When Chicago chef Gregory Ellis makes a pork belly sandwich, he doesn’t stop at the belly. In addition to a fried egg and kumquat chow-chow, he adds a mystery ingredient – bacon jam.
“People don’t know what to expect,” says Ellis, chef at the breakfast, brunch and lunch spot 2 Sparrows.
“When they think bacon they’re not expecting any of the sweetness that comes with it. It pleases everyone and they like it after they try it.”
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The jam’s next stop on his menu: French toast.
Bacon jam may coast on its key attraction – that would be the bacon – but the idea of savory jam has been around for ages. Hot pepper jam has long been a Southern staple, topping slabs of cream cheese at cocktail parties and luncheons. But today, chefs, gourmet food companies and home canners are taking savory ingredients to the next level, turning everything from garlic and onions to carrots and saffron into sweet condiments.
“I’m always looking at ways to open people’s eyes to the different opportunities in preserve making,” says Marisa McClellan, creator of the blog “Food in Jars” and author most recently of Preserving by the Pint. “One of these things is savory jam.”
The trend in home canning and preserving took off around 2009, fueled by the do-it-yourself movement and the poor economy. Savory jams, observers say, offer the next stop for people who’ve already mastered strawberry and blueberry. Savory jams are most often glossy, sticky, sweet-ish concoctions that occupy the space between chunky relishes made of pickled items and smoother spreads and purees.
Their popularity is still growing, canners say, pushed by the gourmet world’s unrelenting appetite for new items. For instance, gourmet food purveyor Stonewall Kitchens introduced a bacon jam just this year. Company executives say demand for their savory jams continues to rise, and that the items sell as well as their sweet jams.
McClellan might set apricot rosemary jam next to goat cheese, spread tomato jam on roasted sweet potato rounds or whirr it in the food processor with cream cheese for dip. A dollop of caramelized shallot jam livens up a grain bowl, she says, and a ramekin of peach-Sriracha jam makes a great dipping sauce.
Sean Timberlake, founder of Punk Domestics, an aggregation site on all things canning and preserving, features recipes for strawberry rhubarb jalapeno jam, onion jam with rosemary, even zucchini marmalade, a concoction of shredded zucchini, orange and lemon. And of course, there’s bacon jam. But the number one search on his site? Tomato jam.
“It awakens people to the idea that tomato is actually a fruit,” Timberlake says. “We always think of tomato as a vegetable, but when you taste it in this other setting, people are like, ‘Oh, I totally get it.’ They experience the fruit differently than they have before.”
McClellan says tomato jam also is the most popular item on her blog. She has several versions – peach and yellow tomato jam, orange tomato with smoked paprika – but straight up tomato jam is the perennial favourite on both sites. Perhaps tomato jam does well because it is familiar, just a baby step from ketchup.
“And yet it’s a world apart,” says Timberlake, who spreads tomato jam on burgers, BLTs and macaroni and cheese. “It’s not ketchup. It’s definitely tomato.”
Savory jams complement cheese plates, act as condiments on sandwiches, and make great gifts, say the people who make and sell them. But they also can turn a potentially ordinary dish into something special.
“To keep people interested in the same old food that they can get at home, you need to put a twist on it,” Ellis says. “Why are they going to come to my restaurant to get toast and jam? … I’m not going to serve them just plain blueberry because they’re paying for it. I want to give them a unique experience.”
©2014The Associated Press
Watch above: Saskatchewan’s Ukrainian community reacts to downing of Malaysia Airlines plane
SASKATOON – Ukrainians in Saskatchewan are worried that the airline crash in Ukraine is going to lead to more violence in the region.
Danylo Puderak, executive director of Ukrainian Canadian Congress Saskatchewan, says that’s the biggest fear for many. He says after Ukraine’s presidential elections in May, there was hope that the region was moving toward peace.
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“At least there was some progress being made, but now with this tragic shooting down of a civilian airliner I think we’re going to see probably an escalation of the violence,” he told Global Morning News.
“It’s a shock. People don’t know what to expect.”
IN DEPTH: Disaster over Ukraine – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
In parts of eastern Ukraine, government troops have been battling Russian separatists.
Many think the separatists are backed by Moscow, and Puderak believes there are indications that the separatists are behind the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
“In fact one of the (separatist) leaders, on his social media site, a Russian social media site, had posted up there bragging they had shot down a plane, and there was some international media that got screen shots of this,” said Puderak.
“And then all of a sudden it disappeared when it became known that it was a civilian airliner.”
Regardless of who is found responsible, Ukrainians in Saskatchewan worry it will lead to more instability and violence.
“There’s a lot of concern about this causing a rise in tension,” he said. “There is concern about the potential for this war spreading.”
Environmental activists and concerned citizens will be giving out special postcards to mark Canada Parks Day tomorrow.
The postcards are addressed to Environment Minister Mary Polak, asking her government to repeal the controversial Park Amendment Act.
The act allows private companies to conduct research in B.C. parks and apply to have sections of park land utilized for industrial development.
The bill was passed earlier this year with little public consultation.
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On Saturday, volunteers with Sierra Club BC and other environmental organizations will be talking to park visitors throughout B.C. about the new legislation.
“From Kitimat to Kamloops, to spots in the Fraser Valley to the Gulf Islands to Vancouver Island, people are going to be out in parks, talking to visitors,” says Caitlyn Vernon with Sierra Club BC. “We are calling on Minister Polak to stand up for parks, not pipelines and repeal this act.”
Vernon says more than 167,000 people signed the petition to keep B.C. parks free of industrial activity in a matter of two weeks.
The petition was delivered to Minister Polak in May.
“It has really hit a nerve with British Columbians who disagree to opening our parks to pipelines, logging and other industrial activity,” says Vernon. “This legislation was rammed through the Legislature with no opportunity for British Columbians to give feedback, so a lot of people do not know what is going on.”
Watch: Proposed changes to BC Parks Act worry environmentalists
PARIS – The downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine is likely to be a turning point in the country’s conflict. But which way it turns depends mainly on who carried out the attack and how convincingly it can be proved to the world.
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With suspicion falling heavily on pro-Russian insurgents, the event could provide an opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to disengage from his increasingly uncontrollable allies in eastern Ukraine.
But if enough doubt persists, positions could harden in both Russia and the West. The West could toughen its sanctions against Russia and help Ukraine’s military, prompting Putin to dig in for an even higher-stakes battle.
The disaster has already drawn the world closer into the Ukraine conflict, the worst crisis between Russia and the West in a generation.
It also made the fighting painfully real for families from Australia to Amsterdam whose relatives were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. And it revealed a danger that most people hadn’t contemplated: rebels able to strike beyond their own homeland by pointing conventional weapons toward the skies.
Definitive proof that the insurgents are at fault could be a crucial step toward defusing the months-long conflict, discrediting them so badly that Russia’s leadership distances itself from the rebels and their movement fizzles.
Even before the plane was downed, Putin faced competing pressures at home. Some in his administration were urging him to take a more forceful hand in supporting the rebels, while others urged him to step away.
If the rebels can be shown to have committed an act that horrified the world, the doves would likely see their position strengthened. But Putin-watchers caution that with the Russian president, you never really know.
Any change would probably be gradual, especially because Putin has always denied any direct role in supporting the rebels.
Live Blog: Updates on downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
It will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to prove definitively who shot down the Boeing 777 and why. This is an unusually tough investigation in a region where no one is really in charge, propaganda trumps truth and every announcement seems to have an ulterior motive.
If enough doubt remains about who shot down the plane, Russia could plausibly continue to quietly support the rebels, especially as many Russians believe the Ukrainian government was responsible for the attack.
Of course, that would bring consequences for Russia. In Washington, some lawmakers are already pushing President Barack Obama to get tougher on Russia and crank up the sanctions. European leaders face similar calls.
The West might even increase its military aid to Ukraine. And it’s anyone’s guess where those hostilities might lead.
Few passenger airliners have ever been shot down – and when they are, it can cause lasting political damage.
A U.S. warship mistakenly shot down an Iranian jet in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war, killing 290 people and prompting widespread anger at U.S. policy and years of legal dispute.
The downing of a Korean Airlines flight by Soviet forces in 1983 and the loss of 269 lives sparked one of the tensest moments of the Cold War and led to an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment in the U.S. The man in charge of the Soviet Union at the time, Yuri Andropov, was a hero of Putin’s.
Lingering uncertainty about Flight 17 could lead to yet another option: condemning eastern Ukraine to a frozen conflict, like others around Russia’s edges.
It may take days or longer to know what Putin plans to do. A dragged-out, inconclusive investigation could leave things just as they are, serving Russia’s interests by preserving economic ties between eastern Ukraine and Russia and effectively scotching any Ukrainian attempt to join NATO.
The world may never know what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean this year. And it’s possible that the motive behind the downing of Flight 17 could remain a mystery as well.
Whether it does could well determine the future of Ukraine.
Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report
©2014The Canadian Press
ABOVE: Watch David Alpay appear on Global Toronto’s News at Noon.
TORONTO — David Alpay was just a regular 20-year-old human biology major at the University of Toronto when he was picked by director Atom Egoyan to star opposite Christopher Plummer and Charles Aznavour in 2002’s Ararat.
The acting bug bit and Alpay decided to balance academic studies with acting jobs for awhile — although he took a short break from the latter to focus on the former.
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“Because the intention wasn’t always to be an actor, that hasn’t been my number one guiding principle,” Alpay explained.
“I love acting. It’s a lot of fun work, interesting work, and you get to work with some very interesting people. But I seemed to be OK walking away from it for a little while and then coming back to it.”
Alpay took roles on shows like The Tudors, The Borgias and The Vampire Diaries and is now one of the stars of The Lottery, a drama set six years after women stopped being able to bear children.
The 10-episode series debuts Sunday night on Lifetime.
Alpay plays one of the scientists who discovers a way to fertilize 100 embryos (leading to the titular process of choosing who will carry them).
He admitted his science background came in handy. “It gives you a little confidence on set when you talk about something.”
In an interview on Friday, Alpay told Global News he still has a passion for science.
“To relax, I do yoga and meditate and do little math problems,” he said, “and it’s fun to check that part of your brain off and turn on a different part.”
Alpay said although there is science in The Lottery, there isn’t necessarily a lot of science fiction.
“It’s not that weird,” he said of the premise. “It’s not the kind of post-apocalyptic future we see in Mad Max or something. It’s much more in the near future.
“We see protests, we see people getting into fights, we see the fires burning. But we see it in the context of a world that’s kind of familiar to us. It’s the very near future. It’s not like there are flying cars.”
Alpay said he is interested by some of the questions the series poses.
“What if none of us could have families or children? What would we do to survive? What would we be willing to do? How far are we willing to go? Are we the kind of people we would have wanted to save in the first place?”
The Lottery also allows the Toronto native to work in Canada. The pilot was shot in Vancouver and the series is currently in production in Montreal.
Alpay said it is fun to be recognized by people when he’s back home. “Especially around U of T,” he said. “I guess people are watching TV on their iPads instead of studying.”
But, he added, fame is not what motivates him.
“I’ve always been passionate about acting. I haven’t been passionate about being famous,” said Alpay. “They are very different things. Maybe now, I guess, those two things are conflated.”
He hopes The Lottery is a win.
“People are going to get a punch of a story,” said Alpay, “and hopefully they will get hooked into it and fall in love with it and they’ll demand a second season.”
Lifetime is part of Shaw Media, parent company of Global News.
WINNIPEG – Ottawa is not offering Prairie farmers any immediate, special help to recover from this year’s flood, which some peg at costing producers $1 billion in lost revenue.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told a news conference in Winnipeg that affected farmers will be eligible to apply for help under existing insurance programs. Those programs worked well for those affected by the 2011 flood and they will do the same for farmers now, he said.
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“Farmers know that they’re well-served by the programs that are there,” Ritz said Friday following the annual meeting of federal and provincial agriculture ministers.
“We worked diligently through 2011. We’ll be doing the same assessments and moving forward.”
It’s estimated at least 1.6 million hectares of farmland in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been damaged by flooding in recent weeks. Torrential rain in both provinces at the beginning of July caused widespread, overland flooding in rural areas.
Manitoba declared a state of emergency and called in the military to help shore up flood defences as flood water made its way east from Saskatchewan. While urban centres were largely left unscathed, the floodwater turned fields into lakes.
Even before the rain hit, around 405,000 hectares of land in Manitoba had gone unseeded because of overland flooding. Crop insurance now covers unseeded or flooded hectares, which should help farmers, Ritz said.
“That’s much more bankable and predictable and stable than waiting for an ad-hoc payment,” he said.
Ottawa will be working closely with the provinces to look at building up flood defences so the country isn’t dealing with “these situations on a crisis basis,” he added.
Doug Chorney, head of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said that’s not much comfort for farmers who were hoping to hear more from the federal government. Farmers are looking at losing $1 billion because of flooding, he said. Farmers in Manitoba have been battered by flooding and many will be forced to leave the industry if they don’t get extra help, he said.
“I was hoping to hear they were planning on having a strong, robust AgriRecovery program that would get producers through this difficult time. We didn’t hear that so I’m disappointed,” Chorney said after listening to Ritz. “This is going to be devastating for producers who’ve been expecting to hear there will be help.”
Crop insurance isn’t much help, especially for farmers who have been hit by flooding before, Chorney said. Their deductible goes up and doesn’t end up paying many bills, he said.
Farmers who were hit hard by the 2011 flood in Manitoba are demoralized, Chorney said.
“They don’t have the resolve to carry on,” he said. “People are talking about piece-mealing off their farm, getting out of cattle because they have no pasture … We can’t wait for government. Clearly we’re hearing that government is not going to be here for many producers. That’s unfortunate.”
Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn said the province still doesn’t know the extent of the damage caused by this most recent flood. The province is still working on how many producers have been affected and exactly how many hectares have been lost, he said.
“The sad reality is that Mother Nature is the element we cannot control,” Kostyshyn said. “When you have a rainfall that is 150 to 200 per cent higher than the norm, you don’t have proper infrastructure that can even handle that velocity of water.”
Damage ‘at least $200M’ in Manitoba flood, premier saysWhat’s to blame for Manitoba flood? Loss of wetlands, for one
©2014The Canadian Press