Posted by Linda Bodo of Absolute Bodo
March 2010 Edmontonians

Here is one of my favourite projects from the Art of Upcycle, ideal for DIY aficionados and virgins alike. It is an easy undertaking that requires few skills and a just a bit of patience. I showed these little vases to my Goddaughter, Ashton (VP of public relations and marketing for absolutebodo.com) who morphed them into table centrepieces for a conference she was organizing.
Take bottle recycling to a new level and repurpose glass and ceramic containers into playful stacked vessels perfect for showcasing small bouquets. Think coloured glass: water, juice, soft drink, wine, booze, sauce, oil and vinegar bottles with metal lids. I like to leave the more interesting labels on the bottles.
Create a series of these vases to display single blooms in profusion. Using found materials is perfect for the budget-conscious gift giver.

Level: Simple                Cost: $1.00 – $2.00                 Time: 1 hour


Emptied, washed bottles with caps
Small ceramic or porcelain vases
2” x 2” or 4” x 4” tiles


Rotary tool, diamond tipped bit and fine grinder bit
Gloves                        Goggles
Mask                           Measure tape
Felt pen                     Porcelain adhesive or gel super glue

The most challenging part of this project is drilling the opening in the tile or vase. Be sure to don goggles, gloves and mask as shards of porcelain tend to spray during the process. Take your time while drilling: Applying too much pressure could cause the porcelain to break.


  • For the top, turn vase upside down and drill hole in bottom with diamond bit. Start rotary tool on slow speed and gradually increase speed until you have penetrated through porcelain. Enlarge opening slightly to accommodate grinder bit and expand opening until it matches the aperture of the bottom bottle mouth. Wipe clean.
  • Measure center of tile and mark with felt pen. Repeat drilling and grinding process with tile, starting on unglazed side. Drill coordinating hole in bottle cap.
  • Adhere vase, tile and cap together with porcelain or gel super glue.
  • Cure 24 hours before using.

Look for The Art of Upcycle and Enjoy Life Outside at a store near you or at www.absolutebodo.com. Join me and the BodoBoler at the Regina, Edmonton and Red Deer Home and Garden Shows where I will be sharing inspirational projects from both books—some of which have appeared in this column. √



Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
February 2010 Edmontonians
Leftovers. It’s a dirty word to some. Others say they make sure they never have any, because they don’t know what to do with them. Recycling food for many is an ugly chore. Yet you can be missing out on an even tastier meal the next night, since the sauces and spices on the meat have had even more time to infuse their wonderful flavours into the dish.
Good examples of this are chilli, a red sauce made for pasta, a broccoli casserole and moussaka—the list is endless. They always seem to taste better the second day.
Remember, never leave cooked foods out on the counter for longer than two hours. When properly stored, sealed and refrigerated, your food should hold easily for two to three days, so you can get a lot of mileage out of it. After that, toss it out.
Now, if you don’t want to keep the leftovers hanging around in your fridge, simply freeze them in freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn. I don’t keep my leftovers longer than one month in the freezer.
The biggest challenge for some people is to be creative with leftover meats or fish. I love trying to come up with new ways to utilize these leftovers. When you think about it, the possibilities are limitless. Putting a different spin on yesterday’s roast and veggies also helps folks who are on a tight budget get as much out of their groceries as they can. In fact, a lot of people take advantage of larger cuts at reasonable prices so they can extend one purchase over two or three different meal presentations.
Let’s take the old tried and true turkey. There are hundreds of recipes on the Internet and in cookbooks utilizing leftover turkey or chicken. Soups, stews, meat pies, lasagne, salads, kabobs, bunwiches, stir fries, and so on. My personal favourite is making these leftover birds, plus the vegetables and gravy into pot pies or shepherd’s pies. Yum.
One evening, I was having company, and felt like paring down my cooking time so I could spend more time with them. I had a leftover, large piece of prime rib in my freezer. It was cooked perfectly to medium-rare and throwing it into the oven to warm could result in over-cooking the meat. So I simply steamed the meat in my steamer until warm and it turned out not only perfect in terms of doneness, but it was incredibly tender and just as juicy as the day I had cooked it. The leftover gravy was warmed in a sauce pan, with just a little dribble of water (or wine). I made some fresh mashed potatoes and carrots to round out the meal. Everything went… so there was no waste. Leftovers should be your friend—not your enemy—when it comes to meal planning.
What was old in the pot can suddenly become new again. Here’s a couple of ways to repurpose yesterday’s dinner and serve comfort food to take the chill our of February. Cheers.

Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
February 2010 Edmontonians

1-2 Cups diced turkey or chicken leftovers
1 Cup leftover vegetables
Left over mashed potatoes
2-3 Cups leftover gravy
Garlic granules, not salt.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

  1. Combine the turkey or chicken in leftover gravy in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the leftover vegetables.
  3. Pour mixture into a well greased pie plate or casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle with a pinch of thyme and garlic.
  5. Take the leftover mashed potatoes and form them into flat pancake-like rounds with your hands, and place them on top of your mixture. If there are a few spaces between them, that’s ok. Otherwise utilize them to form a pie crust.
  6. Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Chef’s note: This is one of the most requested dishes I make for friends. There’s nothing fancy about it… but it’s incredibly tasty and you can add or substitute anything you wish.

Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
February 2010 Edmontonians

2 Cup Leftover Steak or Roast, cut up onto strips 1/2” thick
1 medium purple onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large can of Roma tomatoes diced (any tinned tomato will do)
1 tin tomato paste
2-3 tbs. Dried oregano
1 tbs. Dried basil
1/2 Tbs. fresh diced garlic
6-8 mushrooms quartered
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into ribbons
1/2 tsp. Chilli flakes (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. Olive oil
Red wine–some for the stew, some for the chef

  1. Sauté onions, celery, garlic and peppers in a sauté pan with olive oil three to four minutes. Set aside.
  2.  In the same pan. add your tomatoes and tomato paste. Add one tomato paste tin of water and one of red wine. Stir. Add spices and meat and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour. About 10 minutes before serving add all of the vegetables. Adjust the seasonings.
  4. This can be served over leftover rice or noodles. Make sure you have a crusty Italian roll to go along with this dish.

Yields: 4-6 servings

Chef’s note: You can get as creative as you wish with this dish. It’s very cost effective and easy to make. √

Posted by Linda Bodo of Absolute Bodo
February 2010 Edmontonians

I spent a great deal of time talking to hands this past year. You know the kind I mean—arms extended, palms waving, usually accompanied with rolling eyes and a scornful ‘tsk-tsk’… “Who has the time?” was the phrase I heard over and over again.

 After my first do-it-yourself book, Enjoy Life Outside, hit the stands I went on tour to spread the word: redefine leisure time’. I campaigned that DIY wasn’t just about saving money, it was about stress relief and creative achievements, guaranteed to promote well-being and good health. I crusaded that this hobby offered a diversionary outlet from the demands of life while creating posh accessories for the house and home. I was all about using the hand to create—not to demonstrate.  

Bubblewrap + old jeans = totebag

Let’s face it. We all need to switch off from the daily grind to avoid going mad or clogging more arteries. Some of us do it in different ways, that’s all. We read a book or solve Sudoku puzzles… we watch Idol or surf the ’Net… we jog… we garden… we do yoga—all in the name of stress management. I’m just saying is that DIY should be considered an outlet as well, one that builds muscle for the soul.  

Wire hanging basket + old utensils = Kitchen light feature

Now, don’t get me wrong. Not everyone greeted me with the hand; there were those who revelled at the prospect of DIY and enthusiastically shared their passion for the handmade movement. From these people, I listened and learned. I found that the DIY culture was genderless and ageless. I learned that there were those who took pleasure in working with their hands. I heard that many were concerned with protecting our environment. And yes, I also learned from the hand-wavers. Free time is precious and DIY virgins need to be gently guided into the world of do-it-yourself with easy projects that don’t take a lot of time.

Old ottoman = new home for pets

With this new data, I compiled a list of DIY concepts designed to improve lifestyles with a simple mandate:

  • Short and sweet crafts, easy to accomplish in a few hours or a week end;
  • Repurpose everyday objects into posh accoutrements at a fraction of the price of high end accessories; and
  • Environmental savvy, self-fulfillment and stress relief are fundamental values.

My second book, The Art of Upcycle, is dedicated to exactly that. It takes DIY to DIWise with 32 projects for every level of do-it-yourselfer. So, before you toss a bottle, bubble wrap or bedsprings in the trash, consider giving them a second life. Upcycling is about repurposing—a baby step toward reducing your footprint on our Earth.
Look for The Art of Upcycle at a store near you this spring or at www.absolutebodo.com. Join me and the BodoBoler at the Regina, Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton Home and Garden Shows where I will be sharing inspirational projects from both books—some of which have appeared in this column. Hand-wavers welcome. √

Time to Tailgate

Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
January 2010 Edmontonians

To me, there’s nothing more sociable and a whole lot of fun than a tailgate party. The concept came from Angela Pisani in 1960 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. She was the wife of Dr Anthony Pisani, the team doctor for the New York Giants football team. She used her station wagon tailgate to spread out sandwiches, vegetables, chips and drinks for her children, family, friends and sports writers. A reporter asked about her “car picnic” and Angela replied that it was more of a “tailgate party”.
It has become the fastest growing social event in North America at football, baseball, basketball and soccer games… at rock concerts, NASCAR, and pretty well any other event where there’s a parking lot and like-minded people. Edmonton photographer and cameraman (CFRN-TV/CTV) Al Girard attended his first tailgate party in 1999 at a NASCAR event in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It’s a real subculture, and very neat,” he says. “You set-up your vehicle or motor-home early—sometimes a day or two in advance—and leave when everyone else has gone. It’s the ultimate party.” This is the “new American community”… often referred to by the collective title of “Tailgation.” Subculture indeed.
What evolved from a simple picnic in the 1960s has morphed into an actual gourmet delight. You can go as simple or as crazy as you like. Hardcore tailgaters transport equipment to the site to prepare hot dogs, burgers, sausage on a bun, or smoked brisket, rib steaks or barbecued chicken to round out the fare. Flambéed prawns, canapés and crab have also been known to show-up on a tailgate. The sky’s the limit.
Recipe sharing is also part of the culture. Al brought home a delightful shrimp boil recipe. You get a big soup pot, add water, wine or beer, and once boiling add potatoes, corn, carrots, celery, broccoli, and finally shrimp. I also added clams, mussels and scallops. Season with some Cajun boil spice (available at Billingsgate Seafood Market, Calgary Trail and 73rd Avenue) and let it work its magic. It’s traditionally served on newspapers spread out on the tailgate or on a picnic table. Armed with a cold beer, crusty bun and garlic butter, you’re set to go.
Now this whole concept may seem like a free-for-all, but there is tailgate etiquette. You don’t show up at a tailgate empty handed. You’re expected to bring a bottle of wine or case of beer to share, plus a dish for everyone to try. Beware of the moocher who goes from one tailgate to another and takes advantage of the community’s good nature and hospitality. If you don’t have anything to contribute, no worries: Slap a $20 bill in the tip jar to help defray costs. You’ll be welcomed back as part of that community.
Tailgating isn’t as big a deal here in Alberta or Canada yet, primarily due to restrictive alcohol laws. At some State-side events, you’re not only allowed to enjoy a beverage in the parking lot, but you can take your drinks into the stands.
Edmonton’s pro sports teams—the Oilers, Eskimos, Rush and Capitals—have all held tailgate parties. Our events are generally more staged than spontaneous. Last summer’s Indy hosted its tailgate party downtown in an underground parking lot. Our other problem is weather conditions… but that’s where our innovative spirit comes in: When we host the 2010 Grey Cup (in late November), the tailgate party will be inside the new field house adjacent to Commonwealth Stadium.   
Try a couple of these recipes in your backyard or at your next tailgate party and have fun. Cheers!

Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
January 2010 Edmontonians

4 oz. smoked salmon, finely diced
1 small container of garlic cream cheese softened
1/2 tsp. fresh dill diced
1 cucumber, sliced into 1/4” rounds
1 large carrot sliced into 1/4” rounds
8 small button mushrooms, stems removed

Dill weed sprig for garnish
Mix salmon, cream cheese and dill in a mixing bowl. Put mixture into a piping bag utilizing a large star tip and pipe onto each veggie piece. Garnish with a dill sprig.
Serves 6-8