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** I realize this post has nothing to do with food… but really I look at this site as my journal, it just so happens my world revolves around food! If you are looking for a more up beat foodie post I suggest this one. Or check back tomorrow. I’ll be done being sappy by then.**
This weekend I was in Montreal for, what turned out to be, one the of the best weddings I have ever attended. For those who are twitter savvy you might have followed along with the shenanigans of #NJGWedding, or perhaps you were busy having adventures of your own!
I was ready for the fun, for the rowdiness and for the top shelf liquor. I was less ready for the pangs of hurt that popped up in my heart periodically through the ceremony. It made the evening a touch bitter sweet. Well… at least until the cocktails started flowing then it was just sweet.
I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of my split with my husband and I’m (somehow) always surprised how fresh that pain can feel.
During the ceremony the Rabbi told us of the custom of breaking a glass at the end of the wedding as a tribute to Jewish heritage, to symbolize the destruction and re-building of Jerusalem. He also explained that it was more than that. The glass was a metaphor for the fragility of love. How once shattered it can never be put back together just as it was. With a lot of glue it may be put back in a suitable way, or there might always be a piece missing.
Over the past year I’ve felt a lot like that glass. Gluing myself back together one piece at a time.
Being alright with no longer needing to run to that person for advice or just to share the details of your day – one piece.
Realizing that my effort to stay friends were misguided and fueled by the hope that one day things would go back to how they once were – another piece.
Feeling excited by the possibilities of starting again – yet another piece.
The most important part of breaking the glass, is the cheering of Mazel Tov after. A Yiddish phrase of celebration that means ‘good luck’. The Rabbi said it is important that we realize that though life can bring hard times, there is always something positive just around the bend. So we end with cheerful words to inspire and fill our hearts with joy.
Thank you Claire and Jared for allowing me to share in your special day and for reminding me of how amazing love can be.
Living alone gives you a lot of some things, like privacy, free time and opportunities for sitting around sans-pants. Sadly for your bank account, that often translates to going out. Not to mention that paying bills on your own is way more expensive than splitting them with someone. So it is great when you find smart ways to save money, money better spent treating yourself to something kick ass… like this:
Aged balsamic vinegar is thicker, sweeter and more complex that regular balsamic. It makes a spinach and strawberry salad sing a song so beautiful your ears will weep with joy. It’s also a hell of a lot pricier depending on how long it has been aged. Thanks to my amazingly awesome boss at C’est Bon Cooking - there is a work around.
Take a bottle of your regular, cheap balsamic. Pour it into a pot and turn on the heat to about medium. Allow that vinegar to simmer. NOT BOIL. If you boil it, the smell of vinegar will fill your house like mustard gas. But if you simmer it, and allow it to reduce by half – you will have a thicker, sweeter and very similar to aged balsamic tasting vinegar. Let it cool – pour it back in the bottle.
It is, quite literally, awesome sauce.
Leaving your budget free for something amazing. Perhaps Spock oven mitts?? Ohhhh baby.
I love lasagna. It is a way for me to justify more cheese on my pasta and nothing could make me happier. The only problem – making a single serving of it. Sure you could buy the frozen kinds – but let’s face it, they suck. There is either all meat sauce with no veggies, all veggies and a severe lack of cheese or it is just bland.
Then I discovered this little trick and it has once again brought the sun shine happiness of homemade lasagna back into my life: a loaf pan is the perfect size for two servings of lasagna. Basic noodles fit almost perfectly (a little trimming might be required), two per row.
Use your favourite lasagna recipe as a guide or take a look at what I did.
Just layer oven read noodles between tomato sauce (add a little water to it if it doesn’t already have a very liquid consistency - the noodles will need it while cooking. Add handfuls of spinach in some layers, and use cottage or ricotta cheese in place of the bechamel sauce and your favourite cheese. Throw it in the oven until the noodles are cooked to your liking and BAM! Lasagna for one (or two depends on if you like to share) that tastes amazing and is simple enough for even the busiest single guy or gal.
There is a British Study that says that people tend to choose dog that have similar personalities to themselves. I don’t know about that, but I DO know that since Lemon and I moved out on our own… he’s gotten quirkier. So, yeah. I guess that study is pretty bang on.
Let us look at the ways that Lemon and I are the same:
1. We both dislike early mornings and love naps.
2. We are both somewhat paranoid and twitchy.
3. Neither of us have much fashion sense.
You can’t see it in this photo but his purse totally clashes with that hat.
4. We love a good cookie.
5. We are easily startled.
6. We hate cleaning up after ourselves. *The only difference is that one of us will eventually do it anyway… thanks Lem.*
7. We are somewhat awkward and a whole lot weird.
8. Once you get to know us those things become adorable.
Here is another thing we have in common… we love this recipe. Me, because it is basically dessert dressed up like a meal and Lemon, because he gets the fruit that I drop on the ground. Both the accidental and deliberate kind.
Also, because it is just the two of us (though TV assures me that cute single girls in the city have many opportunities for “unexpected, but completely welcome morning visitors”… please don’t let this be more of your ‘false advertising’ television) this recipe is in singles friendly portion. One recipe makes 2 decent sized pancakes.
Best Pancakes In The World
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup liquid (milk or water – up to you)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp white vinegar
1/2 TBSP sugar
1 medium sized fruit or 1/2 cup
A little sugar and spices to taste
Depending on the fruit you use, you may need to cut it up and saute it with a little butter and sugar. Use the sugar to taste, it will depend on if you are using a seriously sweet banana or if you have a bitter apple. Berries and such don’t need to be cooked first, but you can if you like.
This is also a good time to add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg if you so choose. Usually 1/2 tsp is more than enough.
Mix all other ingredients in a bowl, add your fruit – cooked or not. Mix well.
Cook pancakes in a fry pan over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through.
Enjoy with an abundance of maple syrup. Seriously… go nuts. It’s awesome.
I have a pretty tiny apartment. It’s bright, has a lovely view and fits me just right. It may not take long to clean it – but the flip side is that it doesn’t take much to make it look like a bomb went off.
That can make getting creative in the kitchen a bit tricky. When you have very little counter space, and what little you do have is crowded with pots, pans, mixing bowls and cutting boards – it can make it feel like you are cooking in a closet.
It also doesn’t help that I’m a big fan of ‘air drying’ my dishes. AKA – I don’t really want to take the time to dry them with a tea towel. I am *just* that lazy.
A regular person might put these away… I just leave them there until I need them again.
So combine a hatred for doing dishes with the necessity to keep some work space free and POOF! You come up with some pretty handy tips for using less equipment/dishes when you are cooking. And of course I wanted to share them with you! Lucky duck.
1. This is one I’m really bad at… READ. Read your recipe or think through your meal before you start. Think of all the steps and start looking for cross over where you can use the same pan twice, save a bowl or utensil. For example, I have amazing tomato sauce that I helped jar this fall – it is pretty liquid and needs to be reduced. Rather than reduce it in one pot and boil pasta in another – I combine the two. Pasta absorbs more tomato flavour and I’m one dish less. Score!
This also saves you from the dreaded – I’ve made this one pot/bowl dirty, but it is really too small now I need to make a bigger one dirty too. That’s just painful.
2. Clean as you go – another one I’m pretty bad at. Rinsing and cleaning your equipment rather than grabbing a different spoon or knife for every task can really help. And when your masterpiece dinner is finished, you aren’t staring down a mountain of dishes. Always a nice feeling.
3. Learn what a measurement of a teaspoon and tablespoon look like in your hand. This way you can grab the amount of spices called for without needing to break out the measuring spoons each and every time. With baking I still do, but now I generally just season everything to taste and don’t bother actually measuring for most things I cook.
I’m always surprised by how big a tablespoon is… or by how small my hands are. One of the other.
4. Use multi-purpose bakeware. I love those casserole dishes with the lids. You can throw your dinner in the oven in them, then pop a lid on the left overs without dirtying another dish. THEN you can pop it back in the oven to heat up said left overs. It is like a 3 in 1 pot of awesomeness. Plus, there is something really great about looking at that dish and saying “I *would* clean it… but I can’t right now, it is still being used! Guess that is a job for future Jodi.”
What do you do to save yourself from too many dishes??
A really scary Winter Storm name indeed.
Before we start this post, let me say I know it is Downton (not Downtown) Abbey. Now.
I’m sure that your friends are like mine – wicked awesome and keeping you up to date in the world with their facebook postings. So when a healthy dose of my friends list was going on and on about Downton Abbey I had to check it out.
Of course I loved it and have now caught up with everyone after gluing myself to the television for hours on end. Oh how I adore this show. It’s like Pride and Prejudice meets Boardwalk Empire and takes place in a gorgeous British manner home.
So of course to celebrate the end of Season 3 (which actually ends with the Christmas special) I had to do something tasty! Armed with the latest Jamie Oliver cookbook (Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain) I decided to make scotch eggs. By which I mean bastardize a version of this recipe that worked with what I had in my fridge.
Ok. Truth be told I watched the episode then felt the need to eat my emotions and eggs wrapped in sausage sounded amazing. Also, by that time it was morning… told you it was hours on end.
Then tragedy struck. The eggs I was soft boiling – to wrap in the sausage – were a little underdone. You *could* blame the one cooking them. OR you could blame the eggs. Which was the path I chose. Mostly because they were my last two eggs. And as I’ve said, I was a little emotionally fragile.
So I just cooked regular sausage, finished frying the egg and ate it with toast. I called it ‘deconstructed scotch eggs’ – and I think we are all ready to move on. Until next season.
From Bangkok we hopped a bus and took a 2 hour trip south to Pattaya. A resort town on the shore that is known for some rather ruckus-y night life.
The Sanctuary of Truth… kind of like a church, but they let you rent ATV, speed boats and play paintball.
By now I had been in Thailand for almost 3 days and jet lag was seriously kicking my ass. By 6pm I was almost asleep at the dinner table. Which was lovely – by the beach and frequented by some regulars. By ‘regulars’ I mean a pack of puppies and their mom who loved the spot because people kept feeding them from their tables. I may or may not have ordered toast for them.
She just finished the rest of my burger for me – so helpful!
Most of the time spent in Pattaya was spent relaxing or exploring the town. Honestly it was a lot like every other resort town you’ve ever seen. Lots of large hotels near the water, plenty of shopping but with the Thai twist of loads of cheap massage parlors. The food here was definitely more western influenced, but all and all pretty well done. Without access to cheap hamburger patties and frozen fries, most items were made from scratch, but that’s not to say you couldn’t find loads of authentic Thai food as well.
My first pangs of homesickness started here. To this point I wasn’t loving my trip. It was fun, but not really what I had been expecting. Foolishly I realized that I had been hoping for a complete and total escape from all matters of the heart and to forget for a while what a drastic change my life had taken. Alas, I remembered to pack my brain and that baby kept going!
This is how I do my best thinking. Thanks Frank for capturing the moment.
Just before leaving I had been given the chance to put things in my life back the way it was. Maybe not to have the exact home I once did, but an offer to try. Perhaps it would be better, perhaps it wouldn’t. But the truth is that having the choice is much harder than it seems. Things are so much simpler when you have a hand of cards to play from and that’s that – but to decide to take the risk and hit or stay – that’s a lot more difficult that I thought it would be. All and all it summed up to be the quiet and introspective part of the trip.
Until night hit.
Then it was time to party Pattaya style. And that means the best people watching in the world on Walking Street!
In Thailand, most bars have ‘working girls’. Ladies that you can pay to sit with you at your table for the evening. You buy her drinks, enjoy her company and if you wish for a price you can take her home. (This service is also offered by the week or month through various web sites – the women are called ‘Thai-wives’ and they are everywhere.)
It does make for the funniest, best people watching I’ve ever encountered.
For every bar pumping out rock cover songs (for some reason they LOVED playing Bon Jovi), there was a go-go club. Basically a strip club but the girls are already stripped… no need to clean up pesky articles of clothing! Anything you wanted to find here you could. Ladies dancing, lady boys dancing, monkeys, ping-pong shows, company for the evening. It was all here to be enjoyed.
I’m obviously delighted.
Luckily no one ended up in a Thai jail – and in the end, the time to think was worth it’s weight in gold. I’m still continuing on towards places unknown and know that’s the best place for me right now. What does the future hold? Only time will tell…
There are many things I’m enjoying about my new single life and a couple of things I hate. One of the biggest, and lamest, changes has been my new found dependence on public transportation.
I hate taking the bus. I’d rather walk. But when that’s not an option I’m often left standing at the side of the road freezing my tail off wondering why I’ve seen 6 buses come the opposite direction while I’m still standing here.
Luckily in the past week I’ve been given two secret weapons to aid in this endeavour – which I am more than thankful for with the snowy weather just a couple months away.
Not so secret weapon 1 – GPS bus tracking
Just text 560-560 with the bus stop number and bus route number (example 7567 7) and you will get a text back right away with the next three times the #7 bus is supposed to stop at stop number 7567. The times with an *, are real time from the GPS on the bus.
Sometimes it backfires and the bus is delayed a little longer than you were told last time you checked, so you can re-text to check on it.
Invaluable when it comes to knowing if there is another bus coming shortly after that packed one, or if the bus is running 2 minutes early so shake a leg! It will also allow you to maximize your time in a warm sheltered spot before heading to the bus stop.
Not so secret weapon 2 – Cream of Fall Vegetable Soup
Quick and simple. Throw it in a pressure cooker and you’ll be warmed from the inside out in no time.
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 sweet potato cut into large pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/2 a turnip, chopped
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup barley
3 cups broth
1/2 red onion
1/2 TBSP dried dill
1/4 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 TBSP dijon mustard
Combine first 9 ingredients into a pressure cooker, turn on high and lock lid. Once lid locks into place turn heat down to medium and allow to simmer away for 30 minutes until everything is nice and soft.
Add final ingredients and combine with an immersion blender or in a regular one. Check seasonings and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Been back a week or so now. Guess it’s time to get to bloggin’ about my time in Thailand. What’s that you say? You had no idea I was gone. Humph. Well then. Guess I know when I’m missed.
I’d like to start this post off by saying that I didn’t run off to Thailand in some kind of horrible Eat, Pray, Love homage. I don’t even like that book. Or movie ( I really can’t stand Julia Roberts. I’ve tried). Though I do have a habit of taking off for long-ish periods of time after the ending of an important relationship in my life. This trip, however, was planned long before that. In fact, this trip was supposed to include elements of an anniversary celebration that would pass while returning home.
Even though some things don’t happen as planned, I was damned if that was going to stop me from a trip to Asia. Or any trip really. There aren’t too many places I wouldn’t want to see or eat my way through.
I’ve been told that the three places that will change your life food wise are Paris, New York and Bangkok. I’m not so sure about this. I don’t feel changed. I still have a love / fear relationship with Asian food. Will I like it? What is it exactly? In the end I always end up enjoying what I’m eating, but I can’t say I have a real level of comfort with Asian food. Perhaps I just don’t connect with it on an emotional level the way I do with Italian or French food.
But I will say this… the food was tasty (even if I had to just suck it up and try the mystery meat on a stick) and it was everywhere!
All you normally hear when you are talking about food in Thailand is the street food. Yes there are numerous carts and buggies with all kinds of noodle dishes, prepared fruits, meats and veggies – but after a little while you are looking for a place to sit and eat. Eating in a restaurant comes with a much heftier price tag (that same plate of Pad Thai will cost you less than $1 on the street vs $4 in a restaurant) but to me it was usually worth it.
Conversion – $1 Canadian is about 30 Thai Baht.
Western food is easy to find all over Thailand, and I’ll admit that sometimes (especially at breakfast time) all I wanted was something familiar. Bangkok is actually going through a bit of a burger fad right now with several new gourmet burger joints opening up over the past few months so hamburgers were easy enough to come by. Also french fries (or French Fried as most of the menus call them) are everywhere. I’ll also say that Thai ketchup (a thick tomato sauce they already have as part of their cuisine) is amazing.
The next few posts should help you to live vicariously through my travels… at least when I was eating!