Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Wildflower Cafe

Brandon doesn't abound with choice when it comes to cafes but the Wildflower Cafe in downtown Brandon manages to be cute, tasty, and comfortable. They have a few vegan options and a few gluten free options which means that everyone can find something to eat. The staff is friendly and courteous. Sometimes the service is weird as the certain staff members aren't aware of what other staff members did but this is easily forgiven because the staff always have a smile on their face. 
(From UrbanSpoon)

They seem to do a brisk service all day but are especially busy on during the weekday lunch rush and Saturday morning brunch. I usually get a coffee and a sandwich during their down time and have never felt rushed out as I sit and enjoy my morning coffee with a book. I wish their weekday hours were longer as they close at 4pm and are not open on Sunday at all. 

While it doesn't seem like it when you walk in there is actually a lot of tables - as there is a second floor mezzaine and an outdoor patio so there are plenty of cute places to sit. They are pretty active on social media which is convenient for discovering the daily specials.

Overall this is the best cafe I've been to in Brandon and the service and food stands up to that served in larger communities. 

Wildflower Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Teecchino

I have removed caffeine from my diet in an effort to get my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) under control without the use of medications. However, I really enjoy iced coffee drinks so I picked up some Teeccino which markets itself as a 'herbal coffee alternative'. My local store only has the Hazelnut and Vanilla Nut Flavors. I found the ingredient list intriguing which is why I first picked this product up. The ingredients on the Hazelnut product are 'organic roasted carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, hazelnut flavour, organic figs'. There seems to be a lot of intriguing flavours available on the website. 

The product presents surprisingly like 'real' coffee. I use a French press and have only had this product over ice as I drank 99% of my coffee that way. This product has eased my transition into a coffee-free lifestyle and has been a tasty substitute for 'real' coffee. I will be purchasing more flavours in the future! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: The Country Grind and Kombucha

I've been in love with The Country Grind since the first issue and even funded their kickstarter. I love the concept behind this quarterly paper and the content is usually superb. (In fact I'll soon be writing a complete review for my other-other blog Farm Dreams.)  

However, Issue #3 has a full page article on kombucha entitled "Kombucha A What, Why and How-To" that includes some information that is contrary to my personal kombucha brewing experience. (Browse the kombucha tag for more of my experiences) 

For example, the author states that one should "be sure not to use brown sugar or honey." However, it is my understanding that a jun is a kombucha that is fed entirely and solely on honey and green tea. All of my reading on kombucha states that you can use any type of sweetener including brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup ect. 

Additionally, the author states that one should "never leave your mother out in the air. You want it to always be hydrated as it will die if it's dried out." Later on in the article she writes "Never allow your mother to sit dry; it can be in the air for short periods of time but leave it too long and the mother will die and you will have to get a new one." However, my experience with drying and then resuscitating a SCOBY opposes this viewpoint.

The actual brewing steps are presented in a clean, concise and easy to follow manner so I'm positive that a newbie brewer would have no problems brewing a basic batch of kombucha by following the directions presented. 

I really don't like the advice about mold as the author states "I have never experienced mold on my mother but it is known to happen. Just dunk the mother in some vinegar and rinse with water. Some molds can be dangerous, so using your judgement, decide if you should go get a new one or not." I always tell others to throw away a SCOBY if it presents with mold as I feel this is the safest and most responsible choice of action, especially given that SCOBY's are usually cheap/free.

Overall this is a good basic primer for a newbie kombucha brewer but I would suggest taking her points regarding drying and mold with a grain of salt. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Salt and Slush

Salt and Slush - Winter Recipes Nova Scotia was produced in 2001. This simple zine, with well-placed winter inspired graphics and classic winter dishes makes me want to start a pot of chili, wrap myself up in flannel and curl up with a hot beverage. This zine is full of soups, stews, and roasted dishes. The Parsnip Pie intrigues me!

Salt and Slush #2 Winter Recipes was produced in 2007. This zine doesn't invoke the same sense of winter as the first zine does. I believe that this is due to the collaborative nature of the second issue. It's a nice zine but most of the features feel like filler around a small core of recipes that are similar in style to those that appeared in the first zine. The second zine includes recipes with meat which also limits the appeal of this zine.

I would skip #2 and pick up the original.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Winged Snail Mail Zine

Friendly reminder that submissions for my Winged Snail Mail Zine are open!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: A Practical Guide on the Consumption of Human Flesh

This is a very graphic zine... it's not filled with pictures of people eating human flesh... I meant that it's written and illustrated almost exclusively with a sharpie, so all the lines are thick and graphic. This zine includes simple instructions (start with limbs) and very useful advice (start with your family and friends so you ensure un-diseased flesh). This is a fun zine. 

No contact/author information presented.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Food Themed Mail:

(The cutest food themed stationary!)
(The cutest food pun stickers!)

(DIY Cheesecake Postcard)


(Free Printable Mason Jar

Here are some other snail mail projects.  

**Don't forget about my snail mail zine! Submission deadline is soon!** 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Make your own Damn Alchohol

I only own a handful of zines but for some reason I have two copies of this zine. The approach to brewing is very causal which is a nice different from the dogmatic approach that usually appears in main-stream literature on the subject. Sometimes publications with a causal approach to brewing neglect the most important, at least to me, aspect of brewing - the taste! The recipe for Wine Cooler acknowledges that it probably won't taste good but mixing it with lemon-lime soda will improve the taste. Some of the methods seem weird (like boiling mead for 2 hours) but there are some interesting recipes (like the Rose Brew). Overall a nice introduction to brewing.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Eating the Web: Kombucha Cocktails


Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: I'd Rather Be Baking

As someone who loves to bake and cook when anxious or upset I really appreciate this zine. The tagline says it all 'Baking escapism to fill your tummy and soul where applicable.' While not a vegan cookbook (as it uses eggs), there is some good information here, like the article on pie crust and the interesting apple-mango pie recipe. The recipe for bread seems very forgiving and easy to approach. 

Here is my favorite quote from the zine... "Baking to me is creating, shaping, forming, it's a way to turn feelings of uncertainty into tangible, useful things."

James Crawford 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Fermentation Blogs

I've done my fair share of fermentation experiments over the years, including from kombucha, kvass, and kimchi. I have all of Sandor Ellix Katz's books which are great resources but I also like to delve into the world of fermentation blogs for inspiration and innovation. 
Here are a few of my favorite fermentation blogs:

1. Phickle is a great fermentation blog that has beautiful photos as well as great information. The header is well organized and recipes and information are easy to find. Check out this post on Microbial Terroir

2. Fermup is a blog/podcast combination. The dynamic between the two podcast hosts is a bit... forced but the content is usually interesting. The blog is infrequently updated but the quality of the information presented in the podcast makes this site worth a look.   

3. Home Brew Forum is the first place I check for home brew information as well as kombucha and soda ideas. There is a breath of knowledge here, especially in DIY brewing and gluten free brewing but you'll have to search for it! 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eating the Web: Tumblr Edition


Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Cheese Bike

This zine is visually pleasing - with a flip out page and a full color photo that describes a summer of making and selling grilled cheese off the back of a small gas scooter. The biggest negative for this zine is the odd writing voice which makes it difficult to determine exactly what is happening. This zine is fun and inspirational but not informational. I like the spreadsheet of sales and the cost of the materials
'Born to Kill Zine'
Cheesebike #5  
Fall 2011
New York City  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Anthropomorphizing Animals

"In western cultures, animals such as serpents, cats, doves, lions and ... wolves, ravens, coyotes, eagles and so on were once honored and looked upon as spiritual forces or god-like creatures. But agricultural peoples have never anthropomorphized the animals they worked with every day and then ate. Sure, the Hebrews told stories about sheep and goats, and the Greeks ... told stories about hares and tortosises, and the the First Nations told stories of raven, coyote and salmon, but only to illustrate important lessons and human concerns. The animals themselves were not sentimentalized into humanoids. 

In Victoria England, however, under the influence of the Romantics' rediscovery of nature, aniamls in a new cuddly format were enlisted into a 'cult of childhood.' Since then, generations of children have grown up surrounded by humanized animals. Think of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle... E.B. White's Charlotte's Web... We in the western world now have difficulty avoiding the anthropomorphized animal because it's everywhere, from cereal boxes to toilet paper." 
- Excerpt from Chicken Poop for the Soul by Kristeva Dowling (page 179-180) 

I find this history of anthropomorphizing animals very interesting. Traditional cultures around the world did look to the animal (and natural) world for spiritual insights and animals were the topic of many parables. This was certainly different than the approach in novels such as Charlotte's Web but perhaps the end result are similar? The author then goes on to say that she clearly does anthropomorphize her animals and "watched them all, and by observation I learned about their unique personalities, their likes and dislikes." I have a diffcult time believing that most (if not all) farmers, present and past, have had similar relationships with their livestock. 

The following is the interesting outcome from a discussion like this "Those people who might self-righteously have an owner arrested for the way he or she treats a dog are able to ignore or simply not respond to the concentration camp-like conditions behind the walls of intensive livestock operations. What are the criteria that put an animal into the food category rather than the pet category?" (181) 

Does Anthropomorphizing animals benefit or harm them?           

Friday, June 13, 2014

Winged Snail Mail Zine

I've become fairly obsessed with snail mail. I've joined multiple mail organizations and correspondence clubs, bought special release postage stamps, nabbed thrift store mail finds, started a postcard collection, purchased mail themed zines, and spent way too much money on postage. 
 (Letter Writer's Alliance Stationary Download that I simply adore)

(The beginning of a stamp collection. Acquired through Postcrossing postcards)

(Recent outgoing mail - with some vintage Canadian stamps)

All of this is a long winded way to reveal a new project of mine! I will be releasing a mail themed zine twice a year. All the details can be found here. A regular column in the zine will entitled 'Eating your Mail' that will cover fun mailing projects like these, as well as recipes that ship well and recipes for things to eat and drink while writing letters. Follow the main blog for tons of mail related information! 




Friday, May 2, 2014

Crafting: Mushrooms Embroidery

I designed this mushroom embroidery pattern. (Found here for FREE!) I decided to stitch it up with some of the 100% cotton yarn that I've been doing dye experiments on. The caps are dyed with coffee, the underside of the caps with tea, and the stems with white onion skins. 
 I think these mushrooms have a decidedly 1970's vibe to them but I'm 100% okay with that. My husband even said something nice about them unprompted. Usually I show him something I've made and say 'Now say it's pretty' which he does but he noted how nice the natural colors looked when used to embroidery something natural. 
I've listed my extra floss in my shop. I've made one package just for the colors used in the mushroom design and one variety pack for all the color I've dyed thus far. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: The Dock on Princess

Menu: Standard pub fare. We had nachos (which were passable but nothing special) and fries (which were passable but nothing special). 

Vegetarian Options: A few things but the menu is heavy on traditional meat items. 

Quality: The cover the menu states that their beef and chicken is made in Manitoba. The company names of the providers of bread and coffee are listed. This suggests that the meat is not ethically sourced but is only locally sourced. This omission/discrepancy is something to be aware of. 

Cost: Average. Suits the quality of the food. 

Service: We ate an early supper at the non-bar tables near the door. Our service was horrible - truly horrible. In addition to having to wait for items (missed order of fries, empty drinks) she engaged in ridiculous conversation (like asking us if 'We wanted to get going' when she had only moments before given me a second beer), constant interruption for no reason (30 seconds after asking my dining companion if she wanted another drink, she returned (or should I say swung around the booth to ask her again) and overall inappropriate behaviour.  

Atmosphere: This bar boasts a 'Husband Daycare' which is extremely sexist! You know - because men can't like shopping and women can't like beer. The bar area seems like a nice place to watch the game and get a pint of beer, unfortunately only 6 of the 14 taps are Canadian craft beer. The existence of the Husband Daycare, combined with the shoddy service already experienced and the mediocre food and limited craft beer selection makes me want to declare that I will never return to this establishment - especially because they aren't open Sunday. Lazy Sunday afternoon beers are the best! However, as it is one of the only places to get draught craft beer in Brandon it seems inevitable that I will return. That is until I buy a second fridge with which to stock craft beer and start my home brewing hobby with full force. 
Favourite Item: Canadian draft beer. 

The Dock on Princess
1133 Princess Ave

The Dock on Princess on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Loves

1. I'm in love with Big Rock Brewery's 'Life of Chai' beer. 

2. I've been a big fan of Alphabet Soup Podcast for a while now. Thankfully after a hiatus they are back and better than ever! 

3. The Toronto fermenting and 'putting up food' blog, Well Preserved has recently started sending out weekly newsletters that resemble tomes on a particular vegetable. Last week's subject was cabbage! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Blu Kitchen Bar

Menu: A little bit of 'big city prejudice' is going to show through in this post. This place is trying very hard to be a high end restaurant but the 'cutting edge' menu has become standard fare in the restaurant industry. This would be fine if the quality of the food was up to par but the food was bland, greasy, and unappealing visually. The beer and hard liquor selection is very 'bottom shelf' and I found it difficult to find something I wanted to drink

Vegetarian Options: A few salads, a wrap, a few pasta dishes. Nothing inspired.

Quality: I wasn't too impressed with the food here.

Cost: A touch expensive given the taste but not too bad. Drink and food specials. 

Service: This restaurant was extremely well staffed and the service was pleasant, friendly and fast.

Atmosphere: Besides the annoying loud club music, the atmosphere at Blue is pleasant. The dominate colours are dark brown/black and silver. The lounge side of the restaurant has several bar style tables and deep circular booths. It's clean and well lit with several large televisions that seem perfect for watching hockey games. The atmosphere (combined with the service) is the primary reason that I would return.

Blu Kitchen Bar
1630 Park Avenue

Blü Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: The Magic Bean

Located in small, aggressively friendly Carberry, this little coffee shop is the perfect anecdote to big city living. It serves all the standard cafe fair (espresso/cappuccino/steamer) but the staff seems genuinely friendly and helpful, especially to older customers. The locals come out in force to consume soup and sandwich lunches and to engage in the traditional small town gossip. The decor is a mix-match of styles but because they had a comfy couch and armchair in which to read I didn't mind. 

There are two big grievances I have with this coffee shop. To get to the washroom you have to walk by the kitchen, through the office, and past a storage room. Then to add insult to injury the washroom ceiling isn't completely closed in but at least they had a low-flow toilet. The other issue is more serious as the milk for any steamed milk beverages is stored in the fridge, taken out to be steamed and placed back in the fridge while still hot to be re-steamed for another beverage. This seems gross and unsanitary as well as resulting in a watery beverage. 

While not a must-visit, The Magic Bean is a nice place to meet friends for lunch, or to stop for a coffee while on the way through town. 

The Magic Bean
48 Main Street, Carberry Mb
8:30-4:30 Monday - Friday

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Wok Box

Menu: Order and pay at the counter, take a seat and your food will magically (and quickly) arrive in front of you. Drinks are serve yourself. This is a fast food system but efficient.  

Vegetarian Options: All the main dishes can be made with tofu which results in this restaurant being very vegetarian friendly.

Quality: I've ordered many dishes but cannot distinguish their flavour from each other. This is not to say that the food is bad, it's just not memorable. I do like the multiple choices of noodle available.   

Cost: Affordable. The cost is consistent with the quality and the food is okay which makes Wok Box a nice place to go for a quick meal in Brandon. 

Service: The food arrives very quickly and is always piping hot. 

Atmosphere: Standard Family restaurant

Favourite Item: None.

Wok Box, 930 D 18th St

Wok Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Sushi Hut

Menu: I've only had the All-You-Can-Eat option. Using a grease pencil, you mark off what type and quantity of dishes you want to order. They do charge for uneaten food but you can order as often as you want and I doubt they would charge if you ordered one portion of a dish and didn't enjoy it for some reason so this policy is not an issue. 

Vegetarian Options: Quite a few. Ask the staff if you are unsure of what comes in a roll.  

Quality: Food is always fresh. A tip off quality raw ingredients is the state of the avocado served. At this restaurant the avocados always perfectly ripe - never under ripe or overripe.

Cost: I find the cost of this AYCE to be slightly high but the experience is pleasant and the food good so I will return on occasion.  

Service: Friendly and Fast. I have been to this restaurant at various times of day and week and wouldn't return on Friday or Saturday night as this is when they are busiest and the food arrives slowly (but still hot and delicious). I would go for lunch as the all you can eat is cheaper during that time and the service is very attentive and the food arrives quickly.  

Atmosphere: Kitschy interior but always clean. A portion of the kitchen is visible to the dining room so you can watch the chefs prepare certain dishes. Bathrooms could use a good update, but they are clean and functional.  

Clientèle: Every time I've been to this restaurant I've been witness to some extreme, unnecessary and ridiculous customer behaviour ranging from the benign but annoying (rubbing chopsticks together) to the outright rude (yelling at the waitress as they assume she doesn't speak English). Please note: No one made you go to a sushi restaurant, so if you are racist, please stay home.    

Favourite items: Mango Avocado Roll, Avocado Roll, Broccoli Tempura, Veggie Pizza, Edamame 

Sushi Hut, 2728 Victoria Ave

Sushi Hut on Urbanspoon