Tea, Men & Romance

During a recent tea party the husband of one of the guests came early to pick her up. He was invited in and promptly the ladies started serving him tea and gave him some cookies and cakes, and put a napkin on his lap. He was chatting and had a great time and then left with his wife.

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras – that is, from 1837 right through to 1910, (the end of the Edwardian era), the idea of men sitting around at any party or social gathering and not constantly serving women would be unthinkable. A man’s character and social class was measured by his gallant treatment of women. Men were frequently invited to ladies afternoon teas and here’s why: Here’s a quote from an 1897 etiquette book for men.

Manners for Men – by Mrs. Humphry 1897
Gentlemen are in great request at 5 o’clock tea. Their duties are rather onerous if there are but one or two men and the usual crowd of ladies. They have to carry teacups about; hand sugar, cream and cakes or muffins, and keep up all the time a stream of small talk, as amusing as they can make it. They must rise every time a lady enters or leaves the room, opening the door for her exit if no one else is nearer to do it, and, if the hostess requests them, they must see the lady downstairs to her carriage or cab. With regards to the viands, a man helps himself, but not until he has seen that all the ladies in his vicinity have everything they could possibly want.

At any kind of social function, men always served women. For example at a dinner party, after the dinner was over, the ladies would rise to leave the dining room. The men sitting closest to the door would rise with the women, open the door for them, and remain standing at the door until all the women had left to go to the drawing room. Now, the servants would usually serve tea in the drawing room after dinner, and again, just as in afternoon teas, it would be the men’s job to take the empty tea cups from the women.

At a ball a woman would give her trusted man, like her brother or father, her gloves, fan, evening purse, and flowers to hold when she wanted to dance. Today, men would feel this was unmasculine, but Victorian and Edwardian men were honoured to be a woman’s most humble servant. 

Interestingly, the Victorian and Edwardian eras were extremely patriarchial. Women couldn’t vote until 1918 and 1920 in the U.S. A married woman could not own property. Married women were not allowed to make a will. A woman could not enter into a business contract without her husbands approval. A married woman who worked outside the home was not allowed to keep her earnings; her wages became the husband’s property. In short, a husband had the right to everything that was his wife’s, but she had no right to anything that was his.

Single women or “spinsters and old maids”, as they were called at the time, actually did have the right to own their earnings, widowed woman could also inherit property. In general, however unmarried women were looked down on, and had difficulty making ends meet unless they came from a wealthy family.

Here we have an extremely patriarchial society in which men are taught that real masculinity lies in worshipping and serving women. The truth was that Victorian and Edwardian men really did adore women, and they felt that having a patriarchial society would protect them. 

Men were so delicate and refined during the Victorian era that they would walk backwards when retreating from a room so as not to turn their backs on the ladies who remained. Men were required to bow slightly and lift their hats if they met a woman they knew on the street. Men were never allowed to push their attentions upon women unless the lady gave an invitation of some sort – through a card or mutual acquaintance.

Men always stood up when a lady entered or left the room. If a man was smoking when a woman walked by he would have to remove the cigar from his mouth. When dancing with a woman, men always wore gloves so that his sweat would not touch her hand or dress. 

Men who didn’t respect women were actually more frightened of other men…Rudeness, especially to a lady, was the kiss of death in Victorian society. A rude man would get “the big chill” from other men. He would be ostracized from social activities; from the sacred men’s clubs and other men might even refuse to do business with him.

Interestingly, in an 1891 issue of the Ladies Home Journal magazine, women were asked to predict what life would be like for women in the year 2000. They said they were happy that our sisters in the future will probably have freedom, rights and independence, however they said we also fear for our sisters of the future. Victorian women predicted that feminism and women’s independence by the year 2000 might lead to a sexual revolution. They predicted that if women were promiscuous without marriage or any promise of solid commitment, men would no longer respect them and chivalrous behaviour would be unfamiliar to us. A very interesting prediction!

Tribute to Orli Kohn



City Of Jazz

Live Jazz in Toronto has changed immensely over the years. The abundance of high level talent has grown, providing awesome quality, diversity and exciting creativity.

In a city rich in jazz – where the best of the best from all over the world are showcased during the annual Toronto Jazz Festival, a musical extravaganza that resonates from outdoor stages, concert halls, and more than 40 jazz clubs and lounges for ten glorious summer days; where later in July, the Beaches International Jazz Festival powers up its annual salute to jazz in all its variations on the streets and outdoor stages throughout the city’s east end; the proud home to JAZZ.FM91, one of North America’s only 24-hour all-jazz radio stations, which provides unceasing support for emerging and established artists on air, in festivals, and in live jazz club performance; and some of the most hallowed concert halls and theatres in the world – The Home Smith Bar at The Old Mill Toronto takes pride in the prominent place it has consistently occupied for the past several years as a year ‘round participant in Toronto’s vibrant jazz community.

The jazziest weekends always begin at The Home Smith Bar (often long before the week actually ends) where the best performers on the Toronto jazz club scene entertain in the up-close-and-personal warmth of one of the city’s best-loved jazz lounges. From January through December, you’re invited to enjoy a continuous line-up of the leading singers and instrumentalists performing for your jazz-loving pleasure in formats ranging from solo presentations to duos, trios, and quartets…and often, gathering together around the baby grand piano to celebrate that music with a Jazz Party.

It’s guaranteed to get things off to a swinging start!



Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Some classic dishes never change and Shepherd’s pie is one of them. Simplicity is the key to success with this dish.

1 onion peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
900 g/2lb minced beef
1 tablespoon of bovril, dissolved in a little hot water
3 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of thyme 
 1 teaspoon tomato puree
3 carrots, peeled and diced
400 ml /14fl oz chicken stock
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
For the topping
1.3 kg/3lb potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
200 ml / 7fl oz single cream
1 20g/4oz butter
1 egg yolk 

In a large pan, gently saute the onion in the vegetable oil for about 10 minutes, until soft but not brown. Add the mince a little at a time and cook until browned. Then add the Bovril water, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, tomato puree, carrots, stock and some salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 50 minutes, then transfer to a pie dish ready for the mashed potato.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well, then return to the pan and add the cream, butter, egg yolk and a seasoning of salt and pepper. mash well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cover the mince mixture with the potato and run a fork over the top for decoration. Place in an oven preheated to 350F for 20 minutes or until the potato is nicely browned.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. You can prep this dish in advance, leave to cool and then reheat later, although will need more time in the oven – about 40 minutes.



“Spring Weddings” Do’s and Don’ts

 

Springtime is synonymous with new beginnings. Flowers blossom, animals emerge from their winter hideaways (often with babies in tow), and people everywhere celebrate the dawning of a new, warmer season. It makes perfect sense that many couples want to use this time to celebrate their own new beginning, too: the beginning of their life as husband and wife.

But when you’re planning a spring wedding there are still a few things you need to keep in mind. From decorating tips to finding the perfect wedding date, here are a few do’s and don’ts for your special springtime day:

Do: Check The Weather

You know what they say: April showers bring May Flowers. Just because winter is behind you doesn’t mean there are only sunny days ahead! If you’re getting married in the spring, be sure to check your local weather forecasts for rainy days. This is especially important if you’re wedding is outdoors. Also, make accommodations for inclement weather, like a covered awning or tents in your outdoor area. This will give you a little bit of insurance should you meet with an April shower.

 

Don’t: Stick to Daylight Hours 

When you think “spring wedding,” the image that likely comes to mind is a beautiful, dreamy ceremony on a sunny, green day. But a spring wedding can be so much more than that. In fact, many couples are moving their nuptials after dark this year, creating a different sort of dreamy setting. String up some fairy lights and take advantage of the warmer nights. With an evening wedding, your wedding will be unique and memorable, not to mention tons of fun! 

 

Do: Get Creative with Confectionery

Weddings in 2017 are becoming much more individualized. Rather than settling for the good old traditions, many couples are creating their own wedding moments, from specialized entertainment to unique dessert options. Don’t like cake? Don’t worry! Some pretty macarons or an elegant croquembouche can really make a stunning statement on your dessert table. Just like a gorgeous wedding cake, other dessert options can be tasty and beautiful – exactly what every couple wants on their wedding day!

Don’t: Settle For Spring Pastels

Ever since you got your first Easter Sunday outfit, you’ve been told that spring equals pastel colors. But here’s a little secret: it doesn’t have to be! In fact, wedding trends this year are leaning more towards bright and colorful decor, from flashy wedding accessories to tropical floral accents. This bold look is both romantic and energizing, a great combination when you want the party to last well into the night! Play around with oranges, pinks, turquoises, and greens – or, if you want to soften some of those bold colors, use grey or brown as an accent. You’ll find that your final look is one that will be breathtaking! 

Of course, the most important do and don’t of a spring wedding is this: do what will make you and your future partner happy, and don’t do something that won’t. If you want to buck tradition, go for it! You want to decorate your venue like a Jackson Pollock painting? Get out the paint (but get permission first). Above all, make sure this day is one that you will remember fondly forever. 



West Indies Chicken with Mango Salsa

This dish is a fresh rendition of Jamaican jerk chicken. Traditionally ‘jerk’ means to dry rub, marinate and grill meat with a combination of scotch bonnet chilli and fragrant spices. The quick curry powder marinade stains the chicken a vibrant gold. Serve it with the mango salsa for a fresh summer meal, but it’s so good any time of the year.

prep time 10 mins / marinating time 1 hour / cooking time 10 mins / serves 6

12 skinless chicken thigh fillets, vegetable oil for brushing, coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnish. Tabasco or hot pepper sauce, to serve.

Jerk Marinade
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 French shallots, chopped
1 long green chilli, seeds removed and chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime 
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
 

Fresh Mango Salsa
2 firm ripe mangoes, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 large handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
juice of 1 lime 

Jerk Marinade: Place the ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. Place the chicken in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper, pour over the marinade and coat well. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Fresh Mango Salsa: Place the ingredients in a non metallic bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Preheat a barbecue to high and lightly brush with oil. Place the chicken over direct heat and cook for about 5 minutes each side or until cooked through. Scatter over coriander leaves and serve with mango salsa and Tabasco Sauce.

 



Mini Meatloaves with Roasted Tomato Thyme Sauce

This stylish meatloaf had a little makeover by baking it in individual ramekins. A topping of sweet tomato and thyme keeps the meat moist. Make this for a casual winter get-together or when ever your craving comfort food.

prep time 20 min / cooking time 1 hour / makes 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
300 g (10 1/2oz) minced beef
300 g (10 1/2oz) minced pork
60 g (2 1/4 oz / 3/4cup) fresh breadcrumbs  
170 ml ( 5 1/2 fl oz / 2/3 cup) tomato passata (pureed tomato)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
200 g (7 oz) mini roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
3 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar, for sprinkling 

Preheat oven to 170 c (325 f). Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes or until softened. Remove and transfer to a large bowl. Add the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, half of the passata, Worcestershire sauce, egg and half the thyme to the bowl, season with salt and pepper and gently mix with your hands until well combined. Divide among six 10 x 5 cm (4 x 2 inch), 300 ml (10 1/2 fl oz) capacity ramekins and spoon over the remaining passata. They’ll seem very full but will shrink during baking. Top each with a handful of (plum) tomato, 1/2  teaspoon sugar and season with salt, pepper and remaining thyme. Bake for 50 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Top with thyme springs to serve.

Pairs great with chive mash potatoes and a side salad. You can also serve the meatloaves in the ramekins on a plate with a small napkin folded underneath.



Valentine’s Chocolate Fondue

Enjoy a delicious flirty and fun Chocolate fondue. It’s hip to dip so share with a group of friends or surprise your sweet heart this Valentine’s.

Ingredients:
12oz bag of your favourite good quality chocolate chips (You can use milk chocolate or semisweet)
1/2 cup up to 2/3 cup half and half cream
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Dipping ideas:  Fruit (strawberries are a must), other fruits work too like pineapple…yummy or graham crackers, red velvet cake pieces…

Directions:

 Over a double boiler melt the chocolate and half and half together.  Once the chocolate melts, stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.  Place in a fondue pot to keep warm.  Serve with dipping ingredients. 

Enjoy. 



Grilled Vegetables

Feel free to use what ever vegetables are available. Grilled vegetables not only look great and taste great but are also a healthy choice. You can serve them at any temperature and can prepare them ahead of time to be used as your side dish, on top of sandwiches or in salads. 

(serves 6)

3 red bell peppers seeded and quartered
3 yellow squash (1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 zucchini (12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 Japanese eggplants (12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
12 cremini mushrooms or button mushrooms
1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed
 12 green onions trimmed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil 
1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium high heat, or preheat a ridged grill pan over a medium flame. Brush all of the vegetables with a 1/4 cup of oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill all the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 12 minutes for the bell peppers, 7 minutes for the squash, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil and rosemary, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to blend. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and serve warm or at room temperature. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

If you want to try something different, sprinkle some goat cheese over the grilled vegetables…yummy!

 

Enjoy! 



What to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Venue

 

Choosing the best venue for your wedding is important, and it may seem like a task consisting only of liking a space or not, but in reality there is way more to consider than that. Since the number of wedding venue options are infinite now, there are many important questions couples need to consider before booking their venue.  It’s always a great idea to be prepared with your questions and priorities and keep track of all your top points on a spreadsheet, allowing you to keep track of each venues suitability as you do your research.

Having a rough idea of your “wedding size”, whether you will invite 60,125 or 300 guests, will narrow down the venues on your list that don’t have the capacity to fit your estimated guest list. It is also a good idea to have your budget in mind, no sense in keeping a $12,000 venue on your list when you can really only afford $4,000.

Things you should consider;

Is this venue available on the date that I want? 
Do you have a specific day or month in mind? Always a good idea to double-check availability at the site visit.

Does this venue’s space fit my needs? 
If you want your ceremony, cocktails, and reception all in one venue, does the space your considering have separate spaces for all of those events?  Does it require a space that is weather dependent, such as an outdoor space?  It’s also important to talk through the flow of the ceremony if you’re having one there and pay attention to the little details, like routes your guests will take, what the bathrooms are like, whether they have heating/air conditioning and where the power sockets are for your entertainment and speeches. 

Is the catering in-house or is there an approved caterers list?
Are there any sample menus you can look at and do they provide menu tastings? What type of menu service is provided, for example, plated, buffet, french service, food stations etc.

Location, Location, Location…
Will you have to provide transportation for guests from a hotel to your venue or do they have onsite accommodation for your guests? How easy is it to access by public transport? If everyone is driving, is there ample parking. 

How does the pricing structure work?
Is it based on room rental, price per head, minimum spend or are there set packages?  What are your bar options, can you supply your own beverages and will there be a corkage charge? Are there any extra rental charges for tables, chairs linen and flatware?  

What Kind of Venue are you looking for?
Consider whether you want a traditional or non-traditional venue. Are you looking for rustic, formal, romantic, elegant, relaxed, historical, the wedding style you envision will help determine your venue options. Keep in mind if you opt for a totally non-traditional venue that’s not equipped to host a party, you’ll be responsible for a lot more details so make sure they are in your budget. You should also consider the decor of the venue, is the venue naturally beautiful and impressive or is it a blank slate that will need additional decor and pizzaz to warm it up?

Few Ceremony and reception venues compare with the casual elegance and timeless style of the Old Mill Toronto to help you realize your dream wedding. Our on site 16th century candlelit chapel and out door wedding garden add to the array of personal choices. 

Join us for an intimate preview of our exclusive venue on Wednesday February 22nd for the Old Mill Toronto Wedding Open House. Meet our preferred venders, view our beautiful venue, enjoy complimentary hors d’ oeuvres and beverages and enter to win an overnight getaway. 



Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Double Smoked Bacon

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes  Servings: 4

Brussels sprouts that are sliced, tossed with garlic and oil, roasted until slightly caramelized, covered in melted parmesan cheese and tossed with double smoked bacon; brussels sprouts never had it so good! 

ingredients
  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices double smoked bacon (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
directions
  1. Toss the brussels sprouts in the oil along with the garlic, salt and pepper, place in in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400F/200C oven until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes, mixing them up half way through.
  2. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels before crumbling.
  3. Sprinkle on the parmesan and return to the oven until it melts, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Toss the brussels sprouts with the bacon and lemon zest, and lemon juice and enjoy!