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Everything posted by KarenDW

  1. I know quite a few Chinese immigrant families in western Canada who depend on take-out entrees from the shopping centre food court. Some of the stuff represents good value, good taste, and more importantly, is READY TO EAT after working a 12 or 15 hour day at two jobs.
  2. The budget figure you indicate is not out of line for a family of 3. Families with children tend to have larger amounts of laundry, and so cleaning products can take a huge chunk out of the grocery budget. As well, families with young children likely prepare most meals at home, including lunch for work, which affects the bottom line. When I was working full time, I spent less on groceries, and more on lunches out. Now that I work part time from home, I spend more on groceries; partly for at-home lunches, and partly because I shop in the specialty shops within walking distance of my home. But I am saving $100 a month on gas Hard to pinpoint the actual amount, as we each do some food shopping, but I think we are $400/month for a 2-adult household, living in the city core. Plus another $100 for wine & spirits, plus about $400/month on meals out. About 25% of my food, meal and liquor expenses can be considered business expenses, as I do research for my clients.
  3. I have been "farming" a plot in a similar project in Vancouver, BC, Canada. A developer has installed a temporary community garden while awaiting civic council approval for the proposed development. The garden is situated in the city core, in a neighborhood full of high density housing. Although the installation of the garden is temporary in nature, and there are many infrastructure issues, I am grateful for the opportunity to dig in the dirt.
  4. fwiw, London Drugs has Hugs & Kisses, too. I think they were $3.25 for the same 227 gm package. Just in case you run out of time for driving around...
  5. sometimes Save-On Foods also has Hugs & Kisses, although I haven't had to look, lately. SOF will give prices over the phone, though. Sometimes Costco won't.
  6. Were you able to find some seed for the Japanese greens? If not, you could try Westcoast Seeds in Vancouver, BC. Depending upon your location, you may need to wait until September to try planting. Unless, of course, you have a shady, cool-ish spot for planting. The greens may over-winter, as well, if you are in a gentle climate, and especially if you have access to row covers. My spinach and romaine fared well over the past winter, in Vancouver.
  7. KarenDW

    Preserving Summer

    Some ranges have an automatic shut-off or safety shut off, which could turn off your stove if the surface becomes too hot for an extended length of time. So, probably one or two short batches of canning would be fine, but several batches, plus long-cooking jams, might not be as practical on a ceram-top range. Or so I was told by the appliance salesman.
  8. Hi Tom. I was 45 when I started cooking professionally, and knew that working in someone else's hotel or restaurant kitchen was not for me. I do, however, work in other people's kitchens quite often, as a personal chef. There will be various rules & regulations set out by the Health Department in your region, which may determine what direction you take for your new venture. One of the benefits, for me, of opening a PC business was that I would not need to maintain a commercial kitchen. At my late start, the last thing I want is to invest a lot of money in operational expenses. Best to you with what is down the road.
  9. the "Middle Room" at Figmint was recommended
  10. Hi annadev Welcome to Vancouver. I'll check w/ my family members who have young children, and get back to you w/ some suggestions. Karen
  11. I prefer to use parchment. Sometimes I am not quite so careful as I would like, when removing the lining from the cake. I'd hate for foil to get into someone's mouth by accident. Eek.
  12. If you make pastry, the peas can be used as pie weights when baking the shells for chilled/cream/chiffon pies. Also, peas make decent filling for stuffed toys or soft sculpture (keep out of moist places) Peas/beans can be used as anchors for holding herb sprigs or small flowers in ramekins for garnishing plates/platters. Much nicer than sand, and not as expensive as glass beads. 1/2 kg of split peas, sewn into a cloth bag, can be used as a flexible hot or cold therapy pack. If you like the color of your particular peas, perhaps they can be used in the garden; as mulch, or as a border to delineate certain planted areas. Then dig into the soil at the end of the growing season. Oh, and you can cook & eat them, too.
  13. FWIW, sometimes a smaller, rather than larger, box is easier to maneuver. Depends on what your storage space is like, and how much inventory you are likely to maintain, I guess.
  14. KarenDW

    Organic food

    I'm much more inclined to purchase from a [local] grower with whom I have a relationship, than from an anonymous certified organic factory farm. Unfortunately, not all our local growers have the same sense of stewardship towards the earth. Also, a lot of decisions are based on $$, as my major work is in a non-for-profit agency with a limited budget. I think that we do a lot of responsible purchasing for our $3 per person per meal food restriction. But the reality is, organic food costs more. Local food costs more. Not everyone has the option of choosing those "concepts" over just eating.
  15. KarenDW

    Liquid diet

    Is there a 7-11 anywhere nearby? Or similar shop which sells "slurpy" type drinks? They have a special straw-spoon thingy... Do you like red bean puddings? They could be blended with almond milk or coconut milk for a more complete protein (an a few more calories)
  16. Another issue w/ candles is that the majority are made from petroleum-based wax, rather than beeswax or soy-based waxes. Burning petroleum fuels can release various chemicals into the air, which may be different from those released by burning soy or beeswax candles.
  17. KarenDW

    Liquid diet

    So how big is your straw? I cooked for a facial surgery client, and made these items for her * carrot/ginger soup: cook carrots in prepared stock, with ginger; puree, add drained yogurt (for protein) * yogurt with applesauce (pick up some of those last apples; do you have a freezer?) * rice and vegetables plus some stock; add soy/tofu for protein, or a bit of softly poached/braised meat. Be cautious with the rice, as the thickening potential is much greater than I suspected. * congee, which was blended * softly cooked custard (eggs, milk, sugar, fruit) for some variety, if you have a freezer and can make ice pops, it is slightly less boring Are you having any cold/heat sensitivity?
  18. I have a one-day-a-week contract as a chef for a not-for-profit agency. The compensation is per week. Some weeks I work 10 hrs, others I work 8. But, the average works out ok for me, based on my regular hourly contract rate. When calculating one's desired compensation, it's important to bear in mind the number of hours spent in planning the (single) work day. I find that there is more planning to be done when working off-site, so take that into consideration when calculating your compensation. FWIW, I prefer working as an independent contractor to working as an employee. My tools, samples, and experiments become business expenses, rather than free trials. Generally, I find that contract work can be valued at between 2 and 4 times the regular hourly rate for an employee doing similar work. It may depend upon what the client is willing to provide (tools already on hand, specific pans, a dishwasher to clean up after you, storage, delivery of supplies, etc.)
  19. In my experience, acceptable results in frozen sandwiches can be achieved by * choosing fillings which do not use mayonnaise ("cooked salad dressing" may work though) * avoiding raw vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers, although small amounts of diced peppers or other more "solid" vegetables may work * keeping the fillings simple, and evenly distributed over the surface of the bread * using butter, not margarine, and definitely nothing "reduced fat", that term is a euphemism for "contains more water" * wrapping well; double wrapping will reduce the amount of condensation on the actual bread surface, and therefore reduce sogginess. * storing for no more than 2-3 weeks * thawing in the refrigerator if possible or practical (although having a fridge available would change some of the possible lunch options) Magictofu, I can totally relate to the frustrating combination of morning sleepiness + possible shortage of sandwich-making ingredients. Personally, I would find a pre-made, frozen home-made sandwich or wrap much more appealing than a tin of soup or other insta-meal Combinations which have worked for me are: * cooked brown rice, lentils and diced raw bell peppers, in a tortilla wrap * cheddar cheese with caramelized onion jam (butter the bread on the jam side) * cream cheese with smoke salmon on sliced bagel Comparing a frozen sandwich to a made-to-order is similar to comparing seasoned, frozen chicken breast to freshly cut paillards. There is simply no comparison. However, I, for one, am not always enabled to make the fresh-only choice.
  20. KarenDW

    Old mixed greens...

    After sorting, could spin into a spring pesto, with cilantro, ginger, sesame oil & tahini; then freeze. I would usually remove any radiccio, and sometimes take out the red leaves if I want a bright green hue.
  21. Spinach, chard and red leaf lettuce overwintered surprisingly well in downtown Vancouver, after a "hard harvest" and removal of row covers in December. Seeing all the new leaves, in March, was a wonderful sight! I've started new lettuce and spinach ("Perpetual Harvest") indoors, in pots, and have been able to harvest some lettuce for salads. Hurray for spring!
  22. You could also mention the non-restaurant opportunities which exist for culinary school graduates, and self-taught passionate cooks: food writing, test kitchen for food manufacturers, recipe & nutrition analysis for restaurants (would require some science training), personal chef, private chef, teaching, community work, culinary concierge, culinary tourism... There are a number of fulfilling vocations within the culinary trade which have nothing to do with the insane hours of restaurant and hotel cooking. The best thing about being a cooking professional? Portable skills, man, portable skills. What young person wouldn't want to know that they could work anywhere in the world?
  23. I'm imagining it's all about the pack 'n' go, for both riders and spectators. Hand-pies are a nice change of pace from sandwiches and cookies. And if made well, can be quite sturdy.
  24. on the logistics side of things... Sounds as though you may see a shift from eat-in cafe to grab & go. If you have space, temporarily add a small, sturdy wire storage rack, close to a power source, where you can house the extra bits of "stuff" * a table-top oven (less than $200 in my neighborhood) * an extra microwave ($75) * bus bins & hotel pans * to-go boxes, wrappers, disposables * plastic containers have a nasty way of breaking/leaking in one's pocket or camera-bag. Can you source some bags suitable for one or two containers? Do you have space for an additional fridge of some sort? Even a mini-bar fridge can be useful for things like condiments, sauces, and the milk/cream for coffees. Is there an appliance store which will rent you a used fridge? What are your staffing plans? * a guide-book of your menu items, complete with photos and ingredient list would cut down on the number "what's in this again?" questions. * label everything: storage boxes/bins, hanging racks, etc. A photo on the outside and inside of the cupboard door can do wonders for keeping your space workable. * if you plan to store items off-site, assign a runner who understands your menu and knows where you buy supplies foodwise... * grains and lentils for salads/wraps can be cooked ahead and frozen in small-batch plastic bags * resist the urge to freeze in big batches; small flat packages (i.e., will fit into small-ish hotel pans, or into the microwave) will thaw more quickly, just when you need them. * hand-pies and wraps will store well and be easy to serve/sell * fresh fruit
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