Me Day

This past week has been absolutely horrendous in terms of everything. A combination of many factors, including too much homework and too little sleep, means I have been cranky all week long (so sorry to those of you who had to put up with me. That blank look on my face should not have been interpreted as anger, but rather as the zombie face of someone who is about to pass out.)

I culminated my week with a terrible Friday, so I was really glad that I had plans to go out with my girls for the last Dine Out of the season. Tear, tear. We went to Mills Marine Bistro, down on West Cordova by the water. It was pretty delicious actually – I had mussels, salmon and chocolate torte. I would definitely recommend it. I was also very amused by how they renamed their shots – for example, they called a “dirty hooker” shot an “unkempt street corner pro.” Someone making the menu had some fun. I also tried Shizen-ya on Thursday for lunch. They had an interesting menu, but I was really craving noodles, so I had udon and salmon with black sesame. Nom.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, half heartedly thinking of the homework I should do, the little workers in my brain held a rebellion. Essentially, they picketed off the section of my brain that does homework, and held up signs saying: “TAKE A DAY OFF OR YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.” Well, what can you do when the teeny workers in your head revolt? You gotta listen to them, right? (I mean, who knows what damage they could do.)

So, what do I do when I’m not sitting in my room glued to my homework? I had a nice long breakfast with my mom. It was beautiful outside, so I went for a run (“ohgodthankyousomuch” said the little brain worker who takes care of how fat I feel). I did some of my easier homework (reading for English) – and then I cooked. I love cooking, I really do – I just rarely have time. One of my favourite food blogs is smittenkitchen.com (which everyone should check out), so I made some pretty awesome brownies:

They’re white and dark chocolate brownies, made by cutting out the middles of brownie squares and swapping them. The white chocolate ones actually taste a lot like tapioca, for some reason. It made less than the recipe said because I had to cut them bigger in order to make room for my cookie cutter, since I have some serious accuracy issues. Regardless, nom! The recipe is at http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/02/white-and-dark-hearted-brownies/. I also prepped buttermilk roast chicken and beer mustard cheesy pull apart bread for tomorrow. Hopefully they turn out.

I’ve pretty much tired myself out now, but it’s a good kind of tired, as opposed to the tired where I want to lie down in the fetal position. I think I forgot how important it is to take some time once in a while to do things you love to do. We hear it all the time, but despite our busyness we still need to occasionally stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Maybe I’ll be back to being super stressed out tomorrow – it’s very possible, since now I have do all my work tomorrow – but I just feel better today than I have all week.

Plus, I just got a mental image of the little workers in my brain wearing sunglasses and big straw hats as they laze by a pool (a pool in my brain…er…don’t think about it too much). Lucky little dudes.

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Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Unfortunately, due to my complete lack of obvious Asian features, nobody outside of my family remembered that I was Chinese and wished me a happy new year. Nonetheless, it’s the year of the dragon, and I feel like that makes it a good year for travelling. Dragons are all adventurous and such, right? (Mind you, they also have the advantage of being able to torch anybody who pisses them off, so that probably helps with the bravery factor.)

I had a pretty busy weekend, which was probably a good thing, as it kept me from lying on the couch and devouring cookies. Speaking of which, though, I discovered the perfect cure for a bad day on Friday night:

My friend and I made some pretty spectacular ginger-ninjas, and they were delicious and the perfect cure for sadness. I tried a new recipe that had butterscotch pudding mix, and the cookies turned out only mildly gingery but very soft and just yummy in general. I prefer soft cookies anyways, so if anybody wants the recipe (from http://www.food.com):

Gingerbread Men

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon then stir into the pudding mixture until dough forms. Cover bowl and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  3. Grease a baking sheet. On a floured board, roll dough out to around a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter (can also use Christmas trees, Santas, circles etc). Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Pipe royal icing to detail the men once cookies are cool. Can be stored in a container in the fridge for a week.

I think next time I make them I’ll put extra ginger in to spice them up a little. Also, if you want more than 15 or so, I’d double the recipe.

I may have eaten a few too many of them though, because I had an interesting experience Saturday morning. I had to volunteer at a leadership conference for school, so Saturday morning I duly got up, showered, put my contacts in, fed my bunny, and was standing in my bedroom when I happened to glance at the clock and discover the first clue of my insanity. It was 3:00 in the morning.

The second clue was when I suddenly realized it was still very dark outside. The third was when I thought a little more, and really couldn’t remember getting out of bed and into the shower. In fact, as I stood dazed and sleepy in the middle of the room, I could barely remember how I had gotten there. For a girl who hates getting up early, it is a very disorienting thing to have taken a shower in the wee hours of the morning. After standing there for about five minutes trying to force my sleep-drugged brain into figuring out what the hell I was doing, I took out my contacts, put my pjs back on, and crawled back into bed. My only theory is that I was sleepwalking, or something, which has never happened before. At least it makes a good story.

I made up for my poor start by going for Dine Out on Saturday night at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. on Main Street, where I had the best salad of my life: it was fig and goat cheese, and it was AMAZING. I’m going to try really hard to reproduce it. The pizza was delicious too – it wasn’t greasy and everything tasted really fresh. Om nom nom. I love good food. It was probably the highlight of my weekend, as I spent the rest of it fighting battles with Scheme for my AI assignment. (And like the dragon, I conquered! Take that, Scheme.)

Dreaming of Dine Out Vancouver

I have to admit that I have been engaged in a love affair for many years…with food. It may be the reason that I will never be skinny, but good food makes me extremely happy. If I had more time to cook, I would, but school and extracurriculars always seem to stand in my way with their arms crossed, shaking their heads. (In fact, they do that for a lot of things. They don’t like me having a life.)

Nevertheless, Dine Out Vancouver starts next week and I’m pretty excited about it. If you are a Vancouverite and don’t know about this – shame! If you’re not, then perhaps you can be forgiven. Dine Out Vancouver is an event where restaurants have fixed course menus (appy, dinner and dessert) for either $18, $28 or $38 dollars. It’s usually a good idea to look up the menus beforehand and figure out where you want to go, because when there’s over 200 different restaurants to pick from you need to be selective.

I know I will gain fifteen pounds and lose a lot of money from my bank account if I visit all of the ones I want to, but after clicking through some of them, I’ve found a few ones that definitely appeal:

Society – $18
APPETIZER
Sweet Potato And Pulled Pork Croquette tarragon aioli, granny smith apple-green onion slaw
or
Spinach Salad shaved fennel, red onion, orange segments, candied pecans, brûlée “riopelle” cheese with orange vinaigrette
ENTREE
Veal Piccata thyme roasted polenta, roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic white wine reduction
or
Prawn Linguini lobster bisque sauce, garlic butter toast
DESSERT
Chocolate Smore “Flambe” Crème Brûlée (table side)

Refuel – $28
APPETIZER
potato & leek soup croutons
or
warm mushroom & spinach salad grana padano, bacon
or
pork rillettes pickles, mustard, rye toast
ENTREE
crispy polenta kale, chanterelles, crème fraiche
or
wild bc salmon braised leeks, lentils, frisee
or
sloping hill farm pork shoulder terrine caramelized brussels sprouts, white bean puree
DESSERT
peanut & chocolate parfait honeycomb, vanilla ice cream
or
warm apple crisp maple sorbet

Beachside Forno – $18
APPETIZER
Caramelized Onion and Chicken Soup onion flan, crispy cheese
or
Fraser Valley Pork Pate chilled sweet pea puree, vanilla raisin compote
or
Wild Greens and Baby Herb salad forno roasted pears, pickled shallots, sunflower seeds, onion and dill vinaigrette
ENTREE
House-made Parmesan Gnocchi rutabaga, brussel sprouts, arugula, truffle vinaigrette
or
Braised Peace Country Lamb Orechiette lamb bacon lardons, roasted onions, “cafe au lait” sauce
or
Salt Spring Island Mussels and Fries house-made chorizo sausage, tomato puttanesca broth, scallion
DESSERT
Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait strawberry ice cream, graham cracker
or
Orange Creme Brulee coconut macaroons

Goldfish Kitchen – $38 (bit of a stretch)
APPETIZER
ARUGULA & WALNUT SALAD blue cheese, sundried blueberries, pear, herb vinaigrette
or
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP pressure cooked pine nuts, roasted squash
or
VODKA CURED SALMON arugula, creme fraiche, crispy potato
ENTREE
FISH & CHIPS Granville Island beer battered ling cod, triple cooked chips, tartar sauce, minted peas
or
SALTSPRING ISLAND LAMB SHANK saffron mash, green beans, roasted baby tomatoes, natural jus
or
SEAFOOD PAPPARDELLE local scallops, prawns, mussels, clams, arctic char, ling cod, cherry tomatoes, basil
DESSERT
CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE
or
CREME BRULEE

So, if anyone wants to take me out for dinner….

And if that wasn’t enough – there’s a hot chocolate festival beginning now until sometime February. I love my city.