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We’re Closed :(

Posted by on 6:00 am in Recipes | 0 comments

I was going to start this letter with something sad and melodramatic, like “it is with a heavy heart that I…”. But then I realized, that’s ridiculous! The last three years have been amazing — we did over 600 loans, we were in O magazine (and tons of other media), and we met some amazing people. Running this organization changed my life for the better, so how can I be sad about that?! Yes, The Kitchen Library is closing but we are so glad we met and worked with the folks from The Toronto Tool Library, MyTurn, CSI, Living City Health, Not Far From The Tree, The Toronto Seed Library, and so many more. And we need to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all the volunteers over the years and our Toronto Chapter Lead, Anna! The good news is that some appliances will be going to The Sharing Depot, so you can still borrow them, and any excess appliances will be donated to refugee families to help them start their lives in Canada. If you have any questions or concerns or just want to send virtual hugs please contact me at dayna@thekitchenlibrary.ca Stay tuned for a more in-depth post about how to start and run a Kitchen Library of your...

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7 Gorgeous Recipes for Your Early Summer Produce

Posted by on 5:02 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

7 Gorgeous Recipes for Your Early Summer Produce

That early summer produce is making beautiful statements at markets and produce stands across the city, and the internet is blooming with ideas for using the bounty. To help you find ways to use yours, we’ve collected some of our favourites below!     Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach Basil Dressing | The Vanilla Bean Blog Strawberry Caprese Salad | PopSugar Grilled Asparagus | PopSugar Summer Ratatouille Salad | Jamie Oliver 5-Ingredient Watermelon Granita | Cooking for Keeps Watermelon and Cucumber Salad | Chatelaine Spicy Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Cucumber Salad | Chatelaine Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach Basil Dressing | The Vanilla Bean Blog  / (Try it with homemade pasta!) Strawberry Caprese Salad | PopSugar Grilled Asparagus | PopSugar / (Try one of our countertop grills!) Summer Ratatouille Salad | Jamie Oliver (make it beautiful with a spiralizer!) 5-Ingredient Watermelon Granita | Cooking for Keeps Watermelon and Cucumber Salad | Chatelaine Spicy Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Cucumber Salad | Chatelaine (Try one of our countertop...

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Hours for the Week of June 6, 2016

Posted by on 10:02 am in Recipes | 0 comments

Hours for the Week of June 6, 2016

Summer gets so busy sometimes! This week, we’re juggling a wedding, Dundas West Fest, and our usual schedules–and there’s just not enough time to go around!  Our hours for the week are as follows: Tuesday, June 7 at Yonge & Eglinton: Normal Hours (4-7pm) Thursday, June 9 at Regent Park: 4:30-7pm Saturday, June 11: Closed (but come see us at Dundas West Fest!) We’ll be back on our normal schedule next week! If you have items due or reservations to pick up, but can’t get into the library during these hours, please let us know and we can adjust your due dates to the next time we’re open. Thanks, and we’ll see you...

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Making the Most of Your Farmer’s Market

Posted by on 12:00 pm in Veg/Vegan | 0 comments

Making the Most of Your Farmer’s Market

Every year, I get excited by the return of fresh leafy produce at my local market, and every year, I struggle to find ways to choose things I know I’ll use and enjoy. Farmer’s market shopping, especially in early spring when the season is just getting started, can be difficult to plan for, which can make it intimidating and a source of food waste. There are some tricks, though, that can help you use meal planning and nutrition goals to make the most of what’s available. Pay Attention to Local Seasonal Calendars Part of what makes planning around farmer’s market shopping tricky is not always knowing ahead of time what will be available. Sure, you can often supplement what you can’t find from your usual grocery store, but it’s so appealing to eat from the local spring bounty on its own! Most areas have local seasonality calendars from farmer’s markets or other organizations, and many local CSAs will have an up-to-date calendar of what’s available right now in their service area based on the way the season has gone (which might not be reflected in standard calendars, which usually work on averages for your growing zone). Both options can be great tools for helping you get an idea of what you can expect to find at your market this week. Plan According to Your Goals In conjunction with those calendars, you can start shopping with a plan so you’re not simply choosing produce that appeals when you see it. Knowing roughly what will be available gives you the option to make a meal plan that uses ingredients you expect to find, and you can supplement from the off-seasonal selections in a larger grocery store if necessary. Alternatively, you can choose your produce and build your meal plan around it afterward. Those crisp spears of asparagus, fresh red berries, or soft leafy lettuces can be so tempting, but one way or the other you need to find out how to use them. If you’d rather browse the market and build your week around what you find than build your week and go seeking particular items, scheduling your meal planning time between your market trip and your regular grocery store shopping can be a great way to take advantage of lovely seasonal surprises you might not have been able to fit in otherwise. Talk to Your Vendors and Take Advantage of Non-Perishables   This is a big one! You might have one meal in mind for those baby radishes, but they’re often sold in bunches that can accommodate more than one recipe, especially if you’re only feeding one or two people. Your vendors probably have some great ideas for using both produce and non-perishables like sauces and seasonings. Some might even have recipe cards available for you to take home and use!  The off-season vendors with their bright jars and tins might not seem as exciting with all the new freshness arriving, but preserves, spices, and other less-perishable items can help fill out your plans and make use of everything you’ve found, especially when used in conjunction with advice from your vendors....

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No Shame in Our Game

Posted by on 12:00 pm in Health | 0 comments

No Shame in Our Game

Not everybody who comes to the Kitchen Library is looking to change, but we do see a lot of people who are looking to change some aspect of their eating or cooking habits. Some people are looking to be more adventurous in the kitchen, while others are working on more complete nutrition; some are hoping to save money by cooking at home more, and others are looking to make headway in a new or growing food-related business. One of the comments I love to receive in my workshops is that I make people feel capable and positive about their ability to integrate a new skill, recipe, or goal into their lives. It’s incredibly important to me that the people who come to us looking to make a change in their lives walk away feeling that they have both the ability and the resources to do so. I’m a big fan of Brené Brown, who says, “We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.”  That might seem a little intense coming from a blog that’s usually about baking and kitchen appliances, but this is important. So much of our lives and culture are tied up in the process of choosing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up after our meals that I really believe a lot of the hard work of building good lives and strong communities is done in kitchens. That doesn’t mean, however, that I think all the work done in those kitchens needs to be cooking. I have a friend who said she’d like to save some of the money she and her partner spend on takeout, but that they both really despise cooking, and my response was that time spent doing something you hate is also expensive, and costs need to be balanced. That applies to a lot of things, but the point is this: changes don’t happen for most people because they feel bad about themselves. They happen because people feel powerful. Taking shame out of the equation makes room for that power. So you’ll never hear me telling the mother of a six-month-old baby that the choices she’s made about her baby’s food in the past are wrong. I answer questions with information and reassurance. I don’t tell people who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen that there’s something wrong with them for not cooking for their families; instead, I trust that they’ve come looking for some resources to add to their toolkit so they might be able to get one or two good recipes under their belt to build on. It’s also very important to my work with the Kitchen Library that we are approachable, inviting, and inclusive. To that end, I’ve drawn up a brief Community Assessment Survey to help us identify which parts of our communities we’re serving well and which areas we could be serving better. I’d be so appreciative if you’d fill it out, and you’d be helping us build a stronger organization that can reach and empower more people in the changes they’re trying to...

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Treat Yo’ Pets!

Posted by on 3:49 pm in Featured appliance, Workshop Sneak Peeks | 0 comments

Treat Yo’ Pets!

Among the Kitchen Library team are almost as many pets as people, so when we were asked by the Toronto Public Libraries if we could put together a workshop on homemade pet treats, I jumped at the chance! We’ll be hosting this program twice in the coming months: on June 9 from 2-3pm at the Wychwood Library, and again on September 8 from 4-5pm at the Northern District Library. Today, I’ve got just a quick teaser, so to learn more, get some recipes and tips, and share ideas, you’ll have to come see us! Why Make My Own Pet Treats? Just like with food for your babies, homemade pet treats are often healthier with fewer preservatives and give you more control over what goes into your pet’s diet. Because most of our pets are smaller than adult humans, preservatives like added sodium and sugar can have a greater impact on our pets than we might imagine, and in addition to standard differences in food needs among pets, some breeds and individual animals will have more specific needs than others. Making your own means you decide! An additional bonus to this is that if you are working hard on a training process, you can make adjustments to ensure your pet isn’t receiving too much of an ingredient they should only receive in small amounts, or that you have easy access to a high-value treat to help with more challenging tasks.  Types of Treats There are two major categories of homemade pet treats: Single-ingredient treats like liver or other meat treats that may be dried, dehydrated, or baked. Mixed treats, which come out more like cookies. The first category of treats are often the simplest and healthiest, but can be more expensive whether homemade or store-bought. The second category are less expensive, but working out the mix of ingredients can be trickier. Always talk to your pet’s veterinarian before introducing a new food category, as some pets may be more sensitive to grains, sugars, veggies, or protein than others, especially if their diet usually doesn’t include them. Tools for Making Homemade Pet Treats The recipes (with samples!) you’ll find at our homemade pet treat workshop take advantage of several tools from the Kitchen Library collection, including: Our meat-friendly dehydrator, for drying liver and chicken treats as well as apple, banana, and sweet potato chips, which my dogs adore above all things, A powerful food processor, for making whole-grain flours from rice and oatmeal, A stand mixer for combining sticky ingredients,  A pastry tip kit for making various shapes out of mixed ingredients, and A mandolin, for making thin slices of fruits and veggies prior to dehydrating. We hope to see you at our workshops in June and September, and hope we can give you some ideas to treat yo’...

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Free (canning) pot!

Posted by on 2:50 pm in Featured appliance | 0 comments

 Ta da! After searching high and low in the city, we finally found this beauty to lend FOR FREE from our Regent Park location.  Why a canning pot? Like knitting, canning is an artform that’s been making a comeback lately. Canning enables people to eat healthy all year long, which we love. But learning to can — jams, jellies, pickled veggies, and other preserves — puts you in charge of the ingredients going into your food at a fraction of the cost you’d buy these same items at the grocery store. And if canning isn’t your jam (see what we did there?), this pot can be used for big batch cooking — soups, stews, sauces, etc. How can I borrow this item for free?  Come on in to CSI Regent Park (585 Dundas St. E, 3rd floor) on Thursdays 12pm-7pm. All we need is your contact info and the pot is all yours for 7 days. Easy peasy! Happing...

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Things we need

Posted by on 10:19 am in Sharing economy | 0 comments

As someone who hates clutter and shopping, I consider myself a minimalist. Which works well in the teeny tiny apartment I share with my fiancé, dog, and cat. These minimalist values, of course have been absorbed into The Kitchen Library’s mission and it guides our decision-making process as an organization. However from time-to-time we need certain items but purchasing these things just doesn’t jive with our values (or our teeny tiny budget). So we’re crossing all of our fingers and our toes and hoping someone out there can help make these three wishes come true: 1.  A tablet. I’ve discovered that paying via Paypal is a pain in the butt for new members and there’s this cool gadget called Square that would let people pay for memberships using their credit cards. Unfortunately Square only works with these devices and these devices certainly don’t work with our budget. If you have an extra one kicking around, email me: dayna@thekitchenlibrary.ca. 2. A canning pot. In order to accommodate all income levels at our 2nd location in Regent Park, I want to offer an appliance people can borrow for free. Why a canning pot? Well, they’re large and take up a lot of space, they can be used for big batch cooking, and if you don’t know how to can you can learn a new skill using it. If you have a canning pot you’re willing to donate, just drop it off during any of our open hours after the holidays. 3. An illustrator. We would love to illustrate the “How It Works” page to make it easy to understand and accessible to people who aren’t fluent in English. This is actually something I wish we had the budget to pay for because we want to support creative professionals and their businesses. If you’re an illustrator interested in donating your time and skill to The Kitchen Library please reach out to...

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Sneak Peek: Meal Planning Tips & Tricks

Posted by on 4:00 pm in Workshop Sneak Peeks | 0 comments

Are you just starting to cook for yourself and struggling with building your meal plans? The Kitchen Library has a workshop for that! For those of you who haven’t yet made it to one of our meal planning workshops at a branch of the Toronto Public Library, this list of tips & tricks for meal planning might just help you get started until you get a chance to join us! Meal Planning Tips & Tricks (Adapted from our Meal Planning workshops, originally drafted by board member Olivia Scobie) Theme Nights: setting up a rotation of theme nights can help you narrow down your choices, as well as letting you create variations on a theme as you get to know the basics of a recipe. Ideas include: taco nights, homemade pizza nights, soup and salad nights, pasta nights, “meatless Mondays,” and so on. This not only takes some of the thinking out of your planning, but creating variations can also be a fun family activity! Prep Ahead: Set aside some time each week to get your groceries ready-to-go. Wash and chop your fruits and veggies for snacks, portion ingredients and bulk items into smaller containers, and make sure your frozen items are portioned so you can thaw only what you need! Setting aside sections of your fridge, freezer, and/or pantry specifically for already-prepped items helps you make sure you have what you need as the week progresses. Remember, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: It can be tempting to fill your fridge to bursting when items are available or on sale, but having the fridge so full you can’t see what you have can lead to waste. If you do keep a full fridge, it can help to keep a list of what’s inside on a dry-erase board nearby, so you don’t forget the things that you can’t see!  Use What You Have: When making your meal plans and grocery lists, start by checking your fridge, freezer, and pantry for ingredients that need to be used up. To help you follow this rule, remember First In, First Out when you’re putting away groceries. Make sure you pull older items toward the front and put newer items at the back. This will ensure that you use items closer to their expiration dates first! The Freezer is Your Friend: You’ve probably heard of freezer meals (which are a topic for another workshop entirely!) but did you know that most fruits and veggies can be chopped and frozen in portions that make them easier to grab-and-go later? Pre-portioning chopped fruits like strawberries, bananas, mangoes, etc for smoothies is a great way to incorporate more fruit into your diet (and several non-fruit add-ins like spinach and kale actually freeze very well!). Onions, peppers, and other veggies can be chopped ahead of time and separated into the measurements you use most often, which does the double duty of keeping them from spoiling as quickly and making meal preparation simpler! Interested in learning more? For more tips, tricks, tools, sparks to help your brainstorming sessions, and starter menu ideas, heck with your neighbourhood library branch and see whether they have any upcoming workshops with us, and if not, have your librarian get in touch with us about setting something...

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Don’t Wait Until It’s Perfect: Diving into Cooking in an Understocked Kitchen

Posted by on 4:35 pm in Home | 0 comments

I spend a fair bit of time talking to people who are either setting up their first kitchens or trying to break into homemade cooking after years of unfamiliarity or outright avoidance. It’s not unusual that I find them hesitating to get started because they don’t yet have a stand mixer, or they haven’t managed to collect a full set of knives or pans, or their stoves are small, or…they otherwise just generally don’t feel equipped. If you’re nodding along with those sentiments as you’re reading, know this: unless you’re in a really serious kitchen situation where you don’t have a stove at all, or it doesn’t work (which I know happens!), you’re probably more ready than you realize. I admit I’ve gotten myself into the same kind of rut, where all the things I thought I wanted to try seemed to require more equipment, space, or time than I had available. Add to that the fact that some popular recipe writers have a habit of assuming everyone has access to particular equipment and not providing alternative instructions, and it can be a real barrier. That said, with years of experience in the kitchen behind me, I know that there are relatively few recipes that you just can’t follow because you don’t have the right stuff. I don’t mean they’ll never turn up; they will, now and then. You’ll need a pot size you just don’t have and can’t figure out how to reduce, or you’ll need a particular shape of baking pan that’s just a fundamental for the chemical processes that need to happen, or you’ll stumble onto a recipe that requires a pot safe for both the stovetop and the oven. Overall, though, those things are really pretty rare in everyday meals. One of my most used kitchen tricks, especially when I’m trying something new, is to try to think like a pioneer. It’s a little cheesy, I know, but given the fact that most of the recipes I use are designed to be home cook-friendly, usually with traditional roots, it’s often a good tactic. I pause, take a breath, and think to myself, how might this have been done in a time where most kitchens had one knife, one pot, and one skillet that doubled as a baking pan? What do I have that I could use instead of a dedicated tool for this purpose? It’s a little bit simplistic (and, I recognize, not entirely historically accurate), but as a thought exercise to unblock myself, it usually does the trick. It’s said, “well, if we line this Pyrex dish with foil or parchment, it’ll probably be alright.” It’s worked around first not having any electric mixer at all and then only having a single-speed hand mixer (and often remind friends that I recommend hand-mixing every recipe at least once, as it gives you more control and a better feel for what’s happening). A similar tactic has helped me learn to work with flavor categories to find substitutes when I didn’t have the exact spice called for in a recipe. All this is to say that you don’t need a lot of things to get your kitchen going. A few mixing bowls of various sizes are probably a must, and one sharp (and sharpenable) chef’s knife can...

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