All posts in category “Uncategorized”

  • Get the most from this year’s Niagara Wine Festival

    I originally wrote this story for The Hamilton Spectator. Thanks to the Niagara Wine Festival for the photos.

    It’s not a party unless someone brings wine.

    Niagara has both the tipple and the ensuing festivities covered this month. September is when the region turns into a giant crush pad and celebrates the grape growing season that was.

    This year marks the 65th edition of the Niagara Wine Festival, the oldest of its kind in Canada. It’s easily the region’s biggest bash where locals raise a glass — or several — to the area’s farming roots while oenophiles from Toronto, Timmins, Texas and beyond come to see what all the hype is about.

    “It’s the best time of year to experience Niagara hospitality on the wine route,” says Kimberly Hundertmark, the festival’s executive director. “The surprising offerings that the wineries have at this time of year are not to be missed.”

    Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • It’s time for some Grub, y’all

    My blog has always been a creative outlet for me. And as much as I love to write, I really did enjoy all those broadcast courses I took in journalism school all those years ago.

    So I decided that 15 years after graduating, I’d put them to use, and launch a podcast. It’s called Grub and of course it’s about food — the people feeding us, their stories, the issues involved in keeping us all fed. And unlike this blog, I’m not limiting it to Niagara, though of course my home region will get plenty of virtual airwaves in the making of episodes.

    Speaking of which, it will be a monthly to-do, each episode clocking about 30 minutes. My hope is to have multiple segments per episode, including interviews, soundscapes, talk tapes and all that other jargon that only a rusty j-school grad would use in a post promoting her new podcast. Think of it as short documentaries in just about every format possible. My favourite part of radio and TV production has always been the editing, so I look forward to the creativity of putting together compelling audio stories and, I hope, providing listeners with some good ear candy.

    That said, I broke that mould in the first episode. It’s one segment: an interview with former vegan chef Kyle Paton and how the movement with which he once aligned himself ended up alienating him. His is a compelling story so give it a listen.

    And while I can’t pay contributors just yet, I do take story ideas. If you’re willing to be interviewed or have an idea, drop me a line at and put Grub in the subject line.

    In the meantime, put some love in your grub and have a listen. And keep a watch for it on iTunes. I’m waiting on the fine folks at Apple to give it the green light for availability there. For now, you can catch it on SoundCloud. 


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  • Peach Tree
  • Taking a seat at Sir John’s Table + a giveaway

    John A. Pudding from Sir John's Table, with red plum compote.

    It’s hardly novel for me to tell you food is that great connector between us humans.

    The pleasure, nourishment and comfort it can provide transcends age, class and culture. It also transcends time. When Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald sat down for a meal, I doubt it was a perfunctory act. My money is on him needing the same things we expect today from any dish put before us, especially after he spent a long day on the Hill, or in court or his Kingston law office before his election.

    Sir John’s Table by Lindy Mechefske (Goose Lane, $19.95) is the story of the man through food, confirming the father of Confederation was as much a fan of good eating as he was drinking. Thanks to the subjectivity of recounting the past, I often forget historical figures were real people. Good old grade school history class made John A., with his reputation of liking his liquor and being a callous racist, little more than a caricature in my mind, much like others of his time and ilk.

    But Sir John’s Table is a reminder that he was a thinking, feeling human being and there are moments in the book that evoke great empathy in the reader. And of course, there are the stories of food sprinkled throughout to draw a deeper connection to the man who, for many, is little more than the knobby face on our ten-spot. Continue reading

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    Category Reviews, Uncategorized


  • Peach Tree
  • Back in the canning saddle with The Canning Kitchen

    This will not be a sentimental story.

    There will be no reminiscing of a mother who put up pickles every summer or knocked it out of the park with her raspberry jam while I tugged at her apron strings wanting in on the action.

    My mom didn’t can when I was growing up. She did other things like ace a sauerbraten or bake a German plum cake that leaves me feeling just a little nostalgic for my childhood as I type.

    I also have no great stories about grandmothers packing the season’s bounty into mason jars to enjoy later. Both my Omas lived in Germany. One was abysmal in the kitchen. The other made the dreamiest mirabelle plum jam but I only ever enjoyed the finished product and not the process. She always had it ready, the jars neatly lined up in her pantry, for whatever family was making the trip to visit her from their scattered locations.

    No, my canning story is more pragmatic. It was a bit of a do or die situation — for my career and, I was certain, for me. It was the summer of 2007 when I was trying out the 100-Mile Diet and writing a series of stories about it for work. Seemed a fitting assignment for an agriculture reporter still relatively new to Niagara. Continue reading

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