Friday, December 24, 2010

Guilt Free KFC

So, wow.  I stumbled across an amazing recipe for chicken that tastes like KFC but BETTER AND, the best part, it's NOT deep fried!  But still crispy!  Miracle chicken?  I think yes.

If you are like me and enjoy the taste of KFC but feel disgusting after eating it because it's so greasy and full of who knows what other terrible things, prepare for your life to be changed with this simple recipe, slightly modified from this recipe.  I used three chicken breasts but definitely had enough coating materials to do double that much.

1.  Brine the chicken (skinless pieces or small breast pieces) for at least 1 hour in a mixture of 2 cups water, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/4 cup brown sugar.

2.  In a Ziploc bag, mix 2 cups flour, 1.5 tbsp pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, 2 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp salt (I used 1 tbsp but this proved to be too salty so I recommend cutting back to 1 tsp which is what I'll do next time).

3.  Remove the chicken pieces from the brine, pat dry, and toss in the flour mixture.

4.  Beat 2 egg whites until you get soft peaks and add 1 cup buttermilk.

5.  Remove the chicken from the flour mixture, dip in the liquid, and toss again in the flour mixture.

6.  Pour a few tbsp of oil into a baking pan or casserole dish, heat in the oven for a couple minutes on 400, then add the chicken to the pan.

7.  Since the chicken has been brined it should stay moist even if you bake it too long - so bake as long as you need to get the crispiness you desire.  My chicken was boneless skinless breasts cut into about 3 or 4 pieces each so I baked for 15 minutes on one side, then flipped and baked for about 5 minutes on the other side.  This made them pretty crispy but if we hadn't been so hungry I would have left them in longer to crisp up even more.

HONESTLY I AM NOT KIDDING, you can NOT tell that these are not deep fried.  The batter on them truly does crisp up to the point where you are tricked into thinking they've been deep fried.  But the awesome part is, they aren't greasy.

Oh man.  I love this chicken so much.  I can't believe what a few simple ingredients can do.  Try this, you may never go back to KFC again.  I sure won't.

KFC?  Is that you?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I am Buying a Dyson ASAP

I HATE central vac.  I never realized how much I hated it until recently, but it sucks the MOST.  (Bad vacuum pun SORRY was unintentional.)  Today while vacuuming (home alone) I actually started yelling at it, no lie. 

Reasons why central vac is annoying:

1.  It is always stored in one of the most hard to get at places in the house, like the basement or a back closet behind a bunch of stuff.  Thus half the battle of vacuuming is actually hauling the giant hose and... shaft?  what is the metal stick part called anyway out of its hiding place.  I cannot count the number of times I have dropped the metal part on my foot during this part of the process.

~1 kg of metal falling ~1 m onto my foot at 9.8 kg m/s2 = %$#$%*&%$$#

2.  Our stupid vacuum always falls apart.  The metal stick part never sticks into the hose properly so at least once or twice while vacuuming, it falls out and lands on my foot (see above).  OR our stupid hose often requires emergency first aid mid-vacuum because it falls out from the end that the metal part attaches to.  It is so high maintenance, SERIOUSLY.

3.  It NEVER reaches far enough to get where you want it to go.  NEVER.

4.  The hose ALWAYS gets stuck on things in other rooms or knocks over tables and chairs when you are trying to vacuum a room that is far away from where it plugs into the wall.  We have probably broken more than a few items in this house due to the central vac hose.  Including my sister's closet shelf which came crashing down after the hose hit it while being taken down from its storage spot in the same closet.  RIP closet shelf.

5.  To get into small places you have to change ends, which often results in the vacuum trying to suck all of your clothes off while you fumble around for a different end.  Today my sister somehow managed to get the vacuum into a position where it started sucking up her arm.  I heard screams from one room and then later she came in to inform me that Central Vac attacked her.

There are many more reasons but I think the fact that our central vac often causes us bodily harm, tries to molest us, won't allow us to have nice things including closet shelves, and falls apart every 10 minutes is grounds enough to justify spending $500 on a beautiful new Dyson.

Dyson:  I can't wait until we are together at last.  Central Vac:  it's not me, it's definitely you.

Texts From My Mom v. IV

My parents were coming into the city for a show and we were planning to go out for supper first.

Mom:  B at your house about 530 eat downtown gibsons or where do u want 2 go
Me:  Umm I don't know I feel sort of gross today so don't really want anything fried
Mom:  Tim hortons 4 soup or we dont need 2 go out
Mom:  2nd ave gri 4 soup food court at midtown 4 salad or soup
Mom:  Saigon rose maybe cause its close

And, the saga of me wanting a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas:

Me:  Broke my mixer making whipped shortbread.  It was $7 from Canadian Tire
Mom:  Yum ill get one 4 u today
Me:  I wish I had a stand mixer but we don't really have room.
Mom:  U dont need a kitchen aid one ill let u try mine never used the stand
Me:  Kitchenaid classic mixers on sale at Sears for $200
Mom:  Saw them yesterday they weigh a ton
Mom:  I think it made of cement haha
(Later)
Me:  Kitchenaid mixers at walmart for $180, they seem like a smaller size
Mom:  I can check it out watching a christmas movie on w channel



For more hilarity from OTHER people's texting parents, check out this site which might be the best thing on the internet:  www.whenparentstext.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Infinite Wisdom from Cooking for Love

So for some reason tonight I stayed up a little bit later than usual and found myself watching the 90s dating show "Cooking for Love."  If you missed out on ever seeing this exceptional piece of quality television, basically it is a show where the bachelorette sits behind a wall while three bachelors cook a meal for her, while asking each other questions.  The host is SUPER awkward and says tote awkward things and nothing is funny and everyone TRIES to be funny but no one is, so basically it is a major cringe-fest the entire time.

By the end of this horrible episode I totally regretted not creating a transcript of the entire thing, because it was honestly that bad and would be so funny to read.  However I did manage to remember a few key quotes, and here they are now.  I hope I can watch a few more episodes over the holidays and pick up some more wisdom and quality relationship advice from the bachelors and bachelorettes of Cooking for Love.

Guy: "If you were a kitchen appliance, what appliance would you be and what food would you want to accompany you?"
Girl: "I would be a spoon and I would want to take a hard boiled egg gently out of the water."

Guy: "If you were an action figure, what accessories would you come with?"
Girl: "I wouldn't create anything new.  I would be Wonder Woman for obvious reasons and I would come with all the stuff she comes with."
Host: "You mean like that boomerang thing, and the rope?  I'm thinking of all the women on the island.  You know, with all the women, and the rope..."
(Girl doesn't answer because she is stupid.  She spends the whole show trying to say how confident and smart she is, but can never answer a question with an answer that shows confidence or makes sense.  Audience is dead silent.  So awkward.)

Girl: "If you could take me anywhere on a date, where would it be and why?"
Guy: "I would take you to the Bahamas and we would sit on the beach.  And I would order a pizza.  Why just a pizza you ask?  Well I would take the pizza across the street to the beach, where I would have set up a table for us.  With candles all around, surrounding the beach.  And why would I do this?  Because if I took you to the Bahamas you would be the most beautiful girl in the world."
Audience and host:  "AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!" (Applause.  She picked him.)

SOMEBODY GET THIS GUY A JOB AT HALLMARK STAT

(But seriously.  His logic is so off.

IF Bahamas
         Most beautiful girl in the world
ELSE
         Not most beautiful girl in the world.  Sorry toots

)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kid with Camera

When I was probably 6 or 7, my grandma gave me her camera which had 4 empty spots left on the roll of film and told me I could use it up.  Here are 3 of those pictures (the other is of my youngest sister swimming in a plastic Rubbermaid in the yard with no clothes on - don't think she would appreciate that one showing up here).


My grandma's backyard - why is it when you give a kid a camera, all they want to take are "scenic" pictures of stupid things like yards?


And a family picture on the front step.  I love it.  I'm so glad I cut off my parents' heads and that you can see my shadow at the bottom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Texts From My Mom v. III

It's that time again!  Here are a few texts from a conversation I had with my mom the other day when a pipe broke at the dorms at work.

Me:  (7:00 pm)  Water main break here :(  Will have to get up at 430 tomorrow to shower since it will not be back on until late tonight.

Mom:  Oh dear me thinks it very cold there it warming up very windy from the south

Mom:  (next morning)  Did u get your shower this am

Me:  Yeah water is brown here now, can't drink it

Mom:  Dont do laundry they must have bottled water 2 drink and cook with

Me:  Need to do laundry, other people said they were doing laundry and it didn't stain the clothes

Mom:  Maybe darks orit duznt matter

DUZNT???  That's a new one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eggs for $1

I have mentioned before that I grew up in Humboldt.  It is a pretty small "city" (officially it's a city but to me it is definitely a small town) of around 5 or 6000 people.  I had some fun times there growing up but some pretty hard times too - when you live in a small town and you go through a tough time as most teenagers do where you don't really have any close friends/people are bullying you, it's not as if you can just pick up and switch high schools.  And sometimes it's nice to know everyone, but mostly for me it really sucked knowing everyone - when you know everyone the possibility isn't really there to always be meeting new people and making new friends.  Once you know everyone, you're sort of done.  Someone new might move to town every once in a while but it's definitely not the same as living in a city where every time you start a new job or class or club, it's a completely new experience right down to the people you share it with.

The next points don't really fit in anywhere in this "small towns suck" rant, but I'm done with that for now.  Because my parents still live in town I get to hear all the happenings of Humboldt and to be honest they are often pretty endearing... but in the way where I think awww that's cute but I'm still glad I got out of there.

I have maintained for a while that the point for me that completely sums up why I am not really into Humboldt is the fact that everyone from there seems to think that Original Joe's is the absolute BEST restaurant in Saskatoon.  Like I'm not joking.  If you're not from Saskatoon or somewhere that has one, Original Joe's is a pretty mediocre chain restaurant not too much unlike Montana's except you have to be 19 to get in.  I went a couple years ago because everyone from Humboldt kept telling me how AMAZING the food was and that every time they knew someone who was going to "the city" they would make them bring them back food from Original Joe's.  I'm not kidding.  I thought the food was okay but not good enough to drag me back, and this was even before I was into food and fine dining like I am now.  Original Joe's though.  The best food people from Humboldt have ever eaten or would ever be comfortable enough to try.  Sort of funny.  Sort of sad.

My favourite recent Humboldt story that my dad told me took place on Moonlight Madness - a Thursday night (I think they changed it to Friday this year, major scandal) during the Christmas season where all the local businesses have big sales on certain items to get everyone out and shopping.  This year Extra Foods offered eggs for $1 and butter for $2.  According to my dad, dozens of people lined up outside of Extra Foods waiting to get their cheap butter and eggs, and it was really fun.  Hahahahaha I love it.  How can that not make you sort of wish you were from a small town, maybe just for Moonlight Madness so you could wait in line for $1 eggs with the rest of the community?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Girl Ice Cream Pail

On the note of SLEEP: Round One and the state of waking up thinking something you dreamed was an amazing idea only to realize later that it was the dumbest thing ever, my sisters reminded me today of a "joke" that came to me in a dream a few years ago.  For whatever reason (which I am thankful for) it was one of the rare "dream ideas" that I actually remembered and still remember the dream vividly.

Now before I launch into this incredible joke, I have to describe how I felt during and after the dream.  I dreamed it as if I was there, but knew it was a joke, and then in the dream started thinking about how hilarious and clever the joke was.  Like seriously, it was comedy gold.  Then I woke up, went over the joke a few times in my head, agreed with my dream self that it was indeed still comedy gold, and began imagining how famous I would get and how hilarious everyone would think I was because of this joke.  It was going to change my life.  It was going to change the very face of comedy itself.

A few minutes later, I realized that the following joke wasn't exactly as humourous I initially thought.

There was a human man whose parents were both lizards.  One day they sat him down at the kitchen table.  "Son," said the lizard father, "we wanted to tell you that we are having another baby."

Because the lizards were very wrinkly, they kind of looked like old people.  "What do we want another old lady around here for?" asked the son, annoyed.

"No son," said the father, "we're not having another lizard.  We're having a GIRL ICE CREAM PAIL!!!"

Ba-dum-bum-CHING

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SLEEP: Round One

You know how sometimes you think of things in a dream or when you are extremely groggy, and think it's an amazing idea for a while after waking up, and maybe sometimes even write it down, and then realize later that it was actually stupid or didn't make sense?  I love those times.  I need to start writing down more of those "ideas" because usually pretty quickly after I realize they are stupid, I forget them.

When I am at work I have to get up at 5 AM every morning so I usually go to bed around 9 so I can get in 7 or 8 hours of sleep.  The best part of this is that I often wake up between 10 and 12 to go to the bathroom, think that it's morning, check the time and realize I still have almost the entire night left for more sleeping.  It is seriously awesome.  Anyway, during one of these times last week I checked the time, saw that it was 10:15 PM, and said to myself "SLEEP:  Round One."  I don't really understand now what it means but it just popped into my head and at the time in my half-asleep state, I thought it was the actual most clever thing I'd ever thought of.  As I walked to the bathroom I kept high-fiving myself for thinking of something so smart and perfectly descriptive of waking up at 10 and realizing there are 7 more possible sleep hours ahead.  SLEEP:  Round One.  I kid you not, I started composing a blog post in my head about SLEEP:  Round One.

Then I woke up in the morning and remembered SLEEP: Round One and decided that it didn't make any sense.  Well maybe sort of sense... but not so much that it's any kind of genius phrase.

Half-asleep people are really funny.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tripod

Where I work, there is a three-legged fox named Tripod.  He just tripods around on his three good legs with his shriveled up gimpy leg just sort of hanging there.  He used to hang out at the mine two years ago but now has migrated over to the mill, which is about 30 km away.  On three legs.  Without getting eaten.

I LOVE HIM.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Actual Cart Full of Celery

So today I went to Sobeys to do some serious grocery shopping because last time I was home I was lazy and it was cold so I didn't get groceries and thus did not have any delicious meals all week, and it was sucky.  Just my luck, it was Dollar Days which means a lot of things that are usually between 2 and 3 or even 4 dollars are on for 1 dollar.  Allyson is a big celery fan so she had circled the $1 celery in the flyer for me.

I got to Sobeys and went straight to the produce, grabbing some pears, tomatoes, an avocado, and a pomegranate before checking out the celery... just as a mom with a toddler in the cart walked away with her ENTIRE CART FULL OF CELERY.  WTF.  AN ACTUAL CART FULL OF CELERY.

Are you kidding me?  What does a person do with a whole cart full of celery?  It's CELERY.  It's like 95% water or something.  It doesn't freeze well.  It's not possible for a mom and her toddler to eat a cart full of celery before it goes bad, nor is it part of a well balanced diet if all you eat is celery for two weeks.  I just can't imagine why anyone would need all of that celery.

She did leave one crappy bundle, with about 3 skinny stalks on it, probably so if someone came up when she was loading up her cart with ALL THE CELERY IN THE STORE and said "Hey, can you please leave some celery for me and my kids too" she could be like "There is one, see, I am not taking all if it, so there".

Needless to say I did not get any celery.

COME ON.  A WHOLE CART OF CELERY.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Many Big Box Stores Does it Take to Sell Me a Working Laptop?

So luckily my parents don't really know how to use the internet well enough to ever stumble across my blog so I feel like this is a safe enough place to talk about something related to their Christmas present.  My sisters and I are planning to get them a laptop to replace their 10-year-old barely-working OTV-built CRT-monitored dinosaur that they are scared to turn on because they're worried it is going to get a virus or crash or break the internet.

What I'm looking for is a 15.6" laptop under $400 with decent enough specs that it will stay relatively fast for several years.  And something that works, preferably.

Unfortunately, obtaining this laptop is easier said than done.  Upon doing a bit of research into laptop prices for what I want comparing local big-box chains vs. ordering online (Dell, Lenovo), the local places seemed to offer the best prices so I decided to go against my principles and buy a computer from Best Buy or Future Shop.

What principles?  Back in the good old days of 2005 I had an excellent experience with Future Shop's impeccable customer service.  There was a printer I wanted that was on sale, it was -40 outside, I drove a 1991 Chevy Sprint, and it was the last day of the sale and the printer was not available in store (according to the website) so I wanted to call and find out if I could get a rain check on the printer instead of risking my life to drive down to the store.  If I remember correctly I had to phone them about 20 times (no exag) before a 15 year old from customer service answered the phone 15 minutes before the store closed and told me I couldn't get a rain check over the phone, I had to come into the store within the next 15 minutes.  In the end I found out the printer was available at Staples for a price match and ditched my Future Shop rain check because I hate Future Shop.  I vowed never to go back.

I have since bought a few things from FS but nothing big and I hate myself every time I do.

Anyway back to the laptop saga.  On Sunday I went into Best Buy because I hate FS (even though they're the same company?), picked out a $400 Acer, the sales associate went to check if it was in stock and then proceeded to physically search all of the laptop storage cabinets for about 10 minutes (no exag) before finally saying "Yeah.... we don't have it in stock.  Sorry.  You can buy it online if you want."  WHAT?  Are you telling me your Geek Squad-written software that tells you what you have in stock was WRONG, or did someone hide all the laptops?  Either way, great sales skills.  He didn't even TRY to sell me a nearly identical Compaq model, just please go away I don't like people ahhhhhhh why does everyone ask me questions at my job selling computersssss

The next morning I checked out the FS website at about 8:45 and noticed there was a sale on the above mentioned Compaq for $300!!! until 9 AM.  I did some quick Googling to make sure it was the same model and that the reviews seemed solid and started going through the process.  I started typing in all of my info around 8:58 and was still entering info (there were about 5 steps to complete the ordering process) slightly after 9 but the price had not changed from $300 so I figured I was still going to get the sale price.  I submitted my order at 9:05 and as soon as I clicked that button, the price that was charged to my credit card changed to $350.  WTF Future Shop, thanks for tricking me.  I called customer service who said it was because the website takes a few minutes to update their prices when the sale ends so that's why it was still saying I was going to get the cheaper price.  SERIOUSLY I was 5 minutes over.  You can't just give me the sale price?  I was looking for my credit card which is why I was late.

Anyway long story short I decided that despite this stupidity, $350 was still the cheapest price I was going to get so went to the store to pick it up.  Brought it home, turned it on, and the display was bright red and super pixely.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME Future Shop.  After all that.

So I went back to FS for the second time that day, stood in line for customer service for 10 minutes, then found out I should be standing in the computer service line.  The tech guy had a look and was like "oh yeah this is broken" so I exchanged for a new one, had a feeling that maybe I should try it out in the store to make sure it also wasn't broken, shrugged it off, took it home, turned it on, red screen, back to Future Shop.

AGAIN.

"I'm really sorry... this isn't a good impression of our store..."  YA THINK??  I did a straight-up return and vowed never to shop at Future Shop again.  This time I will try to hold myself to that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hole in the Wall

A couple years ago my friend Jess told me about a restaurant near Saskatoon called Hole in the Wall.  According to her it was the fanciest place around with the best food around too.  It was pretty expensive so she had gone a couple times on very special occasions.  I was really interested in checking it out so last year for Brahm's birthday I registered us both in a cooking class at the restaurant - 80 bucks a person got you cooking lessons, a 5 course meal, 2 glasses of wine, recipes, and an apron.  Pretty reasonable for all that!  But this year when my birthday rolled around we decided to try the other Hole in the Wall experience of just sitting and eating for 4 hours - and it was AWESOME.

Hole in the Wall has tasting menus which allow a party of two (or more) to choose 3 appetizers and 2 or 3 main courses off the menu, which really there can't be a better way to do things when you go there.  Now, sit back and enjoy my sort of crappy low-light photos of our evening at Hole in the Wall.

First, we started off with some insanely good jalapeno cornbread.  Wow... this stuff was amazing.  And this is just the free bread.


Next came our three appetizer choices:


Can't remember the Spanish name but these are goat cheese-stuffed prunes wrapped in bacon.  WOW.  So rich.  So amazing.  Definitely our favourite appetizer.  Oh maaaan those were so good.


We decided to be adventurous and try the spiced chicken livers.  Brahm had never eaten liver and I had eaten it as a kid and liked it (my parents called it "brown meat") until I found out that it was liver and kids were supposed to hate liver, so I refused to eat it anymore.  These were really good though!


Our final appetizer was grilled scallops in parmesan cheese and brandy.  Really really good!  Starting with the bacon wrapped goat cheese prunes may have been a bad choice though because seriously, what could top that?  We would soon find out.

Next came the soup - cream of butternut squash.  So good!  I kept forgetting about taking pictures of the presentation and starting to eat and then remembering.


You can also see the delicious sangria in the background behind my water glass.  I enjoyed the fact that the sangria I had made in the summer in my first attempt and never having tasted it before tasted pretty similar!  Thus, I clearly know how to make a good sangria.

Next came the salad which I totally forgot to take a picture of.  It was mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, a guacamole dressing, and finished with a jumbo shrimp.  I have tried to like shrimp... but I just don't so I passed mine on to Brahm but the rest of the salad was excellent!

What I love about fancy restaurants and getting a multi-course meal is the palate-cleansing sorbet you get between appetizers and entrees.  Classy much?  We are so classy.  The sorbets of the evening were strawberry and lemon.


Everything on the entree menu looked so insane, it was hard to pick just three.  Once again we decided to be  a little adventurous and try something new, so we ordered roasted quail:


Which was okay... I didn't love it.  But I'm glad I tried it anyway.  They are just tiny little guys with not very much meat on them!  Sort of weird.  But tasty.  Maybe there is a trick to eating them that I don't know about.

Next were a couple of safer choices that we did know what they were all about:


Salmon with a dill sauce!  Salmon should always have a dill sauce.  You can't go wrong with salmon+dill!  Yumm!  It had a crispy layer on top where it had been pan fried, so delish.

And finally, OMGOMGOMG we chose the item on the menu that was listed as "the house specialty" and WOW, I can definitely see why.  These ribs were hands down the BEST I have ever eaten in my life, by about 50 landslides.  Wow.  I can't stop thinking about them.


SO GOOD.  So good.  Like seriously... SO GOOD.  We wrapped up the last 4 because we were starting to get full and I took them home and the next day at lunch I wasn't very hungry so I was like "well... I will just have 2 ribs now and eat the other ones later when I am hungrier" but then when I realized I was basically licking the plate and sucking on the bones I heated up the other two as well and kept telling my sister, who was in the other room, that these were the best ribs I've ever had in my life oh maaaaan these are so good ahhhhh.  So good.

A few times throughout the meal the chef, Nelson Urteaga, came and visited with us.  He recognized us from the cooking class last March and was SO sincerely happy for us that we had since graduated from engineering and had found jobs.  He told us he was going to come have a drink with us after dessert because finishing engineering was a cause for celebration.  Awww!  What a nice man.  You could tell he really loves what he does and cares about his customers.  He asked us what dessert we had made in the cooking class (I think to make sure we didn't get the same one that night) and asked us if we liked creme brulee, if he could make that for us.


And once again, easily the best creme brulee I've ever had... I would call myself a creme brulee expert to any extent but I could just tell that this is what really well-made creme brulee tastes like.  It was light and not too sweet and just a perfect way to end an amazing 4 hours of eating.

Unfortunately Chef Nelson got a little too busy in the kitchen to sit down with us after but still sent us out some complimentary Baileys and came over once again to congratulate us for being finished school and thank us for coming in.

It was an excellent and delicious evening at Hole in the Wall.  We left feeling full but not disgustingly stuffed.  I already can't wait to go back!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rain Barrel

My sisters and I learned to not be afraid of swimming in a rain barrel.  It was the rain barrel at my grandparents' house in Saskatoon.  During the summer my grandpa would fill it with warm water and I would spend an entire afternoon splashing around in this tiny barrel.

I don't remember clearly the first time I dunked my head, but I do remember that it was in that barrel and I felt so excited and empowered and brave, and I made sure my grandpa watched me do it again several times to prove I'd done it.  After that, all I wanted to do was stand in the rain barrel all day and dunk my head, holding my breath for a few seconds, plugging my nose, over and over.  I thought I had learned to swim.



Not entirely sure where the tube came into play... but I love this memory because it reminds me of how such a simple thing can be such an immense joy for a small child.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OH MAN OH MAN

POUTINESICLES

GROSS hahahaha

Things that would be really gross if you made them into popsicles

  • Cream of mushroom soupsicles
  • Spaghetti and meat saucicles
  • Ketchupsicles
  • Mustardsicles
  • Mayosicles
  • Thousand Island dressingsicles
  • Ranchsicles
  • Any salad dressingsicles really
  • Potato soupsicles with corn in it
  • Oatmealsicles
  • Scrambled eggsicles
  • Gravysicles
  • Grated cheesicles
  • Cottage cheesicles

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Giant M&M

When I was 5 and my sister was 3 (give or take a year) my dad took us to this special children's concert at the Ex or possibly the Children's Festival on a Saturday morning.  I believe you had to pre-buy tickets so they knew exactly how many kids there were going to be, as throughout the concert the performers would take breaks and draw names for a bunch of different prizes.  Every kid there won a prize, and most kids got goody bags with colouring books, those little Crayola crayon packages, some stickers, that kind of stuff.

I think Allyson won one of the goody bags, which is what I really wanted.  I loved getting to open goody bags and discover all of the new stuff I got.  As the concert wore on, my name still wasn't called.  They were running out of goody bags!  There were only 5 left on the stage!  There were no more goody bags left!  Was I going to be the only kid at the show who didn't win a prize?  This was not shaping up to be a good day.  All I wanted were my freaking red/yellow/green/blue/black Crayolas and some stickers.

Then suddenly they announced The Big Prize was about to be drawn for.  It was the last prize and apparently it was the one all the kids wanted.  Not me.  I didn't care.  I just wanted the goody bag.  One of the event volunteers walked onto the stage carrying...


He is now missing an eyebrow.  We tried to sell him multiple times at garage sales but alas, he still lives in my parents' basement.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Texts From My Mom v. II

Is it already time for another installment of Texts From My Mom?  Yes, yes it is.

The story here is that this afternoon Brahm and I drove out to Humboldt to go to a turkey supper at my parents' church.  All the food is donated and cooked by members of the congregation.  Also, this summer part of the highway was shut down between Saskatoon and Humboldt because it was under water so now there is some construction in that zone.

November 6, 2010

>i need 2 make 2 pies 4 tomorrow i have all the stuff 2 make them
(Me:  what kind of pies are you making?)
>i have canned pumpkin
>they r widening the hiway where the water overflowed
>Theres a bit of construction there roughrider game on now hope they win already lost 4 in a row

November 7, 2010

>We will b atthe church at 345 there is 1 lane traffic at the water not a problem but just so u no u might c ed smith* [*name changed] flying in his plan
(Then, a text received as I am driving on the highway in time to get there by 3:45, read at the church)
>Drive slow starts at 415 i wont b there til about 4
(Me:  Well we are here now)
>We at the church come

Bold represents one of the best texts I have ever received.  We did not see Ed flying in his plan, unfortunately.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Cheese

My sister Allyson, sitting on the couch eating celery and cheese:

"Uh oh, I think I lost a piece of cheese."

Shakes out the blanket she is under, looks on the floor and the couch, wanders into her bedroom.

"Oh never mind, it's on my bed!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DavidsTea Obsession Update

fWhen my recent online order comes in I will own 15 different varieties of loose leaf tea from DavidsTea.

I am SO addicted and I am never drinking bagged tea again.  Okay maybe... like I will take all my boxed stuff to work with me and drink it there or something.  But seriously.  It is so insanely good.  I don't even want to drink coffee ever again either because DavidsTea even has some tea/coffee blend type drinks (tea with coffee beans in it!) that are pretty excellent as well.  It is probably good that Saskatoon doesn't have one because I would be in there every day spending all my money.

I texted Yasmine, the friend/co-worker who introduced me to DavidsTea in the summer, today and told her that she has created a monster.  But as addictions go I think this one is pretty okay.

Seriously, go to the website and tell me you don't want to try every variety.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Texts from My Mom

You may remember that my mom loves texting.  She has recently developed the habit of replacing as many words as possible with letters or numbers, which make her already amusing texts even better.  So, in light of this development, I have decided to start a new blog feature called

TEXTS FROM MY MOM

My mom on the weather:

>Its so icy u can hardy walk on the sidewalks but on tue when u come home it supposed 2 b 10 4 a few days
>Seems 2 b nicer there than here
>R u going 2 bed now

My mom's Halloween costume:

>I have a witch costume on that i made out of black garbage bags me hot
>Its really cool i pulled the bottom of the skirt 2 make it look ragged and gathered the skirt with packing tape u would b proud if u saw it

My mom on biking and her weekend activities:

>Rode my bike 2 work scary cause roads r icy and bumpy but calm and fresh
>Went 2 mamma mia yesterday it was nice weather 12 said the van
(Me:  did you get any trick or treaters?)
>No at mamma mia in afternoon got home at 730 didn't see any but your house had a person ally carved a jackolantern put it on the step with a candle it looked cool in the dark
>Wish me luck riding the bike home on the treacherous humboldt streets maybe they melted during the day ill let u know how they r im sure u r dying 2 no haha
>Leaving now
>Made it melted lots since this am still scary tho lots traffic on 12th

My mom keeping up with my eating habits:

>Whats 4 lunch
(Me: I had soup and salad)
>Where r u going 4 supper
>Soup and salad good lunch
>Riding home 4 lunch roads good now not eating here depends whos cooking

And finally, a Tip of the Day:

>How r u enjoying your day wayne just told me about a website called dropbox.com he said its his tip of the day

I have to say I am getting sooo glad my mom knows how 2 text.  This daily amusement is so awesome haha.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Added Touch

You may remember the time Hammacher Schlemmer was trying to sell me a two million dollar submarine.  Well, lately it seems that they have shared my address with several other catalogues (all from the same mail-order service address in Oakville, ON) and some of these catalogues seem to now think that I'm not a high rolla anymore, but a grandmother.

The latest catalogue I've been receiving (and I called to have my name taken off the list, don't worry) is called The Added Touch.  If you would like to laugh at some stuff, check out their website.  However I have found a few items that really represent the overall feel of the catalogue so that you can see what I mean by they think I'm a grandmother.

The Added Touch seems to specialize in things old ladies might wear, furniture old ladies might buy, figurines old ladies might put in their china cabinets, and stupid gifts old ladies might buy for their unfortunate grandchildren.  Listen, I love grandparents to death but sometimes they don't always realize that kids don't have the same taste in placemats and crystal unicorns as they do.

Let's start our journey into The Added Touch with a set of wine stoppers with adorable puppies on top:

For only $16.99 plus shipping and handling you could own one of these hand painted resin canines!  GUARANTEED if I ever own one of those dog breeds my grandma will buy me one of these or something very similar.  GUARANTEED.

Next, we have something just perfect for entertaining at your holiday party:

I don't know about you but I would not spend 70 bucks on a pair of pyjamas, let alone wear them to a party.  Yikes.

Next:  feeling like your current vanity stool needs a little glamming up?

It sort of looks like one of those cakes where a Barbie is poking out the top of a giant icing skirt, don't you think?

I like cats.  We all like a cute kitten, right?  Well WHAT IF you could hear a cat meowing EVERY TIME you took a sip of your morning coffee?

Now you can, people, now you can.

And finally, I KNOW you have been stressing about what dress to wear this weekend:

RELAX.

Almost tempted to keep getting these... almost.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baby Pumpkins!


Cuuuuuuuuuuute!  Baby pumpkins!  As Sherri described, "The middle one is so happy.  The one on the right is so proud of his teeth.  And the one on the left maybe has a cold sore, but he's still happy."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Best Breakfast Burritos

I've been on a bit of a breakfast burrito kick for the last few weeks when I've been home, and today I definitely made the best ones yet.  You MUST try this out for yourself - I was actually amazed at how good it tasted with no salt, almost no seasoning, and no meat or onions.

Usually I do put in some green onions or onion powder but today I forgot, and I sort of thought that any scramble or omelette was not complete without ham or some other breakfast meat... but I don't think I'll ever go back!

My recipe for the best breakfast burritos ever:

In a small frying pan, grate a small potato into some hot olive oil, fry until it is crispy.
Add some chopped green and red peppers, mushrooms, and diced fresh tomatoes.  Season with a bit of pepper.  Stir until veggies are cooked to your liking.
Add eggs and scramble.
Separate the pan mixture into "sections" for however many burritos you are going to make.  Put a slice of cheddar cheese onto each pile of ingredients.  Cover with a lid to melt the cheese.
Heat a whole wheat tortilla in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Fill with the burrito mixture and wrap.

So good!  The eggs absorb all of the juices from the cooked peppers and mushrooms and tomatoes and everything goes together so well.  You COULD add ham or bacon or sausage but in my experienced opinion meat doesn't blend as well with these flavours and takes away from it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grandma stuff

One time when there was a family gathering at my grandma's house she poured all of the grandkids a glass of milk and then casually mentioned that because we are kids we shouldn't be drinking skim milk (note:  we are all over 18, most of us in our 20s) so she makes us 1% milk by mixing skim with half-and-half cream.

Well, I have a math degree so I am going to do a few fancy calculations here.  Let's assign a percentage of 1 to skim milk (because you can't take an average of something and zero) and half and half, which is 15%, then becomes 16% if we up the fat content by 1 of everything else after skim.  The average of 1 and 16 is ACTUALLY 8.5, not 2, which would correspond to 1% milk.  MATH FACTS MATH FACTS

Something else very important to my grandma is that the Ellen DeGeneres show is always winning the Emmy for best talk show, but it's a VARIETY show, not a talk show.  Oprah and Dr. Phil are talk shows.  Ellen is a variety show.  So she should NOT be winning the Emmy every year for best talk show. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Follow Up to the Greatest Picture Ever Taken



"Sidney?"

I really wish he would have said "Nice bread" or something baaahahahahahaha oh man funniest everrrrr

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tea Presents

Something really great that I do sometimes is make tea and then forget that I made it.  I can't drink it right away because it's too hot, so I might leave it on the counter or coffee table or something and the sucky timez of this are when I forget about it and remember when it's gotten cold so I have to heat it up in the microwave.

But the BEST is when I remember I made it and find it again and it's exactly the right temperature.  Not too hot so that I can only take tiny sips but not quite on the road to lukewarm either.  This is awesome because a) it's like getting a present of tea that someone else made for me because I totally forgot the work I put into boiling the water and putting tea in the cup and b) it's not only a great tea present but it's tea that I can drink right away.

Tea is the best.  Coffee is sort of gross and makes me feel sick, unless it is good coffee from McQuarries or a real coffee shop and not Tim Hortons or Starbucks where they pump in sugar syrup so I can't even taste the coffee.  This year I became a little bit of a coffee drinker after not ever touching coffee during university except the one night I stayed up all night doing a thermodynamics lab, but it didn't really stick.  I'll drink it if I have a chance to have some good coffee but I won't drink it just for the sake of drinking something and getting caffeine.  Woooo

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Splurging

Last week at work, everyone was like "So, what are you going to blow your first paycheque on?" which was not something I planned to do.  By the end of the week they had talked me into buying a DSLR camera, which is something that I have always thought I would like to have, but by the time I got home I decided to wait that one out for the time being.

I have never been a big spenda, no matter what Hammacher Schlemmer and their two million dollar submarines might think.  Even when I was a little kid I just kept all my money in a jar in my room.  Birthday money?  I saved it.  My grandparents always got annoyed when they'd ask me what I bought with the 20 dollars they sent me and I just said I saved it.  However by the time I actually started working summer jobs and stuff after high school, thanks to my savings and some graduating scholarships, I had a good chunk of money in the bank to "get ahead" with so that I was always able to not need to work much during school except during the summers.  This was obviously supplemented by living a pretty minimalist lifestyle in regards to buying a lot of stuff and going out, but it worked great for me and somehow all the way through university, even during this last full year of unemployment, I've never really had to stress out about money.  I was still able to buy most of the things I really wanted, go on a few vacations, etc. - I was just really good at figuring out how to stretch and save an approximate $12-15k/year income.

But now that I do have a real-live disposable income, I can't suddenly just change who I am and start spending left right and centre.  Will I eventually buy a DSLR?  Most likely, and probably sometime this year too.   But I remembered that I've had other things I've wanted to purchase for a while and haven't been able to afford, like printing off a bunch of pictures from Europe and getting a painting framed and making a charitable donation.  And I need to get an oil change in my car.  And buy some jeans.  So that will be my splurge, and no doubt some people may roll their eyes at these routine things being the way I "blow" part of my first paycheque, but I just can't bring myself to buy something just for the sake of buying it.  I definitely want that camera and I will buy it, but when I really feel like I want it, not just because I have the money to do so.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Earplugs

I have to wear earplugs a lot for my job, and I have decided that the worst thing about earplugs is that I can almost never get them both in "the same."  One earplug is always plugging my ear better than the other earplug, so then I keep taking out the bad earplug and putting it in better until finally IT is the good earplug, so then I have to adjust the earplug that used to be the good earplug, and this usually goes on until I give up and have one ear way better plugged than the other or hearing protection isn't needed anymore.

Earplugs!  You are so annoying!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some Food I Made

You were missing the food-based entries, weren't you.

Anyway I wanted to talk about a couple of things I made a while ago.  Honestly, probably a month ago... but I took pictures with the intention of blogging about them.

First, homemade chicken soup.  You guys, if you have ever said "I can't make chicken soup from scratch, that is way too hard!" you are so wrong.  I figured out how to do it myself basically, with a tiny bit of help from a cookbook (reading a recipe to get the general idea).  It's super easy.  Furthermore, the way I make guarantees the best soup for even the pickiest people.  No floaty bits, no skin, and I'm guessing not a lot of fat either because I only use white meat.

I don't use a whole chicken either, but you could.  I just buy chicken breasts with back attached and do one of two things - either roast that with potatoes and carrots and eat part of the chicken but not all of it, or just boil it from the get go.  If you boil it right away you need to remove the meat AS SOON as it is done cooking (like 20 minutes about) otherwise all of the flavour will go into the broth and the meat will be tasteless.  This is why I like to roast it instead, and it's an easy way to get a lot of meals out of 6 dollars' worth of chicken.

Once you've got your carcass, remove the skin and put the carcass in about 6-8 cups of water with some celery, peppercorns or pepper, a couple of garlic cloves, a large onion, a few sprigs of fresh parsley, a couple of carrots, and a teaspoon or two of chicken bouillon.  Also add some salt (but you can add this later too when you taste it after it's cooked for a while).  Simmer this for about 4 hours, then skim the fat and strain the broth so you don't have anything gross in there.

Put the broth back into the pot with some chunks of potato, carrot, celery, and the cooked chicken (you can add the chicken at the last minute too to make sure you don't end up stealing the flavour from it).  Cook some noodles in a separate pot.  Boil the soup until the potatoes, carrots, and celery are just tender (don't overcook the potatoes or they will get an almost stringy texture).  Add the noodles, chicken, and some chopped fresh parsley.  Salt to taste and that's all you have to do!  It's actually super easy, really filling, and so delicious:


You could probably do the initial carcass simmering in a slow cooker during the day while you're out so you don't have to be around for the whole process.  Then you get home and have only about a half-hour worth of prep for amazing homemade chicken noodle soup!

Secondly, you may recall me mentioning sour cream salad in an older entry.  Hands down this is my favourite summer meal, and I had to take a picture of the best one I made this summer.  Everything was garden fresh.

All you need is:  romaine lettuce (or green leaf, any dark garden variety that isn't too crunchy - I don't like using mature storebought romaine for this salad), cucumber, dill, and green onions.  Cut them up, mix them up, add a generous amount of salt (this is the only thing I eat that I ever put salt on) and a generous amount of sour cream and I kid you not this is the most delicious salad in the entire world.


This particular salad was especially awesome because the cucumber and lettuce were slightly bitter, which goes really well with the dill, salt, and sweetness of the green onions.  And the sour cream just brings all of the flavours together perfectly.  How do more people not eat this salad, I am not sure.  But it's amazing.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Looking Back

Yesterday I went to the U of S Physics Centennial reunion.  Not that I really needed to go to the reunion to see anyone but the physics department and its professors did a lot for me so I felt like I should go and support the department.  Anyway, a slightly awkward moment happened when everyone from class of 1995-on was supposed to get together and reminisce about the good old days - there were a bunch of people from the late nineties and then a SMALL handful of us from the late 2000s.  We had to go around the circle and introduce ourselves and say our favourite memory.  They made me start so I was put on the spot and couldn't think of any memories right off the top of my head other than just hanging out in the physics foyer with my peeps, and later those peeps basically echoed my same sentiments.

A couple minutes in I remembered that a super awesome time was sitting in the foyer with my friends one day and a girl walked by and puked all over the floor and then ran into the bathroom.  Then suddenly a class from one of the large lecture theatres let out and a bunch of people almost wiped out in the puddle... so gross yet it definitely brightened our day as it gave us something to focus on for a while other than physics.  I didn't bring this up though as some guy from the 90s was already making everyone uncomfortable and awkward by bragging about all the times he got drunk in the physics basement and not letting anyone else talk.

Anyway - one thing my friend Jason said that stuck with me was something like "You look back 7 years and you would never realize at that time that the same people you just randomly get partnered with or meet during a fire drill will still be your friends."  It made me think of all of my current friendships and how they started, and it sort of blows my mind how I remember the first time I met/saw certain people and would NEVER have imagined how much they've influenced my life or just become such important people to me.

On that note, it's kind of fun to go back and trace my histories with certain people.  A lot of people I'm really great friends with now were people I knew for quite a while (several months, even sometimes a few years) before we had some initial trigger (discovering something major in common, working on a project together, etc.) that instantly changed our relationship from acquaintances/co-workers/classmates to full-out BFFs.  With others the friendship started the day we met, while some gradually developed and grew stronger over a course of several years.

It's not as much fun to think of the opposite; friendships that used to exist but don't anymore.  It's something I definitely used to over-analyze but I've since learned to recognize when it's time to (often sadly) let someone go.

Now that I'm just starting a new phase of my life by entering the workforce and being out of school, this is an interesting concept to think about.  Who have I just met who'll somehow change my life down the road?  Thinking back, there's almost always been someone around who turned out to be more significant than I could have ever imagined, and 9 times out of 10 it's never been anyone I've expected.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hey guys I'm not dead

I know I haven't made a post in a while but it's because my new job takes up ALL of my time every second week.  So from now on new posts will be limited to a few every second week - don't un-follow or un-bookmark me!  I'll always come back.

Remember how I was so sad about missing out on meeting Dan Aykroyd?  Well it turns out I have AMAZING friends who are super awesome and brought me the next best thing:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zen

I'm not really that into Starbucks but there are a few locations pretty close to where I live, so it's a place I'll sometimes go to to socialize.  This week I somehow happened to be in the same Starbucks two days in a row - I won't say which one but I will say that my friend's Master's supervisor has "blacklisted" this location as one of the "bad" Starbucks in the city.

I've been to this particular location many times and have never really had trouble with the service - Starbucks coffee just has too much caffeine and makes me super wired and buzzed AND it's ridic expensive so I usually just get tea, and usually green tea.  Sometimes iced.

On my first Starbucks excursion this week, it was a pretty warm day outside so I ordered (STRAIGHT off the menu) a "tall shaken green iced tea."  The woman taking my order looked extremely confused and said "So you just want a green tea?" and I was like "yes, a green tea, but iced" and she looked at me like she didn't understand so I said "It's on the menu" and she said "So just a GREEN TEA - not with lemonade?"  NOOO did I say I wanted lemonade in it?  Those are two different drinks.  I'm not trying to be a big complainy pants but I don't understand why there was so much confusion related to me ordering something verbatim off the menu.

The next day I went back and ordered my usual hot drink, a green tea.  The woman said "China Green Tips or Zen?" which was news to me, I guess Starbucks now has two varieties of green tea?  I asked what the difference was and she very irritatedly explained both in one breath.  All I really heard was the tail end, which was "lemongrass and spearmint" so I said "I'll have that one" thinking that she had only explained one, and she was like "which one?  Zen or China?"  I was getting really confused at this point so I replied "The last one you said" and apparently she had forgotten which order she had said the TWO teas in, so she was getting mad at me again and the woman who was going to actually make the tea had to step in and calm her down (SHE had fully understood what I meant by "the last one").

Hey Starbucks, sorry that I don't come in EVERY DAY and know that you suddenly now have two varieties of green tea that aren't explained anywhere on your menu.  Your menu says that "green, black, or herbal" are the varieties of tea and I have never had a choice of two different green teas before, sorry that I am making your cashiers' jobs SO HARD by asking for information on your products.  Next time I can go somewhere else so I don't stress them out so much.  That's one of the reasons I am not really that into Starbucks - the cashiers (baristas sorry) always seem to be hit and miss with actually being willing to explain what things mean if you don't know EXACTLY what you want (and obviously sometimes still get annoyed even if you order straight off the menu).

I have to say though that the Zen green tea is AWESOME.  Too bad I have to get it at Starbucks.

ALSO, in unrelated news:  today I was on the university campus and for the past few years, during the first few days of classes SaskTel has always had a free mini-donut stand.  I saw it today and was so pumped to go get some free mini donuts when I discovered that this year they are FOUR DOLLARS a bag!  What a rip.  I'm not paying four dollars to clog my arteries.  So much inflation jeepers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sacrifices

I am a week away from the end of my unemployed post-student life.  I finally found a job and it starts on the 14th of September.  I'm kind of nervous, mostly because of the major life change that is about to happen... this is the first fall in 20 years that I haven't started a new year of school.  It's also the first time in my life that I'll be able to be in a situation where it's possible for me to be completely self-sufficient and have disposable income.  But with these perks will come sacrifice, and I experienced the first sacrifice today.

My friend Sherri called in the early afternoon and said that DAN AYKROYD HIMSELF was going to be at the liquor board store signing bottles of his line of wine.  WHAT!  We were so excited to line up super early and be first in line to meet Dan and get a picture with him but then it turned out that he is coming NEXT TUESDAY, not this week, and guess what happens next Tuesday:  I fly out of Saskatoon to start my new job. It was the biggest downer of my day, that's for sure.

And so the sacrifices begin.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Really WestJet???

I have generally always preferred WestJet to Air Canada - their flights are rarely delayed, they have nicer flight attendants, and nicer planes departing out of Saskatoon (Air Canada Jazz = the worst).  Today I was really annoyed to get this email:

Ugh, seriously WestJet?  I have actually made a lot of use out of subscribing to WestJet and Air Canada's weekly newsletters, but I don't want to give WestJet a bunch of my personal information so I can continue receiving it.  I'll just check the Air Canada newsletter and as they usually end up copying WestJet's sales and extending them a couple days later anyway.  And if I miss a sale at WestJet because I don't get the news until a few days later?  Sorry WestJet.  I guess you shouldn't have asked me to sign up for a stupid online profile to keep getting your newsletter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Laundry

So as promised, this is not a blog post about food.

Tonight was super annoying BECAUSE the spin cycle broke on the washing machine at my house.  I spent my evening wringing GALLONS (literally) of water out of a load of t-shirts and underwear because I was too cheap/lazy to finish the load at a laundromat or friend's house.  Except the lazy part isn't really legit because I got a big workout from all the wringing.  And now my hands are sort of raw and I almost developed blisters.  And halfway through I saw that there was about 4 inches of water at the bottom of the laundry basket, so tried to dump that out into the bathtub, but forgot about the part that it's a BASKET with holes in the sides so I actually dumped all of that water all over the bathroom floor.

Did I ever mention that I'm really smart, because I am.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

GCC and the TRUTH about dining out

Okay I promise I'm not trying to turn this into a food blog... but food is one of my favourite things.  Not just to eat, but especially to learn about and create myself.  So it's inevitable that a lot of posts on here are going to revolve around food.  As will today's, but it will also revolve around my AMAZING DRAWING SKILLS as well, so if you like food and love my drawings, this should make your day.

Last night Brahm and I went to GCC at the Delta Bessborough in Saskatoon.  We were at the hotel for a wedding a few months ago and the reception room was adjacent to the restaurant, so it caught my eye on our way out.  The amazing menu was posted near the entrance and I made a mental note to go there ASAP.

I really regret not taking pictures of our meals - the presentation was always beautiful and I would love to be able to relive the memory of that meal through photos.  However I did not, and it sort of sucks to just have to describe a meal without any pictures, so for your viewing pleasure I have recreated the dishes we were served in MS Paint.  You're welcome, you're welcome.

GCC has a couple of awesome meal options - build a 3 course meal for $39 or a 4 course meal (soup + appetizer + entree + dessert) for $46.  We both opted for the 3 course meal since the whole deal also included a lot of bread, a palate cleanser, and an amuse bouche.

That's right, an amuse bouche.  Basically an amuse bouche is a pre-appetizer appetizer.  And it is a French word, which means it is SUPER CLASSY.  Guys, I know you are always wondering how classy I am, and your answer is:  I sometimes go to restaurants where they serve you amuse bouches and palate cleansers.

This amuse bouche was pretty amazing - a thin slice of beef tenderloin wrapped around brie cheese and onion, with a demi-glace (basically, gravy).  My bouche was def amused.

Next (or maybe before?  I can't remember it was so much food) we got a couple of artisan breads - a crusty white bread and a super delicious olive bread with regular, paprika, and basil butters:

So basically by now I'd eaten a large snack, and this was just the free stuff!  Good thing it was going to be about a half hour walk home.

The appetizers arrived soon after.  I ordered the goat cheese souffle (more classy French) with grape jelly and Brahm ordered the stuffed tomato - tomatoes with feta, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I'm pretty sure there was a sour cherry compote on that plate too.  The souffle also came with a couple of wedges of toasted olive bread (olive bread is freaking amazing BTW).

Next came another classy thing - the palate cleanser!  It was basically shaved frozen juice - sort of like a sorbet.  Blackberry and passionfruit, with a blackberry topper.
Now that our palates were thoroughly cleansed and we were starting to get full, the main course arrived.  The item on the menu that initially caught my eye and actually made me want to come to GCC in the first place was the wild boar tenderloin - I absolutely love pork tenderloin so I was very curious to try it in its game form.  It was served with a butternut squash puree, sour cherry compote (which went with it perfectly), and some seasonal vegetables (zucchini, carrots, and those little yellow squash things that look like halfs of lemons but taste like zucchini only better).
This picture is sort of sad.  It definitely doesn't do any sort of justice whatsoever to the amazingness of that meal.  What does wild boar taste like?  To me it was sort of like a mix between pork and beef... I can't describe it.  It was DELICIOUS is all I can really say.  Insanely lean, flavourful, and tender.  It might be my new favourite meat.

Brahm ordered a beef tenderloin which came with Yukon Gold potatoes and the same roster of vegetables.  It was also super delicious but here is the best way I can describe the wild boar - I was eating my meal and then he offered me a bite of his steak.  Compared to the boar, the beef seemed bland and tough - which it WASN'T, by any means.  Oh wild boar, I already miss you so much.
At this point, we were both ridiculously full, so we ordered some tea and sat for about 20 minutes before the dessert course.  Which once again was incredible.
Brahm ordered a Grand Marnier creme brulee (French again we are the classiest) and I ordered the blueberry cheesecake (both came with whipped cream and those orange berries with dry leaves - I always call them gooseberries but I think they aren't actually).  I didn't try the creme brulee because I was so full I could only focus on my own dessert, but I heard it was awesome.  And my cheesecake was the best kind of cheesecake - made so light and fluffy that even if you're full, it's too good to not eat and doesn't seem so heavy that you can't keep shoveling it in.  Proper cheesecake, if you will.  Cheesecake you don't experience every day.

The weird thing about this supper was that during the course of the two hours we were there, between 6 and 8 pm, there were only 5 people dining there, including us.  This is something I don't really understand, although it's definitely not an advertised place to my knowledge.  Maybe it's usually full of hotel guests but Wednesday nights are slow?  What I can tell you is that the service was excellent (the chef even came out to ask us how the food was at the end of the evening) and you already know how I feel about the food.

If you're thinking, well maybe it is just too pricey of a place for the average joe to eat, I am here to change that perception.  Here is the view that Brahm and I have adopted regarding dining out, and if you follow it as well I guarantee you'll become a much happier restaurant-goer.

Fact:  in Saskatoon anyway, the "pricier" places really aren't any more expensive than the places that are perceived to be less pricey.  We realized this one evening when we decided to go out for supper at Bliss on Broadway, looked at the menu, saw (on average) $25 entrees, drove to Chili's instead, and still ended up dropping $60 on two incredibly salty entrees and one beer (including tip).  Then a few weeks later we went to Bliss, had AMAZING food, and vowed never to go to another chain again.

Chain restaurants like Moxie's, Chili's, Montana's, Boston Pizza, etc. are places that are somehow perceived to be relatively wallet-friendly, and they can be if you opt to just get a burger or a pasta dish.  (In my opinion though, if you want burgers, you can't beat Fuddruckers.  If you want pasta, go to Chianti's and get pasta and sauce made from scratch rather than out of a plastic bag.  Both of those places will be tastier and easier on the wallet than any of the chains listed above.)  Chances are, once you get to one of those places you'll end up deciding to order a steak, ribs, or fish/chicken breasts (to be healthy haha), and those entrees, even at chains, are going to run you between $22-$30.  Appetizers are going to be at least $8-$12, and dessert is going to be $6-$10.  Add a couple of drinks for $6-$10 each, and supper for two gets really close to $100 really fast.

The truth?  Those are the EXACT same price ranges you'll find at places like GCC and Bliss, but the food won't be as good because it's most likely going to consist of pre-packaged sauces and seasonings, thawed meats, and a deep fried side.  Why would you want to pay that much for something that so little care has gone into creating, when there is a high chance you can pay even LESS for food that has been prepared from scratch, supports local producers, and has less preservatives?  Or even if the local places charge a little more... wouldn't you rather pay an extra 5-10 bucks a person for food you're actually going to savour, enjoy, and tell all your friends about?  The only thing I told people about that $60 meal from Chili's was that it was "okay but really salty and not worth $60."  But here I am writing a lengthy blog post about last night's supper at GCC, which, I might add, came to a grand total of $114.10 including tip for two glasses of wine, two cups of tea, bread, amuse bouches, palate cleansers, AND two 3-course meals of beef tenderloin and wild boar.

Will I be doing this every week?  Of course not.  We probably don't eat out more than once a month, so actually we've spent LESS money on dining out together since adopting this philosophy.  Before, we'd go to chain places 3-4 times a month, now, we cook at our houses and "save up" for special meals out.  My eyes have been opened to so many new things since changing my view of dining out to "experiencing" rather than just "eating."  Try this.  I guarantee you'll have no regrets and you'll never want to go to Chili's again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Homemade Pop!

Yesterday I mentioned The Kitchn and how it was a great website except for the fact that it was promoting putting corn in desserts (baaaarfffff).  Today though I'd like to talk about one of the awesome things The Kitchn inspired me to do, and you should definitely try it as well!  You really have no excuse not to, it's so easy.

The thing I want to talk about is making homemade soft drinks, without the use of any type of fancy CO2 injector.  !!!!!  Who knew you could do this?  I normally dislike pop a lot because it is just so disgustingly sweet.  I'd already figured out how to make potato chips at home, was it really possible to make a whole pop-and-chips combo for less than 25 cents without leaving my kitchen?

It all started with this article - a recipe for "easy homemade ginger ale."  I was intrigued!  Basically if you don't want to click that link, all you need is some tap water, a pinch of yeast (I used instant yeast and it worked just fine), sugar, ginger, and lemon juice.  Mix it all up, seal it for a day or two, chill, and serve!  The science behind it:  the yeast interacts with the sugar and ferments, creating the carbonation.  Since you only use a bit of yeast, the resulting alcohol content is much too low to actually have any sort of effect on the taste, and if you use the correct amount of yeast you shouldn't be able to taste it either.

I researched a bit more on the internet just to make sure The Kitchn wasn't pulling my leg.  Sure enough, may websites had similar recipes and also suggested it as a way for making cream soda (replace the ginger and lemon juice with vanilla) and root beer (use root beer extract for the flavouring agent).  Neat!  Having all of the ingredients for ginger ale and cream soda, I decided to give it a try.

When I cook and bake I am definitely not an "ingredient measurer," which didn't entirely work to my advantage for my first couple tries at the ginger ale - I used a little too much yeast which caused the mixture to ferment too fast and the liquid to be slightly flat with a pretty distinctive yeasty flavour and aftertaste.  Still, it mostly tasted like ginger ale and now that I know the correct proportions (the cream soda worked perfectly), I'll definitely make this again.

My successful batch of cream soda happened like this:

In a 500 mL plastic bottle, shake together:

3 tbsp sugar (or more if you like it super sweet)
Approximately 2 small finger pinches of yeast (about 1/16 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla (or more if you want a really distinct flavour - I find subtle flavour and sweetness more refreshing)
Fill with cool tap water (not totally full - I left at least an inch of room from the water line to the neck of the bottle)
Seal the bottle

Leave at room temperature for a couple of days - until the bottom of the bottle starts to poke out and you can't squeeze the bottle anymore (the cream soda took about 3 days).  Then put in the fridge for another day to stop the fermentation process.  Don't use glass bottles or jars - they could explode if too much gas builds up inside.

Unless you have a really fine strainer (I don't), when you pour the liquid out of the bottle you'll probably have to dump an inch or two of liquid at the end (it will have mixed with the yeast that has settled at the bottom of the bottle and be murky and gross). 

Photographic evidence!


Cream soda in a glass (you can see what I mean by having to discard the murky last bit in the bottle behind it).  The bottle is slightly tipped because the bottom has "popped out" from the gas buildup inside.


Closeup of the carbonation!  It worked!  My next experiment might be to use even less yeast to see if it builds up more fizz.  This attempt was good but it could use a bit more.  Also I think this experiment yielded enough success to warrant buying some root beer extract.

Hooray!  Pop that is basically healthy ;)  More importantly, pop that I can control the sugar content and might actually enjoy drinking!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Corn Ice Cream

I'm not really that into corn as an ingredient.  I love corn on the cob and popcorn and sweet niblets (what a stupid name though) - I'm saying that I like corn on its own as a side dish, but not IN the side dish.  I don't really like corn in soup (although if the soup is good, I can tolerate it) or tacos or on salads or just mixed in with other things in general (KFC Chicken Bowls - baaarf), and the thought of creamed corn is almost too disgusting to think about.

I think it's the texture - corn kernels often have a pretty tough "skin" on them unless they are straight off of a young cob.  When corn is mixed in with other things, for example in soup or a salad or something, it's quite possibly going to be the last thing left in your mouth when you've already chewed up all of the other ingredients.  I guess what I mean is that it just doesn't seem to mix well and that sort of grosses me out.  It's got nothing to do with the taste.

So anyway a few weeks ago I started subscribing to a great food and cooking blog called The Kitchn.  I learned lots of great things from it already and tried a few recipes to great success... but today, The Kitchn royally grossed me out with this article.

"Trend Watch:  Corn in Desserts"

And then there is this SICK DISGUSTING picture of a cup of ice cream with CORN sprinkled on top!  Ughhh gross AND THEN EWWW there was a RECIPE for corn ice cream and it's a trend????  Hey trend, please don't come to Canada.

Yummmm hey guys do you know what would make this creamy ice cream even better?  If it had bits of FROZEN CORN KERNELS in it.  I better stop writing so I don't vomit all over my keyboard.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tim Horton's Iced Coffee

Okay so yesterday I commented that Tim Horton's Iced Coffee was the winner in the least amount of sugar competition for sweetened coffee drinks.

Today I sort of wanted a lot of iced coffee, and I have previously ordered the Tim Horton's variety and enjoyed it.  Today I ordered a large and YUCK, I seriously had to dump half of it out because I just couldn't drink it.  According to the nutritional calculator there is 20 g of sugar in the large iced coffee, but it definitely tasted like a lot more.  I honestly couldn't even taste the coffee.  SICK.

I'm not entirely sure if the iced coffees are being made differently since I've had them last, or if the increased amount of sugar in the large iced coffee (I usually just get a small or medium) is actually that much more noticeable.  But seriously, this experience has definitely turned me off of ordering iced coffees from there in the future, unless they just give me a cup of brewed coffee on ice and let me add my own amount of sugar.  BARF it was so gross.  I literally couldn't taste the coffee.  I want my $2 back.

EDIT:  I just remembered that McDonald's has dece iced coffee.  Or it did like 2 years ago anyway.  Note to self: go there next time I want iced coffee and can't make it at home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More on sugar content

Instead of editing my last post, I wanted to go a little bit further in comparing cotton candy to other things.  I really only mentioned a couple of types of candy, and some people don't eat candy.  I also mentioned juice, and some people don't drink juice OR might argue that the sugar in juice is more naturally occurring and can't really be compared to the straight-up sugar of cotton candy.

I can guarantee though that everyone reading this drinks beverages from Starbucks or Tim Horton's, at least on some level.  Maybe regularly, maybe only as much as one might partake in cotton candy.  But to further my defense of cotton candy as an okay indulgence, I present some nutritional info straight off the Starbucks and Tim's websites.

I'm just going to go into sugar content for the sake of defending cotton candy, but it's obvious that adding cream (and whipped cream) to any of these beverages raises the saturated fat content pretty quickly too.


Starbucks

  • Tall Caramel Macciato - 23 g sugars (keep in mind this is the tall size - does anyone actually only drink the tall beverages except me?)
  • Tall White Chocolate Mocha with NO whipped cream - 44 g sugars (go Venti and you're looking at 73 g)
  • Grande Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino (Blended) - 37 g sugars
  • Tall Hot Chocolate - 32 g sugars (and if you check a few beverages, removing the whipped cream only gets rid of 1 g of sugar)
  • Tall Caramel Apple Spice - 53 g sugars!!!!!  IN A TALL holy crap.  Although really what do you expect from apple juice with extra sweeteners added
  • Tall Tazo Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade - 25 g sugars
Tim Hortons

(I have to say, I really like the way this nutrition calculator works - you can easily see everything you want at once to compare and contrast!)

  • Small Iced Cap - 32 g sugars
  • Small Iced Coffee - 8 g sugars (the winner!)
  • Medium French Vanilla - 31 g sugars
  • Medium Hot Smoothee - 28 g sugars
  • Medium Hot Chocolate - 38 g sugars
  • Medium Cafe Mocha - 24 g sugars
And again, who but me will ever order a medium or small beverage from Tim Horton's?


This time, I do rest my case.  Cotton candy will give you less of a sugar high than a small Iced Cap and almost any of Starbucks' sweet beverages, and it's something you're more likely to share or eat over a longer period of time rather than finish in about 15 minutes.

Cotton Candy:  you're alright.

Cotton Candy: Basically Health Food

My parents brought me a bag of cotton candy from the Saskatoon Exhibition the other day.  I don't eat cotton candy that much, maybe because I've always assumed it is absolutely terrible for you and once I start eating it, I can't stop.

I stretched this bag out over about 3 days and yesterday actually had a look at the label on the bag.  28 g, ingredients:  sugar, artificial flavour, food colouring.

28 g of sugar.  That's real sugar, not glucose-fructose or high fructose corn syrup or any other artificial sweetener.  Compared to 30 g in a Snickers bar, 32 g in a pack of Skittles, or just slightly more sugar than in a glass of fruit juice, 28 g isn't really that bad, is it?  And food colouring, not Red Dye #7 or anything like that.

As for artificial flavour, check out this interesting article from Scientific American - while artificial flavours are indeed created with synthetic compounds, they are essentially a mix of the same compounds nature creates to make the flavour, but omitting the compounds that don't contribute to flavouring or aren't healthy to ingest.  Artificial flavours are often safer than natural flavours AND better for the environment!

So a bag of cotton candy has about as much sugar as a glass of juice, no fat, and no creepy ingredients.  My guess?  Cotton candy is one of the most harmless carnival foods out there.  Woooo!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mac's Frozen Dinner, Wildlife, and the Fort St. John McDonalds

I remember a few months ago when the convenience store Mac's (or Winks as it is known in some areas) started advertising its own line of frozen dinners.  I distinctly remember driving past the Mac's in Saskatoon right before you go onto the University Bridge with Brahm many times and making fun of this fact.  Do people actually buy enough frozen dinners from convenience stores that they could actually justify starting their own line?  We laughed and laughed.  Learn to cook, people.  Make Kraft Dinner or something.

The other night I found myself in an odd predicament.  I was in a very small town in northern Alberta with the closest major centre 40 km away.  All of the grocery stores were closed and the only restaurants were fast food and Subway, which I was starting to get sick of.  Did I dare go to Winks to try and find supper?

I did, fair readers.  I bought an exclusive to Mac's/Winks frozen shepherd's pie for $2.99.  I had sort of been craving shepherd's pie for about a week since not buying it in a cafe earlier and it was the frozen dinner with the lowest amount of sodium in the store (only 38% DV!!!  Haha oh man).

It looked prettier before I mixed the potatoes in with the meat and veggies but here was my hotel room microwave supper that night:


The surprising part is that it was actually pretty good!  It tasted like shepherd's pie.  Obviously a bit salty but still, it tasted like food and not freezerburn or rubber.  As well the ingredient list was pretty natural.  Who knew?

Mac's frozen dinners:  hopefully will never have to buy again but if I'm ever in the same predicament it would be my frozen dinner of choice.

PS - the next morning I ate lukewarm instant oatmeal out of a styrofoam cup with a plastic fork and got sick of the fork and ended up drinking it.  Then we moved into a kitchen suite and my life improved tenfold.

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In other news, I saw this awesome goat on the weekend.  He posed for a picture.


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And finally, a great quote from some of the kids I've been delivering camps to in the past couple weeks:

Instructors:  Hey kids, which city do you like better?  Fort St. John or Prince George?
Kids:  FORT ST. JOHN!!!!!
Instructors:  How come?
Kids:  (unison)  BETTER MCDONALDS!!!!!!!!!!!!