Topline Trends Tuesday: Men still avoiding aprons

September 8, 2009

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According to this recent Toronto Star article, in the last census, nearly 25% of Canadian women spent 30 hours or more taking care of the home in 2006, compared to 7.7% of men. This US report shows that the trend is the same in that country, too.

What’s interesting for me as a trend tracker is that, while many young men tell me they love food TV shows and want to know how to become chefs like Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain, it’s this same group who do the fewest household chores. In fact, according the US report linked above, teenage boys and young males performed the fewest hours of household work – 8.9 hours per week, compared with 15.9 for young women.

While “chores” aren’t broken down between cooking and cleaning, I have a feeling that this old ad isn’t as quaint as I’d like to think.

What do you think prevents more men from being involved in daily food preparation? Are women too ready to jump in and make a meal or do we make them feel unwelcome in the kitchen?

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Jewelry dilemmas

August 31, 2009

jewelryIf you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that love has been in the air at our Test Kitchen. Not only did Amy get married on Saturday, but the lovely and capable Sabrina got engaged recently, too.

All this excitement led us to a discussion about our jewelry. While I usually stash my wedding ring in my pocket or next to my computer keyboard while I’m cooking, Sabrina is keeping her gorgeous new Mark Lash ring in a ramekin or on a pastry tip to keep it away from gooey dough.

The folks who inspect commercial and restaurant kitchens for health compliance recommend that no one in the kitchen wear rings, watches, bracelets or even earrings and nose rings that could transfer bacteria to food. For me, taking off my wedding ring when I cook comes not only from my concern about hygiene but also from my desire to keep my ring in good shape and prevent my finger from getting a moisture rash.

Do you take your rings off when you’re cooking? If so, where do you stash them for safekeeping?


Working from home: Ham or cheese?

August 5, 2009

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I used to work at home all the time. I had an office in our basement and a second kitchen down there where Amy, Sabrina and I used to develop recipes and do our consulting work. Working at home had advantages in that it saved commuting time but, as you can see from the photo above, working at home also means contending with your family 24/7.

That’s my husband Martin tormenting me while I try to take a picture of a yellow bean salad that I thought was particularly pretty. Is he more of a ham or just delivering as much cheese as he can? Maybe both?

I can enjoy little interruptions like this one now that most of my professional food activities happen off-site (in fact, I laughed like crazy after he pulled this stunt) but when I worked at home this kind of thing would have driven me crazy!

What about you? Do you work at home or leave the house every day for another destination?


Toast talk

May 6, 2009

transparenttoasterI was hanging out on Rona Maynard’s blog recently – it’s a favourite indulgence of mine to make a cup of milky, sweet Earl Grey tea, kick off my shoes, tuck my feet under me on the couch and read a few of her posts in one gluttonous, soul-nourishing sitting. As my last sentence suggests, Rona’s writing is wonderful and her subject matter is often thought-provoking and touching. In fact, even when she writes about making a piece of toast, there’s poetry in every sentence.

I’ve always been a big fan of toast (I’m a second generation addict, to be truthful; in fact, my mother has turned eating toast into a lifestyle of sorts), so I pay close attention to all toast-related news. But somehow I’d missed the news that toasters are celebrating their 100th birthday this year. Shouldn’t this anniversary be headline news?

How often do you make toast? Is your toaster part of your daily routine or is it an occasionally-used appliance that helps you to salvage staling bread?


Worth Having: Fire Extinguisher

December 8, 2008

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Last Thursday evening I was reminded of how quickly a fire can change your life when a large portion of my father’s house was consumed by flames that started out as tiny sparks in the electrical system. Although this fire had nothing to do with cooking or even the kitchen, it did remind me that everyone in the household needs to know where to find the fire extinguishers and to be able to use them.

This picture is of the large fire extinguisher we have in the pantry kitchen at my test kitchen facility. There is a smaller, prettier white extinguisher in the main kitchen, too. At home I have one under my kitchen sink and another at the back door. We’ve never had to use one of these tools but, due to my husband’s forethought, they are always on hand and in good maintenance.

None of us expects a fire to break out in our homes but even people who only use the oven to bake frozen pizza should have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen. Although the fire at my dad’s house was too serious to be helped by a household fire extinguisher, hundreds of other people have been saved injury by using them. So, if you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, please get one and learn how to use it.

How many of you reading today have a fire extinguisher that you know how to use and know is up to current fire code standards?


Pantry raiders unite

August 5, 2008

For a food writer, I have a perverse love of empty pantry shelves and wide open spaces in my refrigerator. Our test kitchen develops about 600 recipes a year for our various editorial and corporate clients so we have a huge pantry management issue. (In fact, we have a team member whose business card title is Pantry Manager).

A side effect of having to cope with so much food is that I’ve developed this weird desire to have an empty refrigerator. I just love to open the fridge and see an empty shelf. It’s become synonymous with having no work to do. Weird, but true.

Perhaps that’s why I liked this post about saving money by using up your pantry supplies. Saving money, earning money – just two sides of the same cookie, right?

Keep up with Bread Chick’s pantry management experiment by following her Pantry Plan tags each week.


Dana’s Big Gardening Adventure scales new heights

August 1, 2008

I remember when I was a young, single apprentice working in Toronto restaurant kitchens. In those days chefs used to invite me over to see their cookbook collections…I guess times have changed in the 13 years I’ve been coupled off with my own man with a pan because if this article in Gremolata is any indication, it sounds like women get invited to visit the roof top gardens of chefs these days.

Check out what Noelle Munaretto and Kelly Robins learned on their roof top garden visits with the chefs of Cowbell, George, and Epic (at the Fairmont Royal York).