Tag Archives: Cooking

What Makes a Sandwich: Revisited

Back in April 2011, I wrote a post about what makes a sandwich just right; The bread or the filling?  In that post, I also talked about some of my favourite sandwiches.  A toasted meatloaf sandwich and the “Dagwood Stag & Doe” sandwich.

Recently I saw that Dempsters was asking a similar question to people.  They even have a very funny video that compares making a sandwich to a home renovation project!  Check it out:

As a guy that has worked in and around the home renovation business for years, I love the way they tied it into a home renovation show and the toolbox of sandwich toppings is awesome!  I think that fridge makers should be taking note.  Wouldn’t that look great in a sandwich shop?

Given my love of cooking and the fact that I had been on this road before, the #DIYSandwich contest seemed like the perfect opportunity to share another one of my favourite sandwiches (or at least a variation of it)!  One of my favourite meals is Thanksgiving or Christmas and a turkey dinner.  The sandwiches made of leftovers rock!!

Here is what I started with:

Dempsters Flax Bread, Tangy Dill Pickles, Mayo, Mustard, Turkey and Swiss Cheese

Dempsters Flax Bread, Tangy Dill Pickles, Mayo, Mustard, Turkey and Swiss Cheese

I have used every type of bread to make this sandwich.  The key is that it is soft, fresh bread without a heavy crust.  You want the crunch to be the pickles in the sandwich and not the crust, in my opinion.

Normally, the turkey would be roast turkey leftovers, but I didn’t have any.  Deli turkey does just as well for this sandwich, trust me!  Usually I skip margarine and spread mayo on one slice of bread and mustard on the other.  It makes it a little healthier (one less fat) and still gets everything put together nicely.

The “leftover” version of this sandwich would also include a small spoonful of stuffing and a drizzle of gravy inside.  I’m waiting for Christmas to have another one of those.  I decided to change it up this weekend, since the gravy and stuffing were missing and added a few strips of turkey bacon.  Surprisingly, the bacon added a nice flavour and some more of that ever important “crunch”.  Here’s a peak at the finished product:

The #DIYSandwich contest challenges people to make their best sandwich and share it with Dempsters via their social networks.  In return there is the chance to win weekly $500 prizes and a grand prize valued at $4,000.  If you want to enter, you have to act quick.  The contest ends at 11:59pm ET November 6, 2013.  If you decide to enter, good luck!

Couch to 5K – Time to slim down?

I have been working on this 5K run effort for over 6 weeks now.  As I have blogged here, I am amazed by how well the app that I am using builds up strength and stamina for achieving the goal of running a 5K.  While I feel stronger and healthier, I still have one stumbling block to overcome.  I know that to go faster, I need to be lighter.  It will take less effort and energy to move a lighter body along the path or treadmill.  That is just simple physics!!  Who knew I paid attention in that class!!

Like I mentioned back when I started my blog series on this topic, I had a number of motivations to start running.  One was to support the efforts of my friend, Rachel.  Another was to improve my heart health and cardio-fitness.  The final one was that I had hoped my efforts would help me lose a few pounds as an added bonus.  That has not happened yet.  🙁

I know that there are a number of people out there that have successfully slimmed down and lost weight using a number of methods.  Outside of the usual options for formalized programs, I am curious to find out what resources people have used when attempting to lose weight.  What blogs, websites, books or magazines did you use or find useful.  Was there a particular app that you used to help you or did you use the old-fashioned method of pen & paper to help your efforts??

I personally don’t like the idea of formalized programs that tie you into a system of meetings and check-ins.  I am a busy guy and truthfully, I don’t have the added time that those programs would take.  I know that people will tell me that the time required for those activities is an investment in myself.  I also know that I would fail if I tried to add more appointments into my schedule right now.

What I want to do is figure out a program that I have ownership of and have developed to fit my lifestyle, which includes a moderate amount of travel each month.  To do this, I need some resources to build a framework, so that I can do a better job of managing what I put into my body.

It wasn’t until recently that I came to the realization that I could get the calories I need to live off, from far less food than I need to feel full.  A stunning concept, I know, but I guess that realizing that now is a good thing.  Just like my running efforts, I can make a change and a difference if I set my mind to it!!

If you have any helpful resources that you would like to share, please leave a comment below so that others can benefit from your input too.  If you would prefer to send your comments directly to me, please reach me on Twitter or via my contact page.  I look forward to your input!!

Toronto Bakes for Japan: People Helping People

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

On Sunday April 10, 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the “Toronto Bakes For Japan” Bake Sale that took place at 5 locations in Toronto. When I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed by the amount of baking that was available; and I was only at the Liberty Noodle location in Liberty Village!

Overwhelming contributions from you!

Sushi anyone!?!

My friend, Niya Bajaj, an event planner and social extrovert had taken this idea to heights that I had not anticipated. Her team of volunteers and her fellow organizer, Heena Punwani, had motivated, inspired and encouraged Toronto into putting together a massive spread of baking to help the people of Japan, following the earthquake that happened there on March 11, 2011.

There was also an auction of art, specialty baked goods and gift certificates for restaurants, spas and other locations in the city. One of the most impressive items up for auction was a cake that looked like sushi on a wooden stand! I can tell you that when I saw it, I thought it was sushi! I understand that @allcondohotels bought the sushi cake! I hope they enjoyed it! It was a very impressive item!

I also had the opportunity to visit the crew that was working at Cafe Diplomatico all day on Sunday and they had some interesting stories of their time on the patio! Their day had started in the rain, but thankfully the weather had warmed up and the sun had come out! They had provided people with snacks to enjoy while doing laundry nearby or to enjoy with their coffee on the patio. These folks had given up their day to sit outdoors and help raise money for the people in Japan. Their efforts should not go without a huge “Thank You”.

The same thanks should go to the other locations that hosted the volunteers and were generous with their support and time for the volunteers to sell their product. I had the opportunity to meet Sang Kim, and learn about his Toronto to Japan effort that helps raise spirits via sending short videos to people in Japan. Liberty Noodle played a large role in this effort and hosted a sushi making event on April 2, 2011 in conjunction with Sang. Please check out their website and visit them for dinner or one of their special events. It is now on my calendar to do so!

I really liked that all of the items were stylishly packaged. The level of care and concern that everyone had committed to their products was evident just from looking over the tables. There was a large selection to choose from and almost every item was labeled with the ingredients that went into the product. Every detail was taken care of especially for those with food allergies!

OMG! Was this ever good!

I didn

I even caught Jo shopping for some baked goods! Imagine that!

@clickflickca selecting his baked goods!

I know that I left Liberty Noodle with an armload of baked goods (that were all delicious), a good feeling in my heart! Thanks should also go to The Rivoli, Amaranto Cafe, Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market and Yoshi’s Sweets that also hosted volunteers over the weekend.

As of writing this, the efforts of this team of volunteers was approaching $30,000 raised for the Red Cross in Japan and they are still working. If you would like to help them, please visit their website and contact them for how you can help donate. They and the people in Japan will appreciate it.

Jamie Oliver – Making a Difference

I had the pleasure of seeing Jamie Oliver on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, on CBC a few months ago. During his interview with George, Jamie was talking about the difference he was trying to make in communities in the US. You can check out Jamie’s Bio and clips of him talking with George about various topics here.

I knew about Jamie’s show where he took under-privileged kids and taught them how to cook, in one of his restaurants. That he took them from the streets to productive members of society. I knew that I liked his cooking shows on The Food Network and that he had written some decent cookbooks. His shows are engaging and his recipes seem simple. Alas, my purpose here is not to talk about his cooking and his recipes.

My purpose is to talk about the social good he is working on and what he is trying to do, because he wants to. Because it’s important to him.

Luckily, I caught a tweet by someone recently that connected me to this video. Jamie is working to make a difference in the world and even though his efforts are focused in the US and the UK, his message is certainly applicable to Canada. I had no idea about TED, what they did or that a TED prize even existed. I now know more about their organization and Jamie as well. The TED website is here and Jamie’s personal website is here. Check them out if you have the time. It’s worth it.

Those of you that know me know I love to cook.  If you didn’t know that have a look around here and you will find stories about my Homemade Salsa.  That’s likely why his message hit home with me.  I learned about food and cooking helping my Grandmother in her kitchen and in her garden.  For that I am certainly grateful.  I love Jamie’s idea of teaching children 10 recipes that will save their lives. Teaching them what carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes and healthy foods are is so important.

Have a look at the TED video – it is worth 20 minutes of your time. I know that it has made be think of things in a different way. The changes that he talks about are simple and basic. There is no reason why some or all of the things that he talks about cannot become routine.  I look forward to your comments on what you think and what you might do to make a change or difference during 2011. Feel free to comment here, catch me on Twitter or drop me an email.


TED Prize : Wishes Big Enough to Change the World » Congratulations Jamie Oliver – 2010 TED Prize Winner.

The link to the actual episode of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight can be found here.

Canadian88’s Fresh Salsa – The Backstory

I can only guess that some of you are wondering why a guy like me would spend his weekend making salsa while the weather was beautiful outside.  Let me start by saying this, I did still get out to enjoy the weekend.  Getting out into the garden to pick the veggies required for the salsa is part of the fun of making it and part of the reason that I started growing my own veggies.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me tell you how all the parts of the story came together to make, Salsa!!

About 3 years ago I was asked to take on a new position at work, Manager of the Garden Centre (I work for Home Depot).  I had a working knowledge of the tractors, lawn mowers and BBQs that my department was home to, but the plants and soils were all something new to me.  My only experience in a garden had been when I was a kid at my grandmother’s house.  Her garden encompassed most of her back yard and was a source of constant summer activity.  She grew anything and everything in the garden and was always sending us away with fresh peas, corn or carrots!!

Based on my experience at gram’s house and in an effort to embrace the department I was now running, I bought myself a few veggie plants in the spring that year.  I thought, “I may as well see if I can grow something.  That way if some asks ‘Is it easy to grow this’, I can say, ‘It must be, I did it’!!”.  Well, my hot pepper plant and tomato plant did very well that summer and soon I was faced with what to do with all the jalapenos, tomatoes and grape tomatoes I had on my hands.  I knew my gram had frozen whole tomatoes for use later, but I knew there must be something more to do with them.

Prior to his death in 2001, my Dad had bought a set of high quality cookware and was toying with the idea of taking some cooking classes.  I already had some basic cooking skills and I kept looking at the pots that were in my cupboards thinking, “I must be able to make tomato sauce or BBQ sauce or something with all these tomatoes”.  One day at work, I overheard one of my co-workers say that they had spent the morning canning some stewed tomatoes from their garden before coming to work.

A light bulb went off inside my head and I asked a simple question, “Is that hard to do”?? The response was, “No. Do you have tomatoes that you can’t use”??  Our conversation carried on and ended with a promise to email me a recipe for stewed tomatoes and a recipe for salsa, to try.  I was a little nervous of “canning” or properly preserving the product of my efforts but this co-worker (born and raised in the country) was completely at ease with the entire process.  They answered all of my questions, both by email and at work and encouraged me to give it a shot.  So, one September afternoon, I gave it a shot.  I pulled my Dad’s pots and pans out and took the basic knowledge of what my gram used to do (she canned pears, plums, peaches, tomato juice, etc), and the recipes I had been given and put it all to use.

My first batch of salsa and the first batch of stewed tomatoes were a long, time-consuming process, but it actually was fun to see a pot full of raw ingredients boil down and turn into something to be shared with family and friends.  Plus, I thought it was a great tribute to my Dad and his desire to cook some new and creative items with his cookware.

I was proud to have grown the tomatoes and peppers in my garden and to have turned them into something delicious.  The reward of sharing something you made with someone is unique and I now know why my gram loved cooking for others.  To get the ultimate feedback, I turned to my two main Salsa Guru’s; My sister and my friend Shannon.  I gave them each a jar of salsa and waited for their feedback.  Both immediately raved about the flavour and asked for more!!

The next year (and every year since) I have tried to grow as many of the ingredients in my garden for the salsa and tomatoes that I make.  I like to know that all of the effort I put into growing the veggies turns into something that people enjoy (including me).  This year, I have expanded my repertoire to include green, Salsa Verde, as well as the red salsa and stewed tomatoes I made in years past.  It is just as good as the first two efforts, in my opinion.

I realize this is a bit of a long story that essentially boils down to this; I wanted to use the cookware my Dad had hoped to use to make some meals and carry on some traditions my Grandmother had started.  I am sure that part of it was proving to others that even I could grow some veggies and turn them into something yummy!!

I hope that I get to share some of the Salsa I make in my kitchen with you, because I love hearing what others think and treating them to something that you just don’t get everyday, some good, quality home cooked treats!!

Here are some pictures of the process and the results: