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August 2017

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4 ways to create your own gourmet kitchen

One of the most important rooms in your house is more than likely your kitchen. You cook there, sometimes you eat there. It becomes a hub of conversation, where friends and family can be creative. One of the things that many people look at when buying a new home is often the kitchen —  it it big enough, bright enough, and does it have state of the art appliances? Many foodies and aspiring chefs (and even amateur ones) love working in a good kitchen. Here are a few tips on how to create your own gourmet kitchen, or at least feel like you’re working with one.

Get Organized

No matter the size of your kitchen, it is essential it be clutter free. This creates the feeling of a grand working place. You should have select storage areas for specialty items and an organizer for everything from your cooking utensils to your excess plastic bags. Keep you kitchen streamlined and know where everything is kept for easy access. In terms of design, keep it minimal and tidy with easy to clean surfaces.

Bright Colours

Thanks to many optical illusions, a room painted in white or even cool bright colours often tend to appear larger. The reflective surfaces of the lighter paint helps a room feel bigger with wider walls. Try to find reflective surfaces that will lighten the room. For instance, white moulding or trim adds depth to a wall and using quality paint provides a bit of shine or gloss helping the flow of light. Avoid darker or muddy colours at all cost. If you want to add a pop of colour to your white space, use colourful appliances.

Invest In The Proper Tools

If you want to work in a high performance kitchen, it might be time to invest in some high performance tools. Try using professionally made pots and pans and especially appliances with a brand you can trust. These products will be worth the investment because they are durable and should last for an extended period of time, making you feel at ease in having a product you can depend on. At the same time, monitor the performance quality of any new appliances you consider investing in and see which one works best for your space.

Gourmet Products

Put the salt and pepper down if that’s your basic seasoning. It’s time to invest in some gourmet spices (and I use the word gourmet as just an upgrade from salt and pepper). Open your mind and your spice rack to different flavours and aromas. Get new spice blends, oils, vinegars and open yourself to trying new flavours. From Peruvian pink salt to pineapple curry, discover new and interesting products.

Let us know how it goes! Post a description of your kitchen in the comments below!

Are you concerned about the quality of your meat?

I’m sure many Canadians would like to know the quality of the meat they pick up from their local butcher’s shop or from the grocery store. Too often there are cases of product recalls due to contamination, health concerns, and even mislabeling of meat products.

In March 2017, the Canadian government banned the import of meats from two Brazilian food plants due to allegations of meat alterations and distribution of rotten meat. Inspectors in Brazil would turn a blind eye for a pay off. It was a major food scandal that affected other countries globally — even the European Union banned imports from these producers and 20 other plants were being investigated at that time by local authorities. I am sure that people would like to ensure the safety of the meat and poultry products we consume in Canada.

In September 2016, the U.S officials from the Department of Agriculture conducted audits on various slaughterhouses across Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. A year later, the results of the audits were released to the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency and found that Canadian inspection standards were below the inspection procedures in the United States. There were no inspections done to ensure the cleaning of digestive waste and residual feces on animal carcasses in Canada. Between 2013-2015, 60,000 kg of Canadian meat and poultry products were rejected by the U.S over public safety concerns or not having contamination free carcasses. Despite this being a relatively average number for the period of time, Canadians still want to ensure the quality of the meat they are consuming.

It is not just the quality and contamination of meats that Canadians have to worry about. There is the bigger problem of mislabeling. When it comes to the mislabeling of meat it is a trickier and upsetting battle. People would like to trust the labels that say things like 100 per cent beef or 100 per cent pork. Unfortunately, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph concluded that one in five sausages tested across Canada contained another meat  that wasn’t listed on the label. This means there is an issue of mislabeling and ‘cross species contamination’.

This information was gathered from 20 per cent of sausage samples from grocery stores across the country. Conclusions showed a number of meat substitutions and fillers — and even one pork sausage contained horse meat. Of 15 turkey sausage packages, five packages were entirely chicken though listed as turkey. The study was funded by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a sort of baseline for testing processors and food quality.

The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency responded to the report by saying the results were disappointing and in some cases it may be an issue of poor cleaning of the machinery that causes cross contamination, basic negligence, and finally food fraud with the intent of mislabeling to cut costs. Further investigations are being carried out to ensure cases like this are reduced or non existent.

Let us know in the comments below what changes you would like to see and how you feel about meat handling and mislabeling.

When buying lingerie can make the news

Clutch your pearls! Just recently, radio business reporter, Michael Kane was strolling through a shopping mall in Toronto and he noticed something that peaked his interest. He decided to tweet his recount, “ I’m just a reporter: saw two modestly dressed women with religious headgear come out of Victoria’s Secret store in the Eaton Centre.”

It’s 2017, so why is it shocking that women were spotting leaving a lingerie store? Women of all categories are entitled to wear underwear if they choose to do so. Much less, why is it an issue that these women were modest and wearing ‘religious headgear’? Muslim women are women too and it should not be tweet-worthy that they were seen exiting a lingerie store.

Mr Kane’s tweet was not warmly welcomed in such a multicultural city like Toronto. For a society that prides itself on diversity and celebrating various cultural backgrounds, scenarios like this are borderline funny and infuriating. People on social media began grabbing on to the phrase “ I’m just a reporter” and responded to Kane with tweets such as “I’m just a reporter: saw a group of White teenagers, in Lululemon outfits playing basketball in a public park.” Scenarios like this does not open a door for positive discussion, instead it brings up issues of ethnicity, social hierarchy, and stereotypes.

Kane made a poor attempt in claiming his tweet was meant to celebrate diversity and promote positive feedback, saying he wanted to bring “news to some, joyful observation to others,” while responding to one Twitter user. The tweet was unnecessary and though he did not say Muslim women, it is clearly implied. Kane continues to gather angry responses and some people even noted this casting of Muslim women as ‘others’ revealing Kane’s cultural insensitivity and intentional or unintentional views as a white male living in a diverse society.

Kane continued to defend himself against the critics, saying he was just sharing his views and he suggested people not judge him. The problem is that people on social media are hypocritical — people cast judgement, but don’t want want to accept judgment cast upon themselves. The tweet, and the conversation that followed, is entirely prejudice and unmindful. Needless to say, Kane did not win his diversity battle and his poor attempt of celebrating another culture seemed creepy, sexist, racist, and why was this a story worth the attention of others on social media?

Kane has since deactivated his twitter and honestly, I’m just a reporter: but it’s time to end cultural, sexist and ethnic insensitivity, evaluate your thoughts, and own up to your actions.

Celebrating Women: Martha Lowry

Craft liquor is becoming a big business in Canada, with new distilleries popping up in big cities across the country. Despite the popularity gain, it’s still very much a male-oriented field, even in Toronto where is seems as though there is a beer or spirit festival every month. Meet Martha Lowry, the only female distiller in Toronto, who recently launched Mill Street Brewery’s first ever Small Bach Gin.

Women’s Post sat down with Lowry to talk about how her work with Mill Street and how she became a distiller.

Q: Congrats on recently launching the first ever Small Bach Gin at Mill Street Brewery in Toronto. Tell us what the process was like for you?

A: Thank you! I am very excited about the gin. The gin was a long time in the making with many test batches on my trial still. When thinking about how to make the gin I started by thinking about what botanicals I would want to use. Gin always contains juniper and typically has coriander. I knew I also wanted to include hops because they have so many different flavour possibilities. I was sure I could find one that would work with the bright and fresh gin I was dreaming of and I thought it would be a great connection to our brewing roots here at Mill Street. After I found my favourite hops I experimented with all kinds of botanicals, wanting to create something complex but not muddled. I settled on my ten botanicals after many trials and combinations of flavours.

You are the only female distiller in Toronto – how does make you feel and was it difficult to follow your passion?

It makes me very excited for the industry. I think we are only going to start seeing more women in distilling. I can’t wait for the day when I see a whole crew of women running a distillery. So far, I have been really fortunate in that I have, for the most part, been met with people who want to help me on my journey. Sometimes I get a bit of surprise, and not full understanding, but not too much has really stood in my way.

You are a handful of female distillers in Canada what would you say to someone who wanted to follow in your career footsteps?

Reach out to women’s industry groups and connect with as many women in the industry as you can. The women I know in the industry are amazing, strong, passionate, and we tend to look out for one another. Do a lot of research and reading, and tasting (the fun part)! Try to get yourself into a distillery to see it all in action and decide if it is something you love. There are a million different ways to get yourself into distilling. See what others have done and figure out if that is a path that can get you there.

What kind of skill set does one need to be successful in what you do?

One of the best parts and craziest parts of my job is that you are doing a million things at once. So you must be good at multitasking and prioritizing. A small distillery means that you get to do everything, which keeps it wonderfully fun and wonderfully busy. You must have a good palate and confidence to make decisions on product flavours. A love of people is a must. I work alone, but I am constantly interacting with the public on tours and tastings. A strong science background is necessary to understand distilling. Although I do know distillers who are more artistically-minded than science-minded and make great products. It’s all about the balance between science and art for creating flavours.

Tell us about the type of craft gin you make? Is it for everyone and which food pairings does it taste well with?

Mill Street Small Batch Gin is new distilled gin. It is smooth, citrusy, and fresh and a real crowd pleaser. It has the classic juniper, but it is dialled back to let the other botanicals shine through. This is the kind of gin that can convert gin haters. At first taste, the craft gin is very fresh, like zested citrus, reminiscent of lemon drop candies, accompanied by floral notes of violets and rose. The gin is smooth and sweet, with a top note of grapefruit zest. A peppery spice comes in the middle, along with a bottom note of angelica and hops giving an earthy, celery note. The juniper comes through as a fresh pine note and the gin finishes leaving a lingering floral note. The gin has ten botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Citra hops, Lemon zest, Grapefruit zest, Angelica, Liquorice, Orris root, Rose petals and Grains of Paradise.

I would recommend pairing this gin with sushi, smoked salmon, waxy baby potatoes, grilled chicken, and soft cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella or goat cheese.

How did you come with the popular citrus flavour for summer?

I love a citrusy gin in the summer. All I crave are bright fresh flavours in the summer. I eat a lot of salads out of my garden in the summer, sipping a fresh bright gin alongside a caprese salad is probably my favourite summer evening.

Is there a typical day and what do you like most about your job?

I don’t have typical days. Which is one of the best things about my job. My favourite thing is definitely coming up with new recipes. I have a blast exploring flavours and running test batches through my lab size still. It feels like the world is your oyster when you are making something new.

When people ask you what you do as a career is it an unique title to have as head distiller?

It is. Often people do not know what “distiller” means. Most people assume it has something to do with beer, a fact that is confused by the fact that I did work as a brewer for a time. Being a distiller leads to many interesting conversations after the question “and what do you do for a living” at dinner parties.

What is next for you?

I want to keep expanding Mill Street’s Whisky program, putting down more barrels and playing with different malts and yeasts to create really unique casks.

 

 

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The Apple watch may soon stand alone

If you’re a fan of Apple, you might be excited about their next rumoured product. The Apple Watch Series 3 is expected to be released this fall and will feature the capability to connect directly to a cellular network provider. The previous versions of the Apple watch needed to be synced to your iPhone first.

This new feature will make the Apple watch an independent product that can make calls, send messages, browse online, and much more. It essentially becomes a smaller version of your phone that you can wear on your wrist.

The first Apple watch was launched in the fall of 2014 and since then Apple has continuously [been working]WORKED on improvements, including improving battery life and other basic design functions. The new Apple watch may also have the functionality of Siri, and the ability to sync wirelessly to items such as smart gym equipment.

The Apple watches will be equipped with Intel powered LTE chips that enables this free function and non-dependence on iPhones. According to a Bloomberg report, this smart watch will solve a lot of the previous issues that users have had since the initial product launch. Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that this smartwatch is by far the best selling on the market and is only a small percent of Apple’s revenue.

On a larger scale, Apple ranks third when facing competition from cheaper smart wearables such as Fitbit. However, if the Apple watch has the capability of being a stand-alone device, it can boost product sales, as this will add another dimension in terms of product capability.

On such a device, battery life would be an important issue and that is why Apple is already improving the standing battery life issue. The complete revamp of the Apple watch aims to make the product more appealing to Apple customers while offering something completely different.

Will you check out the new Apple watch? Let us know in the comments below!

5 simple must-try summer cocktails

Nothing beats a cool drink on a patio during a hot summer day in August. Whether you are hanging out at a restaurant with friends or inviting family to show off your beautiful backyard, having a refreshing drink on hand is critical!

Wine, beer, and even sangria are staples — but what if you want to try something a bit different that won’t hurt the bank? These five cocktails are simple and easy to make at home. They don’t require too many fancy ingredients and they are sure to impress your guests on a muggy summer afternoon. Enjoy!

Gin and tonic

Gin and Tonic: This drink is great for those who may not be particularly fond of sweet mixes. It’s also really easy to make. Simply mix one to two ounces of gin (depending on preference) with a tall glass of tonic water on ice. Slice a lime and squeeze out some of the juice into the glass and mix. Add in a slice of lime and a sprig of mint or rosemary for added class. This classic drink is especially refreshing, but doesn’t have the sweetness of a juice-based cocktail.

Mai Tai: Imagine you are on a beach, watching the sun set over a calm ocean. You may not have the beach, or the ocean, but what can have is a drink that reminds you of the tropics. Shake one and a half ounces of white rum, half an ounce of lime juice, orange Curacao, and orgeat syrup (or simple syrup with orange zest). Put in a glass with some ice and then pour three quarters of an ounce of dark rum on top to create a layered look. Top with a slice of pineapple or candied cherries.

Margarita: No need for a fancy Mexican restaurant — you can make this tasty drink yourself! Simply shake two ounces of tequila, one ounce of lime juice, and one ounce of triple sec. Pour over ice if you prefer the beverage on the rocks or blend with ice for a frozen affect. Don’t forget to rim your glass with salt!

margarita

The Parrot’s Grog: This is not as well-known as a Gin and Tonic or a Margarita, but it is equally as thirst-quenching. Combine one ounce of whisky, half an ounce of rum, one ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, half an ounce of lime juice, and half an ounce of honey. Shake all these ingredients together and put it in a glass with ice. Top with some soda water and a fancy umbrella!

Long Island Iced Tea: This is another addictive classic, but be warned — drinking too much can lead to table-top dancing! This cocktail has lots of alcohol hidden behind a little sugar. Mix half an ounce of vodka, white rum, gin, triple sec, and tequila (all the good stuff). Put one ounce of lemon juice, simple syrup, and a bit of coke. Pour it in a tall glass with lots of ice and a fancy straw.

What are your favourite summer cocktails? Let us know in the comments below!

How do you feel about smart robots?

Ex- Machina, iRobot, and The Terminator are movies that all have one thing in common — robots. But not just any robot. We are talking about specifically designed computer software, or commonly known as artificial intelligence (AI), able to think, talk, and more importantly rise up and overpower us tiny humans.

Growing up and watching movies like The Terminator, spoiler alert, made me wonder if a robot uprising was possible in real life. Sure, Arnold Schwarzenegger always came out on top, meaning there was nothing to worry about… right? These movies always instilled a sense of fear or uncertainty, but it also added to the fascination level, hence why is is such a popular genre. So, why is it increasingly nerve wrecking when you hear stories like popular social networking giant Facebook having to shut down their AI nicknamed Alice and Bob after they invented their own language and were communicating to each other in a way humans could not understand?

This sounds like the plot for the next popular television, but it’s a real thing! It’s interesting that we are constantly producing movies and shows that demonstrate this threat, and yet we are somehow obsessed with making this threat a reality.

When the iPhone 4s was released in 2011, it was the launch of Apple’s digital personal assistant, Siri. Those of you that know Siri may love her, or you may have her disabled in your settings, but one thing for sure is that we now all have access to virtual personal assistants that can schedule our appointments, set reminders, call friends, or even compose a message for us.

Siri is a voice recognition feature that will respond to the tone of your voice and she is often activated with a simple “Hey Siri”. She is pretty accurate in her response and can access a wide amount of information on the Internet, but at the end of the day, I always wonder if she will turn into a version of HER.

After All, Siri is based on a military designed program. The use of Artificial Intelligence systems are common in scientific and military designs. AI was originally created as a computer-based program that can solve problems in a creative manner.

Siri is not the only modern AI system that you may be familiar with. There is Alexa by Amazon Echo and Google Home by Google.  All these systems are able to meet our demands through voice activation, but soon will we expect them to do more? And where will that lead?

People, are often exposed to the friendlier robots, café serving robots, or even, Paro, the increasingly popular robotic harp seal. Paro is a therapy robot, designed to help patients with dementia by soothing and engaging them. The creator of Paro, Japanese scientist Takanori Shibata, says Paro is a Canadian seal, since his voice was recorded from baby harp seal in Quebec. Paro has been used since 2003 in Japan and Europe, but has now made his way to San Francisco, where he was showcased at a gerontechnology gathering.  Gerontechnology studies human aging and the combination of technology to assist the elderly. In fact, there are numerous AI’s designed to help humans and are called carebots. Another example is Robear, a nursing robot that is being tested to lift patients up and transfer them from beds to wheelchairs.

However friendly and cuddly these robots appear to be, I will always end up thinking about the movies that are bringing this obsession to life.

By all means, robots are helpful and can make life easier, but when they develop their own language and leave humans out of the picture, things become a bit more questionable and creepy.

So, do you think that one day AI will overpower human intelligence? Have we started the process of designing our own downfall, or am I just being dramatic? Let us know in the comments below.

Are shorts ever acceptable at work?

It’s the age-old question: can I wear shorts to work?

According to most experts, the answer is usually no, which is unfortunate during those hot summer months of July and August.

The question surrounding appropriate work-wear is an age-old and genderless one. Sure, women can wear dresses, skirts, or even a classy pair of capris, but those items aren’t necessarily comfortable. Often, women wear tights, nylons, or spanx underneath those form-fitting outfits. Men, while their suits are probably more comfortable, are still forced to wear lots of layers. The pants, dress shirt, coat, and of course, the suffocating tie. How much easier would it be if women and men could wear shorts to the office?

Can men wear shorts to work?

Of course, whether or not shorts are acceptable to wear at work depends on the workplace. If the office environment is generally more casual, then shorts should be acceptable. However, if you do choose to wear shorts, make sure they are classy. Skip the denim and choose a solid coloured material. Pick shorts that are either pleated, bohemian-style, or a fitted cotton base with a belt.

Try to pair it with a matching blazer to make it appear more business-class than summer-class. Always wear a blouse with your shorts with matching jewellery and either nice sandals, heels, or closed-toe flats.

Pair the shorts with a matching blazer

Despite the availability of these “dress shorts”, most people still think it’s inappropriate to wear them to the office — and they are right. You have to be very careful about how you present yourself to your boss and coworkers. Unless you are prepared to pair these shorts with blouses and blazers, just like you would with a pair of pants, then don’t bother. It’s easy to look sloppy when wearing shorts, so a little extra care is needed to make it work.

At the end of the day — judge your office accordingly. While comfort is key in increasing productivity, there is also something to be said about dressing to impress. Here at Women’s Post, we don’t think it should matter what you wear as long as you rock your job. But, it’s not always that simple. Your best bet is to ask around — and maybe start on casual Fridays just to be safe!

 

Would you ever wear shorts to the office? Let us know in the comments below!

Recipe: mouth-watering eggplant and cheese pie

Eggplant and Cheese Pie

Sometime people crave something a bit lighter for a delicious summer dinner, or maybe you are interested in a vegetarian alternative to a delicious cheese bake. The eggplant and cheese pie is the perfect meal with just the right amount of ingredients that make this meal rich, yet simple to prepare and enjoy for you and your family.

Ingredients:

• 2 small eggplants, peeled and diced
• 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (a smoked cheese like gouda adds a burst of flavour)
• 3 eggs
• 3 tbsp milk
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 glove garlic, crushed
• 1 package phyllo pastry
• ½ tsp salt
• olive oil
• ½ tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius

1. Using a 25 cm quiche dish, gently layer sheets of phyllo pastry, ranging from 3-5 sheets, depending on the desired thickness of the crust. Brush each layered sheet with a small amount of olive oil

2. Wash the diced eggplant with salt and leave to soak for ten minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly.

3. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil, lightly brown the onion, garlic and add the eggplant, toss on medium heat for five minutes and sprinkle with black pepper.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with milk and whisk lightly

5. Add your sautéed eggplant to the quiche dish and distribute evenly, pour the egg mixture and then generously add the shredded cheese

6. Place uncovered on the top rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes

Once completed, slightly leave to cool and serve your delicious and cheesy eggplant pie. Enjoy with a serving of fresh cherry tomatoes or even a lightly tossed garden salad. If you would like to make this meal even richer, feel free to add other vegetables or even plump tomatoes to add a colourful and delicious burst to your meal. Enjoy!

5 ways to enjoy your staycation in Toronto

Do you have some vacation time coming up this summer — but don’t feel like (or can afford to) going on an international trip? Whatever the reason may be, it might be worthwhile to think about a staycation.

A staycation, in case you are not familiar with the term, is essentially a vacation where you are at this moment. You can make it a nationwide staycation or maybe narrow it down to the beautiful and diverse streets of Toronto. The city life isn’t for everyone, but there are enough places in Toronto that will make you fall in love with it for all the right reasons. So grab a few friends, your family, a loved one, or venture out on your own and enjoy these spots. Women’s post has compiled five Toronto hotspots you may enjoy this summer.

St Lawrence Market

Toronto natives may be familiar with the sprawling and rustic look of St Lawrence Market located along Front Street or in the Esplanade. This classic farmer’s market is an indoor structure with over 100 various vendors, offering prime cuts of meat, creamy cheeses, artisan bakers, fresh fruits, aromatic spices, antiques and hopefully almost anything you will find around the world. Touring St Lawrence market is like taking a trip around the world in the span of a few hours. Allow yourself time to soak up the mix of culture and eclectic vibe from many of the vendors. Some places to check include Carousel Bakery, offering the classic peameal bacon sandwich, Churrasco’s,with Portuguese style chicken and Raani Foods, offering a variety of Indian curries and chutneys.

Interested in learning more? The St. Lawrence Market also hosts a number of events and private dinners.

Kensington Market
Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market has long been known for its unique vibe in the city and many tourists come to the area thinking that it will be a similar situation to St Lawrence Market. Kensington market is an outdoor collection of diverse shops, with something for everyone on each corner. In 2006, the market became a national historic site. Nestled between Little Italy and Chinatown, expect a wide selection of street foods, vintage clothing and one of the most amazing and one of a kind gift shops in the city, Blue Banana Market. And be sure to take pictures of the artistic graffiti walls.

Mill Street Brewery Tour- Distillery District

Niagara may be great for wine tours, but Toronto is home to a collection of craft beers and brews that you might want to indulge in. Mill Street Brewery was founded in 2002 and is named after Mill Street in the historic Distillery District. The district is home to Victorian industrial buildings, dating back to 1832, when it was a collection of buildings operated by Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Restructured and reopened in 2003, the district offers a selection of dining experiences, shops and cultural events.

Miraj Hammam Spa- Shangri-la Hotel Toronto

One day is all you need, and while there might be be spas on almost every street corner in the city, the experience at Miraj Hamman Spa by beauty brand Claudalie Paris offers a truly relaxing, wholesome, and cultural experience . Without giving away too much details, the spa is described as “ a voyage inspired from the ancient rituals of the Middle East to the Vineyards of Bordeaux.” Choose treatments of your choice but also be advised to check prices beforehand.

Spa
Caudalie Spa Treatment Room

 Drake and Gladstone Boutique Hotels

If you are looking for a different experience and you want to spend a night or two away from home, there are many boutique hotels in the city that you can easily enjoy. The Drake Hotel and The Gladstone Hotel are just two examples along the vibrant street of Queen West that promotes art, culture and entertainment. The Drake hotel is home to delicious foods, 19 guest room, and even and underground bar featuring different DJ’s. The Gladstone hotel, features guest rooms that are tiny but each with a unique theme and designed by different artists. There is a Canadiana room, a Teen Queen room, and a Biker room among other 34 choices. Staying at the Gladstone is like being a part of art.

 

Let us know in the comments below some of your staycation choices.