Tag Archives: food

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.

What makes a sandwich…Bread or Filling?

I recently posed this question on Twitter and the response was just about equal. Some said that stale/soggy bread ruins the sandwich. Some said that the “filling” could save bad bread. Some said both parts were equally important. I don’t know which is right, but I am going to give you my thoughts on all three!!

When you get the right combination of bread and filling it is MAGIC!!  The combination of firmer bread and some fillings, just works.  Other times, an uber-fresh roll works with some deli meat and fresh cheese.  One of my favs is a slice of meatloaf (homemade or store-bought), a dab of spicy pasta sauce or spicy salsa and a slice of swiss cheese.  Toast that sucker open-faced in the toaster oven until the sauce and meatloaf are warm and the cheese is just starting to melt.  Put it together and that is the perfect combination of crunchy bread on the outside and fresh roll on the inside.  The combination of spicy sauce and the bite of the cheese works well with the meatloaf.  Try it and tell my what you think!

As for sandwich bread, there are so many choices.  Rolls, loaves of bread, wraps.  Some of the best sandwiches require the perfect bread.  Corned Beef on Rye.  You need a good rye bread and there are plenty of opinions on what rye bread is best. Marble, Light Rye or Dark Rye, they are all good and all serve their purpose.  Ciabatta buns, Foccacia bread, Flatbreads, Pitas and Wraps are all viable options too.  I have spread peanut butter and jam on the inside of a wrap and you know what, it works.  The wrap suits that sort of filling.

As for the fillings themselves, this is where creativity comes in! They are as unique as the individual themselves.  You can be creative and risqué or standard and predictable.  Sometimes a good ol’ fashioned grilled cheese or BLT just works.  The standbys of PB & J work too, especially if you are a kid (or a kid a heart).  Personally one of my favourite sandwiches is something I call a Stag & Doe Sandwich (aka The Dagwood Sandwich).  This monstrosity basically involves walking up to the meat platter at the buffet table and placing one slice of EVERY deli meat on the tray onto your roll.  This means you can have roast beef, turkey, ham, salami and any other number of deli slices on there! Then add some olives, pickles, tomatoes, mustard and mayo (again, whatever is there).  Close the sucker up and prepare to “tackle” it!  If you have ever seen, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, you likely know about the “Philadelphia Hunch”.  This is a method of eating a HUGE sandwich and keeping it all together.  You might need to perfect this to tackle this sucker!

In conclusion, I guess it doesn’t matter what you find the best part of a sandwich.  It is that you take some creativity and try it out.  Do you have to eat a few “duds” along the way…sure.  The payoff is that winning combination that just “works”! If you have found one of those combinations, leave it in the comments below.  I would love to try some of your creations!

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.