MTL: day 5

img_0818January 15, 2017

It’s Sunday now and I’ve been in Montreal for five days. This weekend has been horrifically cold. Daniel says it hasn’t been. But I’m currently wearing fleece tights underneath my jeans and we’re inside so I think it’s safe to say I’m not in Kansas anymore.

I haven’t left the apartment by myself yet. This is partially because I got sick as soon as I landed, and also because I don’t know where to go. We were on the end of Day Three before I realized I hadn’t seen or spoken to any other humans besides Daniel since I paid my cab driver on Tuesday night. His hours aren’t long (Daniel’s class time, not my cab driver’s working hours. I’m sure he works long days), and if there’s anywhere I need to go I figure the least he can do is escort me when he gets home from school.

Also, turns out, when you don’t have a job in the outside world, the urgency you feel to put on pants every morning really diminishes. The necessity has only arisen a few times so far:

  1. Once to go to a French bistro for dinner with Daniel’s Uncle Joe, who was in town for six hours on business. I was still feeling pretty sick but was also feeling sorry for myself at this point and thought I deserved some authentic steak frites from L’entrecote Saint-Jean;
  2. Once to investigate the grocery store closest to our apartment. I thought we were only buying ingredients for dinner so was in that mindset, but Daniel wanted to do a real stock-up. Without a list or any recipes in my head I was a very ineffective shopper. Daniel got exasperated with me, saying in his serious voice “I thought you’d be better at this.” Obviously I found this hilarious; and
  3. Once to walk Daniel to the metro. This was his idea, which he thought was good because a. I wasn’t showing any interest in leaving the apartment and he thought some fresh -39 degree air would be good for my virus, and b. because I would have to walk back home by myself and it was a tricky way of making me pay attention to my surroundings and learn my own address. Joke’s on him because I found my way back and I’m still here, moving all his stuff around and making him walk me to hot yoga.img_0811

MTL: day 1

img_0647January 10, 2017

So I live in Quebec now. And it’s the first day of the rest of my life!

Things that I noticed are different from the island so far:

  1. It is flat (obvious);
  2. All of the buildings are short;
  3. The wind took my breath away when I stepped outside of the airport last night.

When I got to Daniel’s last night he had dinner all ready for us, and roses for me, which was very nice. He had prepared his house specialty: roasted chicken, potatoes, and yam, with rosemary. It was delicious. He also cleaned it up (bodes well). Things I can say about his place:

  1. It’s much larger than his first year apartment, but still not bigger than a bread box;
  2. His idea of clean does not include dusting (bless him);
  3. There is a pretty large desk reserved just for me that has a little window above it! As everyone knows, a woman must have money and a room (desk) of her own if she is to write fiction (blog posts).

It was hard to relax last night even though I was completely exhausted because my urge to clean and organize and synthesize all our crap was so strong. It may have also been difficult to relax because I’m in a weird new place where I’m apparently going to be camping out for the next four months (that’s what Daniel said last night: It’s going to be like we’re camping every day! Me: lol, why? Daniel: Because the bed is so small with both of us in it… I’ve never been camping.)

Some more logical reasons he could have given as to why it felt like we were camping:

  1. It was really hot in the apartment… and then cold… and then hot;
  2. His sheets feel kind of nylon-ish, like a sleeping bag;
  3. I knew we’d both be awake by 5:00 am PST.

Neither of us could fall asleep, and for me the reason for this was obviously that it was 8:00 pm where I’m from and that’s typically just about the time when my mom and I are sitting down to eat dinner and take in the evening news (TMZ). It’s important that I adjust to Daniel’s weeknight sleep schedule because he has class in the morning and the rooms in this place aren’t divided by any doors, so I can’t really stay up later than him without keeping him awake.

Anyway, it’s 9:45 am here now and after narrowly avoiding my first kitchen fire (involving a tea bag and the old-fashioned coil burner thingy on the stove), I am pretty confused about what I should be doing but am trying hard to adjust to the leisure mindset by just staying in bed and drinking tea out of my new mug that says “bonjour” and has a fancy wiener dog on it. Besides doing a good job of my actual job with DAL, my goal really is going to be to chill the eff out for this whole semester. It’s just four months! Not even. Nobody ever died from taking a brief hiatus from being a basket-case for 16 weeks. Wish me luck!

A Couple of Vegetable Soups for Your Winter Enjoyment

DSC_0437These are the soup recipes from my instagram post the other day. Two I made up (anyone can make up a vegetable soup, really), and the one in the picture is from Bon Appetit. I always think to myself, if ever I was competing on Chopped and I got carrots and coconut milk in my basket I would make this soup in a heartbeat and Alex Guarnaschelli would just die over it. Her comment would start off sounding like a criticism and she’d have the facial expression of someone who had just received some incredibly insulting news, but then it would conclude as a massive compliment. Not sure what that part would sound like, but I know she would love it and I would win.

Carrot-Coconut Soup (click link for recipe) 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Shallots

I’m really into butternut squash this year. This turned out quite thick but the flavour was great, and I was able to easily adjust the consistency with a little milk. This is a meal-soup.

  • 1 medium size butternut squash (3-4 lbs)
  • 3-4 large shallots, sliced thinly
  • 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
  • chunk of butter, lots of olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • milk
  • sour cream or a piece of brie for garnish (optional)

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel squash, discard seeds, and cut into one inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet covered in parchment for 45 minutes or until squash is nice and soft.

-When squash is almost cooked, melt butter and olive oil in a heavy stockpot. Cook shallots for a few minutes, until translucent and nicely fragrant.

-Add cooked squash to shallots, seasoning with more salt and pepper, cayenne, cumin, coriander, and ginger. Add apples. Mix.

-Pour chicken broth over squash mixture. Top up with water until everything is covered. Simmer on low heat for 40 minutes.

-Use immersion blender to puree soup (or puree in batches in regular blender). Add more seasoning to taste. Add milk to adjust consistency to your liking. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or put a piece of brie in your bowl and then pour soup over it (people seem to love this).

Daniel’s Favourite Tomato Soup

This is delicious and I always want to eat it. Never get sick of it.

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • olive oil, chunk of butter
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 28oz can tomatoes (the big one)(marzano if you can find them)
  • 1 can coconut cream or, 1-2 cups chicken broth + 1 small carton heavy cream (this is a “choose your own adventure” recipe)
  • squirt of sriracha
  • handful of fresh basil

Saute onions and garlic in oil and butter for around 8 minutes, until translucent and at that just-starting-to-caramelize state. Add tomatoes and broth (or coconut cream), simmer on low for as long as you like (minimum half an hour, but I’ll leave it on the stove for quite a while if I’m doing something else, just to deepen the flavour. Daniel eats it as soon as it resembles soup.) When you are ready to serve, add heavy cream (or don’t, whichever path you chose is just fine) and fresh basil. Season generously with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Use immersion blender to yield perfect, creamy tomato soup. While you’re cooking, whip up some of Ina Garten’s biscuits using Cup4Cup, or make the ones on the back of the gluten free Bisquick box. Heaven.

Pro Tip: if ever you make one of these recipes and it just does not taste quite right, add another chunk of butter. It really is the secret.

My Prettiest Easter Brunch

My Prettiest Easter Brunch

For Easter I thought it would be a nice idea to have a sophisticated brunch for my best buds that were gonna be home for the long weekend. I am lucky to have a mother who collects china, and friends who are always down for dressing up, so it worked out perfectly. I made a french toast raphael, with bacon, ham, and lots of fruit. We drank mimosas and ate blueberry lemon muffins that my mom whipped up while we waited for everyone to arrive. The food turned out and everyone looked divine, it was the event of the weekend and a who’s who of the best people in the Parksville/Nanoose area.

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After weeks of being of sad we needed to get outside and drink some drinks and play some tennis. We drank our drinks on the patio at the Beach Club in Parksville with some nachos… but I’m not even gonna report on those. Allow the picture of Will’s face below to illustrate how we felt about them.

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Lefty’s in Parksville

Lefty's in Parksville

Jaime and I chose Lefty’s this morning as a little throwback- we used to walk there for breakfast ALL the time when we were in highschool and would have parties at her moms house and invite like 10 guys over and drink illicit booze and play cranium. We would always split a “traditional” the following morning and feel really grown up and awesome. Since we are women now we decided we should probably order two things (but still share them obviously), so I got the gfree french toast (finally!) and she ordered the traditional and we were gonna divvy them up. The bacon and eggs came with toast all over the top of them, so I ended up just having french toast. Such is the life of a celiac that orders gluten free french toast and a regular breakfast and then says at the end “and the toast cant touch anything!” and the waitress says “well obviously” and then the plates show up with regular toast all over one of them.

Wait and Celiac: Victoria Edition

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Daniel and our Tour Guides on a Seaside Excursion

To kick off reading break we drove down to Victoria to see my girl Jaime (J. Mo), her endlessly charming boyfriend Mark (and all of my other best friends from Parksville that I never get to see), and to see what we could find to eat around that place. Our first stop was “The Joint”- a little place on the inner harbour that has a big g-free menu and some really, really good gfree pizza on homemade crust. I could have had pasta if I wanted, but instead I opted for a huge slice of hawaiian (!!), and it was delicious. The most pizza-y pizza I have eaten in some time, and a perfect snack to prep us for wandering around downtown Vic (windiest place in the world). For dinner we went to a new pub, Yates St. Taphouse, and my dinner wasn’t very exciting and my options were very limited (a little bowl of prawns in garlic with cherry tomatoes), but they are a pub and they just opened and the server promised they were working on getting gfree bread, pasta, etc.

The real treat was our breakfast the next day (and getting to stay at Jaime and Mark’s apartment obviously, and having Jaime wake us up so cheerfully/urgently). We went to Shine Cafe and waited like an hour because they are very popular. I insisted on the Blanshard location because the rumor online was that they had gfree french toast (unprecedented). They didn’t, and it was briefly disappointing but was soon made acceptable by the raspberry-banana pancakes that I got instead:

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So they look like pancakes, and probably boring ones to a regular-pancake eating person, but they were really fluffy and crispy around the edges and not corn-mealy (sorry Roundel Cafe), and the fruit in them was soo good. I couldn’t eat all of it but if I had taken the leftovers home with me I would be finishing them off right now.

There’s not a lot else to report about this occasion other than Jaime got really drunk at the Yates St. ($6 doubles that she forgot were doubles), and we played a great game with our friends called “Cards Against Humanity.” She hated it.

Sandbar on Granville Island

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For Valentines we forwent our usual brunch plans because Daniel made a mystery dinner reservation. The surprise was The Sandbar, VERY swanky. You could tell it was nice because we ran into like 4 other Betas (including the president- natch). These places are usually not bad for me because you are generally just ordering some kind of meat or seafood with vegetables. We ordered half a crab (because it is plain, and comes with a swimming pool of butter), and a swordfish entree (tastes like chicken), and since I was feeling generous an appy of barbecue ribs – because I knew Daniel would prefer the cow over the scallops we were eyeing, and because the waitress said they were g-free. Obviously they weren’t, and she told us that, but the guy brought them to our table and taunted us with them anyway. The appetizer list was a really good looking selection of stir-fry veggies and wontons and sushi and things I just can’t do. We ordered the wok-fried chili chicken (with a back-up order in the inevitable case that the waitress asked the kitchen and they said it was deep fried… obviously). Again, they brought it to our table and it looked super good. Too good. So I sent the poor girl back to the kitchen ONE MORE TIME to confirm and she said the exasperated, exhausted, valentines-hating chef told her it was a corn starch coating and to eat the fricken chicken OR NOT HE DOESN’T CARE. He didn’t actually say that. The waitress was really, really, nice. And we ate the chicken and it was amazing. A better, fancier, yummier version of the Cactus Club sweet chili chicken bites that everyone makes such a huge deal about.

verdict: we will go back and order that chicken very nonchalantly. it was much pricier than our brunch habit, but we ordered wine and dessert and it was a special occasion, so you know.. (more than easy for me to justify- he paid.)

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