Phoebe Robinson’s Pre-Show Routine Involves Instant Pot Chili and a Fabulous Coat | Healthyish

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While you’re snoozing your alarm clock six times, Phoebe Robinson has already done the dishes.

“I like to have one task I can accomplish first thing in the morning. That makes me feel actually productive,” the actress-comedian-author (a certified Triple Threat) explains. So, before starting to write anything for her books—bestselling memoirs You Can’t Touch My Hair and Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay—or working up on standup routines, she tackles the sink full of dishes from last night’s dinner.

After that, she moves onto the rest of her weekday routine: breakfast (a green juice or toast with almond butter), an hour of Spanish on Duolingo (“Who keeps up with it after high school? I’m trying to enrich my life!”), trying to “smash through emails,” and then jumping on a Peloton bike in her building’s gym and/or doing circuit training for an hour.

“Most of my work is just me seated at a desk or on a couch typing, so I need to get the energy going on the bike,” Robinson says. “I’m not just my brain—I’m also my body.” Artists like Missy Elliott, Madonna, Rihanna, Luther Vandross, and The Pussycat Dolls make up the soundtrack that pushes her through so she can get into her work-from-home flow.

Robinson’s got a lot going on between writing books and jokes, running two podcasts (Sooo Many White Guys, which is on hiatus, and 2 Dope Queens, which ended recently but became an HBO series that premieres its second season on Feb. 8), and acting (in What Women Want, also out on the 8th). We caught up with Robinson as she was preparing for her Phoebe Robinson & Friends standup show at Brooklyn’s Union Hall to see how she gets ready to make people laugh.

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Pot brownies in Canada could be 10 times weaker than in several U.S. states. Here’s why some people think that could be a big problem

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CALGARY—Very few businesses long to be regulated. Baked Edibles is one of them.

For the last three years, the Victoria, B.C.-based company has supplied edibles and topicals — such as salves and massage oils — to around 500 businesses across Canada. It remains an underground operation; these popular products were not legalized along with cannabis flower and oils last October.

Sean Bird, Baked Edibles’ general manager, says the business is ready to adapt and submit to the federal government’s coming regulations once they’re finalized. But he warned that the current section on edibles, as it currently stands, only allows a very conservative dose of THC — the main psychoactive component found in cannabis.

He believes the proposed limit of 10 milligrams per package of edibles, small even for novice users, will keep customers returning to the black market. Alternatively, consumers can cook up stronger edibles at home with relative ease.

“They will find other methods. Perhaps these methods will not be regulated,” Bird said. “As we’ve seen in the past, the black market will fill any holes it can. It will remain strong if there’s demand.”

California, Colorado and Washington states allow a single package of edibles — containing multiple gummies, brownies, cookies or other treats — to contain up to 100 milligrams of THC. Oregon’s regulations are somewhat stricter at 50 milligrams.

Despite its draft regulations allowing just a fifth of Oregon’s limit, Health Canada said it looked to U.S. states for inspiration and cited the U.S. experience as proof that legalization does erode the black market’s staying power.

“Experience in the U.S. has clearly shown that the legalization and regulation of cannabis in several U.S. states has led to a significant displacement of the illegal market, over time, in those jurisdictions,” said Health Canada in a statement.

Part of Canada’s cautiousness comes from fears of overconsumption. Unlike smoking a joint or vaping cannabis oil, edibles have a delay between consumption and when a user starts to experience its effects. Novice users might eat an edible, not feel anything, and then eat several more under the assumption that they haven’t had enough.

While cannabis overconsumption — colloquially referred to as “greening out” — can be acutely unpleasant and may mean a trip to a hospital’s emergency room, it isn’t fatal.

Rebecca Haines-Saah, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s department of community health sciences, agreed a 10-milligram THC limit is a very low dose. For most users, it would mean a relatively mellow high, although she noted that edibles produce a different experience than smoking or vaping.

“I imagine that putting out the draft regulations with a very, very low dose is meant to respond to this general concern among public health authorities,” she said.

Haines-Saah said it’s worth paying attention to the issue of overconsumption but said recent statistics suggesting an increase in hospital visits need to be taken in context. Before cannabis was legalized in Canada and certain U.S. states, bringing a child to the ER because they accidentally ate a special brownie could also mean a visit from child-welfare authorities. Now, she argued, parents in those jurisdictions are more likely to come forward.

“It’s a really tricky issue to figure out,” Haines-Saah said.

Parliament is expected to approve the regulations, in some form, no later than Oct. 17. Consultations continue between Health Canada, cannabis industry players, provincial and territorial governments, First Nations and other members of the public.

However they turn out, the final rules will have a big impact. Edibles are likely to be a significant part of Canada’s recreational cannabis scene going forward, according to Mitchell Osak, managing director of business consulting and technology services at Grant Thornton LLP, who advises companies in the Canadian cannabis industry.

Between January and July of 2018, he said, the demand for edibles in California and Colorado made up about 43 per cent of the total market for weed. Many potential consumers in Canada are staying out of pot shops because they’re waiting for edibles to arrive.

“That’s how they want to experience cannabis,” Osak said.

And the new rules will almost certainly mean major changes for underground producers. According to Bird, breaking into the legal market will mean shuttering Baked Edibles as it currently exists, pulling out of arrangements with black market sellers and, it seems, discontinuing the potent edibles it currently sells.

Nonetheless, Bird said this was always the plan.

“We want to be regulated and we want to offer a safe and reliable product, and we want to work within the confines of the law,” he said.

Brennan Doherty is a work and wealth reporter with StarMetro Calgary. Follow him on Twitter: @bren_doherty

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A Giant, Freaky, Joyful Pot of Greens to Redeem My Butter-Drenched Soul

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The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where our staffers talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks that they can make with their eyes closed.

If I told you that I was eating stewed greens and rice—and only stewed greens and rice—for dinner, it would be reasonable to assume that I had something to repent for. That I had to make up for a weekend-long burger bender, say, or course correct after an evening of particularly meaty eating.

And most of the time you’d be right: As a person who has worked in the food world in some capacity for close to 12 years, I find myself needing that kind of hard restart on the regular. But if you were to assume that I sit down to said bowl of stewed greens and rice begrudgingly, with anything other than joy and absolute relish in my heart, well, that’s where you’d be wrong, friend. Because if I’m eating stewed greens and rice, I’m eating green MF gumbo. And it couldn’t be more exhilarating—or simple—to make.

How to Wash and Store Greens…The Right Way

I was first introduced to green gumbo in an essay by John Thorne—one of America’s best and most underrated food writers, IMHO. In it, he describes a storied Creole dish that bears almost no resemblance to the meaty, roux-thickened stew that most of us know to be gumbo. Rather, gombo zhebes is a brothy, hearty celebration of all things leafy, and reflects a notion of what constitutes a « green » that is far more generous and expansive than our own.

Radish tops. Romaine. Turnip greens and arugula. Bitter chicories and parsley and spinach and chard. If it’s greenish and a leaf, it has a home in the pot. Green gumbo is a celebration of the garden and all of its diverse delights. To me, the thrill of this dish is the opportunity to cook and taste a crazy variety of green things together, many of which—lettuces, herbs—we’re otherwise told to never, ever subject to the heat of the stove. Freaky-flexible, it’s the ultimate all-in fridge clean out meal, but also one worth doing some shopping for if you’re really in the mood—which for me is kind of all the time.

Here’s how my by-no-means-traditional green gumbo comes together. Start by heating a good glug of olive oil over medium heat in a big Dutch oven. If you happen to have some kind of salty, fatty pork product lying around—a few strips of bacon, a nug of pancetta, a bit of chorizo—then chop up a few ounces and let it sizzle until it gets crisp and some of the fat renders out. (Vegetarians, don’t sweat: It’s great without pork.) Then throw in 1 chopped pepper (I like poblano, but any not-too-spicy guy will do), the chopped white parts from about 6 scallions (save the green parts for garnish), 3 chopped celery ribs, and 4 well-smashed garlic cloves. Hit everything with a big pinch of kosher salt and a sprinkling of red chile flakes, and let that cook, stirring occasionally, until it all goes soft, about 5 minutes.

Healthyish Meal Prep Greens

Photo by Chelsie Craig

All green everything.

Then it’s time for the greens. You want 8-10 cups of torn greens in total, a combo of any/all of the following: arugula, romaine, escarole, mature spinach, endive, radicchio, radish tops, turnip tops, dill, parsley, cilantro, basil, chard, beet greens, fennel fronds, chard, mustard greens, kale, collards. (In general, I like to avoid anything too delicate like baby spinach, sprouts, or microgreens, which tend to get slimy.) Add the greens to the pot in rounds, stirring in between each addition so that each couple of handfuls has the opportunity to wilt and make room in the pot for the rest. Then add just enough water to barely cover the contents of the pot. Once the whole mixture comes up to a boil, cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the greens are no longer bright green but not quite until they’re dark-dark, which will take 20-30 minutes depending on the lineup of greens. You want to cook them long enough that each individual green still tastes like itself but has had an opportunity to give some of its unique goodness to the cooking liquid. Add a splash of vinegar (I like apple cider), taste, and add more salt and/or vinegar if needed. You’re eating a big pot of greens for dinner, so season it like you mean it—the flavor should pop.

Mound some steamed white rice into a shallow bowl, ladle over a great big sloppy scoop of greens and the accompanying broth, and garnish with thinly sliced scallion greens, a few dashes of vinegary Louisiana-style hot sauce, and maybe some lemon wedges for squeezing over. Close your eyes and give yourself a chance to really taste all of the elements that made their way into your green gumbo, how each bite is wild and different. Make yourself a second bowl. And a third. And don’t stop until you’re so full of vegetables that you want to lie down on the couch and moan with pleasure.

And that’s how you make a pot of greens that always tastes like joy, never obligation.

About that pot of rice:

How-to-cook-rice-646

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Pot activist Marc Emery denies allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour

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Vancouver’s self-styled « Prince of Pot » is defending himself against allegations of sexual impropriety.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Marc Emery addressed a number of complaints levelled against him on social media.

He apologized and admitted mistakes but insists he was never sexually aggressive with anyone.

Emery says he had consensual sex with three employees of his Cannabis Culture pot shops over the years, two of whom he married but never with anybody under the age of 19

His statement comes after an Ontario journalist claimed Emery was inappropriate with her at his Cannabis Culture store years ago. 

The Twitter post sparked a controversy on social media and triggered a huge response. as well as other allegations. Deirdre Olsen says she was 17 when she met Emery in 2008.

She said Emery was at the height of his fame as the so-called « Prince of Pot » and she says she was star-struck.

Olsen — who grew up in Ladner — said he once invited her to smoke pot from an oversized phallic bong and said explicit things to her. She said her mother stopped her from taking a job at the pot shop.

Emery acknowledges he had five to eight 17-year old friends that he smoked marijuana with in 2014 and 2015 after returning from prison.

CBC News has not fully investigated or verified the allegations in Olsen’s online claims. Emery did not respond to CBC News’ request for an interview Thursday.

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Price of pot is up since legalization, StatsCan finds

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The price of pot has risen more than 17 per cent since it become legal for recreational use, according to Statistics Canada.

With more folks lighting up, and thorny supply issues in some provinces, the price has jumped to $8.02 per gram from $6.83.

Using an updated version of its crowdsourcing app, Statistics Canada collected price information prior to legalization Oct. 17, and compared it to the average price between that day and the end of 2018.

Of the 385 price quotes it used from that period, half of those purchases were from legal suppliers. 

Legal pot costs more. The average price for dried cannabis from a legal supplier was $9.70 per gram, compared to $6.51 from illegal suppliers.

David Clement said it’s not surprising that the price of pot has risen. The North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Centre, a consumer advocacy group that monitors regulatory policy around the globe, said there are two main factors pushing up cannabis costs — taxes and lack of competition.

The taxes and fees create prices that are high out of the gate, and then a lack of competition prevents those prices from being slowly pushed down.-David Clement, consumer advocate

Now that it’s legal, pot is now subject to provincial and federal taxes, plus all the fees and licensing costs imposed on producers that are passed on to end users, said Clement.

« It costs half a billion a year to enforce the rules and regulations in the Cannabis Act, so in order to generate the revenues to cover that they’ve implemented fees and licences on licensed producers. »

On top of that, access is restricted in the majority of provinces and territories to government-run retail and online shops only.

« The taxes and fees create prices that are high out of the gate, and then a lack of competition prevents those prices from being slowly pushed down, » Clement said.

More people using cannabis

The survey results also suggest that legalization has prompted more people to partake, as 7.7 per cent of respondents said they had purchased cannabis for the first time. About 61 per cent of the first-time buyers purchased from legal sources.

Although Statistics Canada cautions about drawing conclusions from the data given the small sample size, it also indicated men were more likely to purchase cannabis from a legal supplier than women, with 49.8 per cent of male respondents buying from legal producers compared with 41.6 per cent of female respondents.

  

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Future of cannabis not in Canada, national pot expert claims

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For Canada’s cannabis expert, the future of the drug in Canada isn’t in northern commercial greenhouses, but in the fields of Central and South America. 

Ernie Small is a principal research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa. He’s grown and studied the drug for decades, and has written several books on the subject — though he swears he’s never had so much as a toke.

Small says many of today’s commercial grow operations aren’t run efficiently, which is driving up the cost of the drug. They’re often run by self-taught growers who’ve relied on the advice of people growing cannabis illegally.

« There is a lot to learn, and their methodology is inefficient and is contributing to the high cost of marijuana, » says Small, who has toured some of them. « There is no question that this is an industry with huge profit potential, but it also has bankruptcy potential. »

In Central and South America, cannabis crops can be grown a lot cheaper than in Canada.  

He points to several large domestic cannabis growers that have invested in companies in South American countries to produce cannabis oils.

An interesting beginning

Small got his start in the cannabis game for the federal government back in the early 1970s, when he was tasked with studying the difference between illegal cannabis and legal hemp on a near-hectare of land in Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm, a wide swath of federal fields smack dab in the middle of the capital.

Police departments around the world sent him 350 cannabis seeds through the mail. They needed to be sure if the joints they seized from smokers were from illegal plants containing a lot of the psychoactive element THC, or hemp, which has a lot less THC.

He grew hundreds of plants on the farm, spawning a career that earned him the Order of Canada in December 2017 for his contribution to botanical knowledge and public policy.

Ernie Small stands next to his federally owned crop of cannabis hidden among corn in Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm in 1971. (Supplied, 1971)

« It grew fantastically well, » says the now-78-year-old scientist. « We had plants that were 18 feet high. »

But eventually the grow-op soured. Word about the hidden cannabis surrounded by corn leaked out, and trespassers were getting high on government bud.

A barbed-wire fence, guards and « some rather vicious guard dogs » couldn’t keep them out, Small recalls. In all, about 50 plants were stolen from the plot near Ash Lane, which earned the nickname Hash Lane.

« The blame came down ultimately to me and I almost lost my job, » Small says in his office inside the farm’s William Saunders Building.

A wagon full of harvested cannabis grown on the Central Experimental Farm in 1971. (Supplied, 1971)

The outdoor cannabis was eventually moved into a secure greenhouse and remained there until the early 1980s. 

But back in 1976, Small had acquired enough data to publish his botanical classification system separating legal hemp from illegal cannabis by using a benchmark of 0.3 per cent THC.

Anything above that was classified as illegal. The policy was adopted around the world and is still used today.

« It turned out to be the most significant contribution I have ever made, » Small says.

Ernie Small poses with a male cannabis plant in 1980. (Supplied, 1980)

Years later, when the Liberal government decided to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, Small says he was taken aback.

« I never thought marijuana would ever become legalized — period, » he says. « It’s a surprise that the counter-culture movement has been able to consolidate and become the majority of society. »

But he supports the move, and even helped write the new federal law.

« In this case I entirely support it because it just makes perfect sense, » he says. « The war on drugs has been substantially a failure, and how many people can you put in jail? »

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada with Ernie Small who was awarded as a member in the Order of Canada in September, 2018. (Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, )

Despite all the cannabis research he’s done, Small says without hesitation that he’s never sampled the drug and « never will. »

« The government put tremendous trust in me, and the whole idea of betraying that trust just seemed to me to go against who I am as a scientist, » he says.

And even now that recreational cannabis is legal, Small insists he’s not even a little curious about what it’s like. « I’m really conservative about what I put in the body, » he says.

But he will grow the permissible four cannabis plants in his greenhouse at home. After all this time studying them, it appears he’s grown used to having them nearby.

« It will just make me feel comfortable to have the plants around, » he says.

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BC Hydro lineman fired over legal pot grow-op wins back job

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A BC Hydro lineman who was fired after being accused of stealing electricity to feed a cannabis grow-op on his property should get his job back, the Labour Relations Board has found.

The board recently upheld the decision of an arbitrator, who found BC Hydro had failed to prove that employee Lawrence Petersen had covertly installed a transformer and second electrical line to feed the operation on his Comox Valley property.

And Petersen actually had a licence from Health Canada to grow medical marijuana for sick family and friends, the board heard.

Petersen was fired from his job as a power line technician on June 27, 2013, after an internal investigation prompted by a tip from police, who suspected he was involved in illegal grow-ops at multiple sites.

His union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, grieved the dismissal, and in an August award, arbitrator Wayne Moore said he found Petersen’s defence more believable than his bosses’ claim that he was stealing electricity.

« In the final analysis, BC Hydro had little basis, beyond speculation, for this allegation. It follows that I find the employer has not met its onus to provide clear and cogent evidence with respect to a diversion or theft of power, » Moore wrote.

The arbitrator found that Petersen was entitled to reinstatement without loss of wages, seniority or benefits, a decision upheld by Labour Relations Board vice-chair Andres Barker on Nov. 30.

‘Unsatisfactory’ evidence from BC Hydro investigator

BC Hydro’s case largely relied on evidence from investigator Barry Hurrie, a former police officer who looks into electricity theft and power diversion for the utility.

But Moore described Hurrie’s testimony as « unsatisfactory in a number of ways, » describing him as overly confident, defensive and sometimes aggressive, and unwilling to consider facts that conflicted with his theory of what was going on.

« It was apparent from the outset that, when he received information from the RCMP in March 2011, he was predisposed to believe that the grievor was guilty of marijuana related offences, » Moore wrote.

Petersen testified that the property had two power lines when he bought it in 2007. (CBC)

The BC Hydro investigation found Petersen’s property wasn’t serviced by the transformer listed in the utility’s database. Instead, it was using a more powerful transformer that was missing a serial number.

But other employees testified that BC Hydro’s records were unreliable, and the transformer installed at Petersen’s property wasn’t unusual.

Hurrie also submitted an image taken from Google Street View in October 2011 that appeared to show just one electrical line to Petersen’s property. Hurrie said that when he visited four months later, there were two lines.

But a Google Street View image taken from a different angle in 2009 showed two lines. A contractor who visited the property testified that he noticed two lines when he visited the property in 2010, and Petersen said they were already there when he bought the land in 2007.

Finally, BC Hydro alleged that Petersen had violated policy by not disclosing that he was growing cannabis under a licence from Health Canada. As it turns out, however, Health Canada had advised licensees not to reveal grow-op locations for security reasons.

« Accordingly, I find that this ground for discipline should also be rejected, » Moore wrote.

Though BC Hydro appealed Moore’s award, arguing it was right to fire Petersen, the Labour Relations Board found that the utility had been given a fair hearing and the decision was in line with provincial regulations.

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Medicine is the real pot of gold for the cannabis industry

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The current preoccupation with recreational pot is about to fade as investor interest focuses on medicinal marijuana. The alliance announced last week between B.C. pot producer Tilray Inc. and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG is a game-changer.

Tilray products co-branded with Novartis and its Sandoz AG consumer products unit will boast an enviable legitimacy with hospitals, doctors and patients served by the global distribution network of Novartis, among the largest Big Pharma enterprises. Tilray signed another deal last week, with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, to develop cannabis-infused beverages. But the big story is the Tilray-Novartis alliance.

Recreational and medicinal pot are different industries, a distinction not yet made by most investors. Recreational pot is long established, and while some growth is to be expected from legalization, that industry has simply shifted from the illicit to the legal realm.

By sharp contrast, medicinal pot is in its relative infancy, with tremendous growth potential.

Though it has proved its efficacy in treating pain, arthritis, epilepsy and other conditions, pot’s medicinal potential has been barely tapped. And legalization of pot in medicine will come sooner worldwide than for recreational use.

The U.S. will legalize medicinal marijuana in coming weeks, while recreational pot remains illegal at the national level.

Recreational pot use tends to be occasional, while many medicinal pot treatments will be “maintenance” drugs, like those for diabetes and high blood pressure, and will be used for a lifetime. And given the onerous regulatory approvals required of pot medications, there will be fewer players than in the over-crowded recreational industry.

That makes the pot firms strongest in medical marijuana the ones that will deliver the biggest investor returns in the long term.

Solving Trudeau’s Huawei quandary

Justin Trudeau keeps insisting that politics plays no part in Canada’s detention since Dec. 1 of one of China’s most prominent businesspeople on a U.S. arrest warrant alleging violation of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Or in deciding whether to grant access for her employer, Huawei Technology Co., world’s biggest maker of telecom equipment, to Canada’s emerging fifth-generation mobile network.

In fact, those actions are entirely political, including Beijing’s detention of three Canadian nationals in retaliation for Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s second-ranking executive.

Trudeau earlier this year blocked the proposed sale of a second-tier Canadian engineering firm, Aecon Inc., to a state-controlled Chinese company on specious national security grounds.

Politics, or geopolitics, will also determine Trudeau’s decisions in this debacle. Among the ideal options is to release Meng Wanzhou in exchange for freeing the Canadian nationals. And to grant Huawei, which employs about 500 people in its extensive Canadian R&D operations, the access it craves to Canada’s 5G network, provided Huawei share its technology with Canadian partners – exactly what Beijing requires of offshore enterprises doing business in China.

The real story here is America’s determination to thwart China’s quest for leadership in a range of 21st-century technologies, on the flimsy pretext of national security.

That is flagrant hypocrisy.

Huawei has not been shown to be a spy for Beijing, while the Obama administration used bugs to eavesdrop on German Chancellor Angela Merkel — America is no slouch at illicit collection of intelligence on others.

The U.S. is pressuring its allies, including Canada, to help crush China’s ambitions. Even putting aside the U.S. administration’s neighbour-from-hell treatment of Canada since 2016, it isn’t Canada’s job to protect Silicon Valley from competition, and allow the U.S. to dictate Canadian industrial policy.

A needed French presidential turnaround

Emmanuel Macron’s French presidency is in trouble, and that’s no small matter for the world.

The French president has been a resolute champion of a European Union whose existence parallels Europe’s longest stretch of peace and prosperity.

The trade opportunities opened to Canadian industry by the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) give all Canadians a stake in the health of the French republic. France and Germany are the twin pillars of the EU, itself the world’s biggest economy.

The disturbing phenomenon of yellow jacket, or gilets jaunes, demonstrators burning cars and demolishing storefronts across France in recent weeks, in a populist revolt against Macron’s second diesel-tax hike this year, resonates among Albertans who’ve donned yellow jackets in their anti-Ottawa protests .

Macron is hobbled by a dismissive hauteur, and a reputation for being a servant of the wealthy.

But Macron can save his presidency. Having weakened himself by caving into the “mob” in scrapping the second of his diesel-tax hikes Dec. 5, Macron can recast himself as a forceful leader with a “people’s agenda” that includes pension reforms; the introduction of the same earned income tax credit for the working poor that then-U.S. president Bill Clinton used to narrow the gap between rich and poor; and a rejigging of tax brackets to end the windfall for the rich that resulted from Macron’s hugely unpopular scrapping of France’s wealth tax.

With several EU countries under the sway of nativist leaders, and Britain heading out of the EU, the dynamic optimist who won the Élysée Palace in May 2017 vowing to reform the EU, not dismantle it, is more needed now than ever.

David Olive is a business columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @TheGrtRecession

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The Instant Pot Ace Blender, Reviewed

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Do I really need this? This is the thought that ran through my mind as I lugged the new Instant Pot Ace Blender—the latest gadget from the company that brought us the electric pressure cooker that broke the Internet—onto a crowded subway car and then up two flights of stairs to my tiny Brooklyn apartment, where I certainly don’t have spare kitchen cabinet space.

As I unpacked the massive box and all its various bobs and doo-dads, I asked myself again: DO I NEED THIS? I already have a blender, which is about half the size of the Instant Pot version—it’s a Breville model that does a reasonable enough job of blitzing through kale for smoothies and breaking down herbs for chutneys. Why do I need another? When I received an Instant Pot, I thought the same thing. I already had a slow cooker, I didn’t need anything else! But the Instant Pot’s ability to more quickly and effectively produce all the things I made in my slow cooker (dal, pulled pork), and then even more (risotto, yogurt) changed my mind, and it’s since become one of my most-used appliances.

The Instant Pot Ace Blender, which was released this fall (just in time for soup szn!!), is the second appliance behind the upstart Canadian business that brought us the device that launched a thousand cookbooks/hot takes/Facebook groups. Here, the company is relying on the same logic it used to sell the Instant Pot: that this product can do everything this device you already have (in this case: blender) can do, but better. And more. The TL;DR? It’s a high-powered blender that can also heat and cool food.

The instruction manual claims it can make ice cream (or at least, soft serve), hot soup from raw ingredients, and—because this is where the world is headed, I guess—several kinds of alternative milks. Similar to the Instant Pot, there are preset buttons (three are for alternative milks) as well as a manual option. Even the lid is somewhat familiar, as it has latches for locking the top in place. The blender won’t operate unless the lid is securely on, which is comforting for someone like me, who has had several mishaps.

I spent a recent morning testing out all the features of this fancy new blender, and let me get the bad news out of the way: it cannot make ice cream. Following the instructions of this friendly-looking lady with a cute bob on YouTube, I combined heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the blender, and hit the ice cream button, which promised to have my 7 a.m. dessert ready in a minute and twenty seconds. I was surprised that as the machine was running, it didn’t seem to be getting much cooler (there’s a temperature reading on the front of the gadget, though it was in Celsius because the Instant Pot company is Canadian and I got very confused!). Once my ice cream was supposedly done, all it had become was whipped cream. I gave the ice cream another shot, this time adding cornstarch as a thickener and frozen mangoes, which I thought would help cool everything down. What I got was more like melting soft serve. I stuck it in the freezer, and after several hours, it was technically ice cream, but more just cold cream dotted with ice granules.

Many articles I read also mentioned that this blender could churn butter. Let me just say that I bought several cartons of cream and tried “churning” it using every possible setting—puree, smoothie, ice cream, crushed ice—and no butter solids ever formed.

Where the Instant Pot Ace Blender fared better was alternative milks. I decided to try making oat milk, because it’s trendy and I already had large cartons of almond and soy milk in the fridge. On my first try, I forgot the water and unintentionally found out that this thing is great for making alternative flours (the oat flour was silky and homogeneous!). On my second try, after adding oats, water, and a little vegetable oil (there are step-by-step instructions in the manual), hitting the “nut/oat milk” button, and waiting the requisite 4 minutes and 32 seconds (the timings are so precise!), I had something that very closely resembled what I’ve seen in coffee shops. The blender even comes with its own cloth that you can use to strain your milk. I ended up with about a quart of oat milk, and it was nice, albeit more bitter and less creamy than the ones I tried.

But if you’re really going to buy this blender, it will be for the soup function. This is the most Instant Pot–adjacent feature, and it is also the best feature. Basically, you can dump any raw veggies into the blender, and the device will both cook and blend them into a soup. I decided to go with butternut squash, a veg that usually takes a while to cook. Into the blender I dropped about two cups of cubed, UNPEELED, squash, a sliced, sautéed onion, a small knob of ginger, water, and some salt and pepper. I pressed the Soup button, and the blender took about ten minutes to heat up, the equivalent of when the Instant Pot takes some time to build up the pressure before it starts the countdown clock (in this soup’s case, 20 minutes). It was pretty mesmerizing to watch the soup. At first, the water started to boil. Then, little cubes of squash would dance around and disappear into the blender, a few at a time. By the time 20 minutes was up, the blender made that familiar, comforting Instant Pot beep, and everything appeared to have puréed into a smooth soup. Common wisdom is that blenders can’t hold hot food, as they will explode due to pressure build-up, but the IP blender fared just fine.

The soup was good, albeit not deeply flavored. Neither the squash skin nor the ginger had fully broken down, though I imagine if I had puréed the mixture for a minute or so longer it would have, and I didn’t mind the couple of chunky bits. This blender obviates the need for an immersion blender, or a separate pot for cooking your vegetables. That said, unlike the Instant Pot, there is no sauté function on this blender, and so I had to use a separate pan to brown my onions. (Here’s how Carla Lalli Music uses an Instant Pot to make super delicious chicken or veggie stock.)

But would I buy this blender to replace my current one, exclusively to be able to make hot soup and oat milk? Nah. It’s a perfectly good blender, but not uniquely more powerful than my Breville. The hot and cold functions don’t feel like a game changer. I can make better-flavored soup in my regular ol’ Instant Pot, and I don’t mind using my immersion blender to purée it! Every alt milk imaginable is so widely available and reasonably priced. Also, even if the Instant Pot blender could make butter, we don’t live in settlement times anymore! You can buy great butter at the store!!!

And ice cream? While I don’t love paying five dollars a scoop at the incredible gelato shop within eyeshot of my apartment, this option is far more preferable than cramming yet another appliance into my cabinet, only to end up with melty soft serve.

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One-Skillet Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

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Set aside 1 Tbsp. cream. Add remaining cream, reserved chicken, 10 oz. peas, and 1½ tsp. salt and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cook, tossing occasionally, until warmed through, 3–4 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rimmed baking sheet, which will prevent any juices that bubble out of the pan from spilling onto your oven floor.

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