Fort Valentine


Mike is an excellent pie maker. I think it could be a calling. And if not, it is at least a (not-so) secret talent. The first time he baked a pie for me was in Winnipeg. We had been dating for a matter of days. It was his first introduction to my family. I guess he wanted to impress. So he grabbed an apple pie recipe from my Voluptuous Vegan cookbook and set out to wow us.  Boy did he ever!

Ever since then I have begged him to bake another pie. And so last night he did! Complete with our K + M monogram.

I really dig homemade and handmade stuff. As I have mentioned before, Mike is a minimalist and he generally appreciates experiential gifts more than “stuff”. Inspired by this dreamy V-day fort, I was determined to finagle my own. Not as easy given our office ceiling doesn’t have accessible beams on which to hang fabric but I figured it out….eventually.

Note: I really do not have an engineer’s mind. My spatial skills are nil. Physics be damned – I imagined fabric suspended in the air. No surprise that it didn’t work that way. That said, I am extremely determined and I basically tried about 10 different options until I got one that worked well enough for me to be satisfied.

 

We had a blast in our little fort. We read tarot cards and listened to music. I ate pie. He drank wine. And we laughed…a lot.

Love stories + eating bugs

(by i am baker via Black Eiffel)

There is nothing sexier than running outdoors in the summer warmth and opening your mouth to draw in a big breath when along with it comes a bug of some kind. I have done that more times than I care to count. That said, I had not expected to find added protein in my pot of brown rice as it was cooking on the stove last night. But there they were….the saw-toothed grain beetle floating to the top of my pot. Well first off, gross. Second, what the heck are these things doing in my air-tight glass container! Third, I didn’t even pause before dumping the whole pot and the last 2/3 cup of uncooked rice sitting in the container. Now I see that others suggest different but there is only so much crazy I can tolerate in my house. And dirt, bugs, critters and dust make me CRAZY. I’m not as worried about my karma – it’s my sanity I’m trying to preserve. Long story short: I’ve probably been ingesting a little added protein each time I’ve eaten cooked rice from that container avec boiled (and dead) grain beetle eggs. Nothing thrills a vegan more than eating bugs.

Moving on….

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am tickled pink with the notion that Mike and I will celebrate Valentines Day’s together on February 14 (the actual day) for the first time in history. Woot! It has only taken us 3 years but I coordinated my travel schedule this year with that in mind. So well done ME. We haven’t sorted out plans yet but I expect a full night out on the town complete with flowers, chocolates and plenty of PDA. Take note, Foderick!

Along the lines of love stories, here is one that might not rival Romeo & Juliet, but I’ll bet it will melt your heart just the same.

(via Marvelous Kiddo)

Food + film

This week was the busiest short week. I felt as though my holiday was long enough so I was actually ready to embrace my trip back to the real world.  There was lots of running around which was kinda fun. I got to hang out at Dark Horse and David’s Tea. I met with two amazing women from within my professional network including one who was a former boss of mine when I was a bright-eyed, novice environmentalist. (Way back then…)

With such a constant rhythm outside of the house, once back home, I just chilled.

I have been on a bit of a classics binge since finally having seen Gone With the Wind in November. Over the holidays, my Uncle Manny very kindly gave me one of his prized classic movies books. So this week, I got cozy with a pot of Vegetarian Chili w/Sweet Potatoes (recipe below) and two films.

FOR THE FILM BUFFS

#1 The Awful Truth (1937) starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (and Mr.Smith). Totally hilarious. I laughed out loud a bunch of times. This was my first introduction to Irene Dunne and I must say, she is beautiful, elegant and super funny. I’d say that’s a winning combination.

#2 A Place in the Sun (1951) starring Liz Taylor, Montgomery Clift (gorgeous man, by the way) and Shelley Winters. This movie wasn’t at all what I had expected. It really takes a dramatic turn and is quite heartbreaking.  (I can’t wait to see From Here to Eternity.)

FOR THE FOODIES

Vegetarian Chili w/ Sweet Potatoes (from Real Simple)

  • *1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 15.5-oz can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

*This recipe was actually for a slow cooker but since I don’t have one, I just cooked it on the spot. And added the olive oil.

Combine olive oil, onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and black pepper in a large pot and saute on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato and 2 cups of water. Cover and cook on medium heat until sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened (approximately 20 minutes).

i ♥ parkdale

Photo: Sifu Renka

This is where I was Wednesday night. Local Kitchen + Wine Bar. Mike and I decided it was high time we celebrated some wonderful and exciting new developments in our professional lives. So naturally, I suggested we celebrate with food. (Mmmmm…..foood…) I like to try new cuisine and I had been admiring the restaurant everytime I passed it on the Queen streetcar.

There were plenty of jokes from my brother-in-law, Peter, as to what kind of “local” fare one would find in Parkdale. (Rodent on a stick? Roasted pigeon? That kind of thing…) Mike also encouraged me to “temper my expectations”. Nonsense!

Since I unintentionally skipped lunch, I had to consciously savour every bite of my yummy local fare (I was hungry!) It was divine. I had the Smoked Potato Gnocchi + Telleggio + Rapini. Deelish. Mike had the Ziti + Pomodoro + Basil + Peperoncino. As you know, we are BIG pasta lovers so it was fun to eat from each other’s plates. I believe that is what most people call “sharing”. I am sorry to say we didn’t get into the wine list. That will be for next time.

The restaurant is quite small but really cozy. My favourite non-food thing about it? That all of the staff wear i ♥ parkdale t-shirts.  What a great sentiment.

A few things to note if you choose to venture out to Parkdale for a lovely supper. There are no reservations and you will only be seated once every person in your party arrives. So…go early if you can (they open at 6pm) , and otherwise be on time (oops, sorry darling but it takes time to look this hot).

Oh and savour everything. So yummy.

Hello June.

(Photo via Design*Sponge)

Hello June. I am SO excited that you have arrived. This day marks six months of marriage for Mike and I. A few people will be losing some serious money today. To those who bet we wouldn’t last 6 months, all I can say is it’s never wise to bet against us.

The end of May ended with a downpour, a birthday party, and a lemon almond torte. My hubby joined me in the Peg for the weekend. We ate breakfast at Stella’s, got drenched on a run in Kildonan Park, went shopping in the travel section at Chapters (très dangereux) and wandered around the city.

Khorie celebrated his birthday (early) on Saturday evening with an indoor BBQ (due to the weather). I made Panzanella, Sangria and Chocolate & Hazelnut Baklava (which got rave reviews!). Last night, we topped off May with a outing to Blufish and then dessert at Baked Expectations.

Now June is here and it is going to be an insanely busy month. I start a new contract this month and there is plenty to get done on the home front. I am promised some fun at the end of June with a jaunt out to Stratford and a very cool art show.

Hello June – let’s make the next 30 days unforgettable!

8 in the kitchen

I took a look in my fridge and pantry today. I felt totally satisfied.

My 8 favourite edibles – all here at the same time.

Favourite soy yogurt. Ever. I have the worst trouble locating it.

It is almost always out of stock. Hmmm…I guess others feel similarly. Blueberry = the yummiest.

Crimson nectar tea. It smells like candy. Don’t be fooled though.

It is quite tart. Great to drink with a little sweet somethin’ on the side.

Continue reading

Good food + fresh air

Back to Monday. It was actually a pretty chill weekend around here. The sun came out in full force and that warmed things up so much so that I could crack open the windows a bit to let the air flow through the house. If I had to describe this weekend as anything it seemed to be about good food and fresh air.

Saturday was pretty relaxed. We meandered out to the Drake Hotel for brunch at their cafe. Then we walked back home taking the “secret way” and did some window shopping for houses we want to buy. There are some real treasures to be found. Love this old building pictured above located just a bit north of West Queen West that was converted into residential condominiums. Although the photo doesn’t do it justice, there is a big union-station-style clock above the building entrance.

Sunday we were all about gathering food and wine for a lovely Oscar evening. Well it was about that an tracking down some high quality kraft paper. Not as easy as I thought – I discovered I am very particular about my kraft paper. But it all came together.

For Oscar night I gathered together an army of fresh food for our party for TWO. I decided it would be a good opportunity to take advantage of my cooking/baking skills. Go FRESH or go home. The older I get the less enamoured with processed and pre-packaged foods I become. Yep – we could have just ordered pizza but where’s the fun in that?

So this is what we had:

  • Rosemary focaccia crostini topped with vine-ripened tomatoes, onion, herbs and kalamata olives (for me) and sliced mini-boccocini (for Mike)
  • Golden pomme frites seasoned with sea salt and fresh peppercorns (These were baked not FRIED.)
  • Fresh balsamic glazed chicken wings (Rubbed, marinated and baked by me. Eaten by Mike and Peter.)
  • Chewy Crumbly vegan chocolate chip cookies (not as good as I had hoped)
  • A bottle of Quinta de Azevedo white wine

Ok now for the good stuff…

  • Loved Sandra Bullock’s dress and speech.
  • Loved the John Hughes tribute – wow does Molly Ringwald ever look great.
  • Loved that Jeff Bridges won Best Actor.
  • Loved that UP won for Best Animated Film.
  • Not a fan of Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin’s off-colour jokes – although their duo was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. Big disappointment.
  • Not a fan of this year’s Oscar fashion for women in general. Kind of blah folks.

 Going to the movies tonight to hopefully see an Oscar-winning film. Got some work and packing to do before then. Off I go!

Supper club

 

(Photo via The Roosevelt Room)

Welcome Friday. Here you are. My favourite day of the week. I have been mostly holed up in my house for the last two days and I am craving some fresh air and a change of scenery. I undertook something on Wednesday that was supposed to be short and sweet – changing over the inspiredpractice site to the blog. It was supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be seamless. It was supposed to eliminate the need for me to figure out CSS or mySQL or PHP. Ugh! It did not go how I thought it would but as my mom always tells me nothing is FREE and apparently nothing is EASY either. If you think something is going to be easy – think again. Anyway, the silver lining is that I learned some new things, developed some new skills and the outcome is more or less what I wanted – even if the process was gruelling.

Moving on…

Today is a great day for a number of reasons.

  1. I slept in. Love that and totally needed it.
  2. I got to chat with this amazing change agent working in the sustainability field and grow my brain a bit. This morning via skype Sara in Sweden and I in Toronto took an hour out of our respective days to have intelligent conversation about the world. It was so great! We chatted about our work (hers is with the Natural Step) and Tanzania (she spent a year there working on a CIDA-funded project) and the sustainability of non-profit organizations (i.e. most are not) and our own criticisms of the environmental movement and the social side of sustainability and Manfred Max-Neef  and lots more stuff. Although I woke up only a few minutes before our scheduled chat and my head was fuzzy, I felt like I was able to keep up with the mental exercise.
  3. I have a few hours to get some stuff done before I head out for a hot date. I wanted to get my nails done here but I don’t think I will have time today so maybe tomorrow. My hot date is of course with Mike and we will be dining at The Roosevelt Room tonight. Can’t wait! Doesn’t it look like a lot of fun? There’s nothing like a little hollywood glamour at a supper club to send you into a divine weekend.

Ok Friday – so far so good. Now let’s really BRING it!