Eat a Bit of Chocolate – Self Care Month Day 14

 

We have a tendency to confuse self care with “Treat Yo’Self!!” and so today’s advice comes with the disclaimer to pay close attention to the “bit” part.

It’s well known that chocolate contains chemicals that make us feel good. Many people, when surveyed, say they’d choose chocolate over sex. And a little something sweet, especially if it makes us feel grateful – for the treat, or for the person who gave it to us, or just the experience of eating it – is certainly a good thing to do for ourselves.

However (sorry…), sugar has been linked to inflammation in the body, plus cavities, weight gain (from the inflammation), and even depression. That’s right, the candy that makes us feel good when we eat it not only makes us crash an hour later but could be contributing to a bigger long-term funk.

So have your chocolate today (or tomorrow when all the V-day chocolate is half off!!), but do it in moderation, savouring each piece and feeling gratitude for the experience.

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Lucky Dip – May 6th – Six Cool Food Things

Unelefante-Chocolate-Packaging-Mexico-AChocolate inspired by Jackson Pollack? These beautiful pieces of edible art are from Unelefante in Mexico. [Via KNSTRCT]

Das-Kochbuch-0111Can’t keep track of your best lasagna recipe? How about this one that’s printed on the pasta? [Via BoingBoing]

The story of Sweeney Todd the barber and the little pie shop next door is just fiction… or is it? In the 1380s, Paris had an evil barber/butcher combo that were brought to justice because of a dog waiting for its missing master. [Via Messy Nessy Chic]

Cristina-Burns-photography-12The sweetness of death… skulls, candy and flowers by Cristina Burns. [Via Dangerous Minds]

dali_lesdinersdegala1Before that Surreal Gourmet guy, there was the real surreal gourmet. Salvador Dali’s very rare cookbook. [Via BrainPickings]

spoonsMore skulls and sugar, this time for your coffee – sugar skull spoons. [Via This Is Colossal]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, October 31st, 2011

Uh… how much candy are your kids eating after Halloween that they’re getting cavities  and “weakening” their teeth? Sure, taffy and the like is probably not a good pairing with expensive dental work, but if your kids are eating enough Halloween swag to get a cavity, there are other issues at play. [Globe and Mail]

And so you know the value of what your neighbours have shelled out – the candy hierarchy. [Boing Boing]

Groupon usually gets you cheap deals for cheap food – but they’re expanding into upscale restaurants. Could we soon see Groupon deals for Scaramouche and Pangaea?? [Nation’s Restaurant News]

The difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. (Although, as an allergy sufferer, the bit about the scratch test being the gold standard is laughable. We really need to update allergy testing beyond a 100-year-old system that is famously inaccurate.) [Toronto Sun]

Batali does Fieri for Halloween. [Eater]

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Lucky Dip – Friday, October 28th, 2011

Remember that nice lady on your street who always made the awesome candy apples every Halloween? She wouldn’t hurt you with poison or razorblades. Why trick or treating for homemade goodies isn’t all that scary. [Globe and Mail]

What the candy you give out for Halloween says about you. [My Food Looks Funny]

Tipping part 2, when to be generous. [Inside Toronto: Menumental]

Dear restaurant-goers – if you can’t afford to order a drink other than the free tap water, please stay home. [Nation’s Restaurant News]

Chef Matt Kantor did a Tribute to El Bulli dinner 3 nights this week at The Cookbook Store; Jennifer Bain recaps the 23-course meal. (I hope to have my own recap up this weekend.) [Toronto Star]

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Toronto has officially banned the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin. Thank you city council, for doing the right thing. Let’s hope this leads to other jurisdictions passing a similar law. [Toronto Star]

The math on this seems a little sketchy (a can of Coke has 39g of sugar; so 365 cans would be 14,196g  or 31.29 pounds), but the New York City Healthy Department is claiming that drinking 1 can of soda a day is the equivalent of ingesting 50 pounds of sugar per year. Still, an extra 31 pounds can’t be good either. [CBS New York]

Goodbye potatoes, hello rice. How a changing demographic is changing how Canadians eat. [Food Navigator]

Eat your broccoli to keep colds at bay. [Globe and Mail]

Chefs and restaurants are now using Twitter regularly. Just remember – no squabbling with disgruntled customers and for the love of God, stop retweeting every nice thing anybody says about you. We know you’re great, that’s why we’re already following you! [Wall Street Journal]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, October 24th, 2011

One of the reasons I hate weddings is that the whole thing is a laundry list of things you have to do to keep other people happy. In Chinese culture, this also occurs, only it has some horrid environmental results – as in,  “Oh, grandma will be disappointed if there’s no shark fin.” So this week we urge Toronto city council to just say no to shark fin, and urge brides and grooms to be to question stupid wedding traditions that you do just to keep Grandma happy. [Globe and Mail]

Oh, I want to go to this – the Experimental Food Society Spectacular – where you can see a Dodo cake, an eagle made of sugar and a bum sandwich. [Daily Mail]

Meatballs – there’s a creative process at work. [National Post]

Tipping in restaurants – Eric Vellend offers part 1 of a guide. [Inside Toronto: Menumental]

Tootsie rolls vs. molasses candy? Well, Tootise rolls, duh. But both pull my crowns off so I eschew the chews. [Globe and Mail]

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Lucky Dip – Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Remember how excited we all were when Toronto announced a policy to buy local food for government services like schools, seniors’ homes, jails and daycares? Yeah… here come the Fords, and nothing is safe anymore. [Toronto Standard]

It’s Pride weekend people, and you need to know where to eat. Steven Davey’s got a list of new places along Church that you need to check out. [NOW]

You know, there’s lots of weird shit for sale in Kensington Market, but moonshine, out of a bakery, no less, has got to take the cake. [Toronto Star]

The quandry of the quarry. Your food could be at risk. [The Grid]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, May 30th, 2011

Lentil chips? Fruit snacks? Is the end nigh for good old sugar and powdered beetle wings?? Sing it with me folks, I Want Candy! [The Atlantic]

The USDA’s food pyramid is so ubiquitous, most Canadians think it’s the system we use as well. But it’s getting a redesign and will apparently look more like a plate, which might actually be a better gauge for people to calculate their food portions. [CBS Atlanta]

Would you like some tea with your Secret Pickles? This supper club is laid back and unpretentious. [The Grid]

Heston Blumenthal creates a pommery mustard ice cream for UK supermarket Waitrose. [Daily Mail]

Canadians share a common border with our neighbours to the south, but we have very different tastes in snack food. [Toronto Sun]

If you could redesign the nutrition label on packaged foods, what would it look like? Now’s your chance to show the world. [Food Politics]

Could foods containing a potentially lethal chemical have been shipped to Canada? [Globe and Mail]

An e.coli outbreak in Germany has killed 14 and may be linked to cucumbers. [Toronto Sun]

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Proof of My Insanity

Go big or go home. Not my life’s philosophy, but apparently one I follow when baking.

See, I got a freezer, right? And not eating meat, I needed something to put in it. I filled it up somewhat with summer delights; fiddleheads and berries and pesto and tubs of peach chutney. But my original plan for the thing included cookies. I could start making Christmas cookies in September! Thus saving me from running around frantically in November to get everything done.

It was a great theory, but what actually happened was that I had all that extra time on my hands and so made more… much more. Ironically we found homes for most of it and now have a happy postman, building superintendent, co-workers, friends and relatives.

Cookies: clockwise from the top: chocolate coffee crinkles, zimsterne (a rolled meringue cookie with almonds and hazelnuts), white chocolate cranberry and pistachio biscotti, honey sand balls (a shortbread sweetened with honey and studded with walnuts), pfefferneusse, chocolate orange icebox cookies and eggnog shortbread squares. In the centre: zesty lime and coconut shortbread.

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Where Can I Find – Cake and Candy-Making Supplies

Despite the fact that we here at TasteTO have officially declared the cupcake to be soooo over (enough already, please?), it seems that more and more people are becoming interested in cake decorating. Based on the number of emails we get from places looking for coverage for their cupcake or baking business, it’s an industry that is taking on a life of its own. But with many equipment supply places open to the trade only, finding the necessary equipment and ingredients can be difficult, especially if you’re a home baker.

Sure, tracking down basic baking pans, plain cupcake papers and some simple cookie cutters is easy enough, but once you get into the serious stuff, special molds, pre-made fondants, specialty pans and decorative items might be more of a challenge.

Here’s a list of GTA-based businesses where aspiring pastry chefs and candy-makers can find their gear and supplies.

Nickolaau
629 Queen Street West
416-504-6411
This rabbit’s warren of restaurant equipment has lots of stuff for pastry making, from piping bags and tips, cake stands, palate knives and cake pans. It’s all professional quality gear, though, so don’t be surprised to blow the dust off that cake stand and discover that it’s $70.

Placewares, St. Lawrence Market
92 Front Street East
Toronto, ON M5E 1C4
416-603-1649
This is probably the easiest place to access in the downtown core, and they have everything from a huge wall of cookie cutters to piping bags, tips, cake pans and moulds, fondant sculpting tools, cupcake papers and (usually seasonal) decorations such as non-pareils and dragees. They also stock some colours of Wilton fondant.

Bulk Barn – Loblaws Leslie St. Market (and others)
17 Leslie Street
416-466-4512
Cake pans, including novelty shapes; they also offer a pan rental service if you know you’re never going to use that teddy bear cake pan again. They also have cookie cutters, icing paste and gels, cake decorating supplies, candy molds and couverture wafers, plus wedding, birthday and seasonal supplies.

McCall’s School of Cake Decorating
3810 Bloor Street West
416-231-8040
This is kind of the motherlode; pans, cutters utensils, gum paste, sprinkles, cake stands, moulds, food colouring, decorative paper products. They offer classes as well. Bonus – there’s online shopping if you can’t make it out there.

Katie’s Cakes
1531 O’Connor Drive
416-757-6896
Offers courses in everything from basic cake decorating to working with gumpaste and fondant.

Foodstuffs Inc.
89 Main Street South, Georgetown
905-877-6569
Technically out of the GTA but if you’re in the area, it’s a good source of baking pans, chocolate and candy-making supplies and cake-decorating equipment.

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