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This B.C. woman’s recipe is one of the most popular of all time — and the story behind it is bananas

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It’s been nearly 20 years, but Shelley Albeluhn remembers the day in 2000 when she decided to mash an additional three very ripe bananas into the batter of her very first banana bread.

At the time, she hoped the on-the-fly tweak would yield a tender loaf with a sweet and deeply intense banana flavour.

Little did she know her creation — which baked up beautifully and received rave reviews from friends and family — would soon become a worldwide banana bread sensation.

Albeluhn, who lives in Port Hardy on the east coast of Vancouver Island, is the creator of Banana Banana Bread on Allrecipes.com, the much-loved website that collects recipes submitted by home cooks.

Since she posted the recipe in 2000, Banana Banana Bread has been viewed more than 35 million times and is Allrecipes’ second-most popular recipe of all time. In 2018 alone, it clocked more than 4 million views.

“This literally could be the most-viewed banana bread recipe in the world,” says Esmee Williams, vice-president of consumer insights at Seattle-based Allrecipes. She believes Albeluhn is the only Canadian to have a recipe crack the website’s all-time top 10 list.

“For a long time, it was the only recipe that came up when you Googled banana bread and for many years it was the number one recipe on our site. Shelley was definitely ahead of her time.”

Albeluhn, 53, never set out to change the global online trajectory of banana bread.

“I can’t believe this,” she says, after a Star journalist tells her of the enduring popularity of her Banana Banana Bread. “That many millions of people have seen my recipe? That’s amazing. It’s just a recipe.

“But I guess sometimes there is nothing better or more simple in life than making a really good banana bread.”

Read more:

Canada’s most popular online recipes, from Newfoundland to Nunavut

Albeluhn doesn’t remember the origin of the recipe she adapted into the now legendary Banana Banana Bread, which calls for 2 1/3 cups of mashed, overripe bananas. That’s the equivalent of five or six bananas; many banana bread recipes use just two or three.

“I winged it, really,” she says. “I remember thinking: ‘Let’s see how banana-y we can get this, so let’s put in another banana, and then another and another.’ ”

Albeluhn also recalls that she swapped brown sugar for white sugar, and replaced oil with butter.

It turned out so well she decided to post her adapted recipe online to Allrecipes.

At the time, Albeluhn was living in Port Alice, a village on Vancouver Island that, in 2000, had a population of about 1,200, many of whom were supported by the local pulp mill, which has since closed.

That Albeluhn had internet access in such a small town nearly 20 years ago is just one of the curious things about the ongoing viral popularity of her recipe, says Anatoliy Gruzd, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management with expertise in social media.

“It’s also interesting that something posted so long ago is still alive on the web — and still popular,” he adds, noting that Allrecipes has found a way to stay relevant even though it launched in 1997, whereas some other websites of its generation have gone extinct. “Think of something like (the social network) MySpace.”

“It also shows you that, in some cases, things that are posted many years ago can still be viral now. Modern forms of social media favour real-time trending stories. If something trended yesterday, it’s considered too old and we move on.”

Gruzd says that while Albeluhn’s recipe probably tastes good (he hasn’t tried it), its popularity is more likely due to Albeluhn’s impeccable timing: she posted the recipe on Allrecipes at just the right moment to ride the wave of the website’s overall success.

Williams, who has worked at Allrecipes since shortly after its launch, says the website’s appeal has always been that it caters to home cooks, many of whom gravitate toward recipes that are simple and timeless, just like Albeluhn’s banana bread.

In Canada, Good Old Fashioned Pancakes, submitted by Dakota Kelly, has remained the most popular recipe for years, netting more than 1.65 million page views here last year. It’s not clear whether Kelly herself is Canadian — Allrecipes doesn’t generally track users’ locations.

Williams says this kind of cooking is something that has not gone out of style, even amid the increasing online presence of celebrity chefs, sophisticated food bloggers and the meteoric rise of impeccably styled foods suitable for Pinterest and Instagram.

“There aren’t that many places where home cooks have a voice online,” she says, adding that the millions of recipe reviews submitted by Allrecipes users help build trust in the website. “Before you ever turn on the oven or the stove, you know exactly how a recipe will turn out. You’ll know whether it’s a kid-pleaser, or whether your husband might like it, whether it will be a hit at a potluck, and how you can alter the recipe to suit your tastes.”

More than 10,000 people have reviewed Banana Banana Bread on Allrecipes and it has a 4.5 (out of 5) star rating.

Albeluhn, who peeks at the reviews from time to time, is thrilled her beloved recipe has touched so many lives.

Not just because she believes her version, with its deep banana-y flavour, is one of the best banana bread recipes around, but also because she hasn’t tasted it since 2001.

Dietary restrictions for health reasons mean she has had to forgo the treat. But she remembers exactly how it tastes and the best way to eat it.

“It’s wonderful toasted,” she says. “Take a slice and put it in the toaster oven so that it gets a bit golden brown on the outside. It will still be soft on the inside, and when it’s warmed up, you get that nice, buttery flavour. It’s just so good.”

Albeluhn hopes that Banana Banana Bread continues to find its way into kitchens around the world. It’s OK, she says, for people to try it with nuts or chocolate chips, make it into muffins or serve it in restaurants, or tweak the recipe to suit individual tastes, just as she did nearly 20 years ago.

But there is one element that she insists must remain to ensure the treat is truly Banana Banana Bread: “You must make it with very ripe bananas that are dark brown, very soft and with very little or no yellow. That is key; I wish I had written very overripe bananas in my original recipe. It’s the only way you get that super strong banana flavour.”

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Anglais

12 strategies to manage credit card payments and debt

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Today, almost everyone carries a credit card in their wallets. It is used to pay for almost everything from groceries to flight tickets to gas.

If managed properly, credit cards can be an essential financial tool that allows users to build credible credit, earn money back and gain great perks, like purchase protection and insurance. However, carrying a poor credit balance can plunge you into massive debt.

“Credit card debt is very high-interest debt, typically in the neighbourhood of 20% or more,” said Scott Hannah, president and CEO of Credit Counselling Society in a report.

If you have a balance payment on your credit card, clearing it off can be a difficult task if you’re a low-income earner—or you’ve already incurred too much debt that after using a credit card payment calculator you know you’ll be unable to pay back.

However, no matter how terrible you think your current situation is, there’s always a way out that works best for you. With interest on loans compounding everyday, there’s little wonder why clearing a credit card debt is so difficult. In fact, according to MNP, an accounting firm, nearly half of all Canadians are less than $200 per month away from becoming financially insolvent.

Tackling credit card debt can seem quite tedious, especially with many people choosing to ignore the problem and just keep making the minimum payment. Here are some practical strategies you can take advantage of to effectively tackle credit card debt.

1. Gain a complete understanding of your debt problem

This starting point for anyone trying to get out of debt is to understand why you’re in debt, in the first place.

Critically examine all areas of your finances to determine if your expenses don’t match your finances or if it was due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a medical emergency. Whatever the case may be, it is very important to know the reason why you are in so much debt so you can effectively tackle the root cause.

2. Look into your spending habits

Typically, one quick way to stop yourself from running into credit card debt is to examine your spending habits. What are the things you spend your credit card on? Are they essentials or things that can be easily done away with?

According to Hannah, most people can only account for about 75 to 80 per cent of their monthly expenditures and the remaining gets blurry. It is important to track your expenditure—whether it’s an extra shot of drinks at the bar or a box of cereal from the supermarket. Knowing what you spend money on allows you to build a better financial strategy against debt.

3. Build a budget

Once you have a clear picture of what your monthly expenses are, building a budget becomes the most important step towards managing your income better. Having one central location for tracking both your income and expenses is great in curtailing unnecessary spending and getting you out of debt.

Your budget needs to contain all of your expenses incorporated from essentials like groceries, mortgage, medical care and insurance to others such as utilities. While most people struggle to stick to their budget, you can create some margin for flexibility to make it easier for you.

4. Increase your minimum payment

For most credit cards, the minimum payment is approximately 2 per cent of the last month’s balance. But therein lies the problem because if you consistently pay only the minimum, then the lump of that money goes straight to your interest and not the principal.

Paying some extra money every month would go a long way in helping you clear your credit card debt faster and reduce the compounding interest.

5. Ask for a lower rate

It is very possible to negotiate for a lower rate with your bank; only thing is, most people tend not to do so. If you find yourself struggling with paying back your credit card debt, you can reach out to your lender and ask them to offer you a lower rate.

Long-time customers who have a history of making timely payments have more advantage with getting their request approved.

6. Take advantage of a balance transfer promotion

In a bid to entice new customers, lenders run promotions periodically on balance transfers for their credit cards. Basically, these offers involve having a low-interest rate between 0 to 2 per cent for a limited period—usually between 6 to 10 months.

Always be on the lookout for a lender that offers the lowest rates and longest promotional period, which would give you enough time to clear your debt.

7. Switch to a low-interest credit card

Once you have critically examined your spending habit and created a budget, yet it is obvious that you will always carry over a credit card balance, then it is time to switch to a low-interest credit card.

While these types of credit cards usually have little perks, they are quite useful in wiping a couple of percentage points off your interest. Typically, rates on low-interest credit cards vary but they could be as low as half the interest on a regular card.

8. Begin an avalanche

The avalanche method is great for those who have a lot of debt with several creditors. This method means you’d make the minimum payments on all your existing debts and then add any extra income to the debt that has the highest interest rate.

Using the avalanche method allows you to reduce the interest paid while clearing multiple debts.

9. Use the debt snowball approach

Another debt repayment strategy that you should consider is the debt snowball method. In this strategy, you would focus on paying off your small debt first before moving to the larger ones—all whilst still paying the minimum on all other debt—regardless of interest rate.

10. Get an extra income source

Creating additional streams of income goes a long way in helping you clear your credit card debt. By finding a better paying job or choosing a good side hustle, you can easily put down more money towards your debt repayment.

There’s a lot of gigs you can offer today to raise extra money such as writing, graphic design, proofreading, teaching and programming.

11. Use a personal loan

If your credit card balance is quite high, paying it off using a personal loan may be very advantageous. While the interest rates on credit cards can be as high as 29 per cent, with a good credit score you can qualify for a personal loan at a lower rate.

The main advantage of using this strategy is being able to pay off multiple credit card debts and focus on making single but fixed monthly payments on the remaining loan. Also, you spend lesser money on interest costs and repaying the loan in instalment would boost your credit score.

12. Spend more cash

Despite being very valuable items, credit cards can quickly run you into massive debt when not used properly. If you already have some debt yet to be paid, it is better to spend more cash than accumulate more debt on your credit card.

Get a low-interest credit card but only use it in emergencies once you know there isn’t enough money in your bank account to pay off the accumulated debt.

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Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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