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March 2014

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RECIPE: Chicken pot pies

Makes 6 main-course servings

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 thin carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 1 bunch tarragon
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Two 1-pound packages all-butter puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon salt

Divide the chicken evenly among six 1-cup ramekins. Sprinkle the mushrooms evenly over the chicken, dividing them evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the carrots over the top and finally the tarragon. Press down on the filling in each ramekin so none of the ingredients rise above the rim. (If the ingredients touch the pastry, the pastry will tear.) Pour 1/3 cup of the broth and 21/2 tablespoons of the cream evenly over each filled ramekin. Season again with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 6 rounds about 2 inches larger in diameter than the rim of the ramekins. Using a sharp paring knife, and working from the center to the edge, make a series of arcs, like spokes, on the surface of each round, being careful not to cut through the dough. Flip each round, brush with the beaten egg, then invert a round over each ramekin (the scored side will be facing up). Press the dough firmly against the sides with your palms until it adheres securely. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Place the pies on a sheet pan.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake the pies for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and has puffed. Serve at once.

 

Reprinted with permission from Meat: A Kitchen Education by James Peterson

 

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Moving past Ford: What’s even left to support?

Moving past Rob Ford

We are officially at a point where there is simply no valid reason left to support Rob Ford as a candidate for Mayor of Toronto. Barring any surprises there will not be any further high profile candidate entering the race for Toronto’s Mayor. With the entrance of Olivia Chow, the former New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP), Toronto’s socialists have their standard bearer. Moreover, with Karen Stintz, the former Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), David Soknacki, David Miller’s former Budget Chief, and John Tory, the former Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party leader, in the race there are simply too many options available to rationalize any support of Rob Ford going forward. I will go far enough as to suggest that doing so is deserving of ridicule.

Rob Ford has proven himself wholly inadequate at fulfilling the job of Mayor. This is not merely because he has engaged in recreational experimentation of crack cocaine while in one of his now infamous ‘drunken stupors’. This is not even because he refused to seek assistance for what is clearly a problem with alcohol and narcotic drug use. Rather, Rob Ford has proven him to be and uninformed, belligerent, childish, thuggish liar.

The fact of the matter is Toronto deserves better. Toronto deserves a Mayor who can work with across the aisle with their fellow Council members to achieve their promised goals. Rob Ford and Doug, his brother and campaign manager, assert that personal life is separate from public life. Look past the crack smoking to see the penny pinching. But here is the thing; the younger Ford does not have the record of success that he proclaims. Spending at City Hall has risen during the Fords’ tenure. Property taxes have gone up; including the largest increase in the City’s history. Despite this, services are being cut year after year, including at the TTC; which Rob Ford used to refer to as ‘essential’.

If this is a fiscal record one can support, Stintz has endorsed the ‘Ford fiscal plan’. Tory, Chow, and Soknacki: not so much. All four opposition candidates will offer varying platforms, all valid in their own rights. Torontonians are encouraged to carefully consider these plans, because at this point in time (even if I have my own personal preference) anyone would be better than Rob Ford.

I can already hear the Ford supporters firing back that I am just afraid of a Ford victory. To them I say, “You are damn right I am.” Nothing scares me more, as a citizen of Toronto, than ‘Ford more years’.

‘Looking’ episode 8 recap: SEASON FINALE!

After last week’s episode, I couldn’t wait to see where our three characters would end up. I’ve got to say this season finale definitely left us with some questions and left me eager for season 2. One great thing I’ve learned is that Richie, Kevin and Doris have all signed on to be series regulars for the soft-more season, not just guest stars. Thank god for Doris, she’s of the voice of reason among this gaggle of gays, especially when it comes to her ex-boyfriend Dom.

This week, Patrick shows up a Richie’s workplace, like a creepy stalker. He isn’t returning your calls for a reason Patrick! Showing up at his work just feels desperate, and is really only  a selfish move to try and clear the air and make yourself feel better.

Speaking of making themselves feel better, Agustin – who is starting to look homeless – ruffles through his bedside table to find what I can only assume is two hits of MDMA in a little baggy. Franklin finally comes home and Agustin shows his desperate side by pleading with him to reconsider their relationship. He apologizes for everything he’s done, especially when it comes to CJ. Frank isn’t having any of it, “What you did with the hustler, nothing but the musings of a bored rich kid.” Well said Frank. Agustin doesn’t know who he is or what he wants and just bobs around from idea to idea trying to find out. Does he actually want to create art? Or does he just like the idea of being an artist? Frank dishes one last jab saying that anything he’ll ever do will be mediocre at best, before taking off and telling Agustin to finish packing.

Dom takes his turn apologizing in this episode by calling up Lynn and leaving him voicemails asking him to come to the Peri Peri pop-up restaurant that night.

At work, Kevin finds Patrick taking a break on the roof and before Kevin really gets the chance to apologize, Patrick tells him there is no need, it is just water under the bridge. But is it? The way Patrick dismisses it so quickly feels almost like he’s not letting himself actually think it through and would rather pretend it never happened.

Agustin decides to console himself by poppin’ a pill on the subway and really starts feeling it by the time he meets up with Patrick in front of Dom’s pop-up. Dom is clearly very anxious when he greets his friends but his buddies let him know how proud they are of him. Some of my favourite moments in this show are when the three of them are all together and just acting like supportive friends. Dom’s anxiety looks even worse when a group of Lynn’s investor friends come in and ask where Lynn is. When he does finally arrive, he’s with a very handsome gentleman and Dom clearly gets jealous. Meanwhile Patrick is giving his tweaking friend glasses of water and talking about all of his boy drama with Kevin and Richie. I’ve definitely been the friend to take care of someone who has maybe had a little bit too much of a substance. One time I had to walk laps around a track with a bestie until the pot brownie effects wore off. That’s just what friends are for! “I just want to lick his arm pits all day long” Patrick says about Richie and Agustin agrees…hell, I agree. Richie is a total babe, and he’s passionate, wild and unpredictable. That’s what he offers Patrick. Agustin finds out about the kiss with Kevin, “You want to have a thing with him” he tells Patrick. What does Kevin offer him? More stability perhaps? Security? Is that even a real thing? Or just a term I learned from watching movies like The Wedding Singer or episodes of Friends.

Kevin keeps texting and calling Patrick to come back into work, at first Patrick refuses but then Agustin answers the phone and hands it to him, he has to head back in. This is where it all goes down. Patrick arrives to find Kevin alone with two beers. Kevin apparently fixed whatever it was (the excuse to get Patrick in) and just wants to talk. “Do you know how much effort it takes to be around you? I can’t stop thinking about you” Kevin finally spills to Patrick. They start kissing, at first Patrick resists, then finally gives in and they go at it right there on the floor (and not in that chair/sling thing they have in their offices – not this time at least). Patrick bottoms for him! The one thing he wouldn’t do with Richie, is this telling us something? Patrick’s actions show that he’s more willing to be vulnerable with someone safe like Kevin, or maybe he’s just trying to be cool by joining the bottom club. Either way, it was a hot scene and a great chance to see some pant-less Russell Tovey. “What happens now?” “I don’t know” I guess we’ll have to wait for season 2.

At the Peri Peri Pop-Up (it’s fun to say isn’t it?) Doris goes to bat for her best friend Dom. She chats up Lynn about him and at first he doesn’t seem to respond until finally she says plain and simple, “Dom is worth it”. I’m not going to lie, it gave me goosebumps, but then again I get goosebumps at really good car commercials. When Lynn is on his way out, Dom has his chance to take him aside and talk to him. Dom tries to get him to agree to coming back to work but Lynn isn’t having it, “I just feel like tonight should be the end of our working relationship” and right there Dom goes in for a kiss. This time, Lynn doesn’t pull away. Yes! Now that they are no longer work partners, they can be boyfriends. I am really looking forward to seeing Dom in what I expect to be a serious, committed relationship next year (by the way, rumour has it the show isn’t returning until the fall of next year which means we’ve got to wait a year and a half!)

Patrick arrives home and Richie is there waiting outside, “when I feel disrespected by someone I care about, it does something to me. My pride is something I’m working through” he tells Patrick. He explains that he feels the two of them went too fast and “I am this close to falling in love with you but I’m not going to do that to myself if you’re not ready” and clearly Patrick isn’t. They take a moment, Patrick in tears, then part ways. Is this the end of Patchie? Something tells me Richie will be back in the not so distant future. Patrick makes his way inside to find his bestie, Agustin passed out in his bed with his macbook open. Patrick curls up next to him and presses play, the Golden Girls starts playing. “Thank you for being a friend”. Just like the good old days of these two roommate, I think it’s about time Agustin moves back in permanently.

The show has really found it’s footing after the first couple episodes. It’s been criticized for being “boring”, but I for one find it to be very realistic and a pretty accurate portrayal of a gay lifestyle in a larger city. It was designed to be a slice of life style show, and it hits it’s mark. We’ll have to wait and see if it can keep it’s steam in season 2!

Tina Fey says no to Mean Girls sequel rumours

On Wednesday at the premiere of the new Muppets movie Tina Fey broke the hearts of many twenty somethings who can recite entire scenes from Mean Girls when she gave a definitive no to a reunion movie to mark the ten year anniversary of the cultural phenomenon that spoke to a generation and spawned many a catch phrase — except fetch, fetch is never gonna happen.

Fey told reporters that, despite growing rumours and many cast reunions (not to mention a newly sober Lindsay) there was nothing in the works for a follow up to the movie she had penned. “We’re coming up next month on the 10-year anniversary of the original movie,” she told reporters. “I can’t believe it either. We’re going to see if there’s any way to get everyone together, but not a movie, sadly. We’re all past high-school age.”

#TOpoli with Thomson March 10: Do corporate tax hikes pass the buck and hurt low income families?

Join hosts Sarah Thomson and Travis Myers as they are joined by journalists Andrea Houston and Ashley Csanady with PR guru Lyndon Johnson to discuss the hottest issues in Toronto this week including funny tweets from the #TOpoli hashtag, Strombo’s new job on Hockey Night in Canada, Ed Keenan’s math on corporate tax hikes and how they hurt low income families, and the invisible gridlock tax in Toronto.

This pro-gay loonie designed by a Grade 4 kid is a great idea (and proudly Canadian)

Redditor JimmyCanuck posted up his daughter’s project to the subreddit /r/Canada Tuesday night proud of his daughter’s attitude, not to mention her 4+ top marks.

The parameters of the project were simple enough. “Sketch a symbol you would choose for a new Canadian coin. Why did you choose this symbol for a new coin? Tell why you think this represents Canada.”

While most kids her age might have chosen to do a project featuring an animal or veterans (popular visuals on Canada’s coins) Grade 4 Julie chose to do her project as a celebration of gay rights in Canada — a project with a great amount of heart and compassion that it earned her a 4+ top grade, even if there are a couple spelling mistakes.

Check out the project and read the text below:

gay coin

"This coin represents gay pride. I chose the rainbow because the rainbow is the gay pride flag. I chose the gay pride flag because it is okay to be gay in Canada. I chose two girls holding hands and 2 boys holding hands because gay means love with a person in your gender. I chose black because black represents guilt & sorrow. If you were in a different country where you aren't allowed to be gay and if you are gay you would feel guilt & sorrow. That's why I chose gay pride as my coin."

Hats off to Julie for her fantastic compassion and vision at such a young age — and a challenge to the Royal Canadian Mint to make her project a reality.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Residential real estate market is slowing

By Hanna Mohammed

The growth of Canada’s residential real estate market is slowing.

Home sales declined 5.8 per cent across Canada from July to August, the largest single-month decline since June 2010, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Weak consumer confidence, high unemployment and tight credit conditions continue to weigh heavily on housing demand and pricing, said the Bank of Nova Scotia in a report released Friday.

The GTA saw a 7.7 per cent decline in new listings.

Sales declines were also apparent in cities like Vancouver, Greater Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

Although the Canadian market is expected to slow further, European housing markets remain the weakest. Signs of modest improvement were shown in countries such as the United States, the U.K., Australia and China, the Scotiabank report said.

The report added that it will likely take a considerable amount of time for sustainable recovery to emerge in the global market. Stronger job and income growth will be required to generate the consumer purchasing power that is needed to support higher home sales.

Why we shouldn’t #BanBossy: Bossiness isn’t just for girls and isn’t the same as leadership

Beyoncé wants you to know she isn’t “bossy” — she’s the boss.

This is part of the new campaign from Lean In, a group headed by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg dedicated to the advancement of women. Not too different from some of the work we do here at Women’s Post, actually. One big difference is that they have made the bizarre move to draft celebrities in a war against the word bossy.

According to the campaign’s press materials: “when a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’ Words like bossy send a message: Don’t raise your hand or speak up.”

For a campaign that is directed at the developed world it manages to ignore study after study after study showing that girls are currently outperforming boys in classrooms. The failing fortunes of boys is such a pressing issue in Canada that the Globe and Mail ran a large series on the issue a few years back. I was shocked to see this campaign claim that the term bossy is reserved for girls. According to Micheline Maynard at Forbes the term is gender neutral. “There are plenty of bossy men out there, too. Bossy is bossy — dictatorial, unyielding, telling people what to do and expecting them to do it without any input.” When I was growing up the bossiest kid I knew was a boy named Kyle.

All of that is secondary to the fundamental flaw this campaign is based on. #BanBossy equates bossiness with leadership and then portrays bossy kids as the downtrodden. The kids who can’t put their hand up for fear of retribution, the kids who would be such bright leaders if their bossiness was allowed to shine through.

The reality is that being bossy is an attitude that exists wholly separate from leadership and it is a bad thing. A kid isn’t bossy when he or she raises their hand to answer a question in class — a kid is bossy when he or she knocks over another kids blocks because they’ve decided they want their turn and they want it now. A kid isn’t bossy when they work together leading others to accomplish goals — a kid is bossy when they dictate the actions of other kids, refuse to compromise, and don’t consider the desires or feelings of others.


The Lifetime clip also features Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice, Jennifer Garner, and others.

Bossy behaviour in kids isn’t a charming attribute by any stretch, it more often will result in frustrating situations for parents and teachers who are constantly being undermined or disobeyed and problems for other children who aren’t allowed their own expression at the hands of another child who refuses to relinquish control. What baffles me is why there is a campaign to protect children from being chided for behaviour that many psychologists consider proto-bullying.

Parents and teachers know that the phrase “stop being so bossy” isn’t intended to take away any fair chance from a child who aspires to lead. Instead it is said in sympathy with the other child who is being led against their will. What response would Beyoncé suggest for the parent whose simple trip to the grocery store has been turned into a painful and embarrassing battle of wills with a child throwing food out of the cart in favour of Dunkaroos between sprints to different aisles? How will Beyoncé feel about the term bossy when Blue Ivy is old enough to scream NO, MINE! and MY TURN! at the top of her lungs until she gets her way at the expense of another child’s feelings? Or, heaven forbid, how would she react if Blue Ivy is the child being bossed around?

The most curious thing about the campaign might be the presence of Queen Bey herself in the clip. As a child star being carted around from audition to audition it is hard to imagine the young superstar doing anything but following the orders of her parents-slash-managers on her road to success, as evidenced by her countless thank-yous to her parents for their tireless direction and dedication to her young career.

But beyond Beyoncé and back to the school yard: the term bossy should be offensive. For prepubescent kids the term is a scolding and a wake up call that their behaviour towards their parents and others is unacceptable and needs to be dialed down.

If parents and teachers are ready to throw in the towel and give bossy kids free reign at home and at school we can give up on parenting, caregiving, or teaching as a whole. If your child isn’t blessed with a bossy attitude don’t hope for much out of them in those early years or after they have had their determination, self worth, and aptitude stomped out of them by the loudest kids in the class — ironically enough the same fear this campaign has for bossy children who are simply being expected to follow rules and play nice.

At its heart this is a flawed campaign. Of the many issues that face young girls around the world like access to education or childhood marriages this is, unfortunately, a waste of star power on an problem that is neither gender specific or a problem at all. Kids can be little jerks sometimes, the beauty of childhood is the chance to teach our children how to grow into good people. When a child exhibits the qualities of leadership it is great to teach them how to respectfully involve themselves with others, but when things go too far don’t be fooled into thinking the term bossy is anything other than a label for bad behaviour.

Canadians are too comfortable with debt

By Hanna Mohammed

A new poll suggests that most Canadians are too comfortable with debt.

In the survey done by bankruptcy trustees Hoyes, Michalos and Associates nine out of 10 people would consider taking loans to cover unexpected costs.

The Harris/Decima poll asked borrowers if they could comfortably raise $2,000 within a month to cover unexpected costs; 92 per cent of people said they would rather borrow.

One-in-five Canadians surveyed said they believe it would take them two months or longer to come up with $2,000, even if they could borrow. Among those who said they couldn’t raise the money within a month, 26 per cent said they couldn’t raise the money no matter how much time they were given.

The poll results come as Canadian debt-income ratios sit at a record 152 per cent. Officials are warning those who have borrowed to pay down debt before interest rates increase.

The findings suggest that consumers have been unmoved by warnings.