Heps for Hearts: A Night at the Circus

west coast flying trapeze heps for hearts charity event heart and stroke foundation

Shit just got real.

As many of my friends and family know, over the past decade my mom has had two strokes, and my dad has suffered two heart attacks (and in August this year underwent a septuple bypass). It’s been on my project list for a long time to run a fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, for their amazing work in research and patient support.

And now, it’s happening. I’ve even got a website.

I guess that means I can’t back out now.

So, on Saturday, February 4th, 2017, I will be hosting Heps for Hearts: A Night at the Circus at West Coast Flying Trapeze. I am excited, overwhelmed at the amount of planning these things take, and so incredibly terrified that it won’t match the vision that I have in my head.

Which is why, while I’ll be plugging ticket sales soon (okay, if you want them now, get them here), right now I’m asking for help. If you happen to own or work (or know someone who works) at a business near Pitt Meadows, British Columbia that could donate, please reach out! I’m looking for catering (appies and drinks), equipment rentals (lighting, sound, tables, and chairs), and silent auction items. We’ll be promoting all sponsors in event communications, and may even be able to throw in a flying trapeze class or two. Please send me an email at kimmie@westcoastflyingtrapeze.com if you’re interested and able to help!

And, of course, please share – and attend! – this event.

Heartfelt thanks,
Kimmie

wake me up in 2020

homemade eggnog

Like half of America and 99.7% of the people I follow on Facebook, I am shocked and disheartened and confused about the results of the US election.

eggnog spices

earl grey tea man in milk

I don’t want to make this a thought piece on what it means (to me, or to the world, or about the state of the union) that Trump won, because there are enough of those on medium.com and Thought Catalog and everyone’s Facebook everywhere.

whipped egg yolks and sugar

homemade eggnog

Instead, I am taking the weekend to myself. I am signing out of Facebook, curling up with my dogs, and finishing re-reading We Need to Talk About Kevin. I’m turning on my bed heater and lighting apple spice candles. I’m making homemade eggnog, and I’m heavily spiking it with Spicebox Whisky (because Trump. Seriously, America?)

homemade eggnog

homemade eggnog

Homemade Eggnog, two ways:

Earl Grey Eggnog

Ingredients

  • one cup whipping cream, not whipped
  • two cups milk (I used 1%)
  • one tablespoon loose leaf cream earl grey tea
  • six eggs, separated
  • three quarters cup sugar, divided
  • half cup Spicebox Whisky

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and milk to scalding (just before a boil).
  2. Steep the loose leaf tea in the scalded milk for at least 5-10 minutes. If you’re cooling the eggnog before serving, you can leave the loose leaf tea in with the eggnog to develop even more flavour.
    Note: I used a loose leaf tea man to keep the tea leaves out of the milk. If you don’t have one, you can add the leaves in loose and then pour the eggnog through a sieve before adding the egg whites (step 7).
  3. Separate the egg yolks and whites. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar until they make soft peaks.
  4. In another clean bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it is a pale yellow.
  5. Temper the egg yolks by pouring in a little bit of the spiced milk, and stirring until well mixed. Then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the main milk pot. Stir well.
  6. Stir in the whisky.
  7. Fold in the egg whites and serve (I prefer my eggnog warm, but you can also let it cool in the fridge before serving).

Traditional Eggnog

Ingredients

  • one cup whipping cream, not whipped
  • two cups milk (I used 1%)
  • two cinnamon sticks
  • one vanilla bean (or just the pod, if you have leftovers from using the beans for another recipe… may I suggest shortbread?)
  • about a teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • six eggs, separated
  • three quarters cup sugar, divided
  • half cup Spicebox Whisky

Directions

Follow the directions above, but steep with the cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves instead of the loose leaf tea.

homemade eggnog

do what you love, love what you do

lemon poppy seed muffins

I feel like I’ve mentioned a lot lately that I currently have four jobs and am going to school, and I’m getting slightly worried that people think that I think that I’m better than everyone else because I work harder.

That’s not true.

lemon-poppyseed-muffins

I’ll admit to having that horrible, purpose-defeating pride about doing so much and sleeping so little that is making North America read like a pretty depressing statistic of over-worked, under-paid robots. But I don’t (usually) feel overloaded. Not because I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know anymore what it’s like to relax, but because my jobs are my downtime.

lemon poppy seed muffins

I love the social aspect of circus: I’ve met my partner, my adopted sister, and some amazing friends through it. I love the physical aspect: I will never get enough of pushing my body until my muscles ache and I can’t breathe and I can just lie on the mats and watch the metal hoop spin above me. I love the brave, adventurous souls that I teach, from the 8-year-old blonde girl with the freckles who always wants to do just one more triple falling angel to my mom’s 70-year-old friend who swung on the flying trapeze for the first time.

I love writing and communications and social media marketing. I often get sucked into a rabbit hole on the internet of things to learn about how to measure engagement and what Ryan Holmes has to say about LinkedIn and whether or not I should try to curb my propensity towards polysyndeton. Then I get that over-stimulated feeling where I WANT TO READ ALL THE THINGS and I can’t so instead I flip back and forth between tabs and barely process anything other than frantic nerd joy.

I’m working on that.

Finally, despite my schedule, I’m so glad that I’m making time to blog again. Thank you to everyone who continues to visit this page and read my ramblings and try my recipes. I love the freedom and creativity I’m allowed here: my own platform with no purpose, loose guidelines, and terrible segues.

Also, I love lemon poppyseed muffins.

(See what I did there?)

lemon poppy seed muffin

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (I use European style) at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • about 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Stir in poppy seeds and lemon zest.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, squeeze lemon juice. Add enough milk to make 2/3 of a cup. Add in the vanilla.
  5. Stir 1/3 of dry mix into butter mixture until just barely combined. Add 1/2 the liquid, and then alternate adding and combining until everything is in one bowl.
  6. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for about 22-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

on niches and not following advice

butter-chicken-and-naan-on-white-rice

The most frequent blogging advice that I see is “find your niche and stick to it.”

butter-chicken-marinade

When I started this blog, I was a vegan. Then I ate with no restrictions for a while, and then I became a Whole Life Challenge devotee, spending 8 weeks at a time 3 times a year eating practically paleo. Usually I post about dessert; occasionally I post about proper meals; sometimes I post about travel; a couple times a year I post about circus.

Clearly, I have not found my niche and stuck to it.

butter-chicken-curry

But maybe I’m being a little close-minded with my attempt to categorize this blog. Instead of choosing a niche and posting within it, why can’t I go backwards and choose my niche based on my existing and future posts?

butter-chicken-curry2

This blog is for the loves-to-eat-baking-but-also-wants-to-be-healthy-and-active audience. The I-want-to-lose-5-pounds-but-oh-look-there’s-pie! niche. The gluten enthusiasts, the lovers of terrible jokes, the reveurs.

Sorry, that last one was a reference to The Night Circus. This blog is also for the avid readers out there.

butter-chicken-curry-in-skillet

And in this particular moment, this blog is also for anyone who wants to make butter chicken and naan bread from scratch.

butter-chicken-with-naan

And if you aren’t that person, maybe you should be.

naan-bread

Naan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups warm water (think baby bottle temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, pour in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top, and let it sit for about ten minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Stir in the Greek yogurt and olive oil. Sift in the flour and salt.
  3. Knead with the hook attachment on low for a minute or two, until most of the flour has been absorbed. With floury hands, pull the dough out of the bowl and knead a couple more times by hand until the flour is gone.
  4. Lightly oil the bowl, put the dough back in, and cover with saran wrap. Put it somewhere warm for about two hours, until the dough has doubled in size. Around the hour and a half mark is when I suggest going and making the butter chicken and rice.
  5. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t use any oil or butter; you want it to be dry.
  6. Pull the dough out of the bowl, and divide it into eight roughly equal-sized pieces.
  7. Twirl each section like a pizza crust until the dough has been stretched into as thin a sheet as you can make it without creating holes. If you don’t know how to do this, use a rolling pin. I won’t tell.
  8. As they’re ready, place each naan on the hot pan. When you can start to see through the dough that it’s cooking (it becomes whiter rather than translucent) and it starts to bubble, flip it over. This takes a minute or two. You can also start to lift it with a spatula – the bottom should be golden, and possibly probably blackened in spots.
  9. Cook it on the second side for another minute or so, until it’s lightly browned.
  10. Keep going with the remaining pieces. Serve right away with the butter chicken… or just butter.

butter-chicken-and-naan

Butter Chicken

Serve with rice. I’m not giving you a recipe for rice. Also, a little cilantro for garnish would be nice if you’re feeling fancy (or trying to impress someone… just saying).

Ingredients

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 to 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

I suggest putting the rice on just before starting the curry.

  1. Mix all the ingredients from the chicken to the garlic in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir until they’re well mixed, and keep stirring occasionally until the chicken is mostly cooked (white on all the sides).
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil, and turn the heat down for medium-low.
  3. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the curry has reduced to a thick sauce.
  4. Serve over rice with naan on the side and a sprig of cilantro to garnish.

winter is coming

red deer snow alberta

Chris and I spent (Canadian!) Thanksgiving in Red Deer, Alberta. We returned a couple weeks ago to a gorgeous, crisp, fall day in Vancouver, BC. That night, a 72-hour wind and rain storm started.

It seems that was the end of the sunny autumn days where the leaves change and there are still bright colours around. Now it’s just grey and rainy, and it’ll probably stay this way until next June.

Which means I can legitimately start hibernating for the season.

Books I’m reading / planning to read:

  • Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire. Because I feel like mine usually is.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot. Another one I’m late to join the wagon on.
  • 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami. I’m about a third of the way through this one… So far it’s a little like a Japanese version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in that I’m pretty sure it’s some a guy writing about his ideal girl who has an (I’m just going to go ahead and say it) unconventional thing for older, heavyset, balding, writer dudes. Unlike The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this book is actually readable. I might even be enjoying it.

Cookies I’m planning to bake:

  • Ginger molasses cookies. Spicy, chewy, with all the best fall flavours.
  • Speculaas, because speculaas.
  • Shortbread, probably dipped in caramel and chocolate. ‘Tis the season.
  • Sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes. Chris and I made these Halloween ones with his niece and nephew in Red Deer, and I’ve been craving them ever since.

halloween sugar cookies

Happy hibernation, friends.

a week in the life

img_0802

This week on the Whole Life Challenge (yeah, I’m doing it again), the lifestyle component of the challenge is to not use social media. I got a panicked text from my friend when they first announced it. She was capital-letters-absolutely NOT doing it. How was she going to get her news without Twitter?

I think she was looking for some commiseration.

My reply was “I think this is fantastic.”

img_0805

It’s also very difficult. My fingers seem to automatically type in “fa” into an internet browser when my brain is idling. Google autofills in the rest for me.

I don’t need to be checking Facebook. I also don’t really care about what’s on it. It’s just a terrible mindless habit.

I have four jobs and school and I don’t need to be wasting time exercising my pointer fingers and developing eye strain. Instead, I could be using that time to make chocolate macarons filled with creamy, rich ganache.

img_0800

The only French macaron recipe I am brave enough to use is here, and my recipe for ganache is here.

This time I separated my ganache into four bowls. I left one plain chocolate, added a few drops of orange extract to one, a few drops of mint extract to another, and about half a teaspoon of Mexican chili powder to the last. I suggest you do the same. The best part is that you can’t tell until you bite into them which is which.

I live for the littlest surprises.

Tofino on a budget

ucluelet british columbia black bear

Visiting Tofino, British Columbia on a budget is simple: go to Ucluelet.

tofino british columbia cox bay surfers

All (or, at least, most) jokes aside, it can be possible to visit Tofino without spending a ton of money.

ucluelet british columbia thornton creek hatchery

Where to Stay

The cheapest Tofino hotel or motel that I could find online was  $200/night. I then checked AirBnB and found an awesome little guest house about a 15-minute walk from the main boardwalk for about $90/night (plus taxes the AirBnB fees).

Check both AirBnB and VRBO for options – they’re great resources for a cheaper stay.

(If you’re spending time in Victoria, I also can’t say enough good things about this place!)

Where to Eat

We bought groceries in Victoria (the Co-op Grocery Store in Tofino is expensive and doesn’t have a great selection) and ate most of our meals picnic-style on the beach or while hiking.

When we did eat out, we loved Redcan Gourmet for fancy picnic dinners (mac and cheese! pizza!), Wildside Grill for amazing burgers (and a 10% off voucher for Chocolate Tofino, which had incredible homemade ice cream), and the Tacofino Food Truck (and yes, it’s exactly the same food that you get from the Vancouver truck).

We also had daily doughnuts from Rhino Coffee House. They’re worth it.

If you’re on your way to or from the ferry, I highly recommend a stop at Bread & Honey Food Co. in Parksville. Their fried chicken sandwich was amazing.

hot chocolate

What to Do

cox bay tofino british columbia surfers

Surfing is the obvious choice in Tofino, and I saw a couple Social Shopper deals for gear rentals around Tofino.

Hiking is always a go-to, and the Wild Pacific Trail was beautiful (though technically in Ucluelet).

We did end up splurging on a nighttime kayak tour to see the bioluminescence with Paddle West Kayaking – though possible to see for free on your own, the Tofino light pollution makes it difficult unless you can get somewhere out of town that the right currents hit.

We saved on the bear watching tour by heading back to Ucluelet (I wasn’t kidding when I said visit Ucluelet instead) to go to Thornton Creek Hatchery. For a suggested $10-20 donation, we saw a bear almost immediately, and spent an hour learning about aquaculture from the super friendly guys working there. We also watched a seal herd a bunch of salmon from the lake up the creek (that’s the nice way of putting it).

If you’re set on bear (or whale) watching from a boat, keep an eye on the Tofino Times local newsletter, available in most coffee shops in the area. Jamie’s Whaling Station had coupons for $20 off all boat tours, and another company offered $10 off.

black bear at thornton creek hatchery ucluelet british columbia canada

What to Bring

This section is mostly to remind myself if I ever go back. Tofino was colder in early September than I thought it would be, so next time I’d bring extra sweatpants, a toque, gloves, and a thermos.

thornton creek hatchery view bear silhouette

Do you have suggestions for a budget-friendly trip to Tofino? Send me a note or leave a comment!