserve soil quality for generations.
5. uses an astronomical sowing and planting calendar.

Still having trouble envisioning how biodynamics can impact your life? Check out these real-life biodynamic food and beverage products:
Southbrook Farm’s Biodynamic Wine
Zhena’s Biodynamic Tea
Australian William’s River Beef and lamb

Want to take your level of biodynamic knowledge to the moon? Check out the Demeter website or watch the video posted above.

Have you ever bought a biodynamic product? If not, will you now that you know more about this farming system? Or, is this just some crazy idea whipped up by pot-smoke addled hippies?


RIP Soupy Sales

October 26, 2009

pieface

Good ole Soupy Sales. What a life he lived! He almost single handedly supported the cream pie industry. By the comics own count he was hit in the face with at least 20,000 pies – almost all of them filled with creamy, custardy goodness.

Friday night, driving to the Chocolate Ball, I heard an archive interview between Soupy and the late, great Canadian journalist Barbara Frum where Soupy admitted that there was, even for him, always a moment of pure humiliation when you’re hit in the face with pie.

Inspiring words that had me making a mental list of the people I’d like to hit in the face with pies…

  1. Lady Gaga who is so over played on Toronto radio stations that I want to scream. (Seriously. If I hear that crappy Papparazi song one more time, I’ll start whipping cream and rolling out pastry!)
  2. The dude too busy talking on his phone while he drove to take a moment to wave when I totally went out of my way to let him in on Saturday.
  3. Every air-duct cleaning company owner that calls me – despite being on the do not call list – while I’m watching Jeopardy! or eating my dinner. (For them, I’ll use salt instead of sugar in the pie since I really want them to suffer.)

I’m sure there are more but I don’t really want to dig too deep into my bitterness reserve. Soupy likely wouldn’t approve. He was a man who devoted his life to making people laugh after all.

But, I will ask you these questions before I sign off for today:  have you ever been hit in the face with a pie?  If so, what was it like?  And, if you could wallop someone with a cream topped pastry crust, who would it be?


Double-duty packaging

October 23, 2009

bird house wine boxReduce, I support. Recycle, I support. But, reuse, I love!

Check out this great ‘green’ package. It’s a wine gift box that is also a hummingbird house! So clever.

As we proceed into the holiday dinner and cocktail party season, many people will pick up gifts, flowers or bottles of cheer to take to their hosts. What other smart double-duty packages can be used to carry a gift and then be used for something else? Gift bags don’t count – I want you to dig deeper today, dear readers.

PS: Here are instructions on how to make a wine bottle birdhouse.


Pizza poll

October 22, 2009

pizzaconeWe have all been asked to ponder that philosophical question: if a tree falls in the woods and no is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I say, unless it was a fruit tree and I can score some free apples or pears without having to risk my neck on a ladder, who really cares?

No, I’m more concerned about things that really matter such as: is a pizza still pizza if it isn’t flat?

Consider the Calzone, the Cone (pictured here) and the much advertised microwavable Pizza Pocket… true iterations of pizza or pretenders? Discuss.

In other pizza related news: check out this modernized new pizza box made from recycled paper.