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5 ways to keep your bread fresh

Chatelaine | posted Tuesday, Jan 27th, 2015

The truth is that baked goods – bread in particular – are at their prime the moment they come out of the oven. And, as soon as your loaf of bread begins to cool, the quality begins to diminish. If you plan on baking homemade bread, be sure to time it so it can be enjoyed as soon as it comes out of the oven. Whether your bread is homemade, from the grocery store or your local bakery, there are several ways to preserve the life of your bread.

Why does bread go stale?

There are two main culprits. The first is a chemical change with a particularly fancy name: starch retrogradation. As soon as bread is removed from the oven, the structure of the starch molecules change, and begin to crystallize. This crystallization forces water out of the bread and the result is staling. The second contributor is the loss of moisture due to exposure to air.

Storing bread in the fridge

Starch retrogradation occurs most rapidly at refrigerator temperatures. Therefore the fridge is your enemy when it comes to bread as it goes stale fastest in that environment. For those who swear by fridge storage, it does have one benefit – it delays the development of mold.

Storing bread in the freezer

Storing your bread in the freezer is a great solution. It prevents staling as freezer temperatures arrest starch retrogradation, holding the bread in a stable state. To get the most out of your frozen bread, freeze it as soon as possible after baking and cooling, and consume it equally as fast after thawing. Bread needs to be properly wrapped in plastic and it’s also a good idea to slice your bread into portions prior to freezing.

Storing bread at room temperature

Room temperature is the ideal environment for bread storage to maintain the proper crumb and crust texture. However, in addition to proper temperature, you also need to manage your bread’s exposure to air and this is done by properly wrapping your bread. The plastic bag is often criticized for trapping in moisture, which can speed up mold development, but it truly depends on the type of bread you are storing. For common store-bought loaves, or any other bread with a similarly tender crust, using a plastic bag stored at room temperature seems to work best. Hard-crusted breads however should be kept in a paper bag – hence how it is sold to you at the bakery. As a loaf of crusty bread dries, the moisture that is pushed out of the bread is absorbed by the hard crusts, turning them tough and rubbery.

Refreshing your loaf

The best way to refresh partially stale bread is to heat it in the oven. If you insist on storing your bread in the fridge, toast it prior to assembling your sandwich to reverse some of the the damage. Similarly, if you have a loaf of crusty bread that has begun to go slightly rubbery, heating it in the oven for a few minutes will help to draw the moisture out of the crust and enhance the quality of the bread. (Breads that are reheated this way should be consumed immediately.)

And after all this talk of bread, why not give some a try. Here are a few of these can’t-miss bread recipes:classic sandwich breadcinnamon raisin swirl bread, and gluten-free multi-grain bread.

Easy things you can do to help the homeless

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Jan 27th, 2015

Below is a list of the charitable organizations you can partake in and around Toronto to aid the homeless. We want to start a conversation–comment below with your organization picks, and we’ll add them to the list.

Thank You Toronto

Sells hats for a good cause.

Click here for more info.

Raising the Roof

Buy a toque and help those experiencing homelessness move towards a better future. It’s an investment that makes sound economic and social sense.

Click here for more info.

Tokens 4 Change

Raising funds for Youth Without Shelter, a shelter in Etobicoke that gives a home to 1,000 homeless youth a year.

Click here for more info.

More viewer-submitted organizations:

Week of Jan. 26, 2015

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Jan 25th, 2015

Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

She’s music’s new it girl–Ella Henderson performs her hit song ‘Ghost’ on Monday.

Suzie McNeil and Big Sugar will take to the BT stage.

Plus, to end off the week Friday, Winston Sih will have the latest in high-tech man caves as we gear up for Super Bowl Sunday!

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 weekend: Say goodbye to The Guvernment and hello to Burns Night haggis

Sarah-Joyce Battersby | posted Saturday, Jan 24th, 2015

Jan. 23-25, 2015

Interior Design Show: Whether you’re redecorating or just like to keep up to date on the latest in kitchen gadgets and window treatments, the Interior Design Show is where decorators, wood-workers, and architects display the finest in home design. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, 255 Front St. W. $19-$22. interiordesignshow.com

A Midwinter’s Night Feast: A group of Toronto’s hottest chefs will be serving up dinner for the next four Fridays in support of Community Food Centres Canada. This week’s theme is “Grow,” featuring chefs from The Harbord Room, The Drake, and Ruby Watcho among others. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Propeller Coffee Roastery, 50 Wade Ave. $75. chefsforchange.ca

Burns Night at Allen’s: For Scots and other fans of oat-based meals cooked in stomach linings, Burns Night is a chance to strap on the kilt and celebrate. Honour the life and times of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns with the traditional piping in of the haggis and other Scottish merriment. Sunday, 6 p.m. Allen’s, 143 Danforth Ave. $65. dine.to

The Guvernment Finale: Fans of dancing, lazers, and DJs say goodbye to all that as The Guvernment closes its doors after 19 years. The nightclub is going out with a bang, hosting DJ Armin Van Buuren, Knife Party and deadmau5 over the weekend. Friday-Sunday, various times. The Guvernment, 132 Queens Quay E. $30-$125. theguvernment.com

MEC Winter Run: Get the blood pumping on a January day with an invigorating outdoor run. Sunday, 8 a.m. Outside the Royal Canadian Legion #344, 1395 Lake Shore Blvd. $15-$20. mec.ca

Miss Universe Canada scores big buzz online with outlandish hockey costume

Winston Sih | posted Friday, Jan 23rd, 2015

Chanel Beckenlehner is hoping to take home the crown at the Miss Universe pageant, but win or lose, she’s scored big buzz around the world for an outlandish hockey-themed costume.

Beckenlehner, who is representing Canada at the competition, said she didn’t have access to her phone during rehearsals on Thursday and was unaware of the online chatter related to her outfit, which featured a locker’s worth of hockey gear including sticks, padding and netting.

Images of Beckenlehner’s costume blanketed Twitter, generating a mix of praise and pans for the outfit, which she wore during a preliminary Miss Universe competition.

Beckenlehner said there was an audible reaction when she stepped on stage.

“There was a really big gasp… which was kind of cool,” Beckenlehner said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“It was just a surreal moment when I got on stage, and I felt like I was representing my country well; and no matter what happened, I knew that I loved it. I’m just hoping that the concept was clear and I think it was.”

The Caledon, Ont., native said she met last August with Alex Kavanagh, a Toronto-based film and TV costume designer, to discuss preliminary ideas of what Canada’s national costume should be.

From 30 different concepts, Kavanagh sketched six and Beckenlehner was tasked with selecting the final design. Outfits inspired by the Canadarm and Hudson’s Bay were among those in the running before she settled on Canada’s pastime as the theme.

“Hockey is basically the heartbeat of Canada. It’s Canada’s pulse, really,” said the Toronto resident, who supports the hometown Maple Leafs.

“So I wanted to present that and showcase that we can make it glamorous and pageant-friendly and beautiful at the same time, showing how dedicated we are to that sport.”

Beckenlehner said the costume took Kavanagh and her team about five months to produce.

It includes a corseted bustier emblazoned with a black and white Maple Leaf. The back of her voluminous skirt features blue lines and faceoff circles representing a hockey arena.

The 26-year-old also wore custom-made knee-high, lace-up boots with heels meant to mimic a skate blade, and wore a replica of the Stanley Cup as a head piece.

Beckenlehner capped off the towering ensemble with a functional electronic scoreboard created by Toronto special effects company Acme FX.

“It was done to be lightweight and flashy,” said Beckenlehner.

“The whole costume weighs about 20 pounds, and what’s really neat and what people didn’t get to see — because it’s underneath and I’m corseted in — is that I had a custom moulding made of my back in order to support the scoreboard.”

Beckenlehner could be a double winner in this year’s Miss Universe competition.

Her outfit was selected among the top five national costumes alongside contestants representing Argentina, Germany, India and Indonesia. The public can vote for their favourite costume by tweeting using the hashtag #MissUniverse along with the contestant’s home country.

With files from The Canadian Press

Raw foods: Why you should eat way more of them

Marni Wasserman | posted Thursday, Jan 22nd, 2015

Adding more raw foods into your diet is a great way to boost your health. This means making sure the bulk of what you eat focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. With these foods as the foundation of your diet you will have more energy, lose weight and feel great. Raw foods are loaded with enzymes, vitamin and nutrients.

I am not suggesting you become a 100 percent raw foodie or adhere to strict guidelines, rather, simply incorporate more fresh foods into your diet. Even if half your meals each day consist of raw food, you are on the right track.

Five ways to add more raw to your diet

  1. Have at least a serving or more of fresh fruit every day: This can include an apple, pear, orange, berries or a fresh fruit smoothie.
  2. Have multiple servings of fresh vegetables every day: Cut up carrots, celery, peppers, make a large dark leafy green salad or a fresh-pressed green juice.
  3. Enjoy a handful (or two) of raw organic nuts and seeds. Put them into a trail mix with raisins, goji berries, apricots – and you can even add some pure raw dark chocolate (cacao) into the mix.
  4. Grab a bag of fresh sunflower or pea sprouts from your local health food store or farmers’ market; these make a great addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, stir-frys and smoothies.
  5. Get creative and try to prepare a few new raw recipes each week. Check Chatelaine‘s no-cook recipe collection here.

Try this recipe: Almond basil pesto

This is a delicious spread to enjoy with raw bread, flatbread and crackers or served with crunchy raw veggies, kelp noodles or shredded zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp torn fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 cup whole almonds, soaked overnight or for eight hours
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or more) for a creamier consistency

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth
  2. Place in a small bowl and refrigerate
  3. Serve with cucumber slices, zucchini noodles, carrots, whole grain or raw crackers or brown rice pasta/kelp noodles or steamed vegetables

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.

VIDEO: Woman melts down after missing her ferry in B.C.

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jan 21st, 2015

An video recording of a woman’s overly frustrated reaction after missing her ferry in British Columbia has gone viral.

The unidentified woman, with her suitcase in tow, stands at the counter, and then begins yelling “You have no idea! You don’t understand!”

As she walks away from the counter, she begins shrieking, “You don’t understand what this means!” and screams “I’m so mad,” as she storms out of the terminal, stomping her feet towards the end of the video.

The video was posted on Monday to a Facebook page called Spotted in Victoria.

So far, it has been viewed over 663,000 times with over 7,200 shares and over 5,100 likes.

“She had a little temper tantrum after finding out that BC ferries were full!,” the post reads.

However, according to a report, BC Ferries said the woman missed her boarding time to Vancouver Island by three minutes.

The video was reportedly recorded on New Year’s Eve.

While some commenters chuckled or expressed bewilderment at the incident, others were more sympathetic.

“I don’t find this funny. It’s sad how other people’s problems and distress become everyone else’s entertainment,” one person wrote.

“Poor woman. something is obviosly [sic] upsetting her in her life that has nothing to do with BC Ferries. My first thought is that there is some kind of emergency. I don’t find this funny,” another wrote.

Toronto police also weighed in on the post, saying “What value is it? Be kind.”

Do you think it was appropriate for this woman’s meltdown to be recorded and posted online? Share your comments in the space provided below.

Photo essay: Otherworldly selfies in the natural world

Aaron Hutchins | posted Tuesday, Jan 20th, 2015

For years, Paul Zizka used to dislike photos of the wilderness if there was a human element to them. No people. No buildings. But then, on a picturesque winter’s night walking alone along the shore of Lake Minnewanka, Alta., Zizka just couldn’t find the perfect foreground. So, he put himself in the picture. What he discovered was that the photo told an entirely different story. “Sometimes, if you include a person, you can convey a sense of vulnerability,” he says from his home in Banff, Alta. “It makes some people think: ‘That’s the last place I’d want to be.’ Or sometimes it’s: ‘That’s the first place I’d want to be.’ A moment of bliss in the mountains.”

Before taking any self-portraits, Zizka will shoot the entire scene without any man or man-made elements. Then, once he’s done with his nature shots, he’ll jump on the other side of the lens and get creative. Rarely will you see Zizka’s face in his self-portraits, however. “It would make the image more about me,” he says, “than the magic of having a person there, part of nature.”

It can be lonely work. The wind is howling. The mountains can be intimidating. And how many people are willing to venture out alone into the cold winter’s night and wait for hours for that perfect background to shoot? “You hear the odd noise in the bush and you know there’s nobody around for kilometres,” he says. “It can be a bit daunting.” He has pictures to prove it.

To see the full gallery, click here.

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