Sunday, 30 September 2012

Enjoy A Fun Recyclable Playhouse and Raise Money for Habitat for Humanity!

Cascades is pleased to present its new cardboard playhouse for children, My Pretty Playhouse, made from 100% recycled cardboard. Cascades is also proud to announce its partnership with Habitat for Humanity, whose mission is to build houses for families in need. For each playhouse sold, Cascades will donate two dollars to the organization in Canada or the United States.

"Since its creation 45 years ago, Cascades has always been involved with the community. It was only natural to partner with Habitat for Humanity, who offers direct assistance to families in need," explained Carl Blanchet, Corporate Director of Business Development at Cascades. In the coming months, a number of Cascades employees will roll up their sleeves for a day of volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity housing construction project.

Small and Affordable

The playhouse is part of the line of children's playhouses available at Boutique Cascades. The advantage of this playhouse is its small size and affordable price. It fits nicely into smaller areas such as apartments, condos and daycares. Designed for children three years and up, the playhouse is safe and easy to assemble, and can be recycled when no longer needed. This customizable playhouse will instantly be a favourite with the little ones, providing hours of entertainment and a place to draw and use their imaginations. What a great way to stimulate children's creativity and give mom a break!

On Sale on the Web

The playhouse are available online at Boutique Cascades, which offers over 30 eco-friendly products made from recycled fibres. For free delivery and to find out more about the playhouse, visit         

Founded in 1964, Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. The Company employs more than 12,000 employees, who work in over 100 units located in North America and Europe. With its management philosophy, half a century of experience in recycling, and continuous efforts in research and development as driving forces, Cascades continues to serve its clients with innovative products. Cascades' shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol CAS.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families worldwide by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.

Friday, 28 September 2012

I♥CookingClubs! A Round-Up and an Invitation

We have had a lovely time cooking up a storm with our Mexican-inspired chef Rick Bayless this season. Perfectly suited to warm weather, Mexican food has been the inspiration for six months of fabulous cooking and eating.

And at the end of six months with a chef we always have mixed feelings. Sad to say goodbye to the outgoing chef, and happy to welcome our new chef.

Many of the I♥CookingClubs participants have been reliving their favourite dishes from his season, so I thought I would join in the fun. Below you will find my top three faves from Rick, with links to the original posts and recipes. And below that.... an invitation to participate in our next chapter of I♥CookingClubs - Indian food with Madhur Jaffrey's recipes! Bring on the spice!

One of our absolute faves this summer has been the Chipotle Chicken Salad with Avocado, Potato, and Baby Spinach. A delicious one bowl dinner - and you can eat the bowl!

Beans play a big part in Mexican fare and these Drunken Pintos with Cilantro and Bacon (Frijoles Borrachos) have the added benefit of bacon and tequila! Ah, everything should be made with bacon and tequila...

And my all-time favourite Mexican dessert - Churros! (Mexican version of a donut). These are crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and rolled in sugar. Best served still warm from the fryer, you'll be gobbling them up with or without any coffee or chocolate to dip them in.


Yes, we've had a ball cooking up the recipes of Rick Bayless and I for one am grateful for all I have learned from his books and online recipes. Now the air is getting cooler and we are welcoming a new inspiration for I♥CC - Indian Cooking with Madhur Jaffrey! Madhur has a delicious and delightful range of recipes, omnivorous and vegetarian alike. She even goes beyond India in some of her books and is bound to teach us tons about South Asian flavours. It's going to be a delicious 6 months!

You are always welcome to join us at I♥CookingClubs - we have a revolving roster of chefs that we get our inspiration from, one for each half of the year- Oct-March, April-Sept. Jump in any time!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Pescado a la Veracruzana

Can you believe we are at the end of six month of cooking with Rick Bayless recipes at I♥CookingClubs? I have loved learning about Mexican flavours and will definitely be keeping Rick's books in heavy rotation. I thought the flavours were especially nice for the warmer weather.

But not all of his recipes are summery - we cooked up his Pescado a la Veracruzana, baked fish Veracruz-style, with two lovely trout that a friend caught for us. A wonderful here-comes-autumn dish packed with bright, savoury flavours.

We served it with traditional Gulf Coast white rice pilaf, a recipe that can easily be converted for the rice cooker - just do the sauté of the rice and onions and then pile everything into the rice cooker. Easy peasy.

So, who is up for fish tonight?

Fish Fillets with Fresh Tomatoes, Capers and Olives 
(Pescado a la Veracruzana)
Online recipe from Today Recipes, Rick Bayless
I did the whole fish version, below

To most aficionados, the mention of Mexican seafood brings to mind chunky, broth tomato sauce with olives, herbs and chiles — pescado a la veracruzana. It is both classic and nationally ubiquitous, which means all cooks think they can and should make it, whether or not they have visited Veracruz. It's only in the seaside home, though, that I've tasted the beautifully light, distinctively veracruzana sauce with its special lilt of herbs and spices.

What follows is a recipe based on the version served at the Pescador restaurant in Veracruz. I'd offer it with the customary molded white rice, and, for an all-Gulf meal, I'd start with spicy crab soup and have butter-fried plantains for dessert. Here's the place some might enjoy a fruity, dry white wine like a Chenin Blanc, or sparkling limeade


    For fish
    1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless meaty fish fillets like red snapper or halibut, preferably in 4 pieces each 1/2 thick
    Freshly squeezed lime juice and a little salt

    For sauce
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably part olive oil
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    2 pounds (4 medium-large) ripe tomatoes, roasted or boiled, peeled and cored OR three 15-ounce cans good-quality tomatoes, lightly drained
    2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
    20 meaty green olives (preferably manzanillo), pitted and roughly chopped
    2 tablespoons large Spanish capers
    2 medium pickled chiles jalapenos, store-bought or homemade, steamed, seeded and sliced into strips
    1 tablespoon pickling juices from the chiles
    1-1/2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs (such as marjoram and thyme)
    2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus a few sprigs of garnish
    3 bay leaves
    1 inch cinnamon stick
    2 cloves
    1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, very coarsely ground
    1 cup light-flavored fish broth, bottled clam juice or water
    Salt, if necessary


The fish: Rinse the fillets, lay them in a noncorrosive dish and sprinkle them with lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate about an hour. The sauce: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7 or 8 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, cut the peeled fresh tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds into a strainer set over a small bowl. Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Collect all the juices on the cutting board and add to the tomatoes, along with those strained from the seeds. Canned tomatoes only need be lightly drained, then cut into 1-inch pieces, collecting the juices as you go.

Add the garlic to the lightly browned onion and stir for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid.

Divide the olives and capers between two small bowls, and set aside to use as garnish. To the other bowl, add the jalapeno strips, pickling juice, mixed herbs and chopped parsley. If you don't wish to have the whole bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves or cracked pepper in the finished sauce, wrap them in cheesecloth and tie with a string; otherwise, add them directly to the bowl containing the herbs.

When the tomatoes are ready, add the mixture of pickled things, herbs and spices, along with the fish broth (or clam juice or water). Cover and simmer ten minutes, then taste for salt (and remove the cheesecloth-wrapped spices). Finishing the dish: Fifteen minutes before serving, remove the fillets from the refrigerator and rinse them again. Either poach them in the sauce on top of the stove or bake in the sauce as follows:

The stovetop method: Nestle the fish fillets in the sauce so they are well covered. Set the lid on the pan and place over a medium heat. After 4 minutes, turn the fillets over, re-cover and cook 2 or 3 minutes longer, until a fillet will flake under firm pressure.

The baking method: Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the fillets in a single layer in a lightly greased baking dish. Spoon the sauce over them, cover the aluminum foil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish just flakes when pressed firmly with a fork at the thickest part.

Serve the poached or baked fillets on warm dinner plates with lots of sauce, garnished with a sprinkling of the reserved capers and olives and sprig of parsley.


Poaching verses baking: Some people find the oven's indirect heat adds slower cooking more comfortable than stove-top poaching. If doubling the recipe, use the baking method.


Fish: Robalo (snook) is more common in Mexico (and much less expensive) than the red snapper; its meat is firm and mild like a grouper (sea bass) or one of the cods. Practically any rather mild, nonoily fish will work — striped bass, halibut, fluke, large rock cod, monkfish or the like. Fine-textured fish don't jibe with the sauce and tend to fall apart.

Timing and Advance preparation

If the broth is on hand, this superb dish takes an hour or less to prepare (plus the hour for marinating the fish). The sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, covered; warm it to room temperature before completing step 3.

Traditional Variations

Whole Fish a la Veracruz: The dish is often made with two 1 ½-pound or four ¾-pound whole or pan-dressed fish; choose farm-raised trout, coho or catfish, whitefish, black bass, sea trout, perch, snapper or the like. Make two diagonal slices on each side, marinate them (step 1), then use the baking method to finish the dish. Cooking time will be a few minutes longer.

Serving Size

4 servings

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf 
(Arroz Blanco)
From Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday


        1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
        1 1/2 cups white rice
        1 small white onions, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
        2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
        1 3/4 cups chicken broth
        3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish


    Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Set a medium (3 quart) ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, rice and onion. Stir frequently ntil the grains of rice turn from translucent to milky-white, about 5 minutes-for the whitest rice, they shouldn't brown.
    Add the garlic and stir a few seconds, until fragrant, then add the chicken broth and 1 teaspoons salt (that's what I usually neeed when using a normally salted broth). Stir a couple of times, then let the mixture come to a full boil.
    Cover the pan and set in the middle of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes.
    Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Monday, 24 September 2012

Canadian Living's 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes

Canadian Living
150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes
by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Trade Paperback, 272 pages

It's always a special event when the Canadian Living Test Kitchen comes out with a new book. They're tested-til-perfect recipes are absolute winners and they work hard to stay on top of the needs and wants of their readers.

150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes recognizes the importance of whole grains in the diet: for nutrition, lowering cholesterol, good digestion, and for the feeling of satiety that leads to weight loss.

They start out with a full lesson on what whole grains are - what their health benefits are and which are gluten-free. They then go into chapters by grain, filled with delicious recipes for any time of day. There are vegan and gluten-free recipes included, and plenty of baking recipes as well as salads and mains.

Chapters Include:
Whole Grain Basics
Wheat, Spelt & Kamut
Brown & Wild Rice
Buckwheat & Rye
Quinoa, Corn & Millet
Barley & Oats

In this transition to autumn, I was immediately attracted to the baking recipes. I whipped up the Simple Soda Bread (my best ever!) and the Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (delicious and whole grain too!)

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple Soda Bread
If you'd like to sample a couple of the recipes from 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes, check out

They have sample recipes for...


You'll fall in love with whole grains this year!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Armchair Book Review: Sleeping Funny

Sleeping Funny
by Miranda Hill
Hardcover, 320 pages

Sleeping Funny is a collection of nine short stories by The Writers’ Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize winner Miranda Hill

Hill's unique and dreamlike voice illustrates the ripple effect of events and/or persons introduced into an otherwise orderly life. 

She has a wonderful way of bringing us into the stories from the edges, slowly folding us in like delicate egg whites into batter.  Her stories are entrancing and magical, sad and joyous, and leave you thinking and feeling for quite some time after reading them. I suggest reading only one in a day, then taking the time to savour it before you immerse yourself in the next one.

The Jury Citation of the 2011 Journey Prize was that Miranda Hill offered
…writing of the highest order, packed with insight, empathy and suspense.
And they were right.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Chipotle Shrimp with Grilled Pepper Guacamole

I like spice with my spice.

Take these spicy chipotle shrimp. You could have them as is, maybe scoop them up with some crusty bread. That would be awesome. Actually, pretty much anything is great when scooped up with crusty bread. Except possibly cereal. I love carbs, but that would be serious overload.

Now, where was I?

Ah yes, spice.

It might be enough for you to have spice in your shrimp and have mild guacamole with it, or even some sour cream or yogurt. I went with grilled peppers in my guacamole and just a tad of yogurty goodness. Adapt to your own tastes, but I think they complemented each other beautifully.

And pile them both on a crispy tostada - you have yourself a delicious and seriously messy lunch. Not for first dates, I suppose. But I'm married so I can eat as messy as I like. Just ask my dry cleaner. Just kidding. I don't dry clean. All my shirts just remain spotty. But I digress....

Chipotle Shrimp
(Camarones Enchipotlados)
Adapted From Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
Serves 4

One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
2-3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo
1 tablespoon chipotle canning sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
About 1/2 cup fish or chicken broth or water
1 to 1-1/4 pounds medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail left on if you wish
About 1/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Pour the drained tomatoes into a blender or food processor.  Add the chipotle chiles and chipotle canning sauce.  Process until smooth.

In a very large (12-inch skillet), heat the oil over medium.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute.  Pour in the tomato mixture.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  Add enough broth or water to achieve a light tomato sauce consistency.  Taste and season highly with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.

Add the shrimp to the pan.  Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Stir in a little more broth or water if the sauce has thickened too much.

Scoop onto dinner plates and sprinkle with cilantro.

Grilled Pepper Guacamole
adapted from Rick Bayless

2 poblano peppers
1 sweet red pepper
2 jalapeno peppers
olive oil
salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 avocados, diced
juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp plain yogurt

Cut all peppers in half, seed and stem, oil and salt and pepper liberally.
Grill til blackened in spots and tender.
Peel if desired.
Let cool to room temperature and dice small.
Toss with rest of guacamole ingredients and season to taste.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Armchair Novel Review: A Wanted Man by Lee Child

A Wanted Man
A Jack Reacher Novel
by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

Hardcover, 416 pages

Jack Reacher is a fascinating character. Former military police, he now goes where the roads take him. He lives unplugged and off the grid taking life as it comes. His senses are razor sharp. Or at least they generally are. In A Wanted Man Jack has a freshly busted nose that he has set with silver duct tape and he can't smell a thing. An imposing figure thumbing a ride, after an hour and a half someone picks him up. Now he's in a full car and nothing makes sense. He might not be able to smell anything, but he knows when he's being lied to.

Jack finds himself in a fast paced thrill ride and the bodies are stacking up. Nothing and nobody are as they seem. Lee Child proves himself to be the master of the tightly scripted procedural thriller where the twists and turns come fast and hard.

A brilliant book.

Check out A Wanted Man

Lee talks about his book

And stay tuned for an upcoming movie based on Jack Reacher - starring Tom Cruise!

Read more about Lee Child at

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Molasses Fennel Rye Bread

Good morning! You smell that glorious scent? That is molasses fennel rye and it makes the most wonderful toast. And doubles as potpourri as your whole house will smell delicious while it is baking.

The molasses adds a lovely dark hue to the bread, as well as the deep minerally sweetness. What a perfect bread to celebrate the coming autumnal season. Now that the nights are getting that snap of chill in the air, my baking bug is returning. Is yours? If so, this is a wonderful bread to kick off the baking season with. It is simple and delicious. And so wonderfully fragrant!

Molasses Fennel Rye was Elizabeth's choice for Bread Baking Babes bread of the month. See her post for the original instructions and information on how to participate as a Bread Baking Buddy this month.

I am rather fond of my tangerine orange stand mixer and tend to start my breads in them, so I have adapted mine for the mixer. Elizabeth prefers the traditional ways and her instructions will reflect that. However you make yours, I guarantee you will love it! The dough is soft and lovely to work with and the resulting bread makes delicious toasted sandwiches. I recommend eating it with sharp cheddar.

Bon appetit!
Molasses Fennel Rye Bread  
based on Jack Francis' recipe for Molasses-Fennel Bread served at "Clark's by the Bay" restaurant in Collins Bay, Ontario (near Kingston)
makes two  loaves

    1 c (103gm) rye flour
    1 c (122 gm) whole wheat flour
    ½ c (59gm) wheat germ
    2 c (254gm) unbleached all purpose flour
    2 tsp ( 6  5gm) active dry instant yeast
    4 tsp (17gm) sugar
    1 Tbsp (6gm) fennel seeds
    ½ tsp (1gm) ground dried ginger
    1 Tbsp (18gm) salt
    4 Tbsp (85gm) molasses
    1½ c water, room temperature
    ¼ c or so (36gm) Thompson raisins
    unbleached all purpose flour for kneading, if necessary

    Egg wash - 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

 My version is adapted for the stand mixer, for Elizabeth's original instructions, click here.

In your mixer, combine all dry ingredients, then add the wet (not the raisins yet) and mix with your dough hook for about 5 minutes, until the dough is cleaning the bowl. Adjust the water/flour if necessary. Add in the raisins and mix until thoroughly combined.
Oil the bowl lightly and roll dough in it to cover. Cover bowl and let rise until doubled.
Punch down and let rise until doubled again.
Divide dough in half and shape as desired.
Let rise 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F
Coat with egg wash, if desired.
Slash and put in oven.
Reduce heat to 375°F
Bake until you get an internal temperature of over 200°F
25-35 minutes, depending on shape of bread
Let cool on racks.

The Bread Baking Babes

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Micheladas for Día de Independencia!

As any Mexican school child can tell you, Dia de la Independencia tells the moving story of a movement led by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in a fight against decades of brutal class prejudice — culminating in a free and independence Mexico on September 16, 1821!

Although Cinco de Mayo has come to define all things Mexican in the US, it is this day when Mexicans (and Mexican communities worldwide) exhibit their swelling pride and patriotism with dancing, music, local parades, and family fiestas!

Although the day is officially marked on September 16th, modern celebrations usually begin the night before, on September 15th, with cries of "Viva Mexico!" shouted in town squares -- from Tijuana to Mexico City -- as the skies are illuminated with spectacular fireworks displays. The following afternoon, a grand military parade takes place in Mexico City as schools and most businesses close for the day so everyone can take part in the holiday festivities. -
And we Canadians are always happy to raise a glass to celebrate - especially if that glass holds beer! A michelada is a Mexican-style spiced lime beer that is perfect for celebrations. Cheers!

Rick Bayless' Michelada Recipe
for I♥CC Día de Independencia!
online recipe source -

This is a beer 'cocktail,' if you will, that adds zing to easier-drinking brews by stirring in some lime (and, potentially, hot sauce, Worcestershire, even Jugo Maggi) and serving it over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. I’ve written this recipe for a single serving – using a 12-ounce beer – because that’s how you make them, customizing them to your guests’ tastes:

A lime half for moistening the glass rim
Coarse salt
Ice cubes (you’ll need a generous cup)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 (such as Bohemia for lighter beer lovers, Dos Equis or Negra Modelo for darker beer lovers)

To your own liking, add one or more of the following:
Hot sauce (usually about 1/2 teaspoon) such as Tabasco, Tamazula or Valentina
Worcestershire sauce (usually about 1/2 teaspoon)
Jugo Maggi (usually about 1/8 teaspoon)

Moisten the rim of a pint beer glass (or mug) with the cut side of the lime half. Spread coarse salt on a small plate, then up-end the glass into the salt to crust the rim. Fill half full of ice and pour in the lime juice, followed by the beer. If you (or your guests) want, add hot sauce, Worcestershire and/or Jugo Maggi; stir just enough to combine everything.
Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC