Tag Archives: food

AODA Chai Concentrate, by j

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I just finished my final assignment for the Fall semester…a twenty page policy paper on the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act.

It was a dismal affair.  And I’m so glad it’s over.

But during the researching and writing I needed a break.  So I made some Chai Concentrate.

I love chai.  Love it.  It’s my go-to beverage, but I’m starting to get wary of the full fat version I get from Starbucks.

I love chai when it’s hot and when it’s cold- and I’m always mystified by the spices.  Let’s break it down.

chai - ingredients

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups water
8 bags black tea – I used orange pekoe
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split in half (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract added at the very end)
1/2 cup coconut sugar, date sugar or raw cane sugar (you can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your chai)
1 – 3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into pieces
10 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods (I only used 1)
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon raw honey

First start off by boiling the water and the sugar:

chai - boiling water

After the sugar dissolves, it should look like this.  Only this was not an awesome pic. But you get the idea.

And then, add in all the spices and the cinnamon sticks and zest.  And simmer that spicy stuff for 20 minutes.

chai - boiling ingredients

Get ready.  It will smell AMAZING.  The original recipe calls for you to wrap all the spices in cheese cloth for easy removal.  I just used a strainer:

chai - sieve

AHHHH!

Let it all cool and try not to drink it all up.  Then put it into an awesome jar and take it to your BFF as a thank you for her letting you sleep on her floor.

chai - jar

To drink this stuff, just add 1/2 chai concentrate to 1/2 milk.  When I tried it at Shannon’s we used soy milk.  It was my first attempt at soy milk since “Holly Nog-Gate 2007”.  It was not half bad.

Couple of things:

It was waaaay too sweet.  I added 3 parts soy milk to 1 part chai.  Reducing the sugar content next time I make this stuff.

I only used one star anise- but next time I may not use any.  Not a big fan of the licorice flavour, but I will add in more orange next time!

chai - cup

And it’s even more delicious when you have someone prepare this to go with it:

chai - dinner

And then because you’re so happy that you finished the semester (relatively) unscathed, you take a picture of your friend’s cat like this:

chai - cat

And then celebrate that the semester is done:

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Hello December! By j

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Hello December!!

Yesterday I finished my fourth semester- one more to go before I have fancy letters after my name.

And December is quickly passing- but not without lots of business to attend to.

We all know December arrives when we see this on the door:

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And when the park looks like this:

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Sidenote: I went to the lighting of the lights (on work business) and got into the VIP lounge, stocked with hot chocolate, cookies and heaters. At one point I was alone in this room with our esteemed mayor and two of the loudest city councillors and all their bad Movember ‘staches. I high tailed it out of there for fear of commiserating with them.

During the last week of my internship (done-yay!) we did some decorating. We all did a Christmas wish list. Here’s what I want:

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And it was such good decorating that I won these:

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But before this I lent a hand to a friend who was throwing a baby shower. Check out this spread:

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To bad the woman of honour didn’t get to see it since her little one decided to arrive 12 hours before the baby shower.

So this month will bring a few more exciting things to come: visits from family, seeing friends and hopefully some snow!

F Words: Part Three & Ivan Coyote, by j

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Part three of our weekend happened when we were done with our Saturday morning brunch and found the women folk doing my favourite thing: shopping.

Imagine going to the biggest city in the country and deciding that the first weekend of holiday shopping is a good time to go to Holt Renfrew.

Apparently there was a need for pantyhose.

Surprisingly enough, between the shoulder to shoulder, dog carrying, fancy shoppers I did get to see some stuff that looked half way interesting.

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We found Jackson’s first puppy Xmas gift. We may need a larger size.

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Then we checked out A’s favourite department: shoes.

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$945.00 for a pair of black high heels? Seems reasonable. This is the moment where I remind people that $945 is two months worth of social assistance in our province. Yeah.

Then it was off to mom’s favourite store, William Ashley. I thought that the parents agreed that this weekend they would avoid the china store.

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Mom got a killer deal (according to her) on a soup pot. That was after she took a pass on the $600 pot Gramma suggested she buy. Fancy woman!

After all of that shopping, it was clear: time to resume eating and drinking. A great meal was ended by some of this:

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Eggnog cheesecake with pumpkin ice cream.

This was followed by more drinking and watching Brad Pitt’s excruciatingly bad interpretation of Achilles.

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To top it all off, I then received one of the most exciting emails of my entire life. If you don’t know Ivan Coyote, shame on you. Google that shit.

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To which I was like:

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And then I got my final fee bill for my MSW.

F Words: Part One, j

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This past weekend was filled with our three favourites: food, family, fun. And if you’re into it: fashion, friends, football, fiery conversation, etc., etc. And there were a few drinks involved. Or more than a few.

And I don’t want to make unsubstantiated claims- but as I was walking to the bus depot to pick up my auntie, I was almost hit by an Escalade driven by one Mr. Rob Ford. Now I’m not saying that’s the reason he was ousted from office today. I’m just saying it’s a coincidence.

Here’s what else we did on our first day (other than cuddle up with M and hang with FFD):

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Here the view from one of our two suites, looking over Nathan Phillips Square.

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We didn’t spend much time gazing at the skyline as we were busy eating and drinking. Thanks to Gramma for the cheese.

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We then made our way down to a pub. We got some fresh air, and got to see the festive light arrangements. Which A noted looked like something less than festive.

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We arrived at this pub: “The Queen and Beaver”. Not, as we learned “The Queen’s Beaver”.

We did more of this:

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M ordered some duck pâté, I think. Mind the blurry photo. At this point I started mixing libations.

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And I had a bite of dad’s tomato and cheddar toast:

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And then I got some mushroom pithivier. Which is fancy French for a puff pastry pie.

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M had some smoked fish…noooo.

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And I had some more cider. Including this one that I sent back.

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And then it was off to drink some more.

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And then I took a picture of a cat.

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Quinoa Adventures Part 3, by j

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So I was going to wait until next week to post this so it wouldn’t seem like all I did today was cook.

But screw it. Thats exactly what I did today.

So here is my second quinoa recipe that I tried.

Quinoa Parmesan Bites! Slightly modified from this recipe.

It starts how every good quinoa recipe starts, by rinsing that quinoa. You may remember that I’m a big fan of rinsing quinoa. Since its a seed, quinoa has a bitter coating that stops birds and other animals from eating it. Most brands say that it is “pre rinsed” but that’s usually a damn lie. Rinse it again, and use your mitts to rinse the seeds. I even tried some, uncooked, and it didn’t taste bitter. It didn’t taste good either.

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I cooked the quinoa in chicken stock again, and now I’m a convert, I will never go back to regular water. After cooking the seeds, I had to let them cool, and when they were cold, we went to town with some mixing.

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It was really very easy. Just mix in everything. Bam.

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I used a muffin tin that was well oiled, but don’t skimp on the cooking spray. My stuck very nicely in the pan. Grrr. For the second batch I used A’s fancy muffin tin liners.

Then I wanted a saucy sauce. So I made a honey Dijon dipping sauce out of these ingredients:

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Yup. Honey Dijon sauce that has two ingredients. I read some suggestions that recommended some mayo in there. Ew.

And here’s the final product:

that

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Recipe:

2.5 cups of cooked quinoa
3 eggs
2 tbsp of flour
1 cup of grated carrot
3 green onions
1/4 cup of parsley
3/4 cup of Parmesan, plus more on top of bites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients, and fill greased muffin tins 3/4 the way full. Sprinkle Parmesan on. Top and bake for 20-30 minutes.

I found them a little bland, so I’d probably try to spice them up.

But very tasty.

An Argument for Fat, by m

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One of my favourite parts of my summertime life of leisure is spending time in the kitchen (especially now that I have one).  I’m slowly expanding my culinary repertoire and am learning what I like and what I don’t.

For the past few years I’ve slowly been making the switch (along with many health-conscious and quality-conscious foodies) from low-fat, low calorie foods to their full-fat, Julia-Child-Approved counter parts.  I knew the pendulum was swinging that way, but it wasn’t until I picked up The LooneySpoons Collection (Janet & Greta Podleski’s latest cookbook) that somebody explained it clearly for me.

Janet and Greta are hometown heroines around South Western Ontario.  They’ve sold over 2 million copies of their low-fat cookbooks, scored their own Food Network show, and were even featured in People magazine.  They pulled their best-selling cookbooks from shelves a few years back, despite awesome sales, and describe their reasoning in the new book:

“Despite the overwhelmingly positive response [to our cookbooks], we made the tough decision a few years back to take both cookbooks out of print.  […] It bothered us that some of the nutrition information in our cookbooks was outdated and, in some cases, outright wrong (based on newer studies).  for example, back then, fats were classified as “evil” and we were encouraged by experts to drastically cut back on fat consumption, yet they didn’t make a distinction between what are now known as “good fats” (avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, etc.) and “bad fats” (hydrogenated and trans fats).  We were advised to out ALL fats, which, of course, were replaced by carbs, mostly of the white, refined variety. [vii]”

I would add another thing we’ve replaced good fats with: additives.  Full-fat yogurt is delicious. Fat-free is full of aspartame, sucralose, and a bunch of other things I can’t pronounce.

So, as part of my back-to-fat transition, I’ve prepared a list of my…

Top 3 Favourite Ways to Bring Back the Fat*

1.  Dairy: FFD and I recently made the permanent change to real butter.  Hooray! (This is where Julia Child would be proud).  I also have always preferred regular Activia over fat-free.  And FFD is a believer in regular sour cream.   Which I don’t think I’d ever realllly tried before I moved in with him.  He also loves cheese (which makes me realize that “FFD” is also an acronym for Full Fat Dairy). The bottom line here: they taste like real food.  Also, who knew that so many real dairy products were solids, and not runny? (this reminds me of little A, because I know she sometimes strains her yogurt, which is weird).

I’ve even found a recipe to make my own butter (http://themuddykitchen.com/2012/06/15/my-big-fat-homemade-butter/ ). Can you imagine!? Homemade butter on homemade bread! To think! (Maybe if I’m gifted with courage and a KitchenAid mixer).

FFD

 

2. Oil:  I love Olive Oil! I like dipping bread in it.  I like making salad dressing with it.  I use it in my bread recipes. [As a side note, I’ve heard that it loses a lot of it’s health properties when you cook with it on the stove top (and even if you store it near a heat source), so I’ll try using butter in hot pans from now on.]

3.  Meat: I’m not afraid.  Bring on the red meat. Bring on the dark meat. Bring on the bacon! As far as I’m concerned, it translates to “Bring on the flavour”.  Ya!  You heard me! Everything in moderation and yada yada yada, but seriously, boneless skinless chicken thighs are a lot cheaper than breasts, and they’re not bad for you!  And how much more “back-to-nature” can you get than a steak on the BBQ?  It’s as if my paleolithic ancestors are calling to me! So throw caution to the wind, and eat meat (sometimes)!!

Me and my boyfriend

*Please note that none of this is based on much research other than daytime television health segments and quick Google searches. I just feel better eating things with labels that have words in them that I recognize.

Now back to refinishing furniture…

Mish Mash: Summer Edition, by j

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Well, hello there.  It has been another self imposed break for myself from blogging (little A it seems has taken a more severe hiatus).

What did you miss?  Not too much.  Just summer.

Some of us have been living it up, enjoying summer to its fullest potential, and others (like me) have been slogging through the southwestern Ontario heat to make the big bucks.

And yet again, we find ourselves at the end of August, looking at the tail end of summer wondering, what in the heck happened to the last two months.  It has been a fairly eventful summer, full of goodbyes/hellos/food/fun/family/work.

This is what you’ve missed from my life:

– Absolutley nothing.  As a student in mid-grad school I was given the opportuntity to work full time (rather than the .5 hour work week I had planned) this summer at the job.  Yea for my tuition bill, not so exciting for my summer.  Working hard 44 hour weeks makes me sleepy.  But that will be the end of my complaining- I have a job, and by Friday, I’ll have my fourth semester’s tuition in hand (Ha-llay-lu!).

Other than than that what have I been up to?

– an awesome weekend in Niagara with my favourite peeps

– an expensive trip to the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (woot!)

– corn shucking

– making killer fresh peach daquiris (any opportunity to get my aunt E drunken is an event that deserves copious amounts of run)

– kid-hanging-out-with-fun (except for the 6 year old who told me he wanted me to leave his house the other day…)

– dreaming about having my own apartment again (sidenote: I am totally appreciative of the gift of free living at my parents’ house…don’t read that as ungrateful…Dad, I’m looking at you)

– helped set up a blog here for a family member who will not be named (as she is not utlizing her wordpress tutorial I gave her).  We want snarky posts!

– book clubbin’ it up (“Best Laid Plans” by Terry Fallis last month…a hit)

– the Australians have descended (or ascended?  as they are on the bottom of the globe?)

– World Prisoner Justice Day in TO (heavy conference, but kind of amazing)

– M has been gone for almost two months!  Seems like yesterday she and FFD were broke down in Wawa.  I’m currently stewing over the fact that I am not leaving for Fort Fab next week with A.  She gets a whole week of vacay in a small northern town where they are mere minutes away from (what I hear) are the best long island ice teas west of Toronto.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Because I do believes that FFD has only been around me when I have been inebriated.  My goal will be to remain stone cold sober then next time I see him.  The fact that I just wrote that being sober is “a goal” is perhaps a giant red flag that I will ignore.

– did I mention the 44 hour work weeks?

– dreaming of fall.  Yes, and I will not feel bad for it.  A and I had this convo last week.  We will not be silenced, you summer lovers.  We are lovers of fall.  HEAR US!  Don’t try and make us feel badly for loving crisp breezes, sweaters, hot apple cider and closed toe shoes.  We will not wane in our excited anticipation of the next couple of months!  So stop with your cries of “Just enjoy the sunshine, we’ll be in the snow before you know it” and chastizing us for not loving summer enough.  We’ve had just about enough of you.  STOP OPPRESSING US!

– started back at therapy…an expensive, but wonderful choice

Things that have not happened:

– those summer walks (although A and I did get a Saturday night stroll to the SuperStore at 10pm…living it up)

– one final mark from last semester has not popped up yet.  Are we surprised that it’s practicum related?  (Remember they’re kind of a hot mess)

– farmers’ marketing w/ dad, I could not say no to sleeping on Saturday mornings after a year of working at 9am on the weekend.  Although I will say I miss the free breakfast

– Toronto time, seems a waste when my fave Torontonian has left the Big Smoke for big stars up North!

Things to look forward to:

– starting my second internship next week!  Wahoo!  Eight months to go before I am a gen-u-ine MSW!

– fall, obvs.

– starting classes

– seeing my MSW peeps!  Living 1.5 hours away from school has its advantages, but a disadvantage?  Missing my people and our pub.

– high school bestie moving back to Ontario!  12 years is long enough, I command Newfoundland to return my beloved vegetarian!

– Oktoberfest…with bestie back in Ontario, I believe it is a sign that she is moving to the K-W area.

– my own home again.  currently salivating over the idea.  Sorry, dad.  This time around you will be invited more.  And I will make you meat dinners.  Despite the cost of animal protein.

Things that I am currently obsessed with:

– a food blog, “Joy the Baker”.  This only makes me dream of my own kitchen.  Although that’s ridiculous, as I live in a home with the nicest and most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever (and probably will ever) have.  But it’s not mine.

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Tomato cobbler with blue cheese biscuits.  This needs to happen.

– Teagan and Sara.  Obvs.

– cider, I’ve decided that Alexander Keith’s is my new fave, sorry Strongbow

– Michele Landsberg’s new book “Writing the Revolution”.  Slogging through, but ultimately fascinating.  In my dreams I imagine that Michele and Stephen Lewis are my family.

– Top Chef.  Sorry dad, that’s where all that bandwidth went this month.  But seriously, I’m obsessed.  Taking a break from the watching.

– My friends.  Currently smashing as much time as I can with all those lovelies before school starts.  Started today off by a lovely visit with this little one and her mama.

–  Adoption. Kind of liking that thought.  For now.

– when her new album will be dropped.  Can’t. Stand. Anticipation.

– we (and by “we” I mean “me”) bought “The Hunger Games” during the late night SuperStore run.  A-mazing.

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