Lunar New Year Cooking!

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Some pictures of the things I cooked this weekend for Lunar New Year. :)

Coconut Buns!
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Green onion pancakes!

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Dumplings! (with handrolled wrappers)

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Wonton Soup! (With store bought wrappers)

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Garlic, ginger, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, brussel sprouts, green onion, chicken stock, rice wine/vinegar, sesame oil and wontons.IMG_1208

Spicy Pork noodles!

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Pork tenderloin, carrots, onions, napa cabbage, chilies, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, rice vermicelli,  green onions and cashews.

Happy  New Year! Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

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When you think of smells like warm oatmeal cookies, spicy gingerbread and pumpkin pie you think of a holiday table laden with tasty treats.

But what if I told you that you can put all those flavours into oatmeal?  It’s true!  I wouldn’t lie to you. It’s baked pumpkin oatmeal.  The perfect way to start 2012 and ease into those healthy resolutions that you may have made for yourself.

The recipe come from those fabulous minds over at The Kitchn where you will find all the directions and ingredients.  I came across the post a while ago and put it in my “To Make” folder.  I had planned to make this for our New Years breakfast but turns out New Years morning was a little more headachey and groggy than I had planned.  I ate chips for breakfast – it seemed appropriate.

But you can make this in advance (like regular steelcut oats) and reheat it in the morning.

First you toast the oats in butter.

If you’ve never done this with your  oatmeal I strongly encourage you to try it.  The smell of the oats toasting in butter is exactly like baked oatmeal cookies.  It’s rather lovely and instantly makes you smile.

Then you put in the pumpkin puree, sugar and spices.  BLAMMO! You’re in pumpkin pie town now baby! Well, just the smell anyway.

Then add the milk and water and stir until it’s all mixed up nicely.  I know it doesn’t look like much, but it smells so good!

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes and then you can either serve it or let it cool and pack it up for the week.  Oatmeal reheats really well and you can add in things you like such as milk, cream, raisins (if you’re one of those people), sliced bananas, apples, or nuts.

When it first came out of the oven I had to have a little taste.  It made the apartment smell so delicious – the cinnamon and ginger wafting from the oven was like heaven.  I’ve never been so excited for oatmeal!  It’s rather like a creamy, pumpkiny rice pudding.  It would have gone well with some vanilla ice cream but sadly there was none.  There’s enough sweetness and flavour from the brown sugar and spices  and the milk gives it a nice richness to make the whole dish a great treat.

You should really try this – it’s delicious!  May 2012 be the best year ever!

FREEZE FRAME HIGH FIVE EVERYONE!

Food Trends I Hope Disappear in 2012

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So that I don’t start the new year off ranting like a madwoman and throwing cats at passing teenagers I’m going to post this on New Years Eve.

I watch a lot of food shows, read a lot of food blogs and generally eat up (hahahhaha!) everything to do with food because it delights me so much.  I also see some things irk me from time to time.  So much so that I hope we don’t see them in the coming year or just used less.  Yes, I think that’s what I mean when I say disappear.  Because the following might have things you like and I would never want to upset you, my darlings!

Food in Jars: Sure it’s quaint and cute and who doesn’t like a mini serving for themselves. But does everything have to come in jars now?  My particular beef is drinking out of mason jars.  I find it so disgusting.  I automatically think “pickle juice” when I see someone drinking anything out of a mason jar.  Eating and drinking out of jars puts us dangerously close to eating and drinking out of rusty tin cans like hobos.  Is that what you want, people?  Well stop it.  Just stop it!


Umami: We know what it means and we all like it, but when I hear people say that word with so much reverence and call it the 5th taste, I want to punch them in their tasticles.

Bacon Everything: I know, I know.  But bacon makes everything better!  That’s because it makes it taste like bacon.  Trust me, I am the last person that wants bacon to go away but it’s been way too overexposed.  For our tastebuds and hearts sake, I think we should put the bacon down and make it a once in a while thing instead of a BACON EVERYTHING thing.

Foodgasms: I cringe when people say they had a foodgasm. Dude, that’s private. You don’t tell people about your regular orgasms so we don’t need to hear or see those.  When you’re experiencing the utter joy of something delicious that makes you bang your fists on the table, writhe in your seat, roll your eyes back into your head and breath heavy – just say “this food is amazing and I’m enjoying it a lot”.  People will know by your profuse sweating and blushing that you’re having a “moment”.  Just don’t draw it out too long else they thing you’re having a medical emergency.

Foodporn:  Lately this term has gotten out of hand.  Sure that photo of a pizza looks delicious oozing cheese everywhere and I want to eat it, but that’s about it.  During a luncheon I took a photo of what I was eating and someone said, “that’s for her foodporn site“.  Because it was obvious that some people around the table had heard that term for the first time and were looking at me like I was a sexual deviant, I had to follow up with “I just like to take photos of delicious things we eat!”. And that’s the moment that Foodporn when onto the list of things I don’t like.

Panko bread crumbs:  If you haven’t used, thought of or eaten something with panko breading then you’ve clearly not eaten enough fried food for my liking.  Are we even friends?

Gourmet burgers:   There’s a reason Shake Shack is the burger mecca on the eastern seaboard.  It has amazing burgers that are simple and tasty.  You don’t need 4 different grinds of meat and a billion toppings on a weird potato roll for a great burger.  Just give me a good seared patty, tomato, lettuce and onion on a soft bun and I’ll be happy.  Oh and don’t forget the fries!

Cake Pops/Cupcakes: This is a losing battle, I know.  But cupcakes and cake pops are taking over the confectionery world and it’s time for pie, squares, cake slices, candies, fudge, ice cream, puddings etc etc to have their time in the spotlight.  That being said, I get delighted when cupcakes are placed in front of me and while I have never eaten a cake pop, I love looking at Bakerella’s creations.  So they can stay, as long as they are cute.

Bonus Track

Food trend that can stay: fried eggs on top of things.  Because that runny yolk is like a dreamy river that floats your food to a rainbow island full of unicorn wishes.

Happy New Year everyone!  Have a wonderful 2012!

NYC: Day 3!

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On our last day in New York we didn’t know what we wanted to do.  The idea of seeing a show was in the air but tickets to The Book of Mormon and How to Succeed in Business were still way above what we wanted to pay.   There were shops we could go to and museums we could visit and literally a million things that we could do. 

But first: breakfast.

Nick suggested a very cute place in Tribecca called Kitchenette and since he had literally hit it out of the park in every other recommendation I followed willingly. 

Kitchenette is probably the cutest little diner/bakery I’ve ever been in.  The little pies in the display case had about a foot of meringue on top. I am kicking myself for not taking photos because the place was just so girly: light pink, polka dots, cute waiters…and the food was really fantastic. Scrambled eggs with caramelized onions, brioche-like English muffins served with a strawberry compound butter, sweet potato hash with smoked turkey sausage: so very delicious.

There was more walking to be done: we went by the WTC and it was eerie; we hit up Century 21 and it was a zoo. Unfortunately I was about 3 sizes too big and my wallet 10 sizes too small for a lot of the designer stuff. 

One place I wanted to go to was Chelsea Market.  Partly because it sounded like a cool place and mostly because it has an Anthropologie. (love!).  After browsing, getting a coffee and walking through the halls lined with restaurants, bakeries, butchers etc. etc. we left feeling rather hungry.

A little too hungry. 

Like – not make the right decisions sort of hungry.  We sat down and looked at our theatre/ticket buying options.  They were still no better and it was already getting to be 1:30 – shows started at 3:00 and to get back to Times Square, get tickets, have lunch would be nigh unpossible.

So we decided – lunch first, decisions later.  I pointed in the general direction of an Italian restaurant, Don Something or Other and we asked to see a menu.  I was delighted to see tacos on the menu!  Tacos in an Italian place!  New York – you crazy girl!

Wait, what?

It was somewhere between seeing people eating bowls of nacho chips and getting up-sold on the house guacamole that I realized this was most certainly not an Italian place.  Also the menu had Dos Caminos written clearly on the front.  Maybe I needed food more than I thought.

Along with the guacamole we also got a big bowl of tortilla chips and a trio of spicy salsas.  I ordered a cob salad that had chicken, chorizo, queso fresco (which Nick called “bathtub cheese” – don’t eat with food scientists folks!), avocado, roasted corn, peppers and onions with basil, cilantro lime vinaigrette – so good! But star of the meal was the beer and margarita slushies we ordered.  Beer: good; lime margarita: GOOD; the two mixed together? MUY MUY BUENO!!!

Over lunch we decided to go to MOMA and took the train (thank goodness) back uptown (or downtown – honestly I have no idea!).  The museum was huge and full of people!  It was really cool to just turn a corner and be face to face with Andy Warhol or a Pollock or this little gem:

After pretending that we were art enthusiasts we went next door to The Modern for some delicious and expensive cocktails and pretended that we were fabulous New Yorkers.  It was easy. 

Then there was more window-shopping and another trip to Fishs Eddy and … another dinner at Shake Shack.  Because the place is just so good that despite all the thousands of places to eat in New York City the only place we wanted to be was back there eating burgers. 

Sadly our trip was coming to an end.  We made our way back to the hotel via more shopping (Hello Nordstrom’s Rack!), snapping up as many pictures as I could and said goodbye to the city that had treated us so well.

Big (HUGE) thanks to Nick for taking me under his wing for my first New York experience.  It was the perfect way to be introduced to the city.  He knew all the places that I would like and was a subway superstar. He knew where to go what stops we needed and, most importantly, knew how to get back onto the street!  I would have been lost without him!  Plus, he’s fabulous company.

I learned that it’s not such a scary city – well, Manhattan anyhow.  People were courteous and friendly.  It’s just full of…everything!  All you need to do is pick a direction and something interesting to see, do or eat will there for you, right at your feet!

I love you, New York!

New York City: Day 2

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We started Day 2 with a delicious breakfast at a diner in the Meatpacking District called Hectors.  (Look at me using the proper neighbourhood names!). While most of the buildings are now shops/lofts/studios we did walk by a place where some actual meatpacking was going on. Or else those gentlemen wearing long white coats with dubious stains in the front were up to some shenanigans!

While the food at Hectors was your standard bacon and eggs the most amazing thing happened while we were eating: someone ordered breakfast to go and the waitress put the coffee in a paper bag.  This is something that I’ve wondered about for years!  In TV and movies when ever someone “brings coffee” to their ladyfriend after a night of  sweet, sweet..um…wholesome conversation and tickle fights…they proceed to open up a paper bag and take out to-go cups of coffee out of it.  It’s perplexed me for ages.  Were people actually bagging their coffee? Didn’t it spill everywhere? Seeing the waitress actually put the coffee and muffin into the bag and give it to the worker who probably had just clocked out from his night from working next door was about as New York as I was going to experience.  I proclaimed to Nick that this was the best city in the world and I was having a fantastic time!

We walked off our breakfast by going through the High Line.  This was an old rail system that they converted to an elevated walking park.  Since you’re above the streets it makes for a very pleasant and picturesque trail.  I guess it’s quite a long trail but we only walked a little bit because we wanted to hit Chelsea and the Donut Plant.

The Donut Plant is right next to the Chelsea Hotel: no big deal! (it’s was a super fun deal to me!).  

While Nick was adventurous and got the seasonal donuts: chestnut and cranberry. I went more traditions: vanilla bean and coconut.  All four donuts were tasty and we enjoyed them with a Stumptown coffee in the lobby of the Ace Hotel.

Moments like these just made my trip.  Eating things I had been reading about for years while enjoying them in grand New York style.  The Ace Hotel is posh and comfortable and the lobby is a great way to sit and relax, meet and chat with friends. 

Through my Dad we arranged lunch plans to meet his highschool friend on Broadway and 39th street and lo and behold on the way there we passed by Macy’s and the holiday window displays were out!  It’s hard not to feel Christmassy when there is magical music playing, sparkly ornaments spinning and flying around and kids pointing and smiling at what they see. 

Ann, Nick and I at her office. She was a delight!

We met Ann at her work and she was so welcoming to both of us even though it was our first time meeting.  After asking if we liked spicy food (yes). She took us to Szechuan Gourment.  We ordered Ma Paul tofu, chilli chicken and green beans with garlic mince.  Delicious!

Then we took a spin through Bryant Park where I was squealing inside because I love Project Runway (note: I don’t know if that’s actually where anything happens, but they sure talk about Bryant Park all the time).

Next stop was Momofuku Milk Bar.  One of the main reasons I wanted to come to New York!  I asked Nick not to judge me before I went in because I wasn’t sure how I was going to react.  He smiled reassuringly in the way only your greatest friends can do which said, I know you’re crazy and I love you for it and if you pee your pants I promise I will never tell a soul.  I carefully selected a Corn Cookie, Compost Cookie, the Marshmallow Cornflake cookie and….

CRACK PIE

My precious

Oh yeah – and a fabulous Milk Bag tote which might trumph my Marc Jacobs bag (just a few months)

The crack pie is a bit like tarte au sucre only served in a buttery oatmeal cookie crust.  You would be crazy to try to eat such a large serving as the one above in one sitting and it actually took me a few days to finish.  The Corn Cookie was like a butter cookie but with delicious corn undertones and probably cornmeal.  The other two cookies I saved for my husband  who graciously shared them with me (both were yummy!).

Wait, did I tell you we enjoyed these treats in Central Park?

And did you know that Central Park has a little zoo?

With sea lions!

And this thing!

And Little Red Pandas!!!!!!

To wake me out of my sugar induced coma we walked from Central Park to Grand Central Station.  Nick thought it was something that I should see and I reckoned that it was something he wanted to see again.  So we walked in that direction with an occasional window shopping break.

Grand Central Station is pretty impressive.  It is chokerblock full of people going off in many different directions.

My feet had had almost enough by this point and when Nick scouted a bar we sat down for a drink.

So let me sum up my feelings at this point.  I was sitting in Grand Central Station having a vodka gimlet with one bag full of donuts and the other bag full of cookies.  Life was good.

But it was about to get even better:

We had dinner at Shake Shack

It’s not just a burger stand.  It’s like a burger mecca.

…and you can get beers and eat your dinner in the park!  I’m sorry – I have to say it once: I LOVE NEW YORK!

I had the double cheese burger, fries and the Brooklyn Ale.   The meat was juicy and the bun soft and buttery.   Nick didn’t think the fries were anything special, but I’m a girl, fries are always special.  It was worth the many blocks we walked.  I may have teared up a little.

That evening we decided to find some nightlife.  While browsing what was near our hotel we came across the BEST YELP REVIEW EVER for a place called Marie’s Crisis. (hint: the second one down).  Marie’s Crisis is a gay piano bar that plays only showtunes and Disney songs.  It was a lot of fun! People were belting out tunes at the top of their lungs and everyone was laughing and cheering. We stayed long enough to recognize a few songs and then headed back out to enjoy some more window shopping along Bleecker St, or Greenwich St, or Hudson St…not sure where we were actually.  

Day 2 was another successful day in proving that NYC is a great city and around every corner there is something interesting, pretty, cool or tasty.

Day 3:  Tribecca! Century 21! MOMA! And more!

NYC Day 1

New York City: Day 1

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I’ve broken down my New York trip into a few parts for easier reading (and writing).  Here’s day 1!

Over the last year my friend, Nick, has encouraged me to visit New York City.  He said I wold love it. I was skepitcal because I had seen many shows depicting NYC to be sort of dangerous, gross, busy and uninviting. But he convinced me it was otherwise and we were on a plane to JFK early morning, November 17, 2011.

We arrived in New York around 7:30 and slowly made our way  to our hotel via the train.  Taking the train is very easy, cheap and only costs $5 and takes about an hour. But when you go during rush hour be prepared to be OVERWHELMED WITH PEOPLE.  

We stayed at The Jane (113 Jane Street). A very cute boutique hotel where the rooms are like train berths and the bellhops wear those bellhops uniforms and caps! Our rooms were ready when we checked in which, if you’ve traveled anywhere, will always make your day.  

My little berth for a few nights. Just a bed, TV, and a place to throw all my things.

The other half of the room. Despite it's small size there was loads of storage space. But I did have to stand in the hall to get this shot.

Complementary water (the bottle was NOT free)

We ate breakfast in the hotel at Café Gitane.

 

Nick had the Avocado Toast which I was a little jealous of.  Until I tasted the Bruschetta on Foccacia I ordered.  Loads of tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinagerette, olives and capers.  It was fresh, herby, salty and I yes, I actually ate and enjoyed the olives.  Don’t tell my husband!  I loved how the little sugar cubes were wrapped individually.

Unbeknownst to me, our first destination was Tiffany’s.  And even further unbeknownst to me was that Nick had devised a plan to get croissants and eat them in front of the window a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was a dream come true and I was completely timid and in culture shock.  However, 10 minutes later I was walking down 5th avenue with my blue Tiffany’s bag in my hand.  Trip = MADE!

Here I am feeling both overwhelmed and excited with my cheeks full of croissant.

This began the first of many long marches across Manhattan.  We walked all the way up to the Flat Iron building. 37 blocks.  It took a few hours and we made some detours like Bergdorf Goodmans, The Apple Store, Rockerfeller Centre, the NBC Experience, Empire State Building.  Around every corner I looked I was seeing scenes from TV and movies!  Everything was everywhere!

This was the holiday display in Bergdorf Men’s.

Even minotaurs love Christmas!

Our goal was Shake Shack at Madison Square Park but by the time we had walked 40 blocks and twenty of those was in the rain eating outside in the rain  just didn’t seem very attractive. But it just so happens that across the street is Mario Batali’s Gourmet Italian Grocery/Restaurant, Eataly.  This place is amazing.  It’s full of everything good that you want to eat: bread, cheese, fruit, pasta, wine, desserts, cheese – wait did I say cheese already?  There are a lot of restaurants to choose from but we went for familiarity: La Pizza & La Pasta. We both got the house specials because they came with a glass of moretti bionda.  After walking 10 miles we needed a drink.

With a full belly we were ready to get back to shopping and perused the shelves of every kind of dried pasta imaginable, sauces, pantry items, kitchen gadgets, liquors. When we left I totally held the door for Peter MacNicol!  It was my first (and maybe only) celebrity sighting.  

Dinner that night was at Cafe Habana on Prince Street in NOLITA.  I don’t know why I didn’t take a photo but I can assure you that it was probably the most fantastic meal I had had in a while.  Fish tacos with a spicy slaw, rice, beans and a smokey salsa.  Perfection.  But what you also need to do when you come here is have an order of corn.  Corn? Yes corn.   Grilled corn (which I suspect from its hammy undertones is boiled in hot ham water) slathered in a mayo/butter mixture, sprinkled with chili powder, lime and a dried salty cheese.  It is very very very good.

After Cafe Habana we detoured to Baby Cakes for a take home dessert.

Red velvet and carrot spice cup cakes. Vegan and delicious!

With 10 miles under our belts and a belly full of tacos and cupcakes I declared our first day in New York a success!  

Day 2: High Line! Donut Plant! Szechuan food! Macy’s!! Piano bars and more!


Weekend Roundup

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This weekend I learned a few things

1.  Remembrance Day is for honouring the fallen and kicking hippies out of muddy tent shantytowns.

Our Mayor and City Council gave final eviction notice to the OccupyNS folks in Victoria Park. On Remembrance Day.  The same folks who left Parade Square after a month so that the Cenotaph service could go on without any disruptions.  Needless to say it left a bad taste in many mouths.  I would like the city and the Occupy movement to come to a reconciliation so that they can protest and so I don’t have to hear about them every 10 seconds.  Oh yeah – shame on the mayor

2.   In car maintenance, a left tire rod should not be placed on a right tire rod.

And when it happens the car makes a crunching, grinding, scraping noise and the wheel seizes up. I learned this because it is the sound our car made coming back from the mechanic.  It’s going back tomorrow.

3.  I play a nerdy video game with an excellent community of players

4.  SPOILER ALERT: Harold and Kumar are only in Guantanamo Bay for like, 10 minutes.

And here I’ve been thinking all this time that it was going to be a movie about torture, war criminals, water boarding and the hilarious hi-jinx that ensue.  I watched it on Netflix while decorating for Christmas…

5.  It is not too early to decorate for Christmas.

I can prove this because there is a decorated tree in the corner of our apartment.   It’s super sparkly – and now so is the entire living room.   My husband is super happy about that!

And here I am at another Sunday night – but meals are done for tomorrow and the laundry is folded so I’m feeling good about that.

Only three days until NYC!  Getting very excited!