What’s for dinner tonight?

I’ve been neglecting my health recently and I’m of the belief that nutrition is the key to good health.

I got sick two weeks ago, and although I hadn’t been sick (badly enough to take time off work) in almost two years, I was kicking myself for not taking better care of my health to try and avoid a bad cold. Being sick was a (not so) nice reminder to be kinder to my body. Especially after the cold and flu medicine and comfort foods I shoved in my gob over the week I was at my worst.

So, there’s been salads at work instead of fries on the fly and aiming to go to bed earlier etc. Today I treated myself to two slices of raw pizza and some raw blueberry cheesecake at Tao in North Vancouver for lunch and then went to the supermarket to snag some baby carrots and a few bits and bobs for a homemade onion and herb dip. Will post that tomorrow… Maybe.

I feel so much better with the good food choices I make. I feel lighter and less bloated and happier and freer. It’s yummy.

And so is tonight’s dinner: Salmon with lentils. A recipe I stole gained inspiration from Ina Garten. I didn’t have all the ingredients for the lentils but improvised here and there. I also didn’t bake the salmon after browning the skin – I don’t have any oven proof pans 😦 no biggy. I love to make do in the kitchen; with recipes and utensils.

Putting this dish together from the stuff I had in the kitchen cupboards/fridge makes me look forward so much to culinary school. I got in and I start in September. I’m a bit nervous but no more nervous than I am when the tables are filling up at work.

So, here’s a link to the recipe so you can copy word for word or mix and match like I did and following that is a photo of mine. Man, how I wish I had white plates…

Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/salmon-with-lentils-recipe.html

IMG_1302.JPG

Raw pizza and raw blueberry cheesecake from Tao

IMG_1297.JPG

Homemade “Summer & Seed” granola with nectarine compote

20140716-212818-77298796.jpg
Because the smoothies I’ve been having for breakfast are becoming a bit passé…I revisited the homemade granola thang. I went through a phase of DIY granola back when I was in NZ (we call it muesli – same same but different but not really. Actually not at all. Or maybe? I’m not the authority on this) and loved filling the house with the sweet smells of toasting oats and cinnamon.

Without further ado: I used a simple recipe and added and substituted here and there. Copy, or mix it up. You know what you want. I trust you. NB: it’s my version of a summery granola. Let’s not get into the semantics of whether or not figs are summery. There are no rules here 😉

SUMMER & SEED GRANOLA

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (I’m not a big fan of lots of sugar and the dried fruit makes it sweeter so feel free to adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup small-dice dried figs and apricot
1/2 cup raw sunflower and pumpkins seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 – Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 C)

2 – Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and gently heat, on low, the honey and oil until free flowing.

3 – Once heated and mixed, remove from heat and add vanilla.

4 – Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the honey liquid in. Mix with wooden spoon until fully coated.

5 – Pour mix onto a baking paper lined baking tray, or non stick baking sheet into an even layer

6 – Bake for 15mins, take out and mix to turn oats and bake for a further 10-15mins until golden brown. Allow to cool on baking pan or carefully demolish by the fistful.

Read on for compote…

The man I’m married to was wandering the supermarket aisles with me while I was (out loudly) pondering which fruit would make a good addition to the granola/greek yoghurt magic I was creating in my head. This man was soon to be deemed a genius because he suggested I use the nectarines I got the day before and a lightbulb went off. I guess this makes the whole shimozzle (actual word) more summery than it is without the compote.

Usually nectarines sit in the fruit bowl, making the kitchen pungent with nectariney goodness as they slowly over ripen and then house dozens of fruit flies before I finally give in and throw them away. Anyway, here’s the compote recipe. Dunno if it’s “teeeeechnically” a compote. Pfft, technical schmechnical, right? No rules people, no rules.

NECTARINE COMPOTE

Ingredients:
Two (or more) nectarines
Nothing else!!

1. Halve nectarines and remove pits

2. Squootch (a term for pushing the flesh of fruit off the skin or fruit) the flesh away from the skins –  best done over top of the saucepan you’ll use to compote those stone fruit beauties, to catch the excess juice.

3. Chop, or finger chop, into small pieces – not a big deal, they’ll break down. You just wait.

4. Bring to simmer over medium to low heat and let it bloop away until the fruit has broken down and the fruit juice is more syrupy than juicy. This should take about 15-20mins

5. You can adjust the sweetness with sugar if you want but these were so sweet it just wasn’t necessary.

Enjoy your comopte with a dollop of greek yoghurt on top of your new favourite granola.

20140716-213509-77709048.jpg

Stop buying rinse aid for your dishwasher!!

You clean right? Like, there is a day within the month that you get shit done? Hopefully you clean a bit more often than once a month – not that I’m here to judge you. But, you know that satisfying feeling you get when all your laundry is washed and dried? Or the sense of happiness when the chaos that was your bedroom/kitchen/bathroom/entire house is functional and presentable once again? Well imagine having those feelings after just one load of dishes through the dishwasher. Stay with me…

I’m no Martha Stewart or bare bones living expert (I come pretty close though, on both accounts ;)) so I don’t wanna go about the place spouting about the wonders of things I know nothing about. BUT I am compelled to share with you, the amazing powers of….White vinegar! Or at least one of them. It will change your life.

Maybe not your whole life, that might be a stretch, but as far as cleaning products go (and the cost of them) a litre of white vinegar is cheap as chips and great for so many things. You can google them yourselves or you can click here.

The one thing I want to attest to in this post is how great it is in the dishwasher.

It’s been a long time since I lived in a house with a dishwasher so I’d never been able to try it out. I use white vinegar to clean my kitchen surfaces, diluted in hot water in the sink with a few drops of whichever essential oil I have close by (lavender, peppermint, any citrus oil) and I feel at ease knowing I’m not using any harsh chemicals and that there’ll be no “hospital clean” type smell afterwards. But I’d never been able to test out the “magical cleaning properties” it claims to have on glassware and utensils in the dishwasher.

Putting white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment (usually right beside your powder compartment) instead of buying those expensive, syrupy blue concoctions to put in is cost effective, brilliant and quite simply genuis!! I’m still kinda in awe about how shiny the glasses come out! They look new. NEW! I open my cupboards to get a clean glass and I’m like “when did I buy new glassware? No wait, that’s just because of the white vinegar. Hurrah!” They come out without that streaky look and squeaky feel that makes my teeth curl. As an added bonus, the dishwasher never has that dank smell that dirty dishes create when they sit for a bit too long while you wait to fill your dishwasher up. It’s like the entire appliance has been cleansed of any sins! I will claim this to be actually magical!

My clean dishes are now quite special and I urge you all to stop buying ridiculously priced rinse aids. White vinegar: it’s the way of the future. Put it on your shopping list. Off you go, get a pen… write it down… W H I T E V I N E G A R. Buy it in bulk! Stash it around the house! Well, maybe just in your kitchen. And one in the bathroom too. While you’re at it, you might as well. I’m just sayin’…

Kitchen-Pin-Up-by-Bill-Garland

Date Night- couples cooking class.

Such a good idea!! We struggle for ideas also other than the usual movies and dinner. No kids or house so we can still discuss those things until his attention wanes closer to any screen with a sport on it (I’m oh so patient…). But I love to cook and he is a bit of a novice so this would be tons of fun. Will have to search for it in Vancouver. Great post and photos as always! X

LE ZOE MUSINGS

After so many years together, date night options have become very limited. Movies are out b/c I’ll probably fall asleep within thirty minutes (after 8:30pm, I can’t function). Bar hopping? We both don’t drink so that just doesn’t make any sense. Clubbing? NOT. A. CHANCE. I wouldn’t mind a shopping date, but he’s not as patient waiting around as he used to be (and I thought that would NEVER change).

But we haven’t given up hope yet, there are always dinner dates. However once we get there, then what?! The most exciting part of a dinner date is probably perusing the menu. Once we order, it becomes a little boring. Stealing glances? At this point in the relationship, that’s just weird.

Dinner date conversations have dwindled down to what’s happening at work or with the kids. Let’s be real, there’s nothing more that we would need to learn…

View original post 270 more words

Sandwich love

Yesterday the mr and I ventured out of our burrow to find fodder and fresh air. It was a lovely cloudy day, not a cool temperature but not too warm either. We passed houses we would want to live in and others we could see potential in. We sure do enjoy daydreaming about our future. However unreachable it may be.

Seeing as I had never been to Edgemont village before, we made our way on foot to discover whatever delights may lie on the one street that makes up this village.

The street is very cute with it’s colonial old times street lamps and greenery, but I was a bit dissapointed that, although from a glance it looks as though it may be filled with one of a kind and cute little stores, it’s actually just the big name stores cleverly disguised. I had heard there were some good places to eat and this was mostly what I was expecting.

We walked up one side, searching for these quaint places to eat but only encountered two of the larger coffee chains with poor food selections and overpriced coffee and a rather “proper” looking breakfast cafe with a shut door and more of an older clientele. Not very welcoming.

There was a gorgeous little church fair fundraiser happening with a “throw the ball at the hole and dunk the person into water” type game that I have only ever seen on American tv shows. There was face painting and a wall climb among other fun things inside that we weren’t privy to as we weren’t going to buy tickets. More for small children and families anyway.

The first side didn’t yield much of the awesomeness we sought. The opposite side of the street seemed to be just as uninteresting until we set foot inside a store with a butchery on the left and an artisan sandwich counter to the right. The smell was BBQ mixed with slow roasting meat wrapped up in freshly baked bread. Heaven!

After the initial fog of the nasalgasm had cleared, I remembered that I don’t generally eat bread and said to mr “it’s mostly sandwiches which I’m not really gonna eat, shall we go check out big coffee chain and see what they have?” He conceded but I could see the pain behind the smile. That smell…all that meat… Wince.

Big coffee chain lacked anything palatable and barely even had an aroma of enticing coffee goodness. Our rumbling tummies and coffee deprived brains were slumping into a sad grey defeated mess when I said “fuck it! Let’s go back to the sandwich place! I will ignore my glutardness this time to try something that smelled like meaty, bready dreams!” To which he said “yeah, let’s go back”.

We trotted across the road, ignoring traffic and human decency in our ravenous state and triumphantly set foot inside of Windsor Meat Co. Albeit a little bit awkwardly in front of the dividing wall so I couldn’t really see the chalkboard menu to begin with. Silly me.

They don’t have a vast selection, maybe five or six choices and a kiddy pick as well as a special of the day but what they offer is hard to choose from because it all sounds bloody delicious. I love that there were only a handful of choices. Simple is key. Especially for someone as indecisive as me…

Coffee wasn’t on offer but beer and wine were and as it was after 10am (actually about 2pm by this time) it seemed appropriate to toast our sandwiches and a (now) sunny Sunday afternoon stroll.

Mr chose the special which was an Asian pulled beef sandwich with a chipotle coleslaw. Ah, yum. And I got the slow roasted pork belly WITH CRACKLING I might add, arugula, artichoke aioli and pesto. He had a beer, I had a wine, there was free water which was married nicely to the cucumber and mint floating in it.

A sunny spot outside beckoned us and we waited in hungry anticipation for our sandwiches. When they arrived, we were not disappointed at all.

The first bite was a prelude to the tastiness that followed. Every single bite was more and more awesome. They hit the spot perfectly and had barely, if any faults. Being the little critic that I am, if I had to point out a flaw it would be that I think I was missing the aioli and my brown ciabatta roll was heading towards the stale end of the freshness spectrum. But not in a bad way, just slightly more chewy on the outside but still very fresh and warm on the inside. To be fair, we were there on the later side of what I can only imagine to be a busy lunch rush so I forgave the tiny details. Plus I was starving.

I have never loved a sandwich so much. Seriously, never. That I can recall right now. There was perhaps one in the Czech Republic but that was more of a cafe style thing and… Anyway it doesn’t matter. The meat is supplied by the organic butchery on the other side of the wall and you can tell it led a wonderful life and an even better afterlife.

Both our sandwiches were outstanding and needless to say, I raved about it to anyone who would listen at the BBQ we attended later that day.

I have since learned that there is another one in Vancouver at 2276 E Hastings street as well as the Edgemont village one (and a few more in the general Vancouver/north shore areas).
So go there. I don’t care where you are, get your arse to the Windsor Meat Co for, quite possibly, the best artisan, organic meat sandwich you will have this lifetime. It’s that good.

20140623-135215-49935613.jpg