Burgers on the barby

Foodies - Ian Leatt
Foodies – Ian Leatt

I don’t know about you, but when I was young boy, a burger was meat in a bun – nothing too fancy, no added flavour-enhancers, perhaps the odd slice of lettuce, and a slice of tomato with a pinch of salt and pepper. Oh how the times have changed.
The fast food chain stores do their best to get creative, but nothing can really compare to those you make yourself. Perhaps if you go to a higher-end restaurant you may experience what your heart craves for. But the only way to find out what that is is to experiment at home.
Let your imagination go wild – release the beast within yourself. The flavours can be as simple as a pinch of salt and pepper, to a bold meat eruption – exploding with flavour in your mouth, such as ground turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper.
Nowadays, I am all about the bold – not because I have an educated palate, but rather I crave that taste explosion. That burst of flavour that dictates to my stomach something special is on its way.
But everyone has an opinion. However you like your burgers is the way to go. For instance, you can even customize the protein: choose from turkey, chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian, vegan and fish – or any combination of them. You do you!

500 g ground beef
500 g ground pork
350 g fresh, finely chopped bacon
400 g blue cheese
4 shallots finely chopped
8 green onions finely chopped
1 egg
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili pepper
¼ cup fresh-chopped parsley
2 tsp finely-chopped ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of salt and pepper

For the burger bun
4 large ciabatta buns
Arugula leaves
1 large, thinly sliced tomato
1 red onion finely sliced
Fresh, thick sliced bacon

Place all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl aside from the bread rolls, the egg and the cheese. Mix together thoroughly. Add to the mixture your egg and knead together (the egg acts as a binding agent).
Once you have blended all of the ingredients, scoop out a ball of meat with your hands (the ball should be larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).
Start to shape your meat into a burger, letting the meat soften in your hands. Once you have your shape, open up the centre and add some blue cheese. Then seal it with more meat.
Finally, place the patty on a plate, and repeat the process until all of your meat mixture has been used up. Cover and place in your refrigerator until ready to cook.
Cooking time is important. Slow-cooked burgers are a treat, and of course, it’s best to cook ‘em on a barbecue if you have access to one.
Heat the barbecue to the required temperature, usually around 300 F. While you are waiting for the barbecue to heat, take the burgers out of the refrigerator and cover one side with a sauce of your choice. Then place the burger on the barbecue sauce side down, and spread another layer of sauce on top. Some people say you should only turn burgers once, keeping the juice in, but temperature is the real key. Turn the burgers when the blood starts to show, and keep doing this until the burgers are blood-free.
Now the fun begins. To add a little dimension to your burger, you can sear your buns on top of the barbecue. Once they have taken on a golden colour, add some arugula, sliced red onion, sliced tomato – and why not add a little freshly barbecued bacon? (Trust me, it’s delicious.)
Finally, to serve, place your burger onto the plate with fresh fries, sprinkle some sea salt, sit back and enjoy the flavour eruption.
Ian Leatt, a former chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, is general manager at Pegasus Publications Inc.

Astrology 101: knowing your natal chart can lead to self-discovery

Rogue Wood - Vanessa Kunderman
Rogue Wood – Vanessa Kunderman

Fact: when I was working in finance before I had my financial column, I often secretly found out my client’s astrological chart to get a better understanding of who they were as a human being. It helped me understand their motives so I could use an approach that worked for them.
I know; it’s not too many times you hear about something left-brained like finance co-mingle with something abstract like astrology. But our natal charts can be shockingly informative, even silencing some of those people who think horoscopes are sheer and utter bologna.
As soon as we comprehend that we’re not just ONE sign, the whole practice of astrology begins to make some rather sound sense.
Below are the three most important signs in your natal chart when beginning to learn about your astrological profile:
What is a natal chart?
Most importantly, what the heck is a natal chart? When we are born, we are immersed into the centre of a complex map. Astrology credits the planets, constellations and universe itself for providing the mapped framework to dictate information about who we are as individuals. By using the exact time we were born, we can track where specific planets and stars were at that moment and how their position around us affects who we are.
You know how the Earth’s moon affects the ocean tides? Well, think of yourself like an ocean, and all the moons, planets and stardust are factors that affect you in the same way. I recommend picking up the book “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” to find out your entire chart.
Sun sign
You’ve heard this before – it’s that tired pick-up line used on you when you wear your favourite lipstick. “What’s your sign? Oh really? I’m a Libra. We’re so compatible.”
Your sun sign is depicted by which day of the month you were born. There are twelve zodiac signs, as many as there are months. A lot of babies born in December are the sign of Sagittarius, just like a lot of August babies are the sign of Leo the lion. Yes, these signs typically have specific traits, but our natal charts are comprised of multiple signs. That’s why not every Gemini you know is just like the other.
Our varying signs shape who we are, and though we may have a lot of Taurus in our chart, we will undoubtedly have other signs mixed in there as well.
Your sun sign is who you are as a person when you’re not thinking about it – when you’re mindlessly being you.
Moon sign
This one might be new to you. It’s a personal favourite of mine – I love learning a person’s moon sign. Your moon sign is that secret part of yourself that only a couple people get to know.
You don’t show it to everyone. It is your undertone, your morals – that undercurrent of who you are and why you do things. Learning a person’s moon sign is a huge advantage to understanding how they work.
While I’m a Libra and am always striving for peace and balance, my moon sign is Aries, an incredibly motivated and driven sign that can often cause conflict without trying. Aries moon signs can put a lot of pressure on themselves and even come off harsher than they mean to.
A harsh Libra? There’s no such thing! But there is when you read a person’s whole chart. These two signs are practically opposites, and learning that hugely helped me in my understanding of myself. Reading your sun sign and moon sign together is a great way to really discover how a person ticks, and you might just have an epiphany about yourself.
Ascendant sign
This is sometimes called your Rising Sign, and it’s another important one to know because of what it doesn’t show. Your ascendant sign is the mask you wear when you first meet someone. It is the impression you give and how you carry yourself – though it might not be who you really are.
Do people ever misread you or say you come off differently? I have a friend who always leaves others with the impression that she is this mysterious creature who keeps to herself, with a wildly attractive sexual undertone to her nature.
She has a Scorpio ascendant sign, but she’s really just a bubbly Gemini! But in new situations and experiences, she is unsure, so she defaults to her ascendant sign, Scorpio. I’m a Leo Ascendant, which means I charge into a room, ready to shake everyone’s hand and introduce myself. I come off confident even if I’m feeling a little insecure, busy wondering if everyone in the room is having a good time (Libra).
Finding out your ascendant sign can help you understand the first impression you give off, helping you become more aware of how those around you are reacting to you.
While there are many aspects to your natal chart, each sign giving you valuable information about yourself and even the generation you were born in – learning these three signs can be a great first start to learning more about who you are. And how you tick!
So, baby, what’re your three signs?
Rogue Wood is a mindful resource for curious individuals looking for modern satisfaction when it comes to spirituality. For more, visit http://www.roguewoodblog.com.

Fixing bikes leads to promising career as a Millwright

Kristie Latta was in her second year of fine arts in university when she discovered something unexpected: an interest in the skilled trades. It all began when a professor asked if anyone in her class was interested in welding a sculpture as a project. “I remember thinking – this is so cool!”
However, soon afterward, Latta decided university was not the right fit for her. With a student loan to pay off, she took various jobs to earn a living, including working as a bike messenger.
When her bike required some major repair work, Latta had no money to fix it or to buy a new one. She didn’t know where to turn, until one of her friends suggested the Bike Dump, a local, volunteer-run community project that provides instruction in how to fix and build bikes.
Latta remembers feeling unsure of her skills when it came to working with tools. “I was almost shaking I was so nervous,” she says. But as she gained the skills to fix her own bike, she found that not only was she comfortable working with tools, she was also pretty good at it. “I realized I had a knack for fixing things and wanted to share my experience with others.”
Latta began volunteering at the Bike Dump on women-only nights. It was this experience that made her realize she wanted to focus her career on work in the skilled trades. In September 2013, Latta applied to become a junior technician in the trade of Industrial Mechanic (Millwright) and succeeded in landing the job.
All-encompassing trade
An industrial mechanic – also known as a millwright – installs, tests, removes, repairs and services a wide variety of industrial machinery and equipment. Industrial mechanics also read blueprints, drawings and manuals to determine repairs and work procedures, and perform preventative maintenance.
“It’s an all-encompassing trade where you can specialize in any number of different areas,” explains Latta, adding that she found the prospect of such diversity to be very appealing. Even so, she describes the experience as a roller-coaster.
“There were lots of ups and downs,” she says. “I’ve seen it all; from people believing I was sent to a job site as a practical joke, to doing office filing during slow times. I felt discouraged. I knew I was good at my job, but I kept wondering: am I being given these tasks because I’m a woman?”
At this low point in her career, Latta was invited to the Building Bridges: Women in Non-traditional Trades forum. The experience reminded her of the women-only nights at the Bike Dump and, in the same way, it boosted her confidence. “I had been feeling unsure of my career choice. The forum inspired me to stick with it.”
Gender doesn’t matter
Latta wants to be part of a movement to promote the understanding that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to the skilled trades. “Male or female, we all start at the same place and are put through the motions.”
The main thing is to find out what you are good at, she adds. “Some people are mechanically inclined, others are not. Your own skills may surprise you.”
Latta is aiming to complete her hours as a level one apprentice this summer and then to attend technical training to move up to level two.
Although getting started wasn’t always easy, Latta explains that she would not have been driven to complete her certification without the challenges she faced.
“I definitely had some hurdles to jump, but these hurdles have given me the confidence to know that I can succeed at this career.”
Apprenticeship programs consist of about 80 per cent on-the-job, practical training, and 20 per cent in-school technical training. To find out more about the skilled trades and how you can become an apprentice, visit manitoba.ca/tradecareers.
-Apprenticeship Manitoba

Learning about business and life from three fur babies

The Corporate Climb Laura Wittig
The Corporate Climb
Laura Wittig

After a long morning at the office, a client presentation gone poorly, and two board meetings (that obviously ran late), it’s no surprise that the highlight of my days (both the good days and the bad) is coming home to be greeted by my furry best friends… my three dogs.
Three dogs, you say? Well that’s just plain crazy! Maybe you’re right. But not only do these goofballs provide me with unconditional love, laughs, and cuddles, but they have taught me some very valuable life lessons along the way.
Lesson #1 – Never dismiss the power of your intuition and instinct
Everyone, humans and animals alike, has these magical gifts. They are that little jolt you get when something just doesn’t feel right, or alternately, you just KNOW something was meant to be. How many times do we stop and say, “I should have listened to my gut” or “I wish I had gone with my first instinct?”
My dog loves almost everyone. So on the odd occasion when somebody is introduced into my life that he visibly doesn’t seem to care for, I take it for what it’s worth. These people generally enter and then exit my life for good reason. Almost always, my dog was correct with his first instinct.
As human beings, we need to learn to trust our instincts and recognize just how powerful they can be. We must have faith in the fact that although it may seem confusing, we generally do know what is wrong or right – whether it is a new relationship, a new job offer, or just a very tough decision.
Lesson #2 – Don’t take anything for granted
My dog likes to go to the park. My dog likes to go for car rides. My dog is happy when I wake up and give him a good pat on the head.
Dogs never become too busy, or caught up in small details. They care little about something bad that may have happened last week (like punishment for chewing my favourite flip flop, ahem). Instead, they live in the moment and appreciate the really simple – but really wonderful – things that are offered to us every day.
Don’t forget to celebrate those small wins in life. Maybe you brought on a smaller, but still meaningful, account to your firm. Maybe you get to go for a long walk outside in the sunshine when your meeting gets out early. Maybe you decide to turn your phone off for a weekend and head to the lake. These are all reasons to celebrate and reflect on just how awesome your life really is – and how LUCKY you are to even have these opportunities.
Too often, we get caught up in the bad things or negative experiences that sometimes get tossed our way. Amidst the chaos of life, don’t forget to appreciate just how wonderful the little wins can be.
Lesson #3 – Loyalty trumps all
Sometimes I have really busy weeks and my dogs and I don’t go to the park as much as we should. Sometimes after getting home from work I quickly feed them and have to run out to another appointment. Perhaps these situations aren’t ideal for them, but they have still pledged to be my best friends, through thick and thin.
I make sure to give them a nice home, healthy food, lots of exercise, tons of love, and as much attention as I can. In return, they give me their undivided love and attention.
It’s a seemingly simple relationship and yet a very powerful one. Never underestimate the power of loyalty – whether it be a mentor in business or life, a good friend, or even a client. Go above and beyond to do the little things. Call to check in, say thank you, and let the important people in your life know how invaluable they are to you. The benefits of a loyal relationship of any kind will far outweigh the benefits of those relationships that will come and go in your life.
A little love as you walk out the door
The next time that you are running out the door, late for work, briefcase in hand… don’t forget to stop for a second and give your furry little friends a quick hug or scratch on the behind (yes, they love it). They will more than give back in return.

Athena Leadership is a Manitoba-based, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing young women in leadership. Laura Wittig currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Director of Communications. She is a proponent of helping other women advance in their careers, and seeks to share her perspective on how we can always keep learning personally and professionally.

Let’s go off the rails with public transportation plans in Winnipeg

By Dorothy Dobbie (photo by Robert Linsdell)

In 1877, when the Countess of Dufferin locomotive arrived in St. Boniface on a barge, towed up the Red River by the steamer “Selkirk,” it was big news. It would inaugurate the first major land transportation system on the Prairies – the railway running north and south between Selkirk and Emerson.
For the next century, rail would be king in Manitoba – and Winnipeg was the hub of it all.
Four years later, in 1881, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway Act was passed, opening the way to tie the Dominion together by building the line westward across the Prairies.
To grease the wheels, huge concessions were made to the railway, not the least of which was a payment of $25 million – and with that, two million acres of land – some of it located where cities have since grown up surrounding the networks. CP, as with all early Western Canada railways, was a private entity that was heavily subsized – it is now headquartered in Calgary, and publicly traded on the Toronto and New York Stock exchanges.
In Winnipeg, CP occupies almost 500 acres in the heart of the city, cutting the community in half both literally and figuratively. It is surrounded by a wasteland of tracks and empty warehouses as the nature of businesses in the city has changed. The neighbourhoods on either side of the tracks are among the least desirable in Winnipeg.
The Canadian National (CN) Railway has its own network of lines cutting though east Winnipeg, where there are major yards in Transcona and St. Boniface – and then through downtown through to the southern part of Winnipeg, all the way to St. Norbert (and west through Tuxedo and Charleswood).
And we’re not only dealing with CP and CN. There are a number of other players, including Via Rail, Burlington Northern, Central Manitoba Railway, and so on.
Since the 1960s, various groups have raised the issue of moving rail yards away from Winnipeg’s core, and there are several precedents for this.
Edmonton did it in the 1980s, with the removal of CN. This was followed by a boom in construction and development. What was wasteland is now prime land. Tax revenue rose with the redevelopment, and the original investment has since been more than justified.
Montreal recently completed its relocation and development, which was accomplished over the last decade. The redevelopment paralleled that of Edmonton.
In 2012, the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg reintroduced the idea with a study and proposal to remove the CP lines and yards, and fill the space with housing. They reasoned that removal of the lines to a location north of the city was a sensible decision given the location of the transportation-hungry CentrePort Canada development.
The timing is auspicious. Under the leadership of Mayor Brian Bowman, Winnipeg is finally taking its first tentative steps toward creating a rapid transit system, servicing a very small part of the city from downtown to the University of Manitoba. But we need a system that covers the whole city.
The Conference Board of Canada has pointed out that the city is expected to grow by 180,000 people by 2031; not only will there be a need for an estimated 83,000 new housing units, there will be additional pressure on our transportation infrastructure. Strategically, it makes sense to utilize the rail line corridors that currently serve private transportation for public transportation. Indeed, the Social Planning Council proposal, which focuses a lot on housing, acknowledges the transportation needs in any repurposing of the site.
Naysayers and the weak of heart will worry about site remediation, but we have experience with this at The Forks – not that long ago, a 90-acre, industrial-age mess. Moreover, a great deal has been learned in the interim about the remediation efficacy of greenspaces and trees.
So yes, we could have a network of rapid transit systems and freeways following the old rail lines throughout the city, and yes, we could even have housing on the old rail yard sites with some careful planning.
Will this be expensive? Yes, but all projects are. The housing will inevitably be built and that development will demand transportation infrastructure. Better to begin the process now, taking advantage of the opportunity to clean up the core areas of the city, and halt some of the urban sprawl.
Is this doable? Yes, it is. It will take the co-ordinated efforts and leadership of the city, the province, the federal government, and local business, but it is more than doable.
It could be the salvation of an aging town that could use a big shot of renewal right to its heart.