Friday, 29 June 2012

A Salad for Summer: Grated Carrot and Beet Salad

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I officially finished work the other day. Which means it's getting really real. Really. I loved my old job, but I'm more than excited for the new one too.  So with sad goodbyes will come a lot of happy hellos, and how awesome is that? Very.

With just 6 weeks to pack up the life here, prep for the new job and life in China, and actually do the moving, things are moving at a pace I'm barely keeping up with.  I'd really love it if everything could simultaneously speed up and slow down at the same time. When that becomes possible, please, somebody, let me know.

I didn't make this salad since finishing work, I made it a few days ago to go with the miso roasted tofu.  No, the last two days have been all about sleeping in, sipping iced coffees and eating sushi for lunch - it's been tough. But I am posting it today, because today is hot, and in need of a meal like this.  Not every day can be about iced coffee and sushi (oh though I wish it could!), but with a salad like this, every day can be tasty, and easy.

Quick lunch? Summer BBQ? Impromptu fete? Let me introduce the answer for all of these and more ... carrot and beet salad. A simple mix of, um, well, carrots and beets. With a few extras for some added kick.

Since summer is now officially here, it's time to start stripping the food back.  When it's 34 degrees outside, we need simple, satisfying and minimal prep. Happily, this salad is all of those things.

So when you aren't spending your days sipping iced coffees, eating sushi and sleeping in, but want something almost as simple ... make this and enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Miso Roasted Tofu: Because Everything Tastes Better When It's Roasted

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There are a lot of things about moving overseas that I either didn't think about (and I'm now realizing), or pushed to the back of mind (and am now forced to face). Here are a few examples:

1. Health care - as a Canadian, I've been spoiled with a life of public health care, and jobs that have filled in the extra blanks where even that fails.  But now, I need to think like a regular adult (scary!) and realize that I need to cover myself for the "just in case" scenarios.

2. Packing - you have to figure out what you want to do - store, toss, or take - with literally every little single item you own. Everything. That scrapbooking stuff you bought, and never used. That beloved pair of shoes that are more than well worn, but still make the cut every time. Those fridge magnets. Those papers you think might be important one day, just not today. Everything.

3. Food - as someone who likes to cook and bake, I collect a lot of "food stuff." Spices, various oils and vinegars,  about four kinds of flour and sugar, each. Not to mention the perishable goods. And so, it appears that when you decide to move to a different country, and your scheduled to be out of your apartment within a few weeks, it's time to start getting creative in the kitchen.  It's time to start using up as much of your food as possible. Enter, roasted tofu in a miso marinade.

Super easy, super quick, super yummy, super super. No major-moves-abroad-requiring-fridge-clean-outs required!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Breakfast Quinoa (and a Blueberry Parfait)

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Aaaaaand back! After 9 days on the west coast, and a few days of extra rest back home, it was time to get back in the kitchen and whip up some grub! We had a great time out west, and will hopefully be able to cull my photos down a bit and share some of my favourite moments. But now ... on to the food!

How fancy did I feel when I ate this breakfast parfait? Very. After making this, I decided to put my food in wine glasses more often. Because sometimes, it's nice to feel a little jazzy for no reason.

The parfait portion of the meal was fully inspired by Kevin of Closet Cooking.  I've been a long time reader of his, and he has yet to disappoint.

The actual quinoa in this dish is something I make fairly often. It's warm, satisfying, and just the right amount of sweet to be breakfast and not dessert. Together, this was the perfect casually fancy breakfast! Would be extraordinarily simple to make for a crowd, or just for you when you need a little elegance in your morning.

Friday, 15 June 2012

A Look Back: 3-month Retrospective

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Really? A retrospective already? Well ... yes. You see, this little blog is 3 months old today, and I wanted to mark it in someway, somehow.  I wanted to be able to say THANKS! for reading, and if you've read this blog more than once (mum), I wanted to be able to tell you, you're awesome.

I've had a lot of fun so far.  I wanted this to be a space where I would be able share recipes and stories.  Somewhere that I could look back later and remember those recipes and stories, because I knew I would never be able to do it on my own. I've said it before and I'll say it again, my memory sucks. So far, I think it's working. I hope it's working. Is it working? You don't have to answer that, it's awkward of me to ask.

While Other Half and I are out in British Columbia visiting some family, I couldn't do a cake or something delicious like that to celebrate, so why don't we look back at some of the more popular posts on this very site.

This Momofuku Pulled Pork blew the pants off a lot of you, and with good reason. It was salty, peppery, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

You're all a bunch of goddesses aren't you? You must be, because there was big response to this dressing and these quinoa cakes. Go on and bask in your Green Goddess-y glow.

I recently came home to a batch of these cookies, and delighted in their delicious simplicity.

And then I substituted a frozen banana for the fresh one called for in this recipe and just about fell over because it was so freaking delicious. A must try.

Have a great week, and see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

West Coast Best Coast

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You guys ... I'm in B.C. right now! I love this province, it contains so much natural beauty, but still has a bustling big city. Ocean, mountain, and a population that appreciates it. Love. Love. Love.

Other Half and I are spending a big chunk of our time on Vancouver Island in and around the Victoria area, but we'll be having some mainland adventures too. We'll be hiking up mountains, camping, sea kayaking and eating - I can't wait to share!

In the meantime, keep it real, keep it tasty.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

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Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon! Yeah, you could say I like it. A bit. Kinda. It's the reason I'm not a vegetarian. Whatever.

Bacon is a treat food for me.  For a lot of reasons, it's just not something I buy often. But every now and then, I just gotta have it. Like when I bought some beautiful local asparagus, and all I could think about was how delicious it would be wrapped in bacon.  Then I couldn't get the thought of it out of my head and I had Other Half make a special trip to the store, just for bacon.

The concept behind this is simple. Bacon. Asparagus. Wrapped. Done. The flavour behind this is so much more than that. The asparagus is perfectly al dente and the "leafy" end gets amazingly crispy and delicious.  The bacon is salty and meaty and chewy and crispy. Together, they become the thing that disappears fastest.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Adventure Calls: We're moving to China

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We're moving to China. We're moving to China. We're moving to China. I keep telling myself that in hopes that it will actually sink in.  No such luck yet, but none the less it's true, we're moving to China.

Other Half and I both work in education. He is finishing his B.Ed to work in formal school-age education, and I work in informal adult education. Starting in September, we'll both start our first High School teaching jobs in Shenzhen, China.

Why China? Well, there are a lot of answers to that.  I could say it's because the hiring scene here in Ontario for teachers is terrible (it is), or I could say it's because we just want an excuse to travel (no excuses needed here!), but the truth is, adventure was calling. Despite an immense love for life in Toronto and Canada in general, we were both interested in immersing ourselves in another culture, so when the opportunity to move to China came about, we took it.

A lot of people have asked how I'm feeling about it, and I can never quite manage to explain the mix of emotions I have toward this decision. Number one is excitement, without a doubt. I cannot freaking wait to explore the city, the province, the country,  and the region surrounding the country. I cannot wait to meet the teachers and students, and I cannot wait to try out a new (though related) profession. And I especially cannot wait to eat the food.

Number two is sad.  We're leaving behind a lot. We can't bring the cat with us, and she doesn't understand that I'm hugging her so hard and so often because I'm trying to fit in as much cat-love as possible. We're leaving behind family, friends, and various celebrations. Weddings, new babies, big birthdays. Logically I'm aware that we can't always put our own adventures on hold so that we can participate in other people's, but I will still recognize that I wish we could do it all.

Number three is nervous. I'll be teaching high school business studies. On paper this makes sense. I have a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Education. Cool. No biggie. In practice, I'll be doing my own fair share of studying before I step foot in the classroom. Also, what if I don't like it!? I'll like it. I know that I will, but what if?

And finally, number four is impatient. We've known about this move for a few months now, and I've had a lot of time to digest the information.  We have a lot of adventures to complete before we leave in August, but I'm getting impatient. I know it will come and go quickly, but when I say it's constantly on my mind, no truer a word has been written.

This blog was created with this adventure in mind. As a way to document stories and create a space for me to store my memories, because I too often forget. So far, the obvious highlight has been on food (becuase I love it. I love making it and eating it), but as the summer rolls on there will be a slow shift to focus more on the travel side of my life.  I hope you stay with me, because things are about to get really interesting around these parts.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Confessing my Love for Butter Chicken

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Butter Chicken with Yoghurt

Apparently I really love sharing with you, because here are three little confessions for you.

1. I hate it when people go to restaurants and always order the same thing. I think "Why? Why not try something different? You have a whole menu of options to choose from!" The problem is, I am one of those people. When I'm at an Indian restaurant, I always, always, order butter chicken. And you know what? I'm okay that, because butter chicken is fracking delicious. Luckily though, I'm also into the whole "sharing" thing, so I never eat just butter chicken, but I definitely like it to be on my table.

2. I am constantly trying to make "restuarant" dishes at home in my own kitchen, to see if I can replicate the deliciousness. The answer is always yes, but it has to be a balance of effort and outcome if I'm actually going to do it.

3. I LOVE cookbooks. If I didn't picture the look on Other Half's face everytime I brought yet another cookbook home, I would be classified as a cookbook hoarder. We are talking floor-to-ceiling shelving. I can dream, can't I?

And so it is with these confessions I bring to you, a very adapted version of Butter Chicken.  This was always a "restaurant only" dish for me for a long time, but  about 4 years ago when I brought home yet another cookbook all about curries, that all changed. For the most part, the recipes in that book are only okay, but I've played around with this recipe so much, that the page the original recipe is on barely resembles itself and is covered in chicken scratch writing of new quantities of just about every ingredient, and the omission/addition of others. This recipe is 4 years in the making. And this edition of it is by far my favourite.


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