A Taste of Home

Winter is the time when you just want to stay indoors as much as possible. The freezing cold has its way of getting through you no matter how many layers of wool and fleece you wear. Whenever I think of winter, I remember those days when I just want to stay under my blanket and watch the snowfall outside my window. But no matter what you do, reality will hit you. You will need to get up, take a shower and start the car to heat your engine.

Once you arrive at the work, you will realize that you haven’t had anything yet for breakfast but you are now too lazy to go outside and brave the cold just to get something to eat. You will then eventually settle for office coffee and empty stomach.

During those winter days, I just wish that there were someone making hot cocoa or soup for me. I can still remember the beef barley soup made by my mom and how I wish I could have those during the cold months. Beef barley soup is really easy to make and the more you reheat it, the more it tastes better. I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 lb. beef, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 teaspoon beef stock powder
  • ½ cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat the cooking oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Fry chopped potato and carrot until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Use the same saucepan and add the beef. Cook until browned. Set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan, add the garlic. Stir occasionally until aromatic, and then add the chopped onion. Stir for 30 seconds and add the tomato.
  4. Add the cooked beef, water, stock powder, pearl barley, potato, carrot and celery.
  5. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and cook for an hour or until the beef is tender and the barley is soft.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve while it is still cold.

This recipe can make up to six servings but you can also cool it down and stock in the fridge. You can always reheat or microwave the soup.

Nothing beats those gloomy and lazy winter days than a bowl of soup that will remind you of home. You can always share this recipe with your friends or you can have it on your own and save the

Three Places to Go to Become a Chef

In this generation when everyone seems to have access to every information available because of the Internet, finding the most exotic restaurants became easier thus the need for more chefs and the boom of the culinary industry. However, just like everything else, being a great chef is easier said than done. In this blog you will find the possible options that you have in order to become a chef.

Go to a culinary school. The easiest, and probably more expensive way, of becoming a chef is enrolling to a culinary school. Some culinary schools now offer degrees but most started, and still have, the certificate courses. You can apply for a three, six, nine or other programs. Of course, the longer you stay in the school, the more you become knowledgeable on a certain area. Since many restaurants require some sort of culinary background, starting in a school or institution is not bad especially when you do not have any experience working in the kitchen.

Go to your kitchen and ask mom. Moms know best, even in cooking. Remember those gloomy days when you feel so down, your mom will just make your favorite beef stew and everything will feel all right? Well, everyone feels almost the same about home-cooked meals as comfort food. Learning from your mother is not only cheap but also useful since you get to eat for dinner whatever you made. You will also have your own set of panel, AKA your family, to judge your cooking. Experimenting and making mistakes have never been this light especially when you won’t feel so pressured by your audience. And remember, everything is always cheaper at home.

Go places and eat. If you still don’t know what you want to specialize in, traveling and experiencing the food from different places is not a bad idea. With that, you can learn the different cooking styles applied by different restaurants. You can also ask the chef about some tips when cooking. Most likely they won’t tell you their recipe since it is a secret but they will always have something to say on being a chef. Travel and you will find the taste that you want to share to others. Traveling might be a bit expensive but the knowledge that you will get is priceless. If you cannot find it at home, you will most probably find it.

These days, most people will think that being a chef is easy because of culinary schools sprouting everywhere. However, just like any other profession, nothing is really easy unless you like what you are doing. Getting in and finishing a nine-month program in a culinary school might be easier than getting a college degree but it doesn’t mean that surviving the kitchen life is the same thing. At the end of the day, one must love or at least learn to like whatever he or she is doing in order to succeed. Passion will always be the key.

Taste of a Foreign Country

Traveling is probably the best thing you can do while you still can. You will need not only money and time, but also patience and knowledge. To get lost is a chance to learn something new, however, there are some things that, wherever you go, you can always remember and put to good use in order to find the best food in every town.

Don’t act like a tourist. When traveling, you often see tourists in sunglasses holding cameras and maps, walking down the streets, and looking so lost. It’s not bad to get lost or to hold these items, however, the locals most likely know that this is how a tourist looks like. Don’t look like one because some people might take advantage and take you to the home of the “best burrito in town” in a place where there is only one Mexican restaurant. Before leaving the hotel or transient home, know where you want to go and avoid looking so tourist-y to prevent people from deceiving you.

Ask the locals. There is a saying that you should eat, where the locals eat because they know the place best and it’s most likely cheaper (or worth your money) wherever they go. However, avoid asking those who work in a travel agency or someone in an establishment as they might be connected to a restaurant or something. Ask a local who is randomly shopping or a worker in the street. No one can judge pho better than a Vietnamese local or the best samgyupsal better than a Korean.

Take the road less traveled. There is always a main street wherever you go. The main street usually has the hotels, malls, restaurants, clubs and everything tourists needs. However, the cost of “living” in the main street is relatively more expensive compared to the other streets. Learn to ask and explore. You’ll never know, you might just discover where pizza was invented.

Splurge if it’s worth splurging. Let’s face it, you are on a vacation and you are on a budget. You may have some extra but you’ll never know what you will find on your way that you might actually need or really want. When traveling, one of the joys of being a foodie is not in a five-star restaurant but on street corners or hard to locate restaurants. And they are usually cheap or reasonable. Some might be a bit pricey but one should always use his or her common sense when judging whether you should splurge or save for a food.

Find a food to remember. That ramen in Tokyo, tom yum in Bangkok, pizza in New York, gelato in Italy – remember the food that is for the books. When going somewhere, always research beforehand what to look forward in a place. Is this place known for their maple syrup or for their steak? It is true that you will never know what to find in a place, but if you find that something, you will always look back and remember the place for its taste.

You may go anywhere in the world and find these reminders very useful. Just always remember that taking chances are not bad; just make sure to be smart when making them. Travel and eat because there is no better way in exploring an unfamiliar place than tasting their special delicacies.

Best 5 Restaurant in Toronto

I don’t call myself a food critic, but I do love to go out and visit restaurants. I have done this for quite some time now and I love the fact that I base my reviews on my positive experiences with their food and service. When I was in Toronto a few months ago, I decided to scour their restaurants (all thanks to Toronto.com) and I found five of my new favourite restaurants. They have made it to the list because I love their food, their service, and most of all, their innovativeness.

First we have Ursa, located 924 Queen West, At Shaw and can be contacted via their phone number 416-536-8963. The restaurant offers exciting albeit unusual gastronomical experience for their customers. I fell in love with one of their specialities – house-made ricotta with bee pollen, honeycomb and dehydrated grapes on the vine. The weird part about this meal was that it was under dessert and I had my reservations at first, it was just to die for.

Chantecler, located 1320 Queen West, at Brock or call them at 416-628-3586, is owned by a friend of mine and the chef happens to be a distant relative. I made it a point to visit her restaurant when I got to Toronto and she did not disappoint. I ordered the Beef Tartare, Fancy Wings, and the Lettuce Meal on two separate occasions from this restaurant and I must say that their food is just amazing. The price can’t be beat too.

For those wanting to get a taste of Singaporean food, you’re in luck. Hawker Bar chef Alec Martin boasts of an Australian spin on Singaporean street food like Hainanese Chicken and the curry laksa soup. Do not be fooled by how their menu looks. I am not going to tell you, either. If you’re not a fan of chicken, you can opt for the Silken Tofu or Rendang Curry, both fantastic meals. They are located at 1 Richmond West, at Yonge and you can call them at 647-748-1444.

Last but not the least is Hopgood’s Foodliner, owned by former Black Hoofer Geoff Hopgood. The restaurant, according to him, is homage to his East Coast roots. The food is great and the drinks are even greater. I’m not much of a drinker, but when I’m here, I feel like I could order a lot of their special mixes. For the food, it’s awesome and the price is a bit steep but worth it. The Steak Tartare is one of their popular dishes and everyone who’s dying to try Hopgood’s should definitely try this one. They are located at 325 Roncesvalles, at Grenadier and you can call them at 416-533-2723.

Go Green without Trying

I am a proponent of green living or trying to be environment-friendly. At home, I tell my kids and husband that they should do this and that to their wastes. It can be annoying. Even in public, I make it a point to tell the people I know about throwing their waste properly. I want to save the environment because it’s one of the most lasting legacies that we can leave to our children. If you want to emulate my way of life, you can always start small before moving on to the bigger stuff.

When I was a child, my mom would scold me if I didn’t throw the trash properly. She colour-coded the trash bins and I was taught which item to put in which bin. I grew up with the habit. In high school, I petitioned the school to add more trash bins and succeeded. In college, my dorm had three trash bins. My roommate had to bear with me.

The transition can be difficult, but every little action can go a long way. Here’s what you can do to go green without much difficulty.

At home: Going green can start at home. When I first started, I segregated my wastes by having three trash bins – one for recyclable materials, one for food wastes, and one for non-biodegradable materials. As I progressed, I added more bins to accommodate biodegradable materials. What happens to them? Some of the food wastes become fertilizers. Coffee beans and animal entrails make for healthy fertilizers. Bottles and plastic items go straight to the recycling plant. Biodegradable items go to our garbage dump. Heating became a problem because we ended up consuming fossil fuels a.k.a. the gas that comes through our pipes. I paid a thousand dollars to install a small chimney in the living room that we can use in lieu of gas.

At the office: You can implement a waste segregation protocol, like the one I did below. Instead of throwing away your papers, use them as scratch papers or if they can never be used. Shred them before throwing them out or giving them to recycling centers. They will convert your paper into other products, so that’s already a big help. Truth be told, the office is no different from your home when it comes to living a green lifestyle.

Wine. Cheese. Espreso