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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Meatrix

In a past blog I gave a simple and likely boring yet informative piece about the importance of buying locally. I discussed how large agricultural corporations have destroyed the small local farms in order to mass produce meat & vegetables for economic gain. And that in doing so they have caused mass air and water pollution and contaminated food products with dangerous pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals.

A point that I did not elaborate on was the cruelty towards animals that these large corporations practice. Cows & chickens do not have acres to graze in, but instead are packed in so tightly that they are literally on top of one another with no space to even turn around; chickens beaks are cut off to avoid pecking one another; calves are fed the blood of other cows (yes this is part of the mad cow issue were meat and bone meal was fed to livestock); cows are slaughtered while not being unconscious - please see this website for much much more information

I recently watched a movie called Fast Food Nation which is based on a book by Eric Schlosser, a book I was fortunate to have read in sociology class. The movie does a great job at emphazing the economic and political power these large fast food corporations have and how they will put economic gain above public health. Although the film has one momentum from start to finish, the big picture and different perspectives makes for a powerful message.

Even more impressive than the movie itself is the three short animations that are special features of the dvd called the Meatrix starring Moopheus. I urge everyone to go to the following website and play all three movies (part 1, 2, and 2 1/2), as they provide insight into the world of factory farming.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blacked Salmon with Mango Salsa

Salmon Fillets
4 x 7 ounce portions of salmon with skin (or use other fish such as halibut)
1 1/2 tbsp blackening spice
1 tbsp olive oil

Mango Salsa
2 x mangos cubed into ½ inch pieces
2 x green onions sliced thinly
2 tbsp red onion, chopped fine
1 x Thai chili, finely chopped (if use jalapenos without seeds salsa is good but hot!)
3-4 tbsp cilantro, chopped roughly
2 tbsp red pepper, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste

Combined all ingredients in a bowl and add season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving. (see Mango Salsa)

Blackening Spice
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp white pepper
1/2 tbsp thyme
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp oregano

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container for up to 2 mths. Makes 1/2 cup.

Preparing Fish: pat dry with towel and rub on desired about of blackening spice to one side - the flesh side.

Grilling: preheat well oiled grill to med-high heat. Place the fish skin side down and grill for 4-5 min then flip and grill other side for 4-5 min, until fish is opaque. Do not over cook. Serve immediately with mango salsa and side dish.

Side dish suggestions: baked or grilled acorn squash or grilled balsamic vinegar vegetables with goat cheese or grilled vegetable coucous salad.

This is one of my favourite dishes to make as it is again full of fresh flavor. The fruity mango compliments the heat of the blackening spice. I have found the salmon at Lapointe's fish market to be excellent - very fresh compared to your Loblaws fish, and usually cheaper or the same price. You can also get wild or organic farmed salmon, which are about two times the price per pound. This recipe was modified from

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wynn's Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

A great idea of a bridal shower particularly for those bride and groom's that already have a home or a well accessorized apartment is a wine and cheese. When I did this for my sister's bridal shower, I requested that guests bring no gift, just a bottle of wine to contribute to a wine cellar for the to be newly weds and I served as you can guess wine and cheese to the guests. I was amazed at how many great wines she received and how fun it was to try these wines.

So when my bridal shower came around, my sister, knowing how much I enjoyed inviting myself over to try her wines, did the same for me. I received about 15-20 bottles of wine, some of which were recommended to drink immediately and others to age in a wine cellar anywhere from 1-5 years.

One particular wine which I stored for 1 year was the Wynn's Coonawarra Estate 2002. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra, Australia. This wine is known as 'Black Label.' Although I have recently discovered that this wine's should be properly stored in a cellar from 3-5 years, after 1 year it still had great flavor.

This wine has a very strong deep red colour. Aromas consist of blackcurrant & blackberry, it was very earthy with some vanilla. I found it to be full bodied with a nice dryness on the palate. Flavours consisted of blackcurrant, cherry and mocha flavours. I would recommend decanting this wine as it has a lot of sediments.

International Wine magazine notes that this wine "is richly flavored and finely structured with sweet fruit flavors and vanilla oak in the background. Deep red. Pungent, floral, spicy nose exudes strong aromas of blackberry, bitter cherry, beef jerky and musky underbrush. Sweet oak spice and floral pastilles accent intense redcurrant and cherry flavors, with suggestions of earthy tobacco and succulent herbs. Finishes with deeper, darker blackcurrant and plum flavors and well-managed, silky tannins."

Its a perfect match with steak, rack of lamb and bold tasting cheeses.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Crepes Suzette with Espresso Sauce

It is nice to start the day with these light crepes, another great creation from my husband. The taste of orange is refreshing and the contrasting bitter and chocolaty espresso sauce certainly helps kick start the day.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup melted butter or non stick spray

Espresso Sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
3 T instant espresso coffee
1 T cornstarch
2 T butter

In a saucepan heat sugar, water and 3 T instant espresso until coffee is dissolved. Moisten 1 T cornstarch with 2 T cold water, stir into suace. Cook, stirring constantly, until suace is clear and smooth. (Sauce will be quite thin). Blend in 2T butter. Let cool until serving time.


Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the milk, orange liqueur, vanilla, and orange zest and flour until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add the remaining milk until a thin consistency is achieved. Cover and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute.

Cover the surface of the pan with melted butter or non stick spray (need to keep spraying after each crepe) until it gets sizzling hot. Ladle some batter onto the middle of the crepe pan and immediately start swirling the pan to distribute the batter over the surface. Cook for 45 to 60 seconds or until lightly golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side for 20 seconds. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve with mimosas or coffee with kahlua

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Raw food diets are basically just that - the consumption of uncooked (or heated no greater than 115F or 46C), unprocessed, and mainly organic foods including vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and unpasterized dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese).

The raw food movement is by no means new, but is certainly gaining popularity as it thought to provide enhanced health benefits such as increased energy, improved skin, improved digestion, weight loss, reduced risk of chronic diseases, particularly those related to obesity (heart disease, diabetes), as well as certain types of cancers.

Raw foods contain enzymes which aid in digestion and many of the body’s metabolic processes important to our health. When we cook or process food these enzymes are broken down and do not work as efficient or effectively. It is thought that the breakdown of these enzymes lead to toxicity in the body and thus to chronic diseases. Cooking meat creates toxins (heterocyclic amines to be accurate) which are thought to increase the risk of cancer. In addition raw foods are noted to have higher nutritional values then cooked foods and to contain bacteria which are thought to aid our immune system.

In my research on this diet I found out that cooking meat below 100 C creates ‘negligible amounts’ of these toxins and microwaving meat before cooking may reduce them by up to 90%. For now, I will stick to those alternative cooking methods (with the addition of dehydration methods) and enjoy raw fish (another excuse to eat sushi and sashimi), and continue to eat my usual organic raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and reduce my sugar intake. But a complete switch to this diet takes dedication that even my obsessive compulsive dietary behaviours finds demanding.

Of course I am all for a lifestyle diet that truly offers health benefits – particularly those that claim to reduce cancer risks – and there are many amazing stories about curing chronic diseases and weight loss (important for preventing diseases). My only concern with any diet becoming main stream or the next buzz word is that people might jump on the ban wagon before knowing all the facts of such a diet. This diet is by no means as simple as the word may imply and requires a great amount of research and dedication to ensure it is properly followed so as to not actually enhance potential damage to the body.

For instance it should be know that some so called raw foods do need to be heated at a certain temperature to kill bacteria or parasites which can lead to life threatening food borne pathogens – in this case high temperatures are usually required. Or that a lack of certain nutrients can lead to a loss in bone density or reproductive problems (potentially a lack of B12, copper, iron and zinc and protein).

If you are interested in this diet I would suggest doing your homework first and consider gradually changing into this diet so as to avoid experiencing the detoxification effects such as headaches and nausea mainly from the withdrawal of sugar and caffeine in your system.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

This is a must make recipe for anyone who loves goat cheese and tomatoes. The flavors absolutely melt in your mouth. Although the plan was to grill these, the condo we stayed at did not have a bbq, therefore they were made in the oven. The following recipe is for 4 tomatoes, however, we halved the recipe as we felt 1 tomato per person was plenty, considering the rest of the food we had already eaten. If using smaller tomatoes, 2 per person would be a nice side dish.

1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese
1/2 - 1 T fresh cilantro (or sage) chopped
1-2 green onions, chopped
4 medium firm tomatoes (2 yellow and 2 red)
salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
1/2 T olive oil

Cut cone like openings in the top of the tomatoes making 1 1/2 inch round pocket. Chop fresh cilantro (or sage) and add to the goat cheese, along with the green onions, salt and pepper. Spoon cheese mixture into tomatoes with the cheese heaping over the opening. Place on baking sheet ready for the oven or grill (300F in the oven - medium heat on BBQ).
Drizzle with oil and salt and pepper and cook (oven 10-12min and 8 min in BBQ - until cheese is warm and tomatoes have softened). If in the oven broil for another 2 minutes allowing the cheese to crisp on top. Remove from oven/grill and serve immediately.

The goat cheese mixture can also be used as a spread for an appetizer served with crackers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lamb Chops with Chili-Cilantro Sauce

This entree was prepared by my husband following our mussel appetizer. Originally the plan was to grill these, however with no bbq, we resorted to pan cooking, which turned out excellent. The marinade and sauce made these very tender and full of flavor.

Lamb Chops

6 lamb chops x 1 inch thickness
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T chili powder
1 T dried oregano
1 T ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Chili-Cilantro Sauce

1 T olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallow or green onion
1 T garlic, minced (about 2-3 cloves)
1 T cilantro, chopped
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
4 T butter

Combine the ingredients under the Lamb Chops heading and coat the lamb chops with mixture and marinate for 6-8 hours. Cover and refridgerate.

Prepare the cilantro sauce: heat 1 T oil in medium saucepan, add shallots, garlic and sautee for 2 min. Add wine, beef stock and 1 T chili powder. Boil until sauce reduces to about 1 cup (takes a while). Remove sauce from heat and stir in butter 1 piece at a time, whisking to incorporate. Stir in the fresh chopped cilantro.

Grill lamp chops at medium-high heat about 5-6 min per side. Pour sauce over the chops and serve with goat cheese stuffed grilled tomatoes, green and yellow beans.

Wine: Folonari Valpolicella Classico 2003 Ripasso (aged 1 year in oak barrels and than properly stored for 1 year)