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To All the Posts I’ve Never Loved Before…

16 Nov

As each year winds down, the inevitable best-of lists begin popping up everywhere. Best new albums, best new movies, best new restaurants etc. Although I’m a fan of (most of) these, I thought I’d take a different approach.

Introducing: my first annual Worst of Recipes 2014 

Not to be misleading, my actual worst/most mundane kitchen endeavours do not come within ten feet of being photographed (who has time for that biz).

Here are some that got pretty far, but not far enough.

1. Homemade Pizza (topped with mozzarella, tuna, capers, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, red onions, thyme) 

This one was rather devastating. The toppings were on point, but the crust was bad. I thought substituting some old bread flour instead of all purpose would be ok. It was not. Don’t do this.

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2. Blueberry Blintzes with fresh Thyme and Cinnamon 

By some sort of miracle, on a Sunday morning I woke up feeling super ambitious and not even slightly hungover. Additionally, we somehow had a fridge full of various cheese (s?). I decided to give these blintzes a try. I made the crepes, I made the coulis, I made the filling.

Only instead of reaching for the beautiful ricotta, I somehow used plain old cottage cheese (too overwhelmed with cheese-choice) and the filling was just eh. A bit gritty.

Too sweet too, I hate sweet stuff for breakfast.

Shame. They looked so pretty.

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3. Spicy Peanut Ginger Drumsticks

This was a case of finding a recipe on Pinterest that didn’t live up to my expectations. It looked pretty, but the personality just wasn’t there.

Mine:
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The inspiration:

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Don’t be fooled by style over substance!

4. Tofu, tofu, tofu. I make a lot of tofu bowls. I always plan on posting about tofu bowls, but it turns out there is nothing revolutionary about em. Tofu is tasty, and healthy and you can but it in any bowl, in any combo you like! There ya go!

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5. Same goes for salads.

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6. Huevos Rancheros

These were yummy and good. The problem was I didn’t know how to put it into a recipe format that made any sense. Just layer eggs, beans, salsa, sour cream, cheese and avocado on a tortilla.

Or go out for brunch and pay someone else good money to do it for you.

I served these with a roasted veggie salad and some sort of warm fried spicy quinoa.

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7.Thai Red Curry.

Sometimes you just invent recipes and forget to write them down. Not that I invented red curry, just that I have no idea how this one was made. It was good though.

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I’ll make this again and pay attention.

8. Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon– “This woman was not selling short cuts”

This was lovely. NOT a mistake, just never made it to the blog. The recipe was followed to a tee. By my mom. If you have patience and a whole afternoon to while away, try this recipe out.

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If you don’t have her book, find the recipe here . You will not be disappointed.

To another year of trial and error in the kitchen, blog, and otherwise!

xo M

Favourite Things: July- Chicago, Montreal, Beck and recipe for Kale and Herb Fritters with Chipolte Tahini Yogurt Dip. Whew.

4 Aug

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July flew by with the quickness!

Things I did this month:

-Visited the Art Institute of Chicago
-Finally saw Beck live
-Ate crepes in Quebec
-Slept in a tent

Pretty excellent.

Here are a few of my favourite things!

ONE: Visiting friends, new cities and live music. (That’s three things)

We headed to Chicago once again this year to catch the Pitchfork music festival and meet up with Mike and Brittany. Headliners: Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel and Kendrick Lamar. All delivered excellent sets. I also really loved St.Vincent, Jon Hopkins and Tune-yards.

Highlight: Annie Clark of St. Vincent absolutely killed it and Beck performed one of my all-time favourite tunes, Chemtrails.

 

 

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TWO: The Art Institute of Chicago

…is now one of my favourite art galleries. Ever. So many iconic and priceless works of art, including American Gothic, Seurat’s La Grand Jatte, and Nighthawks. The Magritte exhibition was excellent, and made me come away with a new, greater appreciation for the Surrealists.

blognotapipeIt is not.

I could spend allllll day there, happily.

And audio tours. Obv.

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THREE: Mile End, Montreal. 

Last weekend we headed to Quebec for two nights. We spent a wild one in Montreal and another wild one (literally) in the wilderness outside of Magog, where we got to spend some time with more fantastic faraway friends. This is where the tent sleeping happened.

This charming neighbourhood in Montreal is home to fabulous coffee and bagels . A must (re) visit.

Highlights: Eating St. Viateur bagels hot out of the oven dunked in tangy cream cheese, $10 drink specials for 4 tequila shots (including tabasco chasers!) at Andrews Pub in downtown Montreal, people watching while drinking excellent espresso from Myriad, swimming in Lac Magog, partying into the wee hours with Nick and Kate, road trip playlists and eating cheesy asparagus crepes the size of your head.

 

 

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Understandably weary.

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FOUR: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF20 Sunscreen

I love cosmetics and I just gotta share my latest favourites.

This product is another home run for me from Tarte. Contrary to most makeup, it is possible that this stuff has actually improved my skin overall. I have not broken out once since I started using it and the texture and evenness of my skin has improved! Impressed.

Bonus: it contains mostly natural ingredients. I don’t think I could ever stray from this super-light foundation.

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Five: Kale and Herb Fritters with Chipotle Tahini Yogurt

I stumbled upon a fabulous food blog called Alexandra’s Kitchen. Intrigued, I decided to try out these fritters, as I had a whole bundle of kale withering away in the fridge (AS PER USUAL)

I was skeptical at times throughout the (slightly messy) process, but the end result was SO good. The tahini dip was my own edition, which I also like to pair with falafels.

You could substitute any dark leafy green, such as chard or mustard greens or even a combination.

 

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Kale and Herb Fritters with Tahini Chipotle Yogurt Dip 

(makes approx 8)

  • One large bunch of leafy greens, stems removed.
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 green spring onions (about)
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (maybe a bit more 😉
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil for frying (unscented)
  1. Simmer greens in boiling salted water until soft, about 5 minutes
  2. Strain well and pat dry with paper towel
  3. Blend everything in a food processor except for the cheese. Once well blended, fold in the cheese.
  4. Over high heat, fry fritters in batches (about 1.5 tablespoons each) (about 5 minutes on each side). Be sure to leave enough room in the pan to flip them properly!
  5. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.

Tahini Chipotle Yogurt Dip 

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • Fresh juice of 1/4 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  1. Mix!

 

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Ok so…they’re not pretty, but these were a huge hit. They are a fun way to eat more greens, and potential flavour combinations are endless,. Really, you could  combine any fresh herbs with any greens and the result would be delicious.

They reminded me a little bit of palak paneer…I think next time I’ll try adding some different spices and put an Indian spin on it.

Happy mid-Summer all!

 

xo M

 

Favourite Things- May/June Edition

3 Jun

The last month or so has been a super busy blur for me. May is our busiest month at work, and unfortunately, not a lot of (noteworthy) cooking has been happening at home.

I have, however made a few (noteworthy!) discoveries in the world of music and consumerism. Enjoy!

One: Nuxe Dry Oil for Face Body and Hair

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Holy Moly, a new (pricy) addiction has been formed!

A loved one brought some of this liquid gold home for me from Paris, and now I’m completely hooked. I used to love perusing the pharmacies in Paris when I was there, and would often see this on the shelves. It has a floral scent that at first I thought was rather strong (I don’t usually like scented things), but it quickly grew on me. This dry oil is derived from natural plant ingredients, is not at all greasy, and leaves my skin super soft with a nice glow.

When I see it on my bathroom shelf it makes me feel the tiniest bit closer to being that chic, classic French girl I always imagined I’d eventually morph into.

Le sigh.

Two: PeterThomas Roth Firm x Peeling Gel

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Another beauty breakthrough. This stuff is a real game changer. I received a deluxe sample at Sephora recently and was astonished that this exfoliating gel actually rolled the dead skin right off of my face. As in….you can instantly see and feel it lifting off the dead skin as your massage the gel in.

Instant. Gratification.

It is unscented and very, very gentle. As soon as the sample was finished I splurged on the full sized version and could not be happier with it! A new skincare essential.

Three: Playoff Hockey

An admitted bandwagon jumper, watching the Habs in the playoffs proved to be very, very entertaining…and then heartbreaking.

Go Rangers!

Four: Yoga Jeans

I don’t know why I waited so long to jump on this bandwagon. Oh em gee these are the most comfortable and best fitting jeans I’ve discovered in a long, long while. I’ve been looking for a flattering pair of high waisted jeans for years, essentially, and I was thrilled when I finally found these!

I want to buy a pair in every colour. And bonus, they’re affordable too (think $130 versus $230 plus- suck it J Brands)

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Five: ASOS.com

I’ve recently delved into the addictive and endless (dangerous) world of online shopping. My favourite is UK site http://www.asos.com that has great pictures, detailed sizing (including what sizes the models are wearing!) and best of all, free worldwide shipping. Another huge bonus is…wait for it, a Petites line (Hallelujah!).

I recently purchased this kimono-style top and could not be happier with it.

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Six: Miss Angel Olsen-

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It’s been so long since I’ve discovered an album that I’ve loved “cover to cover”, so to speak. This one is amazing. It is energetic, passionate and nuanced with great melodies.

We saw Angel Olsen perform at Lee’s Palace a few weeks ago and did not leave disappointed. A voice of a generation. Check it out!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more recipes (when there’s finally time for groceries)

M

Favourite Things: April Edition

1 May

A day late, a buck short.

Oops!

It was a very busy month full of transition (finished undergrad!), a quick West coast trip and a few Sephora splurges. Here are a few of my favourite things about April.

Weddings

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We went to Vancouver for Easter weekend to witness two amazing people get married. I love weddings.

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A group shot during the festivities, after a beautiful ceremony, lovely dinner and several Negronis.

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Some urban wildlife.

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And stumbling upon a quintessentially Vancouver scenario- a weed rally on 4/20

Although it was mostly rainy and I only got a quick clear view of the mountains, I still knew they were there by the fresh West coast air. Toronto’s got many things, but its got nothing on that.

Hibiscus

Is one of my favourite eateries in Kensington Market. The salad is worth the trip alone. It is at once both epic and refined: sweet potato, kelp noodles, lentils, broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, quinoa, tofu, currants, sesame, mint, green onion with a side of some sort of raw cracker. Oh my. The buckwheat crepe is pear, pecans and vegan cheddar. So homey and delicious. Hibiscus is the perfect spot to bring a book or a friend to enjoy on a rainy day.

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Two Faced Melted Liquified Lip Stick

I’m somewhat of a beauty product junkie and love to read about the latest and greatest. I’m excited to share this lipstick I picked up on a whim thanks to some strategic product placement at Sephora. The pigment is super bright, long wearing, and the application is so easy- no need to pair with lip liner (hurray!). There is another stunning shade called Orchid I’m dying to get my hands on, but it was sold out at the time. I want one of every shade.

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Tarte Cheek Stain

This one is called Blissful. I read some silly celebrity beauty profile about Anna Kendrick, and she claimed that she “doesn’t leave the house” without this. She always looks great and I respect her on Twitter so naturally, I had to try it. I really like the Tarte line because it is free of synthetic ingredients. You just swipe it on and blend it in. I use it on my lips too and it actually tastes good (so weird). It feels a little sticky at first but that goes away quickly. And it sounds crazy, but I enjoy not having to use a brush.

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New MacBook Air

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Best. Grad Present. Ever.

I’m so lucky.

Hoo-Ray for May!

M

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#TBT- My Best-Ever Vegan Chilli

17 Apr

#TBT- My Best-Ever Vegan Chilli.

My Favourite Things: February, 2014

24 Feb

February itself is NOT one of my favourite things. Speaking as a Canadian experiencing our coldest winter in 40 years, I can officially declare that February is in fact my least favourite of all months. There. I said it. Good riddance.

To brighten things up, In no particular order I’ve decided to post about the various things, large or small, that have brought me some joy, over the past month.

ONE:  You know a product is good when you are already nervous about running out of it right from the start. Amiright?20140227-224208.jpg

This Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream– has been a godsend for me while stuck in this 100+ year old apartment full of super drying, old school rads (not as charming as they look). This stuff is apparently good for lots of uses, lips, face, hands, split ends, flyways. It is apparently the duct tape of beauty products.

Personally, I like to use it most on the dry areas of my face. I usually get dry, itchy cheeks in the winter but no longer (!)  thanks to this stuff. I also like to use it on my décolleté and cuticles. It works on lips, but not as well as true lip balms do (too light). It smells yummy too, kind of citrus-y and little bit goes a long way. Bonus: it is free of nasty chemicals.

TWO: Another stellar performer in my beauty arsenal is this homemade brown sugar body scrub. It too has been a saviour for dreaded dry winter skin.  PLUS: it is extremely economical and easy to make. Simply mix!

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • Optional: add a few drops of essential oil like tea tree, mint or vanilla.

20140227-224253.jpg20140227-224240.jpg I use this in the shower as an exfoliate, and it leaves my skin very soft. It’s also great in the summer for extra glow. The best part is you don’t need to use moisturizer after. This has replaced  my use of coconut oil, which I find to be way more greasy. Try it out!

P.s I know it is popular on Pinterest, but do not, under any circumstances, make the same mistake I did and attempt to make a body scrub out of coffee grounds (huge mess).

THREE:  Clothing Swaps. The only thing that would keep me away from a clothing swap is severe illness or maybe a natural disaster. These. Are. The. Best. Who doesn’t love free clothes you never knew you never knew you loved?! Here are some of my recent favourite scores: 

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FOUR: Olympic hockey was another blessing this February. The Olympics in general really helped pass the dreary time (hundreds of billions of dollars well spent!) Who knew I could stay up until 3 am watching bobsledding? Or curling?! The apex of excitement of course was Canada winning gold in men’s AND women’s hockey AGAIN. Suck it USA.

(I’m sorry that our sense of national pride is so concentrated in this one sport)

Here is a photo of us at 7 am on a Sunday. 7amWe showed up to our neighbourhood pub at 6:45 and were denied for lack of a reservation (surreal).

FIVE:  Solo sojourns to the AGO. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown up than going to see an art exhibit by yourself on a Thursday afternoon. This was actually so amazing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major audio tour enthusiast. My idea of a dream holiday would be to go to Rome (or Paris or the middle of nowhere really) and listen to every last audio tour in town.

Here are some pics of our ugly, glorious and dynamic city. Plus some of Ghery’s magnificent design  in the ghost-town gallery (there was a hockey game on?)

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The Great Upheaval Guggenheim masterpieces exhibit is on (until March 2nd), with works from Matisse, Picasso, Marc, Kandinsky and Duchamp displayed chronologically in an understated way. A complete departure from the crowded Sunday madness that was the David Bowie exhibit, obviously, and a very relaxing way to while away an afternoon. (I actually went for a school assignment, but that was an afterthought if we’re being real. I came to analyze this beauty, Picasso’s (post-upheaval) Seated Woman (1927). 

SIX: Buying tickets to summer music festivals. This is a little bit painful in the frigid  grips of our third polar vortex, but it should be mostly over by early June, no?

Last week we got tickets to hometown festival Field-trip, which is two days in June this year (Broken Social Scene! The Kills! Chvrches! Washed Out!) and also to Pitchfork (again) for three days in Chicago (Kendrick Lamar, Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Grimes!) While I didn’t take a single audio tour last year in Chicago, I’m also SO.EXCITED. FOR. BECK.

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SEVEN: Making cured lemons. Thank you Chuck Hughes (my recipe to follow)

EIGHT: Getting out of the city and watching this little guy tryski-ding” for the very first time! Winter is much more charming in rural settings. Cozy ski chalets don’t hurt either!

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NINE: Listening to Phosphorescent perform Songs For Zula live once more, this time at The Mod Club.

That is all. 

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Bring on March

M

Food and Frivolity, 2013 in Photos and Recipes

30 Dec

It was rare for me to conceptualize my life in arbitrary segments of time (i.e. Jan-December, 2013) before I started blogging, but there’s something nice about documenting time in this way. It feels organized. It feels official.

Although I already sorta knew it to be true, writing this post has made me realize what a fun year it has been. Which is a lucky thing, is it not?

I’ve chosen to share some of my favourite recipes of each month (note: there was a rather large summertime gap in posting (May-September) but as you will see I was clearly busy travelling and carousing).

Besides, it’s been quite some time since I’ve injected some “mostly” into Food, Mostly.

So this is my 2013 roundup. These are my highlights. A virtual time capsule on my tiny corner of the internet. Let’s begin.

January

In the middle of a frigid Canadian January, I turned 27. I got an amazing gift that day, a gorgeous Cannon G15 camera from Scott, which I believe has helped the blog photography tremendously (see below photo- post new camera. Terrible! Although I’m still no expert).

January birthdays are a bit bittersweet. There are no fun birthday BBQs or camping trips, inevitably, there is always a snow storm. However, having a birthday at this time does make the month a little brighter and breaks up the winter tedium a bit! At least for me. Suckers.

This recipe for potato leek soup surprised me at how tasty it turned out to be. I remember that this was my first time cooking with leeks. I bought them mistakenly thinking they were anise. Ha. Anyway, the  result was awesome.

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February

February stands out only a little. There was a huge snow storm that cancelled classes.  I did a sugar-free, gluten and dairy free cleanse. And instead of studying I made these black bean, walnut and mushroom burgers. This recipe is  hands down my most popular in terms of hits and searches.

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20131230-191011.jpgI enjoyed watching this neighbourly act transpire spontaneously. I wasn’t much help, I guess.

March

Hmmm….looks like I didn’t post anything in March! Must have been consumed with essays. We were also getting ready to move. Next.

April 

This dish was apparently made in March(that’s the old kitchen!), but posted in April. It was a recipe created by a friend of mine, who makes excellent Indian food. In 2013, I have followed suit in experimenting with Indian cooking. I think curries are my favourite thing to make now. Here is the recipe that started it all: Erin’s Chana Masala.

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 May was a doozy! Here’s when I took a long summer’s nap from blogging (tsk tsk). It was a busy month. My cousin Mark got married in Arlington, TX. We went down for the wedding and took a side trip to Austin and San Antonio. There was a lot of eating, drinking, exploring and shenanigans.

Absolutely loved Austin. I’d like to go back again sometime for a music festival or two. The food, notably the Mexican, Tex-Mex and BBQ was outstanding and seemingly endless.

Here’s my little bro at his first baseball game. Red Sox versus Rangers. Rangers won!

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Scott, giving JFK the business

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Contemplating getting tattooed over margaritas (always wise). Did we or didn’t we?? Hmm…

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Favourite thing we ate in Austin, the enchiladas verdes gratinadas from El Naranjo, 85 Rainey Street. This resto started as a food truck that became super popular. God, I love me some tomatillo salsa! Cute backyard patio in a cool neighbourhood, where all the old historic bungalows have been turned into bars and restaurants. Kinda reminds me of Markham Street in Toronto. But way better.

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Here we are off Rainey Street at G’RajMahal (great name), an outdoor Indian restaurant in a converted garage slash tent compound (91 Red River) . I believe the kitchen is actually a food truck. We were joined by our local tour guide, April. I have no recollection of what we ate, just that it was awesome and we were stuffed and we brought our own booze. Then we went to a bar that had $5 beer/ tequila shot combos. Hence the nervous faces in the middle lower photo.

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If May wasn’t exciting enough, Scott turned 30, and our friends Mike and Brittany visited from California/Utah. We spent a week hanging out in Toronto, and had a big backyard birthday party. Because it was Brittany’s first time North of the border, we brought them to Montreal too. I didn’t take a lot of pics in Montreal for some reason(too drunk?) . We rented an awesome Air B n’ B apartment in Le Plateau, and spent every night chilling on the back patio enjoying  beverages purchased from the local dépanneur. A novelty which never ceases to amaze visiting Ontarians.

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Here they are humouring an aggressive street performer. This was eventually abandoned because after about twenty minutes,  nothing much was happening, except for this manic man running around making racist jokes in a French Canadian accent. Au revoir.

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It was so nice to spend time with these two. We were sad to say “farewell”.

June. 

The highlight of June was Field-trip, an outdoor festival at Fort York put on by Arts and Crafts. The highlights were hometown bands, Timber Timbre, Feist and Broken Social Scene, who played one of my all time favourite albums You Forgot It In People front to back. It was an awesome day.

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July

We drove to The Windy City for Pitchfork Music Festival. I fell in love with Chicago. Musical highlights included Joanna Newsom, Bjork, MIA, Killer Mike, Blood Orange and Phosphorescent. Also getting caught after the show one night in one of the most epic rainstorms was memorable (in a good way). Drenched. I must admit, Pitchfork puts on an awesome festival. Good sound, good crowd flow, decent food, and it is the perfect size (way more chilled out than Bonnaroo). Only downside is no in-and-out privileges, which would have been ideal. I’m dying to go back to Chicago.

20131230-192717.jpg Frickin’ love that bean thing!

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Must also include this kale taco salad that had spicy peanuts and cranberries in it from Antique Taco, (1360 N Milwaukee Ave). We returned two days in a row just for this ridiculousness!

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Also in July, my beautiful friend Grace had her baby shower. Here she is about to burst. Soon her baby, River, would join us in this world.

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August

August was rather uneventful. Although I did host a clothing swap, which has become one of my absolute favourite things. The thrilling thing is you never know what you’re going to get. Some winners! Some duds! Some wildcards! All for free! I’ve found some of my favourite items this way.

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I should have taken more photos of the food. These gals didn’t skimp. We had quite the feast.

September
September was my triumphant return to blogging! These Bourbon-Miso pork chops shoved themselves into the limelight. Delightful. I made them twice, the second time for my mum on the eve of our quick four-day trip to the beautiful Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We stayed in the Privilige Aluxes Isla Mujeres, a stunning resort. The island itself is tiny, only 7 kilometers long. We, along with other silly tourists,  drove around on golf carts. It was fun.

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Another September highlight was the labour day weekend we spent at Scott’s grandparents chalet at Beaver Valley with Mike and Kiara. Fun and games, is what it was. And wine.

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October

October was a productive month in the kitchen. I think my favourite post was this Persian Eggplant Stew. It renewed my faith in eggplant.

November
Was my best ever month on Food, Mostly. My average daily views doubled that of my previous best month (January, 2012). Exciting!

My favourite part of November was cooking this Indian feast for friends that helped us move way back in April. It was labour intensive, but I think really elevated my skill in cooking Indian food. I’ve included my recipe for chicken Vindaloo.

We had Scott’s family over a few weeks later, and I replicated and tweaked some of the recipes I used. With practice the cooking was more effortless and the result was, dare I say, even tastier?

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December

It was cold and icy, but Christmas was toasty and warm.

My favourite December recipe was hands down this vegan “Butter-Chicken” with fried tofu. So easy and so delicious. I’ll definitely be making more of this in the new year.

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Upon reflection, I’ve been very “in the moment” this year. Maybe too much so. I don’t think I really realized how good 2013 was until right now. Good friends, good family, good food, good fortune.

What more could a girl ask for?

Thank you for reading. I hope you continue to follow along and share my posts! It makes my day!

Happy New Year Y’all!

xo

M

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The Dirty Dozen, and why you should stop bathing yourself in these chemicals

15 Nov

The Dirty Dozen, and why you should stop bathing yourself in these chemicals.

Things Not to Do in a Restaurant Unless You Want Your Server to Hate You

29 Jun

This list is not meant to be an angry rant written on behalf of a lost and disgruntled mid-twenties (ish) generation, stuck in service jobs. It is merely a guide to proper restaurant etiquette directed at the general public, some of whom could, frankly,  use a few pointers.  As someone who has served in restaurants for years now,  I felt I’d share some major peeves coming from a server’s perspective, which, although usually not malicious in any way, many people seem oblivious to. It is in my personal opinion that everyone should work on the “other side” of service at least once in their lives in order to become more well rounded and considerate individuals. Perhaps consider some of these  tips the next time you dine out, especially if you actually do enjoy your server, to save them the embarrassment and inner turmoil of  being forced to fake smile to your face while secretly thinking you are a moron.

1. Sitting at Dirty Tables.  I was going to do a countdown, but decided to go chronologically. Let’s start with the beginning of the process.

I would have rather not started with such a big one, but this one is quite major.  Upon arrival, under whatever circumstances, nothing is worse than plopping yourself down at a dirty table that has not yet been cleared off, especially if there are many clean ones available.  What is the big deal you ask? This is stressful because a) the server feels like they then must drop everything and immediately now clean the table. b) this then forces them to then get water and menus etc right away, when they probably already had a prioritized list of tasks  swimming in their heads.    c) it is sometimes uncomfortable to clean a table with people already sitting at it, i.e. I don’t want to spray vinegar in your face/ swipe crumbs into your lap while you  watch. d) sometimes servers don’t notice and think that you are still the previous patrons that were there. All of a sudden two old ladies becomes two old men, and it’s weird.

2. Yelling out Your Order as the Server Walks Past. Ok, so now the table is clean, and the server has left you with menus and water. Please, then, refrain from shouting out your drinks and/or food order before they have properly arrived at your table and asked if you were ready. Just because you are ready to order does not mean that they are ready to take your order at that moment. They could already have two other orders in their head to punch in. They might not even be your server in your section. Please be patient and wait your turn, at the high risk of your order getting screwed up.

3. Ordering Food Right Away When the Rest of Your Party is Clearly not Ready (and I don’t mean appetizers). This one often baffles me. I understand that you’re hungry, or already know what you want to order  since yesterday, but this really puts everyone else involved in an awkward position. The rest of your party then feels rushed, and your server must then hover around, not sure if they should wait, come back, or punch in one person’s food ahead of everyone else.  Also, this sometimes causes a lengthy delay in the multitude of tasks that are piling up while they stand there, waiting,  feeling like an idiot, thinking you are an idiot.

4. Cutting Your Server Off While They are Reciting the Specials. Reciting the specials is part of the job. Some people are genuinely interested in them. The same is assumed for everyone. Personally, I don’t care whether you despise lamb or can’t eat gluten, it is rude to interrupt.  Also, please refrain from making a comment like “yuck!”, or hold an undisguised look of disgust on your face, because, its like, really not classy.

5.  Re-arranging the Menu to Fit your Strange Diet. Some modifications are inevitable, dressing on the side, no tomato etc, and really not a big problem, but when you must change many things about a dish at least understand that it might not taste that good, and the kitchen will definitely bitch at me, and about you, behind your back.

6.  Changing Your Order After You’ve Already Ordered It. This forces your server to bolt to the kitchen, and mess with the line. The kitchen hates that. It throws off their timing. Again, they will probably curse your name and mine.

7.  Change Tables Without Asking. This one is fairly obvious. We know you by table number, and/or any odd or distinctive thing about you. Consider yourself lucky if you are just “Table Five” and not “Raging Bitch in Red Glasses”. Your food/ bill might then get lost. Also, please do not rearrange the tables for similar reasons.

8.  Making Your Server do Many Unnecessary Trips. Guest #1: “may I have more ketchup?” Server: “sure thing” (comes back with ketchup) Guest #2: “can I have mustard?”. Work it out people!

9.  Forcing Your Server to Decide Who Gets to Pay. I find this happens usually with two women friends. Both will slap down their credit cards and insist that you take just one. “No! It was your birthday last month! This is my treat!” “Yeah, but you paid last time!”. This can go on forever.  Your server does not keep track of your major life events or track record of treating. Usually I just go with whoever is most aggressive about it. If you really want to treat someone, this could be tactfully laid out at the beginning of the meal with a slight “I’ll take the bill” and a wink, or a sneaky bathroom break.

10.   Leaving Your Wet, Nasty Baby Wipes Behind on the Table. I know your baby is cute, and that to you, your baby’s bodily fluids are sacred and beautiful,  but to me, it is just a really gross thing I have to touch with my bare hands after you leave.  Please clean up after yourselves.

11. Even if You are British and Charming, Please Remember that Here in Canada Servers Get Paid Below Minimum Wage Hourly (Goes for Aussies too, etc) . Last but not least. This one is difficult. I can’t tell you how friendly and lovely so many British people are. For some reason they really inspire me to go above and beyond. Maybe some part of me really wants them to like Canadians and have a good experience. I’ve fallen in this trap many, many times. They are jovial. They make my life easier. They ring up huge bills. They seem to really appreciate the good service. But when they pay, my heart sinks. It has happened again.  A $1 tip and a very sincere “thank you”.

Seriously? Tips are a server’s livelihood, not “thank you”s (although those are nice).  If you are in a foreign country, do the smallest amount of research to find out what the custom is for tipping. As a general rule, here 15% is standard, and 20% is if you really enjoyed the service/meal. 10%  is the minimum generally, or  if you think the service  really sucked, for lack of a better word. There are still many across-the-board 10%-ers out there. It is a free choice how much you’d like to tip, but please just be comfortable with the fact that you will either leave the message that the service was abysmal, or else you’ll quickly  gain a reputation for being very cheap if you happen to frequent a place.

So there we are. (I wanted to keep it at an even 10, but I just couldn’t leave out the baby-wipes qualm) Hopefully this didn’t come across as too entitled or ungrateful (“first world problems!” #overit) . No job is perfect,  after all, but hopefully this was  a helpful guide to being a decent human in a public setting.

Do you have any peeves about restaurant service as a guest?  Servers, do you have anything more to add to the list? Would love to hear them!

Immy May

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