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Backyard Entertaining

With the flowers starting to protrude above the ground, and the sun shining just enough to go outside with out bundling up, summertime is just around the corner and it’s a great time to plan getting together with friends and family to enjoy the outdoors. 

There are many ways to plan a successful backyard party, but the first thing to arrange is the perfect seating experience to allow everyone to be comfortable and engage in conversation.  If your entertaining a large crowd then smaller seating areas, scattered around the backyard will ensure that people will mingle and create different conversations that can be enjoyed by various people.

Setting the perfect decor for your backyard entertaining can be done with a simple string of patio lights or hanging lanterns. Light tiki torches around the garden and use votive candles to set the mood by placing them in small glass jars. Get creative with your table decor by using lightweight colourful tablecloths and brightly coloured paper napkins, which are easily disposable afterwards, and less time in cleaning up.

Providing music for your party is a great way to encourage fun. You can use your patio as a dance floor and keep the music near by so those that won’t to dance up a storm can. You can hire a DJ but if you do not want the added cost then plan ahead with top dance hits from your era downloaded on to your iPod or use your MP3 player or cd’s for everyone to enjoy dancing to.

Food at your party always seems to be the number one concern. Easy backyard entertaining is preferably done with a smart backyard buffet. Keep your menu light and simple, food should be yummy and easy to handle and the less you have to fuss the more time you get to spend with your guests.  Why not take advantage of your grill and have a few people to watch over grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. Don’t forget dessert, something perfect for a summers evening like fresh fruit kebobs and maybe some freshly whipped cream to dip into. Be sure to have plenty of finger foods on various tables around your garden and set up a self serve bar table complete with a cooler for ice, so everyone can help themselves to a drink.

Hospitality is the key to throwing a great party, welcoming your guests and making them feel good that they came. Chances are with great friends, just being together is all that’s important.

Specialty Burger Recipes to give your grill a thrill!

Great cocktails to serve at your next backyard party.

DJ services to help bring your Backyard entertainment to the next level.



Benefits of a Facial

 

If you’ve never enjoyed a facial treatment before, then allow me to convince you otherwise.

A facial stimulates your skin by improving your blood circulation and relaxing your facial muscles, which in turn can slow the onset of dare I say…wrinkles, the nemesis of aging.

There are many benefits of enjoying regular scheduled facials;

* A brighter, healthier complexion
* Improved acne
* Reduced puffiness, redness & sagging skin 

Did you know that your skin renews itself approx. every 28 days. Facials can prepare the new skin cells to be healthier, by increasing the blood circulation under the skin allowing optimal healthy skin cells to develop, giving you a beautiful natural glow.

Facials can help smooth fine lines and promote collagen which helps prevent premature aging and wrinkles. Your lymphatic system that lies just beneath your skins surface will be manipulated to help decrease puffiness and aid in detoxification.

Facials provide exfoliation that smooths you skin, improves hydration and over all skin tone. But aside from your beautiful glowing radiant skin, facials allow you time to relax, which in itself is a great stress relief.

It is recommended that you have a facial every 4-6 weeks, but it is also recommended that you prolong the results of your facial by cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and protecting your skin from the sun at home.

Sugar, honey, oatmeal and yogurt are all natural exfoliants that can be found at home.

Honey can reduce inflammation and helps to fight acne making it a great hydrating facial scrub.

Yogurt hydrates and exfoliates and soothes and smooths your skin. Apply plain yogurt to your face for about 20 minutes and then rinse.

Sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid which helps to remove dead skin cells. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar with enough olive oil or your oil of preference to make a paste. Apply this to your face using a gentle circular motion then rinse well.

Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural moisturizer. Finely grind up one cup of oatmeal in a blender, stir in one cup of plain yogurt and 2 tbls of honey. Mix into a paste and apply to your face for 15 minutes and rinse well with warm water.

Remember before applying anything to your skin there is always a risk of an allergic reaction, make sure you do your research first and speak to an esthetician at your spa beforehand as they can recommend products that are better for your skin type once that have taken a look at your skin.

There are many elements that can damage your skins appearance from weather, stress, natural aging, and a poor diet. A facial treatment allows your face to absorb what it needs to replenish itself and will also provide you with a little bit of calmness in your busy life.

Having clear bright and healthy looking skin can put a skip in your step as we head into spring.

Posted in Spa


Why Do Brides Carry Flowers

 

You can express yourself through the flowers you choose. During Victorian times, flowers took on an additional significance, as lovers would send messages to each other using different flowers, with each flower having its own meaning. It is believed that flower language actually began in Turkey during the 17th century.

For example, Roses represent everlasting love, Stephanotis is good luck, Zinnias represent lasting affection and Ivey signifies fidelity, but today’s tradition for the bouquet is really about added beauty and personal expression.

In ancient times, brides carried bunches of grains, herbs and strong smelling spices in order to ward against demons, angry spirits and bad health. Eventually, these bouquets were replaced with flowers. In Ancient Greece and Rome, the bride and groom wore floral garlands around their necks, signifying new life, hope and fertility. The groom is supposed to wear a flower that appears in the bridal bouquet in his buttonhole. This comes from the medieval tradition of a knight wearing his lady’s colours, as a celebration of his love.

According to legend, during the 15th century, people took their annual baths in May and would generally get married in June. Just to be on the safe side brides carried bouquets to mask the smell of body odour.

Today five of the most popular wedding flowers are; Roses, Calla Lilies, Hydrangeas, Peonies and Tulips.

For good luck 14th century Europeans tore fabric from the brides dress. It was believed that the bride was especially lucky on her wedding day. The piece of her dress was considered a “Good-luck keepsake”. The brides tossing of her bouquet was so she could extend a good-luck keepsake to her guests, but really it was also to avoid having her dress torn. It is considered lucky to catch the bouquet because it signifies by tradition and myth that whomever catches the bridal bouquet will be the next one married.

The Flower Shop at the Old Mill Toronto creates hand-tied European style bouquets from the sweet and romantic Victorian styles to the imaginative boldly exotic flower selections, each flower is lovingly selected to ensure your custom designed hand-tied bouquet meets your every expectation.



Roast Turkey with Herb Stuffing & Gravy

 

If you’ve never tackled stuffing and roasting a whole turkey before, or if you just need a refresher on cooking that perfect bird, this 101 cooking lesson is for you. A fresh turkey really does have a superior texture and flavour and it’s usually best to order ahead from your butcher or meat department to make sure you get the right size. If you are using a frozen turkey be sure to allow for plenty of thaw time to thaw in the refrigerator and never thaw at room temperature. The turkey for this recipe would take 2 1/2 – 3 days to thaw completely. Any stuffing you can’t fit in the bird can be cooked in a buttered casserole dish after the turkey comes out of the oven.

HERB STUFFING
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh sage
1 tsp (5 ml) chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp (2 ml) celery seeds
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried savoury (optional)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250 ml)approx. turkey or chicken stock
14 cups (3.5 ml) cubed day old bread

TURKEY
1 Turkey, 12 – 14 lbs (5.5 to 6.5 kg) 
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter, melted
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp (1 ml) chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper 

GRAVY
2 cups (500 ml) approx. turkey or chicken stock
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp (5ml) chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup (80 ml) all-purpose flour
 1/3 cup (80 ml) dry white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper 

 1. For the stuffing, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add celery, onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add sage, rosemary, celery seeds, savoury (if using) and 1/2 tsp (2 ml) each salt and pepper; saute for 5 minutes or until onions start to turn golden. Pour in about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the stock and scrape up brown bits.

2. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and mix with bread. Add enough stock to moisten stuffing (when you squeeze it, a handful should just hold together). Season with salt and pepper, let cool completely.

3. Preheat oven to 325F (160C).

4. Remove any giblets and parts tucked in cavity of turkey and reserve for the stock if desired. Rinse turkey inside and out with cool running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. You want at least 1 inch  (2.5 cm) of space between the turkey and the sides of the pan.

5. Fill cavity with the stuffing, packing lightly, but not to tight, in order to leave room for expansion when cooking. Bring legs together towards the opening of the cavity and tie with kitchen string. Lift the flap of skin at the neck and stuff the smaller cavity, if desired.

6. Combine melted butter, sage, rosemary and about 1/2 (2 ml) each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush all over the outside of the turkey.

7. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer between the leg and the breast with end of the probe into the thickest part of the thigh and without touching the bone.

8. Roast for 3 1/2 to 4 hours until thermometer for both meat and stuffing reads 180 F (82C). Transfer turkey to a large cutting board and cover loosely with foil to “tent”.

9. For the gravy, remove rack from roasting pan. Pour pan drippings into a large liquid measuring cup. Let stand for 2 minutes. Spoon off the fat that floats to the top of the cup, (an idea to speed up this process is to add ice cubes which will solidify the fat faster). Reserve 1/4 cup (60 ml); discard remaining fat. Pour in enough stock to remaining pan juices to make 3 cups (750 ml) total liquid.

10. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Return the reserved fat to roasting pan and heat until sizzling. Add onion and sage and saute for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook, while whisking to make sure flour is incorporated with the fat, for one minute. Gradually pour in the wine, while whisking. Gradually pour in the stock, keep whisking to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer whisking often for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

11. To carve the turkey, untie the legs and spoon stuffing out of the cavities into a warm serving bowl, cover and keep warm.

12. Cut legs from turkey, inserting knife between the thigh joint and the body and using the knife to cut the meat while slightly wriggling the leg to loosen the joint. Carve meat from the thigh and serve drumstick whole if desired. To cut the breast meat position the turkey so the neck is farthest away from you. Make a cut along the breast down the centre of the turkey starting from the neck and working towards you an dkeeping the knife blade as close to the bone as possible, carfully cutting themat away from the bone in one large piece. Transfer the large piece of breast to a cutting board, then cut cross wise into slices. Repeat on the left side. Cut wings loose from the body, wiggling loose as you did the legs.

Finally you are ready to serve the turkey with the hot gravy and stuffing alongside. Refrigerate any leftovers within 1 hour.  Enjoy this meal with a nice Pinot Noir, the soft tannins and earthy, berry fruit notes provide the right combination of flavours for this dish or a nice Chardonnay, another favourite with a turkey dinner.

Enjoy!



Rosemary Lamb Loin Recipe

Rosemary Lamb loin recipe with rhubarb chutney served with fiddleheads, white asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, Jerusalem artichoke gratin.

Rosemary Lamb Loin Recipe

4 loins of Ontario Lamb approximately 5 to 7 ounces each
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Olive oil for frying
Port wine for deglazing and reduction
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and brown loins evenly on all sides. Add chopped garlic and rosemary and transfer to the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until cooked to desired colour. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to rest. Season to taste. Deglaze sauté pan with a generous amount of port wine and allow to reduce over medium heat until the liquid has reached a syrupy consistency. Set aside but keep lukewarm. Drizzle finished lamb dish with rosemary port reduction. Serve with prosciutto wrapped white asparagus, butter sautéed fiddleheads, Jerusalem artichoke gratin, and minted rhubarb chutney.

 

Sautéed Fiddleheads Recipe

8 ounces fresh Fiddleheads (may substitute with frozen)
1 garlic clove, minced very fine
3 tbsp butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt to taste

Trim any brown ends of the fiddleheads and pull off any remaining skin. Wash very thoroughly under cold water. Blanche in boiling water for approximately one minute. Pull from water and strain and pat dry with paper towel. In a sauté pan over medium heat sauté the fiddleheads in butter and garlic. It’s okay if the butter browns slightly. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Minted Rhubarb Chutney Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp Fresh spear mint chopped fine
3 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

Combine sugar and cider vinegar and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb and bring to a soft boil. Cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. Cool, incorporate chopped spearmint, and serve at room temperature.

 

Prosciutto Wrapped White Asparagus Recipe

8 large spears white asparagus
4 thin slices of Prosciutto ham
Cracked black pepper to taste
Olive oil for roasting

Trim the tough ends off the asparagus. Blanche in boiling water for approximately one minute. Pull from water and apt dry with paper towel. Season asparagus with cracked black pepper and roll two spears each in a single slice of prosciutto leaving the tips exposed. Line in an olive oil greased roasting dish and roast until prosciutto has become browned. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin Recipe

1 pound Jerusalem Artichokes
1/8 cup butter cut into small cubes
1 tsp butter for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/2 tsp fresh sage chopped fine
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes and boil them in salted water until they are fork tender, about 10 to12 minutes. Drain, cool, and then cut into 3/8 inch slices and toss with chopped sage and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Butter an appropriate sized baking dish and fill with the Jerusalem artichokes. Dot the artichokes with butter cubes and drizzle with cream. Combine breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the artichokes. Bake at 400 degrees until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned, approximately 20 minutes.

 

 



Fifty Shades of White

It was the Ragtime era, when the phonograph became available to consumers. The first time guests were dancing at weddings; and in spite of high waists and high collars, long trains and long gloves it was the bopping head and flailing arms and legs of the Turkey Trot that was coveted by the youth and considered scandalous by polite society.

In 1914; the start of World War I the Toronto cityscape was dotted with horse and buggies as the population pushed 200,000. It was the year of the opening of the Old Mill Tea Room, the future venue for a legacy of weddings that would define the iconic Toronto landmark.

In 1929 the Old Mill Tea Room added a dance hall; and a nine piece orchestra that played six nights a week. It was the Depression so although couples continued to exchange vows brides were exchanging silk for rayon gowns or their Sunday dresses that could be worn again.

In the thirties with women supplying ¼ of Toronto’s workforce the world was introduced to mac ‘n cheese, instant oatmeal and canned soup varieties. The invention of kettles that whistled when they boiled and blenders for home use made it easier for women to go to work.

Amid World War II even more women were employed and weddings were planned with haste to young men in the forces. Vogue magazine wrote (1942) “Weddings nowadays hang not on the brides’ whim, but on the decision of the grooms’ commanding officer.”

Grooms were increasingly wearing wedding bands as visual reminders of their nuptials.

This era of rationing and practicality forced shorter hemlines (above the ankle for bike-riding ease) and lacy sweaters to get the most mileage out of a ball of wool. Brides were not exempt from frugality often using furnishing fabrics and lace curtains to fashion their wedding attire.

Life was better in the fifties. Toronto got a television broadcast system, TV dinners were on grocery shelves and portable dishwashers were being wheeled into kitchens.

Brides were wearing ballerina-length dresses with luxurious poufy layers and short fingerless gloves made of lace. Bolero jackets were in demand for ceremonies, covering strapless or laced dresses with sweetheart collars for the reception.

In the sixties women were making up 1/3 of the Canadian workforce and ¼ of the Canadian engineering profession. They were learning that ovens could (and should) clean themselves.

When they were grooving down the aisle brides were choosing short skirts or dresses and hair worn long, dotted with flowers or veils popping from pill box hats.

Toronto enjoyed architectural successes in the seventies, with Ontario Place, The Eaton Centre and The CN Tower being erected. Microwave ovens hit the Canadian market but the decade is generally associated with flower power and the peace movement.

Blame it on the hippies, but seventies brides had their own fashion senses. From pantsuits to smocked gauze gowns to Bohemian frocks this was an era of recreational duds.

O Canada became the official national anthem in 1980 kicking off an era of formality and tradition in wedding styles.

If one person can define the decade it was Diana, Princess of Wales who set the tone for puffy hair, puffy sleeves, long-distance trains and veils and the return to bodacious bouquets. Brides among the non-nobles dressed as princesses nonetheless.

The nineties were digital; as in cameras, answering machines and video discs. People were still using coin booth telephones but mobile phones were introduced to the marketplace.

In fashion, the ‘designer look’ was desirable. Brides were wearing strapless, sleeveless and sexy gowns. Cleavage was in (or out?) and dresses were form fitting.

At the turn of the century the vowels were ahead; with the arrival of iPhones, e-tickets, e-books, USBs and ATMs.

Drinks are frothy and wedding gowns more so. Pick-up skirts and asymmetrical hems fall from form fitting bodices.

Mermaids may be mystical in the sea but on the aisle the Mermaid dress is genuine and sought after, as is the Pandora, Princess, Sabrina or Tulip dress.

A century of changing styles, fashions and trends; yet the Old Mill Toronto is unwavering in their dedication to their brides and their special days.

You might say that the Old Mill Toronto will go to great lengths to seek perfection.

And as a toast to the brides, every 2014 wedding dinner package booking will be entered into a draw to Win 1 of 2 Romantic Cruises and, a first Anniversary stay in a luxury King Room at the Old Mill Toronto, as well as an engagement digital photo session Free!