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Friday, October 7, 2016

The Week in Yum, Baron Samedi and World Vision #HungerFree

I had a bit of an odd week, media event wise. I attended two very different events at the same venue a few days apart from each other.


I am always interested in organizations that are working towards food security, ending hunger and making healthy, tasty food available to everyone so I looked forward to attending this one. The gathering at Berkeley Field House (attached to the Berkeley Church), here in Toronto, was to celebrate with World Vision, who teamed up with Dennis Prescott to share his experience working with them in Kenya. World Vision is inviting Canadians to celebrate food with them and help support food projects for a #HungerFree world and this dinner was the official launch party. The setting was lovely with long tables covered with flowers and persimmons at every setting where everyone shared in a three course meal prepared by Prescott.

To learn more about World Vision Canada, #HungerFree and find ways to get involved, click here


Later in the week, I returned to Berkeley Church for something completely different.

This time it was to celebrate the launch of Baron Samedi Spiced Rum. It was all skulls, purple lights and copious rum drinks with an appearance by the man himself, Baron Samedi.

Okay, he isn't actually a man because according to Haitian lore, Baron Samedi is a Voodoo loa who is Master of the Dead and a Giver of Life. Popularized in the Bond classic, Live and Let Die, he has also made appearances in the TV shows Supernatural, Heroes and Grimm among others. THIS Baron Samedi is the face of a brand new Spiced Rum that is finally available here in Canada.

Although I did try one of the two featured cocktails at the party, I preferred to sip my rum alone, on ice. It's more lightly spiced than some other popular brands and I liked that - most spiced rums are great for baking and nice in a rum and eggnog but this is the first one that I would considered drinking straight up. At $30 for a 750ml bottle, it won't break the bank either.

Best Loot Bag EVER. Full sized bottle of rum with themed treats 
The Berkley Church was transformed into a Voodoo gathering f

the airbrush "tattoo" parlour had line ups from the minute we got there 

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and, here in Toronto, the weather is beautiful, the sun will be out and I hope that there is a turkey in every oven and a table full of friends and family to celebrate with at all of your homes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mairlyn Smith Hosts the I Heart Farmers Retreat with A Real, Live Canadian Canola Farmer

Photo: Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Eat Well Canola
*all activities and food were by Branding and Buzzing for this sponsored post, but, as always, all opinions expressed are my own

To celebrate I Heart Farmers, the fine people of Canola Eat Well invited a small group of city kids to join them for a day in the country for some apple picking, flower arranging and picnicking on delicious, heart healthy foods, all prepared for us using Canadian canola oil by cookbook author, nutritionist and living Canadian legend, Mairlyn Smith

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Week in Yum I Heart Farmers and Taste Matters

This week was a busy week with far too much work and not enough play but at least it ended with some fun.

I Heart Farmers, Canola Oil and a Farm Adventure

I took my good friend, Ivy Lam, into her very first corn maze at Applewood Farm. No one was harmed.
On Thursday, I was invited to grab a friend and tag along on the I Heart Farmers media tour sponsored by the Canadian Canola Growers. Along with our host and national treasure, Mairlyn Smith (who also prepared our amazing picnic lunch using heart healthy, Canadian canola oil in all of the recipes) and visiting guest farmer, Will Bergman, we went apple picking at Applewood Farm and Winery (maybe some apple booze tasting too) and then finished with a bit of flower arranging and picnicking at the ridiculously picturesque South Pond Farms. Stay tuned for some more photos from our adventure and a chat with Will about the future of Canadian farming.

Taste Matters 

Scallop Ceviche in Semolina Puffs from R&D

After a day of pretending to be a country girl, I had to do a quick change from my canola boots to silver slippers and made my way to a fancy pants fundraiser for Eva's Initiative called Taste Matters .

Eva's is much more than a youth shelter, helping troubled youth transition from homelessness to a life of living independantly by tending to not only their physical and emotional needs, but helping them aim high and to set and reach goals.

Eva's is named after Eva Smith, a Jamaican woman who came to Canada in 1956 at the age of 33 as a domestic worker.  Depsite her own hardships, Eva quickly became a community leader and, eventually,  a guidance counsellor at George Vanier Secondary school. She her life to preventing teenage homelessness and so it was in her honour that Eva's Place opened their first shelter in 1994.

I wrote about some of the great work that Eva's does here

The place was packed, wallets were open and people were bidding freely on the silent auctions while they noshed and sipped wine and beer from a variety of local vendors. A live auction capped the night off with items like a culinary week in a Tuscan Villa for 4 couples, a Toronto Indy VIP package, some very fancy pants wine and jewelry. Although the auction items were too rich for our blood, we were happy to make a cash donation to help cover the cost of feeding all of the youth that depend on their three shelters throughout the year.

If you missed out on the event this year but want to see how else you can help out, go look here

There was more than enough food and drink to keep everyone happy, watered and well fed

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I'm Giving Away Two Tickets to Taste Matters!

Did you know that every night, in Toronto, more than 2000 youths are living in the street? Of those 2000, 70% of them site parental drug and alcohol issues, physical, psychological, sexual and emotional abuse as the reason for leaving home? 40% of homeless youth experience mental health issues but after 4 years of being on the street that number grows to 70%?

This is why our community depends on places like Eva's Place, an emergency shelter for homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in downtown Toronto. Eva's place not only provides shelter, but they also provide much needed support to help these young people either return home or to transition into more appropriate housing, finish their schooling, receive medial care, counselling and basic life skills training that you and I might take for granted. As well as the 40 bed emergency shelter, they run a harm reduction shelter called Eva's Satellite  and Eva's Phoenix for more long term housing and support.

photo from Taste Matters 2015

Every year, Eva's hosts a wonderful fundraiser called Taste Matters, where people can come together and have some fun while raising much need funds. Taste Matters is a culinary feast that brings together the best Toronto has to offer in the way of food and drink to raise money for program to aid homeless and at risk youth. This year, they are hoping to raise $150, 000 dollars so why not win a couple of tickets, get all gussied up and use some of that money you saved on tickets to bid on item while you sip some great boozey drinks and nosh and delicious food.

There will be more than 30 vendors, silent and live auctions and a chance to see the host, David Rocco, Toronto's favourite Italian Celebrity Chef.

I am giving away two tickets to the event, valued at $125 each

Taste Matters

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

How Pressure Cooker 3 Bean Chili Could Make Betty Draper a Better Mother

If Betty Draper had an Instant Pot, she probably would have drank less, cooked more and still would have been left with plenty of time and energy to keep her hair on point. Luckily, we can all get ourselves an electric pressure cooker and join the cult although my hair has never looked as good as Betty's.