How To Manage Back To School Stress

Despite the hours you’ve clocked in front of your laptop, television or cellphone this summer—the hours of welcome mind-numbing—September’s imminent approach mitigates their effect. Suddenly you wake from a blissful summer daze, which likely came over you about halfway through binging Netflix’s Glow, and are reminded of course selection, tuition fees and textbook rentals.

Worry not. It’s a normal part of academic life. In fact I often wonder why colleges and universities don’t schedule its approximate arrival in their respective academic calendars. Here’s my advice for harnessing-in back-to-school stress.

Back view portrait of a female student walking

Tackle back-to-school preparation in stages

Unlike assignments, you can’t start and finish back-to-school preparation in a single night. Even if you’re an online shopping whizz, who wants to pay for overnight delivery? Accept you can’t roll out of bed on the first day and walk into the lecture hall completely prepared. School supplies aside, there’s basic administrative deadlines for consideration. The Office of the Registrar is likely the only contact filling your school e-mail address’ inbox this summer. (So, yes, do check it.) Remain aware and, institutional deadlines aside, roughly schedule what, how and when you’ll prepare for the new semester the two weeks before the start of term. Do you new to load up on pens? Will you order your textbooks through Amazon instead of the bookstore this year? What about a tune-up on the bike you ride to and from campus each day?

Review your intended schedule and set goals

Like bad relationships of both the romantic and platonic varieties, it’s usually not until you’re in too deep, you realize the harmful nature of the commitment. Don’t let poor judgment lead to burnout halfway through the approaching term. Sure, sure, you’re organized, you’re hardworking, but, given the choice, do you really want a twelve-hour day every Monday and Wednesday? Depending on how much responsibility you have over your schedule, consider how manageable it is in real life versus on paper. And if the nature of your program offers less flexibility, don’t pile up on unnecessary outside commitments. As someone famous once said, “We fear the unknown.” When you have an understanding of your new term, you’re less likely to stress over it.

Give yourself over to the final days of freedom

After you’ve mulled over the impending term, let yourself return to summer. There’s no point filling the last weeks of August with induced stress. Leave that for the exam period. Stay up late, or go to bed early. Socialize as much as possible or hide in your bedroom and avoid humankind altogether. Such freedom is rarely available when class is back in session. Now while back-to-school stress is expected, it shouldn’t come in extreme doses. And, yes, given the right distractions, you should have the ability to still relax in your final weeks of summer. Manageable back-to-school stress is the price paid for the benefits post-secondary education gifts you: friendships, personal development and academic fulfillment. Should you question the existence of such gifts—or your justification for pursuing a diploma or degree in general—my snappy advice for stress management won’t suffice. Pose these questions to trustworthy family members, friends or a counselor. Nobody deserves to live under constant stress outside of or during the school year.

How To Survive A New Roommate

by Madeleine Brown

It can end friendships, start floods, or worse, deplete liquor stocks: a new roommate. They take sibling squabbles to a new level. And mom is no longer around to play referee. Yet the induction of a roommate is as much a required young adult growing pain as failed papers, burnt casseroles and awkward dates. (Hopefully you never experience all three in a single evening.) Whether your roommate turns into your best friend, worse enemy, or—often best of all—the one that’s never home, you needn’t allow them to decimate your daily routine. Here are my tips to survive not only their arrival, but moreover the duration of their stay.

Moving boxes in new apartment

Communicate

As the experts say, it’s the key to any successful relationship. Establish lines of communication early. Create a Facebook page for your household to post bills, share holiday plans and “book” the living room for your Wednesday night group study sessions. Likewise ensure you have your new roommate’s e-mail address and phone number. You never know when an issue may require the formality of an e-mail or urgency of a phone call. However, don’t omit the best (yet most dreaded) form of communication: in-person conversation. In an ideal world, every set of roommates could dissect household matters in weekly meetings. You needn’t run your house like some government council though, just make the effort to bring up conflicts or needs in person as often as possible. Although it’s easy to throw down dirt via Facebook, remember your roommates know where you live.

Socialize

Hopefully you’ve spent some time with your new roommate in advance of their move-in date. Whether you have or haven’t, socialize with them on a regular basis. Now your definition of “regular” can vary immensely. I’ve lived with roommates with whom our socializing amounted to shared a meal (and maybe a movie) at the end of each term. Conversely I’ve socialized with roommates on an almost daily basis in the form of bedroom floor lamentations. (I highly recommend during period of high stress.) However regular, let the “fun” aspect of your relationship develop naturally. Don’t draw up an over-packed social calendar or gift them endless friendship bracelets. Like most relationships, it’ll deepen on its own terms. So never force it. And who really wants to end up living with their best friend? …that’s an entire blog post in itself.

Reassess

Routines established in September can change come December. Don’t lock yourself into duties or policies. If you’d prefer to take on all the household cleaning rather than divide-up the load, do it. (What?! I like to clean.) If your roommate’s new boyfriend’s elongated stays challenge your initially flexible visitation policy, adjust it. And should such changes present further problems, change them again. Consider your own family. Your role likely shifted in nature over the course of your childhood and adolescence. And it’s likely only to shift more as you progress further into adulthood. The most successful communities acknowledge change as an opportunity for growth and development. And maybe you just don’t want to share milk anymore. So don’t!

4 Weird Fair Foods Of Summer 2017

by Madeleine Brown

Like awkward family reunions, the weirdest food trends gather at fairs across the continent over the summer before they die off never to be eaten again. (Hopefully your family reunions don’t always conclude in death[s]).

There are the fair classics from funnel cakes and cotton candy to ribs and burgers. However, fairs like Toronto’s CNE (the Canadian National Exhibition), North America’s fifth largest, have embraced the event’s natural breeding ground for bizarre eats and now draw crowds for food alone. From August 18 through Labour Day weekend, you can find all your deep-fried favourites alongside appearances by celebrity chefs like Vancouver restaurateur, Vikram Vij and Chopped judge favourite, John Higgins as well as features on craft beer, east coast cuisine and another beloved trend, food trucks. While the newest food offerings are still under wraps, let’s meet a selection of this year’s participants and their specialties.  

The newest cone in town


Who eats ice cream for the ice cream any more? It’s all in the cone. Open your Instagrams, people! According to Eva of Eva’s Original Chimneys, chimneys or kurtoskalacs are a Hungarian specialty eaten like you would any respectable cinnamon roll: a slow unspiralling of that perfect bread-like pastry. Eva fills hers with soft-serve ice cream and toppings described with every food buzzword out there like “homemade”, “organic” and “local”. Given the headlines and features, this lady’s on to something smoking.

Did you say bacon?


Canada’s Bacon Nation understands humankind’s primitive attraction to beloved bacon. What brings anyone to the kitchen quicker than a whiff of spitting pork fat as strips sizzle in the frying pan? Stronger in numbers, Bacon Nation united two food trends to much delight at last year’s CNE with the Bacon Taco. It has all the usual fixings of a taco along with a heap of crispy, dripping bacon. Leave your vegetarian friends at home; this one’s for the most carnivorous members of your circle.  

Don’t cry over it


Who wants an onion ring, when you can have a whole flower? Available in food truck form since last summer, the folks at the Colossal Onion cut their big white, beauties from the top down in the shape of a blossoming water lily. From there it’s doused in batter, deep-fried and served alongside dippable chipotle mayo. This onion won’t lead to any tears—except perhaps of joy.

How Philthy


Philthy Phillys’s brings the magic of the Philly cheesesteak north. Traditionally, the sandwich is served in a hoagie roll, stuffed with thin-sliced beefsteak and drowned in melted cheese. Phil follows tradition (alongside a chicken option) and goes against it with other variations that feature the additions of coleslaw and fries in the sandwich known as Phat Phil and hash browns, sautéed onions and eggs, or #Philthy. Best of all, add Cheese Whiz to any sandwich for no extra charge. Bonus points to you if you manage to share a ‘wich with Phil himself.

Don’t Forget To Pack These 5 College Necessities

When it comes to moving into residence for the first time, ruminate on the following mantra: the first time is always the worse. Having lived it, I can attest to the truth behind that statement. In addition to the emotional nature of the situation (on both yours and likely your family’s parts), the practicality of separating a newly formed single household from an established one is complicated. Suddenly the shared hair dryer and mysteriously self-replacing supply of toilet paper must be considered. Here’s my list of often under-appreciated (and as a result often forgotten) college necessities. And, yes, don’t forget the toilet paper.

pack these 5 college necessities

Laundry supplies

75.4% of young adults attend college and university in order to learn how to do laundry. Okay, I quite possibly made up the percentage, but speaking from my own experience, I like to believe the cliché is true. Coming from a chore-less childhood, I moved away from home, completed my first load and packed my own lunch all for the first times in the span of a week. Along with a choice detergent, dryer sheets, laundry bag, hardcore stain remover and extra coat hangers to air-dry delicates, request basic laundry pointers from a parental unit prior to the big move.

Electronic device wipes

If you didn’t through high school, your life will now officially revolve around your laptop and cellphone. From entertainment to social life and the odd assignment, your devices serve as your home television, office and even personal chef.  So, take my advice and invest in a package of wipes specifically for devices. When your life goes up flames, a clean screen can ease the stress.

Portable drink containers

You’re likely to receive your share of free condoms, pamphlets, barbecues and, yes, water bottles over the course of frosh week. However, now a young adult, you’ll soon learn just because it’s free, don’t mean it’s good. Purchase a quality water bottle and thermos before the move. Most campuses are outfitted with fancy-smancy water fountains and most mornings you won’t wake early enough to finish your coffee at home.

Printer and ink

Don’t pretend you’ve outwitted “the man” by printing your assignments off of the library or student centre printers. It’s never—ever—worth it. Come 4 am, tired, alone and twenty words away from the assigned word count, you do not want to interact with the shared copy machine only to discover it won’t print your half-assed essay. Spend the money and buy a printer. While you’re still on mommy and daddy’s dime, also stock up on ink. Forget learning Santa Claus’ legitimacy, the actual cost of printer ink is the greatest disappointment of adult life.

Alarm clock

I know, you have a cellphone, I know. But let me ask you this: how charged is it right now? It’s probably dead, right? An alarm clock is an ultimately inexpensive investment that’ll save you charging anxiety down the road. It’s the magic of electricity, folks. Set your typical wake-up time—don’t forget to select AM instead of PM—and with the simple flick of a switch, you’ll never worry about making class again. Now whether or not you chose to hit the snooze button one time too many is on you.

Advice For Incoming Freshmen

by Madeleine Brown

Not to add to the pressure on incoming first-years, but I have yet to do anything as important in my life as starting university. Truly. However, I am not saying that either college or university are important. They’re not. It’s the circumstances that surround this moment in your life that hold importance. Whether you move onto residence or commute to campus from home, you’re about to embark on the first stage in your life where you have the opportunity to claim full ownership. 

To add to the abundance of advice you’re likely drowning in, here are three pieces of my own. Consider them, but understand I didn’t develop them (or at least become aware of my development of them) until the end of my university career. Who knows what advice you may doll out to someone in your position in three or four year’s time?

advice for incoming freshman

Expect nothing

Expectations are the bane of my existence. They overshadow experiences. It’s not until some time after the fact—usually when I’m organizing receipts during tax season—when I realize the importance of an experience and how it turned out nothing like my expectations. And thankfully so. (Sadly receipts are my form of adult scrapbooking.) Don’t expect a high grade on your first test, but likewise don’t expect a low one. Don’t expect to meet your best friend or soulmate, but don’t expect not to. You likely have a delightful imagination, but when it comes to real life let’s leave its course up to the world’s greatest creative genius, fate.

Establish routine

Unless you had an nontraditional upbringing, chances are your routine has remained unchanged for eighteen odd years. It’s about to explode into one thousand-some pieces. Some weekdays you won’t have classes, some you may only have one starting at 2 pm and others you may have an overwhelming amount. You may adopt an unbearable two-hour commute to and from school or you may have to schedule dinner yourself at your cafeteria. Whether you thrive on a routine or not, at least reflect on the basic parameters of your new one. Perhaps write it out in diagram form, color-coding based on the nature of the obligation, or speak it out with friends or family. And returning to controlling expectations: don’t expect to master your schedule during your first month.

Enjoy independence

Or if you prefer more banal forms of advice: have fun(!!!). And, no, I don’t mean out-drink your roommate or hook-up with your neighbor across the hall. Enjoy the freedom (in whatever degree) you’ve been gifted. College and universities are worlds onto themselves, aiming to make their resources as accessible as possible. So attend office hours—even just to attest to their existence to your peers—lose your breath at a spin class at the campus gym or sign-up for a questionable, poorly organized club. Like the independence you honed in order to make those decisions, you can just as easily choose to never make the same ones again.

How To Build A Better: Burger

by David Kitai

There is little in the world as innately satisfying as a good hamburger. When the bun, meat and toppings are perfectly balanced, a burger can deliver a pure shot of pleasure. However, while it might be the quickest way to instant stomach satisfaction, when made wrong it has the potential to yield truly disappointing results. Follow my tips and find yourself eating the perfect burgers all-year round (on your cheat days of course).

how to build a better burger

A burger is nothing without the right bun

The right bun could mean a two slices of fluffy white Wonder Bread, but as charming as they are, I think we can do better. (The bun should actually taste like something.) If you like a rich burger, consider brioche. My personal preference is a variety made with a mixture of white and whole-wheat flour and sourdough starter. Sourdough-driven bakeries often carry several great bun options. When the bun is fresh with a lightly crispy crust and soft, flavourful crumb, you know you’re in for a good burger.

Don’t oversauce

Too many burgers—otherwise perfect—suffer from an anxious cook laying down four or five different sauces. I don’t care how much you love your dill aioli, it’s doesn’t pair with banana ketchup and peach chutney. Pick one or two sauces for your burger, matching flavours you know work well together. Sauce should be applied conservatively with wetter sauces, like ketchup and mustard, applied to the bottom bun where they will touch the patty. Mayonnaise-based sauces can be spread on the base of the top bun since they won’t soak veggie toppings like their wetter counterparts.

Keep your veggies seasonal

A sandy, watery, out-of-season tomato wrecks a burger. Come wintertime, why not replace them with a few slices of pickled beetroot? You’ll be surprised by how beautifully they fit in your burger. Wintergreens like kale, chard and collards can serve as cold-weather substitutes for lettuce (especially if you give them a quick wilt in a pan). Onions and mushrooms are best when cooked and, if desirable, with a bit of bacon.

Meat isn’t all about fat

But it’s a little bit about fat. The best way to guarantee a better burger is to make your own patty from ground beef. I aim for approximately 15 to 20 percent fat seasoned only with salt and pepper. If you like the fast food-style burger, make a few small ¼ lb-patties pounded thin. If you want something medium-rare, shape a thick ⅓ lb-patty per serving. Most importantly—and perhaps controversially—don’t cook your burger on a grill. Use a cast-iron pan or flattop. The juicy fat will refract back up to the burger, multiplying the flavour and tenderness, rather than dripping off to burn away between the grill slats.

Toast your buns and assemble with care

You might do everything right only to have your burger fall apart en route to your mouth. It’s likely attributed to over stacking and a cold, untoasted bun. Consider too your plate as a whole. Classic as fries may be on a hot summer’s day a juicy burger needs a refreshing side. Opt for grilled asparagus and zucchini topped with a little lemon juice and zest and melted butter, or a green salad with roast corn.

How To Plan The Perfect Summer Picnic

What’s more Instagrammable than a summer picnic? Social media love aside, it’s the one time of the year when you can comfortably dine outside and on the ground. Whether you picnic off-the-cuff or for a planned-ahead occasion, you’ve got similar decisions to make. And, no, it’s not just how to fend off pesky, food-stealing ants. Here’s your guide for a successful (hopefully) ant-free picnic.

What’s more Instagrammable than a summer picnic? Social media love aside, it’s the one time of the year when you can comfortably dine outside and on the ground. Whether you picnic off-the-cuff or for a planned-ahead occasion, you’ve got similar decisions to make. And, no, it’s not just how to fend off pesky, food-stealing ants. Here’s your guide for a successful (hopefully) ant-free picnic.   Weather and Location In terms of the weather, as Goldilocks once said, it should be “just right.” As much as we welcome the first days of high temperatures and all-encompassing humility, too hot is too uncomfortable. Likewise for those freak summer days that feel more like the spring that just passed. Picnics call for warm days with sunshine. Your location will provide the shade you need from overexposure to the sun. Where you hold your picnic can range in creativity. Sometimes it’s as simple (and delightful) to head to your nearest public park, or in your own backyard. Otherwise surprise your guests with an unfamiliar spot say a hidden alcove off a local trail or overgrown greens bordering nearby rail tracks. Keep the obvious in mind when selecting an original location: is it available to the public and safe? Although municipal offenses can certainly make for entertaining picnics...   Company Like the location, your guests need not be obvious. It’s the summer, you’ve got the time, why not curate your company? Select friends and acquaintances from different aspects of your life. Try to find people who may share interests and similarities outside of simply knowing you. Don’t hesitate though to throw in one of the following: troublemaker, over-sensitive type, know-it-all and hardcore partier. As long as you have one of each, the range in personalities should balance each other out and may result in new friendships or courtships. If matchmaking isn’t your game, use the picnic as the chance to catch-up with a group of friends you’ve neglected during the school year. A thoughtful event like a picnic will highlight to these friends how much they do mean to you despite those ignored texts. Finally, picnics are always perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and milestones. Let such occasions drive your guest list.   Food and Drink Ultimately whatever you eat or drink should feel at home in Tupperware. Portability is the name of the game when it comes to picnics. Furthermore your chosen dishes should taste best when served at room temperature. In this case, salads (dressed upon arrival), quiches (chilled beforehand), sandwiches and anything cured suit. Start your meal with snacks. As you unpack your dishes, guests can pick at popcorn, salsa and chips or olives. Otherwise let your guests eat how and in whatever order they desire. Picnics, like potlucks, are best with as few guidelines as possible. For dessert, consider squares, cookies or if the mood strikes a group visit to the ice cream truck. These baked goods keep their shape when travelling and are naturally prepared in big enough batches to share. Finally, choose canned and bottled beverages. Your options are endless for alcoholic drinks, but for added hydration don’t forget still or sparkling water, flavoured and plain. It’s worth the effort to beg, borrow or steal a cooler packed with plenty of ice.

Weather and Location

In terms of the weather, as Goldilocks once said, it should be “just right.” As much as we welcome the first days of high temperatures and all-encompassing humility, too hot is too uncomfortable. Likewise for those freak summer days that feel more like the spring that just passed. Picnics call for warm days with sunshine. Your location will provide the shade you need from overexposure to the sun. Where you hold your picnic can range in creativity. Sometimes it’s as simple (and delightful) to head to your nearest public park, or in your own backyard. Otherwise surprise your guests with an unfamiliar spot say a hidden alcove off a local trail or overgrown greens bordering nearby rail tracks. Keep the obvious in mind when selecting an original location: is it available to the public and safe? Although municipal offenses can certainly make for entertaining picnics…

Company

Like the location, your guests need not be obvious. It’s the summer, you’ve got the time, why not curate your company? Select friends and acquaintances from different aspects of your life. Try to find people who may share interests and similarities outside of simply knowing you. Don’t hesitate though to throw in one of the following: troublemaker, over-sensitive type, know-it-all and hardcore partier. As long as you have one of each, the range in personalities should balance each other out and may result in new friendships or courtships. If matchmaking isn’t your game, use the picnic as the chance to catch-up with a group of friends you’ve neglected during the school year. A thoughtful event like a picnic will highlight to these friends how much they do mean to you despite those ignored texts. Finally, picnics are always perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and milestones. Let such occasions drive your guest list.

Food and Drink

Ultimately whatever you eat or drink should feel at home in Tupperware. Portability is the name of the game when it comes to picnics. Furthermore your chosen dishes should taste best when served at room temperature. In this case, salads (dressed upon arrival), quiches (chilled beforehand), sandwiches and anything cured suit. Start your meal with snacks. As you unpack your dishes, guests can pick at popcorn, salsa and chips or olives. Otherwise let your guests eat how and in whatever order they desire. Picnics, like potlucks, are best with as few guidelines as possible. For dessert, consider squares, cookies or if the mood strikes a group visit to the ice cream truck. These baked goods keep their shape when travelling and are naturally prepared in big enough batches to share. Finally, choose canned and bottled beverages. Your options are endless for alcoholic drinks, but for added hydration don’t forget still or sparkling water, flavoured and plain. It’s worth the effort to beg, borrow or steal a cooler packed with plenty of ice.

Why Becoming A Flâneur Could Make Your Summer

Last night, it took me twice as long to get home. No, it wasn’t public transit’s fault. Nor was it a mass of paparazzi hot on my trail, or some Prince Charming who swept me off my feet. In fact nothing usual occurred other than I took a streetcar instead of the subway and—wait for it—rather than hopping aboard a connecting bus, I walked the rest of the route home.

Yes, I walked alone for no reason whatsoever the rest of the route home.

And I wasn’t the least bit bothered by the experience. It was of my own volition.

After spending practically half of the year regretting anytime spent outdoors, either freezing or wet, I relish at the opportunity to simply walk in comfortable—pleasant even—conditions. Should the idea of walking for walking’s sake sound too pedestrian (no pun intended), tiring or cheap, consider then becoming a flâneur (i.e. walking for walking’s sake). If I learned anything practical in my second year performance text course, it was this concept. It has its own literary and historical context—the stuff I was taught—but let’s ignore that for now and focus entirely on how walking for pleasure thrills.

 becoming a summer flaneur

Exercise

Always an advocate for non-traditional exercise, walking fits the bill. (Although, walking is probably the most primitive form, and perhaps quite traditional. Whatever.) Put it this way: it’s not an elliptical or stationary bike. And you’ll still reap the benefits whether you walk at a slow or fast pace. Add possible humidity and in some cases you may even build a sweat. Thankfully, there’s no equipment or fees required. Although supportive footwear is helpful. (My leather Florentine sandals, on the other hand, were not.)

Relaxation

When you have time to spare and you choose to revel in it, it’s empowering. We tend to jam-pack our lives with barely enough time to make it from one engagement to another let alone take a break. Generally come summer though, we’re gifted excess of time. Embrace that excess and you’ll likely feel a sense of calm. It’s near impossible to sit in stillness at home, but out walking—as long as your phone is out of reach or on airplane mode—you free yourself of obligation and distraction and open yourself up to relaxation. And with September looming in the distance, you need to recuperate now as much as possible.

Curiosity

I attribute my understanding of the different cities I’ve lived in to walking. For example, until I started walking in Toronto I had no context for how one neighbourhood bled into another. Likewise when in London—not Ontario—I developed a relationship to areas not by passing beneath them on the subway, but getting off at a stop and exploring at ground-level. Aside from geography, I’ve discovered beloved businesses and quirky oddities by walking instead of taking transit. Admit it there’s not much to look at on the bus or subway other than restless children, their equally restless parents and the occasional character. Sure, the characters are fun, but (hopefully) they disappear after the journey and we never interact again. Meanwhile, walking allows us to establish connections to our surroundings rather than ignorantly pass them by.

Why Lunch Is The Best Summertime Meal

 why lunch is the best summer meal

“My summer on a farm in France” manages its way into most conversations (and blog posts for that matter). Close friends and family sigh when they hear those seven pretentious words.  

I promise it’s not intentional. I don’t consider it my peak—that was obviously my Grade 12 year.

And so with all that in mind, let me proceed to my intended opener: during the summer I spent on a farm in France, I discovered the joys of summertime lunches. Lunch customary occurred around 1:30 pm everyday. We ate at a lazily set table, enjoying two lingering courses and conversation. Afterwards, we napped or read in the sun before returning to farm work in the late afternoon. Sunday lunch was more elaborate—blanquette de veau perhaps—and a freshly baked tart or Far breton aux pruneaux to finish, but still relaxed and fun.

Meanwhile, dinners were often some reheated leftovers and a yogurt for dessert. It was typically rushed and frenzied; a necessary snack to allow rumbling stomachs to sleep quiet through the night.

Thusly I developed a fondness for lunchtime, leisurely and thoughtful in nature. Since then I’ve adopted such an approach to my summers in the city in Canada. (Gah, it just doesn’t have the same effect as “on a farm in France”.)

And it’s logical. (At least as a student or free-lancer/occasionally unemployed like myself.) Our evenings are long and, as the sun sets, cooler than during the day.

So that’s when you go out.

And, no, not clubbing. I do not club. If you live in an urban centre, you attend outdoor events, swim in public pools, laze about on a patio or in parks. Even away from the city, nighttime activities or at least the opportunity for them abound. Don’t let dinner clutter up the evening hours or upset plans. Fuel up over mid-day.

I plan my more substantial or cooking-intensive dishes for lunch. Once prepared, I take it either inside or out with a book to read or an interview or music to listen to. The meal finishes with dessert or tea and further reading or listening. The whole event takes at least an hour or sometimes two before I return to work or head out for errands.

Now I realize it all sounds very romantic…and unpractical. And I too have pulled a summertime nine-to-fiver where packed lunches and punctuality were the keys to success. However, why not structure your days off around a lofty lunch? Or, at the very least, take your lunch outside the office and please, please use your fully allotted time. Even if you eat your entire meal in fifteen minutes, spend the remainder sitting, listening or reading. Fuel yourself with both food and time, indulgently and without guilt.

Mindful eating sounds so hippy-ish, meagre and, well, boring. My French farm lunches are not exclusive to mindful eating. I promise you when I’m in conversation, reading or listening, my attention is not focused entirely on my food. However, the time taken and the slow pace provide the same refreshment and awareness as mindful eating without the lingo or fear such meditative practices unleash.

 

What’s In Season This Summer?

Potatoes, cabbage and beets no more. Finally the produce section of the grocery store is bountiful with seasonal, local goods—no Mexico or US origins in sight. In complete honesty, a trip to your local farmers’ market or even indeed grocery store—watching for products labelled from Canada—it’ll become clear what’s in season and what’s not. However, I understand what a hassle shopping is, so here’s a preview of my favorite summer offerings. Let it inspire you to sink your teeth into the delicious fruits and vegetables on hand from now until early fall.

whats in season - summer

Cantaloupe

An out-of-season, California cantaloupe is one of life’s greatest disappointments. You lug the sucker home and slice open its innards only to dice up dry, bitter and tough orange hunks. After the first, fifth or tenth time, we give up on the guy. Well, let Ontario-grown melons repair your relationship to cantaloupe. When in season, they’re the opposite of every awful cantaloupe slice you’ve sucked on at a catered lunch. Go retro, pairing it with slices of quality prosciutto, or rustic, simply halving one and serving alongside a spoon.

Cherries

Ontario cherries are worth the cost. A bag of these sweet jewels will win over any summer potluck crowd. Aside from snacking, don’t miss the opportunity to cook with local cherries. Pitting cherries is the perfect summertime mediation. With some solid tunes and extra hands, it takes no time—even without some smancy pitter. Opt for cherry pie, a boozy cherry compote—ideal as an ice cream topping—or cherry ice cream. Try as best you can to thoughtfully devour your cherry creations, making the eating as meditative as the preparing.

Peaches

Like cantaloupe, taste an out-of-season, imported peach and your relationship to the fruit might just meet its end. The very point of a peach’s existence is its incomparable juiciness. Thank goodness, we have the fortune in Ontario to experience a proper peach July through to September—assuming all goes well with the harvest. Don’t hesitate to buy a basket of them. You can easily slice and freeze leftovers or turn them into jam in order to preserve what you can’t eat fresh.

Corn

Bright and perfectly sweet, corn on the cob is a staple summer side dish. And it’s oh-so forgiving. Where most vegetables meet their end after a basic boil, it’s all you truly need to enjoy corn. Consider a lather of butter a bonus. If you’re an overachiever, garnish yours with cotija cheese, cilantro, chilli powder and a squeeze of lime juice.

Field Tomatoes

It’s the theme of this post: repairing traumatic experiences with out-of-season produce. And the tomato is no different. I cringe at the very thought of those cloying red masses available through the winter. Thankfully, therapy for this form of trauma is affordable and simple. Source the biggest tomato you can find, slice thickly, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, salt and ribbons of basil. Then eat. Tomatoes are the magical fruit—gah, weird, right?—that when in season is both meaty and juicy, sweet and savoury. With good tomatoes, your salsa and bruschetta will be surprisingly on point. Consider skipping the tinned variety for fresh for your pasta sauce during the summer months.