Ethical Chocolate Easter Egg

So it is Easter morning and you find a box of chocolates with your name on it. What do you hope will be inside? A delicious good quality chocolate or a cheap bunny shaped artificially flavored chocolate essence candy? Not a tough one to answer…quality for me. And how wonderful if this box could help out the planet and its people in an ethical way too?

I was lucky enough to receive a box of Green & Black’s Organic Butterscotch Mini Eggs to try and judge. These small eggs are created with delicious milk chocolate blended with crisp, crunchy toffee. There were 13 eggs in the box, all wrapped individually in foil. Now I am more of a dark chocolate kind a gal so milk chocolate does not knock my socks off but I do have to say these were quite tasty. And you can definitely taste the toffee. I loved them enough that I would buy them myself..probably in regular chocolate bar format during the year.

I am not at the point where I regularly seek out organic foods but trying and incorporating one slowly into your shopping habits would be a good thing. Chocolate is a great way to start. You can read below parts of the the Green & Black’s Eggcellent Easter Collection Press Release:

Known for its high-quality, premium organic chocolate bars, Green & Black’s — the world’s leader in organic and Fair Trade chocolate — offers a mouth-watering, indulgent Easter range made with fine, ethically sourced ingredients.  With Green & Black’s large Dark 70% and Milk Chocolate Easter Eggs and organic Mini Eggs, Easter will be more delicious than ever!

This year, when consumers choose any of Green & Black’s Organic premium, organic chocolate Easter Eggs they will be helping to improve the lives of farmers and their families living a world away.  Just in time for this Easter, the entire collection of Green & Blacks Organic Easter Eggs has been Fair Trade Certified.

Fair Trade has one of the leading product certification and labeling systems in the world. Green & Blacks Organic is recognized as the first company to ever launch a Fair Trade chocolate product, with its Maya Gold Chocolate Bar.  Fair Trade principles are simple:  farmers are paid a fair and guaranteed price for their crop, plus an additional social premium that is invested back into their communities.  The farmers choose where the premium is invested and the entire process is managed and audited by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International and its member organizations, including TransFair Canada.  All Green & Black’s Organic chocolate bars and Easter Egg Collection bear the Fair Trade mark, letting consumers know that the sourcing of the product meets rigorous standards.

You can follow this company on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/GreenandBlacksCanada and Twitter @greenandblacks

Friendly Fighting and Banana Pudding

This is going to be really off topic but I do believe everyone can benefit from this. I find myself once again at home sick with a bad cold this time. I also have been going through a lot of personal changes in the last months. I won’t be going into to many details but it has been a roller coaster ride and I am getting stronger.

A perfect example is what happened to me tonight: a situation which brought on  a feeling of being overwhelmed with life and a few specific points. But instead of trying to sweep the feelings under the rug I sat there and took in the pain and sadness. I experienced and felt it as an observer. And then I let it go. I felt relieved, so relieved. The issues have not disappeared but I am calmer about it. I turned a negative into a positive. I communicated with myself.

I also made what I felt was a desperately needed comfort food, a craving brought on by my trip to NC this summer and a fellow blogger this week, Banana Pudding. This pudding is a powerful comfort food indeed!

Small glasses Big comfort

But back to communication. I looked online for advice on dealing with a conflict…whether it be with a friend, lover, husband, even yourself. Oh boy there is a lot of crap out there. But I did come across a goldmine article and I just had to share it with you all. It was written by By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Ten rules for friendly fighting:

  1. Embrace conflict. There is no need to fear it. Conflict is normal, even healthy. Differences between you mean that there are things you can learn from each other. Often conflict shows us where we can or need to grow.
  2. Go after the issue, not each other. Friendly fighting sticks with the issue. Neither party resorts to name calling or character assassination. It’s enough to deal with the problem without adding the new problem of hurting each other’s feelings.
  3. Listen respectfully. When people feel strongly about something, it’s only fair to hear them out. Respectful listening means acknowledging their feelings, either verbally or through focused attention. It means never telling someone that he or she “shouldn’t” feel that way. It means saving your point of view until after you’ve let the other person know you understand that they feel intensely about the subject, even if you don’t quite get it.
  4. Talk softly. The louder someone yells, the less likely they are to be heard. Even if your partner yells, there’s no need to yell back. Taking the volume down makes it possible for people to start focusing on the issues instead of reacting to the noise.
  5. Get curious, not defensive. Defending yourself, whether by vehemently protesting your innocence or rightness or by turning the tables and attacking, escalates the fight. Instead of upping the ante, ask for more information, details, and examples. There is usually some basis for the other person’s complaint. When you meet a complaint with curiosity, you make room for understanding.
  6. Ask for specifics. Global statements that include the words “always” and “never” almost always get you nowhere and never are true. When your partner has complaints, ask to move from global comments of exasperation to specific examples so you can understand exactly what he or she is talking about. When you have complaints, do your best to give your partner examples to work with.
  7. Find points of agreement. There almost always are parts of a conflict that can be points of agreement. Finding common ground, even if it’s agreeing that there is a problem, is an important start to finding a common solution.
  8. Look for options. Fighting ends when cooperation begins. Asking politely for suggestions or alternatives invites collaboration. Careful consideration of options shows respect. Offering alternatives of your own shows that you also are willing to try something new.
  9. Make concessions. Small concessions can turn the situation around. If you give a little, it makes room for the other person to make concessions too. Small concessions lead to larger compromises. Compromise doesn’t have to mean that you’re meeting each other exactly 50-50. Sometimes it’s a 60-40 or even 80-20 agreement. This isn’t about scorekeeping. It’s about finding a solution that is workable for both of you.
  10. Make peace. An elderly friend who has been married for 68 years tells me that she and her husband made a rule on their wedding day never to go to bed angry. They agreed from the outset that the relationship is more important than winning arguments. Sometimes this meant they stayed up very, very late until they came to a workable compromise. Sometimes it meant that one or the other of them decided the issue wasn’t really important enough to lose sleep over. Since they both value the marriage, neither one gave in or gave up most of the time. When one did give in or give up, the other showed appreciation and made a peace offering of his or her own. These folks still love each other after 68 years of the inevitable conflicts that come with living with another person. They are probably onto something.

Banana pudding is food for the body, proper communication skills – even if it is a fight –  is food for the soul!

Camp of Cupcake Madness

Today was the day of a long awaited Montreal event: Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010. This event took place at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth. This was the second year this event takes place in Montreal. Cupcake camp is a 100% volunteer organization that sells cupcakes and has a cupcake competition for the soul purpose of raising funds for charities. This year the recipient charities are Kids Help Phone and Tablée des Chefs.

Last year it was a small event. This year the word got out and it was total madness. Last year it was held at a restaurant, 700 people showed up, 3,500 cupcakes were up for sale and $8,000 was raised. This year the event was help at a huge location, almost 20,000 cupcakes were up for sale, people came in the thousands (2,500 made it in, 2,000 could not get in) and over $34,500 was raised.

The 8 cupcake treasures I took home, see list at bottom

The doors opened at 1pm and we arrived around 1h30pm. We lined up for over 45 min (outdoors and indoors) to get in. There were so many people is was crazy. When we were inside the hosts would politely ask over the speakers for people to leave if they were done as there were 2,000 people waiting outside to get in and the room had reached maximum capacity. It was a madhouse and you had to fight with a smile to get to a cupcake table. It was not only a sugar rush but a cupcake adrenaline rush too! I know of 2 groups of people who gave up and did not wait to get in.

Double line outdoors, and it was COLD

Our gang

The 1,000s of people inside the room

This year’s event was a major success, bigger then possibly imagined. And there were cupcakes everywhere. We were a small gang and separated..the core foodie group sticking together. And we came up with a system: each take a bit out of our cupcakes. I tried a chocolate cinnamon chipolte cupcake; a blue yam and pistachio icing  cupcake; a curry coconut icing cupcake; a fig with blue cheese and violet cupcake; a double chocolate cupcake…those are the ones I remember. Lots of cupcake pics coming up!

Blue yam and pistachio icing

Sorry, but WTF????

A sweet Sheppard's Pie rendition topped with a sweet potato chip

So many cupcakes, I am seeing fuzzy

And here are a few competition entries. Clebretity judges included Chuck Hughes, Nadia G of the Bitchin Kitchen, food critique Leslie Chesterman, Bob le Chef,Ricardo and more.

Montreal themed cupcakes

It was such a madhouse I don’t know if I would have the courage to go again but I do think everyone should experience Cupcake Camp Montreal once in a lifetime. So next year go and get there early armed with patience. It does bring out the kid in all of us.

The 8 cupcakes that made it home:

  1. Chocolate and butter cream icing
  2. Apple something, can’t remember
  3. Vanilla and chocolate chips
  4. Matcha with a mochi on top
  5. Feta, zucchini and rosemary, only savory one I saw
  6. Vanilla with roasted marshmallow topping
  7. Chocolate and tofu
  8. Raspberry, pomegranate and blood orange jelly, white velvet cake and cream cheese icing!

M&M National Family Dinner Night, 6th edition

Did you know on Thursday, September 16, 2010, Les aliments M&M is encouraging Canadians to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in the Sixth Annual National Family Dinner Night that celebrates what matters most – spending quality time with family and friends.

Launched in 2004, this phenomenal program has touched the hearts and minds of families, community leaders and dignitaries from coast-to-coast. Members of Parliament, premiers, mayors, city councils and even the Prime Minister and Governor General have proclaimed their support for this national at-home event.

National Family Dinner Night attracts tremendous public and charitable support every year and has contributed significantly to the more than $20 million Les aliments M&M has raised for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC). This year, Les aliments M&M urges everyone in Canada to register their participation and demonstrate the importance of getting together with the people who matter most in their lives.

Register Your Participation and Share Your Story

For everyone who registers their pledge to participate in National Family Dinner Night on the website: www.nationalfamilydinnernight.com, Les aliments M&M will make a $1 donation to the CCFC, up to a maximum of $100,000.

And new this year, everyone is invited to share their favourite family recipe or family dinner memory for a chance to win $250 in Les aliments M&M Gift Cards.

To enter, visit www.nationalfamilydinnernight.com. Contest closes Thursday, September 16, 2010.

A Hand for Haiti Recipe Ebook

A little while back I blogged about Lauren at Celia Teen who had the great idea of requesting recipes from fellow food bogglers to put together a recipe ebook for sale. All funds for this book would go to Haiti.

I was more then happy to participate and contributed a recipe to be included in this amazing effort. She first posted her idea on Jan 15th. Today she release the ebook for sale…in 3 weeks. Wow that is amazing. Lauren is just phenomenal. I am so happy to have discovered her blog and thoguh the occasional exchange gotten to know a bit about her. She has a heart of gold and gets things done too.

I strongly suggest you too help out and buy the A Hand for Haiti Recipe Ebook she created. Its a minimun donation of 10$ but you can give more if you like. Here is a bit of info on the book:

All proceeds will do to the Red Cross.  The Canadian Red Cross that is.  You see, I am Canadian so it only makes sense to donate to this one.  Also, it has been in Haiti for many years, so they will be able to use the funds to help as in the best areas possible.  And here’s the really important part: the Canadian Government will match all donations received by February 12th, that are marked for Haiti Relief (as I will be doing to these).  They are matching donations made by individuals as well as those made from fundraisers for Haiti (like this ebook) by schools, businesses, social groups (that is what I believe we are, as blogging is a community of people, in this case coming together around food), etc.

Of course, you may continue to purchase the ebook and donate after the 12th, but getting it matched makes it just that much better!  There are 87 recipes contributed by 71 fantastic people.  They are a collection of home.  People from all over the world have provided recipes that bring them comfort.  I have loved looking through them, and can’t wait to cook them!  I hope you do too.
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Foodie Making A Difference

It’s been great to see the online reaction amongst food bloggers concerning the tragedy in Haiti. I got a lot of feed back from the blog I wrote about it which included a Haitian recipe and links to reputable donation sites.

But yeah it still does not feel like enough. As I read up on the lastest posts of some favorite fellow bloggers I came across a particularly touching one. The blog is Celiac Teen and is the creation of a just awesome 16 year old Canadian teen with celiac disease – in other words her diet must be gluten free. She loves to cook to and loves to blog.

Friday she wrote a fabulous post with a great idea to raise a bit of money for Haiti. I am participating in her idea and I am repost her blog here. I encourage you to visit her blog and participate as well.

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A Hand for Haiti

I always feel a disconnect with huge catastrophic events.  In a way, I guess I don’t understand them, and in another way I just don’t know how to deal with them.  They are events that you never forget and never fully comprehend unless you truly experienced it.  It brings be back to grade nine, when my social studies teacher wrote a quote on the board.

“One death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.”  Yes, I’m paraphrasing but the idea is the same.  I don’t know how I can help when so many lives have been taken or ruined.  50 000 people and counting, that is more people than I have ever met.  Ever spent time with, ever known.  I simply cannot imagine.  I just know that I have to do something.  I don’t have a job or form of income, so I can’t do what some other amazing bloggers are doing (for every comment left, they will donate a certain amount).

But I can bake.  I can cook.  I can ask you.  I can talk to some other bloggers.  Maybe what we can start a trend.  Maybe ten people will listen, and those people will tell another ten, who will tell ten more and eventually it will snowball into enough to help some people.  Lots of families and friends.

It may not be big, but an ebook is what I am going to contribute.  An ebook from the blogosphere’s favourite recipes.  The ones that are made more than any other.  The ones that mean home to them.

I don’t know how long it will be, or how much work it will take, but it will happen.  Relief is being sent there in bundles now, and in a few weeks, they will still need clean food and water.  Medical support will still be saving lives.

Currently, some of the “big” bloggers are getting together to make a cookbook (hold in your hands, feel the paper =D), but I’m sixteen.  I’ve never written a cookbook.  My photos still have a little ways to go.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to start.  So, I’m starting.  I hope that you will join me.

With that said, if you’re a blogger, send me your favourite, most loved recipe that makes you feel at home with an email subject line of “Haiti Ebook” to mail (at) celiacteen (dot) com {replacing the (at) and (dot) with applicable characters!}.  Please also include a picture!  The recipe does not have to be gluten free.  It can be a baked good, a meal, a breakfast, a treat, anything.  Whatever it is though, make sure it makes you think of home.  They lost theirs, so a comforting dish is the best way in my eyes!

I would like to have the submissions by January 24th, in order to get it out relatively quickly!

I’m looking into the best charities to use, but am thinking it will have something to do with food? Thoughts on that would be wonderful as well!

xoxo
Lauren