Tag Archives: farmer’s markets

How to not go hungry during your kitchen reno

image via Design Sponge. BBQ-ing is a great way to get you through a kitchen reno if the weather's on your side. Click on the photo for a delicious and deliciously easy portobello and peach burger recipe!

Are you planning for your dream kitchen?  Have you saved your pennies for this big investment in your biggest investment? It’s a fact that with any renovation, especially a sizable one, timelines can easily extend and budgets are stretched to the max.  That’s why it’s so important to consider how you and your family will eat well and on a budget without the, uh, kitchen.

Here are a few tips to stay healthy and stuffed:

Plan ahead
The best advice I got when preparing for the arrival of our little one was to cook and cook lots and freeze it all for those first hectic, sleepless, joyous months.   If felt so good to have a wholesome and hearty meal only a few minutes away by microwave or stovetop.  I made several litres of four kinds of soup, lentil-walnut burgers, veggie chili, chicken pot pies and it really only took a couple of weekends of work.  The payoff is so worth it. This advice works just as well for a kitchen reno too – a great way to not blow your budget on crappy take-out or less than special restaurant excursions.

Set up a mini kitchen elsewhere

via 7th House on the Left, this is pic of the makeshift kitchen set up during Ashley Brown and her husband's recent renovation

  • Warning: You may never move your coffee maker out of the bedroom once it enters, but enjoy this caffeinated perk during your kitchen renovation.
  • The dining room is a great spot to set up a hotplate, toaster oven and microwave.  The table itself can be used as prep room.  Do yourself the favour of being organized though, diligently cleaning as you prep meals and getting dirty dishes done after eating because it’ll quickly feel like chaos if you don’t. If possible set up a shelf of dishes, editing your flatware choices to the bare minimum to keep clutter contained.

We haven’t renovated our kitchen but we did have our kitchen roof collapse in the dead of winter once. All tolled we were without a kitchen for a month as we patched and painted and waited for the new roof. But we still had lovely breakfasts of waffles and cappuccinos thanks to our waffle iron and espresso machine. Soups and stews were easy with the hotplate too.

  • You’ll also need a place to wash up, which most likely means the bathroom sink or tub.
  • Hopefully you’ll still have access to your fridge, if not invest in a bar fridge and stand alone freezer which can be set up elsewhere, however awkward.

Focus on one-pot meals and foods that only get better with time
In the cooler months a chili or hearty stew can be made in one pot and will keep for a few days.  If it’s summer pasta, bean, or couscous salads really only improve with a day or two of marinating (just add your favourite sandwich for a full meal).  Making large batches of these will make for quick and easy meals for at least a couple of days.


image via Big Girl Small Kitchen. Click the pic for the barbecue lentil recipe. While the name is a bit of a misnomer - she doesn't use the BBQ - it'd be quite easy to do so. Simply cook your lentils using a hotplate and finish the recipe using a cast iron pan on the barbe!

If the weather is on your side and you’ve got a garden or patio, the barbeque will be your best friend.  Get adventurous, you’re really not limited to hot dogs and burgers!  My favs this summer have been roasted veggies and lemon garlic shrimp.  Plus you can put your cast iron grills and pans directly on the barbeque to really expand your culinary options.

Black and Blum have created this Hot Pot Barbeque. It looks like a terracotta planter, perfect for your herbs, but lift off the top to reveal a small charcoal grill with a heat insulating ceramic coating. Great for small outdoor spaces like a tiny balcony and super attractive planter when not in use!

Accept friendly neighbours’ offerings
If friends and neighbours offer to bring you food or have the family over for dinner, for the love of a decent meal, say yes!  You can repay this remarkable kindness in full with a gourmet dinner in your brand new kitchen a few weeks hence.

Community dinners and picnics

Locally grown produce and artisanal meats, cheeses, breads and preserves as far as the eye can see at our local farmer's market. Also prepared meals served on real plates with cutlery, perfect if you're feeling nostalgic for a proper meal. Hit up your local farmer's market for the community vibe and tasty offerings.

Toronto is a great city for parks as I assume many urban centres are.  Many of our city’s parks and parkettes also have a strong community contingent that informally evolved out of a sense of camaraderie and pride for one’s neighbourhood and public spaces.  I can think of at least two west-end parks that host weekly community dinners offering healthy meals for the whole family.  Countless others host farmer’s markets one day per week.  So if you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner and don’t have a kitchen, wander over to one of these spots and dine with your neighbours for less than take out.  Or just pick up some healthy offerings at the farmer’s market for a quiet little picnic.

These markets are a really great place to introduce kids to our food system. Not to mention there’s lots of entertainment just for them: Homegrown talent, Chris Patterson has a fun kids' album out called Small Potatoes and he was out wowing crowds with his songs about new siblings and smelly belly buttons.

Take out and delivery
Of course this might be what you end up doing more often than you’d like but hopefully the ideas above mean it won’t have to be an everyday thing.  Do your research beforehand too and find out which of your favourite healthy haunts deliver so at least it won’t be fast food every night!  And now’s a great time to try various international cuisines: Thai and Indian curries, affordable falafels and west-Indian roti, handmade pierogi and cabbage rolls – make it a theme night where the family travels the globe one night a week for dinner.

Bon appetit!  My fingers are crossed your reno goes smoothly and you’re soon cooking up a storm in your dreamiest of dream kitchens!

Kids in the Kitchen

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

We love to cook and we love to eat and naturally we want to pass on our healthy and enthusiastic relationship with food to our kids.  Apparently it’s easier said than done given the reluctance of our 17 month old to eat much of anything these days (teething pain).  But it definitely helps to involve him in kitchen – and beyond!  Looking to cultivate a master chef, or at least an adventurous eater, some tips from the experts:

The Tiny (but Mighty) Sous Chef

At 16 months, my son’s first sentence was “I crack eggs” as he lunged for the carton in the open fridge.  So we do a lot of that.  If he’s involved in the cooking, he’s less reticent to eat. And he marvels at how the many eggs he cracks can become everything from a scramble to pasta.

  • When your sous chef is pint sized it helps to be organized.  Delegate those ability-appropriate tasks to kids but remember to tidy the rest of the work area of sharp utensils, raw meats, antique dishes, etc.  And give kids the low-down on what’s off limits and why.  Check out this resource from the Food Network for loads more tips.
  • If it’s a really little one you’re involving, try bringing the high chair into the kitchen and narrate what you’re doing.  Talk about the smells of the ingredients, bringing each up to her nose.  Texture games can also be fun:  letting them muck about in a bowl of lentils or flour.

These little piggies went to market

Image courtesy of Nature Moms

Every Monday there’s a beautiful farmer’s market in a nearby park.  It’s become a fun excursion for us:  rolling around in green space, learning about fruits, veg, cheese and meats from the farmers.  The little guy chooses a favourite fruit and vegetable each week.  Rationale: giving kids vegetable autonomy increases likelihood of consumption.  Sounds science-y right?

Toddler Dinner Parties

Too young for cooperative play, but sharing a meal is something that my toddler and his friends love to do.  And nothing’s cuter than two toddlers chatting across the table, clinking sippy cups, and sharing a meal.  We’d host them three times a day if we could.

Junior Master Chef Australia

Thanks to Nathalie for turning me on to this fabulous Australian cooking competition.  50 kids aged 8 to 12 cook the most amazing meals in a bid to become Junior Master Chef.  It’s amazing!  It’s inspiring!  How wonderful would it be to have a kid that cooks?  Now if I could just get mine to eat breakfast…

Any one else lived to tell the tale of a finicky eater turned food-loving grown up?