Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Summer Detox Salad

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The summer is flying by and I am feeling great! It's been an amazing summer so far but it's scary to think about the fact that I'll be flying back to China in just two and half weeks (already!?).

Because we should all be spending our time making the most of the long days and warm breezes this post is going to be short. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously. This is a serious salad.  Broccoli and cauliflower join carrot, seeds and cranberries to do a bit of dance with mint and lemon and they are all working hard to fill you up with all kinds of yummy goodness so that you can feel a little less guilty about that last glass (or two!) of pink wine - and really, when it comes down to it, we should never feel guilty about a little pink wine now and then.

This salad is packed with only great for you foods and was a nice, light, accompaniment to this soup. A food processor is highly recommended to make this a snap to make, but if you feel like you need to spend some time in a zen state, allow this salad to lead you there with a good bit of ol' fashioned chopping!

Enjoy as a meal in itself, a side, or even as a topping (great on veggie burgers!) and share that glass or two with a friend.

Summer Detox Salad
adapted from Oh She Glows

2 heads broccoli, stems removed
1 head cauliflower, stems removed
3 small-medium carrots, shredded

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened 

3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
juice of 1 lemon

kosher salt, pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 tsp salt and lots of pepper)
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Chop the broccoli and cauliflower so that it is quite fine - use the food processor to save yourself a lot of time and effort. Place both into a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisins, and mint. 
  3. Mix in the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and syrup.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If the salad isn't "dressed" enough for your tastes gradually add more of the wet ingredients and alter to your desired tastes.
  6. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes (the more time the better!) before serving
  7. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

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Let's talk about soup.  I'm a big fan. Like, a BIG fan.  It's one of the most versatile foods you can make. It can be as simple or complicated as you want. It can be guilt free or calorie packed. Chunky or smooth. Creamy or broth-y. Simple or exotic. Soup has a lot going for it.

But to me, soup is a winter food. Warm and comforting it always hits the spot when the temperatures dip and old Jack Frost is nipping at my nose. Soup in the summer is generally non-existant in our house hold. I'm not much for gazpacho and generally prefer foods that are cool and crisp. And yet here I am talking about soup, in the height of the summer. Why? Because this soup, while hearty and warm, tastes smooth and light. The balance between the sweet potato and coconut is perfect and exactly what I was hoping for when I served it as a test recipe to Other Half's family at a recent cottage getaway.

Nothing in this soup sat too heavily on the stomach, and served with a crisp salad it made for a great summer meal. I may just have changed my mind on this whole summer/winter soup thing.

The best part about this soup is that it comes together in a snap, I didn't have to turn the oven on once, which means I didn't have to add any extra heat to the already hot cottage - win! With just three base ingredients (plus some spices) this comes together for busy weeknights or, like me, when you'd rather be in the lake than just about anywhere else.

Serve hot and top with avocado and crushed tortilla chips for an extra delicious treat and texture.

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup 
adapted from, Healthy. Happy. Life. 
Serves 4-6

4 sweet potatoes, cooked
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk

(spice levels are approximate - adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash sweet potatoes and poke with a fork all over to allow steam to escape - place in microwave and cook on high for 20 minutes or until it is soft all the way through (feel free to cook this in the oven or on the BBQ - whatever you have access to). Allow the sweet potatoes to cool slightly
  2. Heat vegetable broth until hot and add the coconut milk
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and add to the broth/coconut mixture
  4. Using an immersion/hand blender mix until you reach a smooth velvety consistency
  5. Stir in spices and serve
  6. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tobermory, Ontario

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Ohhh Canada! It's good to be back. Posting will be sparse this summer as I spend my time picking up where I left off with friends and family. I'm hoping to cook up a storm (not so much so far!) and spend as much time as possible out of doors (lots so far!).  As a celebration of our return home we decided to head straight north and explore some of the beautiful scenery our province has to offer.

I like to go camping and/or cottaging at least once per summer and this year I'm lucky enough to be going three times. My first trip is to a place I've long heard of for it's jaw-dropping scenery and great camping, so off I went with Other Half and two of our very best friends to Tobermory, Ontario. And when we arrived to find water more clear and more blue than I ever thought existed in Canada, I knew we were in for a good time.

Sitting at the very tip of the Bruce Peninsula, which juts out into the middle of Lake Huron - one of our 5 Great Lakes, Tobermory is known for several things, most notoriously as the home of Bruce Peninsula National Park, the start of the infamous (to Ontarians) Bruce Trail - which for interests sake runs 885 km from Tobermory to Niagara, as well as shipwrecks from the late 19th century and a natural phenomenon known as Flowerpots - huge stone pillars formed from changing water levels and crashing waves. I had never been, but longed to go and so decided that was my year - and I'm so glad I did.

Because there is so much on offer to us in this region, and we wanted to make the most of our time there, we decided to make it an extra long weekend and stay for 4 nights - it was the right choice. With this time we were able to hike, swim, and explore to our hearts content during the day and eat some great camp food by night (that's not an oxymoron either, we cooked everything from nachos to orange scented brownies over the fire).

Camping in Ontario is like a competitive sport. It has people mapping out their campgrounds (and specific sites) early in the year and waking up at all hours of the morning to be the first on the reservation system when it opens in early spring.  So because I'm not that organized, when we did manage to get our act together in early April all the sites in the National Park were already booked solid for July - we really like our camping in Ontario! That loss was also our gain as it forced us to seek out a privately owned campground which led us to Harmony Acres.  Placed on the edge of the National Park and 5 minutes from town, we were able to score a sleeping cabin (essentially a wood tent) in a small campground with spotless toilets, friendly owners, and a field of horses for us to admire.

We knew we had lots we wanted to see, but we also knew there were going to be a lot of other people seeing them too, so we decided to save our most "tourist-y" adventures to the end. For our first day we planned to pick up a portion of the Bruce Trail at Emmet Lake and hike to an area known as the Grotto.  Unfortunately for us the Grotto was actually twice the distance we had originally estimated and we missed the trail marker which (fortunately) led us to bouldering along the coast of Georgian Bay. Who knew heaving yourself up the side of boulder, down the other and then doing it again and again (and again and again!) could be so much fun.  We were able to ramble the beach and explore each little nook and cranny. A great day out.

The next day we were determined to see the Grotto so took a more direct route, a gentler hike and marvelled at the geography of the area.  The Grotto is an area within Bruce Peninsula National Park that is a natural cave accessed by swimming (a good distance) from a nearby beach and then through (a not short!) underwater tunnel or by climbing in from above.  We chose to climb down, and though it looks daunting at first it is made surprisingly simple by natural footholds and plenty of craggy rock to hold on to.  Once in the Grotto you can swim into the cave which is eerily lit from below by the aforementioned tunnel and jump from a natural outcropping or just enjoy the view.  Though it took us two days to get there it was well wort the visit as we managed to pass a couple of very pleasant hours hanging out in the glassy waters.

looking out from the grotto

looking into the grotto - from above

Our final full day was the day we saved for our “tourist day” and bought ourselves a place on a glass bottom boat to see a couple of the local shipwrecks, followed by a few solid hours on Flowerpot Island and a meal out in town.  While I personally found the shipwreck portion to be only okay (better explored by scuba or snorkel I think – both available in town), the hours spent on Flowerpot Island were some of the best of the whole trip.  A simple trail took us from the docks, past the flowerpots and over to the lighthouse and a more adventurous trail led us from the lighthouse through exceptionally lush forest back to the dock. The whole loop took us about 2 hours and was well worth the journey.  Most people seem to avoid the loop trail (doubling back the way they came past the flowerpots) but in my opinion the are missing some of the best scenery the whole region has to offer.  The forest is so lush it reminds me strongly of the temperate West coast of Canada that I could have easily have mistook one for the other.  It’s this trail that winds most naturally from end to the other and shows off mossy vines, vast height, and bright wildflowers.  If you’re on the island, don’t skip this trail, it was my favourite of the whole trip. 

They say that being away makes you appreciate home, and while I suspect that's true for every place, right now it's hard to imagine a more diversely beautiful place than my home.

Tobermory, Ontario

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Wide Angle: Vol. 7

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most photos via my instagram

The first week of hometown love has been a busy one! While I adjust to the time and get caught up with all my favourite people in the world, here's another look at my day to day.

1. We moved into a new apartment the day before we left China - this is our view from the 15th floor (much impoved from our non-view of the 6th floor residence building!)

2. Flying out of Hong Kong means a stop at Pizza express for a tasty treat and cold drink.  Here, my first iced tea in many months.

3, 4. Two monumental occasions: my first glass of tap water in 10 months (I'm basically addicted to the stuff now), and my first big salad made of fresh fruit and veg. purchased that morning.  It was the best salad I've ever eaten.

5. Love on a blanket.  Zorra and I have been inseparable this past week.

6, 7, 8.  Right after I got back from China I had to head to the UK for funeral of my grandfather.  A rose from his garden, the train journey from Waterloo to Weymoth, and a stroll along the Weymouth beach - all quintessential for visits past and future.

My grandfather was a immortal legend in my mind, and his loss has not been an easy one.  As a man of 91 (and 3/4's) he lived a long and full life.  He was always patient, and funny, and kind. I aspire to be half as good in the garden as he was and live as smartly and as wholly as he did.  I miss him everyday.


Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Canada Day!

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A longer post is on the way soon, but first thing is first, it's Canada Day. That means I'll be sipping cocktails and lounging beside a pool and being thankful that I get to celebrate the day with close friends in the the country I was born in.

Have a great Canada Day everyone!


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