3 posts tagged with “Rise Above Bakery”

  • Sip, savour and help keep a popular Niagara event going

    Cookbook author John Schlimm will be in St. Catharines this weekend as part of a sold-out fundraiser for Niagara VegFest at the Niagara Artists' Centre. His latest cookbook, The Cheesy Vegan, offers simple cruelty-free ways to eat the world's ultimate comfort food. Photo source: American Library Association

    Vegan food.

    For whatever reason, those two words can make the most ardent omnivore shudder. Or become defensive.

    Take it from this undisciplined vegetarian who has, over the past eight years, had her meals scrutinized by skeptics and critics alike.

    Vegan food is no oxymoron, omnivores. Some of my most memorable and satisfying meals have been entirely plant-based, and, as an added bonus, guilt-free.

    For the past two years, two St. Catharines women have been working hard to show people the merits of adopting a plant-based diet or at least making less room on their plates for meat, dairy and other animal products.

    Keri Cronin and Laurie Morrison founded Niagara VegFest in an effort to educate those hungry to try out more mindful eating, and their efforts have been devoured by the thousands that have attended VegFest in the two years it has run.

    But Cronin and Morrison, who became inspired to start the festival in 2012 after hearing about similar events in the U.S., need some help to ensure VegFest remains a free event that attracts the who’s who of vegan and vegetarian cooking and eating.
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  • Peach Tree
  • Meet Janine Hall, Niagara’s almost famous chef

    For the past several weeks, Janine Hall has been trying to show a full venison strip loin who’s boss.

    The student at Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute has been dishing out $100 every time for the game meat so she can perfect cooking it. She does it with the hope of nailing every detail in its preparation and wowing judges at the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef regional competition on Feb. 25 at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Toronto.

    “Each time I try different aspects to make sure I’m being consistent with the quality every time,” Hall said. “I do the entire competition every week.”

    That means, in addition to shelling out big bucks for the main ingredient, she also sets the timer for two hours. That’s all she’ll get next week when she has to churn out 10 identical plates — each requiring eight steps to be ready to present to judges — of venison with a Jamaican-inspired jerk rub, cranberry, Swiss chard, butternut squash, pigeon peas, plantain pureed with parsley root, and beet and potato frites.

    It’s not a lot of time to even perform the 80 steps to plate the intricate meal that features the sweet, spicy and tart flavours of her Jamaican-Dutch ancestry, let alone cook it. But as a student about to graduate, Hall refuses to settle for less than perfection in the pressure cooker setting of a culinary contest. After all, there’s a year’s worth of apprenticing under the best in business and $20,000 up for grabs.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Food folks who inspired in 2012

    With the year waning, I can’t help but reflect on the 12 months that were.

    I contemplate all aspects of life as Dec. 31 nears, career especially. My finances are always a close second. I’m one of those geeks who has been fretting about retirement since I was 19.

    As I look ahead to the opportunity that seems to come with the changing of the calendar, I have all these ideas about what I hope to achieve. I find myself pondering what’s worth pursuing, what’s worth taking the risk, what’s better left to brew for a while.

    Fortunately, I always have this website as a diversion. And reflecting on the year that was in food is a welcome distraction from the other heavies.

    In 2011, I had a long list of experiences to whittle down to my absolute favourite and most memorable moments in food. This year, however, was decidedly more low-key for me when it came to dining excursions. A big reason for it was focusing more of my time on the Garden of Eating — Niagara, the residential fruit picking program I run that harvests unwanted fruit and donates it to local social organizations.

    Sometimes I also had the sinking feeling that some food-focused events were getting away from being moments to build community, share knowledge and nourishment, and merely becoming places to be seen. And, well, that’s not my scene.

    At times, it felt more like competitive eating and left me longing to get back to what food really means to me. Nourishment for the soul, body and community.

    So rather than particular moments, this year I’m reflecting on the people who inspired me in 2012 — many have inspired me for much longer — and helped keep me grounded, brought me great joy with their company, generosity and kindness, and fed me well.

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