Monday 24 February 2014

Wide Angle: Volume 11

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It's been awhile since we've had a wide angle view of life around here, so let's get caught up on my recent day to day, shall we?

1. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Black Sesame Ice Mountain.  It's a literal mountain of shaved ice with a black sesame paste/syrup combination and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  It is a sensationally random dessert found at our new favourite dessert place (Dessert Story in Coastal City) and it is just the right amount of sweet.

2. A view of our street all dressed up for Chinese New Year!

3. & 4. A couple of views from our recent trip to Burma (Myanmar), with a full (few!) posts on that trip coming up next month!

5. Manicures in this town are cheap. I take advantage and have a little fun with it while I can.

6. In case you missed the memo ... CANADA WON THE GOLD IN MEN'S AND WOMEN'S HOCKEY! I'm not exactly a big watcher of sports, but when you live in China and come across a bar packed with other Canadians cheering on your home team... well, it's pretty exciting.

7. & 8. A sneak peak of what to expect on the blog next week - pizza!

So, that's me... what about you?

Monday 17 February 2014

Classic Mac and Cheese

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We're talking comfort food here today. The warm, gooey, stick to your ribs kinda food.  The so bad for you it's good, and so good it's wrong kind of food. Ooooh it's going to be great!

We're creating this food today for two reasons:

1) In exactly 3 weeks from now I'm expecting to get homesick, HARD, and I would like to try and stave it off for as long as possible.

2) I feel like I've been in deep freeze for the last week, and I am sick of it.

It's been hovering around 6-8 degrees here in Shenzhen and while that sounds like a nice, mild day where I come from, here it means bone chilling cold.  There is no insulation and no indoor heating. So whatever temperature it is outside, it is inside too. Which means it's just 6 - 8 degrees. All. The. Time. 24/7. No breaks. No respites by sneaking into the lobby of a building. Cold. Always. Wah wah wah.

So I drink hot water and make mac and cheese.  It's how I deal.

This recipe came from my dear friend Meg, who in turn got it from a dear friend of hers.  Recipes that get passed along from friend to friend to friend are always the best, because it means it's been tried and tested and proved true enough to be deemed pass-worthy. This recipe is no different. It starts with a basic roux (don't worry, it's easier than it sounds), and then we add handfuls of cheese to make it ooey-gooey good, and finally a smidge of mustard, salt and pepper to really send it over the top. If you're looking for classic-no-add-ins-mac-and-cheese, this is it. And with that dear friends, I pass it on to you.

Recommended for those times you need something that will take all your troubles away and heat you from the inside out.

Classic Mac and Cheese

1/4 cup butter
A scant 1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of milk
1 Bay Leaf
2 cups of cheese (a sharp cheddar is recommended)
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups macaroni 
1/4 - 1/3 cup bread or panko crumbs


  1. Ok folks, we're starting with a roux! Just wait until you see how simple it is! Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the flour. Stir or whisk consistently, and quickly, until combined and smooth.
  2. Add one cup of milk and stire constantly until smooth and thick. Add the bay leaf and then slowly, but consistently pour in the rest of the milk and continue to stir until you reach a smooth consistency.
  3. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to thicken.
  4. Stir in the cheese until completely melted.
  5. Mix in the mustard, salt and pepper.
  6. Remove the bay leaf
  7. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the macaroni until al dente. Do not overcook - the noodles will continue to cook while baking
  8. Mix the noodles into the cheese mixture and poor into a casserole dish and sprinkle on bread crumbs.
  9. Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes or until the top has browned.
  10. Enjoy!

Monday 10 February 2014

Blog Appreciation: Joy the Baker

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It is becoming increasingly more common for people to ask me what blogs I read. And I have to admit, it's a difficult question to answer. I'm not great at being put on the spot, and trying to sift through my brain and pick out not only my most commonly read blogs, but also ones that will suit the tastes of the asker (assuming I know a thing or two about them), is a challenge I have yet to master.

I like to think people are asking because they like what they see here and want to see where I likewise get my inspiration. But it's also entirely possible that the opposite is true and they are trying to find something else to fill their time with besides the drivel of my adventures. While I prefer the former (obviously), the motive doesn't actually matter - these people are looking for recommendations, and so recommendations I must try to provide.

This ongoing series will feature blogs I've long read and loved, newly found and adore, or somewhere in between. If you have any recommendations of your own, please do share! I'm always on the lookout for more inspiration and/or procrastination tools!

To me, it's only fitting to start off with my most oft-read, long standing, inspiration of a blogger - Joy the Baker. I've mentioned her blog before, and I can easily say it's my favourite food blog on the whole internet. The. Whole. Internet.

Joy is a well seasoned blogger that has been doing her thing since January 2008. And I've been reading since April 2008. It sounds creepy and weird that I know this, but this Black and White Red Velvet Cookie recipe was a food blog awakening for me. I feel like I stumbled on that page yesterday, but it was actually six years ago, and I've been a regular ever since.

While she is steadily gaining more and more (well earned and well deserved) success, her writing remains down to earth, honest and witty. Her photography is bright and uncomplicated. And her recipes are mouthwatering to read, let alone eat.

Joy tends to focus on the uncomplicated, accessible dishes that play on classics, or become classics themselves. She also shares tidbits of her day to day, travels, and all the other things that make bloggers real people. All in all, a must read/make.

What are some of your favourites?

NOTE: All photos are credited to

Saturday 1 February 2014

Edamame, Corn, and Quinoa Salad

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Guess what!? Other Half and I are currently travelling around Burma (Myanmar)! I've set this post to automatically go up, so don't think I'm holed up in a Burmese guesthouse writing. And while I can't tell you for certain, I think I can safely say that what I'm seeing on this trip is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.  Can't wait to share it with you all!


A simple salad for the days when you just don't have the time, but don't want the feeling of a heavy belly from delivery. This is what this salad is. Super easy, super quick, and super tasty.

This salad was thought up the day after we were in Hong Kong, stuffing our faces with both Dim Sum and an Indian feast (no complaints here!). Even though we hiked for a good few hours in between those events, the next day we were still feeling like we should have something that's a bit more nourishing for the body, not just the soul.

This salad features nothing more than Edamame, corn, quinoa and my go to vinaigrette.  The combination is both earthy and fresh. If you're in the vicinity of baby spinach, that would be a highly recommended addition.

Edamame, Corn, and Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups edamame, shelled (save yourself the time and buy the pre-shelled stuff)
1 cup corn - fresh cooked, frozen or from a can, your choice!
1/4 balsamic vinaigrette, see below


  1. Cook the quinoa on the stove top (I generally cover the quinoa with about a 1/3 inch of water and let it go - if that makes you nervous, follow the package direction)
  2. Allow the quinoa to cool fully
  3. Mix all ingredients into a medium sized bowl and serve
  4. Enjoy!

For the Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp olive oil (evoo)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all ingredients in a small jar, cover tightly with the lid and shake, shake, shake!
  2. Make sure to taste before using so you can adjust to your preferences
  3. Enjoy!


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