Lately: A Lotta Brunch!

Good morning! Today is Monday, May 7 – Labour Day in Australia. Since it’s a university holiday, I don’t have classes today. Normally I have two classes and a tutorial on Mondays, which would go from noon to around 5:00. So, I’m glad that the entire day is mine to relax, catch up, and sit at home. It also happens to be rainy today, so I’m glad that I don’t have to catch the bus or walk to school with an umbrella.

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Spamming my sister with comments about the book – I want her to read it so badly!

Over the weekend, I went to Dymocks, the Australian version of Coles/Chapters/Indigo/Barnes&Noble. It’s a lovely bookstore in the heart of the city, and I picked up a book called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. I was immediately captivated by the synopsis, which I’ll paste below. I thought I’d flip through the beginning of the book, and it was so fascinating that I sat on the ground and read it until a bookstore employee told me to go sit in the back. So I did… and devoured the whole book!

I don’t have enough good things to say about it. I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers that are more creepy than gory, diverse characters, lots of action, suspense, and plot twists. This one checked all the boxes, and I would highly recommend it. Truly a remarkable novel – I can’t believe it’s her debut – that I’m probably going to purchase next time I go to Dymocks. Since it’s an Australian book (author is currently in Melbourne, and note the spelling of words like ‘traumatised’ and ‘realises’ below), I doubt I’ll be able to find it in Canada later on.

Here’s the summary, which I pasted from Goodreads. Interesting in a haunting, thought-provoking way, right?!

We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

I need to recommend it one more time – if you’re a reluctant reader who loves action and intense scenes/dialogue, this book is the way to go. Check out the author’s website, too! It’s beautifully-designed.

Speaking of books, my sister is rereading the Red Queen series. She’s jotting down all the new-to-her vocab words to define and incorporate into her vocabulary. This will be super helpful for her English provincial exam, which is coming up. Go Seline!

Switching gears…

Brunch with my friend, Grace! Grace and I travelled to Byron Bay for a weekend getaway together, and we reunited at She Bangs Coffee for a lovely brunch. I had the Italian smoked salmon with poached eggs on a beet puree, with dill cream cheese. The eggs were poached perfectly, and I loved all the sharp, tangy flavours from the red onions to the fresh cucumber. The salmon, however, was a little too salty for my taste. I loved the chai latte that I enjoyed before the meal, which was heavily vanilla-scented.

Afterwards, I headed up to the Albion Peace Centre for Brisbane’s Urban Yogi Retreat! Yes, after a very long time of not doing yoga… I did yoga. The event, which I discovered on Facebook, was promoted as “the perfect time out – stress, anxiety and worry melt away and leave you feeling uplifted and rejuvenated and ready to face the world again in just a few hours”. The retreat was suitable for all levels of experience, from the first timer to the seasoned yoga practitioner.

The program was from 11:00 to 3:00, and during that time, we did the following activities.

  • Pranayama: yoga breathing
  • Yoga asana (posture) class
  • Plant-based cooking class, where we learned to make tahini rice balls
  • Plant-based lunch of tofu, cucumber, red peppers, Thai noodles, and soy dressing, plus two spring rolls
  • Introduction to meditation class, with chanting (yoga chanting meditation is called Kirtan)
  • A discussion about yoga philosophy and yoga wisdom
  • Yoga nidra (yogic “sleep”, for full-body relaxation)
  • Tea and the best peanut butter brownies I’ve ever eaten! I asked Yasmin for the recipe, and can’t wait to make them myself.

The food was simply amazing, and the people were so kind. One of my favourite parts of the day was sitting in the grass outside the Albion Peace Centre, barefoot, with the sunshine streaming through the leaves of the trees above us. The four hours went by quickly, and I left feeling emotionally cleansed and ready to get back to schoolwork.

Another day, I had a remarkable brunch by myself. I started with the large chai latte at Corner Store Cafe before diving into this polenta and jalapeño waffle topped with creamed corn, sour cream, poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I’d eyed this on the menu for ages, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Delicious!

Since I had aerial silks practice yesterday, I had an energizing breakfast at home. I had half of a quiche made with pumpkin, spinach, and parmesan, some yogurt topped with cinnamon, and the bottom of a pistachio-raspberry muffin.

After practice, I walked around the area and found a place called Little Loco Cafe. I’ve always wanted to try their – you guessed it – chai latte, so I stopped in for a sip. This was great!

Meanwhile in Canada, Mom was cooking dinner. She made mussels with spaghetti in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. Her cooking is always so inventive and tasty-looking.

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I asked Seline the same question, and she picked American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian.

That afternoon, I also did a survey for the University of Waterloo’s Food Services. This was one of the questions. How, how on Earth, am I supposed to choose only five of my favourite? Only five cuisines?! I ended up choosing French, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, and Thai. French because I genuinely love the quality/freshness and richness of French cooking, Japanese for the incredible seafood, Lebanese because I’m a huge fan of garlic, onions, eggplant, and saffron, Indian for and Thai because

If you had to pick five, what would you select?

Last but not least, this is a restaurant that I really want to go to! My Brisbane list of cafes and restaurants continues to grow and grow. If you were to order from this menu by Merriweather Cafe, what would you select?

I would probably get the freshly-baked sourdough topped with avocado, poached eggs, beet hummus, dukkah, and add smoked salmon and halloumi to it. Or – how delicious does a free-range eggs benny with truffle hollandaise sound?! From the brunch menu, the quinoa fritter on a brioche burger looks awesome! I would also order a hot chocolate, a chai latte, or their banana, honey, cacao smoothie (and add peanut butter).

Last but not least, podcasts! I’ve downloaded the bolded ones and have listened to a few. It’s a little daunting to have so much information at my fingertips.

Pre-med Podcasts

  • The Premed Years *
  • PreMedLife
  • Accepted
  • The MCAT Podcast
  • MedStud Memoirs
  • Dear Premed *
  • Academic Medicine Podcast
  • Medical School HQ
  • Pritzker Podcast
  • Sawbones
  • Quackiest
  • Andrea Tooley
  • Kevin MD
  • Medical School Admissions Doctor
  • Get into Medical School
  • Skeptics Guide to the Universe
  • Skeptoid
  • Audio Osmosis
  • The Short Coat Podcast
  • OldPreMeds Podcast
  • Tailing Admissions and Med Student Life

That’s pretty much it, for today. Hope you all have a lovely rest of the week.

This Post Has Been HIDDEN for 3 Years

This post has been hiding.

Bloggers – you know what I mean… it’s that post that you’ve buried deep in the Drafts folder, where you promise yourself that you’ll come back to it.

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I didn’t come back to this until now. But whoa. Three years.

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In three years time, however, omelettes haven’t gotten out of style. I still love them 🙂

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Here, I used two eggs, zucchini, roasted red pepper, sharp white cheddar cheese, and kale (fresh from our garden – yay!). Separate the egg yolks from the whites. We’ll be coming back to this later!

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Heat some oil over medium heat, and cook the kale until slightly wilted. It won’t wilt nearly as much as spinach, but you just want to tenderize it. Remove to a plate when the kale looks cooked 🙂

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Zucchini is up next! In the same skillet, cook it just until it obtains a nice, slightly brown colour.

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Chop up the kale and the pepper. These can be whisked right into the egg white.

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Awesome! Pour the egg yolks (or just one, if you’d like) back into the egg whites and give it another good beating. 😉

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Spread the zucchini out and carefully pour the egg-vegetable mixture into the zucchini. Spread it out with a rubber spatula and let it cook for a bit less than a minute.

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Looks good! Sprinkle the cheese on top and cook until the eggs have mostly set.

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Use your rubber spatula to give the eggs a big flip!

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Misfolded ones are equally tasty. At least this one didn’t turn into a scramble!

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I miss Mom’s pretty flowers on the kitchen table. Those were the days!

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The combination of fresh veggies, rich egg, and creamy cheese is so divine.

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Have a wonderful Friday!

Marché With Rae

Not too long ago, I spent some time with Vancouver blogger friend Rachel. Rachel has been super busy lately, finishing her first year of university, returning from a monthlong trip to Europe, and getting ready for the new school year.

We met up at Le Marché St. Georges, a quaint, homey cafe and market with a fairly extensive coffee bar, patisserie, and brunch/lunch food options.

Side note: for stunning photography and snippets of life, you’ll have to take a look at her Instagram. Otherwise, for mouthwatering food photos (especially ice cream!), visit her foodie Instagram.

Rachel ordered the Crepe of the Day, which featured marinated mushrooms, goat cheese, and arugula, all enveloped by a toasty buckwheat crepe. I had a London Fog, which looked adorable in a 12 oz bowl, followed by the most delicious asparagus and asiago quiche (chard salad on the side).

Despite sitting outside on this hot, hot day, I was completely infatuated by my hot, creamy, crispy quiche. The asparagus was tender, the eggs sharp and flavourful, thanks to the asiago. My favourite part of the quiche was the crust, which tasted fresh, buttery, and flaky – an easy 10/10.

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Of course, no get-together would be complete without dessert!

At Earnest Ice Cream, a Vancouver staple just a few blocks away, we sampled some of their flavours and enjoyed one scoop of espresso flake (Rachel) and cookies and cream (me).

It was hard to decide between cookies and cream, London Fog, oatmeal brown sugar, and some other unique and flavourful options.

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Rich, creamy, just-sweet enough, studded with texture – I’m in love. The quality is absolutely stellar.

My “Winter in BC To-Do List” is already growing. I need this sesame shaved ice in my life!

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Then we parted ways!

Previous meet-ups with Rachel:

  1. The first time we met, we had croissants, coffee, and hummus toast at Matchstick Coffee Roasters (alongside our mothers)
  2. Salad for lunch at Railtown Cafe, followed by incredible Soft Peaks ice cream and shopping at Daiso
  3. Brunch at the trendy Cafe Medina, where we had super unique lattes and shared Mediterannean brunch specials
  4. Incredible vegan brunch and special brownies at Heirloom Vegetarian
  5. Lebanese dinner at Nuba
  6. And now, brunch/lunch at Le Marché St. Georges with ice cream from Earnest 🙂

I miss you already, Rachel! Here’s to many more delicious meals and great conversations. ❤

Finals ➳ Furniture ➳ Fries ➳ French

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. The last week or so was quite hectic – last Friday was the last day of my final exams. We wrote the exam in the physical activities complex, which is currently being demolished to make way for a brand-new athletic facility.

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After the exams, I started taking photos of furniture to sell. The hardest part was clearing all of my things from the drawers and figuring out whether I wanted to sell, store, or take them home.

I also had to remove some of my beloved photographs and collages from the wall, unfortunately tearing out some paint. At least now I will have a souvenir to take home? I guess this is why I paid deposit. 😦

Things were packed, sold, and stored.

I also had to take these lovely cards from the wall and take pictures of them before I threw them away. I love these cards and wish I could keep them forever.

The room was a disaster once the furniture was moved out of the way. Look at all of the dust and hair! It was highly satisfying to sweep it all up with my dollar store Swiffer. Many trips to the dumpster were also made.

On Friday, all of my furniture was cleaned and a very kind man, his wife, and his brother-in-law came to take the furniture away. They are furnishing an unfurnished house in Waterloo and actually needed all the furniture. Moving was so much easier with some extra hands. Fourth floor, no stairs – no problem!

From left to right:

  1. New high score? Seline would not be proud. Her current score is over 1200!
  2. I posted on Twitter about my moving sale items, which were cross-posted initially on Kijiji. Princess Cafe responded to my tweet. I am going to miss them, too 😥
  3. Can you believe the small dots in this picture are all grey? This one still shakes me. Seeing is believing… until it’s not.
  4. Theatre Arcturus was founded by my new aerial coach, Lindsay. She retweeted me! That made my day.

I saw a hilarious series of finger twisting tricks online and wanted to give it a try. I could only do this easy one, but some of the others were mind-blowing. It would be neat to have double-jointed fingers and be able to freak everyone out.

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So, with all my furniture moved out, including my nice mattress, I’m left with five nights and a whole lot of floor. The first night was pretty uncomfortable and I woke up a few times throughout the night, but last night I felt alright. It was mostly my tailbone that didn’t like being pressed into the ground.

Lunch yesterday was lovely. Went to Timeless Cafe and Bakery with four friends: Christina, Victor, Daniel, and Danielle. I had the open-faced trout melt with parmesan and artichoke soup. Both were amazing, especially the creamy heap of trout salad and sharp cheddar on homemade seed bread. For dessert, we savoured some brown butter cherry loaf, raspberry and white chocolate scone, coconut and chocolate macaron, and a great salted hazelnut chocolate brownie.

Breakfast this morning was scrumptious. I made banana bread a while ago, using Greek yogurt and no honey/maple syrup because I ran out. The bread was a little dry, and not very sweet, so I Frenched it up with 1/2 mashed banana and a whisked egg, then fried it up in butter before topping it all with coconut chips, granola, chopped prunes, peanut butter, and blobs of yogurt. This is my new favourite breakfast!

My walk to a cafe was was wonderful this morning. I’m writing this now in the comfort of Balzac’s, which smells like roasted coffee beans and fresh muffins. I just had the best London Fog tea latte 🙂

This breakfast was so good that I actually had it two days in a row! Have you ever made French toast out of an “untraditional” loaf – like zucchini bread or carrot cake?

Dinner last night had all my favourites. Broccoli and peas sautéed with couscous, sweet potato fries (cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon + S/P make the best seasoning) and garlic aioli, plus garlic-butter salmon.

I could eat this every day! In fact, I will make it again for dinner tonight 🙂

A few days ago, scrambled tofu made an appearance with zucchini, peas, and mushrooms. The poached egg on top turned out very well – I boiled water, turned it down to a simmer, then carefully cracked an egg into swirling water. Then, I removed the pot from the heat, covered it for exactly 4 minutes, and voila, runny poached eggs. Also, that isn’t some plain ‘ol pita – it’s fried up with cheddar inside to make a pseudo grilled cheese!

That’s it for today, and I better get studying. My French final exam is on Tuesday evening and there is a lot of culture and vocabulary that I’ve yet to look at.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had a massive can of pumpkin puree, an hour of free time, and a craving for a warm, squash-y baked treat.

Yes – I know it’s the middle of summer and August is on the horizon, but it’s never too late (or early?) for some pumpkin quick bread! Especially when chocolate chips are involved.

Yum! This recipe uses spelt flour, but you can easily substitute any of your favourite flours (AP, whole wheat, or a combination). I loved the addition of oats in here, and find it amazing that this recipe goes easy on the oil.

It’s worth buying some super high-quality chocolate chips for this one – you won’t regret it!

Also, I put mine in the freezer and they are as good as fresh after you microwave ’em.

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I used spelt)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • scant 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large, separate bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, and oil on medium speed until combined. Add the milk and pumpkin and beat again until evenly combined. Add the dry ingredients, then gently stir them in by hand, just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with oats and chocolate chips. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  5. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

 

Also, check out how cute and funny my mom is…

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I love making shopping lists.

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This meal was nice – roasted broccoli, baked salmon, couscous.

 

At aerials I learned how to do a meat hook!

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And that’s it for today. Only 10 days until I am back home in BC!

12-metre Shrimp Tempuras

You guys might have figured out that I am absolutely fascinated by sea creatures. This was a photo I found (on BoredPanda, of all places) that shows a sleeping pod of sperm whales! They also happen to look, according to my roommate’s friend, like giant shrimp tempuras.

Cool facts – it is the large predator with teeth, uses echolocation, and is the second-deepest diving mammal on the planet. Males can reach up to 21 metres in length, and albino sperm whales exist! They are made of cartilage, so their “bones” bend and collapse rather than snap, when they undergo dramatic changes in pressure in their dives. It can retract its eyes and has excellent vision. Sperm whales are very difficult to investigate, because they dive for longer periods of time, and travel quickly in the deep waters. Also, the novel Moby Dick was based on a sperm whale!

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On Friday, I went crazy with the food and ate until my stomach burst. During that time, I devoured an incredibly gooey, cheesy brie grilled cheese with cranberry mayonnaise on two thick slices of rye bread, plus a side of spicy Southern sweet potato soup – and followed that up with peanut butter + cheesecake ice cream at Marble Slab, topped with pretty much every topping. My cup was finished in a snap, but my friend’s became soup!

 

This Sunday is the aerials and pole showcase at my studio. I am not performing this time, but I can’t wait to see all of my friends perform.

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For dinner yesterday, I made a cheesy quinoa casserole with mushrooms, zucchini, red onion, and some frozen mixed vegetables. This tasted great with cheddar on top.

 

I added extra nutritional yeast into the sauce, so it tasted so zingy and sharp in the best way.

 

Chocolatey breakfast quinoa is one of my new favourite breakfasts. I always add a sliced banana and a scoop of nut butter, and serve it with yogurt + coconut chips and a piece of baking (this was an almond flour fig cake). Minus the yogurt, this would make a wonderful vegan breakfast (as the quinoa was cooked in coconut milk).

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On Sunday, I cooked a big batch of peanut stew. It is flavoured with cumin, garlic, ginger, and red onions – how can it not be good? The sauce also included peanut butter, chicken broth, cubed sweet potato and tons of spinach. It tasted wonderful on rice with crushed peanuts on top. I used chicken broth, but it can easily be replaced with vegetable broth (perhaps even water and salt?) for a tasty vegan rendition.

 

Yesterday, there was a thunderstorm and I got stuck in the rain at the bus terminal outside Conestoga Mall. Also, my roommates and I are starting the move-out process, which includes lots of sorting and throwing out.

 

Finally, my roommate’s yummy tomato, cheese, and egg omelet (above) made me want to cook some veggie eggs in the morning, too! Inspired by her, I cooked one egg with garlicky green beans and topped it with grated white cheddar, and served it with buttered pita bread and yogurt with a brownie, granola, and peanut butter. It was good!

 

Found this pretty neat gif, too 🙂

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I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the week!