Get your freak on

Phantasm (1979) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Does Saturday night fever have you itching for guts, glory and bad special effects? Well, Freak Flicks has your antidote. For their first event, the horror movie festival will be showing the B-movie films Phantasm and Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

“We’re big on ’80s horror, lots of gore and guts and cheese. But basically we’re gonna screen whatever the hell we want to,” says Melissa Como, a co-founder of Freak Flicks, which will have its opening night this Saturday. Como and co-founder Ryan Hogan intend to make this a monthly event. The idea is to give people the opportunity to see films on a big screen that they wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to.

“We both had this idea before we even knew each other, but we were both too lazy to actually move forward with it. Once we met and it eventually came up, we decided to do it as a team. It’s a lot easier to get stuff done when you’ve got someone behind you,” Como explains.

“There seems to be a lack of repertoire theatres in Montreal, and the ones that do exist, in my opinion, don’t screen the types of movies I’d wanna see,” says Hogan.

Phantasm (1979) is a film about a teenager named Mike who has just lost his parents. At a cemetery, Mike sees a suspicious man known as Tall Man who is doing something sinister with dead bodies.

The second movie which will be featured is Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). This film is about a psychotic serial killer toymaker who is out to kill on Halloween. His murder weapons of choice are Halloween masks which he has rigged to commit crimes when a certain jingle is played.

“I grew up with movies like this and I think it’s unfortunate that I’ve never had the chance to see any in a theatre when all over North America, stuff like this is screened on a regular basis, in cities even smaller than Montreal,” Hogan says.

Five dollars will grant you access to this scary, fun night.

“We aren’t making money off this or anything; in fact we’ll probably lose some. We’re doing it for fun,” adds Como.

Freak Flicks presents Phantasm and Halloween III: Season of the Witch on March 9 at the Visual Arts cinema – VA-114, 1395 René Lévesque W. from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.. Tickets are $5.

Student Life

The ultimate adrenaline rush

Most of us have a list of goals. While many of us have the standard hopes of graduating, starting a career, and adventuring around the world, we all have that side to the list where our adrenaline pumping dreams lie: bungee jumping, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc.
That said, when I decided to take a solo trip to New Zealand and Australia this summer, the number one item on my South Pacific adventure to-do list was skydiving.
I am someone who has always been afraid of heights. I have never been on a roller coaster. Every time a guy physically picks up my 5’2’’ self off the ground, I experience heart palpitations. That said, I still wanted to jump out of a plane.
There I was in Cairns, Australia, ready and surprisingly not panicking. I went into Skydive the Reef Cairns’ office and signed my life away five times. The pages might as well have asked “Are you sure?” Yes. “Are you REALLY sure?” Yes!
One of the reasons why I was so sure was because of a conversation I had with one of my mates back home who also went skydiving in Australia. Anita Papa, a former Concordia psychology student, had decided to skydive because she wanted to accomplish something. “I’ve been safe all of my life and I wanted to take that risk. I don’t even remember what I was thinking when I had to sign my life away right before jumping,” she said.
After I signed my life away, I was shown a video to prepare myself and the group of first time skydivers I was with for what was to come. You are shown that when the hatch opens, you must wiggle yourself to the edge, and place your legs under the plane. Place the back of your head on your tandem skydiving instructor’s chest and look up.
As a group of first time skydivers started to walk to the plane I met my gnarly, awesome tandem instructor, Max. I got into the harness and up into the plane we went.
I remember telling him to strap anything on me that would keep me from plummeting to my death. He laughed and said, “No worries mate. We’ll have great fun.”
In that moment, I trusted that Max would guide me through this adventure alive.
“This is normal. People give you a lot of trust when it’s their first skydiving experience,” said Donald Poulin, one of the owners of Parachute Montréal, a skydiving school in St-Esprit.
Since I decided to become an adrenaline junkie, I had to go big or go home. Not only did I jump from 11,000 feet, but I volunteered to jump out first.
It took about 20 minutes before we reached the drop zone. Everyone in that plane was extremely quiet. Everyone was probably thinking the same thing I was: what do I do and what is the free fall going to feel like? I still wasn’t nervous, or scared. I was experiencing a burst of adrenaline and wanted to get this started and jump out already! The questions I had beforehand asked about how safe skydiving was disappeared.
“It’s like driving a car. You have to respect the speed limit, follow the rules and if you do, chances of an accident are low. Skydiving is the same thing. People are what would make it not safe,” said Poulin, who has done over 5,000 jumps himself.
Waiting for the hatch to open, I remembered what my mate Anita had told me, “the adrenaline rush is incomparable to anything in this world.”
The hatch finally opened and all I saw were large, fluffy, white clouds. I did look down while I scooted to the edge of the plane and placed my legs underneath. Clouds engulfed the plane. I leaned back, looked up and Max pushed us out.
It is definitely difficult to breathe through your nose during the free fall, but it is by far the best feeling in the world. A liberating feeling just washes over you in that moment. After forty seconds of free fall, Max pulled the parachute cord.
Floating around Cairns, I had the best view of the city. I saw the mountains and sugar canes, all while the sun was setting.
Skydiving is not something that you could only do when you are on vacation. Montreal has many surrounding areas that offer skydiving.
“We offer jumps at 13,500 feet. You’ll have 55 seconds of free fall,” said Poulin of Parachute Montréal.
The moment your parachute cord has been pulled and you begin floating around, you will experience the second best part of skydiving after the free fall: the view.
“On a clear day, you’ll have a nice view. You could see downtown Montreal, the Olympic Stadium, the river, the airport, etc.,” added Poulin. “This time of year, you will have the best view. You’ll see the orange and red leaves on the trees and the air is dry and not too warm.”
If skydiving is on your bucket list, give it a shot. The adrenaline rush you get out of it is incomparable to anything else you will experience. Just be prepared to be so hyped up after you land from the adrenaline rush that you will want to go bungee jumping.

Skydiving locations near Montreal:

Parachute Montréal
29 Route 125 in St-Esprit
or call 1-877-PARA-MTL

Parachutisme Nouvel Air (30 minutes away from Montreal)
200 Lebeau Rd. in Farnham
or call (450) 293-8118

École de parachutisme Voltige 2001
4680 Principale St. in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes
or call (450) 752-0385

Student Life

Leaves of love

Sadly, summer is officially over. Now it’s time to welcome the autumn season that is upon us.
While many of us probably enjoyed summer flings, dates on terraces or at the beach, the change in weather does not mean that the dating fun needs to end.
To many, the cold weather means “are we hanging out at my place or yours?” This does not need to be the case, because Montreal has plenty of great date ideas for autumn. Here are three simple rules for dating in the fall.Rule 1: Always remember to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
Do not over-complicate a date. Dates should be fun, easy going and, at the end of the day, they should be about bonding over something while getting to know each other.
“It started off as a simple breakfast at a restaurant,” said 21-year-old Nakita Nelson. “We talked and talked for what seemed to be hours. At the end, we went back to my place and just watched movies. It was so memorable because I laughed until my cheeks went sore, and our connection was amazing. It was very simple and not extravagant at all, which did not matter because I was able to spend a great time with that special someone.”
A low-key yet interesting date could be trying to find the best flavored beer in town. Especially because in the fall, flavours like apple and pumpkin emerge. Even if you end up tasting something so foul you’d rather just eat a rotten pumpkin, you will have something to laugh about. Nothing like bonding over embarrassing stories. Just don’t vomit on your date.
Until Oct. 31, the Montreal Botanical Garden’s Chinese Garden is having its 19th edition of The Magic of Lanterns exhibit. This would be a very simple but sweet date.
Closer to Halloween, the exhibit also features the biggest pumpkins contest and the best decorated pumpkins contest. Go around asking if any of the huge pumpkins were grown using Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

Rule 2: Plan to not have a plan
There are so many areas in Montreal where the streets are lined with restaurants, bars, cafés, art galleries or bakeries just waiting to be discovered. Pick a street and walk up and down discovering hidden treasures. Try to have “firsts” together by choosing places you both have never been to before.
“One night, my husband and I ended up in the Mont-Royal area and found gorgeous restaurant-lounge tapas,” explained 27-year-old Connie Comerci. “We shared a bottle of wine and after supper, we took a walk in the area and found an adorable cupcake store. We made a pit stop and bought yummy desserts. This is our typical date night. No direction or location. We just love being with each other and not fuss over the details. The best part is it’s never the same,” she added.
The best areas in Montreal to have these types of dates are St-Denis, Laurier, Monkland, Mont-Royal and St-Laurent. You can also try choosing a random area and see what you find.

If you and your date are big foodies, heading down to a market together is a great idea. You will be two kids in the healthiest candy store ever. If you’re more into creating a meal, choose a type of cuisine and go shopping for necessary ingredients.

Rule 3: Surprise your date
If you would like to plan something, do not plan three or four things back-to-back. You most likely won’t be able to enjoy every step to its fullest if you always have an eye on the clock.
When planning a surprise date, there is one rule of thumb: be as thoughtful as you can be. Show this person just how well you know them. Show them just how much you actually pay attention. The surprise from the thought behind the date will be what will leave a lasting impression. And trust me, the more thoughtful the date is, the hotter your indoor activities will be. Box of condoms, anyone?
“I secretly planned a picnic for my girlfriend. I had a friend set up everything for me in the park so she wouldn’t suspect the bags I had with me,” said 23-year-old Mark Sheoprasad. “As we approached the park, I told her to close her eyes. This gave my friend enough time to quietly leave from the picnic site he set up. When she opened her eyes she was blown away and enjoyed it a lot. It was a really fun and simple date that was easy to plan and romantic at the same time.”
One of the best places to have a picnic this time of year is in the country side. With red, yellow and orange foliage as your backdrop, what could be better? A perfect way to end the day would be by going apple picking. It may seem a little childish but it was fun then and I can guarantee it will be awesome now.
Now go ahead and fall in love.

Student Life

Travel can be the best medicine

Recently, a string of problems started plaguing me.
I have had depression for 10 years. About a year ago, I started to attend counselling sessions at Concordia to deal with some of my experiences. When I began the counselling, my boyfriend at the time had his own demons to deal with. After dealing with his judgement long enough, I left him.
Less than two weeks after I broke up with him, I was mugged on my way home from school. One day, the jewellery store I worked at was robbed while I was on shift.
I had also been having regular bouts of flu, which turned out to be an obscure stomach disease.
By this point, many of my friends and family were worried about me. I was actually seeing the bright side to these events. As Eleanor Roosevelt said “A woman is like a tea bag — you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” I went through them and came out victorious.
I decided that since I was back to being myself and could handle dealing with my depression, a toxic relationship, a mugging, a robbery and now a stomach disease, I needed to follow my dreams. So, a month and a half after the robbery, I quit my job and took a solo trip to New Zealand and Australia for five weeks.
I landed in Auckland. New Zealand is a shade of green. Flying over the country, all you saw was green. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before.
On my way to Taupo and Wellington, I saw the volcano that was used as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings.
I loved Wellington, where I tried 24 wines on a wine tasting tour. It was a fun party city. Thursday nights were ladies’ night. If men felt this was sexist and wanted to get in on the ladies’ night specials, they had to dress like women. I have never seen so many men in skirts and bras and still able to pick up ladies. I give them mad props.
From here, I went to Christchurch. One Indian cab driver told me how he used to call the city paradise before the earthquake that hit it last February. Now, he cannot say the same.
The city is still in ruins. The earthquake hit their central business district the worst. Only two streets lead to the centre of the damage. I saw firsthand how selective an earthquake is. A building would be completely in shambles while the one next door would be pristine.
It was time to say “kia ora,” which means “good health” in Maori, and G’day to my next stop: Australia.
I spent three days in the Cape Tribulation rainforest. My next stop was Cairns (pronounced Cannes), Australia. It would be here where I met some mates that I will never forget. On my first day in Cairns I decided to face my fears. Despite having never even been on a rollercoaster, I decided to go skydiving from 11,000 feet.
I signed my life away, and up I went. My tandem partner was Max, a gnarly man who has survived over 60,000 jumps. He told me how to position myself when my legs would be dangling from the edge of the plane.
The door opened and all I saw were clouds: big, fluffy clouds. They were so inviting and were basically asking to be jumped through. And then we fell…
Next day, I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. I had never been before and thought I
would just see some coral and fish. When I opened my eyes underwater, it was
like looking into a giant aquarium. The space between the top of the coral and the surface of the water was so sparse that I scraped my feet on them! I ruined Nemo’s home.
A general warning: if you are going to spend two nights on a racing sailboat, be ready to party and play some of the weirdest drinking games all night long, sleep in a room with 25 people and still have to wake up at 6 a.m. by two skippers.
Next up was Surfers’ Paradise — the Miami of Australia. Here I learned how to surf and how ladies’ night works in this city. Two buff, topless, Aussie boys are hired to do whatever the women want. You could put edible body paint on them, do body shots off them, etc. Also, women drink for free — all night long. This is sexism I could get on board with.
The downside is that it’s against Australian law to be drunk in a club. If you are tipsy or look like it you will be kicked out.
In Sydney, I challenged myself once more, deciding to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The structure is 134 meters high, 1,149 meters in length and it’s 1,437 steps — information we are not told before we sign our lives away and begin the climb.
I strapped myself in, thought, ‘If Oprah could do this, so can I.’ I climbed up four rows of ladders. Making it to the top, seeing all of Sydney, including the Opera House, the amusement park, the botanical garden and three weddings in progress, was so amazing that my mates and I broke out into a victory dance.
After staying in Sydney for five days, I headed to Melbourne (pronounced Melbin). Here, we
visited a chocolate factory, saw koalas again, wet on another wine tasting tour and finally, the piece de resistance: every night at sunset, hordes of foot-tall penguins escape from the ocean and waddle across the beach. The night I went there were over 800 of them.
My mate Nicole wanted me to plan our day in Australia. Since our first day, I would always watch and try to understand how Aussie Rules works. This game is a mix of football, rugby, soccer and street fighting. An indication of what a mess the game is: seven referees are required on the field.
After five weeks, it was definitely tough leaving behind new friends and a lifestyle to which I had became accustomed.
The road from rock bottom to New Zealand and Australia was lined with lessons learned. The one person we should never give up on is ourselves. My trip taught me just how independent and how quickly we could adapt to foreign surroundings. Test yourself, live your dreams, don’t dream your life.

Student Life

Cancer preventing diets

Graphic by Amanda Durepos

Cancer has become a word most of us fear, and with good reason, considering an estimated 74, 000 people having died from cancer in 2008 according the Canadian Cancer Society.

According to a study from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) published in the European Journal of Cancer, only five to 10 per cent of all cancer cases are due to genetic defects. The remaining cases they report are due to lifestyle factors including smoking, diet, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity and sun exposure as well as  infections and environmental pollutants.

While there is not one miracle food that can be consumed to lower the risk of cancer, being aware of what ingredients go into your meals and making certain lifestyle changes can reduce your chances of becoming a cancer patient.


Lifestyle changes to make before changing your diet

1. It is time to cut out the smoking because it keeps your immune system from reaching its maximum strength, which can bring on cancer.

2. Next is cutting the excessive tanning.

3. Finally, it is important to limit the amount of alcohol your body consumes.


Understanding the diet

First things first; you need to be introduced to some Super-Food lingo: antioxidants, beta-carotene, fibre, protein, vitamins galore. A diet comprised of all these cancer fighters, along with the lifestyle changes mentioned above, will be the healthiest and most effective way to go about preventing cancer.

This kind of diet will also boost your immune system. “The body needs to have all the necessary elements like vitamins and minerals to be able to produce antibodies and other defence mechanisms used by the human body,” said dietitian Marta Grzegorczyk, who founded Info Nutrition, an in-home nutrition service. “Without these elements the body cannot function properly. Antibodies that protect the body’s cells against free radicals have a positive effect on the immune system.”


Fats and preservatives

Limiting fat intake is important, said Grzegorczyk, especially saturated and trans fats, as they are linked with numerous health problems. “It is also important to encourage the consumption of unprocessed foods, as some of the chemicals used as food additives can be harmful to the body and could trigger cancer cells production.”

Our bodies do need fats though, but, preferably the healthy fats (yes, they do exist). Walnuts, almonds, olive oil and avocados are full of monounsaturated fats. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, go for a hand full of walnuts or pistachios. For those allergic to nuts,  pumpkin seeds, olives and especially fish like salmon are suggested replacements.

The Canadian Cancer Society also lists food additives like preservatives as dangerous to your health. On their website they write: “When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body and lead to the development of colorectal cancer. Research shows that eating processed meat increases the risk of cancer. Save processed meat for special occasions, such as ham for a holiday dinner.”


Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory

COX-2 is an enzyme that could lead to inflammation and pain. It also could cause tumour cells to grow. By counteracting COX-2, you could prevent cancer cells from growing.

Howard Epstein, the director of Technology and Business Development at Cosmetic Actives and Bio Active in New Jersey who has done research on food and cancer prevention, said that “quercetin found in red onions and various fruits and vegetables suppress COX-2 enzyme.”

Quercetin is a flavonoid, a plant chemical that can act like an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. It is also an antioxidant, which are vitally important, said Grzegorczyk.

“Antioxidants help to prevent oxidation of molecules caused by free radicals, this means that they help to slow down or prevent damage done to cells in our body. Oxidative damage done to cells contributes to health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

Antioxidants can be found in something as tiny as a blueberry yet could protect you from cancer. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants said to prevent skin cancer. Antioxidants can also be found in spices, one of the most powerful is cinnamon. Cinnamon functions as an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant and has the ability to prevent blood clotting, to prevent bacteria, like fungi, from spreading, to regulate blood sugar levels and to lower blood pressure.

Now that we know cinnamon is great for the body, let’s talk about the Batman to its Robin, apples.  Apple peels, especially the darker in color apple peels like the red delicious apple, have “cancer preventers” in them like antioxidants, vitamin A and C and minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron. According to a  2007 study at Cornell University that was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, apples peels can not only destroy cancer cells, but can also prevent them from spreading.

Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food and science at Cornell University and senior author of the study, told Science Daily, “We found that several compounds (phytochemicals, more importantly flavonoids and phenolic acids) have potent antiproliferative activities against human liver, colon and breast cancer cells and may be partially responsible for the anti-cancer activities of whole apples.”



Vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E and beta-carotene are also important elements of a cancer diet. While many of us would search for these in supplements, Grzegorczyk said that is not always the right choice to make. Rather she said it is better to eat whole foods that contain all the vitamins and nutrients. The reason is that dietary supplements often only provide one component, whereas in food you get a multitude of different components.

“Supplements can also be deceiving because they give the consumer a false impression of healthy eating. The consumer presumes that because they are taking vitamins, they do not have to eat as many healthy foods,” added Grzegorczyk. “If you rely on nutrition alone to make sure you have all your essential dietary components, you are much more prone to make healthy food choices and have a balanced diet.”

Beta-carotene is an organic compound best known for giving fruits and vegetables their red, orange and yellow pigments. It can provide approximately 50 per cent of the vitamin A needed in a daily diet and is said to be effective in preventing cancers, especially breast cancer and ovarian cancer. It is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, mango, apricots and butternut squash. Other vitamin A foods include liver, spinach, kale, cilantro and thyme.

Vitamin C foods include oranges, as well as papaya, strawberries, lemons, cauliflower, broccoli and more. Their cancer-preventing qualities were discovered by a team of Johns Hopkins University scientists who found that the antioxidants may destabilize a tumour’s ability to grow under oxygen-starved conditions, an effect of vitamin C. While good for your health, it should not be taken in excess as a means of cancer prevention.


Quick Tips

Shopping: The rule of thumb when choosing your fruits and vegetables is to go for those that are rich in colour. These tend to have the most nutrients and a higher ability to fight cancer. Examples include broccoli compared to cauliflower. While cauliflower contains vitamins C and K along with potassium, broccoli could help reduce cholesterol, contains beta-carotene and has the highest amount of vitamins compared to any other vegetable.

Recipe: Grzegorczyk provided a great snack recipe that contains antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, healthy fat and vitamin E:

– 1/2 cup of 0% fat yogurt

– ½ cup of mixed berries

– 1 tsp of honey


Healthy fats: Walnuts, almonds, olive oil, avocados, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, olives and salmon.

Antioxidants/anti-inflammatory: Foods rich in quercetin include black and green teas, capers, apples, red onions, red grapes, citrus fruit, tomatoes, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables, and a number of berries, including raspberries, cranberries and blueberries. Dark chocolate and cinnamon are another good source of antioxidants.

Vitamins: Vitamin A is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, mangoes, apricots and butternut squash, liver, spinach, kale, cilantro and thyme. Vitamin C foods include oranges, papaya, strawberries, lemons, cauliflower and broccoli.



Recipe: Alexandra?s Apple-Caramel Cupcakes

Concordia student Alexandra Johnson’s caramel, apple and macaron cupcake was one of the over 200 flavours fighting to be voted “best taste’ in the amateur category at Cupcake Camp Montreal on Sunday.

Johnson is studying honours political science and completing a minor in diversity and the contemporary world, but her interests stretch beyond the classroom to the kitchen.

She didn’t participate in last year’s event so when she decided to take part this year, she set the bar pretty high for herself by baking 200 tasty treats with the help of her friends, Amanda Caruso and Alexandra Apkarian.

“Cupcake Camp Montreal was an amazing experience. I got to meet so many cool pastry chefs, bakers, pros, amateurs, and most importantly, lots of smiling kids holding cupcakes,” said Johnson.”I didn’t even care about the competition anymore as soon as I got there. From the beginning, my aim was really to donate my time and work for these charities.”

Johnson may not have won in her category but her cupcake was delicious, moist and not overly sugary. For a first-time contestant, it was definitely an impressive treat.

Her cupcake career does not end here. “Cupcake Camp Montreal, you will be seeing me next year!” Johnson exclaimed.

The cake (yields 12):


– 1 1/4 cups flour

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 2 eggs, at room temperature

– 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 1/2 cup vegetable oil

– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

– 2 rome apples (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded


1. Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a cupcake pan with baking liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth.

4. Next, whisk in the oil and vanilla.

5. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined

6. Stir in the apples.

7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until almost full.

8. Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Optional: For an added treat, once cooled, scoop a little bit off the top of your cupcake and put in a filling. Johnson used Grenache’s “ah caramel!” filling for her cupcakes.

Caramel buttercream (ices 24):


– 2 cups icing sugar

– 1 cup butter

– 1/3 cup caramel (homemade or spread)

– 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/4 cup whipping cream


1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute

2. Lower speed to low and slowly add icing sugar so that it does not fly everywhere

3. Add caramel and vanilla, scraping down sides if needed, until incorporated

4. Add cream and whip until nice and smooth

fleur de sel topped macaron shells (yields 40)


– 4 tbsp ground almonds

– 1 pinch of salt

– egg whites from 2 large eggs

– 1/2 cup icing sugar

– 3 tbsp superfine castor sugar

– 1/4 tsp almond extract

– fleur de sel for topping (sea salt)


1. Process ground almonds, icing sugar and salt by pulsing 7 times in a food processor (or until incorporated but not pasty)

2. Whip egg whites and slowly add castor sugar and almond extract to make a strong meringue that forms peaks and is not liquidy

3. Incorporate dry ingredients to meringue using the macaronage technique

Technique: fold with spatula in one direction passing underneath mixture and folding into top middle and repeat about 50 times or until well incorporated and glossy

4. Using a piping bag with 1/2 inch beak, pipe little dollops onto a parchment covered baking sheet. drop pan against table a few times in order to get rid of air bubbles

5. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and let stand for 2 hrs or until dry and slightly firm to the touch.

6. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, rotating sheet half way

7. Wait until completely cool and top cupcakes!

To have a look at more of Johnson’s recipes, check out her blog at


Montreal Cupcake Camp delivers

Montrealers are clearly passionate about cupcakes and about helping children’s charities. This past sunday, 2,500 sugar lovers flocked to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel for the second annual Cupcake Camp Montreal, a fundraiser benefiting children’s organizations.

There were 20,800 cupcakes donated this year, up from the 3,500 that appeared at last year’s event. Putting a love for sugar aside, the fundraiser’s chief organizer Eva Blue and co-organizer Laura Carmosino said that the donations made to the children’s charities are the most important part.

“We raised over $31,000,” said Blue. “The best part for me was really about being able to do something so amazing with great people. It is a completely volunteer-run event and it would have never happened the way it did without them. It’s one thing to eat a cupcake; it’s another thing to help someone by eating a cupcake.”

The $10 entry tickets bought visitors a free drink and three cupcake tickets, with all of the proceeds going to two local charities, Kids Help Phone and La Tablée des Chefs.

By 1 p.m., the fundraiser’s starting time, there was a lineup of sugar-hungry people that streamed across the first floor of the hotel and up the stairs to the second floor. At 1:30 p.m., the MCs, radio personality Anne-Marie Withenshaw and Radio-Canada’s Rebecca Makonnen announced that 500 people were waiting in a lineup that made its way down Mansfield Street.

The third floor was where the fun was had. As the sugar-hungry approached the doors to the ballroom, the event’s main location, the first thing to greet them was the heavy aroma of frosting.

Tables and tables of sugary treats surrounded those in attendance. Among those judging the mini-desserts were CTV’s Todd van der Heyden, pastry chef Michelle Marek and Food Network stars Chuck Hughes, Nadia G and Ricardo Larrivée.

The thousands of cupcakes were divided into three categories of bakers: children, amateurs and professionals. Each group battled it out in taste and design contests within their category. The winners of each went up against each other for the ultimate honour, best cupcake in Montreal. There were also contests for best Montreal-themed cupcake, people’s choice and failcake, an award given to the worst of the worst.


An upcoming peek at baking for charity

Alexandra Johnson is in honours political science at Concordia University and last week, the 21-year-old did not complete a 12-page paper.

Her job at the Montreal Children’s Hospital was not the reason behind her incompletion of an essay, nor was it her volunteer work or her online blog.

Johnson was testing cupcake flavours, determined to find one good enough to make the cut and be her winning concoction.

Johnson is taking part in the second annual Cupcake Camp Montreal, afundraiser taking place this Sunday.Amateurs, children and professional bakers are invited to donate their cupcakes to the event, with all the profits going towards two charities, Kids Help Phone and La Tablée desChefs.

“I still don’t know how I’m managing to participate in this charity event right in the crunch of finals and projects,” said Johnson. “But there was just something about baking cupcakes for the benefit of kids that I couldn’t say no to.”

After hearing about the event from her best friend, Johnson decided to officially sponsor the event by baking over 200 cupcakes.

Now just days before the fundraiser, Cupcake Camp Montreal has received close to 19,000 cupcake donations.

The bakers are split into three groups: kids, amateurs and professionals. Each one could enter the best taste and best design contest within their group.

There are also contests for the audience’s favourite, the best Montreal themed, most yummy, and last, but not least, the famous category: failcake, where the most horrible cupcake wins.

Winners have the chance to win from a variety of prizes including jewelry, a $400 Nespresso coffee machine, tickets to shows and much more.

Johnson, who has been vigorously baking all week and sacrificing school work in the name of delicious charity, is working on a very seasonal flavour: caramel, apple and macaron cupcake.

“These little baked goods will be made up of a moist apple cake with a little bit of soft caramel filling, topped with caramel butter cream and a salted caramel macaron shell.”

While it is no easy feat to create a recipe, Johnson is seeing first hand that she may have bitten off a little more than she can chew.

“Let’s just say making caramel is tricky and it burns easily,” she said.

Johnson has until Saturday to perfect her icing and filling but she promised that she is not going to let unco-operative caramel, macaron shell, frosting, that 12-page paper and a project due this Friday get in her way of helping children.

“Baking 200 cupcakes is little if nothing when it comes to helping kids,” said Johnson, who hopes that children will follow in her footsteps and attend the fundraiser on Sunday.

Be sure to check out this week’s Life Section for coverage of the event as well as Johnson’s experience and her very special cupcake recipe.

Cupcake Camp Montreal will be held this Sunday at Fairmont Queen Elizabeth on 900 Rene-Levesque Blvd. W. near McGill and Bonaventure metros.

The event which is open to the public starts at 1 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m.

Entry scores you three cupcakes and a coffee for$10.

For more information visit


Learning to cook like a chef

Amanda Garbutt has been writing her own recipes since she was a little girl. When she left her home in Ottawa, Ont. to attend McGill University, she took her binders of recipes with her. After moving out of residence and into an apartment of her own, she began to put these recipes to good use by cooking for her friends including April Engelberg. A big fan of Garbutt’s easy and delicious meals, Engelberg decided these recipes needed to be shared with students everywhere.

After some convincing by Engelberg, Garbutt decided to release her inner chef on the small screen in the form of a campus cooking show. In 2008, the two McGill students created The Hot Plate, a cooking show that was made for students by students. The show started off on TVMcGill and is now available on their website. With Garbutt as host and Engelberg as creator, the two co-producers took The Hot Plate and made it a campus success.

The two McGill graduates have recently decided to tackle a new project: The Hot Plate cookbook, which will be released within the next few weeks (an exact date has not yet been released). Both the show and the cookbook feature recipes that are simple, cheap and easy to make, as to not intimidate those entering the kitchen for the first time.

A look at the basics

The first few things every new cook needs is ingredients and equipment. Garbutt and Engelberg agreed that “pots, pans, a cutting board and a good knife” are important basics.

“You’re going to need pantry staples too,” adds Garbutt. She lists oil, cans of beans, canned goods in general and honey as items to put on your shopping list.

Ingredients such as these are great to have around the house because they have a long shelf life so infrequent chefs do not have to worry about them spoiling. Also, they are great ways to add flavour accents to your dish.

“You’re also going to need the basic vegetables and fruits like celery and tomatoes,” adds Garbutt.

Simple rules to cook by

“A lot of people don’t cook because they see it as a burden,” says Garbutt who adds that her friends, including Engelberg, used to see cooking that way.

Then, she started inviting her friends to come over so they could cook together. Garbutt explains that all of her friends saw how much fun cooking it.

“Student life is fun,” says Garbutt. “So why not have more fun by cooking?”

Enjoying yourself is important when cooking because you are less likely to be afraid or intimidated by the task before you.

This fear is something Garbutt says happens to new cooks, especially with dishes that seem more complicated or that take time to prepare.

“People are afraid to make risottos and I think it’s because they find it to be time-consuming,” says Garbutt. “But, they’re delicious and you could add anything to them. I’m making it my life goal to change the way people see risottos.

Complicated techniques explained

Many recipes call for techniques that some new cooks are unfamiliar with. Sautéing, simmering and poaching are terms that beginners may not know how to do properly. While there is always the option of searching the techniques online, Garbutt and Engelberg suggest picking up a copy of their cookbook, which has a glossary.

“We even have easy techniques in it like boiling,” says Engelberg, who explains that this is done in case someone is unfamiliar with the process.

Along with the book’s glossary, the show’s website will soon have free videos online that go through 34 of the techniques featured in the book. Garbutt and Engelberg think that it is important to have this online support so that readers can not only understand what these techniques mean but also see how to do them properly.

The glossary includes some more complicated-sounding terms like “chiffonade,” says Garbutt. She exclaims “You have no idea how long it took me to say that word properly!” Chiffonade is when you cut green vegetables into thin, long strips, a process that is relatively easy, but highlights why the glossary and the videos are so helpful. To a new cook, a term like chiffonade looks very complicated, when in reality it means something pretty simple.

Don’t attempt to make a Martha original

Famous chefs like Julia Child and Mario Batali are extremely talented, but a good portion of their recipes are not made for university students who are new to the kitchen. Yes, some of their recipes seem really appealing, but Engelberg cautions against trying them.

“Don’t start cooking by choosing a Martha Stewart (recipe) the first time,” advises Engelberg “Martha’s food is awesome, but [her recipes] are not the easiest to make.”

It is also important not to be discouraged if your dish does not come out tasting right or looking presentable the first time you try to make it. The first time is usually painful, but you will learn from your mistakes and should still be proud of your attempt, because it is never easy trying out a new recipe. Keep in mind, even Martha Stewart was not always the talented chef we know today.

Cooking on a student budget

Just because a cook may have restrictions doesn’t mean that their dishes are going to be boring. Most simple dishes are easy on the wallet, though sometimes the ingredients can cost a little more then a student is willing to dish out. Garbutt tries to find ways around high prices by swapping ingredients, like she does in her signature dish of macaroni and cheese.

Instead of purchasing an array of pricey cheeses, she uses fondue packs. “These are easy-to-use packs that retail for $7- $12 per pound and serve up six portions,” says Garbutt. “Well, four if you are in need of a little extra TLC.”

Creativity is not limited to the ingredients. Although new cooks often do not have all the expensive kitchen equipment, rather than feeling inadequate, they should know that there is always a cheap alternative out there.

“You’ll see Amanda use a water bottle as a rolling pin, because how many people even have a rolling pin?” adds Engelberg.

With midterms lurking around every corner, Garbutt offers up her signature dish which is easy and quick to make.

Mac’ n’ cheese

This dish serves four.


– 450g (about 1 lb) box penne rigate

– 450g pack of fondue cheese

– 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

– 1/3 cup milk or cream

– 1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 tbsp unsalted butter, for greasing


1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tbsp kosher salt.

3. In a medium pot, begin to melt the fondue cheese over medium heat.

4. Add the pasta to the boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain.

5. Meanwhile, add the milk and peas to the melted cheese.

6. Toss the drained pasta with the cheese until thoroughly combined.

7. Grease a baking dish with butter.

8. Add pasta to the baking dish.

9. Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the top. Bake until bubbly and heated through, about 15 minutes.

*For those who like a crispy top, flip the broiler on for 1 minute.

For video instructions visit

The Hot Plate cookbook is set to be released within the month.

With 85 budget-friendly recipes, the cookbook even tells its readers about eight ways to make your leftovers into new dishes.

To watch the show, download recipes or find out more information about the book’s release visit


From the garden to the jar

The cool breeze has officially brought the autumn season upon us. While we put our shorts and bathing suits away and take out our winter attire, we need to decide what to do with our remaining summer garden produce. Everyone tackles the end of gardening season differently. Some will just eat the last of the tomatoes and fruits as they are, others will make pestos, jam and sauces out of them. For those who think making a jam or a sauce is too difficult, you will soon be converted as both recipes are deliciously simple.


Purchasing and sterilizing the jars

The first thing you need when making sauce or jam is jars. Any jars made out of glass and can close tightly are good. You can buy a box of 12 mason glass jars for under $10 at Rona.

Once you have acquired your jars, the first step is to sterilize them. You can wash them with hot water and soap or you can put the jars and caps in a pot of boiling water. Make sure to sterilize the tongs you will use to remove them and be careful not to put them on a dish rag to dry. The reason is because the rag will contaminate the sterilized jar and will force you to start the process all over again.

Once you have properly sterilized, turn your oven on to the minimum heat setting and put only the jars inside. This dries your jars and keeps them warm, which is important because if you put hot jam into a cold jar it will tense up the fruit.

Nonna Pina’s Sicilian salsa di pomodoro

When it comes to preserving your tomatoes, the easiest thing to make is tomato sauce. One simply can’t compare canned to homemade tomato sauce, especially when the recipe comes from a Sicilian grandmother (namely, my own).


– 20 or more tomatoes

– 1/2 teaspoon of salt per 20 tomatoes (can add more if necessary)

– 1 sprig of fresh basil for every jar

This sauce has a very simple flavour which allows you to dress the sauce up and add other seasonings.


1. The first step is to get all your nice, red tomatoes soaking in cold water. Once they’re clean, cut off the stems and any bruised or sick looking areas. If you see a black spot, cut it out.

2. Once you are done, put a large pot on the stove at medium-low heat.

3. Then chop the tomatoes into fours and throw the pieces into the pot, add some salt and cover.

By covering the pot, the steam inside will release all the liquid from the tomatoes, which is what we want to happen; this is what gives the tomato sauce its consistency.

The reason you add such a little amount of salt is that it is all that is necessary to take the tomatoes from sweet to savoury. Keep in mind that this sauce will go straight to the jars, but once you use it for your pasta then you can add more salt and spices for taste.

Note: To quicken this process, take a potato masher and mash the tomatoes to release the juices.

4. Don’t forget to stir at least every couple of minutes. The tomatoes will most lately take up to 20 minutes to release all their juices.

5. Next, take a tomato strainer and put one to two ladles of sauce in at a time. The strainer blends your tomatoes and your juices while separating the skins.

If you don’t have a tomato strainer then you could use a blender but you will have to pick out any dry tomato skins that you see by hand.

6. Take your jars out of the oven and fill them with your tomato sauce. Add the fresh basil leaves on top and seal the jars.

7. Put the jars in any room that is at room temperature and cover them with a blanket for two weeks.

The blanket keeps the tomato sauce warm and gradually eases the sauce to room temperature. The jars need to stay warm and covered, otherwise the lids will pop allowing air to enter the jars and spoil the sauce.

Phil’s strawberry, apple and blueberry fusion

Finding a jam recipe I liked was difficult. A lot of them called for pectin, which is a thickening agent made up of the carbohydrates from heavy fruits like apples. It is used in jams, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. I wanted to make a jam that didn’t involve thickening agents or anything but fresh fruits and a lot of sugar.

This recipe is a combination of several different ones and the result is one super delicious jam.


– 6 cups of strawberries, chopped into fours

– 1/2 cup of blueberries

– 1 apple, finely chopped and peeled

– 3 cups of white sugar

– 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

– 1 tablespoon of apple juice, preferably all natural apple juice


First things first: now that you know how to do it, wash your jars and put them in the oven.

1. Wash your strawberries and hull them. Hulling your strawberries means you are going to take the tip of your knife, insert it near the stem and cut a circle all around the stem. When removed properly the stem and core should look like a mini cone.

The reason you’re doing this is because you do not want the cores in your jam, because they are not going to become as soft as the rest of the strawberry.

2. Once they are hulled, chop your strawberries into fours and add them to a large pot on medium heat.

3. Then, wash your blueberries and add them to the pot. You do not need to chop them, just add them whole.

4. Next, peel and finely chop your apple and put it in the pot. Apple picking season is almost over, so if you want a really fresh one, run to a farm now! (You can pick up the apple juice while you are there, too.)

5. Add the three cups of white sugar, lemon juice and apple juice to the pot.

6. Turn your stove to medium heat and watch the sugar dissolve.

Making jam actually does not require that much stirring, but keep an eye on your jam to making sure it is not burning, especially on the bottom.

7. Let it cook for about 25 minutes.Your jam should transform from a red to a fuchsia colour. Once it is fuchsia just stir to make sure everything is mixed in perfectly and that there aren’t any apple pieces that are still yellow in colour.

8. When everything looks ready, take the pot off the heat and wait about 10 minutes before putting your piping hot jam into the hot jars.

9. After closing them tightly, place a dish rag or towel around the jars and leave them in the fridge for two weeks before eating.


Flings and flirts: the dos and do-agains of summer romance

Summer is here and with the change in season comes shorts, flip-flops, tan lines and the desire for a summer fling. The idea of meeting someone during your summer break that you can talk to, hang out with and of course have sizzling hormone-induced chemistry with seems like a good idea. But as the cast of Jersey Shore showed us, summer flings can be dramatic. Between the issues of whether you and your lover are monogamous or not, and the relationship nearing expiration date, a summer romance may not be for everyone.

The highs and lows of playing the field

There is no rule that says a person may only have one summer fling or that they must go steady with one person. Rather, some may feel like bingeing on the summer lovin’. This is what can be referred to as “flinging,’ or the act of hooking up with multiple people.

Hot hook-ups and sexy pool rendezvous aside, there are some downsides to being a ‘flinger.’ Hooking up with more than one person in the same day can be seen as desperate. Yes, many people spend their nights drunk in the summer. You want to look more attractive to a larger population, and people are more forgiving, but you don’t want them to think that’s the only way you can get action.

Think back to that episode of Jersey Shore, people! The Situation called over ten girls for a date and no one accepted. Why? Well, because without a drunken haze to blur his face, The Situation is not the situation and no one would willingly touch that boy.

If you do choose the path of a “flinger’ just make sure you pace yourself. One hook-up per party and don’t mess around with girls who are friends, unless they’re both down for sharing. And if they are – threesome, anyone?

Same goes for the ladies, don’t mess around with guys who are friends, either. In the case where you begin a fling only to find out his friend is much more your type, be careful. Trading up is a possibility, if all you have done is make out. Making out with two friends is frowned upon, but forgiven. Having sex with two friends is a cardinal sin! In that case, trading would make you a homewrecker and no girl wants to be responsible for breaking up a bromance.

Mono-fling: the Original Summer Fling

For those more conservative or romantic types, do not worry. “Flinging’ is not your only option. Behold, the mono-fling: when you’re only flinging with one person throughout the summer. Think of Sandy and Danny from Grease (before they go back to school).

Though the mono-fling may include all the romance of a real relationship, remember: it is still a summer fling, so it lasts only as long as the summer. Consider yourself lucky if you make it to Labour Day. There are some other fallbacks when it comes to this genre of fling. If deep down you want a long-term relationship and begin a summer fling in hopes of making it long-term, you’re going to be disappointed. Most people who fling just want something short and sweet. Make your intentions known right at the beginning. You don’t want to start falling for someone who sees you as a piece of tanned ass.

Don’t tell yourself “Oh, I want a relationship. I’ll change his/her mind and we’ll be together come the fall.” No, my delusional puppies. Come to terms with the fact that like Ben and Jerry’s, your hook up is only open for the summer.

The Why

So, why does this search for a quick fling mainly happen during the summer? Well, when it’s nice and hot out, what’s the first thing a girl does? She changes her wardrobe. She puts her winter clothes away and starts wearing her short shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops and the crème de la crème, the bikinis. All that skin exposure does one thing to men: it attracts them like bees to fleshy honey. Plus, a lot of women I know try to get their bodies toned up or slimmed down during the summer. Unlike haircuts, these changes do not go unnoticed. The boys are looking and they are a-liking.

Guys are not the only ones benefitting from the warm weather, the ladies get their share too. Come summer, guys start hitting the gym harder and playing more outdoor sports. Their muscles start popping out and the ladies begin to drool from both ends.

Can a summer fling turn into a relationship? Yes, it’s possible, but don’t assume you can change your lover’s mind. Most fling because they don’t want a relationship and not many people want to be committed to someone when they’re in school and may have less time and energy to spare.

5 tips on how to have a successful fling

1- Know what you want before you begin anything. Figuring out what you want while you’re with someone is a recipe for disaster because your intentions may not be the same.

2- Don’t be clingy or jealous. If your flinging buddy is hitting it up with other people, technically you’re not allowed to be jealous, but hey, you’re human. Just keep it to a minimum. The only thing you need to know is whether or not your fling partner is having sex with other people. If so, don’t be silly, wrap your willy.

3- Focus on today and today only. Don’t begin to wonder if she would be a good girlfriend or if he would make a good boyfriend.

4- Don’t ask your summer fling to be your date to any parties or any friend events. By doing that you create the facade of a relationship, making it more difficult to end things when the September expiration date draws near.

5- Go out and have fun. It’s summer; don’t focus so much on a fling that you neglect your friends and the sun. Go to the beach, go to bars and really enjoy the summer. If a fling happens, it happens. Don’t force it. That’ll make you look pathetic.



Café Cleopatra on St. Laurent Boulevard has been in the public eye since late 2007, when the administration of Mayor Gerald Tremblay announced its plans for the revitalization of the Lower Main. This entailed bulldozing existing venues to make the area part of the Quartier des spectacles and to add a five-storey building that would serve as a Hydro-Québec office. Since then, the part of Montreal otherwise known as the red-light district has become virtually unrecognizable.
With local fixtures like Club Opera, Les Saints and Frites Dorée gone, and others like the Montreal Pool Room and Les Katacombes relocated, Café Cleopatra is desperately trying to remain at its location. Owner John Zoumboulakis is fighting their expropriation, which was announced in January, in court.
“There’s still life in this area,” says Velma Candyass, a member of The Dead Doll Dancers burlesque group and a member of Save the Main, a coalition working to preserve Montreal’s storied entertainment district.
“An office building in the entertainment district has no business here. It’ll be nothing but a huge eyesore. Café Cleo does belong here. It’s a place where people go to have fun,” says Candyass.

It’s for this reason that The Dead Doll Dancers burlesque performers have organized a show called “Drags N’ Dolls” to celebrate Café Cleo’s 35th anniversary in a building that’s been standing since 1895.
On April 23 and 24, “The Dead Dolls will drag culture kicking and screaming to new lows,” says Candyass. With performances by Tommy Toxic, a spoken word performance artist whose outfits are just as fabulous as his craft and fetish act from Club Sin, this will be a show that’s not to be missed.
Baladi troup Dakini Dancers; drag king Nat King Pole; The Cutie in the Kilt, aka Jessica Currie, a punk-rock bag piper; Drag Queen Myriam Deschenes and DJ- Rush n’ Noize will show the crowd what Café Cleopatra is all about. “This is the entertainment district and we want to keep it about entertaining,” says Candyass.
The MC for the performance will be Reena, the host of the Café’s Miss Cleopatra Drag Queen competition. There will also be special guests from the Café’s past. “It’ll be from politics to boobies,” Candyass says with a laugh. “Drags N’ Dolls” promises to showcase old-school drag and modern burlesque at its best with plenty of glitter and glam, many laughs and abundant booty shaking.
One of the reasons why Candyass is putting together the show is so Montrealers can see that Café Cleopatra is an important part of the city and shouldn’t be destroyed. “If people want to help out Cleo’s, they could write a letter to the city. Tell them how you feel,” advises Candyass.
Without Café Cleopatra, Montreal’s oldest and original show bar, where else could Montrealers see burlesque, drag queens, a bag piper, a poet, transvestites, belly dancers, strippers and fetish acts on a regular basis? It’s our little piece of Las Vegas.
The nightspot means a lot to the entertainment district and to the many artists who perform there, including Candyass. “The Dead Dolls feel most at home at Café Cleopatra’s. When I step on that stage, I feel like I’m at home.”

Tickets can be purchased at Joy Toyz sex shop on 4200 St. Laurent Blvd., suite 415, for $10. At the door, tickets will be sold for $12. Doors open at 8 p.m. and all the shimmying and shaking will start at 9 p.m.
For more information about the show email
For more information on helping to save Café Cleopatra please visit
Café Cleopatra , 1230 St. Laurent Blvd. (2nd floor)

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