11 Days of Feastmas – Chestnuts roasting…

I had the thrill of traveling France and Italy over the Holidays in the early part of this decade.  I spent almost a month exploring this part of Europe (my first time “overseas”) and eating my way through the old world.

I started the trip in Firenze (Florence) and remember the first night I spent there vividly.  Small market streets had ceilings of white lights draped between buildings guiding our way through wet winter streets.  Many were dressed like they were forging through the bitter arctic – I remember feeling warm as the temperature was well over freezing.  Perspective is a funny thing. [Read more...]

11 Days of Feastmas – Raising the BAR on stuffing

Turkey is a traditional feast for us on the Holidays.  One of my favourite parts of the meal is the stuffing – ours is a combination of bread that we cube and dry for a few days, sausage meat and a few other tasties.  It could be a meal in its own right.

My first tip for stuffing is yet another low-effort and wait task.  By the time our family descends on our home banquet they will be sharing food that we have easily prepared in weeks and months leading up to the meal.  All of this preparation actually excites me as I go – it does not feel like a chore. [Read more...]

11 Days of Feastmas – Marinating Cheese

This is a last minute addition to the Holiday feasts – a new friend at work shared a holiday tradition he holds dear with me yesterday and it simply sounded so good that we had to give it a whirl.

  • Get yourself a piece of Stilton cheese
  • Poke holes in it with a skewer.  Do not poke all the way through.
  • Pour port onto the surface until it is absorbed.  Continue to do so until the cheese will take no more (he says he puts up to 2 ounces in a fairly typical piece).  You are not trying to have the cheese swimming in port – you are trying to drown it from the inside.
  • Place in fridge and wait a week. [Read more...]

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet – Pigs Trotters and Local Fare

This post is a love-it or hate-it kind of affair.  I didn’t know where I fell so I had to try it.

Many of the worlds best restaurants are pushing for sustainable eating and nose-to-tail eating (something many give credit it Fergus Henderson in the UK for bringing to fine dining).

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet   Pigs Trotters and Local Fare Pork Offal December Cooking Recipes Cheap Tuesday Gourmet

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11 Days of Feastmas – Infusing Vodka with Apples and Pears

I have wanted to infuse vodka with fruit for Christmas for years – and never got around to it.  Now that I have started the process I feel silly for not doing it sooner – it was all of 10 minutes work.

11 Days of Feastmas   Infusing Vodka with Apples and Pears Vodka Preserving Recipes Pear December Apple 11 Tastes of Feastmas 11 days of feastmas [Read more...]

11 Days of Feastmas – Midday snack – Duck Prosciutto

I technically started cooking our Christmas dinner on October 28th with the Lemon Confit project.  The rinds from those lemons will form a key part of our stuffing and I love that there has been a long process of curing to transform groceries into something we cannot readily purchase.  I love the romance of it all…

There will be many ingredients served over the Holidays that are simply not at the market.  Harvest fresh preserves, infused booze, homemade bread, samples of moose (and maybe deer).  Many of these things simply take time to transform from ordinary to extraordinary and while much of our bounty was prepared months ago there is still time for you to create your own specialty items for the end of the month.  Today and tomorrow’s post will present two such options.

11 Days of Feastmas   Midday snack   Duck Prosciutto Salt Preserving Recipes Duck December 11 Tastes of Feastmas 11 days of feastmas [Read more...]

11 Days of Feastmas – Day 1 – Roasted Garlic is a Secret Weapon

A few days before the family arrives I will roast 3-4 whole bulbs of garlic (if not more).

Garlic is local, seasonal , healthy and I love it.

11 Days of Feastmas   Day 1   Roasted Garlic is a Secret Weapon Garlic December Cooking Recipes 11 Tastes of Feastmas 11 days of feastmas

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11 Days of Feastmas

The cold has swept across Toronto this week.  We have had our first snow, storm and tough driving.  What felt like an eternal fall has instantly turned a new leaf and is a bitter winter.  It must be Holiday season!

Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Ashura, the Julian New Year and more are all significant occasions marked in the next 6 weeks by many people.  Some are celebrations of faith and others are simply a time to celebrate with friends and family.  December means Christmas to me and it’s one of my most favourite times of year!

Between tomorrow and December 26th we will share some of our Holiday traditions (including some new ones) for you to consider.  Most will be small tips on little twists/ tricks that we do to make our Holiday meals extra special.  We’ll talk about food that can get the entire family involved as well as food that is for adults only.  We’ll share our tasty tricks and traditions that are (for the most part) easily adaptable into existing recipes and plans.

There will be raisins, cranberries, homemade duck Prosciutto, infused booze, an ingredient I keep on hand to bail out any last-minute holiday meal and, of course,  chestnuts.  Boxing Day will feature a special post dedicated to making better stocks with leftovers.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to get a start on Holiday tips, take a peak back at our post on how to make your own Turkey gravy from scratch.  Despite what the commercials say, it really is far better (and is more affordable) than the packaged stuff.  You could also give slow roasted cherry tomatoes a try – unbelievable tomato taste that can be prepped in advance and promotes packaged winter tomatoes from afar to a star on the table.

11 Days of Feastmas December 11 Tastes of Feastmas 11 days of feastmas

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet will continue on Tuesdays (we even have a special recipe planned for the 29th which could easily be made for New Years) and plans for a whole series of posts related to preserving for the first half of January.

Grand River Brewing – Highballer Pumpkin Ale

Does anyone else remember It`s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? It was a favourite of mine and I know it`s one of Dana`s Mums faves too.

It was memories of this literary classic that came to my minds eye as I saw the label of Highballer Pumpkin Ale from Grand River Brewing (from Cambridge, Ontario).  It has been an exciting autumn for Ontario Craft Beer – there are more and more small breweries showing up through the LCBO and they are raising the bar with more and more interesting offerings.  I was excited to see 4 or 5 pumpkin beers show up to celebrate the regional flavors of fall.

Grand River Brewing   Highballer Pumpkin Ale December

Seasonal beers are commonplace in many small breweries around the world but it has been a tradition that has been sparse in Ontario Craft Beer.  Barley Days Brewery, McAsulan (from Quebec), Mill Street and a few others offered specialty flavors for limited times but it seemed (at least to me) that they were few and far between.  I imagine it is scary enough to try to establish a few quality beers and that creating diversion can seem like a counter-intuitive way to establish a brand.

Grand River is planning to bottle 4 seasonal brews timed around Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and Canada day (details here).

The Pumpkin Ale contains the real deal – the fruit is donated by Stroms Farm in Guelph.  It is dark orange in color, fruity and spicy. It is very dry to taste and lightly carbonated.  The beer weighs in at 5.2% alcohol.  flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and the heartiness of fall.  If you haven’t had a pumpkin ale this is a great place to start – it is one of the better examples of Ontario Pumpkin Ale I have had this year.

If you haven’t explored local beer (wherever you are), make sure to give it a try.  Look out for seasonal favourites like this.  If you’re in Ontario and can still find a bottle of this fine

Terra Madre Toronto

You may remember a post several weeks ago about this coming Thursday, December 10th.  Our introduction to it expanded on the theme which is to “bring together those players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity.”

This post is a reminder to all that there may be great local food events near you this Thursday as well as information about a great sounding event coming to Toronto in honor of local food.

Terra Madre Toronto December

Our friend and farmer Mark Trealout (from Kawartha Ecological Growers) sent us information on a great sounding Terra Madre event in Toronto.  Dana or I are going to try to make it out, weather permitting – if anyone goes, let us know!

Slow Food Toronto Presents…
Terra Madre Day, Celebrating Local Food!
Thursday December 10th, 6-9pmHosted
By, FoodShare 90 Croatia Street, Toronto

Enter from Brock Street, just south of Bloor West


UofTTix, http://www.uofttix.ca/ or, (416) 978-8849

$10 at the door, no cost for kids under 12!


Meat and Fish

  1. YU Ranch, Bryan, Bryan Gilvesy, Naked YU Ranch All Beef Frankfurter bites Niagara Specialty Foods, Mario Pingue,  Serving Proscuitto on Grassin
  2. Akiwenzie Fish and More, Natasha and Andrew Akiwenzie,  Serving Smoked Trout and White Fish


  1. Warner Farms, Torrie Warner, Samplings of Apples, Pears and Cider
  2. Lincoln Line Orchards, Peter Bosman, Samplings of Apples


  1. Matchbox Gardens, Hanna Jacobs, Vegetables,  Serving Squash Bites with Amuse Bouche
  2. Pfenning’s, Jenn Pfenning, Vegetables, Serving Carrots and Roasted Vegetables
  3. The Cutting Veg, Daniel Hoffman, Vegetables, Varieties of Garlic and Red Potatoes
  4. Everdale Farms, Gavin Dandy, Serving Raw Carrots
  5. Cookstown Greens, David Cohlmeyer, Serving Baby Salad Greens with Dressing and Baby Roots
  6. The New Farm, Gillian Flies and Brent Preston, Serving Pickled Heirloom Beets
  7. KEG, Mark Trealout, Serving Heirloom Beans and Artisanal Hot Sauces on Corn Flour Tortillas
  8. FoodCycles, Ashlee Cooper, Serving Sprouts on Kale Leaves Smothered in Hummus.
  9. Toronto Sprouts, Alison, Sprout Tasting
  10. Plan B, Alvaro, Fresh Produce
  11. HOPE Eco Farms, Ira Stoll, Pork Sausages
  12. Karma Coop, Michelle Szabo

Cheese and Dairy

  1. Fifth Town, Petra Cooper, Varieties of Local Artisanal Cheeses
  2. Monforte Dairy, Ruth Klahsen, Varieties of Local Artisanal Cheeses
  3. Mapleton’s Organic Dairy, Arwa Root, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Yogurt, Pumpkin Ice Cream

Grains and Breads

  1. St.John’s Bakery, Jeff Connelly, Red Fife Wheat Breads, Artisanal Loaves and Brioche
  2. Evelyn’s Crackers, Dawn Woodward and Ed Rek, Crackers, Jam and Crackers
  3. CIPM Farm, Patricia Hastings, Red Fife Wheat

Preserves, Oils, Mustard and Other Foods

  1. August’s Harvest, Wareen Ham, Tastings of Garlic, Shallots, Saskatoon Berry Preserves
  2. Forbes Wild Foods, Jonathan Forbes Tastings of Wild and Foraged Preserved foods
  3. Persall Naturals, Jason Persall, Tastings of Vinegars and Cold Pressed Canola Oil
  4. Kozliks Mustard, Jeremy Kozlik, Samples of Mustards
  5. Culinarium,  Kathleen Macintosh, Samples of Kernal Popping Corn, Jams, Sauces, Chutneys, Pickles, Peanuts and other Ontario items!


  1. Chocosol, Michael Sacco, Chocolate and Fresh Tortillas
  2. SOMA, David Castellan, Chocolate

Prepared Food

  1. JK Kitchens, Jamie Kennedy and Sharon Bergey
  2. Haisai, Michael and Nobuyo Stadtlander, Porchetta
  3. The Healthy Butcher, Mario Fiorucci, Braised Beef with deliciousness
  4. Cumbrae’s, Stephen Alexander
  5. Provenace Cuisine, Alex Johnston


  1. 100 Km Foods, Grace Mandarano and Paul Sawtell

Community Groups

  1. Slow Food Toronto with Author Margaret Webb
  2. FoodShare, Paul DeCampo
  3. FarmStart, Sridharan  Sethuratnam
  4. Not Far From The Tree, Laura Reinsborough
  5. Local Food Plus, Laurie Stalbrand, Chris
  6. Evergreen, Seana Irvin
  7. West End Food-Coop, Ayal Dinner
  8. Toronto’s Youth Food Policy Council, Tracy Phillipp
  9. Sustain Ontario, Lauren Baker


  1. Edible Toronto