Culinary Writing

I love reading recipes.    What are the ingredients, what are the steps involved in the preparation? Is there a story behind it?  What about the culture?   There are many facets to recipes, above and beyond the final taste.

One of the first cookbooks that I remember having was written by a friend of the family, Mrs. Ford, and it was a collection of her family’s favorite recipes – wholesome recipes that used common ingredients and were easy to make.   Then I received “The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook“, published in 1980.   I still have it, and use it as a reference, although it doesn’t have current ingredients, such as bok choy.   Now I also have electronic recipes from Pinterest, and various apps.

With this love of recipes and all things food, I was thrilled to be able to attend Taste Canada: the Food Writing Awards at the Arcadian Court on November 4th with a small group of women from Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM).

The culinary authors inspired us to embrace the differences of the Canadian culture of food; to reflect on our nation’s history; tell stories of families, environments, tastes and traditions; to celebrate innovation in today’s kitchens; and to honour all of the people who grow and make our food.

Elizabeth Baird, a speaker at previous WFIM event, was honoured by her induction into the Taste Canada Hall of Fame.   She states that food is the one thing you can do thousands of times and still get a jolt of pleasure from.   She also told the audience that her recipe for pork chops with apples & cinnamon from Helen Gougeon’s (a posthumous hall of fame inductee) “Good Food” cookbook, was what nabbed her husband!

The winner’s of Taste Canada’s Cook the Books contest were also announced. These student chefs were assigned one of the cookbooks short listed for an award, and were mentored by the authors to cook and present a recipe from the book.    The first place winners, cooking a recipe from Rose Murray & Elizabeth Baird’s gold medal winning cookbook “Canada’s Favourite Recipes”, was a team from Liaison College’s Oakville campus!   Susanne Milker, founder of Liaison College, and a former WFIM Chair, was thrilled by the win.

Not that the award ceremony wasn’t enough, but the evening carried on with a gala reception featuring gourmet, chef-prepared food, sponsored by the likes of Oliver & Bonacini, Ted Reader‘s World Famous BBQ, The International Centre, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, and Dufflet Pastries.   The event also featured wines from Niagara College Teaching Winery, and Alexander Keith’s beer from Labatt Canada.

During the presentation, Elizabeth Baird challenged everyone to write their own family or community cookbook, and Michael Bonacini asked “what story does your cookbook tell?”   I am inspired to follow this advice, and Mrs. Ford’s lead, to put together my own collection of recipes, and tell my own culinary story.

Here’s to more tasty writing!



Protecting yourself and your assets

Why I didn’t take out the garbage.
It’s not my favourite household chore.   I would have taken it out,but my gut told me not to.  You see, there was an unusual truck in our condo complex, the driver seemed to be having trouble finding the house he wanted, and he went back & forth in front of my house a couple of times, finally stopping in front of my neighbour’s house.  Of course, it was after dark, and my partner wasn’t home, so there were no lights on in the house. The driver could easily see that I was alone in the car, and that the garage was empty when I opened it.

Now, I was just coming home from the Halton HRPA dinner meeting. The topic at the meeting was “safeguarding your assets”…how to keep yourself & your employees safe at home & at work, and protecting the assets of the company so that it can be more profitable.
So security.  And it was fresh in my mind.   So, no garbage.

The speaker at the meeting was Dean Correia, of Correia Security Resources.   His presentation was engaging, as he had numerous examples of things gone wrong…workplace violence, robbery, shrinkage of your inventory, time theft…a lot of those stories I remember from the headlines, or from training in my previous life as a restaurant manager.  One thing he said, was to trust your gut – both ladies & gentlemen!   If your not comfortable getting on an elevator with a stranger, don’t.   Who cares if he takes offence?  And you’ll only be delayed by the time it takes for another elevator to arrive.  At least you’ll be safe.
We also need to be able to recognize the signs of violence.  There are early warning signs that an individual may have the potential to become violent, such as dehumanizing others, challenging authority, alienating customers or clients.  When it gets to fighting or inviting fights, or displaying weapons, the individual is realizing his/her potential to be violent.
Here are some ways that Dean suggests to protect yourself at home or at work:
Going to or from work, make sure you check the transit schedules so that you don’t have to wait long at a bus/subway stop.  Always be alert, walk confidently.  Keep your vehicle fueled and maintained.  Park in well lit secure areas – if you can’t park close to the door when you arrive at work, move your vehicle during your break.  Use a buddy system: leave work in pairs.
Always keep your cell phone charged. Even pretending to make the call can deter someone following you.  Many years ago, I traveled a lot along highway 403 between London & Hamilton, when Bernando/Homolko were stalking women along that highway.  One time I felt that I was being followed:  I slowed down, they slowed down, I sped up, they sped up, they had opportunities to pass me but didn’t.  I got out my ginormous phone (it was one of the first cell phones ever invented) and called home to give them the license plate.  The car soon disappeared. Did the phone call scare them off?  I like to think so.
Another thing about cell phones, program your emergency contact in as “ICE”!  Emergency responders are now trained to look for ICE – In Case of Emergency – on cell phones.
If you find yourself facing a robbery, Dean will tell you to comply with a reasonable demand!  Give them your purse/iPod/cell phone!  You can replace anything but people!  Don’t be a hero.  Do try to be a good witness – observe distinguishing features such as age, height, weight, clothing, skin/eye color.
Dean also had many suggestions for protecting yourself while away from home.   I like the idea of a throwaway wallet…keep a wallet with you that has expired credit cards in it, if you’re being robbed, you can give the attacker that wallet, and know that you’re real cards are still with you.   Just be sure this only happens once during your vacation/business trips, as I’m sure you don’t want to carry a dozen throwaway wallets!
Here’s more ways to protect yourself while traveling:
Do advance research! Know the city, your hotel, the weather etc.  I was starting a new job once and had to go to Chicago for training.  I didn’t have very much notice, so I didn’t do my research.  At the busy Chicago airport, I called for a taxi, they told me to watch for cab #97.  Well, a van came up with the #97 on it, and I got in.   I didn’t know where I was going, didn’t know how long it should take me to get there, and realized a long way from the airport that I hadn’t even checked to see if the van had the taxi company logo on it!  No one would have known where I was if I didn’t show up to work the next day!
In hotels, the safest floors are 3-7:  floors 1 & 2 can be targets for theft, and rescue equipment may not be able to reach floors higher than 7.  Know the evacuation routes – count the doors from your room to the exit (On a plane, count the number of seats from yours to the nearest exit).  Also, only use hotel approved vehicles or taxis.
Back to my garbage:  when Fred got home, he commented about me not having taken out the garbage.  After sharing this story, he said “Thanks for not taking out the garbage”.   Our garage is now quite stinky while we wait a week for the next garbage day, but that’s an issue we can deal with knowing everyone’s safe.
Be safe!