Taste Local, Love Local

October 1, 2015

Autumn is here!
It is the season of harvest. The time of gathering earth's bounty from juicy fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts. New ingredients to our hearty meals and a Thanksgiving feast with an intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey make the season extra special. Grapes are brought to their peak ripeness and winemakers are busy picking, processing and fermenting them to produce the best wines. I am fortunate to live in an area close to some of the best wineries in the country. Even though I am not a drinker at all, I grew up with a grandfather who made his own wine all his life, so I can appreciate a glass of the elegant "drink of the Gods" letting the glorious fruit flavour enhance the taste of every bite of food in my mouth. Even more so when the wine is local, from our own community, made with passion and integrity. Canadian wineries have had a hard time being taken seriously in the wine market especially competing with century-old producers in Europe, but there is no denying that the Canadian soil and climate are perfect for crafting quality wine. Only Ontario has three main wine regions: the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County and nearly 100 wineries. Therefore, I was intrigued by the invitation from Wine Country Ontario and LCBO to celebrate the fall harvest at their media event "Taste Local, Love Local". We were treated to delicious Ontario wines paired with an early unique Thanksgiving menu prepared by celebrity chef and locavore Lynn Crawford: Rich Chardonnay with Ontario cheeses, Sparkling Trius Brut with Salt-Baked Pear Salad, Dry Riesling with Pork Rib Roast & Ham Hock, Apple & Sauerkraut Bread Pudding and Ice wine with Pumpkin Cheesecake & Cranberry-Orange Topping.
While meeting local winemakers, chefs and food artisans, we were reminded that in a world of mass-production, the local artisanal goods take on extra value.

Here is the recipe of chef Lynn's 

Salt-Baked Pear Salad with Aged Cheddar 
serves 8


10–12 cups (2.5–3 L) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) whole pink or black peppercorns
8 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
4 firm, ripe Bosc pears, washed and dried
8–10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 small Belgian endive, trimmed, cored and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 bunches red watercress, washed and dried, thick stems removed
¾ cup (175 mL) crumbled aged Canadian cheddar
½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Brown Derby Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).  In a very large bowl, stir together 10 cups (2.5 L) salt, peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven large enough to hold pears upright in a single layer and deep enough that they don’t sit above the pot’s rim, stand pears on blossom ends. Carefully spoon salt mixture over and around pears so they’re completely covered except for the stems, adding remainder of salt if necessary.
Bake, uncovered, until pears are tender when pierced with a wooden skewer, about 30 minutes.
Let pears cool completely in salt mixture, then carefully remove them from the pot, brushing off any salt that sticks to the skins. Discard salt mixture.
Just before serving, cut each pear lengthwise into 8 wedges, discarding cores and stems. In a large bowl, gently toss pear wedges, radishes, celery, endive, watercress, cheese and cranberries.
Add enough vinaigrette to coat ingredients and toss gently. Divide salad among 8 individual plates. Sprinkle with almonds.

Chef Lynn's signature 

Brown Derby Vinaigrette
about 2 cups


Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp (1 mL) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
1⅓ cups (325 mL) canola oil


In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and salt until salt dissolves. Whisk in mustard.
Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until fully incorporated and vinaigrette turns creamy. Pour into a covered container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Whisk well before using.

If you are passionate about  great wine, on your next trip to Toronto do not forget to include a visit to Wine Country Ontario or try some of the best wines at the LCBO. 
For all the wine and buy-local lovers, "Taste Local, Love Local", the 2015 Ontario wine promotion is taking place at 655 LCBO stores across the provence until October 10. 150 restaurants also across Ontario are pairing wines by the glass with special local recipes. More information can be found on LCBO's website. 


One Fine Day

September 15, 2015

This wide world is rich with beautiful minor miracles. I am a dweller of this world that is so wonderful and simple. My life is full of beautiful sights and there is nothing in this fine day that is too much for me. My heart is a waterfall. My mind is still water. When I come across all the lessons of Nature, all the solitude and goodness on a grand scale – boundaries melt away and I feel like a significant tiny part of a wholeness – beautiful, resilient and ready. I love to be a student in her classroom, to listen to the silence that whispers with every movement of a leaf and every splash of a water droplet. I love when my being is just about to burst with love and gratitude - for such a fine day when the closeness of my little family wrapped together with all the beautiful minor miracles of the world. When unexpected joys give fertile ground to the hope that there is still so much good to come...

These photos are taken at Elora Gorge, one of the most beautiful natural areas in the Grand River valley, when we spent the last day of the Labor Day weekend, just before my son's last academic year in high school began.


I hope you are enjoying all that the changing season has to offer.

Sharing with Home Sweet Home


August 22, 2015

One late summer, while I was getting ready for my return flight to Canada, my eighty-something years young grandmother wanted me to take with me, in my luggage, a bouquet from her garden of my beloved culinary herb, basil. After my attempt to explain that this is inconvenient to carry a fresh plant in a suitcase during an almost 8-hour flight and that I can buy basil in Toronto, she concluded "yes, but it is not going to be like mine." Then, I promised to her and mostly to myself that I will plant, take good care and grow my own basil. This summer I finally had the time to grow my own herbs since we haven't traveled outside of Canada. In May, I planted a big pot with sweet genovese basil. Having placed it in a sunny spot, watering it almost every morning, I was gifted with an abundance of a rich green, luscious, saturated in strong sweet aroma and delicate white flowers herb. I've been using the leaves almost in every salad, eggs and sandwiches I've made so far, but this weekend I took my scissors and made really good use of the plant. I put the basil in a food processor with pine nuts, garlic, a pinch of salt and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slowly added extra-virgin olive oil in a steady small stream. I transferred the mixture into a small mason jar and held it to my nose, breathing in. It smelled of summer and green hills and blue skies and old sticky hands and a garden with a patch of basil. I devoured a spoon in my mouth and realized the truth - when life gives you basil, make pesto.
And when you have pesto, it feels like a pasta night... 

Basil Pesto Ravioli with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes  


1 pack of cheese ravioli
1 chicken breast, cubed
1/3 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tablespoons  basil pesto
sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and black pepper


Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
Combine olive oil, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté gently until soften but not turning brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the cubed chicken breast and cook until cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Take 3 tablespoons from the pesto jar and add each separately as you stir constantly. Turn heat down to medium low. Make the mixture thin with 1/4 cup water. Add the cooked ravioli and toss until all ingredients are coated in the pesto. Add more water if needed. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan.


Sharing at Sundays at Home / Wow Us Wednesdays / Home Sweet Home


August 18, 2015

August came with the shades of green and blue, with the quietness of Oak Lake and the simplicity of the rented cottage. Mornings that start with a glistering light over the water, early canoers, a swimming dog and a cup of dripping hot coffee in your hand. Days that are devoted to fishing and reading and evenings around the fire that celebrate the last gold and purple flecks of the sun's fading rays over the peaceful water's surface. Moments of solitude, harmony with nature and pure joy of disconnect from ticking clocks, busyness, schedules and deadlines. Countless humbling reminders of man's place in the greater scheme of things. Passages of life when one easily gets lost in the rhythm of the natural world and the slowness of time. Life doesn't pass you so quickly rather it drifts along lazily with the current. Worry thoughts do not hunt the mind because you rejoice in the honesty of a simple world and going back to yourself. Minutes and hours do not slip through your grasp rather linger like the haunting beautiful wail of the loon adding more time and present days to life. Only to help you learn once again "what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be better." (Nicholas Sparks)
That being absorbed in enjoying simple pleasures with loved ones is where meaning lies in.

I wish you beautiful and peaceful late summer days. 


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