Posted in Canada, Community, family, Food, Life, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Returning This Summer: PC Insiders Report (YAY!)


I opened my email this morning and saw a teaser from Loblaws CEO Galen Weston, that an old favourite was returning.

My mind immediately began to race to PC products which I loved, that have gone by the wayside, and couldn’t wait to see what was coming back – hoping that it was something that we could actually use.

The email read like this:
“I hope you’re keeping well as we hold the course with our physical distancing measures. Most of my updates over these past months have been focused on logistics – the work we’ve done to help keep our colleagues and communities safe. But as the urgency has eased somewhat and I take a wider view of the situation, I have some thoughts I’d like to share.

Billions of people have been asked to stop, to stay inside. And as our worlds have gotten smaller, interesting things are happening out there. You may have seen pictures of mountain goats and monkeys roaming empty streets. Or images of cleaner waterways and side-by-side comparisons of skies over Los Angeles, New Delhi and Barcelona – grey and smoggy pre-pandemic, crisp blue today. Experts say this quieting of human activity has resulted in less seismic noise – that is, the planet is not vibrating as much as usual. Some have joked the birds must be singing much louder. But it may just be that we can hear them better now.

This large-scale slowdown can give us new perspective. We can imagine what we might do differently or better once this all passes. Many of us have become more focused on what we’re eating – what’s essential, what we could do without, or do with a little less of. In my case, I’m a bit of a carnivore, and I’m trying to eat less meat and more vegetables. I know many of you are too.

This movement toward flexitarianism – eating mainly vegetables, fruit, beans and grains, meat only occasionally – is growing. People are curious about the benefits, they want more information and options.

And it’s gotten me thinking: how can our team at President’s Choice do what it does best, keep Canadians up-to-date on the latest product innovations and inspirational meal ideas, while also going deeper on big food issues, like flexitarianism and sustainability? The team reminded me that the PC Insiders Report publication used to do all that.

So, this summer, we’re bringing it back.

For those of you who remember it, in the ‘80s, the Insider’s Report booklet was the kickoff to the big seasons, the highlight of summer and holiday grocery shopping. For those who don’t remember: it really was. This new, fully digital version will give you a taste of the latest trends, fresh recipes for BBQ season, and dozens of new and amazing PC products. And it will have more: I’m going to work with our team on thoughtful stories about larger food issues that Canadians are curious about.

Our team has worked hard to help you get the most out of summer. Every product and every story has been crafted with care, passion and ultimately the love of food in mind. The idea is that we can have both: joy in the food we want, and the information we need to help us eat better and live better. For me these days, that means more big salads. And several PC® Ice Cream Shop Banana Split Mini Ice Cream Bars.”

Let’s have a good summer.

Galen Weston

 
Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, PC Optimum™

Can I tell you, if you do not remember the Insider Report, just how amazing it was… It provide a snapshot of new PC products that were coming down the pipeline, soon to be in stores. It was always a big hit in my family, and I have such fond memories of looking at all the different food options and choices, which we wanted to purchase.

The Blue Menu was one of the game changers that I remember seeing because there were many foods which we wanted to try but were traditionally too high in fat or salt, but the blue menu took a lot of those, cleaned them up, and made them available and affordable.

Around the holidays, I remember the fancy ice creams and desserts which we used to drool over, but never buy.

Rather than walk into a grocery store and search aisle by aisle, this report highlights the newest products and cuts down the wander time in stores, which make a ton of sense in this day and age.

Thank you, Galen!

Can’t wait!!!

Posted in Canada, Coffee, Daddy, Food, health, hockey, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Rules for Tim Hortons, the Sport!


I wrote this in 2007 and never posted it.  I know why.  It’s stupid.  But looking back on it 13 years later and aside from wondering what the heck I was thinking, I’m a nostalgia-guy, so I thought I’d clean it up and post it.

There are the rules that apply to Tim Horton’s Coffee – written as if Tim Horton’s was a sport, I would guess.

 

These rules always apply, no exceptions:

#1. When you enter a Tim Horton’s and see a line to one side of the restaurant that DOES NOT mean that you can start another line on the other side.

PENALTY: TOO MANY LINES. People guilty of this infraction must buy coffee for everyone in the original line.

#2. If you cannot see the donut you want available in the display you CANNOT ask for it since the server will then go into the back and eventually return to tell you that – guess what – they don’t have it!

PENALTY: DELAY OF GAME. People guilty of this infraction must return to the end of the line.

#3. The Drive-Thru is for ordering coffee and donuts ONLY. If you need to order a sandwich or soup get out of your car and go inside you lazy bum! It takes too long and they’ll probably get your order wrong anyway, so save some greenhouse emissions (unless you’re driving an electric car, then you probably parked and walked) and remember – NO ORDERING FOOD IN THE DRIVE-THRU!

PENALTY: OVER-ORDERING. People guilty of this infraction will have their tires deflated on the spot, or will have to drive over very rough road on the way out, and will spill all over themselves.

#4. Cleaning the Hot Chocolate and Flavored Coffee machines is FORBIDDEN during times of the days where there are actually customers in the store. What kind of business takes a product off-line in the middle of the day!?

PENALTY: UNNECESSARY CLEANLINESS. Staff guilty of this infraction will be forced to eat hot, spicy food, then placed in restraints just out of reach of a nice cool glass of water for an hour.

#5. Placing the lids on the “to-go” cups so that the drink opening lines up with the crease in the cup is a crime against humanity since it has the same effect as gag dribble cups. Plus, exactly how hard is it to miss that crease when placing the lid on anyway? Yet it seems to happen more than 50% of the time.

PENALTY: ILLEGAL LID ON THE CREASE. Staff guilty of this must properly stir each coffee they serve for the next hour to ensure not one customer get sugar in the bottom of their cup.

#6. Franchise owners who open up a store with a Drive-Thru that can’t handle at least 10 cars in line are a traffic menace. Caffeine addiction is a scary thing that will cause people to stop dead on busy streets just to keep a position in line at the Drive-Thru.

PENALTY: INTERFERENCE. Owners guilty of this infraction will be forced to eat only Tim Horton’s food for the next year.

#7. Going on a coffee run to Tim’s for five or more people is a no-no. First, you’ll never remember what everyone ordered correctly. Second, you don’t have a hope in hell of carrying that stuff back. Also, it will take way too long!!! That nice person behind you in line was under the impression that you were just going to order coffee and go. BUT NO, you have to take 5-10 minutes of our lives while you botch the order and then juggle the cups back to your vehicle. Get some backbone – force others to come with you. No more than three or four orders per person thank you!

PENALTY: OVER TWO MINUTE WARNING. People guilty of this infraction will be forced to drink ALL the coffee they have ordered and eat ALL the food.

Side note: Doing this same infraction through the Drive-Thru may result in public flogging.

#8. During Roll-Up-The-Rim-To-Win time all cups left unattended and unrolled for more than one minute are fair game.  There is nothing wrong with unrolling a cup found lying on the ground other than the germs.  It could be a car, or a free coffee.  Drinking from that cup is disgusting, but opening it could be found money.

PENALTY: IF IT’S A WINNER: Finders keepers.  IF IT’S A LOSER – TECHNICAL FOUL.  You must drop $2.00 on the street, or give it to the homeless person outside your favourite location.

#9. Staff who fail to recognize that you are a creature of habit and order the same thing everyday for a year at the same Tim Horton’s and still meet you with blank stares and an indifferent “What can I get you?”  Where is the recognition and “Would you like the usual?”

PENALTY: INCOMPLETE RECOGNITION. Staff guilty of this infraction will be subjected to bathroom duty, and have to eat all the left-over donuts at the end of every day for a week, or until they explode.

#10. Showing up at your son/daughter’s hockey game with a coffee from somewhere which is not Tim Horton’s is strictly FORBIDDEN!  We all know how much money this company pours (pun intended) into Tim Bits hockey.  What are you?  Anti-Canadian?

Don’t you know the way we do things around here?

PENALTY: ILLEGAL COFFEE. People guilty of this infraction must buy coffee and Tim Bits for the team and coaching staff for the entire season.

 

Posted in Canada, Daddy, family, Food, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Mother’s Day, Travel and Food


This Mother’s Day represents the first Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away last July after a brief, but fierce battle with liver cancer.

I don’t need one day to remember her – Her memory is with me every day, especially when I see the numerous things that my kids do, that I wish her, and my father, were here to see.

Love you, Mom.

That aside, I’m fortunate to have another amazing mother in my life, and that is the mother of my children. She’s been the best mother on the planet for my kids – besides the fact that they (thankfully) get their good looks from her – and possibly their smarts from here, but I digress. She’s been a rock for them and I’ll be forever thankful to her.

One thing that she’s instilled in our family is a love of travel.

As a family, we’ve travelled to the following locations;

  • Eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI)
  • US (mainly NY, but also Florida and Georgia)
  • Ecuador (and Galapagos. Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil)
  • France (mainly Paris with the kids, but most of the country over 4 or 5 visits)
  • Holland (Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, Edam)
  • Belgium (Bruges, Brussels, Ghent)
  • Japan (Tokyo & Kyoto)
  • Viet Nam (Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang)
  • Thailand (Bangkok, Chaing Mai)
  • Cambodia (Siem Riep, Phnom Pehn)
  • Iceland
  • Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Girona)
  • Ireland (Dublin)
  • England (London)
  • Italy (Cinque Terra, Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Pisa, Lake Como, San Gimignano)
  • Taiwan (Tai Pai)
  • Indonesia (Bali, Ubud, Jimbaran)
  • Central America (Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Dominican, Bahamas, Puerto Rico)

For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to do something special for her, so I asked my kids to talk about their favourite places they’ve travelled to, and their favourite foods from those locations.

Taking that information, I then created a menu, of sorts, and attempted to create (or buy) foods which could be a reminder of the joy we experienced travelling as a family – knowing also that there will likely be no travel for quite a while, as things presently stand.

I bought some Japanese, Italian, and Thai treats, and I bought plain croissants, chocolate croissants, Camembert, dragon fruit, a sourdough baguette, and a soy milk drink.

I then attempted to make savory mushroom crepes, frites with a garlic aioli, and French macarons with a vanilla buttercream filling.

Well, the macarons caused me a whole heck of a lot of problems, so I ran out of time and steam, and at 3am, gave up on the frites.

The crepes were not that much of a big deal – I’ve made them many times before, beginning in high school when I took a baking class instead of Industrial Arts for a 3rd time. I earned the 2nd highest mark in the class – and I used the skills that I learned in class to bake quite a bit growing up.

I never really cooked that much, even though I enjoyed it. I think along the way I just got complacent and lazy, having a spouse who cooks creatively and very well, I lost my ability to cook. I want to get that back, so this was the start of hopefully many more attempts at cooking delicious food.

Here is how my macaron turned out. I coloured the shell and the filling different shades of purple.

Not bad for a first attempt, eh?

Happy Mother’s Day to the mother of my children, and to all mothers, everywhere.

Posted in Canada, Coffee, Community, Daddy, disaster, events, family, Food, health, Life, money, Parenting, politics, sleep, Toronto, travel

The Sound That a Record Makes When the Needle is Dragged Across it…


If you are of a certain vintage, you know what a record is, and you have hopefully seen a record player and would then know that sound a record makes when the needle is dragged across the record.

Sccccrrreeeeccchhhhhhhh.

Then silence, as the needle is lifted off the record.

That’s the sound that the sporting world make late last night with the word that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has cancelled the rest of their season effective last night after a player from the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.

At the moment the news broke, I have to admit, I sat up and took notice. It made me realize that this Pandemic was real and that we, as global citizens, need to step up and take notice.

Shortly after that cancellation, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Lacrosse League (NLL) both followed suit and cancelled their seasons, although postponed is more likely the intended outcome.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is putting off games for a month.

By mid-afternoon on March 12th, 2020, the Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that they were postponing the start of the 2020 baseball season for at least a couple of weeks.

I hope that in the upcoming weeks, we can get more details about the virus, keep local people safe and keep travelers from spreading the virus. I’d make a comment about the severity of the virus but if our Prime Minister might have it (sigh) it just goes to show you that you have to be smart with your health and be careful of travelers.

I understand the fear – sort of – especially to those who are vulnerable due to age, health or underlying issues, but I don’t understand the stocking up on toilet paper. Just this afternoon, for example, I went to our local Loblaws location only to find hundreds of people in line buying toilet paper, canned soup, soda pop, and food items which do not quickly spoil such as onion.

I struck up a conversation with a couple in the line-up who had purchased 150 rolls of toilet paper, plus paper towels, cases of canned soup and a case of anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, soaps, and other such medical items.

I found out that they anticipated being quarantined into their home for a few weeks and thus needed to stock up.

I asked about the case of wipes, and sanitizer – thinking that if you’re self-quarantining in your own home and not letting people come and go, what exactly are you sanitizing?!?

With that realization, they removed the case from their cart and within seconds, it was grabbed by another family who already had a cart full of long-term supplies.

I don’t know.

I’m all for keeping my distance from people and not shaking hands, and I hope that others do the same. No more repeats of the guy sitting in the corner of McDonald’s coughing up a storm while everyone looks at him half in terror and half in wonder why he would come to a public place while sick.

He wasn’t sick.

He was choking.

I can’t wait until we can look back at this and move on back to life as we used to know it.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, events, family, Food, Parenting, Recommends, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Celebrate Canada’s Most Iconic Tradition at the 2020 Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival


What’s more Canadian than maple syrup?

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation have partnered to celebrate spring in true Canadian fashion with the annual Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival.

The festival gives visitors from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond the opportunity to savour the season as they get out into nature and indulge in Canada’s most famous food.

Running March 14 – April 12, 2020, the festival takes place at four locations: Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan, Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville, Terra Cotta Conservation Area in Halton Hills and Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville.

The Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival kicks off on the first weekend of March Break and offers visitors the chance to explore the history, customs and production of maple syrup at their local conservation area. With a variety of activities to choose from including horse-drawn wagon rides, maple syrup demonstrations and even special “Maple Syrup by Lamplight” events for adults, the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival has something for visitors of all ages.

Delicious pancakes with fresh maple syrup can also be purchased at all festival locations.

I have such fond memories as a child and teen attending events like this – possibly even this event.

Tickets to the festival are available at the participating conservation areas and online at maplesyrupfest.com, and, tickets purchased online give unlimited general admission to all festival locations.

Hours and dates of operation vary by location and are listed below.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
Open each day from March 14 – April 12
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 12), including March Break (March 16 – 20) and Good Friday (April 10)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Terra Cotta Conservation Area
Open on weekends (March 14 – April 5) and March Break (March 16 – 20)
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Island Lake Conservation Area
March 20, 21 & 28
Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit maplesyrupfest.com.