Treat yourself to a decadent donut

Special guest blog by Jill Yokoyama

If you are like me, then you’ll remember how a donut used to be such a treat when we were young.

In high school, it was fun to drop by Donut Man on Lakeshore Road in Port Credit for a donut, and how many times have you ever stopped in for a coffee and donut at Tim Hortons? But the quality of Tim Horton donuts has taken a nosedive since they are no longer baked fresh on the premises.  Eating a Tim’s donut became a disappointing experience and I stopped buying them.

Plus when you get to a certain age eating a donut becomes a big deal because it settles around your middle like a …. well, like a donut!

Thank goodness 2020 is not a complete washout due to the rising popularity of gourmet donut shops. I had the pleasure of visiting Sunshine Doughnuts in Burlington, Ontario on one of the bright, sunshiny days we had recently.

It is a delightful walk through the downtown and the décor is colourful and happy, like a frosted confection. Donuts are made fresh each day in all kinds of exciting flavours and designs, with lots of yummy fillings. I tried a classic apple fritter. It was enormous and so delicious, with soft, chewy dough, bits of real apple, and a sugary coating. If not for Covid, I would have been licking my fingers. I don’t know how many calories were in that donut and I don’t care, it was worth every calorie!

Speaking of donuts, Melbourne Australia has just come out of one of the strictest Covid lockdowns in the world after 111 days. On October 26, 2020 they declared their first “double donut day” with 0 new cases and 0 deaths. They are now at their 11th day of double donuts – woo hoo! I am so happy that my friends and relatives in the state of Victoria are able to resume their normal lives after such a long period of severe restrictions.

The choice of donuts as a symbol of their happiness makes perfect sense.

If you love a sweet treat and maybe want to reward yourself some time, indulge in a gourmet donut. Guaranteed to lift your spirits in the sweetest way!

Thanks to Jill Yokoyama for guest blogging this week. To learn more about how donuts became Australia’s symbol of hope in the fight against Covid, check out this story from The Guardian newspaper. What’s your favourite donut shop? Leave a comment!

Ode to the stinky bulb

garlic

There’s a big stink in my little town and we’re proud of it. That’s because my neck of the woods is fast becoming known as the garlic capital of eastern Ontario.

Every year, the Verona Lion’s Club hosts a garlic festival on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend. This year it’s a “farmer’s market” on a much smaller scale due to COVID, but it will still be a reeking good time.

I love garlic. I love it in everything: pasta sauce, salad dressings, roasted vegetables and potatoes. You name it, it’s usually better with garlic. Plus the medicinal benefits of garlic are legendary.

Google the health benefits of garlic, and you get a list as long as your arm: it prevents hypertension, heart disease, some cancers, it helps scars heal faster and fights bacterial and parasitic infections, it’s known for warding off the common cold and the list goes on and on. You can even apply it topically for skin conditions like eczema and athlete’s foot or on a splinter.

One thing I didn’t know was that garlic is also considered a powerful aphrodisiac. It contains allicin, which apparently increases the blood flow to the sexual organs making it the sexy bulb (if you can get past the stinkiness of your partner).

I’m not a doctor, but I remember working as a summer student for the City of Mississauga forestry department. I spent the entire sizzling hot summer sandwiched in our crew cab between two older Ukrainian guys, Peter and John who literally reeked of garlic. They were the strongest, healthiest dudes I ever met.

Garlic is also one of the easiest plants to grow and critters tend to leave it alone—a bonus in the country. You plant it in October, and harvest it in the summer. Once the scapes (the green curly part on the end) starts to curl, you cut them off so all the energy goes into the bulb. I make garlic scape pesto with my scapes which is yummy as a base for pizza or on pasta or burgers. It’s delish.

This week’s #HappyAct is to join me in paying tribute to the stinky bulb. My garlic was puny this year, so I will definitely be stocking up on some new varieties to plant at this year’s garlic festival.

Strange times brew

My husband Dave with beer

Sometimes, when the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, you just have to remember, in beer we trust.

For the past three months, in the spirit of supporting local retailers, Dave has been stopping in at one of our local microbreweries on the way home from work and buying a healthy helping of hops.

We figured strange times calls for strange measures and the measures we choose are pints and quarts.

We started out with our local “go to” microbrewery, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company. We love these boys and their delicious brews. What’s unique about MacKinnon Brothers is they grow everything on site on their farm in Bath. They recently expanded, building a big barn where there was once just a small tasting shack. They also throw one hell of a party every year—their Back to the Farm musical bash in August. Try their Crosscut Canadian Ale, or their Red Fox Ale (my personal favourite).

Next up was two Kingston breweries in the west end: Spearhead and Riverhead. Spearhead has a nice Hawaiian style pale ale and Sam Roberts Band Ale. A hoppy type of guy at the best of times, Dave was partial to Riverhead’s Tropical IPA, while I sailed towards their Kingston 1000 Islands Ale or Belgian Blond, being the hot blond that I am. Riverhead has fabulous music nights on Fridays and has been hosting virtual beer nights during COVID-19.

One of the newest craft breweries in Kingston, Daft Brewing in Princess Street is more than just a brewery. When COVID hit, they started producing hand sanitizer. We skipped on the sanitizer but brought home a New England IPA that tantalized my head beer taster’s taste buds. Their bottles have a funky flamingo on them.

Our latest foray was to the Westport Brewing Company in Westport. We took home three packs of Lakeside Lager, Beaver Pond Trail Brown Ale and Upper Rideau Blonde Ale in one litre cans. The owners told us they already have a COVID beer on tap. It’s called “It is what it is” and will be ready next week.

This week’s #HappyAct is to support your local microbrewery and enjoy. Cheers!

Ed. note: SCTV fans will get the play on words on this week’s post title: Strange Brew was a 1983 Canadian comedy featuring Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Doug and Bob Mackenzie, brothers who work as spies in a brewery to help save the world. That’s your trivia for today. G’day, eh!

The Ultimate Frozen Treat

Lola frozen treats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s here and it’s shaping up to be a barn burner again.

When the sun is scorching hot and it feels like you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, the best way to cool off is to reach for your favourite frozen treat.

When I was growing up, the ultimate frozen treat was the Lola. It was a triangular shaped slushie that you had to eat like a beaver, chomping on the corners of each triangle with your two front teeth. At least three or four times red or purple juice would spit out or spill all over your white t-shirt. To finish it, you had to tilt the triangle up to slurp the sugary juice, choking and sputtering liquid everywhere.

Lola’s were only sold in Ontario and Quebec from 1959 to 1982 but I read somewhere that they actually brought it back in 1999, under the slogan, “One taste of Lola, and you’re back in the fun-loving ’70s”.

This week’s #HappyAct is to stay cool by indulging in your favourite frozen treat. What’s yours? Leave a comment.

Just don’t call me late for dinner

Family eating at potluckCall it a potluck, call it a smorgasborg, call it what you will, just don’t call me late for dinner.

Last weekend, our Frontenac Fury Girls Hockey Association held our annual hockey banquet and potluck.

It’s always a nice way to mark the end of the hockey season, recognize the girls’ achievements and share some laughs before all the hockey families hang up our sticks for the season.

But just like our girls would have going into any big game, it’s important to have a strategy when the pot drops at a potluck. Here are a few tips from a seasoned veteran in the line-up.

  • Always get in line before the biggest guy in the room
  • Scan the venue and your competition to scope out the best grub
  • Don’t fill your plate with too many salads or bread—save room for the main event
  • Enjoy the small talk during the intermissions between refills
  • Never take the last meatball or you may wind up in the penalty box
  • Unlike hockey, icing is a good thing at a potluck
  • When it comes to dessert, go for a hat trick
  • And make sure you give thanks for the big, warm extended family you’re breaking bread with

This week’s #HappyAct is to plan a potluck or smorgasborg and enjoy! And congratulations and thanks to all the Frontenac Fury teams and families for another fun, successful year. We’ll see you in the fall!Plate full of food

Potluck kitchen

Hockey families at banquet

Take the one thing different challenge

Funny meme

I was wandering around the grocery store the other day, filling up my cart with the same old items I buy every week.

As I unpacked the grocery bags, I realized I hadn’t bought one thing different. It made me sad.

You see, the problem is I’m a creature of habit. I come by it honestly from my Dad.

You could almost set your watch by my Dad. He’d walk the dog at the same time every day, go to McDonald’s for his daily coffee at the same time every day, read the papers, watch the ball game and have his supper at the same time every day. He even did his grocery shopping on Saturdays in retirement despite it being the busiest day of the week because that was his routine.

Dave says I’m getting more like my Dad every day, and yes, I’ll admit, I have my little routines, but I’ve decided to change it up a bit at least in the culinary realm. I am challenging myself to make one thing different at least once a week.

So last night, I made a delicious sweet and sour chicken dish I never made before called The Thigh’s the Limit from one of my favourite cookbooks, Looneyspoons. It got five stars from the fam.

This week’s #HappyAct is to join me in taking the “one thing different” challenge and mix it up in the kitchen. See my blog post “Spice it up” for more culinary inspiration.

The miracle spread: peanut butter

peanut butter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Thursday, January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day. I didn’t even know they had a National Peanut Butter Day but I’m definitely on board.

On a cold wintry morning, nothing satisfies the craving for belly timber more than the smooth rich taste of peanut butter.

Canadians have always been a little nutty over our favourite spread.

In fact, it was a Canadian, Marcus Gilmore Edson, a pharmacist from Montreal who first invented peanut butter. Edson developed a process in 1884 to make peanut paste from milling roasted peanuts between two heated plates.

In 2010, Smuckers, the manufacturer of Jif peanut butter stopped selling the popular brand in Canada due to low sales. Canadians were so upset, they took to social media. It took us seven whole years, but we finally convinced Smuckers to stock Jif on our shelves again in 2017. The CBC did a story on it.

There’s even a song called Peanut Butter. It was recorded by the Marathons in 1961 and made it into the top 20.

Why this love affair with the sultry spread? First, there’s the names. You can’t help but love a food called Skippy, or Jif (I’ve read Proctor & Gamble wanted a short and catch brand name to compete with Skippy, so they chose Jif because it was easy to say, spell and remember.)

Then there’s the classic struggle of loyalty and temptation between choosing Smooth or Crunchy. I started out a Smooth girl early in life, had a short fling with crunchy for awhile, then returned to my first love, definitely a smooth operator.

But the main reason why we love the miracle spread so much is the nutty, salty, smooth taste that tantalizes our taste buds and spices up any meal or treat.

Peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E, B6, niacin, calcium, potassium and iron, is packed with protein and is rich in healthy monounsaturated fat.

This week’s #HappyAct is to spread a little cheer on a cold wintry morning with a healthy dollop of peanut butter on your toast, or rustle up an old fashioned PB&J for lunch. Better yet, why not donate a jar or two to your local food bank? Peanut butter is always one of the highest demand items.

Here’s a list of the 21 Best Peanut Butter Recipes ever from Huffington Post and one of my favourite recipes for peanut butter cookies.

Peanutty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 ½ cups peanut butter

1/3 cup butter or margarine

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 cup rolled oats

¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

8 squares semi-sweet chocolate or 1 cup chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, cream peanut butter and butter. Gradually beat in sugars. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add oats, flour, baking soda. Blend into creamed mixture, just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips/chunks. Drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Picasso’s favourite meal

charcuterie board

Last night I walked in the door, and Clare had this beautiful charcuterie plate waiting for us to sample. Charcuterie has become our new favourite treat on weekends .

Charcuterie is a French word that means cooked meat or flesh. It was used to designate butcher shops in fifteenth-century France that sold cooked pork. They weren’t allowed to sell fresh pork so they devised different ways of cooking the meat, salting, smoking and curing it, and using salt and a variety of spices.

I’m not sure who the first person was to introduce cheese to charcuterie, but remind me I have to thank them. Our board was teeming with Wilton cheese, goat cheese and red pepper jelly.

And of course, you can’t enjoy charcuterie without wine. Last night, Dave and I enjoyed a bottle of The Tragically Hip’s Fully Completely 2015 Grand Reserve to keep it local.

This week’s #HappyAct is to prepare a charcuterie board and enjoy. It’s the perfect dish for entertaining during the holiday season.

What’s your favourite charcuterie item? Leave a comment.