The long awaited summer is here. Time to bring out the burgers, hotdogs, and classic barbecue fare!
But if you're one of a growing number of sensitive eaters, barbecues can be a frustrating, bland experience if you need preservative- or gluten-free sauces and condiments for your barbecue.
While homemade, gluten-free condiments may not last as long as their store-bought counterpart, the taste and health benefits are well worth the effort. Even if you don't have food sensitivities, you'll love the rich taste of homemade condiments that are so easy to make. Just remember to store sauces in the refrigerator, and eat up products with dairy or egg ingredients within 2 weeks.
Here are some basic recipes for more natural, homemade condiments you can make in about 10 minutes.
Homemade Ketchup The flavour of tomato is so unique and rich it shouldn't need additives and spices to dress it up. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and surrounding soft pulpy jelly into a bowl. Push the soft pulp through a sieve, to remove the seeds and any hard pieces, and pour the juice and soft jelly into a pot. At this stage, you can add a teaspoon or two of vinegar for a more tangy ketchup. Simmer the mixture, stirring often, and reduce until it is a thick syrupy consistency. Once finished, add a pinch of salt to season the ketchup, and add some sugar to sweeten, if necessary. Tip: Choose juicy, rich-looking tomatoes, and allow them to fully ripen near a window with some sunlight. This yields more flavourful ketchup.
Homemade Mustard Make your own mustard with a few simple ingredients. Blend together a few tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds or a blend of yellow and brown mustard seeds, then equal amounts of white vinegar, lemon juice, turmeric, salt, and sugar in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find great tips for making homemade mayo, gluten-free teriyaki sauce and natural sour cream on page 2Homemade Ranch Dressing Using a hand blender, mix together equal parts gluten-free mayonnaise (see below) and buttermilk. Combine with 1 to 2 teaspoons each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, dill, parsley, and pepper. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Homemade Mayonnaise Fresh mayonnaise is incredibly easy to make. Using a whisk or in a blender, mix together 1 egg yolk with the juice of 1 lemon. Whisking quickly, or with the blender running, slowly drizzle in one cup of olive oil in a steady stream until the mixture is thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Natural Sour Cream To make your own sour cream, add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to 1 cup of whipping cream in a sterilized jar. With the lid on, shake the mixture to combine, and let sit in room temperature for 24 hours to thicken.
Homemade Barbecue sauce By making your own barbecue sauce, not only is it gluten-free, you can adjust the seasonings to your liking. The base to the sauce is equal parts ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. Additional seasonings may include tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Go ahead and experiment! Caution: Check that all ingredients going into the sauce to ensure they are gluten-free as well.
Homemade Teriyaki sauce Great over meat or fish, teriyaki sauce is an excellent for grilling. But it is commonly made with soy sauce, which usually contains gluten. To make a gluten-free version, combine equal parts of Tamari and Mirin or Sake in a saucepan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of sugar to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens a little. Not into sugar? Substitute the sugar with brown rice syrup or agave syrup. For a more customized blend, you can add grated ginger, sesame oil, and chilies to taste.
Homemade Chocolate sauce or syrup Chocolate sauce is extremely easy to make. Just melt dark chocolate with table cream or whipping cream together in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave. Stir frequently so that the bottom doesn't scorch.
While we don't need a holiday to enjoy our favourite Chinese-inspired dishes, we can't wait to join in the celebrations with these delicious recipes.
The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28, and lasts until February 15, 2018. This holiday is also called the Lunar New Year, and is celebrated not only in China, but across Asia and around the world in countries like Canada, where Chinese Canadians number more than a million — one of the most common ethnic origins in our multicultural mix.
There are a number of traditional dishes served during the celebration that are meant to be auspicious. Noodle dishes are especially important, as long noodles are a symbol of longevity. Dishes that cook a whole animal (such as a fish) signify the beginning and ending of the year, and the head and tail are usually displayed intact on the serving dish. Dumplings can signify prosperity, and oranges, representing luck and wealth, are a great way to round out a meal.
Here are some of our favourite traditional and reinvented recipes that we'll be cooking up this year to join in the festivities. Gung Hei Fat Choi!
Traditionally served during the holidays and Chinese New Year, these crumbly melt-in-your-mouth cookies have three layers of almond flavour. Ground almonds add a hint of crunch, almond extract lends a sweet aroma and whole almonds make for a pretty garnish.
This Chinese classic gets a wholesome makeover by replacing the meat with loads of fresh vegetables. Korean hot pepper paste isn't traditionally found in ma po tofu, but it adds a nice kick. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store, or substitute with one teaspoon of sriracha.
“This is my take on a wintertime favourite that's served in my childhood home,” says Food specialist Irene Fong. “My dad loves this braised beef with noodles, but it's just as good served over rice.” We've used brisket here because it's unbelievably tender when braised.
The thick meat sauce on these noodles is a bit like an Asian-style Bolognese. The cooked noodles tend to stick together if they stand for a while, so mix the sauce into them and eat right away for the best texture. For a twist, serve the sauce over rice with a side of steamed bok choy.
Guest post by Jamie Anderson Tired of your kitchen towels falling on the floor? These crocheted towel toppers keep towels firmly in place on your oven door handle. And the bonus is that they’re also easy to make! If you’re new to crocheting, this is a great project to start with. Or, if you do crochet, but find yourself constantly miscounting stitches (like me), this pattern is very forgiving.
Here’s what you’ll need: A tea towel, cut in half across the width (The other half will make a second crochet topped hand towel if desired) Any worsted yarn, any colour A yarn needle 4.5mm crochet hook A large button
To prepare the hand towel for crocheting, follow these steps: Step 1: Fold the outside edges of the tea towel to the back so that the two sides meet in the centre. Step 2: Cut about an arm’s length of yarn. Tie a knot at one end and then thread the yarn needle. Step 3: Pull the needle through the left fold of the tea towel from the back side—this will hide your knot. Step 4: Now stitch across the top of the towel. Pull the needle through the layers, back to front, insert the needle into the loop you’ve created and pull taut. Continue stitching across the towel to the right fold. There is no correct number of stitches. I used 25 in my design, but more importantly, the stitches should be evenly spaced. Step 6: When the end of the towel is reached, tie on your ball of yarn to the piece of yarn you’ve been working with.
Now you’re ready to start crocheting: Rnd 1: Single crochet (sc) across towel, turn. (For tips on how to complete a single crochet, click
here.) Rnd 2: sc across, turn. Rnd 3: sc across, turn. Rnd 4: Crochet 2 sc, then do a single crochet decrease (dec)—this reduces two stitches to one. (To learn how to do a single crochet decrease, click
here.) Repeat sc, sc, dec, until you reach the end of the row. Turn. Rnd 5: sc across, turn. Rnd 6: sc, sc, dec, to the end of the row, turn. Rnd 7: sc across, turn. Rnd 8-12: Once you reach your desired thickness of the front flap (6 or 7 stitches across), continue to do 5 rnds of sc. Rnd 13 (Part 1): To create the buttonhole, crochet three sc, turn. Rnd 14-16 (Part 1): Crochet 3 sc on top of previous row, turning after each rnd. Tie off yarn when finished. Rnd 13 (Part 2): Reattach yarn on the other end of rnd 12, opposite the sc from rnds 13-16. Crochet 3 sc, turn. Rnd 14-16 (Part 2): Continue to crochet 3 sc on top of previous row, turning after each rnd. Rnd 17: sc all the way across, attaching the two sides in the middle with a
slip stitch (ss) to finish the buttonhole. Test to ensure the button fits. Rnd 18-19: Crochet two rnds of sc, turning after each row. Rnd 20: sc across and tie off at the end.
Using the yarn needle, attach the button where it looks best. (I placed mine between the third and fourth round.) Also make sure the strap is big enough to loop around the handle of your oven door.
How one woman found love with someone who had lost it.
After my husband and I separated, I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had two little children and couldn't imagine being in another relationship. I felt unlucky in love, as if perhaps I didn't deserve to be happy. Besides, I hadn't dated in 15 years and, now, didn't know where to begin. But six months after I separated, a mom I'd just met called to ask if I'd be interested in going on a blind date with her friend James*, a single dad who had recently lost his wife to cancer.
By then, every single person I'd met had baggage, including me, so it never occurred to me that dating a widower would be different from dating anyone else. I didn't even really consider the possibility that a first date might lead to a second. But from the get-go, I could tell James was different. The conversation flowed easily, he was funny and interesting…we ended up going on that second date, then a third. When he asked me to date him exclusively a few weeks later, I was ecstatic— but a few months into our relationship, something weird started happening. There were a series of days when, inexplicably, he wasn't himself. He was quiet and sad and didn't want to talk.
I knew what it felt like when a man wasn't interested in me anymore—that's how my marriage had ended. So when he would clam up and be distant, I had a familiar sickening feeling. We met for a drink at a quiet neighbourhood bar, where I cut to the chase. "I'm sorry, James, but I don't know what to do when you won't talk to me. I can't do it," I told him, too sad to drink my wine. I hoped ending things would spare him the trouble of dumping me and spare myself the pain of having yet another person leave me. I was beside myself: I couldn't believe things were ending when everything had been going so well.
Only now, James was ready to talk. "I've mentioned that my wife died two years ago, and I'm sorry for not being able to communicate with you better. Certain days of the year are hard for me, and I've just got through some very difficult back-to-back anniversaries," he explained, his eyes fixed on his lap. "Some days, I don't want to talk, but I'm feeling better again and I don't want you to take it personally. I'm just trying to cope as best I can; it has nothing to do with you. I really like you and I like where this relationship is going."
He looked up into my eyes and stretched his arms across the table. His warm hands enveloped my own. It hadn't occurred to me that he was going through a rough patch; because of my own history, I assumed it was something I had done. I didn't yet know enough about his life or about grief to understand his personality or the dates that would be difficult for him. When he communicated his feelings, I felt as though I understood him, like we were connecting on a deeper level. I realized then that this man was different kinder, deeper, stronger and more compassionate—than anyone else I was likely to meet. As a newly single mother struggling to get back on my feet, I had my own set of issues and insecurities; dating a widower on top of it all wouldn't be easy, but I had fallen in love. I had to try.
My situation isn't as unique as you might think. In 2016, about 1.83 million widowed people were living in Canada, and many of them are finding their way back onto the dating market. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States, 19 percent of those who are currently divorced, separated or widowed report using online dating. In fact, Match.com saw an 8.3 percent increase in the proportion of widowed users in Canada from 2015 to 2016.
Rebecca Cooper Traynor, a Toronto matchmaker who founded Match Me Canada, has seen a similar trend. "I'd say that about 10 percent of my clients are widowers," she says; most of them are 55 and older, but some are only in their 30s and 40s. And at the same time as this group has become more interested in dating, she has also seen a shift in perceptions about them. "I've noticed that my other clients are more open to dating a widower now than when I started my business eight years ago," she says. "Some people are tired of dating divorcés and hearing about their anger and resentment on a date. They want to meet someone in a different space, someone who knows how to love."
A delicate balance As in any relationship, James and I have challenges—but some of the things we face are specific to his widowed status. For example, in the five years since we went on our blind date, I've learned to give James space on significant dates, such as on his late wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the day she died. Since our near-breakup early on, I've marked those days on my calendar so I can call to say I'm thinking of him and see if I can help. Being in tune with your partner's needs is often the best thing you can do, says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor with the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax. "Ask your partner what you can do to make those tough days better. Your awareness itself can be a lovely gesture. Maybe you don't need to be involved and you can give your partner the space he or she needs to continue that grief work," he says. "That can be a gift in and of itself."
I've also learned that, contrary to the proverbial "five stages of grief," how we mourn doesn't fit into easy steps. In fact, the psychiatrist who first identified those stages, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, never intended them to apply to the living—her research was on people who were facing their own deaths. In other words, watching for signs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance is no way to tell whether a mourner is ready to move forward.
Rather, many grief specialists champion the "companioning" philosophy espoused by author, counsellor and educator Alan Wolfelt. They believe that the process is individual and that bereaved people tend to know when they are ready to move forward. According to this model of grief, mourners have six needs that must be met in order to reconcile their loss: acknowledging the reality of the death; embracing the pain of the loss; remembering the person who died; developing a new self-identity; searching for meaning; and receiving ongoing support from others. But this isn't a checklist and there's no time frame for completion, or a particular order in which they must happen.
"The companioning model of bereavement distinguishes between grieving—the internal experiencing of pain—and mourning, which is the outward expression of that pain," says Maureen Theberge, a psychologist at Viewpoint Counselling Psychology in Calgary. "Grief isn't something you 'get over' any more than you 'get over' love, but those who can mourn well will have a better outcome for moving forward. Having a way to remember the dead, to honour and acknowledge them, especially when the mourner has children, can be healing. It's meaningful and may offer comfort."
Finding your way For the first few years, James commemorated special days only with his close family, but recently, I've been invited to participate by attending an annual memorial service and being with his family to remember his wife's birthday. I'm happy to support him in this way, much as he has supported me through my divorce—but the truth is, it can be hard for me emotionally. Sometimes, I'm sad for days afterward. I want to weep thinking about what an unfair loss James, his family and his wife suffered. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for his wife to be diagnosed with a terminal illness as a young adult, to hear she was going to die. But I've come to understand that grieving is a healthy sign. Even if the process hurts, it brings James' family and friends together. I've seen how remembering and celebrating his wife provides them with strength to continue on. We have been companioning without realizing it.
As much as I grieve with James and his family on sad days, I've also had a hard time coping with his loss on great days. It's embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I've felt guilty for dating James. I've seen his late wife's beautiful photos, can sense how wonderful she was and feel how much she was loved—how much she still is loved. I've dissolved in tears, overwhelmed that James and I are on a romantic vacation together when he should have been with the love of his life, his wife. How was I ever going to fill her shoes? How would I measure up? What if I couldn't?
As difficult as these feelings are, experts say they're normal. Unlike dating a divorcé, Theberge says dating a widower can feel threatening because the person's partner didn't choose to leave; rather, "death tore them apart." Logically, however, jealousy doesn't help. "It's irrational," says Theberge. "You are not in competition with the deceased. Your relationship is new and unique."
Just because those feelings are irrational doesn't make them any less real, and it's important to deal with them, says Ellis. He suggests looking within at why you're feeling insecure. "We are each responsible for our self-esteem and self-love. Take stock, find out what's hurting and share it with your partner, but not in an accusing way," he says.
Overcoming feelings of insecurity isn't easy. As Ellis says, "You have to learn to integrate the presence of the deceased in a new relationship the way you don't in divorce. With divorce, you're out; with death, you've got to come to terms with the fact the other person is still loved and recognized." But while the challenges are different, "it doesn't mean you can't have a successful relationship."
Talk therapy In order to do that, though, you have to communicate. I knew I had to tell James how I was feeling, but it was difficult to have that conversation, to admit my insecurities. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt awash with shame. But James was patient and loving and told me his wife wanted him to be happy. Talking to him made me realize I couldn't change his past, but I could have a future with him—and I was helping him move forward, which is what his wife wanted.
Over time, I've grown to believe that we don't have only one soul mate for life. It's possible to love more than one person. When you have a second child, after all, you don't stop loving the first; you make more room in your heart. And now I see that grieving is good, that talking about fears and sadness can be healing. I know not to compare, not to think of myself as an inadequate replacement for the woman he really wanted.
James and I know too well that life can be fleeting. We understand that time is precious. We are taking things slowly—not rushing to combine families or get married—but when I look into his eyes, when I hold his hand on good days and bad, I know we are moving forward together.
Success factors Five tips from the experts for building a healthy relationship with a widower.
1. Communicate, even if it hurts, says Suzanne Farmer, a psychologist (candidate register) at Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax. "There will be times when your partner will think about his deceased spouse and miss her; there will be times when you might feel threatened or hurt. You have to be able to communicate these feelings."
2 Be open-hearted and understanding. "Sometimes your partner might experience bursts of grief, and you have to let him be sad and feel his pain. It's normal. It's not a judgment about you," says Calgary-based psychologist Maureen Theberge.
3. See your partner as a whole person. His experience of loving someone and having that person die is just part of his story.
4. Be ready for sudden mood swings. "Sex and emotional intimacy can sometimes trigger upwellings of grief and emotion," says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor in Halifax. The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility is to have discussions about intimacy in advance.
5. Be open to a new life. "Your partner will never 'get over' the loss— he will be forever changed—but it doesn't mean life can't be beautiful again," says Theberge.
You'll recognize a good baguette by its signature deep-golden crust, and it's chewy, soft interior. For all its perfection when it comes to texture,
it does have one major flaw: it's really only at its best if enjoyed on the day it's made and purchased. If you're lucky -- and not a purist! -- you may get another half day out of it, but that's really the most you'll ever get out of a fresh baguette.
My solution? Given that my love for baguette knows no bounds (blame it on me being French!) I like to always have some on hand, but I rarely get around to finishing an entire baguette in the span of a day. For those times, I simply freeze leftovers to be enjoyed later. You can also purchase a baguette with the intent of freezing it so you know you'll always have some readily available for later. Here's how to do it!
To freeze your baguette, cut it in half crosswise and tightly wrap in aluminum foil. The fresher the baguette the better the results so if you can score a warm-from-the-oven baguette from the store, do so!
To thaw, preheat your oven to 450F. Once its reached that temperature, turn your oven off, and bake the unwrapped bread in the oven until it is thawed, which takes about 12 minutes (depending on the size of your bread). Photography by Jennifer Bartoli