WAC: Kelowna Edition

WAC: Kelowna Edition

Kate and I drove to Kelowna last weekend for a little Easter celebration, wedding planning, and to scare the crap out of Megan (who didn’t know I was coming).
Kate was going to pick me up at 11 so we could hit the road and make it to her mom’s for dinner. By 12:30, when she had finished having brunch with some guy (there was a 45 minute wait at the diner! so they waited…), she picked me up, and we made our first stop 5 minutes later at Coquitlam Centre to go to Target, buy some stretch pants and grab some ‘bucks for the road. We pulled out of town around 2.
So then we were driving. Yay! The wind (air conditioning) was blowing through our hair. Next stop: Hope! Was sure at this point everything was going to be smooth sailing and creme eggs. But then we got hungry for lunch. Asked Kate if she’s ever had a burger from Milestones, and she hadn’t, so wouldn’t that be a great lunch! Except for our next exit was Merritt. Forgot that there isn’t anything in Merritt except for three gas stations and a building that has a giant Elvis mural on it. But then I remembered that they have a Dominos, and that last time Daniel and I drove through there (the only time), we saw that Dominos now carries gluten-free pizza crusts. We also saw that they were closed. SO Kate and I were going to try it.
We ordered. I emphasized the required precautions. The girl ignored me. So we went outside and did jumping jacks until our lunch was prepared (I am careful to always stretch and get some brisk exercise at every stop on a road trip. This prevents leg cramps, blood clots, etc. Is akin to getting blood thinners while sitting for days on end in hospital, or always taking the little cup of water offered to you on even the shortest of flights – it’s just good common sense.)
Soon we were back in lovely ginormous truck, munching away on our yummy pizza. Happy. Katie, woeful celiac who feels like she can never find anything to eat and is often forced to cheat and eat gluten when she is drunk, thinks pizza is great. It was that good crust that is in the middle of being thin and fluffy, and it was really greasy and cheesy, so tasted like real take-out pizza. Since my last little health fiasco I have not had any food that wasn’t researched, cooked, measured, and then recorded in a diary myself before consumption, so this was a very special occasion. Noticed Kate was on her way to scarfin down the whole pizza, so decided to help myself to a second piece. Why not? We were road trippin. We were Thelma and Louise. If i’m going to have a second piece, I’m going to pick the one with the most bacon. That piece also happened to be the piece with the LONGEST BLACKEST STRAND OF HAIR BAKED RIGHT INTO THE CHEESE.
We gagged a lot. I threw it out the window, as to not discourage us from eating the rest of the pizza. Which we did, about an hour later when we were able to forget about that sick hair.
We arrived in Kelowna. As we drove up to my Aunty Tanya’s house I took off my seatbelt and crawled under the front seat of the truck so that nobody would see me when we pulled up. Kate hopped out and called Megan outside for her big surprise. Megan (who hadn’t seen her sister since Christmas), stood in the front doorway and said “nooo, it’s wet out there.” So Kate piggy-backed her to the truck and said “open the door I have a surprise for you!” and Meg says (whiny voice) “is it candy?” Then she opened the door and she was so shocked! She was confused. And then she was overcome with tears of joy. Joy because her maid-of-honour-assistant had arrived to grant her wedding wishes! And because her regular maid-of-honour is mostly a (cute) figurehead (just kidding Kate!!!! Best MOH ever.)
The next day I was treated to lunch by the Schlueter Fam at the very adorable El Dorado Hotel. When we sat down, Kate sadly pointed out that while “GF” was marked on the menu, the only items that fell under this category were salads. Upon closer inspection, we found they actually offered gluten free buns, pizza crust, AND fish and chips! And I mean fish AND chips. Not grilled fish and salad, but deep fried fish and deep fried fries.
We decided our best course of action was to order the smoked salmon pizza and a two-piece F’n’C to share. Our food came and the fish looked absolutely 100% like the real regular wonderful beer-battered McCoy. Told Kate she probably shouldn’t eat the ketchup, so she ate all the tarter sauce instead. She was happy with that, she’s learning the ropes. The fries were those good fat ones I haven’t had in so long. And they had a long blondish hair nestled in the bowl with them.
We didn’t let it ruin our trip but like seriously what are the chances?

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Bloody Avocado Christmas Tragedy, or That Time a Woman Asked Me “How Old is Your Baby?”

A few nights after Christmas I almost cut my hand off. I took an avocado from the fridge, and it seemed quite firm. I cut it in half, and the meaty part was still hard, almost to the point where I thought it was not ready to use, but I needed guac for the turkey enchiladas I had made to accompany my dad’s ridiculous turkey fried rice. (We were having a cook-off to see who could make the best dish out of left-over turkey. I was in a rush to make the guac because his rice was already done, and my dish had just gone in the oven. Nevermind.)
I then proceeded to take my large chef’s knife and stab the pit so I could pull it out, thinking it too would be rock-hard. Instead I sliced clean through the thing and into my middle finger, and the blood actually sprayed out. Blood is a lot redder and runnier in real life than it is in my head. Like it is really bright and alarming. This was showcased by the Jackson Pollock-style work that was now being displayed across my parent’s white cabinets.
I knew it really hurt even though I couldn’t feel it yet, and apparently I made a little scream noise. My mom’s reaction did not disappoint: she instantaneously whipped around from what she was doing and assessed the situation as being far worse than it was, and then began to reassure me over and over again –in a tone that did not scream confidence- that I wasn’t going to die and that my finger was still attached to my hand (both points being very soothing to me, obviously, as I am her child).
My dad casually started to clean things up, placing things in their appropriate disposal container (His thoughts: Is a bloody cloth garbage or compost? The bloody avocado can definitely go in the compost… unless I can just cut the bloody part off and save the rest… hmm). He then in his own maddeningly calm, analytic, engineer-y way started to ask me “is it your hand? Or your finger? Which finger do you think it is?” At this point my mom and I had already done a little dance around the kitchen while yelling at each other, and she had wrapped my hand in several dishcloths, and my limp body was looking for somewhere to sit down somewhere so I could throw up from a sitting position. I was sure I was going to vomit, and was very focused on that. I was pretty sure it was irrelevant where the damage had been done, the plain fact of the matter being that I had stabbed myself worse than anyone had ever stabbed, full stop, and we had better hit the road don’t you think?
So we drove to the fancy new emergency clinic in Parksville (weird that the retirement capitol of the province has never had it’s own ER, right?), my dad driving uncharacteristically fast and my mom sitting in the back seat with me, still holding my arm up.
The triage nurse of course wanted to see what had happened, and so she unwrapped the bloody towels and then proceeded to pull the ring off of my finger right over THE GAPING WOUND. Which actually turned out to be about an inch long.
Anyone who knows me knows I have had my fair share of disgusting health problems, ranging in degrees of disgustingness and painfulness. People actually say things to me such as “you take everything in stride!” and “you always have your chin up!” or whatever. Those are people who know me. The people that I live with, that I am related to, will tell you that I am not a stoic person. And I did not appreciate this lady taking my ring off.
Apparently walking into the ER with a hand covered in blood doesn’t buy you any special privileges these days, either, since they made me wait TWO HOURS to see the doctor (to be fair, it is Parksville, and there was only one “doctor” in the house).
In that time these things happened:

-My dad played on his ipad
-A guy I worked with (and by worked with, I mean like had worked with within the past ten days) was also in the waiting room and pretended like he didn’t know me
-a baby got a cast on her arm, was braver than me
-a lady who may or may not have come to emergency to see a doctor to address her mental health issues asked me how old my baby was (pointing to my hand that was wrapped up in a bloody towel and still being held up in the air by my mom).

In the end, my “puncture wound” got glued back together by a very uppity man, I was given a tetanus shot and 8 days worth of antibiotics, and I still can’t feel the tip of the middle finger of my right hand. As soon as I cut my finger it had gone numb, and I told my parents this, and then the nurse, and then the doctor. I continued to tell everyone I met in the following days, because the feeling never came back and it was gross. I thought it was dying. My mom reassured me 495 times, saying “it will come back, don’t worry, the feeling will come back…ALEX IT WILL COME BACK.”
Until one day when we were shopping for makeup in Superstore and my finger was really sore, almost like I had burnt it. I told my mom I thought it was the nerves trying to regrow or start up again or something, and she said “oh good! I didn’t think the nerve would actually heal.” and then she laughed and laughed and put q-tips in her basket.

The end.

How to Have the Most Fun You Can at the PNE

How to Have the Most Fun You Can at the PNE

When I got to Vancouver a couple of weekends ago, I was super lazy and felt like we probably weren’t gonna leave the basement to stop watching The Wire until I had to go back to the island. And then Daniel’s friend O’Shea gave us passes to the PNE! And the PNE has Super Dogs! So we had the best day ever.
Right off the bat, as soon as we walked through the gates, we were approached by a girl selling some kind of lactose free beverage who wanted Daniel to ride a bike in order to turn on a blender. Then we drank the weird smoothie he made by riding the bike really fast. So we were off to a hot start.

The first thing we ate (after watching some cute sheep get wrangled for their fuzz and stumbling upon these amazing drumming kids, seriously, go to the PNE and find them) was a hot fudge sundae (me) and an “elephant ear” (Daniel). My ice cream was weird and grainy, and the fudge left a nice coating of lard in my mouth. Can’t speak for Daniel, but the elephant ear thing looked fairly ridiculous. Giant flat churro thing covered in whipped cream and other stuff, got all over him, he had to sit down to manage it. Your average carnival-y food.

Then we went to see the Super Dogs and got some super salty popcorn, likely covered in gluten-y seasoning (very suspect popcorn, worse than movie theatre popcorn). All I can say about those dogs is that I loved every single one of them and they are SO SMART. They could jump about 9 feet, and dance to weird electro-country, and play a game of hockey that was actually musical chairs (there was even a Zamboni dog that came to take away a “chair” each round).
I had not been to the PNE in approximately 20 years, which, besides being very depressing (I can actually refer to events that took place over two decades ago and know that I was talking and walking around), also left me so impressed with all of the entertainment. We saw the Genghis Khan exhibit, which was thankfully supplemented with commentary by Daniel, who had recently listened to a ten-hour podcast about the Mongols. Don’t know what else to say about that besides that it was both very interesting (the exhibit and his commentary) and very strange (Daniel’s ability to listen to ten-hour podcasts about Mongols). We also sat through a live episode of Family Feud (needless to say, hilarious), and watched some little professional hip-hop dancer kids, saw the prize house, and walked through the weird building full of shopping-channel products.
By this time, we needed to find something more substantial to eat, because Daniel has this thing about feeling like he hasn’t eaten all day until he’s had something with meat in it. Meaning he’d technically been fasting since the day before. Lucky for him there was a RIB-OFF.

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These guys meant business. All of the cooks were just glistening with sweat and hovering over these giant grills all day, and the prices were the same across the board, so every booth could only entice customers by being the absolute most delicious. We went from booth to booth looking for the most competent BBQ-ers, asking around for gluten-free and inspecting for pork-to-bun contact (via the tongs). We finally picked a line-up, settling on the guys that made their own sauce and knew where it was manufactured. We chose a combo of brisket and ribs, with a side of potatoes to wash it all down. It was way messier than the elephant ear. They leave out industrial rolls of paper towels, but they should really just have those showers that they have at the beach where you can rinse your feet.

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Thanks again O’Shea!!! You’re a gentleman and a scholar.

Steak Quesadillas for Impressing People that Aren’t Shallow

Steak Quesadillas for Impressing People that Aren't Shallow

If you want to really impress someone with a meal that doesn’t necessarily look super martha-gourmet or exotic but is actually a taste explosion, make these quesadillas.

STEAK QUESADILLAS WITH SALSA THAT IS QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST COMBINATION OF FOODS THAT I KNOW OF

1) First make your salsa: chop up a ripe avocado, some cherry tomatoes, and cilantro; combine it with black beans, corn, sea salt, and lime juice. Done.

2) Take a couple of sirloin or flank steaks and cut them into pieces that are about an inch thick. Brown in an oiled frying pan for a couple minutes, then take it off the heat while it is still pretty rare. Let it rest on a cutting board for five minutes.

3) Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay tortillas in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered in parchment (I use “Food for Life” brand brown rice tortillas). In a small bowl, mix a glob of mayo with the best salsa you happen to have in your fridge (something with chipotle would be good), and then spread this over the tortillas. Just do this without thinking about it.

4) Cut your little steak pieces into even skinnier little steak pieces. Grate up a whole pile of monterey jack cheddar, and chop up a bit of red onion. Cover your tortillas with these items like you would a pizza. Place a second tortilla on top of each of your little pizzas (rub a little olive oil on the outer-facing side of this tortilla for a nice tanned effect). Bake in the oven for like ten minutes. I don’t recommend trying to flip them over halfway.

5) Cut tortillas into quarters and serve with amazing salsa concoction (and sour cream, if you must). Win friends and influence people.

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Amrikkos in Nanaimo

Amrikkos in Nanaimo

Last friday my mom, Leah, and I decided to go out for a little girls dinner after doing literally nothing for the whole day. First we went to Michael’s (craft store), for like an hour. That was our big exhausting errand. Then we headed to a tiny Indian restaurant (also the only Indian restaurant, and therefore the best Indian restaurant) on a Friday night at 7:30, which in a lot of cities would be pointless but it’s Nanaimo so we walked right in and got seated. Amrikkos is my favourite Indian food, bar none, although Jolly’s in Kits is also good but their butter chicken can’t hold a candle to Amrikkos (shout out to Jolly’s for making me chickpea naan bread that one time though, that was really nice of you.)

I usually don’t even feel like eating Indian food in this day and age, because about 3 years ago my family hit that HARD. We were cooking up butter chicken and eating naan from superstore like every weekend. Those were the gluten days. After that, I started making my own chicken korma with cashews and peas in it (obsession was re-ignited because BC Ferries temporarily offered a butter chicken entree, which was my favourite freakin thing and they TOOK IT OFF THE MENU. I will never understand them. First the baked potato, and then… Anyway their butter chicken had cashews in it, and came with little naan triangles, and I could polish off one of those babies before we even pulled out of Horseshoe bay.) So after my year of putting cashews into every kind of sauce I could find, I was really off Indian food for a while there. But Amrikkos is a whole other story, and I often forget I even have such delicious options when I am home in the land of no restaurants.
We ate: calamari (possibly the best I have come across in my celiac life), pakoras, veggie korma, butter chicken, rice, and there was naan and the little cheese block thingys for my mom and Leah. I’m back on the train.

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Split-Decision Pie

Split-Decision Pie

The other day I got a box in the mail from amazon, and I didn’t know what it was because I didn’t order anything (VERY exciting). Turns out it was the best belated-birthday present from Daniel: the split-decision pie plate! I was so surprised, even though he had asked for my postal code like four days earlier. I am forgetful, which leads to more joy in my life I think. I am not a patient baker, so rolling out the pastry was an issue (ended up just pressing dough into the bottom of the plate). And then when it was cooking the blackberry side cracked open and blackberry lava started burning on the bottom of the oven and smoke started coming out of the oven door, so I thought my pie was burning. Then I thought there was gonna be a fire and I had to phone my mom. But it was still very delicious.

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My Fav Pasta (right now)

My Fav Pasta (right now)Right now I am addicted to smoked salmon. I went a long time without even knowing that I liked it, and then became celiac and thought I couldn’t have it, and then my mom (bless her) searched around and called different companies until she found one that didn’t use soy sauce (Hardy Buoys is g-free, if you care), and since then I’ve been eating it non-stop.

Around the same time I made this salmon discovery, I also discovered that if you cook super-ripe mashed tomatoes (I put them in my magic bullet), white onion chopped really fine, and a lot of butter together, you get the best sauce ever. Butter is what I put in things so my family thinks I’m a good cook. Butter literally sends signals to my brain that make me happy. Depending on how much sauce I’m trying to make, I just keep adding chunks of butter (side note: if you’re trying to make excellent spaghetti sauce, whip your tomatoes, throw a half onion and a big chunk of butter in there, and put the lid on for half an hour or so then throw the onion away. You won’t be sorry.) I never said this was pasta for your health.

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So for lunch the other day, I made my dad this pasta. All my garlic was sick and old, so the garlic shown in the above cutting board picture depicts about a quarter of what I would normally use. This was fine with old Mur, who hates garlic anyway. I sauteed my onions and garlic in a big glug of olive oil (sometimes I magic-bullet my onions and garlic too, because I’m a very busy person), and then added my chopped cherry tomatos (just happened to have nice ones, normally use big old regular ones). I cooked that down a bunch and then threw in some lemon zest, just for added zest (use this at your discretion, I love lemon). When my pasta is just finished cooking I add my smoked salmon to the sauce. You don’t have to chop it up very small because it kind of falls apart when you cook it. It’s so freakin good. Then I add a teaspoon or nine of red pepper flakes, but only if its for my dad (who was born with the tastebuds of a ninety year old chain-smoker). So that was our casual lunch. Have I mentioned I’m unemployed?

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After that I went for a swim.