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.

What Every Foodie Needs In Their First Apartment

After weeks of searching PadMapper, questioning your future roommates’ intelligence and eventually losing yourself under piles of cardboard boxes, moving day arrives. Your first apartment is a young adult milestone like your first time booking a doctor’s appointment by yourself or discovering binge drinking isn’t worth the hangover. Yet amongst the thrill of independence, you’re likely to forget something. Let me ease your mind and provide you a list of your basic kitchen needs. You can survive on these few items until your next pay cheque arrives or you choose to delay paying off your credit card for another month—whichever comes first. For more indulgent (and fun) food apartment purchases, check out Danielle’s countdown of graduation-worthy kitchen gadgets.

what every foodie needs in their first apartment

Pasta pot and strainer

I am not accusing North American college and university students of a limited culinary imagination. However, they do eat a lot of spaghetti. And, honestly, after a move, who wants to cook anything more complicated? When you do return to or start exploring more demanding recipes a large pot covers most of the bases: boiling, frying and sautéing.

Spatula

The spatula is another catch-all kitchen utensil. Purchase a sturdy, high-quality one though. Unlike a wooden spoon, you can stir, wipe down, spread and sauté with a spatula. It’s ideal for cooking as well as baking. Once you adopt a regular cooking routine, you’ll see what other utensils your needs require.

Can opener

It’s not until you unpack a can of chickpeas from your first grocery shop that you realize you have absolutely no means to access the legume inside of it. And no app, Google search or bout of tears can help you. Too often forgotten, can openers hold this odd power over us simple humans. So let me remind you again, before you go forgetting it again: buy a can opener. Now.

The trio: fork, spoon and knife

Sure, you can eat with your hands or lick your dinner clean off the plate, but the classic trio serve other purposes in the kitchen. Ketchup stuck in the bottle? Knife. Soup require taste test? Spoon. Toast stuck in the toaster? Fork. (JUST UNPLUG THE TOASTER FIRST THOUGH, DUDE.) Aim to purchase two sets per person in the apartment. It’ll save you eating off of dirty cutlery and endless washing-up as well as allowing for dinner parties down the road.

A proper knife

It makes both Danielle’s and my list for a reason: any cook (first-time or pro) needs a solid cutting knife. Like the can opener, it’s too often forgotten until the worse time. It slices open everything from onions, stubborn bags of potato chips and sometimes even fingers. If you have to skimp on any of the above items—even the spatula—at the very least invest in the knife. If you buy sensibly, it’ll last you numerous apartments. (Yes, you will likely have to move several more times in your life). Sensibility is key. Don’t choose anything, you’re too scared to touch let alone cut with.

3 Things You Need To Do Before The End Of Summer

by Madeleine Brown

News flash: summer ends in approximately one month. I know, I know, I hate to be a nagging Nancy as much as anyone, but it had to be said. Use this alert to consider everything you have yet to accomplish—just this summer, don’t get into the unfulfilled life goals. (There’s never enough time for that.) As during the school year itself, it’s not until the end draw nears—or any deadline for that matter—that we realize our own negligence. Thankfully, a month in context to a deadline is a surprising amount of time. When do you ever start an assignment a month in advance? Even if you create a plan of action, you’ll have at least a few weeks worth of days to throw away and label as wasted. Ultimately, wasted summers are looked back upon fondly when we’re in the thick of midterms or finals. So I say, do or do not, either way you can call your summer successful. It’s all in your mindset.

things you must do this summer

Spark a friendship

Summer flings are never as exciting as the ones we imagine in our heads. And contrary to the word “fling”, they take a surprising amount of focus and determination to occur in the first place. Forget physical attraction and romance, aim for friendship. It sounds pathetic, but impromptu conversations with a stranger on a restaurant patio or at an outdoor movie screening can be equally thrilling. When do you ever have time to properly socialize during the year let alone with a random? And unlike the end of a summer fling, which leaves you questioning your worth, sudden conversations (as long as they don’t turn nasty and even then they sound fun) with strangers are enough in themselves. No one ever expects to talk to some unknown, let alone have the interaction develop further. Perhaps “friendship” is too much of a title; pleasantry is plenty.

Spend a day (or two) doing absolutely nothing

So you ask, “But how is doing nothing any different than those wasted summer days you cruelly accused me of in your opening paragraph?” It’s all in the intention. You never intend to waste a day you intend to do nothing. And that’s a beautiful, freeing sensation. It’s a giant dis to a world built on a foundation of overwhelming schedules and a constant loss of time. Wake up whenever, eat whatever and proceed to laze around however. My personal preference is in front of the television. In the case of an indulgent movie marathon, it’s the ideal opportunity to watch movies you’d otherwise deem too long yet classic like Pulp Fiction, The Godfather or Gone with the Wind. Other acceptable options for doing nothing include playing video games, sleeping or watching paint dry.

Learn a new skill

Hold your breath before you scoff at the word, “learn.” Unlike 100-level biology, there’s no exam or test to mark how well you mastered your new skill. So whether you spend a day throwing around some old tennis balls in your basement or attend circus camp and leave not only juggling, but also eating fire and jumping through hoops, you succeeded. And we all love to succeed, right? Don’t limit yourself to the obvious like juggling though. How about such skills as ironing shirts, hand washing delicates, canning preserves or organizing personal finances? There’s much fun to be had.

What To Consider When Picking A Wine

Have you ever had and evening when you make dinner for friends or a date and you’re stuck picking a wine—and cheap plonk won’t do? You’re left perplexed, anxious and inferior. (From choosing a wine that is—not because of the company.) Nothing in your education, up to this point, has taught you how to select a bottle. But isn’t wine knowledge the perfect indicator of a renaissance thinker? Well, no. However, if you follow these simple rules you’ll be well on your way to choosing wine with confidence and, better yet, actually enjoying it.

how to pick a wine

Rule #1: Wine is food

Remember that wine is meant to go with food. Think about the flavours of a wine as a part of your meal. Tasting notes, colour, grape and region will tell you something about where a wine might fit in with food. Of course there’s the simple white with fish/red with meat rule, but within that there are a lot of variations. The best way to learn is to follow your instincts and let a wine’s taste inspire your meal.

Because wine is food, you should take care to avoid additives in wine as you would with other food products. Keep an eye out for organic, biodynamic and “natural” wines. These producers tend to use less cultured yeasts, artificial colouring and flavour additions that can warp and ruin a wine—not to mention make your hangover that much worse.

Rule #2: Follow your heart and your palate—not points scores

It’s easy to buy a wine just because it was awarded 93 points by some critic. Points can be helpful, guiding your purchase to something declared higher quality. Remember though: wine is incredibly subjective. Most of the critics who calculate such scores favour high-alcohol, ripe fruit and oak flavour in their wines. If you like bigger wines, you’re in luck. But if lots of tannin and alcohol aren’t your thing, you might walk away from a bottle thinking wine isn’t for you.

Instead consider what wines you’ve enjoyed in the past. If a bottle strikes you, take a picture of the label, read up on the region or producer and see if you can find similar wines, either of the same grape or region, to broaden your experience. Wine should be an emotional experience. If one makes an impression on you, keep drinking that style regardless of how many points it has.

Rule #3: Dare to taste and explore

If you’ve followed the above rules you should have developed preferences. Once you do, buy something completely different. It might surprise you. It might let you down. Nonetheless in either case you’ve broadened your sense for wine. Don’t get disheartened and keep tasting. For the world’s best sommeliers and critics the only real way to learn wine is to taste it. Carry a notebook for whenever an interesting bottle is opened. There is no penultimate good or even great wine, there’s only what you enjoy.

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.

What Your Most Used Food Emoji Says About You

by Danielle Del Vicario

food-emoji

In recent years the internet’s food obsession has been blessed by the advent of emojis. They provide clarity in a complicated world, for example a coffee cup emoji for your Facebook post of your morning cuppa. (It drives the point home, right?) But as emojis become more and more common and going on the assumption that people emoji (yep, it’s a verb now) like they Instagram, what do your most used food emojis say about you?

Coffee cup: You’re the queen bee of Starbucks, Instagram and just everyday life. (At least that’s what you’re probably thinking as you snap yet another shot of your fat-free caramel macchiato and flip through to get that perfect filter.) The irony? If you find yourself tapping regularly on that virtual cup, your drink of choice probably doesn’t even really qualify as coffee.

🍕

Pizza slice: You’re pretty down to earth; the kind of person who uses their Instagram account at most once a month (if you remember it’s just something you’re apparently supposed to do). Your Saturday standard is good vegetarian pizza and a few growlers of your favourite craft brew, shared with your Birkenstock-wearing friends on your tiny yet overcrowded patio. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

🍷

Wine glass: You’re one of two people: a fine diner, with an amazing significant other and regular date nights, or a single gal at home with her bottle, watching food shows by herself on Friday night and eating dinner straight from the pot. You probably all know where I fall…

🍰

Birthday cake slice: You’re a birthday baker, something not to be confused with an everyday baker. You pull off some crazy aesthetic cakes, ones that look great but taste, well, a little less great. Unlike the everyday baker who bakes regularly and whose friends know that whatever they make will be melt-in-your-mouth excellent (even when cut into sloppy squares and thrown in an old yogurt container), your exploits are infrequent three-hour bursts of energy, complete with icing pipes, layers and maybe even some DIY fondant. It’s a feat of culinary exertion that demands outside validation.

🍟

French fries: You’re probably not an Instagrammer—just a drunk millennial texting a friend and begging for McD’s at three in the morning. After all, why text words when you could use a picture, right? As an emoji-novice, you probably thought in your drunken state that your use of that little French fry icon was ironic.

🍌

Banana: If you’re really using a banana emoji, you either missed the point or are way too keen on sharing your pre-workout morning snack. Either way, it might be time to reassess.

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.

How To Build A Better: Sandwich

Quality of ingredients is key to a successful sandwich. I have had outstanding ham sandwiches—consisting of no more than ham, bread and butter—and dismal ones—yet also consisting of the same three ingredients. Whether you prep each ingredient from scratch or source it from a trustworthy food purveyor, opt for the best and aim for simplicity. As in the case of the salad, the sandwich is composed of three distinct elements: bread, filling and spread. (Spread encapsulates items other than peanut butter or Nutella, but we’ll address it shortly.) A sandwich is the ultimate comfort food whether slapped together for a meal en route to class or as a snack at midnight after a fifteen-hour day. Don’t complicate that comfort with stress and endless ingredients. Stick to the sandwich fundamentals and Lord Sandwich (or whoever’s credited with its invention) and Subway Sandwich Artists everywhere will nod their heads in respect.

how to build a better sandwich
Bread

If I had a soapbox to rant on, I’d dish out my frustration with bread. Why is it near impossible to source a solid loaf? Give me bread with a wicked, crisp exterior and a soft, yet still structural sound interior. Let it whiff of pungent yeast and crunch when torn or sliced. Honestly, any quality bread will do from focaccia to sourdough, ciabatta to classic bun. Once you find your dream loaf, stick to it and support its producer.

Filling

The options for fillings are endless. Essentially any dish can be converted to a sandwich filling. As noted in my introduction, keep it simple. If you can’t taste each ingredient in every bite, it’s too many. Although a self-diagnosed glutton, even I know when too much is too much. Balance loose or soft fillings with crisp ones. For example, match pulled pork with lightly dressed chopped cabbage or pre-cut coleslaw mix. Your filling is your only opportunity to shake up the textures in your sandwich, so take advantage. Load up on veggies and stick to lean proteins.

Spread

Like its salad counterpart—the dressing—the spread component of any sandwich is too often overthought or underutilized. It provides the dash of flavour every sandwich needs—a reoccurring motif so to speak. The basics are best such as mayonnaise, butter, pesto and nut or seed butters. (Yes, despite my upbringing, I am not a margarine fan.) I am also not a fan of multiple spreads unless like say the classic PB&J they contrast enough to stand up against the other. Whatever the spread, use lightly. With the exception of perhaps regular, nut or seed butters, spreads are just as easily made at home as any filling or, yes, even bread. Like skinny-dipping and prairie fires (i.e. vodka and hot sauce), everyone should attempt homemade mayonnaise at least once in their life.

 

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.