Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Some of my fondest memories of my childhood have been centered around the kitchen. Pots clanging, water whishing and splashing, the snap crackle and tap of a wok being tossed in a small colonial L-shaped kitchen with a double sink with a window above it. The figure working busily away wearing an apron isn’t my Mom. It’s my Dad. Yeah, in my household this has always been the case. I’ve read that in recent times that men are not only bringing home the bacon, they are cooking it too more and more these days.  I thought to myself…humpf…this is what my Dad has been doing all along…what a trailblazer, what a trendsetter!

Playing the piano...have we got a little Mozart?
Yeah, at a very young age many of the great bonding moments between my Father and I have been kitchen lessons.  Let me say a few things for the record just in case my Mother reads this…my Mother IS also a good cook in her own right. It’s just that her cooking style lends itself more towards the utilitarian side of things. My Father cooks with love, passion and imagination, you can see it in the food he cooks, the way he seasons things and the happiness that he gets from the people who he cooks for. In other words, he cooks with the same feelings that I do. I am my Father’s son…and I am so thankful for him to have taught me his passion and style.

When put to task about writing about my Father and a culinary experience. It is very hard to name just one as there is a lifetime of memories between us as it relates to food. I’d like to share just two that stick-out.

My Father with my nephew at the Zoo, he looks so proud!
My very first recollection in the kitchen was the day that my Father first taught me how to cook rice. It’s simple now and I am sure many Chinese kids grow up learning to cook rice at an early age. But for me, this opened my eyes to a new world more exciting than after-school cartoons, homework and hanging out with my Big Wheel Gang on our dead-end street in Mississauga. After my Father got home from work, I would be in the kitchen ready to cook rice, listen to him, observe and eventually emulate. I watched with an amazement as if he was a conductor of an orchestra, adding oyster sauce - just a dash, adding garlic and then ginger, pinch of this and a pinch of that. It was in a word awesome. The sights and the smells…oh the smells were intoxicating. Gradually, as I got older, my Father taught me how to use a Chinese clever and to curl my knuckles just so – in order to not to cut myself. I learned how to slice ginger, to cut against the grain of meat to ensure tenderness. These are all tricks I learned as a boy before I was even 13yrs old.  At a young age, I knew how to season meat, dice vegetables, sauté in a cast iron wok and yes make rice. I also learned that my Father cooked with such passion as a way to take care of us and showed how much he loved us.

Summer grilling on the Webber with my Dad
Another memory that sticks out that revolves around food and my Father and I was during a Summer BBQ.  If you follow my blog, you will see that I love to BBQ and have written many posts revolving around this great activity.  My Mother is and has always been a social butterfly.  She loves to entertain!  Her summer parties have become the stuff of legend – just in the past two weeks she has had almost 100 people over for dinner!  It was at one of these parties that my Father passed on the torch to me and taught me the ways of the BBQ. By this time, I was a young teenager and had gained a pretty good repertoire under my belt in the kitchen but never really got to the grill outside. This was and sometimes still is my Fathers kingdom.  Beer in one hand, kitchen tongs in the other, it was his ‘thing’ at these parties.  He relished hanging out with the men that came with their wives to my Mother’s parties. Didn’t realize at the time this was called Male-bonding but it was. He relished these times and he always laughed the loudest, shared a joke or two and had a great smile during these parties. I loved watching him in his element.

Chicken skewers fresh from the grill!
But the day came and it was at one of these parties, as he was prepping for a party. He came up to me and placed me in front of the BBQ grill.  He showed me how to start the fire, taught me about hotspots, taught me about the marinade and other important grilling hints that I have kept with me to this day. He told me that he wanted me to not just watch anymore, he wanted me to do.  It was a benchmark moment in our relationship.  A passing of a torch if you would, between Father to the Son and has on occasion sparked many a conversation as to who does the better BBQ? We can get pretty competitive, trying to outdo the other but it is always in good fun.  Now that I’m older, he and I can share a beer, tongs in my hand and a book in his while I cook in front of the BBQ. It’s funny to mention that even just as recently as last week he had the nerve to say that his was still best…oh well. He is the master and I always the young apprentice. Between you and I, I still think my Father makes a pretty darn good BBQ…just don’t let him hear me say it!

That’s my Father, in a nutshell. Passionate cook, lover of food and his family. To this day, he goes to market every day, sources out the freshest meat, vegetable and fruits, takes them home and cooks for his family.  When I have my own family to take care of, I can only hope to aspire to be just like him.

Happy Father’s Day! To all the Father’s everywhere.


Was approached by Mary Luz via Facebook the other day about this great article and contest! I think that it is a wonderful idea that highlights a social change in the dynamics of everyday home life. Speaking from my own experience my Father has always been very active in the kitchen and has inspired me to love food as much as I do. He would be the one who does the grocery shopping visiting markets daily to find the best and freshest goodeats! It was his passion that was key to spreading the love of food to my Sister and Myself. Without any further delay have a look at Apron Strings - The Ties That Bind....

Page Two:

Can't wait for all the great stories to be posted about our Fathers. Should be great reading! I've already entered the Apron Strings Fathers Day Contest! You should too! If you would like to read my story visit the blog or find it here!

Happy Fathers Day! May we all have BBQ!


A little bit about fiesta farms - food matters 


We sell things peo­ple need. Food, bev­er­ages, clean­ing sup­plies. But most Fiesta cus­tomers get more from their vis­its than a ticked off shop­ping list. They get a chance to vote for what mat­ters to them with their dollars.
Over time, we’ve devel­oped rela­tion­ships with a range of folks for whom food mat­ters on per­sonal, polit­i­cal, cul­tural, artis­tic and arti­sanal lev­els. And we’re good with that.
We’re a family-run busi­ness in a pro­gres­sive, mul­ti­cul­tural city cen­tre and we part­ner with pro­duc­ers to stock what peo­ple are inter­ested in buying.
What are peo­ple inter­ested in buy­ing these days?
People are buy­ing stuff that was pro­duced and or cre­ated in Ontario. But also those unique reminders of where we came from. They’re buy­ing organic. They’re buy­ing new and old fash­ioned cuts of meats, and indeed, meat prod­ucts you’d expect to find at spe­cialty shops. They’re buy­ing inno­v­a­tive offer­ings from local entre­pre­neurs and they’re buy­ing more eco-friendly clean­ing products.
People also buy less healthy nos­tal­gic favourites, and the sta­ples they need to run their lives. We stock the brands you’ll find at super­mar­ket chains, but we also make it eas­ier to make bet­ter choices in every aisle and on every shelf.
We do this by part­ner­ing with Organizations like Local Food Plus. We’re com­mit­ted to stock­ing a range of LFP Certified Local Sustainable items and let­ting our cus­tomers know about them because we believe in build­ing com­mu­nity and local sus­tain­able food sys­tems, and that LFP can make it eas­ier to do.
We do it by part­ner­ing with impor­tant orga­ni­za­tions like The Stop and The New Farm on our Grow for The Stop initiative.
We do it by sup­port­ing entre­pre­neurs because evo­lu­tion and inno­va­tion are as impor­tant Food Matters as his­tory and culture.
And we’re going to keep on find­ing ways to help you cel­e­brate the many ways in which food mat­ters to us all.

A little bit about Mary Luz Mejia

Food enthusiast, writer, researcher, intrepid traveler and food TV producer/director begins to cover it. Mary Luz Mejia is a self-professed cookbook nerd who has penned hundreds of food articles, culinary profiles, food celebrity interviews and cultural explorations into the foods we eat and why we love them. She's the Brunch Columnist for the Toronto Star and you can read other work in enRoute, Toronto Life, Organic Gardening and Canadian Running Magazine to name a few. Her TV work is Gemini-nominated and she’s been called “one of Toronto’s most dedicated and passionate food journalists” by Saveur Magazine’s James Oseland. 

Food and Travel Writer/Editor: http://www.ensemblevacations.ca/
Toronto Star "The Morning After" Brunch Columnist: www.toronto.com
Food Communications Principal: www.sizzlingcommunications.com
Twitter @MaryLuzOnFood

Monday, 11 June 2012


There's a Portuguese place next to my office. I can see it from my work window. I stare at it longingly at times. Not because of the great Shish Kabob Special at lunch hour, the bacalhau or even the Bitoque with fried egg. No, not for these reasons do I stare longingly. It isn't even the wine, the great look of the place nor the patio. It's all in the name of their salad. I've got it! I cracked to code, I've broken down their recipe item by item, lettuce by lettuce. I know now that I don't have to pay what I do to take one home with me after work, as I often have in the past. Let me share this with you and I think you will agree it's simple yet brilliant.

The Salad

Green Leaf Lettuce & Read Leaf Lettuce Ratio 2:1
English Cucumber - 1 peeled (very important)
Dried Cranberries - 1 handful
Onion - Red is best but white will do just as well
Kosher Salt - pinch
Black Pepper - Fresh cracked
Ripe Tomatoes - Do not use Roma's
Coriander - Rough chopped

Use a salad spinner, they are a godsend..have had an OXO good grips one since culinary school and it has never failed me.
Tear your lettuce do not cut it.
The cucumber must be peeled, I don't know why it just tastes better in this salad.
Rinse the onion under cold water before you add them to the salad. It helps with the pungency of the onion.
I love the cranberries, it adds a nice sweetness to the salad.
Always season your salads even if you add dressing. 

Lemon White Wine Vinaigrette

Quality Olive Oil 
White Wine Vinegar
White Wine
Lemon 1 juiced
Garlic 1 clove
Kosher Salt
White pepper

Here's another recipe that you can use this dressing. 


Make sure that in all salad dressings use the ratio of 2 - 3 parts oil to 1 part flavourings. You can't go wrong. I personally like the ratio 2 - 1 for my dressings.
So 2 parts good quality fruity olive oil to 1 part White wine vinegar & juice of 1 lemon
Splash of White Wine, add garlic clove
Using a hand blender on high for 30 seconds or less puree the mixture
Add the honey, pepper and salt to taste.


As many of you know from reading my blog posts I am an unadulterated carnivore. I love my salads and vegetables too...but in my heart. I am a carnivore. But, as I love to cook and have had to cater to all diets both in my past professional life, with friends, past girlfriends and family members. I thought that I would share one of my favourite vegan dishes. I actually love this dish very much and would prepare this for myself anytime. Note: there are ways to modify this dish to make it a non-vegan dish, I would suggest seared tuna or in a pinch canned tuna in water would work.

What is a vegan? It is the strictest form of vegetarianism. There is no egg, cheese, fish etc. exceptions as some allow for it in their mainly vegetarian diets. Simply, a vegetarian who omits all animal products from the diet even butter (mon dieu!)...is considered a vegan. I am not here to judge which diet is better. Not my intention, but I only wish to say that vegan cuisine is delish, I have much experience with it and is a healthy choice when done as a balanced approach to a eating.  From a nutritional standpoint this dish is very balanced combining fresh ingredients vegetable, legumes - complete proteins and great taste. 

What you need to make this wonderful dish:

Mix of Portobello, Oyster, Cremini, Shitake and White Mushrooms - 4 Cups Total
Lots of Garlic - 3 Cloves Minced
Bunch of Cilantro
Celery - 2 to 3 Stalks Diced
Carrot - 1 Large or 2 Small Diced
Red Pepper - 1 Small Diced
Onion - 1 Large Diced
Red Kidney Beans - 1 Can
Lentils - 1 Can
Chickpeas - 1 Can
Black Beans - 1 Can
Lemon White Wine Vinaigrette - See Recipe HERE
Dijon Mustard - 2 TBSP
Cracked Black Pepper - To Taste
Kosher Salt - To Taste
Lime - 1 Juiced
Lemon - 1 Juiced
Olive oil
Fresh Thyme - A Few Sprigs
Soya Sauce - 1 TBSP
White wine 1/4 Cup

Serves 10  Hint - Prepare this salad the day before for maximum flavour!


Chop mushrooms into good bite sized pieces
Marinate the mix of mushrooms with the minced garlic, soya sauce, thyme, olive oil, touch of salt and pepper - put aside (if not vegan - add Worcester Sauce)
Open cans of beans, place in strainer, rinse with cold water
Dice carrots, celery including leaves, onion and red pepper
Preheat a large deep-walled saute pan, add olive oil
Add the marinated mushrooms, then the diced vegetables not the beans into the pan
Add a splash of white wine - reduce
Once cooked through, add the beans, mix thoroughly
Turn off heat
Add vinaigrette, Dijon mustard and thyme to the mix, toss and then lemon/lime juice
Season to taste
Add chopped cilantro


Friday, 1 June 2012

Foodie Adventure Diaries Installment #1

What a great lunch!
Guest Post written by Joanna Sable

Today I went to The Centre Street Deli with my friend Nicholas Wong. Although I think most Jews believe we are half Italian and half Chinese my friend had never experienced "his chosen people"! We were lucky, late maybe more like it, thankfully we actually didn't have to wait...1st miracle! We were greeted and whisked to a seat. Nana was our server and serve she did! I told her I had a newbie on my hands and was ready to indoctrinate him.
Chopped Liver with Shmaltz and Fried Onions! Very rich but so good!
For those of you who don't know Jewish food, it is a very hardy cuisine. It goes down easy and gets you in the end, every time! I ordered...for 2 people...ready for this?? One order of Kishka, intestines stuffed with bread and smothered in gravy that is slightly spiced. Nana split it in half...honestly, it looks as though she gave us each an order! It came with a side of incredibly fresh rye to sop up the gravy and to smother the next dish which was the Chopped liver with shmaltz and fried onions. 
The Fantastically Rich and Tender. The Old Fashioned - hands down one of the best I've ever had!
For the non-initiated, this is a really livery pate with onions fried in chicken fat. Up next came my go to favourite, eggs n'onions!  Buttery, luscious eggs with more schmaltzy onions. Yes, there were a side of fries that Nick instinctively proceeded to dip into the aforementioned kishka gravy. Last of the savouries was a fatty, yes fatty Old fashioned, hand sliced perfect deli sandwich. If you are eating deli go fatty or eat tuna! All this was washed down with Vernor's gingerale and a Cott's Black Cherry soda.
Cotts Black Cherry Soda - I have a new fave and its name is Black Cherry!
Yes, of course we ate dessert. My pants are now unbuttoned but I held on. Hot blintzes with the works. Sour cream, cherry and blueberry goo. Copious amounts of red rose tea and coffee helped wash this all down.
Blintz with the works! These were like crepes taken to another level. YUM!
Now, I haven't mentioned Cheryl, The 'Queen of Centre Street' came by to chat with us and tell us her adventures in eating. She was delightful. Between all this Nana and Cheryl both continued to yell at Nick to "eat, your food is getting cold!".
As we left Nick finally uttered the words I wanted to hear. "Oh my G-d, Oh my G-d." Yes the food had reformed in his belly!

If the food we had for lunch was enough. Cheryl and Nana gave us both some treats for the drive home! Thank You!
My thoughts on my initiation into Jewish Deli Culture:

What an experience! I could not imagine a more enjoyable and appropriate introduction into the food of my "chosen" people. It was utterly simplistic yet so very good. The experience was awesome. I have to give shout out to Joanna Sable for ordering just the perfect mix of food. I will most certainly go back! The service was so friendly, the patrons are a hoot and Cheryl, the owner is a total foodie and she understands goodeats! I have not experienced such a great deli sandwich,EVER!. The Old Fashioned has to rank as one of my fave sandwiches of all time! The chopped liver was so very addictive. I know I'll be craving it for a long time! Actually, come to think about it...I'm craving one now. (it's been a few days since my awesome experience)

Thanks to the Centre Street Deli and Joanna for an awesome experience!

The Centre Street Deli
1136 Centre Street,
Vaughan, ON 
L4J 3M8

A little bit about Joanna and Bumpercrop:

Joanna Sable is one of the owners of Bumpercrop along with her partner Lisa Taerk, they are a small artisanal co-operative, located in Toronto.  It's philosophy of “Local First, Best Always” is at the very heart of its core philosophy. Bumpercrop products are sourced from local Ontario fruit and vegetable farmers whom they forge strong relationships with and only use what is in season, harvested at its prime and treated with care. Bumpercrop’s philosophy revolves around using only the best seasonal Ontario fruits and vegetables, and enhancing them with the simplest and time-honoured method of canning. Bumpercrop is old fashioned canning with a twist! Production is done in small batches, to yield only the highest quality products. We love what we do and want to share our passion with our customers. For more information please visit Bumpercrop