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Roasted Strawberry Shortcake With Basil Whipped Cream

Every now and then you make a new friend that is the bee’s knees (who knew bees had cool knees). For the first little while you two are inseparable. You call your newest, bestest pal all the time. Together you develop inane inside jokes and make outlandish plans that you’ll never see through. Every relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic, has a honeymoon phase. Such behavior is not only restricted to people. Believe me, you can form a sincere attachment to an amazing new recipe and currently I am happily honeymooning with roasted strawberries.

Yes, I said roasted!

Sweet and intriguingly tart, roasted strawberries are amazing (hot or cold) with pancakes, ice cream, scones; you name it and I will probably eat it! With Canada Day on the horizon I knew exactly what do with my new main squeeze. What better way to celebrate the advanced age of our beloved country than with the most patriotic cake around: Strawberry shortcake!

I mean, check out that color scheme! What a beaut!

Every year, without fail, my family marked Canada Day with strawberry shortcake. My Grandmother made the same recipe every year and it’s a classic in the truest sense. But since I am no longer a precocious four year-old sporting a mean sunburn and an awesome pair of mini-mouse sunglasses, I felt it might be time to expand my horizons and try something new.

I give you strawberry shortcake all grown up with roasted strawberries spiked with balsamic vinegar, topped with basil whipped cream. Sweet and savory, complex yet amazingly simplistic; this potluck favorite just got a little more sophisticated. Give these adorable little cakes a good home this Canada Day! You just might make a fantastic new friend.

Tip: You can make the strawberries and biscuits in advance, but wait to whip the cream until it’s time to serve.

Click on the recipe for a full page printable copy.

The Great Organic Wine Giveaway

Canada day is coming up quick and has made us want to celebrate! The Great Canadian Online Magazine is celebrating the summer by giving away free bottles of organic Canadian wine!

HOW TO ENTER:

“Like” The Great Canadian Online Magazine’s Facebook group HERE and leave this comment on the wall “ Please enter me to win the organic wine giveaway”

Or,

Follow The Great Canadian Online Magazine on twitter and tweet the following phrase: I just entered the awesome @GreatCanMag organic wine giveaway over here: http://thegreatcanadianmag.com/ -you should too!

Giveaway notes: Open to Canadian residents only. The winner will be picked randomly. This draw will close on 31st of August 2011. The winner will be announced on September 1st 2011 on Twitter and Facebook.

A Great Canadian Volunteer Elsie James

When you look at Elsie James, she looks like a regular seventy-six-year-old Grandmother, who is in great physical shape. What you don’t know is, she is the great-grandmother of twenty-nine children, twenty-two grandchildren, and mother to seven children. She worked as a banker for twenty years and at the age of sixty, hiked to Everest base camp, with two friends. She also fell in love with the Nepalese people.

She has always had an interest in hiking and outdoor leadership. After retiring, at the age of sixty, she and two friends planned and went on a hiking trip to Nepal. She fell in love with the beauty of the country and it’s people. She didn’t want to return home, not because she didn’t love her family, but because she saw the great needs of the people of Nepal. She fell in love with the Nepalese friendliness, humility and happiness, despite harsh living conditions.

After returning home to the Calgary area, Elsie started planning for another trip back to Nepal. This time, she connected with Partnership Canada (a Calgary nonprofit agency who was sending school books and medical supplies to Nepal, the program is no longer running) and four months later, she was back in Nepal. She had organized volunteer retired nurses and teachers to teach the Nepalese the programs being set in place in the medical camps, hospitals and schools.

After Partnership Canada closed it’s doors, Elsie volunteered with Nepalese NGOs (non government organizations) to start outlining and setting up social programs, organizing medical and dental clinics/camps, nutrition workshops, sanitation workshops and even adult literacy classes. She was also heavily involved in managing projects for building schools, developing modules for school classes, managing health camps and educating the Nepalese people in how to sustain all of these programs. She believes that, in order to truly help the Nepalese people, they need to be taught how to support all the assistance given them. She organized (and still does!) trekking groups to travel to Nepal to get to know the Nepalese people and to see the projects that were/are being worked on. Many people donated time and money because of these efforts.

Elsie has been involved with volunteering in Nepal for about fifteen years now and to celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday (in November 11th, 2009), she trekked back to Everest base camp, in a twenty-one day trek (it was called Trek 4 Kanti Kids), in an effort to raise $75,000 to start a blood bank in the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, the only children’s hospital in Nepal. She took with her one of her grandsons, a Nepalese man who was her porter on her first trip to Everest and now a good friend, birthday candles, hats and even cake! They travelled from Jiri to Everest Base Camp. She did this trek with 2 artificial hips.

She has also founded her own agency by the name of Willing Hands Around the Globe which raises money for projects in Nepal in other countries: Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and of course, Canada. She is a huge advocate for fair treatment of the Nepalese sherpas and porters. She has been working to make sure that they carry appropriate load sizes, especially children, so not to shorten their lives or severely injure themselves and not be able to work and support their families.

Elsie James, now director of the Calgary-based organization, Medical Mercy Canada, has struggled with wanting to be home with her husband, who has health issues, and her family. All of them have been very supportive and encouraging of her volunteer work, though. She has even travelled with her grandson, Brayden McCue. Last October, they went to Nepal and worked in the Medical/Dental health camp she was instrumental in starting.

Elsie James is an inspiration for us all to be the best human being we can be and as her quote on her Lonely Planet Thorn Tree profile says, “Remember..You cannot help everyone, everywhere, every time but you can always help someone somewhere, sometime!” She certainly has helped many, many people with her efforts and will continue to do so, even generations after her lifetime.

View a video of Elsie James HERE.

Great Canadian Company Cariboo Blades

When you think Cariboo Blades, you’re either thinking one or two things. One, “He spelled Caribou wrong.” Two, “Knives that are crafted from Caribou.” Well, the second part could be true, and I’m sure that if you requested it that it is possible for them to provide you with a knife crafted with the bones of a Caribou, just try to ask very nicely.

Caraboo Blades is located on the outskirts of Chilcotin, British Columbia in Canada. They created a company out of the ideals of sustainability living. They use recycled, previously used, and discarded materials from Canada’s historic logging camps.

The blades and knives are all carefully handcrafted from tough high carbon head sawmill blade steel. The handles are specially handcrafted so each blade that is crafted by Caribou blades is both unique and special. Ranging from a wide array of different tools, from hunting to cooking, and woodcarving, Caribou blades provide high quality and Canadian made products. They also provide art crafted by Aki Yamamoto, art that is indigenous to the regions that they live in, but also from the land of where she has come from, the land of the rising sun, Nippon! Or in English “Japan.”

The company is owned by Aki Yamamoto and Scott Richardson and is a family run business. You can check out their website by clicking HERE and if you’re interested in learning about their way of life, sustainable living; you can also check out their fascinating blog HERE.

With the amount of waste that we human’s create and the impact that we have on our environment, it’s great to know that there are people out there who are willing to use the materials that are discarded and make them into something that is both artistic and useful. Thank you Aki Yamamoto and Scott Richardson. I look forward to buying a blade from your humble company myself.

Great Canadian Musician Leonard Cohen

As a musician, Cohen defies the greats. His low melodic vocals, flavoured with pain, seasoned by love, softened by solitude; are enough to bring tears to stone. The first time I heard “Hallelujah“ my thoughts went silent, and my heart swelled with ecstasy. Those woody vibrations of an old Buddhist singing his skeletons out of the closet are a thing of fantasy. Here Frequently covered, and never equalled; Leonard Cohen is a ripple in time.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, this one man has it all. Be you child or beyond; we all look on in awe. Leonard Cohen is easily one of the greatest musicians alive. His astounding quality of imagination, and honest stamina put Cohen on a stage above any other. As Lou Reed put it, “We are lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is.”

In the darker months that this country paints, in tones of snow, wind, and worse than usual drivers; it’s a necessity to gain perspective on pain and sorrow. If only to keep yourself stable emotionally, while still maintaining honest composure. Stepping calmly from the wildest inner reaches of our hearts is a man who is more deeply in tune than even Dylan. More dynamically resonant than Cash. Indeed, Leonard Cohen is perhaps the “prime mover” for the Canadian Music Scene as we know it. As recently as April 1st of 2011 he was awarded the 9th Glenn Gould Prize for “enriching the human condition through arts and innovation”. The decision was unanimous, an international panel of judges said “His poetry and music transcend national boundaries”.

As a poet, Leonard was first published in 1956, as a student at McGill University in Montreal, and since, his compositions have touched the world over. Certainly there have been trials and hardships. From his incredible relationship with Suzanne Elrod, to the betrayal of Kelley Lynch in 2005. Cohen stands as a beacon to the art community. Through it all he has provided nothing but the best in his ability to capture and relate the complex intricacies of human emotion. There is no doubt that his parabolic autobiography “The Favourite Game“ is a marvel of untainted personal perspective; that the poetry coerced by the same sojourn on Greece’s Hydra Island is nothing short of a monument to the potential depth of soulful communication.

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

-Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Listen to Anthem by Leonard Cohen

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