Chinese New Year a la Super Bowl

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.52.49 PM


This Sunday is super for two reasons; the Super Bowl, -the championship game that determines the top team in the National Football League- is being played, and it is also the Chinese New Year’s Eve. On this day we have an overlap of one, very old tradition, going back, it is thought by most, to the Shang Dynasty ( 1766 B.C.E.- 1122 B.C.E) and the other considerably newer tradition, the Super Bowl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

All over the world people will be celebrating the Chinese New Year’s Eve in traditional ways, with feasts of fish dinners and dumplings, fireworks (to celebrate the arrival of the new year and to drive away evil), exchanges of little red packets of money (for good luck), and an all night vigil known as Shou Sui in which folks stay up to ward off the mythical beast, “Nian” (“Year”) which, legend has it, comes out to annoy and harm people. Luckily, Nian is afraid of the colour red, and he absolutely hates fireworks, so if you’ve set off some fireworks, and have lit some red lanterns you should be sitting pretty.


Continue »

Valentine’s Day 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.47.54 PM


Who said February is boring?  There is so much going on that we had to add an extra day at the end of the month to make sure we get everything done! The next fortnight alone will see many of us celebrating Chinese New Year (go here for Chicken Balls!) watching the Super Bowl, stuffing ourselves with pancakes on Fat Tuesday and spending time with the family on Family Day. Did we miss one? Oh yeah, a little thing called Valentine’s Day, you don’t want to forget about that one!

This is the one day when you may want to treat that special loved one to a romantic dinner, perhaps one that you made yourself. Or maybe not. If you have kids around, it might be hard to get into that romantic spirit, and if you are not particularly adept in the kitchen, it is probable that the only thing you want to make for dinner are reservations.

Continue »

Cipaille, A French Canadian Classic



If it is your turn to host the gang for the Super Bowl party, or any similar gathering, preparing dinner for a large crowd can be a daunting task; you have to come up with a menu that you’re pretty sure everyone will like, something that is delicious and familiar but not old hat or boring. Sometimes it’s exciting to serve something new, something that your guests have never had before. And when it comes to hosting, spending time with your guests is the main idea, you don’t want to spend all your time in the kitchen fussing over cheese soufflé or worrying about whose steak is medium rare and whose is medium well. Maybe next time you have a crowd over for supper, why not put a distinctively Canadian spin on it and serve them Cipaille? Continue »

Winter Sowing for Wildflowers & Perennials


Let’s talk about growing flowers from seed, shall we, especially those harder to germinate wildflowers and other perennials. Miriam Goldberger of Ontario’s Wildflower Farm explains:

Certain wildflowers won’t germinate unless they have the stratification period. It’s not the freezing temperatures of winter but rather the freeze/thaw action of early spring that breaks down the seed shells and serves as a catalyst for germination to occur.

Not waiting for spring and sowing now is called winter sowing, which is a special, yet fairly easy way of sowing seeds. Winter sowing creates conditions that mimic those the seed naturally goes through over the course of the winter, a process called stratification. Stratification providing seeds with a prolonged period of a cold, moist environment, usually for several weeks. Seed sowers can use the refrigerator to mimic stratification at any time of the year. But since we’ve got winter conditions right now we don’t need to monopolize the fridge.

Continue »

Happy Australia Day!

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.29.02 PM


Tuesday is Australia Day down under, the official National Day of Australia that celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships to the continent in 1788. The First Fleet, as it is now referred to, consisted of 2 Royal Navy vessels, 3 ships carrying supplies and sundries and six ships carrying upwards of 1000 marines, seamen and convicts. The idea was to establish a penal colony there since the British lost the thirteen colonies in 1776, and couldn’t set up the penal colony there. The landing of the fleet marked the beginnings of the first European settlement in Australia.

Continue »