Monday 24 November 2014

Wide Angle: Vol. 16

Pin It Happy Monday friends! This month's instalment of Wide Angle, in which we take a look at what's happening behind the scenes is brought to by a lot of nature walks and scenic sunsets. My first autumn back in Canada did not disappoint with the amazing foliage change, and while that's all done and gone by now (we even survived our first snowfall!), these images are relaxing to my mind and soul and hope they do the same for you.

1. & 2. This doesn't look like downtown Toronto, does it? But it is! This is why I love volunteering with Evergreen Brickworks. They are smack in the middle of Toronto (in the Don Valley) and my commute there (photo #1) and the site (photo #2) are some of my favourite Toronto scenes, because they are the most unexpected.

3. Sunset on the road. This was mega.

4. There were so many perfect fall leaves this year it blew my mind every single day. I like fall, but I also find it sad, because it signifies the end of summer and the impending doom of short sunlight hours and bitter cold temperatures. However, it's impossible not to be happy when such amazing colours are thrust in your face.

5. Another scene from the Brickworks and a solid message to boot!

6. An end of season stroll with husband and dogs is a pretty blissful time.

7. Please, if you know what breed this dog is, tell me!! It's just so amazing and huge and, I mean, those ears!

8. Nothing makes you feel more fresh and ready to take on new things than a good haircut. I'm pretty picky about who can cut my hair, and so didn't get my haircut once while living in China (for the best really, curly hair is just not in their repertoire). I travel 45 minutes to a different city entirely to get mine done and it feels worth it every time!

Until next time!

Friday 21 November 2014

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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Sometimes, pancakes are the answer to everything. They are so warm and comforting and the cinnamon-y scent of this batch in particular just makes me want to shrink down and use one of these as a big puffy blanket. Is that weird? It is. I'm sure. But make these and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Pancakes are a rarity in this household because while the breakfast food genre is my favourite of all the food genres, it's Other Half's least favourite. Which is heartbreaking when you are a die-hard brunch fan such as myself.

If we go out for brunch, I first have to convince Other Half that it's worth it and no, we shouldn't just wait and go for sushi later - which is his response to everything. If I can manage to get him there then guaranteed he's look for the least breakfast-y thing on the menu. Unless there's Huevos Rancheros ... who doesn't automatically just order that? Or maybe that's just me?

Pancakes are also doubly hard with Other Half because he prefers crepes to pancakes 10-fold. I think it has something to do with him preferring to squish his food down no matter what he's cooking. A light and fluffy pancake is generally lost on him.

So, when I asked him he felt like pumpkin pancakes for breakfast I naturally expected him to pose an alternate suggestion, of sushi. However, when he gave me a simple "yeah, sure". I sat for 30 seconds in shock and then leapt to the kitchen before he had a chance to tune into what he'd just agreed to.

These whipped up really quickly, and I based them off of this recipe from New South Food Co. They are also pretty flexible, if you have only regular white all purpose flour, no problem! Lacking certain spices? No problem! Just be sure to sub in enough to make them flavourful - though I will say cinnamon is crucial. Use your milk of choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it was delicious, but any milk will do. And if you want to make these vegan, you could try subbing in a flax egg for the real one!

For this recipe I also used homemade pumpkin puree that I had left over, but the canned stuff will do just as well. Just make sure you're using pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday 17 November 2014

Farm Fresh

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Another Monday, another Farm Fresh! Switching to a biweekly program has definitely worked better for us and feels like less pressure. Phew!

It has been insanely cold the last little while, which is really making me feel good about this hibernation thing. Dark by 5:00? Zero degrees? Oh yeah, I'll just sit quietly inside thanks. Luckily, in times like this, the food is brought to me allowing me to stay as snug as possible.

One of the best parts of this farm share is the amazing selection of colours that arrive with each box. I mean, just look at that kale! Have you ever seen such a beautiful deep purple? Phenomenal.

Anyway, let's get to it. This week's share featured:

Sweet Potatoes
Red Onion
Cucumber (not pictured)
Carrots (not pictured)
Broccoli (not pictured)

And with this haul I'm planning all kinds of wonderful nibbles. The broccoli has already gone to a simple and tasty pesto pasta with shrimp, and half the kale has been sautéed with salt and pepper which created a simple and crispy side - delicious. I'm also interested in creating some sort of mushroom, kale, phyllo roll up thing (I'll definitely have to work on a better name for that one). Other Half can't make a smoothie with less than two bananas so those and more get gobbled up pretty quickly. I recently saw a quiche recipe that used sweet potatoes as the crust, which is pretty intriguing and I still haven't really made a sweet apple treat, so perhaps this is my week.

....and I think that'll keep my busy enough for the week. Until next time!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Simple Dill Potatoes

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Remember that time I told you all I'm about good for these days is Netflix marathons and the most basic of kitchen basics? Yeah? Good. Because that's still a thing.

Some of you may have noticed that my posts are getting a bit shorter, and I'm sharing less. I promise you dear reader, you should not take it personally. I still share everything there is to share. The problem is, there just isn't that much to share these days.

The transition from China to Canada has been, in some ways, great and everything I could have hoped for. But in others ways, it's been beyond difficult. After we landed I pretty much threw myself into wedding planning. It was a blast. It was exciting. It let me forget that I needed to find a new job. Then we got married. And it was the most perfect day. It was fun and laid back and filled with the most amazing flowers. Then we went to Chicago, and it was the best. I found a new city to love, we got free wine, and I ate more than I care to admit. All great things. Then we moved into our new apartment. It got set up and I got cooking in a real sized kitchen after two years in Barbie's fun house. The greatness continues.

Then I started to really get serious about the whole job hunt thing. And there I have stayed. Seriously job hunting. Seriously pulling on networks. Seriously getting serious. To say this has been the easy part of the transition would be a big lie. It sucks. A lot. Everyone knows this. I'm not unearthing any great truths here. It's boring and frustrating. I go through the feeling of being both over qualified and under qualified several times a day. It's been a huge mental strain that has seen some pretty ugly days (and don't worry, some also not so ugly days where I'm happy just to keep on keepin' on).

And you know why this is all ok? Because this is the risk I 100% knew I was taking when the decision to move to China in the first place was made. And so I continue, knowing these things take time, but steadfastly remaining one of the most impatient people I know. Have I ever told you I can be a bit of a walking contradiction? Because I can. My patient impatience is a pretty prime example.

So, there you have it internet, that's me. Trying to be honest in the good and the could-be-better. Now let's talk about potatoes. Simple, humble, comforting potatoes.

These potatoes are boiled and then fried. Tossed with parmesan, dill, and salt. And eaten. And eaten again. And probably again because there's that great addictive quality about them that takes hold when you mix things like salt and fresh herbs. They are also cooked in the cast iron because it makes it feel both fancy and rustic at the same time which is pretty wonderful way for a potato to feel.

These took all of 20 minutes to make, including chopping time and could be mixed with a whole variety of different herbs to really spice things up. Basil and Oregano? Why not! Rosemary? Oh heck yes! Go wild friends, and make yourself some potatoes.

Click through for the recipe!

Monday 10 November 2014

Link Love-In: Hibernation Mode

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You guys, something terrible is happening. I'm losing motivation. To cook, to bake, to play with my food. It's terrifying and disconcerting and I blame a large chunk of it on this blasted daylight savings time thing people have been harping on about for all these years - making short days feel shorter.

It's resulted in waaaaay to many episodes of Gilmore Girls. Seriously, it's like a fix that I just can't fulfill. It's a sickness and a disease that I'm looking at getting help for.  They shouldn't offer almost endless episodes of anything at the click of a button, it's too easy folks.

With these two things combined I'm about to enter into hibernation. I'll see you in April. May if we have lots of snow.

In the mean time, here are some things I've found interesting as of late.

I lived in Amsterdam for a while during university. As a result it's one of my most favourite cities on the planet. I once took a solo bike trip to see the tulip fields and famous Keukenhof Gardens. Here's an idea of what I say that day.

I recently made this Kale and Feta Loaf. It was delicious and going heavy on the pepper was a happy mistake.

If I can tear myself away from my new best friends, The Gilmores, then I'm also hoping to make these vegan caramels. Check back in June, I might have mustered up the bother to make them by then.

I just learned what an Étagère was. I like the idea, but this is probably the only time I'll be able to use the word. Cool.

Making pasta from scratch definitely goes beyond the realm of my motivation in the kitchen at the moment. Someone else try this and tell me how it went. Thanks.

Until next time!

Friday 7 November 2014

Sweet Potato Hummus

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Apparently Toronto had a hummuseria (that's a word now) in its midst and I didn't know about it until was already closed. Admittedly, it was only open for a short while, almost all of which while I was in China, so while yes, I am horrifically out of the loop on what is going on in this fair city of mine, this one was not entirely my fault ... or so I like to think. I also like to think there was every possible flavour of hummus imaginable available in that magical little space.  I mean, just imagine the possibilities!

Roasted garlic, beet, edamame, white bean, and so on, and so on, and so on. And yes, sweet potato. Now this is obviously all conjecture because I actually have no idea what they had going on in there, but in my world it was sublime.

I think I'm digressing here.

Let's talk about this hummus.

It's seasonal, sweet, savoury, garlic-y, a touch lemon-y, and deeelightful eaten with garlic parmesan pretzel crisp things.

It follows this basic recipe but includes sweet potato (obviously) and a few minor tweaks here and there. The result is a refreshing take on a classic that keeps it seasonal.

For an added kick I little cayenne would also be awesome in this... perhaps I'll try that next time!

Keep reading for the recipe!

Monday 3 November 2014

Farm Fresh

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Just a little late with this one today, but never fear, it's still Monday and that means we're getting Farm Fresh up in here!

As I mentioned in my last post of this series we've cut our order back to every two weeks because we just couldn't keep up (that's about the only time you'll ever hear me claim there's just too much food!). Along with that decision came the choice to switch from pure local organic to local and imported organic. Because we are (shockingly) already in November, the growing season in Ontario has moved to the root vegetable side of the spectrum, so for the next few months, until the spring season starts up again, we'll be mixing it up a bit.

What does that mean for the farm box? well about 70-80% is still grown locally either on their farm or neighbouring farms. The rest is imported from certified organic growers in other locations.  We got an immediate reward for the switch this week when very happily found two gorgeous and perfect avocados, something I love but don't buy often.

Anyway, as usual it was a good haul with lots of goodies coming to mind. So, here's what we got:

1 beautiful bunch of deep purple kale
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch baby bok choi
5 apples
1 bunch bananas
2 avocados
10ish potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes
1 acorn squash
8-10 beets

And here's what I'm planning: I've already made this carrot and beet salad to accompany some falafel; the bananas will speedily get consumed in Other Half's two-bananas-per-smoothie addiction; this recipe for crispy baked fries looks too good to ignore; and I've been craving a coconut curry of some sort recently and I think a squash/bok choi version might be just the right mix.

Do you have any inspiring ideas for me? Do share!


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