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No Doggie Gifts Under the Tree…

No Doggie Gifts Under the Tree…

Things have been quiet on my social media lately… That is because real life has been calling, and it has been a brutal couple of months for our family.

Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to meet a man that I absolutely adore.  He is my best friend, my confidant and my soul mate. It just felt right, so everything moved along quickly for us.  We moved in together after about six months of dating.  I wasn’t able to have children, but I thought it would be fitting to have a furbaby of our own.

In July of 2010 I saw in the news that another flight of “California Canine Cuties” had arrived at the Edmonton SPCA.  They had a volunteer that was quite wealthy that would fly her private jet down to California to bring back small dogs from the high kill shelters.  I made a detour on the way out to a camping trip “just to see”.

We visited “Snookie” first.  She had such a sweet and loving disposition even though she was probably anxious and surrounded by chaos.  She climbed up into Jeremy’s lap, covered him in kisses and snuggled right in.  We visited for a while and went on to look at other dogs.  The others were all miserable and would not approach.  We went back to visit her once more before leaving.  I stepped back to watch her and Jeremy… She had chosen him.  I snuck out of the room to fill out the paperwork and pay the adoption fees.

She had been returned to the SPCA once already.  She had a broken rib that never healed properly.  She was covered in flea bites.  She was skinny and had obviously had a litter of pups recently.  She was fearful of other dogs.  She was a hot mess, but she was OUR hot mess.

She was never socialized properly with other dogs.  She was always fearful, she never got over it no matter how hard we tried.  We were lucky enough to have a very patient friend (thank you Lisa!) that introduced her two boys to Lenore.  She actually had fun playing with them, and from that moment on had some doggie friends.

Lenore was a derpy, cheerful, playful, loving girl who liked to make sure you got a good laugh.  She was Mama’s walking partner, Daddy’s snuggling partner, Mort and Muffin’s sibling.  She was just more than words can express.  She was our sweet girl, our child.

Her pal Mort had been having health issues for quite some time.  He was still happy despite being blind and having no teeth.  He was on several medications for his dry eye and congestive heart failure.  He left this world at the ripe old age of 14.  He was loved and very much missed.  We said goodbye on September 30th.

Lenore had lost her pal Muffin about 2 years ago, so we started to see the same signs of grieving and depression in her, or  at least that was what we thought… She was about 11 years old from what the SPCA estimated when she came in.  She had already been diagnosed with a grade 3 heart murmur, but other than that she still acted like a puppy until Mort passed.

I started to worry because she didn’t have her normal appetite and would vomit up bile every couple of days.  We decided to take her in for a thorough senior check up just to make sure everything was ok.  We did not get good news.

Lenore was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure.  She needed to be hospitalized and have IV fluids administered to flush out all of the toxins in her blood that were making her feel so sick.  We were thankful to be able to take her home every night.  She was still very lethargic but she was in better spirits and was at least able to eat.  She surprised the doctor by clearing up her values quicker than expected.  It was about $2000 but it was worth it to give her a fighting chance.  With any luck, we would have 3 to 6 more months with our goofy girl.

We were warned that not all pups respond to treatment.  We never expected that Lenore would be one of them.

We spent a heart-wrenching week at home administering medications and fluids under the skin.  She was more herself, but would tire easily and we struggled to get her to take food.  We lovingly hand fed her every chance we could get.  She wouldn’t eat it out of the bowl, but if Mom fed it to her from her hand, Lenore would take it.

We were due for a blood re-check again after a week of home treatment, we were both suffering from anxiety all day wondering what news we would get.  Again, it wasn’t good…

Our hearts sank with the news that her blood levels were higher than when we first brought her in.  We were going to have to say goodbye.  We chose to spend 2 more days with her so that we could give her some sunshine and fresh air, try to get her to eat some of her favourite things, and to snuggle and pet her as much as we could possibly manage.

She was really weak and not able to walk very far, so we wrapped her up in a blanket and carried her to the dog park to get that fresh air and sunshine.  She managed to eat a sausage McMuffin with her tail wagging the whole time.  Mom and Dad got kisses and tail wags for the last time.

Lenore passed peacefully in our arms with the assistance of all of the wonderful staff at Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital on Saturday, November 23.

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In 7 short weeks we have lost both of our children.

We are devastated… We tried everything we could to make sure that both pups had quality of life and were not in any pain or discomfort.  We were not expecting this outcome.  We borrowed over $4000 to cover vet bills, medications and special diets in hope that we would be able to spend just one more Christmas together.

</3 No doggie gifts under the tree this year
</3 No furry cuddles on the couch
</3 No wagging tails of greeting at the front door

Now Christmas is coming and we are heartbroken AND broke.  The house is empty, quiet and lonely. There is a lot of financial stress piled on top of the grief. Will you open your heart — and your wallet — to help?

No one likes to ask for help… A couple of close friends suggested that we put up a crowdfunding request.  So we did, just to see what happened.  We are just a little over half way.  Will you open your heart — and your wallet — to help?

Lenore’s Rainbow Bridge Fund

We loved our babies more than words can express.  The grief is overwhelming.  Thank you for reading, it means the world to us.

Mort the Mighty

Mort the Mighty

Born to Chico (father) and Oreo (mother) on June 5th, 2005 he came by his evil chihuahua personality honestly. His parents were both miserable when you weren’t a member of the pack.
When my Auntie Corina placed this tiny black ball of fluff in my hands, it was love at first sight. He wasn’t ready to come home yet though, so I had to wait…
We were inseparable from the very beginning. I was his, and he was mine. He may have been tiny, but he was my familiar, my protector. He was so pudgy when he was a pup, it’s hard to imagine him turning out to be so slim for the rest of his life.
He came into my life at just the right time. I was in a very unhappy relationship and had managed to push away or lose most of my friends. Mort was my child, my heart, my saviour. Because of him, because I couldn’t leave him, he literally saved my life.
We went everywhere together because he was tiny enough to fit in a purse. He was my shadow, my official potty inspector, and my protector. When that toxic relationship finally ended, that tiny little soul was so worried about me, he ended up slipping between legs, unnoticed and made a journey over several busy roadways without getting run over by a car… he was picked up by some kind soul and turned into the bylaw folks.
I was frantic! Luckily the lovely lady that clipped his nails recognized him at the pound and contacted my Aunt. My bestie was changing the locks on the house when he escaped and I was out on an errand with my Ex when Mort slipped out. I had no idea he was missing until I got home and there was no Mort.
By the time I found out (and almost fainted from the stress) it was close to closing time at the pound. There was no way I could leave him there overnight in jail. I rushed there to pay his bail and pick him up. He was microchipped on the spot! He was also smothered in kisses and cuddles. It was a miracle he made it to where he did without getting killed!
Many Months later, Momma met another fella. Mort was not amused. “Look at the last guy you dated Momma – you have terrible taste in men. I will protect you from him!” See Mort had me all to himself, he was my main man and he wasn’t going to have it any other way. He had the same spot on the bed for 4 years now and he wasn’t going to give it up.
He couldn’t push that new guy out of the bed no matter how hard he tried. He was always a smart little guy though so he figures out if he peed on that guy’s pillow, just a little bit, that should get rid of him. He wont want to sleep on pissy pillows!
Mort was frustrated to find out the new guy was there to stay. Eventually Jer won him over through his patience and love. Love me, love my dog.
Mort’s life after that was filled with love and adventure. He got a new sister shortly after his new Daddy (Lenore) and then his sleepover pal Muffin became his brother as well. The pack enjoyed lots of playtime together. Everyone had their own spot in the bed, life was delightful.
When Mort was still a pup, he had an allergic reaction to his vaccinations. It was really scary! He was so tiny that it wasn’t really a surprise. He was never neutered due to concerns about him going under anesthesia. We didn’t travel as much as we would have liked to because no vaccinations means no kennel would take him.
Being intact meant for Mort that he was a humper. He had a stuffed hippo when he was a baby. One day when Mama was shopping at a flea market, she found a female version of the Taco Bell dog with a pretty pink collar and long eyelashes. Belle was just his size and became Mort’s mate for life. He would not hump anything else! He likes to cuddle with her at night as well.
Humping was his quality of life…. I knew when that stopped, it was time to make that hard decision.
That happened last week… He was telling me he was tired. With the emergency vet visit, he showered me in kisses because he could sense I was upset. He seemed fine, and he went back to humping but by Friday night we had another episode where he couldn’t walk. The next morning, the Vet confirmed my fear. His organs were starting to shut down.
I promised him that I would not let him suffer. The humping stopped. We had to say goodbye.
Our last two days together was a lot of sleeping. We had moments of clarity where he asked for pets and he actually had an appetite and ate like a piggy on his last day. He even got to share a meal with Mama, his favourite way to eat.
I chose an Indigenous lullaby that was perfect for him and me. He showered Jer and I in kisses to tell us it was okay, that he was ready, that I shouldn’t be so sad. I covered him in kisses and tears and gently rocked him to sleep while I sang along with the lullaby. He passed peacefully in my arms. I continued to hold him and rock him for a while after.
He now lives completely in my heart.
Mort Memorial
Until we meet again little man… Mama loves you!
Maya and Muffin will show you the ropes.
The Beer Factory

The Beer Factory

Once upon a time there were a bunch of guys that wanted to start up the craft beer industry in Edmonton.  They all got together and opened up a small brewery in St. Alberta and called it Hogshead. They made some wicked pumpkin spice beer.

Run badly was an understatement.  The 2015 end of Hogshead was an embarrassing mess.  The unfortunate end still continues to add backlash to the new establishment “The Beer Factory”.

Patrick Spilstead was a graduate from the NAIT culinary program that was hired in 2014 to head the kitchen of Hogshead.  When the whole thing derailed, Patrick and his father Richard rescued the operation and turned it into what is now “The Beer Factory”.

They were first on my radar after an event where they were networking and my boss from the Edmonton Muse had a pamphlet on her table.  I perused it and added it to my “hit list” of places to visit. They are most certainly a hidden gem.

Patrick is cooking today because of an unfortunate accident.  He was raised in a family that had a strong culinary background but he went to pursue being a Mechanic.  The accident would plague him with knee problems, so he found himself shifting focus – to culinary.

He was with Chop for several years and disliked the corporate environment of the kitchen.  On to smaller and better things with The Beer Factory.

Everything on the menu is infused with beer or moonshine.  You have some gastropub favourites, and then there are some awesome comfort food options as well, like spicy beef stroganoff.  Note: the menu has changed from what is posted on the website. The daily specials are still the same.

My first visit was because I had to try the Friday Prime Rib Special for $9.99.  That got me in a seat to see the menu and try one of their craft brews, the “Dark and Malty”.  This has become one of my favourite local brews. Not available anywhere but in their taproom. It has the darkness of a stout, but the smoothness of a lighter ale.

They also make a Mosaic Pale Ale, a “hop oriented beer that is a bit tamed”.  I’m not an IPA girl personally. I have not tried this one.

The ambience is casual.  This is more of a pub feel.  The staff are friendly and attentive.  There is a patio area for summer time and an overhead door to let the fresh air in.  You are in the middle of an industrial area in St. Albert, so there isn’t a pretty view.

The Prime Rib was delicious.  They were also putting out information for a special Valentine’s dinner that was taking place in a couple of weeks.  I read over the menu and completely swooned, and made reservations immediately. Patrick was let loose and given full creativity!

The Valentine’s Dinner was AMAZING!

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We had the Elk Carpaccio; thinly shaved Elk tenderloin seasoned with lime and cracked black pepper.  This was absolutely delicious and delicate. What a great way to get the taste buds ready for the rest of the meal.

Ginger Peach scented pork with mango chutney; pork tenderloin rolled in ginger peach tea, served with house made mango moonshine chutney.  This dish paired so well with the wild rose mead that was suggested.

Dessert was raspberry and white chocolate creme brulee, chocolate dipped strawberries and moonshine cherry tea cookies.

Patrick knocked it out of the park!  The whole meal was culinary heaven. The price tag on this experience was $50 for two. Beverages were not included, but what a great deal! I can’t wait until they do the next special event.

I was able to have a chat with Richard.  He is Patrick’s dad and co-owner of the brewery.  Richard is also a Chef. They like to source the menu locally whenever possible.  He was also telling me that they do BBQ in the summertime and they have a huge rig to be able to do mobile BBQ catering. That will be another article in the future for sure!

We have been back a few times to enjoy food and beer.  The taps rotate with local craft favourites and the two brews that The Beer Factory produces on their own.

Fun fact; they are the smallest craft brewery in Western Canada!

Advice for your visit:

  • Ignore the ratings.  There were a lot of angry customers with the whole Hogshead disaster.
  • Be patient!  The kitchen is small and there are a lot of regular customers.  Good food takes time. It will be worth the wait!
  • Try one of their brews!  They may not be geared towards everyone’s palate, but they are definitely worth a taste.

Website:
https://www.beerfactory.rocks/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Beerfactoryinc/

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/beerfactoryinc/

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Native Delights

Native Delights

Here is a little sharing about me…

I am at least ¼ Cree on my father’s side.  My family always told us not to tell anyone about our Aboriginal roots because we would be looked at differently.  I never met my Kookum and that fact makes me sad. I was too young when she passed to know any different.

My father was adopted by his Aunt.  This is the lady that I grew up to call Grandmother.  She was a wonderful lady that raised my Dad and his brother as her own.  She had a huge heart and did a lot of charity work throughout her lifetime.  I really looked up to her. Out of respect, I waited until I was an adult and she had passed to do any kind of searching on my family history.  The first search I did came to a dead end because my Dad’s adoption records were sealed, even though I could identify myself as his daughter.

It struck me really hard as a kid in elementary school.  My brother looks very Aboriginal, looks very much like my father. I got the German looks from my Mom’s side; blonde hair and blue eyes.  Chief Dan George was coming to our school to do a presentation and a healing circle. All the Aboriginal children were allowed to attend and take time off of their regular classes to go.  I asked my teacher but was denied because I “wasn’t aboriginal”. My brother got to enjoy meeting a man that I had looked up to my whole life. I never did get to meet him before he passed a short time later.

That struggle continued for me my whole life.  Wanting to learn, wanting to belong but never fitting in.

Fast forward to meeting Ian and discovering Native Delights

It wasn’t just a restaurant and it is not just a kiosk.  It is an experience.

Ian was born in Treaty 8 territory.  When all the other kids wanted to grow up and play hockey or become doctors or scientists, Ian wanted to cook.  It spoke to him. He did go out and work in the oil patch like just about every Albertan does at some point in their life.  His dream was always to cook, to open that restaurant and he never swayed from that path. Ian overcame a lot of adversity to be where he is today, and I have nothing but love and respect for him and his family.  They are amazing human beings.

When I first experienced one of his bannock burgers, I was hooked from the delicious tastes and textures that hit me.  I am also one of those people that quietly observes (introverted) and you can see the people enjoying themselves and friends going up to talk to Ian.  It was good energy all around.

When Ian got to open a brick and mortar restaurant, I was thrilled!  Now there was flavoured bannock and locally made medicinal teas, stew and more.  I liked how there was no liquor on the menu and it wasn’t even something that Ian was considering.  The atmosphere here was one of family. When you stepped into the restaurant for dinner, many of the people there knew each other.  It was relaxing to be able to enjoy a meal with my family in a space filled with such positive energy.

The restaurant closed its doors a couple of years ago.  I miss it. Native Delights went back on the road with the trailers to different events.  I enjoyed the bannock when I could.

2017 brought back the Native Delights kiosk and “Pânsâwân”.  “Pânsâwân” is traditional dry meat. (Elder Approved!) Thin strips of Buffalo meat that are smoke to dry them.  No salt, no added preservatives. If you like a nice smoky flavour without all the crap that is in commercial jerky, then you really need to get yourself some Pânsâwân.  It is available at both kiosks. The smaller size is $20 and there is a lot of jerky for your money, and much healthier for you!

The kiosk in the Super Flea Market in Edmonton has a separate store area with the Pânsâwân, some products from local makers and Mother Earth Essentials.  I do need to give praise to Mother Earth Essentials. I first discovered their products on a trip to Ft McMurray. The hotel I was staying in uses their shampoo and conditioner in the rooms.  I looked them up and found out that they were Edmonton based and immediately went and bought items for home. Her products are AMAZING. I can see why Ian supports her. Give the store a visit.  The Peppermint and Sage line makes your scalp feel so good.

2018 brought the first franchise for Ian and family.  The Super Flea Market location is now owned by the lovely Melissa, who will be sure to uphold the same quality as Ian would himself.  I attended the grand opening of the kiosk on February 24th.  They know how to put on a party!  It all opens with a prayer… There was free bannock and stew, face painting for the kids, singers and drummers and so much more.  I was sad that I couldn’t stay longer. The place was super busy and the energy was amazing! The drummers overflowed my heart with pride and brought tears to my eyes.

I got to congratulate Ian briefly as he was very busy and also got to meet Melissa.

The menu at the Super Flea kiosk is a little different.  They took over a kiosk that had been there for years churning out breakfast, pub type foods and ice cream. They decided to keep all of these flea market favourites and add the Native Delights menu to it as well.  From what I can see, it works for this space!

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The Bison Bannock Burger is my favourite and the Indian Taco is a close second.  If you follow the Facebook Page, they are very good about getting the daily specials out there for the Athletic Club kiosk.  If you haven’t experienced bannock yet, this is a great place to get started. Their bannock is pretty damn good.

If you see Native Delights out and about on the streets of Edmonton this summer, be sure to stop and grab a burger.  A great local business that supports other great local businesses.

Thank you Ian for all that you do for the Aboriginal community here in Alberta.  Âyihây!

Website:
http://admin5005.wixsite.com/nativedelights

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/nativedelightsfnc

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/NativeDelights

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/nativedelights/

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2017 Halloween Happenings

2017 Halloween Happenings

October is my favourite time of year for many reasons; there is the beautiful color of the fall leaves on the trees, the crispness in the air, the pumpkin spice everything and of course, Halloween.

In Edmonton, we have some hidden gems for the Halloween season that you really need to go and see.  Please read on for some spooky offerings.

 

ESCAPE FROM MORBID MANOR

Part haunted house and part escape room, this is the new local offering for the 2017 season.  If you look at the different folks involved in this event, it looks like it is going to be a good time.  They are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during October.

“Here in Edmonton stands the old mansion that belonged to Augustina and William McCavery , a building with a mysterious past. The couple kept to themselves, but neighbors often noticed Augustina acting strangely, claimed they saw her “whispering” to the gargoyles that adorned their mansion walls.  One day, Augustina and William dissapeared….

Now, as perspective buyers,  you are invited on a special  real-estate tour of what the neighbors have nicknamed “Morbid Manor.” Inside,  Most of the original furnishings remain, untouched, as most people fear the place is still haunted by Augustina and William. You enter the Mansion foyer, when suddenly your host is gone and the door you came through appears to have vanished. The lights dim, you swear you hear something whisper behind you…is there something else in the room with you? The secrets of the past quickly unveil themselves in dramatic fashion as you rush to escape Morbid Manor!”

This is put on by the folks from Odd-Lot Puppetry, so it should be a great show.  Tickets range from $25 to $35 depending on the day of your booking.  Tickets are only sold in advance.  Maximum size of group per booking is 6.  Smaller groups may be put in with another smaller group to max out the number of participants.

 

FORT EDMONTON PARK

Fort Edmonton Park has a lot of events going on this year.  From a Midway Freakshow, to special movie screenings and the ever popular “Spooktacular“, they have something for everyone.  There are family friendly events and a couple of nights just for 18 years old and up.

The website is a little frustrating in that you have to click on the “get your tickets” button to get a full description of each event.  There is a “scare scale” on each event as well letting you know how terrifying each one is before you book.  Ticket prices vary.  Early bird specials are available currently.

 

PRAIRIE GARDENS HAUNTED PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

There are also many different activities that you and the family can enjoy at Prairie Gardens.  Tam and her crew are wonderful entertainers.  (Most activities are weather dependent)

There is a corn maze, petting zoo, haunted house, roving characters in costume, pumpkin cannon and much, much more!

Coming from this foodie; there is some pretty spectacular pumpkin pie on sale in the concession area.

 

NIGHT OF FEAR FESTIVAL

For “Scares that care”, the Night of Fear Festival in St. Albert would be right up your alley.  There are some very talented members of the Edmonton haunt community working on this project.  It should be a great show.

“Haunted House, Haunted Graveyard, Fortune Tellers, Actors, Costume Contests, Kids Party, Food Vendors, and over 50 local businesses all come together at the Night of Fear Festival. A portion of our proceeds goes to the Little Warriors”

 

DEADMONTON HOUSE

Of course, I saved the best for last!

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Back for its fourth year.  Deadmonton House is located in the old Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue and 102 Street. “Edmonton’s Scariest Haunted House”, prides itself on the yearly “chicken out” count.  This is where a customer is too scared to go any further in the haunt and needs to be brought to safety.

This year’s theme is “The Summoning” and is (loosely) based on a true story of the spectre that actually haunts the theatre.  There was a paranormal investigation completed on the theatre by Paranormal Explorers and Frankie is what they found.

“Constructed in the early 1950’s, the Paramount Theater’s big screen entertained countless moviegoers both young and old. Sticky sodas, tangled film reels, chewed-up bubble-gum, and fetid floods caused by overwhelmed toilets are just some of the many messes dealt with by Frankie, the resident caretaker of the Paramount.  Frankie loved the theater, choosing to spend his life cleaning up after grubby guests in the name of fantastic cinema; it is no secret that his labours continued in the afterlife.

When the theater was sold over fifty-five years later, his soul was laid to rest, until now.  The marquees are lit, the doors are open, but no longer do the stars of Hollywood grace his beloved silver screen.  Deadmonton Haunted House calls the Paramount home for its third year in a row, and Frankie is not happy.  Patrons have excitedly lined up not to revel in the glory of film, but to do little more than cause a ruckus. He has decided to summon ancient evils to drive away the current tenants. The summoning of his poltergeist pals is paramount to Frankie’s plan for eternal peace— no more queues, no more messes, no more insolent guests, and most importantly, no screaming in the theater!”

Deadmonton has been compared to the Universal Studios attraction and come out on top.  Movie quality props and monsters that are motivated to make you pee make for a truly terrifying experience! The “Depends” proceeds are no joke.  Monies go to the charity and the fact that your pants are still dry at the end of the night is priceless.  The haunt has made many a patron pee themselves.

Deadmonton house is also a “scare that cares” as they have a yearly charity partner.  This year is 630 Ched’s Santa’s Anonymous.  October 5th is their big night.  $5 from every ticket sold goes to the charity.  There will also be a hearse on site to stuff full of brand new, unwrapped toys.  There is a silent auction online where all proceeds will go to the charity.  Last, but not least, there is a collection box at the front desk of the haunt when you check in for tickets.

Tickets are only available at the door.  $24 Cash or credit only.  Speed passes are available for purchase online.  $40 gives you front of the line access; avoid the 2-3 hour wait at this very popular attraction.  They are already open for the season.  Please see the website for dates and times of operation.

 

20 Questions with Graziano Catering

20 Questions with Graziano Catering

I thought this would be a great way to get to know a small business.  I have known Gerry from Graziano’s Catering for a few years now.  Besides being a wonderful human being, he is also wonderful with Italian food.

Here we go:

  1. What is your muse?  What inspires you to come up with new menu items?  I just think of flavours that I have experienced and think of other ways to apply them. A lot of my influence came from two trips to Italy, albeit 16 years apart. I was amazed at the freshness of everything, but also the simplicity. Italians love to grill, but they don’t rely on heavy sauces for the meats. Just fresh quality cuts, oil and a variety of spices and herbs.
  2. What did you eat for dinner last night? A few of us from Twitter that had never met, got together at Lingnan for a fabulous dinner and fun conversation. It was lighthearted and fun and a testament to what can happen when people use Twitter for good and not evil. Plus it’s always nice when you can express yourself directly to people using more than 140 characters.
  3. What is your favourite place in Edmonton to eat when you are not cooking? Piccolinos Bistro, Famoso, Lingnan
  4. What is your most favourite ingredient to work with? Prosciutto
  5. What is your favourite charity event that you do?  I have spent a lot of time working with Ronald McDonald House and their “Meals That Mend” program.  If you have never been, it really is a heart warming experience. The thing I take away the most is that I can instantly see the impact a few hours of my time makes on so many people. A home made meal to a family coping with a sick child in hospital is much more powerful than people may realize.
  6. What can Graziano Catering fans expect from you in the next year or so? I’m taking my time and planning things out. This industry can be unforgiving and one wrong move can sink you. For now, lessons, hopefully more pop ups and of course always available for caterings.
  7. Tell me a bit about your in home cooking classes.  These are something I have wanted to start for a while. Basically it’s meant to be a fun 3-4 hours, in your home with me and just making some sauces and fresh pasta. Eventually I want to incorporate a few other cooking lessons with meats or desserts. For some, they may have no idea where to begin, for others it’s a refresher. A few months before the wonderful Gail Hall passed away, we had a great conversation about her experiences. She told me, there comes a point when it’s okay to share what you have learned with others. I just feel like that time has come.
  8. First word that comes to mind when I say foodie? Frienemy
  9. Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in? Florence, Italy
  10. If you weren’t cooking for a living, what would you be doing?  Probably working in the Radio/TV industry
  11. What did you want to be when growing up? In order, Fireman, Chef, Sportscaster, NHL Linesman
  12. If you left Edmonton to cook somewhere else, where would you go? Florence, Italy or Vancouver, BC
  13. Most embarrassing cooking moment? Sometimes, you get busy and attention to details are missed. I got a call from a school wondering if I was on the way with their hot school lunch order. I thought it was the following Monday. Needless to say, I had to scramble. I bought pizza for 125 kids, and apologized profusely. That school still does business with me to this day. Here’s a tip kids, if you make a mistake, own the hell out of it. Things can still work out.
  14. Person you would most like to cook for?  All of my family back in Italy. One huge family dinner starts around 8pm ends around midnight.
  15. What project are you most excited about right now? The Graziano Sunday Dinner. This will give me a chance to cook for people in a manner I haven’t been able to do before, at least not on such a large scale. When i had my cafe, we were busy and pumping out a lot of tasty lunches. This dinner is much different and at a higher skill set. I am loving the challenge it will present to me.
  16. Do you have any pet peeves? People that don’t courtesy wave in cars.
  17. What’s your karaoke song? “Ain’t That a Kick In The Head” by Dean Martin
  18. What do you like to do when you aren’t in the kitchen? I just like to unwind, and relax with a great cigar, some Port and listening to some old school jazz.
  19. What is your favourite sports team? Being a born and raised BC boy, as unpopular as this will be in Edmonton, I’d have to say the Vancouver Canucks. However, I’ve always thought of the Oilers as my step son. So they’re a very close second.
  20. If you had $10,000 how would you spend it? I will be cliche like so many chefs on cooking shows and say, I would take my family on a much needed vacation.

Speaking of which, Gerry has “The Graziano Sunday Dinner” coming up on May 28th.  This is a pop up style event taking place at Privada Wine and Tapas in St. Albert.  Tickets are a mere $50 per person for a wonderful meal featuring Effing Seafood and local Piedmontese Beef.   I would love it if you could join us!  Tickets will sell fast, and must be purchased before May 19.

Made from Scratch; The Downtown Diner

Made from Scratch; The Downtown Diner

The Downtown Diner in Fort Saskatchewan was enthusiastically recommended to me by friends when they found out that I was a food blogger. I had mentioned that one of my favorite finds, the Redline Diner had closed its doors for business.

I grew up in the era where it was still possible to pull up to the Drive In restaurant and have your server come out on roller skates to take your order. When your food came, it was on a tray that clipped to your window glass. The burgers were always a tasty treat and the root beer so frosty and delicious. Those were the days!

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Cravings; Gelato Love Launch

Cravings; Gelato Love Launch

Cravings is a family affair, with the lovely Charlynn Odegard heading the project. It all started with a family trip to Italy where they fell in love with Gelato.

Charlynn lovingly hand makes each batch in her home studio.  All the ingredients are fresh and as much as possible, locally sourced.  Cravings could be found at festivals, farmer’s markets and sometimes a special event.

Cravings would like to expand into offering a “Gelato Bar” for your next garden party, wedding, anniversary, fundraiser or other special event.

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The Dog – Man’s Best Friend

The Dog – Man’s Best Friend

Edmonton’s newest gourmet hotdog and sausage restaurant is The Dog; located at 9567A 118 Avenue.

This is a Sister restaurant to Sloppy Hoggs and Absolutely Edibles, in the Absolutely Edibles old space.  It has been open for about 6 weeks now.

The decor reminded me a bit of an old style diner or ice cream shop with Original 16 on tap.

The menu is pretty fantastic. There are some creative appies (Puppy Nuts) and some really great poutine like items called “The Dogs Breakfast”.

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Edmonton and Area Halloween Haunts 2014

Edmonton and Area Halloween Haunts 2014

 Happy Halloween 2014!

Welcome to my favourite time of the year!  I have been fortunate enough to be volunteering for the entire month of October, as I am sure you have seen from my social media feeds.  Things will get back to normal shortly around here.

Edmonton has a great community of creative and artistic people that go all out at this time of year.  We are lucky enough to have a lot of options each year to get us into the Halloween spirit.  Please support your local haunters so we can bring you even better events next year!

Professional Haunts

Deadmonton House is open for their first year here in Edmonton.  The whole thing was put together by Edmonton Firefighter, Ryan Kozar.  He had been working on the haunt since February to open for the month of October.  The level of detail is amazing and the live actors are guaranteed to get a scare out of the bravest souls! Donations are being collected for the Edmonton Firefighter’s Burn Treatment Unit.

Tickets are available at a discounted rate on the website.  Please remember to come early, the lineups can be quite long, but are entirely worth the wait!

**Tip: Bring clean underwear!

Please find more information on their website: Deadmonton House

Prairie Gardens has a wonderful weekend event going on this Halloween.  “Day of the Dead” weekend takes place November 1 and 2 out at the farm.   I love their “Haunted Pumpkin Festival”!  There is lots to see and do for the whole family.

Please find more information on their website: Prairie Gardens

The Edmonton Corn Maze does an annual event called the “Farm of Fear”.  The farm yard, a spooky old barn and part of the corn maze get transformed into a spooky Halloween event every year.  This is an outdoor event, so please dress for the weather!

Please find more information on their website: Farm of Fear

ZED has been going for many years now.  All of the proceeds go to the Red Deer Boys and Girls Club.  This is NOT your average haunt, it is professionally run and combines animatronics with live actors.  They rely on their team of dedicated volunteers to staff and scare the patrons.  I HIGHLY recommend the trip out to Red Deer – it will not disappoint!

Please find more information on their website: ZED Haunted House

The Shock House is new to Edmonton this year.  The team is from Saskatchewan, so do be aware that you are not supporting local when you give them your money.   They have five trailers full of scares to thrill you.  3110 Calgary trail, right near Spirit Halloween.

Please find more information on their website: The Shock House

Community Leagues

Please be sure to check with your local Community Halls, I know a lot of them are putting on events for their neighborhoods.

Please find more information on their website: Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues

Private Yard Haunts

The “Tunnel of Terror” is a garage haunt located at 12703-68 Street.  It is a haunt that is the brainchild of Duane and Brandy-Jo.  I have had the pleasure of running through their haunt and hiding in a dark corner.  Great treats at the end too!  Open from 6pm to midnight on Halloween night!

The Plunkie family haunts their garage annually.  An excellent stop on your trick or treating journey!
2706 124 Street in Edmonton.

The MacDonald family has downsized this year, they normally do a back yard walk through haunt.  I highly recommend putting this address on your trick or treating map, Grant’s props are all handmade and they are simply AMAZING!  Accepting donations for the Edmonton Food Bank.
57 Henry Avenue in Edmonton.

The Tobin family has been doing garage haunts for a couple of years now.  They used to be the driving force behind “The Tour of Terror” where my husband and I met.  Great candy and a mix of live actors and props. They will be running from 5:30pm to 9pm on Halloween.
11241 167A Avenue in Edmonton

The Carli family’s haunt is always phenomenal.  They have thousands of guests sign the guest book yearly.  We worked this haunt as live actors one year.  They are accepting donations for the St. Albert Food Bank.
64 Embassy Place in St. Albert

And last, but not least, the Pettigrew family haunt.   Doug and his family put a lot of effort into this haunt every year.  They have wonderful imaginations! The haunt opens at 5:30pm.
29 Michagan Street in Devon

There is so much to see and do in and around Edmonton on Halloween.  Be safe and enjoy some good scares!