Monday, January 30, 2012

Two restaurants you need to give your money to - Part 1

This weekend was awesome, because a) Brahm was home and b) we got to eat at two of our favourite places to get food in all of Saskatoon.  This post, and the next one, will be me convincing you to start eating at these places too.

First, I'll start with the restaurant that I go to the most out of any restaurant in Saskatoon - Poached Breakfast Bistro on 2nd Avenue.  It's the same place as Flint Saloon in the evening, except in the morning instead of a trendy bar it's a trendy breakfast bistro.  But seriously, this place needs to start giving me free food because I have gotten them so much new business.  I will not rest until everyone I know becomes a regular customer.

Why do I love it so much?  First and foremost, the food is AMAZING.  It's breakfast food, classed up a lot of notches, but not so classy that it's pretentious.  You're not going to get a pile of bacon, greasy eggs, previously-frozen hashbrowns and shiny Wonderbread with plastic packets of hard jam and Kraft peanut butter, with a side of dried up orange slices and wilted lettuce.  Instead, you'll get maple-bacon-wrapped pecans with rye toast or a multigrain bagel, fresh jam and peanut butter, and panko-crusted mashed potato and goat cheese balls with a side salad of baby spinach, goat cheese, and roasted beets.  Or Eggs Benedict with dilly Hollandaise sauce and mushrooms and asparagus.  Or a turkey-brie-cranberry-basil-pecan sandwich on French toast.  Or a butternut squash-bacon-red onion-feta omelette.  Or poached eggs over crab cakes.  Need I go on?

The atmosphere of the restaurant is quite trendy, due partly to the fact that it transforms into a trendy bar in the evenings.  However, it's not so trendy that un-trendy people like me (I am actually the least trendy person there is) don't feel comfortable going there.  The plates are shaped like eggs (but in a classy way), the menu is well-laid out, you can order mimosas and espresso drinks (no stale drip coffee here), and the staff is always very friendly but not in an annoying way.  The only complaint I can even think of about this place is that one time out of like 20 times that I've been there my eggs were poached a little too hard.  That's all. 

ALSO - you might be saying, hey this sounds awesome but I'm a poor student and can only afford to eat at cheaper restaurants like Boston Pizza and Montana's!  Stop being such a food snob because you have a job and can afford to eat at real restaurants, Robyn!  PEOPLE.  Please stop flushing your money down the toilet at sick and disgusting restaurants like Boston Pizza where the food comes out of bags and is reheated by professional microwavers (i.e. Boston Pizza cooks).  It is such a misconception that chain restaurants are cheaper than real live honest-to-goodness restaurants, because THEY ARE NOT.  They try to trick you into thinking that by putting hubcaps and TVs on the walls to make you feel like "Oh, this place has cowboy hats on the walls, it means snobby rich people don't come here which means it must be cheaper than restaurants that serve fresh vegetables."  It is a good trick that I fell for for quite a long time. 

Our breakfast on Saturday morning was a cappuccino, a green tea latte, Eggs Benedict, and a butternut squash omelette came to just over 32 bucks - barely 16 bucks a person for a fancy, filling breakfast and fancy drink!  Unless you are going to eat at McDonalds, you'd be hard pressed to not at very least come close to spending that on a similar breakfast for two at any breakfast place in the city.  And even if your normal breakfast out costs 8 bucks and this costs 11 bucks - why not spend an extra $3 for food that is prepared with care, that you're going to fully enjoy?  My thinking is if I'm going to pay someone to cook for me, it better be higher quality than what I can make myself, and if you can't fry yourself an egg and make shiny Wonderbread at home please let me know because that makes me sad and I will come over and teach you.

In conclusion - I love Poached and I have turned basically all of my friends and family into repeat customers.  You should go there if you haven't already.

WARNING - if you click the Urban Spoon link in this post, you'll see a bunch of negative reviews by people whose favourite restaurant is probably Boston Pizza.  I don't know when the people complaining about the service went there but I have never even heard of anyone I know having remotely bad service at this restaurant, so don't let those reviews sway you.  There's also a bunch of talk about it being pretentious and yuppie - again, no offense to the reviewers but they probably rave about how Tim Horton's is the best coffee in the city and are so pumped about the new giant size cups.  Drinking 5 cups of stale coffee with a breakfast this good would be sacrilegious, and if thinking that makes me a pretentious yuppie so be it.

STAY TUNED - on Wednesday I talk about another super amazing (and affordable) Saskatoon eatery!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brush Buddies

Today I got this in my email.  Wondering if it means the end is near for Groupon...

Anyway.  I'll have some more substantial content up next week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goyo Kumba Eggplant

Sometime in the fall Brahm and I went to Costco and saw the craziest plant for sale in the flower section.  It looked like a long stem with miniature pumpkins growing off of it!  We poked and prodded it a bit to determine if it was real, or just a plastic decoration (it was real) and contemplated buying it because it was kind of amazing.  A baby pumpkin plant?  Who had ever heard of such a thing?

Later that week I did some Googling and discovered that this mysterious plant was actually a type of eggplant - most likely the Goyo Kumba eggplant.

Source:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

The ones we saw were more orange than red - I imagine they get red when they are more ripe?

Anyway if you know me at all, you probably have guessed that I ordered some of these seeds and am anxious to plant them this summer!  I'm not sure if they will work because I didn't have great luck with regular eggplant last summer but we'll see what happens. 

I love plants!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Best IKEA Commercial

I LOVE this commercial.  Sorry about the quality, it was the best I could find.

Good job, kitchen!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I Don't Approve of Four Weddings

There is this show that originated on TLC called Four Weddings (and now there is a Canadian version aptly titled Four Weddings Canada).  The premise is four brides go to each others' weddings and "rate" them on various elements such as food, dress, ceremony, reception (I think - I have seen one episode and that was enough for me), and the person with the highest ratings wins a fancy honeymoon.

Okay, I realize the intent of the show is all in good fun, but the one episode I watched did not look fun.  It was awful!  Who in their right mind wants to invite 3 bitchy strangers to their wedding whose job it is to critique every aspect of the day?  Not me.  No one should!

The reason I seriously disapprove of this show being on the air, more than other wedding shows like Rich Bride Poor Bride (which I totally have seen almost every episode of - let's not pretend I'm above watching wedding shows), is that it's not just about the wackiness of planning a wedding on a weird budget or buying a dress, it's literally turning the actual wedding, the actual act of getting married into a competition.  That is just wrong!

I will admit, when we first got engaged I didn't think much about the ceremony, or even enough about the emotional side of the day in its entirety, but I smartened up.  Getting married is a BIG DEAL.  It's not just reciting a script and giving each other rings and having a party - you're declaring your love and commitment in front of all your family and friends, and tying your life to another person.  Whether you are religious or not, I can't imagine how someone could not consider such an act to be sacred, and how anyone could consider such an act something it's okay to invite a bunch of strangers to so they can judge it.

Making your wedding day a contestant in a reality show would totally rob you of some (or all) of the emotional presence you need to truly experience your wedding to the fullest, and I know I have not ever had a wedding before but if anyone tries to argue otherwise I'm pretty sure they are lying to themselves.  I've heard that getting married is (usually) a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and it's an experience I don't want TV cameras and bitchy nit-picking stranger guests to distract me from.  Even if I had a 25% chance of winning a fancy honeymoon for my trouble.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Apple-Cheese Cookies!

I don't have too many "go-to" baking recipes because there are so many different types of cookies and cakes and brownies out there, it seems like such a shame to make the same thing over and over when there are all those other recipes waiting to be tried.  BUT I definitely make an exception for what I call apple-cheese cookies.

I got the recipe from my favourite food blog, The Kitchn, about a year and a half ago.  Sadly I have only made these three times because I always forget about them, but when I remember to make them I'm all "why am I not making these every week???"  They are so good, and quite healthy as well.  More like a granola bar than a cookie actually.

I usually deviate a bit from the recipe, subbing cheaper cheddar for gouda and dried cherries for raisins.  This time I also added some chopped walnuts which were a great addition.  I grate the cheese instead of chopping.  I use whole-wheat flour and I am pretty sure the first two times I made this I only used 1/3 cup of olive oil and added one of those single-serve applesauces, which added some sweetness and intensified the apple flavour.  This last time I forgot to do that but they were still outstanding, and I might even like them better more savoury.

So what I'm saying is, you should make these.  They're super easy to make and easy to modify to "healthify" as well (flax would probably work well in these).  AND what a perfect snack to take to work or school.

You probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard/fridge, so what are you waiting for?

Monday, January 16, 2012


I decided on a wedding dress!  If you are a boy and want to stop reading because I just said that, that's not really what this post is about though so don't tune out just yet.

The thing I want to talk about, which is the thing that helped me to decide on a dress the most, is taking pictures in bridal shops.

If you have ever watched Say Yes to the Dress, and you probably have even if you are a manly man, you might have noticed that in that store they don't allow you to take pictures.  I guess I can understand their reasoning, because they actually do carry a lot of exclusive, custom dresses that you can't find anywhere else, and they also have a lot of extremely rich (or more likely, in debt) clients who may very well take a picture of one of those custom $30k dresses and then have someone copy it for $2k or something.  So I guess I understand.

But what I DON'T understand is when a hick-town, stuck-in-the-80's Saskatoon bridal shop (cough Debra Dee cough) does not allow pictures.  No offense Debra Dee, but you do not have any exclusive, custom designs in your store.  Further, we are living in the age of the interwebs, so when you write down the style of the dress that someone likes and give it to them on your business card, GUESS WHAT NEWSFLASH they can look up the exact dress on the internet and have someone copy it for cheaper anyway.  So you are not keeping any business by not allowing pictures, in fact you are doing the opposite.

Because GUESS WHAT NEWSFLASH - I found a dress I really liked in Debra Dee and they would not let me take a picture of it.  Um, also, it was a BRIDESMAID DRESS that cost less than $250, so seriously - what am I going to do with the picture, pay someone $400 to make the same dress???  So I walked across the street to The Dress (which does not play midi files of Canon in D on their website, extra bonus), found the exact same dress, took a picture of it, took a picture of a bunch of other dresses I liked, looked at all of those pictures for a couple months, showed the pictures to my friends and asked their opinions, and decided I wanted to buy that dress.  From The Dress, not Debra Dee, for the straight-up reason that THEY LET ME TAKE PICTURES.

Debra Dee - if you'd let me take pictures in your store, it's honestly very possible that I might have chosen one of the dresses I tried on and forked over the $250 to you.  However, because all I had from you was the memory of those dresses, and I had a bunch of pictures from The Dress, it was a lot easier to look through those and start picturing myself wearing one of them on my wedding day.  And Debra Dee, if you had a clue at all, you would realize that that's probably the most effective way to sell a wedding dress in this day and age.  There are 4 bridal stores in Saskatoon, and many women also make trips out to Edmonton or further to go dress shopping - hardly anyone makes a split-second decision and if some stores let you take pictures and others don't, it's the pictures that are going to help you remember the dress that you liked, and ultimately the pictures that are going to make the sale.

This picture reinforced that I did not want to buy this particular dress, because it was not flattering in the stomachular area and also looks like a toga.

Friday, January 13, 2012


On the second-last day of our Iceland trip, Brahm and I finished our loop of the country.  We decided to check out the Blue Lagoon before heading back to our hotel in Reykjavik, so we went and floated around for a while, put mud on our faces, watched people eating popsicles in the pool and made a list of the grossest foods to possibly find floating around in a pool (I believe the winner was scrambled eggs), and then drove back to Reykjavik for our last night in Iceland.  I should mention that before arriving at the Blue Lagoon our swimming gear had been stored in our suitcases, and after digging my stuff out of my suitcase, I left it unzipped for easy re-packing after swimming.

 (The Blue Lagoon.  That cage-like thing is a bar in the pool where you can buy drinks and popsicles.  In the top picture I have some moisturizing mud on my face that they have buckets of sitting around the pool.  The amount you take a handful of and put on your face in the pool costs like 50 bucks in the gift shop.)

As we neared our hotel, we realized we did not know where we should park our rental car - the hotel had no parking lot, and there was no parking allowed on the street in front of the hotel.  We had a lot of stuff to unpack from the car as it needed to be returned to the rental place the next day, so we decided that we'd quickly unload in front of the hotel and I would take everything in and check in while Brahm went roaming downtown Reykjavik for a parking spot.

This part of the story is fuzzy, but I'm going to say it's true because it makes things funnier, but in front of our hotel where we stopped was a definite no parking zone and probably a no stopping zone as well.  We started rapidly unloading bags and suitcases onto the sidewalk so we wouldn't get a parking ticket.  Suddenly I heard Brahm cry out "ROBYN!"  I looked back, and the suitcase I had left unzipped in the trunk was spilled out all over the street.

The only thing I could do at this point was start laughing, but Brahm was not amused.  As he grabbed up my underwear off the road (and I watched and laughed and laughed), a bag of candy that he'd stuffed into his jacket pocket opened up and chocolate caramels rolled every which way, into the mix of pyjamas and toiletries.

(The very busy street where pyjamafoss occurred.)
We eventually got everything cleaned up with no trouble or parking ticket and looking back almost 8 months later (WTF?????  How was it that long ago!!) it is a story we reminisce about as one of our funniest moments of the trip.  That night Brahm created an Icelandic word for the incident: "pyjamafoss" meaning "a pyjama volcano" except "foss" actually means "waterfall" so it's not even that correct but whatever.  We now have many regrets about not taking a picture of pyjamafoss as it occurred but at the time we were trying not to look like idiot tourists. 

The lesson we can all learn from this story:  if you are already looking like an idiot tourist, you might as well risk looking more idiot touristy and take a picture.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Okay!  As promised, today I am going to tell you about something cool that I started!  The cool thing is......


growing garlic!

Here is the thing I hate most about garlic:  the environmental impact.  Did you know that pretty much all grocery store garlic is imported from freaking CHINA?  When it is a perfectly easy thing to grow in freaking CANADA?  I always die a little inside when I buy grocery store garlic, and when the last grocery store garlic I bought started sprouting, I decided to do a little research into if it is possible to grow garlic indoors in the winter.

The answer to that question appeared to be a resounding DUH and also it is apparently as easy as "put some dirt in a pot.  Put a clove in the dirt.  Water it sometimes.  Give it some sun."

So, I put some dirt in a pot, put a clove in the dirt, watered it, and flew up to work for the week (yes, I recognize the irony of my environmental consciousness, but let's start that debate another time), pretty much forgetting completely about the garlic.

I got home last night and suddenly remembered my garlic.  "Did you water my garlic???" I asked my sisters.  "No" said Megan.  "What garlic?" said Allyson.  I ran into the next room where the garlic was planted (as if getting there half a second faster might save the garlic from drying out) and saw THIS:

(Except it was dark so it wasn't that exact scene.)

Wow!  Amazing!  Without being watered for a whole week to boot!  I am really excited about this project now, and can't wait to see how it turns out!  Hopefully, no more planet-killing-China-garlic for me!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


If you follow my blog and know that I started a regular posting schedule (MWF) a couple months ago, you might be like where is today's post?????????  I got home from work like 5 hours late today and I'm too lazy to write anything good right now BUT tomorrow I am going to tell you about something cool that I started a little over a week ago and on Friday I will tell you a funny story about something that happened in Iceland that I keep forgetting about so I need to immortalize it on the internet.

My mom just texted me to say "the middle is on it funny".  The Middle is her favourite show, and she texts me and my sisters pretty much every week when it airs to tell us to watch it.

ALSO - I finally figured out after over a year of doing it wrong how to properly put earplugs in my ear.  I could never figure out how to get them into the ear so usually they just sat there and fell out when I moved.  BUT NOW I KNOW.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A "Burning" Question

I really can't handle hot, spicy foods.  Even chewing cinnamon gum for a few days in a row will burn my tongue.  I feel sort of embarrassed about this because I do enjoy food and there are lots of things I just can't eat because of the amount of spice, and often they are things that are delicious but I just can't handle more than a few bites.  Brahm, however, really enjoys eating spicy foods so we were both kind of surprised at a discovery we made the other week.

We were finishing off an amazing meal at Weczeria with a piece of gingerbread cake.  It was delicious, but I felt like it was not spicy enough.  Just as I was about to comment on this, Brahm said "It's just got the exact right balance of spice - not too spicy but not too bland either."  I was sort of shocked to hear this revelation, because here was someone who loves spicy food saying that a piece of cake that I thought was lacking in spice was just right??

I brought this up and we were both kind of surprised.  I mentioned that I prefer anything spiced with the "pumpkin pie spice" family (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, etc.) to be as "spicy" as possible, and he said he wasn't a fan of too strong of a pumpkin pie spice flavour.  I'd made a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving that I felt was still a little bland when I finally stopped dumping in all the spices, but he admitted that it had actually been on the verge of being too strong.

So weird!  Although the "spiciness" of those pumpkin pie type spices is quite different than hot, capsaicin spiciness (the kind found in chili peppers), it's still kind of strange to me that someone who likes a capsaicin spiciness can find the milder spiciness of cinnamon, for example, to be too strong for their liking.  (Although the cinnamon gum tongue-burning issue doesn't really fit in, however cinnamon gum is hardly a natural cinnamon product...)

I had always assumed everyone was on the same page as me though - but have I been baking too-strong pumpkin pies all along?  I asked a few of my girlfriends about this one day and they were all on my team: when it comes to the pumpkin pie spice family, the stronger the better.  Spicy gingerbread, pumpkin pie, chai tea - dump in a whole container of cinnamon and we'd love it.  Some were capsaicin fans and some weren't, so I don't think there's a connection there one way or another.

So now I'm really curious about this whole thing - is it a woman thing?  Is Brahm's palate just less/more sensitive than mine/most people?  If there was ever a post I want people to comment on, it's this one - help me shed some light on this!  What's your gender and how spicy do you like your gingerbread?

(Some cookies I made a couple Christmases ago - to my recollection they were not quite spicy enough.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Return of Texts From My Mom

It's been a while since we've had any good Texts From My Mom but I'm happy to report that she's back!

Topic 1:  Brahm's Sink

Me:  Brahm's kitchen sink is broken at his house, his upstairs neighbours' sink drains into his sink and then won't drain
Mom:  Grammas in her apt duz that if is going home tomorrow they need a slumber put the stopper im maybe wont come up
Mom:  Can brahm use his sink if the ppl upstairs dont use theirs
Me:  No it doesn't drain at all, or maybe extremely slowly.  He has to keep bailing it out I think, at least that is what he was doing last night
(NOTE:  This whole conversation was because my mom wanted to know what we did for New Years.)
Mom:  Did you see the enchanted forest this year
Me:  No
Mom:  (A few hours later)  How is brahm doing with the drain situation is his room mate home
Me:  Not sure, he said he was going to phone his landlord today and that's all he can do because he's leaving tomorrow
Mom:  Yeah someone else can look after it good thing if was there tho otherwise May have been a mess Were leaving now

Topic 2:  Goat Cheese

Mom:  I bought some goat cheese fr bulk cheese warehouse but cant eat it by itself yuc what could i do with it to cook do you know
Me:  I put it in salads usually, you could also eat it with fruit, spread some on a prune or date or something like cheeseball
Me:  Or put some on a cracker with a dried cherry or cranberry or something.  Kind of needs some sweetness with it
Mom:  Yeah it bitter tasting ill try it with my date

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Foolproof Cake

A while ago I found my fridge to be holding an excess of vanilla yogurt, all of which was set to expire soon.  I don't even particularly like vanilla yogurt, so how was I to get rid of 3 containers in a week?

I searched the internet for yogurt recipes, and came across this one for yogurt cake.  Although the recipe makes a lemon cake in a bundt pan, I also had an excess of apples so I modified it a bit to be an apple cake, hoping it would work.  And I REALLY modified it - I read the "one container of yogurt" to be one large 750 g container of yogurt when really it should have been just a cup, I halved the fat, added applesauce and a bunch of chopped apples and cinnamon, and probably halved the sugar as well.

But wouldn't you know, it worked great!  It was a moist, super delicious apple-flavoured cake that wasn't ridiculously unhealthy.

A few months later, I liberally used this recipe again to make a pumpkin cake, adding a bunch of pumpkin puree, spices, and plain yogurt this time.  Once again it worked like a charm - my grandma even phoned me to tell me that she doesn't like cake but she really liked this one!

After these two successes, I was starting to feel like this recipe might be completely foolproof, and an opportunity for the perfect test of its resilience presented itself over the holidays. 

I'd made a ton of cranberry sauce using this recipe for Brahm's family's big Christmas dinner and had about a cup and a half or so left over, so I decided to make a cranberry sauce cake.  I used some black cherry yogurt, and started measuring ingredients based on how I thought the recipe should work, not what the recipe actually said.  As I was dumping the last bit of flour into the bowl, I realized I'd been using a 2/3 cup rather than a 1/2 cup measure the whole time to measure almost everything!  I added an extra 1/2 tsp of baking soda and hoped it would work out.

And miraculously, it did!  I baked it a bit too long by accident but other than some crunchy edges, it tasted amazing!  Even using a recipe I completely modified and measured wrong, it still worked great.

So now I am feeling extremely cocky about my cake-baking abilities and kind of want to keep making these delicious cakes, but having a house full of cake is maybe not the best health decision, even though as cakes go my modified recipe is not near as bad as it could be.  If you want to make a super easy, modifiable cake, try the following (or use the original recipe and just throw things together as you feel like, I'm sure it will work):

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups yogurt
1-2 cups fruit puree or jam or whatever
Any spices to taste (cinnamon etc.)

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Add the other wet ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients then add them to the rest.  Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes (I always use an 8x8 pan).  You could make an easy glaze with icing sugar and milk to put on top but it's not needed.

Depending on how sweet your yogurt or fruit puree is, you might even want to do less than 1 cup of sugar.  I wouldn't do less than 1/2 cup of butter and I'd keep the 3 eggs, but pretty much everything else can probably be modified to whatever you have around.  The batter will probably be slightly more like a muffin batter than a runny cake batter.

Hooray for foolproof baking!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Okay, I could not resist one more holiday-themed photo post.  Megan was having some friends over for New Year's Eve and Brahm and I were cooking supper.  She said that we had to be out of the house (and not to leave a mess) by 7 pm, so we were joking that we were going to stay until after her friends came over and try to hang out with them.  We did not do this, however we did leave them this wholesome New Year's party spread:

That's de-alcoholized wine and sparkling grape juice in the bottles, with some fibre bars for a healthy snack.  I think this was good practice for embarrassing our future teenage children.