self-psychoanalysis

I was reading an article not too long ago that said one of the key indicators of general well-being was knowing your history – in terms of family tree and ethnic background.

I know mine. My mom’s Chinese-Malay; my dad’s Hungarian. There were a few hiccups when I was younger, like when I asked my dad if he knew there was a country called Hungary and a country called Turkey, because if there were countries called I’m and For then you would have I’m Hung(a)ry For Turkey. Or when in grade 3 we had to colour flags of where our parents were from and I chose Japan because all I knew was that my mom was Asian and Japan had the easiest flag. But I’ve got it sorted now. I know how they got to Canada, and I’ve been back to Hungary and Malaysia multiple times and met all my grandparents and seen lots of old pictures.

IMG_6451

IMG_6440

And yet… I think that might all be wrong. I’ve figured out my secret identity.

I’m actually a Jewish Italian grandmother.

IMG_6445

I think it’s my duty in life to feed everyone, and feed them well. I get offended when people don’t want to eat what I’ve prepared for them immediately after receiving it. If it weren’t generally considered rude to intensely stare at people and evaluate their level of enjoyment while they eat the food you’ve given them, I would be doing that.

So. Creepy.

IMG_6459

IMG_6454

The manfriend texted me the other day to ask what I was up to after work, and instead of taking that like a normal person, I responded “I have dance. But there’s leftover ribs and mashed potatoes, taco salad and hamburger soup in the fridge. There’s also some frozen homemade bagels that you could top with peanut butter and jam, some healthy cookies in the freezer, and all the ingredients you would need to make pasta if you don’t want any of the above.”

His response was a loving version of “okay, crazy lady… I was just wondering what you had planned.”

So, yeah. That.

But this is what’s on the table tonight… Eat up.

IMG_6457

Blueberry Pie (vegan)

Ingredients

Crust:

two and a half cups all-purpose flour
half teaspoon salt
three tablespoons sugar
half cup margarine, cold (I use Earth Balance)
half cup shortening, cold
three tablespoons cold water
three tablespoons vodka
one tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Filling:

about seven cups of blueberries
two thirds cups sugar
two tablespoons tapioca flour
two tablespoons all-purpose flour
zest from one lemon
one tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

Directions

Prepare crust first: sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter (and/or a fork), cut in margarine and shortening. In a separate glass, stir together water, vodka and vinegar. Pour into flour/margarine and mix with a fork until the dough comes together into one big ball (you’ll probably need to get in there with your hands – proper Jewish Italian grandmother style). Cut your ball roughly in half and wrap each in Saran wrap. Throw in the fridge (or freezer, if you don’t want to make the pie right away).
Now for the filling! This one’s easy. Throw everything in a bowl together. Stir until it’s all mixed up.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grab a 9-inch pie plate.
Pull out one of the balls of dough. If you can, grab the larger one first. On top of parchment paper or a silpat, roll it out (use lots of flour so it doesn’t stick!) so it will cover the entire pie plate (don’t forget the sides slope down, so you’ll need to make it a bit larger than 9 inches). Flip it over (this is where the parchment comes in handy) onto the pie plate. Load it up with your filling.
Roll out the second half of the dough until it looks large enough to cover the pie plate (no slopes this time – 9 inches is about right). Flip it over on top of the pie and crimp the edges. I like to roll mine and then do a 3-finger pinch that my mom taught me. Do whatever you like or can.
Note: if you want to use cookie cutters to make shapes on your pie like I did, do this just before you flip it, and then pray and swear and squeal and hope while you’re flipping that they don’t stretch too much. Also be aware that you’ll probably get juice all up and over the top of your crust. Whatever.
Go stab crazy with a fork before putting it in the oven – steam needs to escape.
Bake for 30 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the filling (if you can see it) looks bubbly and the crust is browned.

IMG_6467

Guelph, Ontario

Way back in August (I know, I know, I’m behind) the manfriend and I headed across the country for the marriage of quite possibly the two coolest people on this earth, who are so perfect for each other it’s ridiculous.

I somehow managed to take lots of photos of food, and none of the couple getting married. This should surprise no one.

Congrats, Chris and Cayla. Love you both.

Should you ever find yourself in Guelph, I highly recommend:

With the Grain
OX

a quarter of a century

IMG_6800

Yesterday was my 25th birthday. I wanted this birthday to feel different; to feel BIG.

But it doesn’t.

IMG_0943

It was Cheryl Strayed who said “acceptance is a small, quiet room.” At 25, there are a few things I’ve accepted, and a few things I need to keep telling myself:

I hope I will never outgrow stickers and lists.

It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring. (Thank you, Marilyn Monroe and/or Pinterest.)

IMG_6799

There is no reason on this earth good enough to warrant making your own croissants from scratch.

Could I stand to lose five to ten pounds? Sure. Will women notice? Probably. Will men? No, and they absolutely don’t care.

IMG_6802

I asked the manfriend for a vacuum and bedsheets for my birthday. It’s official; I’m an adult now.

I enjoy running around barefoot in the backyard with the dog. As such, my feet are usually dirty. That’s okay.

IMG_0942

A chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven won’t solve anything, but it never hurts anything either.

Almost 100% of the time, other people’s actions have nothing to do with you. Try not to take things personally.

IMG_0946

There are a lot of times when you should acknowledge that something is unnecessary or potentially embarrassing or generally just a bad idea. There are a lot of times when you should do it anyway.

Being happy is the important thing you can do every day.

When your helmet visor is open, people can hear you singing. But they cannot hear the music from your headphones.

The goal is still to be beautiful and fascinating and reckless.

IMG_0950

dear internet,

You make me sad.

IMG_6463

There are a lot of jobs on this earth I wouldn’t want to do. Art historian? Not remotely interested. Nurse? I admire the heck out of them; I could never do it myself. Model? I like eating way too much. The guy that cleans the pole between strippers? Umm… yeah.

IMG_6448

Another one to add to the list: web developer.

The Whole Life Challenge website broke down early on day 2, and social media was flooded with angry comments. The guys in charge put up an apology and an explanation for the confusing bits, and people tore them a couple new ones in the comments section of that too.

IMG_6462

Come on, people. Aside from the obvious irony of being incredibly negative in and about a challenge that’s supposed to be making you a better person, have you ever tried coding? That shit is hard. Also, have you ever seen the internet? It’s pretty freaking amazing. I can pull up a page with almost ten million results on pineapples in 0.31 seconds. I can confirm that the blue-footed booby is, in fact, a real bird (although it doesn’t make it any less creepy when someone compares you to one on an escalator). I can even adopt one. (Birthday present, anyone?)

Anyway. Can we please stop being so mean to each other just because we aren’t face to face?

Thanks.

IMG_6460

Blueberry Hazelnut Salad (vegan)

Ingredients

Dressing:

half cup blueberries
one tablespoon maple syrup
two tablespoons balsamic vinegar
one third cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

one cup barley
one cup vegetable broth
two cups water
four cups baby kale
one cup blueberries
one cup hazelnuts

Directions

In a blender or food processor, blend all dressing ingredients until well mixed. Set aside.
In a rice cooker, combine barley, broth and water. Cook per rice cooker instructions. (You can also do this in a saucepan, but maybe Google directions on that as I have no personal experience with it.)
Combine everything and serve immediately.

IMG_6466

writer’s block

IMG_6528

I’m having so much trouble these days putting together more than half of a sentence.

It might be because of the lack of cookies.

IMG_6517

So, while I considered an entire post of this:

writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block. writer’s block.

IMG_6518

I think I will give up on words for now.

Cookies are much more fun. And yes, these were made and eaten before I started the Whole Life Challenge.

IMG_6520

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

half cup butter, at room temperature
one cup peanut butter (use the cheap brands; I find natural too difficult to mix nicely)
three quarters cup brown sugar
quarter cup sugar
one egg
one and a half teaspoons vanilla
one and a half cups flour
one teaspoon baking powder
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Cream sugars and butters until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and cream some more.
Sift in all dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
I wanted miniature cookies, so I used a tiny cookie scoop. Baking time will depend on the size of your cookies; mine took about 6-7 minutes. Watch for the edges of the cookies to set.

IMG_6529

IMG_6534

let’s do this.

So, as I mentioned a couple days ago, today is the start of the Whole Life Challenge.

Which means that last night was the last supper.

[A photo of epically unhealthy food was supposed to go here, but I was too busy eating ice cream and brownies and baguette and brie to take a picture.]

While my personal interest in salads is limited at best (and therefore I assume everyone else’s is also), for the next 8 weeks – the countdown to November 7 is on – I’m going to be a cookie-free zone.

And not just cookies – I’ll also be depriving myself of jellybeans, potatoes, white rice, soy, bread, pasta, sugar, and juice. Among other things.

To start this whole thing off, I have to do “before” photos, measurements, and a workout. Luckily or unluckily, our summer performances finished at the end of August and the circus school was closed for a week and I went on a no-working-out-ever / eat-all-the-foods spree, so my “before” is perhaps a little worse than normal. Let’s hope this gets sorted out quickly. And I have faith that it will. Because, points!

Anyway, the point of this post was to let you know that my life is going to be kindof sucky for the next little bit, and I won’t be offended if you tune out for a bit and come back to me when I’m back on the cheesecake bandwagon. So, if you’re not planning to stick around for the next eight weeks: have a lovely September and October. If you are sticking around (and maybe even doing the challenge with me!): we’ve got this. And if you’re still on the fence, just remember: it’s never too late to join in on the crazy.

everything but the kitchen sink

IMG_6572

When I was in high school, my friends and I would do some babysitting for a little bit of spending money. I think that’s pretty standard.

What’s maybe less standard (or, at least, no one wants to admit that we all do it) was that we would do a little bit of snooping. Nothing serious like digging through bedrooms or offices, but I remember one friend who liked to look through makeup bags, and another who liked to scour the bookshelves (she also judged people based on what they read). I liked to go through the kitchen cupboards.

The houses with junk food were my favourite. I’d sneak a graham cracker here, a marshmallow there, a small handful of goldfish crackers and a row of a chocolate bar. I’d be disappointed with the houses that only had apple sauce and NutriGrain bars. I lived for Costco bags of jellybeans.

IMG_6566

You can tell a lot about a household based on their cupboards. Whether they’re health nuts or constantly pressed for time. Whether or not they like to make things from scratch. Whether or not they’re OCD and need to line up their spices in alphabetical order. Whether or not they’re stocking enough canned soup and boxed mac and cheese to survive the zombie apocalypse.

If someone were to judge me based on my cupboards, they would know I make almost everything from scratch. They would know I have the ingredients for s’mores on hand at all times and stored for easy access within one box. They would know I have three unopened bags of cornmeal, four types of rice, five jars of peanut butter of varying levels of fullness, and no canned vegetables. They would know that I would not survive the zombie apocalypse.

IMG_6568

In a couple days, however, I’m starting the Whole Life Challenge. It’s going to be eight weeks of no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, and no fun. In preparation, I’ve been trying to use up all of my baking ingredients so I won’t be tempted to cheat. I was getting down to the dregs of my cupboards when I decided I needed to make chocolate chip cookies. For being entirely unprepared, these turned out surprisingly well.

I might survive the zombie apocalypse after all.

IMG_6569

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

As mentioned, these were an effort to use up everything in my cupboard. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend recreating this recipe ingredient for ingredient, because you’ll end up needing quite a few things. Think of this as an encouragement to substitute and experiment and – most importantly – eat cookies.

Ingredients

seven ounces bread flour
ten ounces all purpose flour
half tablespoon baking powder
half tablespoon baking soda
one teaspoon salt
three quarters cup butter
half cup margarine
half cup brown sugar
three quarters cup coconut sugar
one cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
two eggs
one teaspoon vanilla
lots of chocolate chips (I used milk and dark)
lots of toffee bits
flaked sea salt (it’s optional but delicious. If you don’t have flaked, I would highly recommend still using a coarse sea salt)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars using the paddle attachment. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time and mix until fluffy.
Sift in all dry ingredients and stir until all the flour has disappeared. Fold in chocolate chips and toffee bits.
Scoop onto your cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are getting brown.

Note: These were quite dark coloured (I assume because of the coconut sugar) and they also got quite puffy in the oven, so it was hard to tell when they were done. I took mine out before I was convinced they were ready, and when they cooled they became thin and chewy. If you’re into crispier cookies then by all means leave them in longer, but if you like yours chewy like I do, a little too early is probably safer than a little too late.

IMG_6570