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Planting 101 with Frankie Flowers

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Jun 3rd, 2014

After one of Canada’s most brutal winters, summer has finally arrived and we bet that your garden is in dire need of a little (or a lot of) TLC. Whether you are a newbie or an expert, it’s time to brush up on those basics. Frankie Flowers is here to give us his expert tips and tricks to plant your favourite flowers from the ground up — without all the hassle.

If you are planting in a container, make sure to use potting soil that contains perlite for easy drainage. If you’re planting in the ground, use garden soil and mix it with the native soil for best results.

Plant selection:
It is important that you know which plants require the most sun, deadheading, and water maintenance. If some plants are neglected long enough, they will rot and create long-term diseases during the summer season. Tip: Talk to your gardening centre before you purchase anything. They will be able to tell you exactly which plants suit your garden best.

Pre- and post-planting:
Water your plants immediately before and after planting. Watering before will allow your plants to easily slide out of the pot and will prevent shocking its root system.

To begin, remove the pot from your plant and rip its root system down in order to spread them apart. Healthy and happy roots should appear white while rotting roots will appear brown. Next, firmly press down on the outer sides to fasten the roots inside the soil.

This is a crucial maintenance technique that simply means removing existing bloomed flowers. Plants are always putting energy to the bloom, so by removing the flower, the energy that was put into the flower is now transferred into the foliage to create more buds. If your plant requires deadheading, make sure to pluck the flower and fill the vacant space with fertilizer for quick regrowth.

Recommended plants:

Full sun gardens
Choose a plant that is able to sustain itself under the hot sun with lowest maintenance. Frankie suggests a Geranium for its foolproof growth tolerance. Another great option is Lobelia Hot. Usually known for drying out from the sun, the Hot version of this plant is not only self-cleaning, but is also able to withstand the summer heat.

Shaded gardens
Frankie suggests a Torenia plant as it is known for creating a trail over the edge of the pot. Though it is not as well known as other shade plants, the beautiful blue flower with a bell shape will complement any garden and needs little maintenance.

For more tips from Frankie, watch him demonstrate this process below:

Courtesy Frank Ferragine



How to make the world’s best two-ingredient burger

Cityline | posted Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Does this sunny weather have you craving burgers on the BBQ? Claire Tansey shows us how to make the most simple and delicious burger of all time.

Two-ingredient burger


  • 750 g medium ground beef
  • 1  1/2 tsp coarse salt


Preheat barbecue to medium.

Shape beef into 6 patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. Press a shallow depression in centre of each patty to help keep its shape while cooking. Sprinkle both sides with salt. Season with fresh pepper.

Oil grill and barbecue burgers with lid closed for 5 to 7 min. Flip burgers, then continue grilling, with lid closed, until burgers are cooked, 6 more min. Let burgers rest 5 min before serving on toasted buns with your favourite toppings.

Prep 5 min | Total 15 min
Serves 6 | Per serving 415 calories, 18g protein, 38g fat, 665 mg sodium.

Tips to make the BEST burger:

  • Start with medium ground beef (instead of lean or extra-lean). It has a lot more flavour, and most of the fat drips away while it’s cooking.
  • Mix the meat with your hands (instead of using utensils). This will ensure you don’t over-mix the meat, and it creates a nice texture.
  • To make patties, take a handful of ground beef  and shape it into a ball, then flatten it out. Don’t make the patties too thick — half  an inch to an inch thick is  the perfect size.
  • Prevent burgers from puffing up into balls by taking your thumb and making a little indent in the middle of each patty.
  • The grill should be hot before you add the patties — this will ensure they don’t stick, and they’ll achieve that caramelized exterior.
  • Don’t flip them too many times. And never, ever press down on the patties with your spatula (that will make all the flavour escape!).
  • Use grated cheese (instead of sliced)  for extra oomph.
  • Hollow out the lid  of your bun to make more room for toppings.
  • Our favourite condiment is sriracha mayo — just stir some of the hot sauce into mayo and slather it on!

Courtesy Claire Tansey




The latest and greatest gear for your workout

Cityline | posted Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

For most, spring is the time to ditch the winter sweaters and squeeze in some time to work out — because bikini season is among us, after all. Now if that sends shivers down your spine, you are not alone!

We’re sure we can all agree that the first “outside run” of the New Year is a rough one indeed. But fear not, as we have just the motivation you need. From a trendy bracelet that doubles as a safe sun exposure app, the latest sports bra technology, and all the way to brightly coloured runners, Karine Ewart has everything you’ll need to look great and feel great while working out.

Celebrate spring with these 12 brunch recipes

Cityline | posted Saturday, Apr 5th, 2014

Hosting a brunch this spring? Whether you’re having a few friends over on the weekend or the whole extended family is coming by for Easter, we’ve gathered together some of our fave brunch recipes that’ll have everyone asking for seconds.

Yummy twists on family favourites:

We’re regularly craving classic brunch dishes, from eggs and bacon, to fluffy pancakes. If your guests love the standards, too, try some of our creative twists on traditional recipes! These egg & toast tartlets from Claire Tansey are a fun way to eat your omega-3s, and they pair perfectly with her maple-fennel bacon.

For the pancake lovers, why not try adding cocoa powder to make thesechocolate pancakes with strawberry sauce? Mairlyn Smith sure knows how to make a dish that appeals to the chocoholics in the house (and it uses whole wheat flour to boost up the nutritional value, too!).

If you want to sneak some vitamin-rich veggies into a super easy brunch dish, this sweet potato French toast from Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh is exactly what you’re looking for. Cut it into easily-dippable strips and your kids will gobble this up instantly!

Fancy dishes to impress your guests:

Want to really wow your guests? Whether you’re looking for a savoury dish or a sweet one, brunch is one of our favourite times to experiment with more intricate recipes — or recipes that seem really impressive, but aren’t actually too complex to put together! This goat cheese soufflé with smoked salmon from Claire Tansey is a perfect example of a dish that looks way more difficult than it actually is. You don’t have to be a trained chef to make your own soufflé!

Think you can only poach your eggs in water? Think again! Our chefs have two elegant alternatives for you. Adults will love these Chardonnay-poached eggs from Jason Parsons, while the whole family will drool over Randy Feltis’ maple syrup-poached eggs served over stuffed French toast!

Not much of an egg fanatic? Switch out your eggs for seafood in this scallops Benedict from Jason Parsons!

If you’re looking for something sweet, look no further than this homemade crepe recipe with macerated berries. These crepes are easy to personalize with your fave ingredients, and we especially love them with fresh, mixed berries.

Make-ahead meals:

If you want to get some extra zzz’s before your guests arrive, why not make your entrée the night before? This asparagus and cheese strata from Mairlyn Smith needs to rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours before you serve it, so that the bread can soak up all of the delicious egg mixture.

Tarts are a great make-ahead option and we love the seasonal flavours in this spring onion & goat cheese tart. You can also make this recipe even easier by using pre-baked pie shells instead of puff pastry.

We love a good quiche, and this crustless mushroom and broccoli quiche from Dr. Joey Shulman is a yummy, healthier option! Serve this with a side salad or fresh fruit for a lighter meal.

What’s your go-to brunch recipe? Share your faves in the comments!

With files from Suzanne Gardner, Cityline.ca

Photo credit: Roberto Caruso

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