startups

When somebody puts themselves out there  – taking a risk, seeing an opportunity to start a little business…I love supporting them. I admit that when I go to my local farmers’ market I feel a little tinge of guilt because I can’t buy something from everyone. I don’t need that much food in a week and really am working at curbing food waste to do my little part.

I’m lucky that my town seems to be a magnet for opportunities to buy from little local startups. And I love to hear the backstories. When I don’t know them, I sometimes just imagine what aligned the business plan, prototypes and marketing ideas to bring something to market.

I don’t have to drive or walk for more than 15 minutes to get clothes, shoes, local food groceries, amazing sourdough bread, locally-grown flowers, beeswax candles, rustic signs on barnboard and now…pizza.

I’ve been in marketing and advertising for decades, and I love watching these startups use simple, smart and free social media tools to spread the word to attract consumers that will hopefully take them to success – however they measure it.

Completely by accident (not really if you are Instagram) I heard about @piebynightguelph. They describe themselves as four young cooks making great pizza in the heart of Guelph. They are using the local bakery’s space on a Sunday to whip together amazing pizza pies.

I hope Sunday night’s pizza pies get this startup where they want to be. It’s deliciousness and hard work that I’m happy to pay for.

CJR

 

 

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friday favourite – old pictures

Almost all of our old family photos are in the form of slides. Since few people have a way to view slides anymore, I asked my mom to select some so I could have them saved on a flash drive.

The photos were ready today and I have been lost in nostalgia all afternoon. I can’t stop sending photos to my siblings!

Find a local photo shop that can convert slides, photos and old VCR footage to flash drives and save those old memories. And then share them with your family and crack up! You never know what you might find…like this beauty of HAR and CJR!Head and Jane in matching outfits by barn

HAR

when canning season starts

There’s a heat warning outside but that’s not stopping me from steaming up the kitchen with my third batch of gingered rhubarb jam with honey. It’s canning season.

I couldn’t wait to get started. And rhubarb is the first harvest of the season that was calling my name. I love that the rhubarb and honey are both local. This recipe has a lemon and a tart apple to give it a little hint of a marmalade-style jam.

 

The recipe is from my one and only canning book that seems to have it all – The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

Here’s the full recipe from an earlier blog.

And to top off the new canning season, cool new dissolvable jar labels. Have you ever stood in front of the sink with a scratch pad, hot water and old canning jars trying to get the old label gum off? Me too! I’m hoping my new find will live up to its name.

CJR

 

 

 

 

salt

My go-to place for souvenirs when I am traveling is the grocery store. I usually find small gifts that are local and edible so they leave no trace! My latest favourite gift to bring home is salt. The flavour is very regional and is fun to experiment with once you get home.

IMG_2768Several years ago we were in the southern Portugal region called the Algarve. I noticed huge piles of salt on the beach, similar to the way we would see sand piled up to spread on the road in winter. I bought some salt to bring home with me and loved using it- it was a wet, mild salt.

Last fall when I was in Botswana, I brought home salt from the Kalahari Desert. I purchased it in the airport and had already checked my bag so I threw it in my carry-on. When I went through customs at JFK, they opened all three bags of salt and tested it, causing me to almost miss my flight. My advice? Buy your salt in time to put it in your checked bag! The salt from Botswana was very dry and in large pieces which meant it was more concentrated, not great as table salt but perfect for cooking since you only need a small amount to get the taste right.

 

I have salt from Marblehead MA that lists the location it’s from on the jar. Just recently when we were in the Azores I went to the grocery store to buy my local salt. I found Azorean salt and was thrilled to find Algarve salt too! I bought several different varieties, plus a handmade ceramic salt dish!

I recently made a batch of salted peanut butter cookies and the big decision was which salt to sprinkle on top! I went with the Marblehead Salt Co.

A friend of mine recommended the book Salt: A World History and I am actually going to get it out of the library. The enticing blurb about the book says… as the only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. No wonder I love salt!

HAR

 

grandma’s slippers

Did you have a pair of slippers that your grandma made you sometime in the 60s? Chunky, usually made of washable acrylic yarn and with an easy garter stitch pattern…slippers

They are back in vogue in a retro kinda way. A friend of mine showed me a pair her mother-in-law had made and said her kids were nostalgic for them…she wondered if I could re-create the slippers.

It took about three minutes to find dozens of patterns on-line! And in about an hour I made a sample slipper to show her, using up left-over yarn.fullsizeoutput_a3bdI found instructions and a youtube video by someone called Crafty Patti in case you want to take a trip down memory lane, make a pair and keep your feet warm in the winter. I’m going to make myself a pair and I just might re-create the hot pink pair Grandma made me — complete with pom-poms!

HAR

 

friday favourite – travel pants

Whenever I spend time in airports, waiting in line, watching people…I often notice what others are wearing for their travels. Seems I can always find outfits that I think, wow, why didn’t I think of that.

I want something comfortable, warm and in layers to handle the changing temperatures on the plane and wherever I’m headed. And I finally found the best travel pants from Athleta.

Of course they are basic black. I can dress them up with a sweater and a scarf…or just a t-shirt. I think I could even use them in a pinch in my new kayak…dry them off and wear them out to dinner.

CJR

spicy shrimp tacos

I have been in a cooking slump. I can’t think of anything to make for dinner. I asked a friend of mine what she had made for dinner last week and boom, I had two new ideas! I’m only going to share one of them today…you’ll have to wait another week or two for the second idea!

Last night I made spicy shrimp tacos from the Food Network website. Don’t let the word spicy in the title scare you, it has some sriracha sauce in the dressing but you can decide how much to put in. The marinade for the shrimp is the same thing you dress the coleslaw with so it’s really easy.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro (I used parsley)
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved crosswise
  • 1 14-ounce package coleslaw mix
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 12 hard taco shells
  • IMG_2732Mix the mayo, Sriracha, lime juice, sugar, 1/4 cup chopped parlsey and 1 tablespoon water until smooth.  Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dressing; set aside. Roughly chop the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro. Toss with the coleslaw mix, mango, red onion and the remaining dressing. Season with salt. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Warm the taco shells as the label directs. Fill the shells with the shrimp and some slaw.  Enjoy!

HAR