Tag Archives: friends

Strawberry Season, by j

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(*We’re taking a weekend break from our photo challenge.  Mostly because I can’t be trusted to be home on a weekend night now that I’ve gotten rid of Saturday shifts)

With June comes STRAWBERRY SEASON!

I wait for the news from the local strawberry field that picking has begun.  After a tequila soaked Friday night a friend and I made plans to go out and pick some of those beauties up.

So, after a full night of sleep I was picked up by my friend (with her 6 month old in tow) and we traveled across the city to the strawberry farm.

It was packed, filled with families and older folks who wanted strawberries.  We opted for the “already picked” strawberries- we could have gone into the field but who does that?  I vote that we wait until the six month old can walk and have him do it for us.

When we got to the strawberry line it wasn’t too long.  But before long it we stopped moving.  And then a very earnest 18 year old climbed on a ladder and made the announcement- they were out of the strawberries, and we would have to wait for the pickers to go to another field and start picking.  We were in for a 20 minute wait.  We had absolutely no issue with that, especially since we weren’t the ones picking them.  And we had a very smile-y baby to play with while we waited the extra 20.

But the crowd did start to grow behind us.  And the 18 year old made another appearance, giving an update to the throngs that had arrived behind us.  He then went on to tell us that these strawberries (Albion) are “eating strawberries” and not for making jam (that should be made with “Wendy” or “Jule” strawberries).  Also, they would be limiting purchases to 4 quarts (1/2 flat) to each person. We heard the groans of the strawberry deprived behind us.

They were also pushing the homemade strawberry sundaes at 10:30am. Which some of the older folks were not impressed with.  Some of them thought a pre-lunch sundae was inappropriate.  I’m all:

We were served fairly quickly, and we bought a flat with the aim to split the 8 quarts.  Happy time!

And then as were were walking to the car through the mass of people waiting to buy their strawberries, my friend carrying her happy baby and me carrying 8 quarts of strawberries.

As I passed one surly character I heard him say: We’ll THAT’S more than 4 quarts.

I couldn’t stop myself.  My response: Settle down, it’s four each and there are plenty of strawberries for you to pick if you want.

Boom.  Walk away, don’t look back.

Who do you think you are?  If you are really itching for some strawberries either a) get up early or b) get yo’ ass out there and pick your own berries.

If I could do it with a mild tequila hangover I’m pretty sure you can make it happen.

So, I went back to pick up my car at my friend’s house (the tequila drinking forced me to cab it home the night before), and came home with these puppies:

pop strawberries

And so I did a few things right away- froze a quart of whole berries, sliced a quart for breakfast (ok, let’s be honest, ice cream), covered a few in yogurt and froze them, and left a quart for snacking.  And for the last quart I made something exciting.  Something I haven’t had since I was a kid- I made my own popsicles.

Better than that, I made 3 ingredient popsicles.

pop ingredients

pop top layer

Pretty simple, sweeten plain yogurt with Fort Frances honey, slice some strawberries and layer the heck out of it.

Freeze them for a while, and this is what you get:

popDelicious.

 

 

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Sugar Rush, by j

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Saturday night was my graduation party with my fellow students.  This is how it started:

double glasses

And then this is the last thing I remember:

shot

Apparently I made a lot of travel plans.

Anyways.

While I should have been writing papers, I decided to do something much more delicious.  Baking.

My lovely auntie was coming for a very exciting visit and emailed me a recipe with a demand: make this for me.

Usually I’m up for anything, but this particular request was a little terrifying.  You see, I’ve tried to make this before- and it was a disaster.  I haven’t tried since Thanksgiving 2003.  The failure was utterly devastating ten years ago.

You see, my aunt sent in a recipe for creme brulee.

Creme.  Brulee.

My absolute favourite thing ever in the world to eat for dessert.  I was given a torch for my birthday.  It was going to be amazing.  It was a soupy mess.  Even on my scale it was less than a 1.  It was a -10.  Inedible.

Tragic.

But, I do like this auntie.  And I did not want to disappoint.  And I was bored of writing about social enterprise.

So I went for it:  Coconut Creme Brulee.

ingredients cb

Here’s the tricky thing about this evil recipe: it only has four ingredients.  It appears incredible easy to make.

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

200 milliliters of whipping cream

200 milliliters of unsweetened coconut milk

Coconut flakes

8 tsp sugar

Totally easy.  Totally make-able.  Sign me up.  I could totally make French food better than any other pastry chef west of Paris.

I was determined.

sugar and eggs

custard wet

 

Cream sugar and egg yolks.  Perfect.

Make breakfast with left over egg whites.

Heat cream and coconut milk.  Don’t let that stuff boil.  Bad news.

Tidbit: Don’t buy “lite” coconut milk.  It’s a waste of money for basically watered down coconut milk.  Just water it down at home.

But don’t use “lite” coconut milk.  Also, don’t buy things that spell light wrong.

Then add in the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks.  Be careful.  The last time I tried doing this I made scrambled eggs, and was horrible.

Then get your mom’s ramekins and fill those suckers up.

before cooking in ram

At this point you have to learn from my mistake.  BE CAREFUL.  Don’t put the water in before you put it in the oven.  You will spill and you will be devastated.

Once it’s on the rack in the oven pour in some hot water from a kettle.  For you cosmopolitan folks this is called a “bain marie”.  Literally “Mary’s bath”, which according to cooking sources is described as “whose proverbial gentleness can be likened to the gentleness of this cooking technique”.  It is the holiest way to bake a dessert.  Baking like a virgin.

water into ram

Here’s the tricky part.  It said to cook it at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Or until custard is set.  Here’s the problem I ran into, at 25 minutes it was still soupy.  It reminded me of my previous failure.  So I let it keep cooking for another 20 minutes.  Then I took it out.  I was terrified that I had ramekins full of scrambled eggs.

cooked cb before sugar

But at this step I feel as though I have committed.  No looking back- we’re going to the end.

When you bring them out, let them cool, and put them into the fridge, then carefully transport them to home.

And here’s where I decided to make some decisions on my own.  I personally hate when I have creme brulee and the custard is cold.  It doesn’t taste right, it needs to be room temperature, but creamy.  So I decided to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I burned that sugar.

cb sugar before

Last time I did this I had a kitchen torch to use, but it is packed away.  This time I used the broiler to make it all nice and burnt.

cb sugar burnt

What the what?  It looks good.  But I was slightly terrified.  Let’s get some coconut toasted.

creme brulee

I was more than terrified to crack into it.  But I was delightfully surprised.

creme brulee inside

Not bad.  If I had to critique my own it would definitely be a huge improvement from the last time.  It would be at least a solid 5/10.  We could improve it.  But at least it wasn’t a soupy mess.

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:

A nice surprise, by j

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Woke up to some pretty stellar fog this AM, which put a bit of a damper on the plans to travel down the busy, busy highway for my Advanced Social Policy class.

However, being that I am one of many, we trekked out to the KW for class, albeit an hour late.

So what’s better than an extra hour to get ready in the morning (read: I actually had time to shower and make my lunch and dinner to take…usually I have to choose between those two options)?

How about enjoying the perk of having a BFF living in the right province for the first time in a decade?  Because what this means is that we were all up in the fancy coffee shop next to the Google building.  Did you know that Google has an office in KW??  I DID NOT!  I am a little bit curious to see if their Canadian office is as fun sounding as their Cali office.  But, I will make the assumption that with all things cross border the Canadian office is probably filled with lovely Google employees but they have to go with the nap rooms and slides that their American counterparts get to enjoy.

Sidenote: If you Google street view the KW Google office, it’s hilarious.  Go ahead, check it out.

Anyways- what else is awesome about my KW friend?  She’s letting me crash at her gorgeous home when needed.  My last semester is going to be an interesting one as she is letting me move in for 48 hours a week.  She’s lovely.

And in anticipation of next week’s marathon of school work I get to have a sleep over this weekend.  It will remind me of our high school sleepovers when I used to go to her house to get away from my little sisters.

I am also making a prediction- as our Sunday night will include copious amounts of red wine and J taking an anti-histamine to deal with her lovely four legged feline friend.

This is what I’ll be all like on Monday morning in class:

Can’t wait.

Prost Me Maybe, by j

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October is one of my favourite months. It is when fall is officially here, for me. Cooler weather, cozy food, crisp breezes and beautiful trees. And Oktoberfest.

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And this October I was also lucky enough to have an awesome friend come back to Ontario after 10+ years on The Rock. So when she decided to come to the KW area it made sense for her to plan her arrival for Oktoberfest, right?

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So, I got out of my internship early (no I didn’t tell them it was to drink beer) and drove down to KW to experience Oktoberfest for the third time.

We decided, very hastily five days earlier to check out the Alpine Club. It wasn’t a calculated decision, there were tickets left and I hadn’t been there yet. We called a cab and with hat and feather in hand we were on our way.

The Alpine Club was a bit of an older crowd, but still had plenty of youth hanging about getting their Prost on. But definitely one of the smaller venues. But that didn’t stop the, from churning out the schnitzel and ‘kraut. Or if you’re a vegetarian like Shannon, mashed potatoes and ‘kraut.

Oh, yes. And the beer nuts.

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The music was polka-ing, the old folks were dancing (and I did think of that old guy from last year’s Oktoberfest who acted like a sad puppy and got every woman under the age of 25 {including A} to dance with him…) and the beer was a flowin’, making way for these types of fools:

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That being said, I do find the Oktoberfest crowd to be quite a friendly bunch, just looking for a good time.

Everyone got very excited to see the Alpine dancers. I didn’t think it would be too exciting. I’ve seen them before, and I remember them just dancing real slow with those “A” props meant to look like a mountain, I think. But then I learned that when your at the Alpine Club, you get a little extra:

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Oh, yes. They chopped some wood. To music. My fave was that young kid in charge of stabilizing the log with his foot. I would have freaked out.

And the night was full of brushes with celebrity. By 10pm a zydeco band arrived with Miss Oktoberfest, a couple of mayors and the marshalls of Oktoberfest, the stars of some garbage show, “Canadian Pickers”, Uncle Hans and Ziggy and Zaggy. And then they tapped a keg. It was exciting.

And we got to see the new video for Oktoberfest that a bunch of dirndl and lederhosen wearing kids made. Yes, the “Call Me Maybe” parodies are a bit much now, but the “Prost Me Maybe” isn’t so bad.

We made our way back to Shannon’s empty apartment at a decent hour as I had to leave at 7am to get to work for 9am the next day. Did I mention that I forgot to make sure that the air mattress I had brought had a working pump?

Here’s my review of Shannon’s floor: It’s hard as fuck and will mess up your back if you try to sleep on it with no mattress. Oh, and it makes a day full of paperwork and playing with five year olds a bit of a bitch. (Sidenote: I would sleep on a hard floor for very few people. Shannon, you are the shit. Thanks for the tablecloth that kept me warm, as I slept on top of my sleeping bag).

All in all a very successful night, next year will be bigger and better. I vote we tackle the granddaddy of Oktoberfest festhallen, The Concordia Club (the birthplace of KW Oktoberfest according to our cabbie). Who’s in?

Important Dates

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The new school year began for all of us sisters, and I would be amiss if I didn’t highlight the wonderful-ness that is the start of my last year of my Masters of Social Work.

I start off my second full time year with a light course load, but with a four day a week practicum placement. But that’s not the interesting part.

Mark it in your calendar:

JUNE 14th, 2013

Yes, we already have our convocation date for the program. If I was the type, I would create a vision board for this event.

I’m so excited about being done I have to remind myself that I do actually have a very full two semesters to get through first.

But there are also some other dates that are worth noting. So in that breath, here we go:

Tuesday, November 6th

We’ve got the juggernaut that is the US presidential election, with another bipartisan explosion between two oddly named nominees.

So far I have been able to determine that if we simply read transcripts of speeches we would probably think that we’re actually at the beginning of the 1980 presidential race. Seriously? We have to make a case for why women should have the right to medication and to have autonomy over their own body? And we are still living in a world where not one Republican voted for the Equal Pay Act? Seriously?

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And did we all get a chance to watch Clint Eastwood’s descent into madness when he spoke to an empty chair?

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September 26th, 2012

Johnny Appleseed Day

The only reason I mention this obscure holiday is because A and I are currently obsessed with the fact that fall has arrived! As I’ve mentioned before, A and I used to be closeted fall lovers (or maybe just me), but no more. In our weather obsessed culture we rarely express our love for autumn because of the viciousness that is found in lovers of summer. Move over summer lovers. Time for some chilly weather and hot beverages.

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Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Three important events on this day.

First, my good friend Leah is leaving for Fort Smith, Northwest Territories to take job as counsellor at a youth residential treatment centre. I predict it will be more than difficult, but a challenge she can meet! Scary, yes. But most awesome things are.

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Second, is the celebration of marriage of a certain couple that is responsible for five kids, four great grand kids and one supremely awesome granddaughter.

Happy anniversary Grams and Papa! 58 years is awesome. And according to the last conversation I had with my ever increasingly macabre grandmother, she’ll hang on for another two years so she can say she made it to her sixtieth anniversary. Grams really knows how to inject excitement into a celebration, no?

Side note: enjoy this video some awesome grandparents took when they were trying to Skype with their granddaughter. Little did they know it was on, and their granddaughter decided to upload it.

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And finally, something else epic will happen on this Tuesday, something that I’ve been waiting two years for…Ke$ha drops her new single “Die Young“!!! OMGEEEEEEE!!!

I can’t wait!!!

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Sigh.

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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