Archive for January, 2012

PLEASE NOTE: The event of this date that was published on Jan 31 has CHANGED (as of Feb 9).  We are doing our best to get the word out to all effected.  We’ve had to move it up a week to the night of Monday, February 20.  An unforeseen business trip has required the changing of our plans.  We are doing all we can to get the word out – if you have concerns or ideas to improve the process or just want to vent (seriously) – you can reach him at: wearewellpreserved (as) elevenideas.ca.  We have also moved our evening at the Theater (to see Seeds) to the next evening; Tuesday, February 21.

We quietly announced the theme for February’s #HomeEc last night: Preserve Swap.  If you’ve never preserved before, don’t be intimidated – there’s lots of time and we’ll be posting Winter Preserving Recipes for a few days (starting on Thursday).  If you’ve never preserved before, now’s a great time to learn!  This is also an invite to meet some great people, ask them questions about preserving and learn from each other!

Winter is a great time for a SWAP – many people now know which batches of things they have way too much of are excited to add new flavours to their pantry during a time of year that you otherwise can’t.

Here’s the basics of this event:

  • As per all the HomeEc nights, it’s on the last Monday of the month.  Officially from 8:00-10:00 but you are welcome to come early (the bar opens at 7) and stay late.  There will be lots of friendly people to meet and we’ll do our best to mix the crowd up.
  • We will be working with the Avro again to create a custom cocktail for the evening (last night’s “The Blogger” was FANTASTIC).
  • There is no cover for these events though we do hope you’ll support the bar as they are donating the space to us.
  • The event is 19+ as it is held at a bar.
  • From 8-9 you’ll have a chance to see what everyone’s brought – but the swapping won’t begin until 9:00.  The ramp-up is a big part of the fun.
  • Bring as many or as few jars as you’d like.  Know that the community is somewhat obsessive and some will bring 24 jars.  It’s not a competition – the number just means more variety for you.  Of course you can bring multiple jars of the same thing.
  • In order to swap, you’ll need to sign a form saying you know you are trading for homemade goods (as opposed to professionally made items) and accept the risk for that.  We’ve learned that this is best practice at most food swaps and have decided to incorporate it.
  • There will be a one-off badge (a button) for this event.  If you show up with preserves to swap, you’ll earn your Preserve Swap badge (3 of us had ‘boy scout’ vests (used suit vests from Value Village) last night and I know a few are scouring the neighborhood for one of their own (and a few are looking for sashes).
  • There’s no rules to jar sizes – the crowd will decide what’s a fair swap.
  • The Avro is indeed cozy so be early to be guaranteed a spot; even with the snow we had last night we filled the bar (comfortably).
  • If you don’t have preserves (and don’t make any in February), you’re welcome to attend and meet people.  These events are as much about creating community and meeting others as they are about the actual food and connecting to it.

We’ve added an RSVP to the FaceBook Pae – would love to know if you’re coming here!

If you’re unfamiliar with #HomeEc, here’s the basic premise.


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It was way back in 2009 that we noticed certain items in the grocery store were 2,900% more expensive on the store shelves as compared to the same product offered in bulk at the same store.  We shop  whole lot more in bulk now than we did back then.

As much as I enjoy bulk, there have been times where I’ve been bothered by two things: the inability to bring my own containers (very few will allow that) and, occasionally, the quality/ origins of the product.  Better Bulk on the Danforth (Toronto) has solved both of those problems.

We learned about Better Bulk from new friends who were visiting for a preserving workshop.  They lived in the area of Better Bulk and recommended that we pay it a visit.  I popped in on Sunday and was thrilled to see what was there.  The store is well-organized, clean and packed with fantastic product.  Items were easy to find and it was full of fantastic choices including organic, gluten and wheat-free choices.

Better Bulk allows you to bring your own containers.  You can bring any vessel you wish – they simply weigh your containers when you enter and weigh them again when you leave.  Since their products range from dried foods through ethical coffee and environmentally friendly dish and laundry soap, it’s exciting to know that we have options to put a serious dent in the remaining packaging that enters our house.

While the store doesn’t appear large (the photo above is about 1/5th of the entire place), it’s so well organized that the options are plentiful.  I highly recommend checking it out (2035 Danforth Avenue).

Where do you do your bulk shopping (regardless of where your from)?

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If you’re looking for a gluten-free corn-based version of this, click here.

I dislike cleaning my kitchen.  I’ve found that making Tortillas is an awesome distraction from that task – much of the ‘work’ in making tortillas is hands off so I start a batch while I’m cleaning the kitchen and both chores end at roughly the same time.  They are BEYOND easy and a lot of fun to make.  The finished texture is, in my opinion, better than that of the store – they are soft yet slightly elastic in their chew.  I adore them.


  • 250 grams of plain white flour (a bit more to toss on your counter when rolling)
  • 5 grams salt
  • 150 ml water


  1.  Add salt to flour in a large bowl.  Stir to incorporate.
  2. Pour water over the surface of your flour.
  3. Using a large spoon, stir until flaky.  Your dough should be dry and will look wispy like the first photo.
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl, basically making a ball out of it the best you can.  It takes a few minutes to get all of the dry bits incorporated.  Your dough should be dry but pliable.
  5. Discard the bowl and, with a small amount of flour on your counter (don’t use a lot – just enough to stop it from sticking; you can always add some if it sticks so less is more), knead the dough by folding it on itself and pushing down onto itself.  Do this for 3-4 minutes or until it feels like playdough.
  6. Put the dough back into the bowl and leave covered with a clean cloth for 30-60 minutes.  It won’t rise much (if any), this is to let the gluten relax.
  7. Cut the dough into 8 equal bits (mine were 50 grams each).
  8. Transform each bit into a ball and flatten out (you can use a rolling pin – I start with the tortilla press pictured in our corn tortilla recipe and then continue with the rolling-pin to get them flatter).
  9. Warm a pan on medium-high (I adore cast iron for this purpose).
  10. Place one of your tortillas in the pan and, using the back of a wooden spoon, press on the top of the dough.  This will help them puff up and create air pockets to make them lighter and fluffy.
  11. Flip once a few char marks appear (pictured below).  This is usually after about 3 minutes or so.
  12. Press the other side with the large spoon.
  13. Transfer to a plate (wrap in tin foil if using immediately).  To reheat, wrap them in foil and warm in a steamer for a few minutes (this is optional unless they’ve hardened which they shouldn’t for a few days if wrapped up.

This makes 8 smallish (5-7 inch) tortillas.  Each person can generally eat 2-3 if served with a side salad.

There’s easily 4-6 minutes of cooking per each one so there’s lots of time to clean the kitchen!

For those of you who make them, what do you do different?  For those who haven’t, will you try?

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We`re getting ready for HomeEc at the Avro (tomorrow night); time to throw together some bar snacks.  I am so thrilled with how these turned out:

Before sharing the recipe, a note about the heat.  We used our homemade dehydrated roasted jalapenos.  We turn them into a powder before adding them to the nuts.  These are not your Papa`s jalaepnos – they are fiery hot (I believe the roasting brings their oils out and the dehydrator concentrates them).  You can do this recipe without them – just substitute cayenne or chilli flakes (or make a mix of both in a coffee grinder).  You could also add some dried ancho chilli or dry chipotle which will also add the smoky flavor.  But do add more than your comfortable with – the other ingredients will come together to make it all make sense.

Ingredients (recipe will scale well)

  • 5 cups of nuts (and will do; we used pecans, walnuts and almonds)
  • 9 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of coffee (ground fine)
  • 2.5 teaspoons of smoked salt (I used a smoked coarse salt)
  • 2 teaspoons of dried fire-roasted dehydrated jalapeno (you could easily substitute this per the recommendations above)


  1. Turn your oven to 325
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread your nuts on the sheet (I started mine in a bowl but the sheet will help ensure that all of your ingredients roast; I left about half a teaspoon of maple syrup in the bowl I mixed them in).
  4. Pour the maple syrup on the nuts and mix them around – try to get maple syrup on all of them (there`s lots).
  5. Add your dried ingredients to the nuts and stir.
  6. Place in the oven for 30 minutes – stirring every 10 minutes.
  7. Once the roasting is complete, immediately pour them into a bowl (failing to do so will result in an awful mess with your nuts stuck to the parchment paper).
  8. Eat them while warm or allow them to cool (stirring every 5 minutes or so until cool to stop them from lumping up).

They are quite sticky – butthat`s half the fun!

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I know the idea of a purple meal slightly turns some peoples stomachs – but when you find yourself with a pile of purple potatoes, why not just dive in head first?

This is a real simple breakfast/brunch recipe.  It will work with any type of potato and you can add anything you want – as long as you keep it simple.  There’s nothing to bind everything together here so adding too much complexity will put the integrity of your pancakes at peril (meaning they will fall apart – at which point you could make a hash).


  • Potatoes.  1-1.5 medium sized potatoes per person will do (less if you want to top with an egg at the end).
  • Diced onion – I used about a quarter of a spanish onion
  • Corn Starch
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Start by grating potatoes.
  2. Place potatoes in a rice strainer and rinse with water until it runs clear.
  3. Place grated potatoes in a salad spinner and spin until dry (it may help to spin the potatoes once, redistribute them with your hand and then spin again).
  4. Start to heat your pan on medium-high with vegetable oil added – the potatoes will release starch if they are left exposed to air for too long.
  5. Toss the potatoes with salt, pepper and corn starch in a dry bowl.  I don’t measure the cornstarch – but make sure the top layer has a good covering.  For those looking for more guidance, try 1-2 teaspoons per every 3 small-medium sized potatoes (this is my best guess as I believe it’s something that has to be eyeballed or weighed as potatoes vary in size so dramatically).  Your essentially trying to get a bit of starch on every piece of potato.
  6. Add the onions and toss.
  7. Now for the tricky part: make ‘balls’ or ‘patties.’  Know that they won’t stay together until the heat of your pan seers the outside layer of them.  This is largely a matter of faith and leaving them fry for longer than you are comfortable.  It’s ok, it will work.  Place each patty in the pan when you make it.
  8. You will know they are ready to flip when you can push the bottom layer around the pan without sticking.  The flip takes some care – the bottom will be well formed but the top is still loose.
  9. You can push lightly on the top layer – but don’t squeeze them dry.

They should be crispy on the outside and moist in the middle – serve with a fried egg or sour cream.

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Dana and I have made a part-time job when it comes to disliking Valentines Day.  We’ve had an entires series of Anti-Valentine Parties and even had an awesome anti-Valentines date (I took her to dinner in a nearly-condemmed restaurant and she brought me to “Bat Boy – The Musical“).  It’s not that we hate Valentines – we just really enjoy disliking it.

When we were in High School together (we were just friends back then), our Student council did small fundraisers by selling CandyGrams.  For a few dollars each, the student council would deliver a candy with a note to the object of your affection or appreciation (they weren’t valentines specific).  Sometimes there was candy, sometimes there wasn’t.  It was generally a sweet idea.

Recently we found ourselves laughing about the idea of a Valentines Card for Foodies.  Dana’s learning how to screen print so a joke became a though which then became a project; screen printed postcards (we’ll hand-write your message for you or make one up if you’d rather; we won’t be insulting of course but I can’t promise we’ll be romantic…).  Canada Post won’t allow us to attach candy to a postcard so the ‘treat’ is the print this time.

Dana drew the four designs, hand painted them onto the screen and then printed the cards with the most jarring shade of pink she could muster.

There are 4 postcards in the series:

  • You put the Cute in Charcuterie
  • I love you more than kale
  • Let’s make bacon
  • You’re the jam to my toast

You can see the entire series in our store – just click here!

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We’ve figured out how to create; the event on Facebook – if you’re coming, we’d love to know about it by accepting our invite here (you don’t need to follow WellPreserved to accept the meeting).  It’s not required but will help us plan. 

We’re less than a week from our first food event of 2012 – #HomeEc at the Avro.

We’re using today to answer a few questions (we’re learning on the fly!)

Here’s some updates:

  1. The Avro is small so don’t worry about brining a lot.  Simple is great and enough samples for 15-20 is probably a very high amount.
  2. Bring  a container in case there’s left overs.
  3. I’m buying a vest at value village for my #HomeEc badge, Dana’s looking for a sash.  I hope we won’t be the only keeners and if you bring a homemade snack you’ll get a one-time-only badge too!
  4. There will be lots of interesting people – many who are on Twitter, blogs and other social media.  Bring a pen (or a smart phone) to stay in touch!

The Avro is a small space; we will do our best to accommodate everyone but be early to guarantee space. 🙂

The full details on B.Y.O.B.S. can be found in last weeks post here.

Hope to see you there!


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