Laura’s Amazing (and Easy!) Pulled Pork Sammiches

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sized slow cooker
  • 1 pork shoulder (or other large cut with a decent amount of fat on it) – around 3 pounds/1.35 kg
  • 1 large bowl for shredding – I emphasize large, because it’ll make it way less likely that you’ll throw shredded meat all over the room
  • 2 forks
  • fresh buns


  • 1/4 cup of marmalade (tangerine marmalade or hot pepper jelly also work well)
  • about 3/4 cup of ketchup
  • about 1/4 cup of demerara (dark brown) sugar – to taste
  • (optional – if you want a little extra sauce) 1/2 to 1 full can of cola – or even better – root beer.  Great use for flat pop, but using fizzy is good too.
  • (optional) 1 dollop (tbsp) Kraft BBQ sauce for sour BBQ kick
  • (optional) hot sauce to taste

What to do:

This is so easy to make, you’ll be wondering why you’ve never tried it before!

Sure there are 14 steps, but really I just like typing.

  1. Put all the Sauce ingredients in a microwaveable/stove-top safe measuring bowl (that way you don’t need to pre-measure your ingredients!)
  2. To melt the brown sugar, put in microwave for 10-15 seconds, or just stir patiently over a little heat on the stove until it mostly melts
  3. Taste-test the sauce: it should be sweet, mildly citrus-y, and not too tangy. Too tangy for your liking, add more brown sugar.  This is not a dish to be thinking about your calorie intake!  🙂
  4. Throw (not literally, unless you have good aim) your pork shoulder/ribs/roast into your slow cooker
  5. Pour your Awesome-Laura-Sauce over it. Try to cover all parts of the meat to ensure equal tastiness absorption
  6. Turn your slow cooker to Low.  Sometimes I like to feel like I’m cooking, so after an hour or so I turn it to Medium for an hour, then back to Low.  You probably don’t need to do this.
  7. Turn your meat over (I find I need a fork to help grab it) once every 3 hours or so.  Just helps in maintaining moisture all over the surfaces.  Try not to open the slow cooker lid to check on it – just trust it’ll do its thang.
  8. Wait – I mean – cook for about 8 hours.
  9. You’ll know it’s done when you stick a fork in it and the meat falls apart easily.  When this happens, transfer the meat CAREFULLY to the large bowl.  The meat is tender and might fall apart on you!!
  10. Grab your two forks and get shredding, removing extra fat (you don’t need it for flavour anymore).  Remember you’ll still be adding the sauce so you don’t need to go all Cujo on it.
  11. Your hands are probably sore now from gripping your forks, but rest easy – you’re almost done!  Just replace your shredded meat to the slow cooker and mix it around with the sauce
  12. (optional) I like leaving the meat in the slow cooker on Low or Warm just for a little while (30 minutes tops) to absorb the flavours even more
  13. Dish out your awesome pulled pork onto fresh buns (tip: the more sauce you add, the more soggy your buns will get!) and enjoy your tasty sammiches!!!!
  14. Come back to this site and bookmark this page because they are the best pulled pork sammiches you’ve ever tasted.  Maybe even comment saying so.  Tee hee.  🙂

You’re welcome, world.


Wouldn’t It Be Nice…..

….. if pop/soda/carbonated beverages could stand on their own as drinkable beverages when they lose their fizz?


Also, am I the only one who has trouble swallowing those drinks because of the amount of fizz??  I actually have to let them sit open for a while or shake them if I don’t want to feel like I’m just gulping air!

Chocomint Spritz Drink (and an update on me, too)


That’s really all I can say about not having written to you guys for so long.  Oops, sorry.  Well, I’m living in a new place now, unpacking is almost complete, and I’ve started a business (unofficially).

For today, just to get the creative juices flowing, I’ll post a refreshing drink I’ve come up with to replace a high-sugar soda drink that would normally quench my thirst on a hot summer’s day.

Chocomint Spritz Drink

What you’ll need for this drink:

  • equal parts Sprite (or 7-UP) and soda water
  • ice
  • 8 small, or 5 large chocolate mint (Mentha piperita) leaves

How to make:

Combine all ingredients.  You’re going to probably adjust the proportions of sugary Sprite and soda water to suit your taste.  Reach in with your hand and roll the floating mint leaves between your fingers, keeping them in the liquid of the drink so all the flavour gets infused nicely.

Tip: Start with less Sprite than you think you will need, and add more to taste.  If your taste buds get a flavour of the super-sweetness of 100% Sprite first, it’ll be hard to adjust the soda water to live up to it, and you’ll end up with just mint in Sprite (which is probably good too, but kinda defeats the purpose)….. so consider it a soda water drink, being sweetened a bit with Sprite instead of the other way around!  😉

That’s it!  Really refreshing, and half the sugar normally in soda.  If you don’t have a chocolate mint plant….. get one!  😉  Haha but really, if you don’t have one, try regular mint leaves!

Pierogi/Pirogi/Perogi Topping: Maple Pecan Bacon Bliss

Hallo there friends 🙂

Today’s post is a recipe for a change.  Well, not even for a full meal, but for a pierogi (or perogi, or pirogi, if you prefer) topping.

I first tried this at the amazing Cafe Polonez on Roncesvalles in Toronto, but honestly wished I got a little more than the small cup, because it was so good!  Now, I’m making perogies and want that flavour (or at least, how I remember it), so I’m experimenting and so far, without having made the actual perogies yet, it tastes really good.

Mix crushed pecans with equal amount of (real) bacon bits, and splash in a modest amount of real maple syrup.  I thought about buying real bacon to cook, but honestly, this is quicker and drier (no grease left over), and easy to mix up.   I used a package of Oscar Meyer real bacon bits, so they’re a little chewy, which is what I was hoping for.  I’m sure it would work just as nicely with real bacon pieces, but make sure they’re small enough to spoon onto your perogies.  If you find your mixture is sweet enough but needs more liquidity, you can add a dash of water (I did), or a dash of oil (I did that also).  Or you can keep it as a dry topping to add to your sour cream….. if that’s your style  😉

I’ll let you know how the final product fairs.  I’ve thrown the mix into the fridge to hopefully meld the flavours even more.  Plus, I’d like to see if this is okay to prepare beforehand, so less to think about when making the actual perogies.  Oh, and I totally plan on frying onions as well, and may or may not actually add them to this mix.  Probably not, cuz then I’d have to cut them small and I like fried onions long and skinny  🙂  Anyway, I’ll update this when it’s been eaten!

*Update: I have since made at least 3 batches of this topping, it was THAT AMAZING.  The first couple of times were using the crushed pecans I’d picked up in the bulk section (pecans are flippin’ EXPENSIVE!), but not being able to find anything less than like $10 without going back to the grocery store, I picked up some salted sunflower seeds from Shoppers Drug Mart for under $3.  Honestly, it’s the crunch that matters.  The taste is slightly different, but I wouldn’t say it’s worse, because it’s still flippin’ AWESOME.  And incredibly quick.  Real bacon bits and sunflower seeds (approx. same amount), mix with real maple syrup and a little water to loosen up the syrup, and suddenly pierogies are incredibly more delicious.  I don’t think I’d eat them without this topping anymore.  So as for the update: 5 FLIPPIN’ STARS.  Wait, lemme find a picture for that.  Screw it, I don’t want to give someone credit for a picture of stars.  I can make one.  Here: 5 flippin’ stars.


One Food I Will Leave for Others to Enjoy…..

I seriously doubt I will ever summon up the courage to try Balut. (a.k.a. bird fetus) ….. and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t ever *want* to.

But, to each their own!

P.S. I was going to attach a photo, but decided it would require a warning for the weak-stomached. You can thank me later.

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Turkey Stuffing Burgers

Hi all,

Just trying the recipe found here for Turkey Stuffing Burgers.  Will let you know how it goes.  Here’s a copy of what you need.

    • 1 beaten egg
    • 1/2 cup Stove Top stuffing mix
    • 1 tablespoon dried onions/freshly chopped onions
    • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granule
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1 cup Stove Top stuffing mix, crushed


Prep Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

  1. In bowl combine egg 1/4 cup water; stir in 1/2 cup stuffing mix, onion, and bouillon. Let stand for five minutes.
  2. Add turkey and mix well; shape into 1/2 inch patties.
  3. Coat with crushed stuffing mix.
  4. Cook patties in skillet coated with oil about 10 minutes per side until thoroughly cooked.  (We cooked ours on a closed grill to cook faster.  Turns out we needed to, because ours were a bit thicker.)

Summary: awesome.  For turkey burgers (or any burgers for that matter), I’d rate this 4.5/5

In making, the patties were maybe a bit too soft because they were sticking a bit, but not too bad at all, and probably could’ve added a bit more of the Stovetop to dry it up, but I didn’t really need to.  We had some difficulty crushing the cup of Stovetop, since we didn’t have a rolling pin, but managed to use a wooden spoon handle to do most of the major crushing, then put it through a sieve as best we could.

In eating, we were both pleasantly surprised by the tastiness of the burgers.  I almost had a second one, but thought my bellay probably wouldn’t have appreciated the extra weight.  They weren’t as crispy as I thought they might be, but that didn’t really matter.  I had mine with ketchup, zucchini relish, and this medium green salsa we got recently to try, and it was amazing.  I highly recommend you try this recipe when you feel like a change from regular burgers!

An Ideal Vacation: Ontario: Niagara Falls!

Hi folks!

Today’s Ideal Vacation location is my own dear province: Ontario!  Since I have visited a few places around this province, I’ll start by introducing the one I know best:

Where to visit:

  • Niagara Falls

What to do:

  • Butterfly Conservatory (as long as you’re okay with butterflies maybe landing on you!):  It’s a lovely slice of enclosed rainforest with a vast selection of colourful butterflies to stalk.  It’s hard to go and not leave a happier person!
  • Journey Behind the Falls:  Here, you really get a sense of how powerful the Niagara Falls Horseshoe waterfall is, as well as the tremendous speed with which all that water falls every second.
  • Maid of the Mist:  Although locals tend to roll their eyes at this one for its “hokeyness”, you really get different perspective from a boat about these falls.  I lived near Niagara Falls all my life and only truly understood the immensity of them when I went on the Maid of the Mist when I was about 16.  You won’t believe the wind!
  • The “old casino” (Casino Niagara):  More unique and pretty than the new casino on Murray Hill, Casino Niagara at 5705 Falls Avenue still houses many slot machines (the only thing I’ve ever dared to play), as well as some tables for that other gambling stuff.  It also has an interesting and functional art display of different-sized flat screen TVs so you can keep up-to-date with your favourite sports teams.  Plus, it’s just a few steps away from…..
  • The Hershey Store:  While everything is expensive here, if you have a few extra bucks to splurge in the summer, try one of their chocolate-dipped strawberries (ask for it *freshly* dipped, trust me!) and/or a chocolate milkshake.  No matter your chocolate tolerance, you will get a sugar overload!  It’s an awesome place to take a date, hint hint.
  • Go up to the Observation Deck at the Skylon Tower:  Sure, it gives you an amazing view of Niagara Falls, but what people often forget is that the viewing deck is all around the tower, so you can see far into the distance in all directions and can admire all the local landscape.  This used to be the tallest building at Niagara Falls, and is starting to be dwarfed by the (kinda ridiculous, if you ask me) massive hotels….. so if you’re one to appreciate history and architecture, this is the place you want to support!  If you’re feeling like an unforgettable meal, make sure to go to the restaurant up top too; they have incredible food!
  • Margaritaville:  This restaurant is new as of last summer, but had my attention from the beginning.  One of the famous international chain of Caribbean-themed restaurants created by everyone’s favourite beach bum, Jimmy Buffett, has opened across the street from the new casino on Murray Hill.  Everything I have ever tried on this song-inspired menu has been sensational, and served in the most amusing atmosphere you can imagine.  Pirates on stilts making balloon animal hats?  Sure!  Giant tequila bottle pouring into a monster-sized blender?  Of course!  Every restaurant is themed uniquely for its location, so there’s even a shout out to Niagara Falls by way of enormous large screen waterfall projections.  I believe they have live music every night, and Jimmy himself has been known to show up and play a spontaneous set!  (Just don’t expect it — that’s only happened once so far!)


Well, I’ve got a list started anyway.  I do love playing Tour Guide for friends who’ve never been, so expect to see more updates to this list in the future.  Feel free to add your own as well!

As this was only about Niagara Falls, I will try to get to other cities in the coming days, but I’ll need your help too!  Tell me which cities in Ontario you love to visit and why!

Best T.O. Resto (for home-cooking): The Intro

Hey all!

I’m taking a break from the Ideal Vacation series to bring you a new challenge: I’d like to create a series of entries that’ll serve as a resource to find awesome home-cooking restaurants in Toronto, Ontario.  To start off, I’ll pick an area of the GTA, and let you know where my favourite place to eat is, and why.  You can tell me if I’m nuts, or if you know of a better place.

Toronto sometimes gets a reputation for being a bit uptight, and it’s not hard to understand why: costs are sky-high for real estate in this busy city, so you gotta be good to make it.

However, you don’t have to be expensive, posh, or even that great of an atmosphere to have really good home-cooked food.  Although it’s sometimes nice to have a fancy meal out, with so many of us 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-generation Canadians living here, there’s something to be said for having a meal that reminds us of chowing down at the family dining table growing up.

I have explored some areas more than others, so if your fave spot doesn’t make it here, I might not even know about it!  If you have a suggestion of a place, tell me here and I’ll make sure to try it in the next few weeks.  Also be sure to include your favourite dish, so I can know what to order!


Ever wonder at the origin of the term “sweetmeats”?  It was in Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, and I decided to look it up.  Thanks, Food Timeline!

To quote:

Why are confections sometimes called “sweetmeats” in England? Laura Mason, British confectionery history expert, explains:

“The anamolies in our own language are due to the origin of sweets or sweeties…as diminutives of sweetmeat. This word, still not entirely obsolete, was in common use for over 400 years to the end of the nineteenth century. The suffix-meat has an archaic meaning of food in the widest sense (surviving in the phrase ‘meat and drink’), so sweetmeat simply means a sweet food…To the inhabitants of Tudor and Stuart England, sweetmeats were sugary foods in general, including pieces of flavoured candy and sugar-covered nuts and spices, products of medieval theories on the medicinal value of sugar, as well as dishes which used sugar as one ingredient amongst many, for structure, sweetness and an air of the exotic…Medieval feasts had provided several roles for sweetmeats.”
Sugarplums and Sherbet: The Prehistory of Sweets, Laura Mason [Prospect Books:Devon] 2004 (p. 22)
[NOTE: We highly recommend this book if you need details on the history of all sorts of English candies.] “

My Random Five-Ingredient Recipe (Chicken Paprikas)

Well I don't know how this all will come together, but just read the ingredients in order….. but there is an optional ingredient at the end so read them all first in case you want to add it!

Basically: sear chicken, add lots of water, add carrots, add potatoes, add paprika and salt, and simmer on medium for a couple of hours (the more you cook it, the better the flavours mix)……

The reason for cooking so much is, trust me, it's even better on the second day!!

Chicken (cheap thighs work great)
Sear chicken pieces in bottom of large pot. (A little oil might be needed)

Salted water
Pour over seared chicken pieces to 2/3 of the pot full. Simmer on medium.

Diced carrots (2 or 3 large)
Nope, just throw ’em in!

Bite-sized chucks of skinned potatoes (4 large or as many as you’d like)
Also, no, just toss them in.

A little paprika for flavour, more salt
To taste, but always remember you’ll be consuming more than a teaspoon at a time, so allow it to taste a little weaker than you’d like — you can always add a bit more at the table.

(Optional) 4 inches of the celery heart thingy
Sorry for the bad description, it’s the part of celery where all the stalks join, and you usually don’t eat it….. Throw it in at the beginning if you have one, it adds some nice taste. If you like celery a lot, feel free to chop up some stalks too, that’s also yummy.

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