December Things | Coupons, Lobster, Turkey Marinade

Happy holidays, friends! ❄️

According to over 63,000 votes on Google Surveys, these are voters’ favourite parts of Christmas:

  • 3% carolling
  • 14% Christmas decorations
  • 9% Christmas dinner
  • 6% Christmas movies
  • 9% Christmas music
  • 24% presents
  • 7% Santa Claus
  • 28% time with family and friends

What do you think?

This holiday, I’ve been home for a week so far and have had so much deliciousness. First up, a tasty plate of Hainanese chicken rice, a fried egg, sauteed asparagus, and seared tofu with green onions. Mom is an amazing chef.

Another day, I loved chocolate oatmeal with crunchy peanut butter, along with the richest honey Greek yogurt and blackberries.

IMG_0207

Mom’s Taiwanese dishes are lovely. I loved this rouzao rice (minced pork rice) with stir-fried broccoli and carrots.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet up with the super intelligent, articulate, hardworking, and food-loving SHANNA YEUNG! I had such a fangirl moment when my mom and I saw her parking her car and coming over. Shanna suggested Kinemi Kitchen, a quiet Italian restaurant in a Vancouver strip mall. While unassuming from the outside, Kinemi Kitchen smelled amazing and served up the best cheesy baked lobster I’ve ever had, atop a bed of linguine and veggies in garlicky rosé sauce and parmesan,

We also had dessert: taro Nutella bubble tea sans bubbles and red bean cheesecake bubble tea – also sans bubbles. Before I knew it, I was on my way home!

Mom and I did some baking shortly after:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves one 9” pan (16 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 to 24 Oreo cookies or graham crackers, crushed finely (1.5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, optional (I didn’t use this)
  • 2 to 6 tbsp melted butter (depends on how much cookie you use)
  • 3 8-oz packages softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips, melted  in a double boiler and cooled
  • sprinkle of cinnamon, optional
  • 1/2 espresso powder, optional
  • 3 large eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine cookie crumbs, icing sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you smell a strong chocolate aroma.
  4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Add chocolate. Mix well.
  6. Add eggs one at a time. Mix on low speed until just blended.
  7. Add optional cinnamon and espresso powder, if desired.
  8. Pour over crust.
  9. Bake 55 mins, or until centre is set. Turn off the oven. Crack the door open several inches. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove.
  10. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen the cake.
  11. Cool before removing the rim.
  12. Refrigerate cheesecake for four hours.
  13. Serve with berries (raspberries are awesome), caramel sauce, and whipped cream.

The day before, I had the opportunity to speak at my high school about travelling, co-op, volunteer work, and life in university. It was a wonderful experience, and neat to see all the hopeful, excited grade twelve students.

On a completely different note, I emailed a bunch of companies during the fall (to ask for free samples) and recently made a compilation of all the companies that responded to me with coupons. These were all mailed to my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is: if you have free time, or no life like I do, email these companies and get some free coupons. Mom and I ended up getting juice, maple syrup, bread, three boxes of tea, nut butter, two large containers of hummus, and frozen chicken and cheese taquitos – for just over $1.00.

Operation Coupon

  • Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery $1 off (x5 coupons)
  • Tetley CARE Lemon Ginger tea bag
  • Tetley Ayurvedic Balance Herbal tea bag
  • Tetley free herbal iced tea
  • Tetley herbal iced tea save $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery one free package of any product (max value $5)
  • Ocean Spray save 50 cents
  • Quaker, Aunt Jemima, Rice-A-Roni $2 coupon
  • Maple Lodge Farms $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Nature save 50 cents (x5 coupons)
  • Hain Celestial $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Earth Balance $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • El Monterey Free product (max value $16.99)
  • El Monterey save $1 (x3 coupons)
  • Welch’s save 50 cents (x2 coupons)
  • TAZO free box of filter bag tea or tea latte concentrate (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Sabra hummus free product (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Smucker’s save 55 cents (x2 coupons)
  • Clover Leaf tuna snacks save 50 cents (x3 coupons)
  • Eden or Sobaya $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Splenda $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Twinning free box of tea, any size (max value $9.99)
  • Organic Meadow save 75 cents (x3 coupons)

That’s pretty much it for today. It’s Christmas Eve already, so I’m going to help with Mom’s turkey cooking. Here is what she used to make the turkey really flavourful.

Mom’s Special Turkey Seasonings

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • soy sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • lemon juice from a fresh lemon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • poultry seasoning
  • Montreal chicken seasoning
  • dried oregano
  • dried parsley
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  • dried basil
  • paprika

Last Week in Scarborough | End of Term Things

Happy Friday!

This week, I had a beautiful dessert… x2 – both were from Delysèes.

  • pistachio eclair with pistachio cream
  • Nutella caramel pillow with chocolate shortbread base

I saw this while looking for more information about the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test), and it was interesting to observe how students in the humanities and mathematics scored higher than those in programs such as life science and biology.

static1.squarespace

This week has been absolutely freezing. It was about -20 degrees yesterday, which isn’t terrible without the wind. I’m so glad that I purchased a good, warm, fuzzy scarf earlier in the term!

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 7.41.30 PM

The gym at Centennial College is lovely. It is not exceptionally big, but it’s quite homey and the people are so wonderful. I love the staff here!

I have been experimenting with different mat exercises and stretches, but have yet to find a routine.

Other things from lately (L to R):

  • doggie Arnold back home in BC is doing great! I get to see him TOMORROW 🙂
  • I haven’t had access to a blender for a while, so I can’t wait to make all kinds of creamy blended soups
  • this is the Kaplan MCAT study set that my parents purchased for me. It arrived so quickly and I’m looking forward to flipping through and creating a study schedule
  • McDonalds now offers parmesan and garlic fries!
  • excellent list of more powerful words to use in writing
  • kind comment from Mom on my previous post
  • love it when people make recipes that I’ve shared! I must say that her tomato scrambled eggs look much better than mine

It snowed on Monday, and I think it’s all here to stay.

Face masks and writing holiday cards? So therapeutic.

IMG_2486.jpg

Last few photos of my room because I peace out of Scarborough. One. More. Sleep. Until I’m back home in BC. My space isn’t normally this clean – it’s an illusion because some inspectors came to see the basement. 😉

I’m in the process of planning and enrolling myself in classes for the winter term, when I’ll be studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Yesterday, my coworker and I went out for Korean food with two of our wonderful massage therapy students. We had a delicious meal – it’s been a while since I’ve had Korean food, and I loved how flavourful it was.

  • radish
  • kimchi
  • spicy cabbage
  • vegetable sesame noodles
  • cucumber and seaweed salad
  • sweet and spicy rice cakes
  • marinated eggplant

For my own dish, I had the chicken teriyaki with rice. Purple rice is one of my favourites.

What a memorable, delicious meal to end the week.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and the greatest weekend!

Enchanted Scarborough

Good, good morning, everyone!

My sister is starting a Debate Club at her school. I thought that was super neat and wanted to share that with you guys. Go Seline! Have you ever started a school club? How did that pan out?

Looking at housing. A not-so-secret-anymore surprise announcement to be made soon…

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.14.45 AM

Sadly, my family had to cancel our trip to Whistler. I had it all planned out (this is the simplified table), on a complicated Excel doc with reservation times, ticket pricing, etc. Aww, man.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 9.23.19 AM

On a completely different note, the weekend was absolutely beautiful so I took a long walk.

This is the creek in Scarborough, where you can hop down the hill and stand on the rocks where you can see the river stretch for miles.

Don’t these photographs make Scarborough, a university-oriented suburb in Toronto, look so enchanted? The scenery looked even better in person. It reminds me of something that could inspire a poem, like the magical ones that Seline likes to write on her blog, Purely Poetic.

I normally tutor 4-6 students every day in Anatomy and Physiology, and occasionally Biochemistry and pure Biology.

My good friend yoga is back! I’ve been experimenting with some new poses. The one on the left is called the Super Soldier pose, and it’s one that I’ve never, ever seen before until a random Google search and scroll. It didn’t feel too bad for my first time doing it! Headstands are feeling solid (though I didn’t try a tripod headstand yet), and I did some handstands, balancing for longer than I have before. 🙂

Today’s mission: tripod headstands, more of those super soldier poses, and forearm stands!

 

 

The Best Food Court Meal I’ve Ever Had

Hey, hey, hey! Quick update on everything, now that September is coming to a close.

Yes, I know that many of my previous posts were flashbacks to my short time at home in BC. And as much as I wish I was back in BC, chowing on croissants every morning, I’m actually living in Scarborough, a quiet, academic suburb of Toronto. You might remember the little tour post that I did of my room/bathroom/kitchen and my office at work.

Remember my day at SLXCA in downtown Toronto? On the same day, I went to the Kensington Market, where I stopped at Hibiscus Cafe and devoured this buckwheat crepe with brie, roasted apples, pecans, arugula, and avocado. Super beautiful, yes, but the flavours needed a little something (maybe pepper?).

IMG_0694

Most of my eats at home have been simple, but oh-so-delicious. This quiche was from the farmer’s market, and I’ve been purchasing one little one every week. Truly the best crust I’ve ever had.

IMG_0585

Soups have also been making regular appearances, along with scones.

I found out recently that the uwaterloolife Instagram account featured me! I’ve seen my paragliding photo from Nepal 2016 used in several University of Waterloo Study Abroad advertisements. I was thrilled to see this post, shared with me by a friend, since I don’t have my own Instagram.

Pumpkin seeds, guys! Why did it take me so long to fall in love with them?

IMG_0620

On a tragic note, I finished all my sunflower butter. I suppose that merits another trip to Trader Joe’s once I return to BC? 😏

IMG_0640

Life at the college has been good, too. My students, for the most part, have been incredibly dedicated, well-prepared, and ready to learn and work hard. Thank you ❤

IMG_0631

Check out this stunning stretch that I walk down, each time I go to the Dollarama, Bulk Barn, and Food Basics plaza. Gorgeous, right? I had no idea that Scarborough would be so dramatically different from downtown Toronto.

Dollarama is a lifesaver. I love my soft slippers and the Halloween decorations that I purchased for my office. It’s never too early for Halloween, if you ask me.

Now this! O-M-G (part 1). On Saturday, I visited Scarborough Town Centre, the local mall, where I enjoyed this amazing lunch from Naan&Kebab. You see, I was expecting a greasy, sticky mess with dry, hard pieces of chicken, and perhaps a couple limp leaves.

Nope, nope, nope. What did I get instead?

  • two generously-sized pieces of piping hot, toasted naan bread
  • a large helping of basmati rice cooked in savoury beef broth, mixed with shredded carrots and plenty of plump, juicy raisins
  • six large, tender, flavourful and spiced chunks of chicken
  • a creamy, rich, and spiced just-right chickpea stew
  • romaine lettuce, red cabbage, mixed vegetables, and two types of salsa, with a creamy spiced yogurt on top

For less than $12. I tried to save half for a future meal, but I knew after my first few bites that it wasn’t happening – it was too fresh and tasty, so I happily finished it all. Next time, I’m going to try the paneer version!

Sweet Jesus is pretty much a legend in Toronto. Everyone knows about it, and most people have tried it. Well, on Saturday, I got to see what the hype was all about. I chose the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream. A generous drizzle of Nutella was artfully drizzled on top of the soft serve, and the entire thing was coated in crunchy chopped pistachios and cornflakes. The soft serve itself reminded me of Costco ice cream. My only complaint is that it was physically hard to eat, simply because of the size of the ice cream compared to the size of the cup. It got pretty messy, but I should have asked for a larger cup, or at least some napkins.

IMG_0728

The same day, I cooked up a vegetarian chili for dinner.

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 1.5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery (I omitted since I didn’t find any)
  • 1 scant tbsp chili powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid, chopped or crushed
  • 10+ oz kidney beans
  • 10+ oz black beans
  • 5+ oz whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • black pepper
  • cayenne
  • cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil and saute all vegetables with chili powder. Add salt.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, and corn. Season with remaining spices. Stir in pumpkin.
  3. Boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

The chili itself was a winner! These are some of the topping ideas that I’ll be using next time. This time, I kept it simple with some shredded cheddar.

TOPPINGS

  • cheddar cheese (personal favourite)
  • sour cream, creme fraiche, or thick plain yogurt
  • lime
  • avocado
  • cornbread
  • rice

IMG_0739

I saw some kind of list about Top 10 Fall Soups (or something!), and had the urge to create a big pot of chicken and wild rice soup. Since I didn’t want to buy and cook chicken, I subbed in an entire carton of white mushrooms. I really enjoyed this soup, especially on the second day with extra salt.

Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Serves 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp butter, or oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • shallot
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until tender, about 7 mins. Add mushrooms and shallot.
  3. Stir in garlic clove. Cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add flour until dissolved.
  4. Slowly stir in milk, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently until thickened. Add broth, wild rice, parsley, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to simmer, cook for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaf.
  7. Serve!

IMG_0867

And that’s pretty much it for today! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

10 Questions

Name the number one thing on your bucket list.

  • Scuba diving or snorkeling!

Go-to exercise routine?

  • Long walk in the park, or yoga.

Would you rather repeat the same day for a month, or repeat every single day twice for the rest of your life?

  • This is trippy – is “neither” an option? I think it would be neat to repeat every single day twice, so you can make things right. But for the rest of my life? Does that mean I can live until 160? Whoa.

What are your three most important components for optimal health?

  • Self-love, good spices (so you can make veggies taste good!), and clothes that motivate you to move.

Do you prefer spending leisure time with friends or by yourself?

  • By myself. Interesting Wikipedia articles, here I come.

Have any secret talents?

  • I can fold my tongue into a flower with three petals! I gotta show you guys some pics one day.

Weirdest food combination that you think surprisingly works?

  • Some people think tea with milk and honey is weird, but I always found it normal and absolutely delicious. I also love seafood with cheese, like in Hong Kong style baked seafood rice with béchamel sauce and broiled with cheese. Another one – toast topped with nut butter, sliced banana, cinnamon, and get this – chopped prunes!

Describe your perfect vacation getaway!

  • Thinking about vacation makes me so happy, but it is really impossible to choose. At this moment, I’m envisioning a couple of weeks in Casablanca, Morocco, or Tunis, Tunisia. I’d give away half my belongings to visit Carthage, in Tunisia! You must google Essaioura, and Sidi Bou Saïd, right now, because they are so stunning. Oh, and French Polynesia. I’d love to see the Baie d’Along.

If you had your own garden, what would you grow?

  • I would grow strawberries and green onions. Strawberries because I love them, and I think they look cute when growing, and green onions because they are super easy. It would be neat to always have green onions at your fingertips for a good ‘ol stir-fry.

Where would you go during a full day of restaurant hopping?

  • Chocolate almond croissant and a rich hot chocolate from a French patisserie for breakfast à all kinds of sushi for lunch à a London Fog (Earl Grey tea latte) from a café in the midafternoon à variety plate of Indian food for dinner (palak paneer must be involved!) à freshly-made ice cream sandwiches from a food truck for dessert.

In your honest opinion, do you believe in good luck, or is hard work the only component to success?

  • I definitely believe in good luck. Success depends on who you meet, when you do things, where you do things. You need to be at the right place at the right time for success in certain cases. Though, I know that the harder you work, the luckier you get. J Maybe hard work comes with luck, but luck can’t stand alone?

Thanks, Cassie, for these questions! It only took, eh, three months for me to get around to it…

 

Chocolate Day + Scarborough Tour!

My flight back to BC is already booked for December 16th! I can’t wait.

IMG_0390

That being said, I absolutely l-o-v-e it here.

This is my new bedroom. It’s more spacious than I’d expected, and I love all the shelves. These photos were taken on my first night, but now everything is cleaned up and sorted out.

My kitchen looking simple. Not bad for a basement suite!

House!

21585930_1892411694118693_1524224277_o.jpg

On my first night in Scarborough, I had dinner at Fratelli Pizzeria, where I enjoyed the most delicious ravioli I’ve ever had in my life. Portobello mushroom ravioli with rapini and gorgonzola cream sauce, to be exact. Dessert was a homemade tiramisu, which was much larger than it appears in this martini cup.

After this mouthwatering meal, I’ve had to resist the urge to walk to Fratelli (it’s a 15-minute walk from my house) every night. I can’t wait to try their oven-fired pizzas.

Dad and Mom on the left, and my landlord and myself on the right. I locked myself out of my room by closing the door too hard, and she had to come rescue me.

This is my office at Centennial College, where I’m working as an Anatomy and Physiology Tutor.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon in downtown Toronto (about 40-minute drive or 1 hour + 10-minute bus/subway). I had a snack of spinach and feta borek, which is like a phyllo pastry, and my #1 favourite London Fog – both at Moonbean Café in Kensington Market.

This is my favourite London Fog. Ever.

On Sunday night, I heated up some store-bought cabbage roll and boiled some broccoli, which I then sauteed with salt and pepper. The cabbage roll was really tasty! The meal was followed up with a great dessert that I also purchased from Pusateri’s.

Frittata ❤ With fresh zucchini. Surprisingly, I made this in the rice cooker!

This is my “usual breakfast” – pumpkin puree stirred into oatmeal, with nut butter, chopped prunes, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. It tastes like fall to me.

Today was National Chocolate Day! This morning, I stirred in 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and added extra honey. This bowl was extra decadent and incredible, especially with that salty sunflower butter.

My new backyard looks like a campground.

On my walk to work. Isn’t this beautiful?

My office again. 🙂

Notes and things:

Plus there’s a Farmer’s Market! I bought curried butternut squash soup, Thai green curry paste, three scones, a zucchini, and a quiche. Can’t wait to feast tonight ❤

17855025_1498450410199747_939042846136441707_o