Everyone’s a winner!

June 23, 2009

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Photo credit: Tracy Cox

Thanks to everyone who entered the Oster Blender contest here on my blog. I know I said I was going to pick the winner using the Dine-O-Matic but I couldn’t figure out how to put in customized info. (I’m just not as smart as Charmian at Christie’s Corner!) So I used the old entries in a hat method to make a selection. And, the lucky winner is: LORRAINE . Congratulations!  I’ll email you later on today to get your mailing coordinates.

Since I’d like to be able to pull an Oprah and give everyone a prize, I’ve also pulled two more names out of my pudding bowl. They are JOHN and RACHEL and they each win a copy of my last book Dana’s Top Ten Table. For the rest of us, I’m posting two more Bula Smoothie & Nutrition Bar inspired smoothie recipes. If you can’t have a free blender, at least you can have something yummy to make in the one you bought and paid for, right?

Cranberry Thyme (pictured above)

3/4 cup (175 mL) 100 % cranberry juice

1/2 cup (125 mL) each ice cubes and frozen cranberries

2 tbsp (10 mL) honey

1/4 cup (50 mL) strawberry or raspberry sorbet

1/2 tsp (2 mL) chopped fresh thyme leaves

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Mix on high speed until well combined.

Chocolate Mango Chipotle

1/2 cup (125 mL) each frozen mango, ice cubes and milk

1 single serve container vanilla yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) chocolate syrup

1/4 tsp (1 mL) chipotle pepper sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Mix on high speed until well combined.

PS: Topline Trends Tuesday will return next week.

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Summer contest: win a blender!

June 18, 2009

BlenderSmoothies, margaritas, gazpacho, pesto… there are so many reasons you need a blender in the summer!

According to the folks at Oster (who kindly donated the lovely blender pictured here for my contest), Canadians increasingly love to whirl their food up. From research conducted in 2006, they say Canadian blender ownership increased from 69% in 2003 to 76% in 2006.

My guess is that if you’re one of the 24% of Canadians still blenderless, you’re likely feeling pretty left out. Or, maybe you’ve whizzed up so many daiquiris that your blender is worn out now and you need a new one? To be honest, your motivation for entering my contest makes little difference to me. I just want to give stuff away!

Here’s some specific info about this Oster Blender:
• 600 watts of power is ideal for crushing ice for smooth frozen drinks (like daiquiris – yum!)
• Large 6-cup capacity pitcher style glass jar for better pouring (or you can just put a straw in the pitcher if you’re really thirsty.)
• Easy to clean and easy to use soft touch controls (less cleaning is always a good thing, right?)
• Lid with integrated rubber gasket seal for secure fit (haven’t you always wanted a gasket to blow?)
• Low, Medium and High manual settings for control and flexibility (drop that yoga class!)
• All-Metal Drive system for extra durability (no pesky plastic parts to spend your precious sleep time worrying about.)
• Triple Tech™ Technology (whatever the heck that is…?)
Recommended retail price: $89.99 (But having me use it first = priceless, don’t ya think?).

What I do care about is what you’ll make with this blender. Tell me in the comments section below. Feel free to add a link to recipes if you like or just describe in a few words or lines what you’ll make if you win this blender. Please also add what country you’re from. And, although I can only open this contest to Canadians, I still want to hear your blending ideas so feel free to comment even if you live in Timbuktu! The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 23rd.

Photo credit: www.tracycoxphoto.com


Win a copy of Dana’s Top Ten Table

June 8, 2009

Dana's Top Ten

Charmian Christie is very graciously hosting a contest where the prize is a copy of my latest book. Drop by and visit her blog for a chance to win!


The ‘Where I am?’ contest

March 9, 2009

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My last contest proved to be so much fun that I’ve decided to hold another!

Pictured above (from left to right) are me, Rosie Schwartz and Janet Grdovich. Guess where this picture was taken and what kind of plants surround us and you can win snacktastic prize pack worth $50 from Planters.

Contest will close on Wednesday at noon EST. Due to the nature of the prize, I can only open the contest to Canadian readers. That said, I hope my international readers will still offer up their guesses just for the fun of it. A winner will be selected using the random number generator that Diva taught me about.

Good luck!


Dana’s big gardening adventure week two: starting seeds

April 4, 2008

Seed starters

Just before Easter my father and I had an interesting conversation about an annual contest he and his friend Marshall have to see who can grow the most delicious tomatoes. When I asked my Dad (who was raised on a farm) to share his tomato tips with me, I discovered that although I’m a relative city slicker, I’m a much ‘greener’ gardener than my dad.

While I’m starting three kinds of heritage tomato seeds on the window sill and intend to pamper my plants with non-toxic organic matter and kill any nasty leaf munching bugs with soap and water, my dad will buy his plant at Walmart or Home Depot and douse it regularly with commercial fertilizer and clouds of tomato dust bug killer. I’ve eaten the sandwiches made with his tomatoes in previous years so I know his method will create a great tomato. What I don’t know is if mine will be better. So, I’m going to invite myself to his tomato contest this year to see if my experiment results in more than just added peace of mind (or is it piece of mind? I’ve always been confused by that saying).

For those of you who plan to start tomatoes or any other garden plants from seed, here are my seed starting tips:

• I like the seed starter kits pictured above. They’re easy to use, lightweight and tidy. I bought my seed starter trays at the hardware store but you can order them from places such as Lee Valley as well.

• It’s never been easier to find heritage seeds. I saw some at the grocery store the other day and found even more in the garden section at the hardware store. However, I did order seeds for some specific items from an online seed catalogue. I found my supplier through Seeds of Diversity but a quick online search can point you in the right direction as well.

• This year the tricky part about starting seeds is anticipating when to take the plunge. My strategy has been to delay starting seeds for two weeks longer than usual to compensate for the crazy cold weather. (I can’t imagine I’ll be planting anything outdoors before late May this year).

• I’m also starting the plants that have a long maturation such as corn and pumpkins in pots. I’m hoping that by planting these items outdoors as plants instead of seeds that I’ll have some hope of a harvest before the fall frost comes.

• I label each row of seeds clearly. It’s important so that you can tell exactly what each plant is later on when it comes time to choose an appropriate place for it in the garden.

• In past years I found that the cells in these starters can be too wet to germinate seeds without growing mold. So, I recommend soaking them and then letting the cells stand for 12 hours before adding seeds. Later, water them often but sparingly (a spray bottle is ideal) so that you don’t wash away the seeds before they can drop roots.


Paris: a food lover’s paradise

March 4, 2008

FishDoes anyone know the name for the feeling that’s a combination of humility and envy? I need to know ‘cause I’ve been dealing with that unnamed emotion for a week. Last Tuesday I dialed into my RSS feeder to see what was going on in the many food blogs I enjoy reading. Turns out all the cool foodies are writing about their adventures in Paris:

Over at Orangette preparations are under way for a baguette-sampling trip to Paris while David Leibovitz (who I guess should be allowed to write about Paris given that he lives there) is talking about romantic Parisian restaurants. Then there’s Mark Bittman who goes through his archives to bring us the best of his Paris posts. Obviously, Paris is still the quintessential foodie travel destination in springtime.

Then there’s me. I saw the Eiffel tower the other day myself except it was this cheesy knock off and not the one located in actual France. Yeah, I know, I’m the classiest person you know and you really, really want to be my friend.

Despite the snark, I had some great French food experiences in Las Vegas. For instance, there was a great bistro dinner at Bouchon. This Thomas Keller satellite restaurant at the Venetian Hotel is a great place to nibble on silken foie gras terrine (if you go, share it as a starter –it’s huge) and to eat classically perfect trout almandine.

Martin and I also ate at Joel Robuchon’s eponymous restaurant that recently received 3 Michelin stars. Surely dining on the wares of a living French food icon makes me almost as cool as these transatlantic travelers?

Not convinced? Let me persuade you: dinner at Robuchon was a wonderful meal that I’ll always remember. The décor at Joel Robuchon is truly sumptuous: the massive chandelier that dominates the room is a crystalline feat of engineering while dark purple velvet banquettes, lavender silk curtains, black lacquer tables and white leather chairs furnish the room. I know it sounds like a brothel yet the room ends up being chic and elegant. Go figure.

Highlights of the lavish, $250 per person (yes, you read that price correctly and no, that amount didn’t include wine), six course meal we chose included the amuse bouche which featured avocado, fresh cheese and a tomato glee. Also wonderful was a hand-harvested, pan-seared Brittany sea scallop on a lobster sauce. Delish! Of course there were truffles thrown about lavishly (one course featured thinly sliced layers of black truffles used like nori to encase smoked eel and rice) but these two dishes had the most memorable flavours and textures.

Although the Arc du Triomphe I saw last was a miniature used as the entrance to a Vegas hotel breezeway, I suppose I shouldn’t feel jealous of these food writers who are enjoying Paris. After all, going to Paris right now would be like having my cake and eating it, too.

What’s the most memorable French food experiences you’ve had outside of France?

Note: Congratulations to Paul Villeneuve of Surrey, B.C., the winner of our Slow Cooker Mystery Word Contest. His entry was selected in a random draw and he correctly identified “jambalaya” as the mystery word to win a Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 slow cooker and a signed copy of Dana’s Top Ten Table. With almost 12, 000 entries received, thanks everyone who entered this contest and made it a great success.


Are men cooking more or less nowadays?

January 17, 2008

As frequent readers of this blog have likely gleaned, I watch a lot of TV. Although I try to justify it as part of my job, (once a food or food trend makes its way into pop culture I need to know about it, right?) the truth is, I just like sitting around.

Last week I was watching the pilot of Cashmere Mafia and I was struck not only by how boring it was, but by how the men were portrayed as the castrated, compromised subordinates to the hyper successful female main characters.

A little later that same evening I saw a preview for a show I don’t watch called Big Shots. It featured a vaguely familiar, very dishy actor having a revelation: “We’re the new women,” he bemoaned to his equally dishy friends. All characters looked crestfallen. I guess the idea of cooking on a daily basis isn’t every man’s idea of bliss!

Both of these shows (which are presumably written for women viewers) underlined an interesting point. Although droves of women work and have busy lives, the number of men who cook dinner daily has increased only by a small amount. Yes, statistics show that more men are cooking but they aren’t necessarily doing more weeknight meal preparation. From the research I’ve read, moms are still doing the day-to-day cooking while dads and single men are sauntering into the kitchen in their spare time to experiment with recipes for yeast breads, fresh pasta or slow-cooked roasts.

Men treat cooking like their other traditional hobbies such as carpentry and landscaping, spending considerably more on appliances, ingredients and tools than a woman typically spends. Bottom line: Men aren’t the new women. They’re just men who’ve discovered another room where they can relax.

A is your ninth and final letter for the mystery word. Go on, unscramble that word and enter it in the Homemakers Slow Cooker Mystery Word Contest. You have until midnight on March 3, 2008 to figure it out and enter to win a Hamilton Beach slow cooker plus a copy of my cookbook, Dana’s Top Ten Table (HarperCollins, 2007). Good luck!