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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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!


Grilling year-round

January 10, 2008

Winter GrillingStatistics reveal that many Canadians now use their grills year-round. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of this interest in winter grilling is that low-fat foods taste great when they’re cooked over a flame.

Although the basic principles of grilling apply in every season, there are a few safety considerations that are unique to winter grilling that are important to keep in mind.

At our test kitchen we’re always working out of season. That means that we develop turkey recipes all summer for winter publications and then grill all through February for summer magazine articles. (In the picture above that’s recipe tester Rob Heidenreich and test kitchen manager Sabrina Falone’s arm cooking up summer recipes last week).

After years of shovelling snow off the patio to spend the day grilling, we’ve become savvy and safe cold-weather grillers. Here are our tips for cold-weather grilling success:

1. Gas grills with higher BTU ratings heat up quickly even when it’s very cold so if you’re purchasing a gas grill and know that you want to use it in cold weather, opt for a unit with a BTU rating per square inch that is higher than 125.

2. If you haven’t used the grill recently, check all gas lines, burners and jets for possible blockages. Insects such as spiders may pick these places to build cocoons for the winter and their homes will prevent fuel from flowing freely to the burners.

3. Avoid wearing scarves or wide-sleeved jackets that may dangle into the flames and catch fire. Instead, opt for snugly fitted sleeves and a turtleneck sweater or a fleecy neck warmer.

4. Although the garage may seem like a wind-sheltered, inviting spot to grill, the comfort is not worth the safety risk. Instead, set up the grill at least 10 feet away from the house to avoid the risk of a fire or an explosion that can result when grill flames and stray vapours from the gas furnace, water heater or the lawn mower’s fuel tank meet one another in an enclosed space.

5. If necessary, brush off all snow on the grill to speed preheating and shovel the surrounding area to prevent a dangerously slippery skating rink from forming under and around your grill.

6. Position your grill out of the wind to conserve heat.

7. Many metals and almost all plastics get brittle in very cold weather so handle the knobs on the grill gently to avoid snapping them off.

8. To ensure that foods cook evenly and that cooking times aren’t unreasonably lengthened in cold weather, make sure the lid of the barbecue is closed during cooking. Peeking too often will allow heat to escape and extends cooking time.

A final word for today’s entry: M is your mystery letter for the day.


Feel free to insult me

January 9, 2008

donutphotobytiffany.jpgThere are occasions when an insult is a compliment. For instance, if you (or pretty much anyone) were to call me a “skinny bitch” I’d be flattered and add your name on my list of favourite people.

I’m not the first to recognize this fact. The authors of Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitchen correctly recognized this fact and turned their knowledge into a successful book franchise.

What this example proves to me is that our culture has developed a rather strange connection to food. We love it and celebrate it with glossy cookbooks, $100+ restaurant meals and success stories such as the popular shows on Food Network Canada. Then, as evidenced by my blog posts so far this week, we spend just as much energy trying to avoid food and calories so that we can look and feel attractive.

The ultimate expression of this societal quirk was made obvious to me last autumn at the gala for the 2007 Toronto Art Fair. On opening night the convention centre was packed with stylish art lovers. Almost everyone in attendance was dressed fashionably and the group was generally thin and chic. Surprisingly, I found my dieting self (see Monday’s post) drooling not over the catered canapes on offer but over many of the paintings.Food was a very prominent theme at this art fair which needed a 300 page catalogue to showcase all the art on display. From the ubiquitous fruit pictures (among the best were 2-foot square canvasses featuring bigger than life apples for $9,000 each) to a minimalist painting of a single sprinkle-topped donut which sold for $12,000, it was obvious that not only do the culinary arts now extend out of the kitchen and into the artist’s studio but that there is a lot more money in selling pictures of donuts than the real thing!

You didn’t think I’d forget to mention today’s mystery letter, did you? I didn’t. It’s an L.