Category Archives: Slow Food

Image of Leftover Beef 'n' Barley Soup in Slow Cooker

Waste Not, Want Not!

Frugal Living – Don’t waste so much food!

If we were to live more frugally, like our Grandparents did, we would be richer, healthier, less stressed and happier. Of course that generation had other challenges and issues – wars, disease, etc. but some of those old-fashioned habits might serve us well today.
One of the easiest habits that we seem to have forgotten is not wasting food by using up leftovers. I find it quite shocking that Canadians waste $27 million per year in food which is thrown out in the garbage. Check out this CBC story that has some helpful tips on reducing this waste.
Planning your food shopping to optimize both your food budget and your time budget just makes sense in these crazy-busy and way more stressful times than our Grandparents ever had.
Setting aside one morning or evening of a weekend to plan, shop, pre-prepare, pre-package and even pre-cut some items seems to me a fair exchange for the stress of not having a clue what’s for dinner tonight, and, sadly, all too often just going the easier but unhealthier way of eating out or take-away.
Try it for a week and see.
Send me comments – positive and negative, on your experiences with meal planning/ creative leftovers.

Now here’s one of my favourite yummy Fall recipes to use up leftovers. The smell when you get home from work is unbelievable!

Image of ingredients for Leftover Beef 'n' Barley Soup

Basic ingredients for leftover Beef ‘n’ Barley soup

Image of Leftover Beef 'n' Barley Soup in Slow Cooker

Such delicious soup – from leftovers!

Beef ‘n’ Barley Soup from leftovers
Leftover beef rib bones from prime rib roast (previously gnawed upon is fine)
Beef marrow bones (optional) I get them with my freezer beef order. They add richness to the soup.
Onion, celery, carrot, garlic, green pepper, sweet potato (can be wilted or gnarly, doesn’t matter)
1/2 cup pot or pearl barley
Leftover vegetables – I used leftover squash and leftover baked potatoes
Tomato passata (puréed tomatoes) or you can use a couple of fresh tomatoes that are mushy or not attractive anymore. Just chop ‘em up and throw them in.
Beef bouillon cube
Paprika, Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce ( preferably dark mushroom soy sauce)
Boiling water to fill slow cooker
Put everything in the slow cooker. Cook on high 4 hours or 6 hours on low.
At this time of year – be grateful for what you have! So many, many people have nothing, so please consider donating a bag of groceries to your local food bank when you go to the grocery store or give generously to a charity that feeds poverty or war-stricken people such as the Red Cross. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Eat Local!

Eat Local!

Why is it important to eat locally produced fruit and vegetables?

Reduced travel time for produce means that the nutritional value is greater, the produce just tastes so much better and fresher, and more importantly, we are supporting our local farmers.

We are so lucky in Ontario that we have such an abundance of Farmers Markets

Farmer’s Markets are so great as we get a chance to interact with the people who are actually growing the produce we put into our mouths every day. I feel so fortunate to live in an area called “the food basket of Canada”. We have such an incredibly varied abundance of produce available to us for many, many months of the year, with some crops (greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes) available to us year-round.

freshly picked strawberries!

Tell me: what is not to love about incredibly sweet, perfectly ripe Ontario strawberries or peaches, or when the days and nights start getting cooler, biting into a freshly picked Ontario apple?


Another way to eat local and support our local farmers is to take part in a CSA, which is “Community Supported Agriculture”. This is where, often in the Spring, you can purchase a “share” of a farms future bounty.

A share typically costs a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of your family, and for that you can expect a basket of whatever is being harvested that week at the farm. Click here for a list of Ontario CSA’s.

Chopping homegrown Swiss Chard

That means that sometimes (in Spring, for instance) there’s not a whole lot in the basket. But that gets balanced out by the Fall baskets, which often are over-brimming with freshly picked goodness!

Some CSA’s also have additional “goodies” such as greenhouse items or baked bread if their farm does that.

Lake trout = happy Fisherman!

And of course, the best possible way to eat local, reduce the travel time for your veggies and know exactly what is going into your produce is to grow (or in some cases catch) your own.


Salt Spring Island, BC

View from the ferry

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Salt Spring Island, which is just off the coast of Vancouver Island. We flew into Victoria, rented a car and then took a very short ferry ride (35 minutes) to Salt Spring Island on BC Ferries.

View from Living Room

We had rented a house which was on top of one of the hills of Salt Spring, so we had a marvelous view towards many of the other Gulf Islands and we could even see Mt. Baker, US, in the distance.

Salad – yumm!

Salt Spring Island is a magical, mystical place with very friendly residents and a truly laid-back atmosphere. It is also an island where many of the residents, as well as visitors are more enlightened about food and lifestyle so you can find a vast variety of organically grown foods in the grocery stores and especially at their famous Saturday Market held in Ganges, which is one of the towns there. We ate extremely well there, and the prices were average to Ontario prices, which I found surprising, considering it is an island.

There is a yoga centre there, called the Salt Spring Centre, which offers classes, retreats and runs a school for local children.
View of my toes whilst sitting in forest hot tub

Spas and day retreats abound, and I was lucky enough to enjoy an aromatherapy massage, sauna and forest hot-tub at Solace Organic Spa Retreat as part of my major detoxification program mentioned last week.

We hiked the paths at Bryant Hill Park and Andreas Vogt Nature reserve, which were so incredibly beautiful, they were breath-taking. ;
We also hiked at the top of Mount Maxwell (OK, I have to admit we drove up to the Provincial Park at the top!), and the views from there were incredible!
view from Mount Maxwell
The only negative thing I have to say about the Island is the lack of municipal blue-bin recycling and composting. I guess we have been spoiled in Ontario with our extensive waste diversion programs, and I was dismayed and disgusted by the 3 BIG bags of garbage that the 6 of us produced in a week.Ironic that Elizabeth May (Green Party Head) is the MP for Salt Spring Island, but I guess that it just doesn’t make financial sense for such a small population. You have to wonder, though, about where all that glass, aluminum and plastic is going?
All in all, it was a very calm and relaxing week – perfect to re-charge the body, mind and spirit!

Feed the Earth! – One Tomato at a time!

Plant A Garden – for yourself, for the Food Bank, for the Earth

It’s the Victoria Day long weekend and for so many Canadians that means planting time because all danger of a late-Spring frost is past.This year I have been extremely lucky that my hubby took the time to make me these beautiful raised two-tier planting beds of cedar reclaimed from old hydro poles (the non-creosote part, of course).
I added some rich black soil, then planted a large variety of heirloom tomatoes as well as other veggies I purchased at the Burlington Farmers’ Market from a local grower. I also planted seeds of onions in a row in front of the tomatoes, to help repel furry pests, radish, carrots, and beets.On a “hill” of soil off to the side I planted zucchini and small sugar pumpkins.
As with all other transplanting, tamp the soil down around each plant very firmly – use either your fist or your boot and make sure you press out any air bubbles.
Also water very well initially as this helps remove air bubbles as well. Air bubbles are the enemy of growing roots!
I consider myself extremely fortunate that I have the luxury of having a back yard to plant my vegetables in, but if you have a balcony, roof-top garden, sunny front porch or any space outside you can also grow your own vegetables. It just takes a bit more planning. Check out this do-it-yourself Alaska Grow Bucket which is a brilliant idea, especially if you have access to a rain-barrel, as it is also self-watering.
For an extremely limited space, try growing your vegetables upside-down – check out this do-it-yourself idea: Make Your Own Upside Down Tomato Planter
Two-tiered cedar planting beds
Water the young plants very well after transplanting

In a few weeks I will be planting some companion plants around the tomatoes: sweet basil to make the tomatoes taste better and sweeter, chives and marigolds to keep away aphids and other unwanted insects. If I see signs of fungus of any kind I will try to use this simple method to treat it: Sweeter Disease Free Tomato Tip. I will also screen the entire planting bed up to the height of the fence around it with bird net, a really tough netting which will keep out rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, etc.
You may want to check out a book written by Jennifer Cockrall-King: Food and the City for more inspiration on why it’s a good idea to have urban agriculture.
Wherever you are – plant at least a tomato plant. You will enjoy really fresh tomatoes that are so sweet and delicious you just might get hooked on urban gardening!!
Tweet Plant A Garden!

Wooden Cutting Boards are Safer!

Do Yourself a Favour and choose Wood!!

I’m enjoying myself at the Show!!
This past weekend, at the Royal Botanical GardensHome & Garden Show I had a table promoting my business. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet many people.
I also offered a draw for a gorgeous cutting board from Hedge Road Woodworks in Jackson’s Point, ON. The lucky winner was Margaret Kenny of Sutton Group Results Realty in Burlington.
These boards are made primarily from sourced dead-fall lumber, with the addition of very small amounts of exotic woods from Exotic Woods in Burlington ;
Many people I spoke with at the show were wary of using a wooden cutting board for food preparation, however, in reality, a wooden cutting board is far safer and less toxic to use than a plastic cutting board, as well as being sustainable and planet friendly. A study done by UC-Davis concluded that wooden cutting boards kill the bacteria on the surface even when severely knife-scarred. The bacteria remaining in the knife marks were unable to reproduce and eventually died. In contrast, plastic boards were impossible to sanitize when knife-scarred.
Do the planet and yourself a favour and choose wood!!
Margaret Kenny with her new cutting board
I LOVE my cutting board