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Nine worst kitchen chores and how to make them bearable

Kristen Eppich | posted Tuesday, Feb 17th, 2015

Testing as many recipes as we do, it is inevitable that certain tasks become less enthralling than others. We all have our likes and dislikes, but here are some of our most bemoaned cooking chores, along with some suggestions to help make them slightly less irritating.

1. Trimming green beans
A giant bag of fresh green beans can be an ominous task. Use kitchen shears instead of a knife and snip the ends off – you’ll be done twice as fast.
Try: Garlicky green beans.

2. Chopping, in general 
If you dread chopping, whether it’s onions, potatoes etc. – a good tip is to slice an edge off your fruit or vegetable, creating a flat surface. This will help make chopping easier; preventing the item you’re chopping from slipping or rolling.
Try: Lemony fish pie.

3. Pitting olives
Especially black olives that stain your hands! Luckily, our associate food editor Irene Ngo has put a video together for this one. Take a look at her frying pan technique.

4. Emptying the dishwasher
Personally, my most dreaded job in the kitchen. My tip to getting over it? I timed myself doing it five times then calculated the average time it takes me to do this task. It turns out that it takes me 2:35 minutes to empty the dishwasher – not long at all. So I just decided to get over it.

5. Needing eggs at room temperature
You’re all set and ready to bake, but your eggs need to be at room temperature. The solution? Drop your cold eggs in a cup of very warm water. They’ll be ready to go in 3 min.
Try: Classic angel-food cake.

6. Cleaning leeks
So delicious, and so good at trapping sand and dirt. An easy way to clean your leeks is to chop them before you clean them, then use your salad spinner to wash and dry.
Try: Chicken and leek pie.

7. Mincing garlic or ginger
These little jewels of flavour are so finicky to mince. So don’t. Use a rasp every time your recipe calls for a mince. Chances are the rasp will do a better job at producing tiny particles than your fine chop could ever do.
Try: Fiery snow peas.

8. Greasing cake pans
When I was in baking school, I learned that the first job I would get in a bakery would be as a pan greaser. I almost quit! I bake a lot, and my tip here is to always grease pans first, before starting any mixing or measuring. This gets this tedious job out of the way and also keeps you from letting your batter sit (and potentially deflate). Even better, you’ll be so satisfied when you seamlessly scrape your batter into your prepared pans.

9. Washing lettuce
Often lettuce will sit in my crisper far passed its crisp stage – only because I dread washing it. The best tip to prevent this from happening is to clean it a soon as you buy it. Fill your sink with some cold water, cut the core off your lettuce then dump in the leaves. Swirl them around with your hand, removing all the sand. Either transfer them to a colander to drain, or put them in a salad spinner to dry. Store lettuce in a storage bag in the fridge with a single ply of paper towel. The ugly job is done…and you’ll use your lettuce!
Try: Shrimp and grapefruit salad.

These are some of our dreaded tasks. What are yours?

Week of Feb. 16, 2015

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Feb 15th, 2015

Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

On Monday, catch a round-up of the host’s favourite moments on Best of BT: Family Day edition.

We kick-start the week with the 8-year-old author of the book, ‘Duck and the Puck.’

On Thursday, the lovely Miss Fruits and Vegetables (aka Mairlyn Smith!) returns.

And we end of the week off by previewing Mirvish’s newest musical to hit Toronto, Once.

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!

5 things to do this Valentine’s Day weekend

Justin Piercy | posted Friday, Feb 13th, 2015

Feb. 13-15, 2015

Valentine’s Day Puppet Show: The library staff at the Parliament Street Library will be putting on a special puppet-based production of Robert Munsch’s classic children’s tale, The Paperbag Princess. It’s the story of a princess wearing nothing but a paper bag who must rescue a less-than-heroic prince by outwitting a dragon. Free admisssion, all ages. Feb. 13, 10:30 a.m. TorontoPublicLibrary.com

Valentine’s Day Big Band Dance: The Palais Royal Ballroom is the site for a classic, romantic Valentine’s Day evening with that someone special. Dance to hits from the big band era, with selections from the catalogues of Count Basie, Peggy Lee and Glenn Miller. A VIP dinner is available for an additional fee and a cash bar will also be available. Feb. 14, Tickets for the dance are $54.50, for both dinner and dance they are $100. Ages 19 and over. PalaisRoyal.ca

Anti-Valentine’s Day Party: For those that loathe Feb. 14 as a “Hallmark holiday,” you can find company with people who share your views. Thompson Toronto Hotel is hosting what they are calling “Toronto’s largest anti-Valentine’s Day party” on Saturday, which is a singles event that begins a 7 p.m. with a complimentary drink and ice-breaker games. 550 Wellington Street West, tickets: $25.59. EventBrite.com

Valentine’s Day Massacre: For a slightly off-kilter Valentine’s Day, look no further than the Lunacy Cabaret. The longest-running circus cabaret in Toronto invite you to join them for a Friday the 13th/ V-Day mashup featuring a night of slapstick comedy, burlesque and clowns promising “broken hearts and bloody chainsaws.” Feb. 13, 8 p.m., 1300 Gerrard St., tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. LunacyCabaret.com

Douglas Coupland: Everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything Not everything has to be hearts and chocolates on Valentine’s Day weekend. At a joint exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, one of this country’s most heralded contemporary artists might have you thinking about Canadian cultural identity and what role technology plays in modern life, but through a humourous lens. Coupland’s work is presented through various forms of media, ranging from Lego to paintings and installations. Tickets at the ROM are $16 for adults, $14.50 for students and seniors, and $13 for children while admission is free at the MOCCA. Both exhibits runs through April. Rom.com and Mocca.com

Family Day: what’s open and closed

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Feb 13th, 2015

Below is a list of what’s open and closed around Toronto on Monday, Family Day.

What’s open:

  • Some supermarkets (call ahead to be sure).
  • Most tourist attractions and museums, including Art Gallery of Ontario (Gallery hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.), Royal Ontario Museum (10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.), CN Tower (10 a.m. – 10 p.m.) and Casa Loma (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.).
  • Some ice rinks and arenas.
  • TTC operates on the holiday schedule and GO Transit operates on the Saturday schedule.
  • Eaton Centre (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills (contact the specific store for holiday hours), Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Pacific Mall (11 a.m. – 8 p.m.) and Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.).
  • Since it is provincial holiday, federal government offices will be open and mail will be delivered.

What’s closed:

  • LCBO and beer stores
  • Municipal buildings, including Toronto City Hall
  • Banks
  • Schools
  • Public libraries
  • Post offices located in closed retail outlets

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: 10 touching treats for $30 or less

HELLO! Canada | posted Thursday, Feb 12th, 2015

Unless you’ve got a high-maintenance gal, most ladies are simply looking for a small token of your love on Valentine’s Day.

Some want you to scrap the cheesy roses and chocolates for more creative fare (heart-shaped pizza, anyone?), while others are happy being showered with scaled-down versions of the usual goodies.

We’ve rounded up 10 thoughtful gifts – ringing in at $30 or less – that your love (and your wallet) are sure to adore.

5 TV Shows to Binge on Family Day

Maria Tallarico | posted Tuesday, Feb 10th, 2015

Scheming mothers, unscrupulous fathers, covert KGB agent spouses—we’re spending some quality time this Family Day (Feb. 9 in B.C., Feb. 16 in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario) with clans that are more Borgias than Brady Bunch. (Don’t worry, we added in some warm-and-fuzzies, too.)

All titles are streaming now on Shomi!


After a two huge Golden Globe wins (Best Series, Comedy or Music, and Best Actor, Comedy or Musical, for star Jeffrey Tambor), Transparent has gone from streaming darling to must-watch TV. Centering on the gender reassignment of a divorced father of three, Morton Pfefferman (who becomes Maura), the show was inspired by creator Jill Soloway’s father, who came out as trans a few years ago. With Bruce Jenner’s upcoming reality TV series on his transition into a woman, many are hoping 2015 will be a milestone year for LGBT awareness.

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman in Transparent 


Dynamo Olivia Pope is known for her beautiful coats, passionate rallying cries and undying loyalty to her white-hat Gladiators. And although much is made of the love triangle with Jake and President Fitz, it’s her relationship with her omnipresent and intimidating father that creates the boldest, most dramatic moments—and gasp-worthy plot twists that have made Scandal the phenomenon it is.Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope and Joe Morton as her father in Scandal

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope and Joe Morton as her father in Scandal

The Americans

Set in the Reagan ’80s, The Americans mixes international espionage with the banalities of nuclear family life. After years in an arranged marriage, Russian husband-and-wife spy team Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (played by real-life couple Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) must navigate the Cold War abroad—and at home, with increasing complications brought on by their feelings for America, their taut marriage and their two children.A scene from The Americans

A scene from The Americans

Sons of Anarchy

While we won’t get to enjoy Charlie Hunnam in Fifty Shades of Grey, his backside gets plenty of play on Sons of Anarchy. As does his dark side—he plays Jax Teller, the heir to an outlaw biker gang, unofficially controlled by a manipulative and brutal matriarch played by the brilliant Katey Segal. With notes of Hamlet, it’ s a pulpy and operatic look at a violent criminal underworld. (And did we mention Charlie Hunnam’s butt?)Charlie Hunam Sons of Anarchy

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy


It recently came to a teary series finale, but it made us cry all along, didn’t it? Parenthood weaves around the Braverman family—two parents, four children, and several grandchildren—as they cope with life’s delightful messiness. The rambling, rapid-fire dinner table banter, the imperfect and evolving relationships and the shifting sibling dynamic make for a sentimental journey. To quote from Twitter, “I’m going to miss certain Bravermans more than I miss some actual people I am related to.”A scene from Parenthood

A scene from Parenthood

A recap of the GRAMMYs: Instagram Edition

Christina Balram | posted Monday, Feb 9th, 2015

The 57th annual GRAMMY awards took place last night celebrating the biggest musicians in Hollywood and across the world. Here’s a recap of last night, as seen through the celebs themselves via their Instagram accounts.

Getting ready :

Rihanna getting ready and finding out that Eminem won an award for the best rap album for The Marshall Mathers LP2. Rihanna did a collab with Em on The Monster.

we just won a GRAMMY!!! Congrats @eminem

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Miranda Lambert took some time before the show to unwind and do a little karaoke with a cameo from husband Blake Shelton.

#GlamJam #grammy @meghan_trainor @blakeshelton @moanilee @johnnylavoy @tiffanygiffordstyle

A video posted by Miranda Lambert (@mirandalambert) on

Red carpet:

Taylor brought her best friend Abigail as her date to the GRAMMYs because guys are overrated.

When your red carpet poses are completely on point… @taylorswift

A photo posted by Abigail Anderson (@abigail_lauren) on

Charli XCX

thank you Grammy's <3

A photo posted by CHARLI XCX (@charli_xcx) on

Sam Smith

LET'S GO!!!!

A photo posted by Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) on

Pharrell Williams showed up on the carpet wearing a white suite with shorts and his date in a jumpsuit.


A photo posted by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on

Lady Gaga rocked the carpet with a gorgeous silver dress by Brandon Maxwell.

Thank you @brandonvmaxwell for my beautiful dress! I felt so sexy!

Ari looked stunning as always!


During the show:

AC/DC opened the show with a medley of  their songs including, ‘Highway to Hell.’

AC/DC are rocking @theGRAMMYs #grammys #rockorbust

A photo posted by AC/DC (@acdc) on


A photo posted by AC/DC (@acdc) on

Sam Smith was a big winner taking home four awards!


Pharrell did a unique version of his song ‘Happy’ that had ‘Grand Butapest Hotel’-esque to it, as well as special guests joining him.

Thank you @chanelofficial. #Grammys

A photo posted by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on

The iconic Tony Bennett did a performance with Lady Gaga.

A wonderful time performing on The Grammys with @ladygaga

A photo posted by Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett) on

Madonna did a performance of her song ‘Living for love.’

ThAnk you to all my Minataurs!!! You killed it!! ❤️U all! ❤️#livingforlove

A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on

Ariana Grande fan-girled.

loves gonna lift me up!!!! @madonna

A photo posted by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on

After the show:

Batch @badgalriri

A photo posted by Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) on

Juanes performed the GRAMMYs first spanish-language song in 10 years. After the show, he took a quick picture with “With two of my favorite artists.”

Con dos de mis artistas preferidos. @teddysphotos @hozier #Grammys

A photo posted by JUANES (@juanes) on

The Band Perry took home an award for the award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song ‘Gentle On My Mind.’

5 things to do this weekend: Kuumba Fest, Brampton Cup boxing & Basquiat

CityNews | posted Saturday, Feb 7th, 2015

Feb. 6-8, 2015

Kuumba’s 20th Anniversary Festival: This three-day festival is one of Toronto’s longest running Black History Month events. Meet the next generation of musicians, artists and thinkers during a thrilling exploration of Afrofuturism. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. Feb. 6-8. Free. harbourfrontcentre.com

2015 Brampton Cup: The skills and bravery that define the sweet science will be on display when two hundred and fifty amateur boxers from across Ontario step into the ring during this three-day boxing tournament. Fighters of all shapes and sizes will represent more than 60 boxing clubs. Century Gardens Community Centre, 340 Vodden St. E., Brampton. Feb. 6-8. boxingontario.com

Toronto Roller Derby: Back-to-back games will keep roller derby fans busy this weekend. In the first match, D-Vas takes on Orangeville. That will be followed by a clash between the Bruisers and Royal City. Watch from the bleachers or bring your own chair or blanket for track-side seating. The Bunker, 40 Carl Hall Rd., Studio 3. Saturday. $18 at the door. $12 advance. torontorollerderby.com

Basquiat at AGO: Don’t miss the highly-anticipated public opening of Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. The exhibition marks the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in Canada, with dozens of his groundbreaking and challenging paintings and drawings. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W. Feb. 7-May 10. ago.net

Pianorama: Talented young pianists from Toronto will join Grammy Award-winning pianist Emanuel Ax and The Toronto Symphony Orchestra on stage. Together they’ll perform Saint-Saëns’s, The Carnival of the Animals, and other selections. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St. Feb. 7. $20-$32. tso.ca

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