New Things

A new thing from last week: moving for my first time. I’m scarred.

#sleptonthefloorforfivenights #nevermovingagain

Another new thing: before I left Waterloo, I visited Perimeter Institute with my friends. One of them works at Perimeter, which is an institute for theoretical physics. It’s a beautiful, massive, modern, bright building with a lovely bistro and great desserts. You can bet that I had two desserts + two mugs of tea with milk and honey.

New thing #3: I met up with Vivian, an incredible Schulich Leader and WE Day speaker from UBC. We enjoyed dinner at The Chickpea, a new vegan restaurant on Main Street in Vancouver. I ordered the fried eggplant dish, which was topped with yams, chickpeas, and garlicky tahini. There was a great hummus on the side, along with salad and chickpea fries.

Not including the lovely conversation, dessert was the highlight of my night. This was a vegan carrot cake, super tender and just sweet enough, served with the richest, creamiest vanilla ice cream (vegan, made with coconut milk). L-O-V-E. Honestly I cannot say enough good things about this coconut vanilla ice cream.

Mom made a great dinner a couple days ago – braised chicken with taro. On the side, I made a rolled black sesame and red bean crepe sweetened with brown sugar.

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Indian food! I need some. Where is my palak paneer at?

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A couple days ago, I made pesto pizza on naan flatbread, topped with stir-fried mushrooms.

So yummy! Seline’s had garlic tomato sauce instead of pesto, and some Tex Mex cheese on top. We loved, loved, loved this dinner. 5 stars from me, 4 from Seline 😉

This morning, I savoured some buns that Grandma bought for me. I’m super lucky to have a lovely 奶奶 (granny) who buys me all kinds of buns. Here, we have:

  • cocktail buns filled with sweetened shredded coconut
  • red bean bun
  • taro bun (my #1 favourite because it was soft and perfectly sweetened, with a “bolo” topping)

On another note, another new thing: I went skating yesterday. I grew up doing competitive figure skating, so it completely filled my heart to be back on the ice after three years.

Grandma ❤ Her nails are always on point, as her her hand-knitted sweaters.

Grandma and I had lunch at Pho99, a Vietnamese restaurant where we both enjoyed lemongrass chicken with rice, bone broth soup, and fresh cabbage.

The best new thing! À la Evangeline (check out her new post, by the way – I have hearts in my eyes), I enjoyed a waffle breakfast yesterday. I made the batter with one egg, 1/2 a banana, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda, and plenty of vanilla and cinnamon. After a few minutes in the waffle maker, my waffle tasted great with nut butter and blueberries. ❤ Have I been converted? Maybe 70% 😉

An oldie, but a goodie – I made some chocolate banana bread. It’s my favourite recipe, which uses applesauce, a small amount of sugar, and no eggs. It tasted wonderful with yogurt, more summery blueberries, and crispy coconut cookies. I had seconds thirds.

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Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!

Holy Cannoli

Mattachioni is an Italian restaurant in the Junction. I ordered this tasty pizza for one, which had the crispiest, doughiest, freshest-tasting crust I’ve had. It was topped with fresh mozzarella, stracciatella (like burrata), basil, arugula, and marinated tomato. It was a “pizza bianca”, which means that instead of tomato sauce, it was dressed with a mild white sauce.

Dessert was two pieces of this cannoli. It was my first time trying cannoli, and I’m in love. Crisp, cookie-like, with a citrusy sweet ricotta filling, these were hearty and the perfect way to end my meal.

Is this true or what?

I found these charts quite helpful, especially the one about marinating times. How about you? Do you like infographics like this one?

My class schedule is out! Yay! These are my courses for the spring/summer term, which goes from May 1 to mid-August. I really like my schedule, especially the Friday 😉

I’m so excited about this roti that I can’t type anymore. Creamy, spinach-y, and loaded with flavour. Saag paneer (spinach and paneer cheese) is my all-time favourite indian dish. This was so filling and I was dying halfway through but powered through the whole thing. Worth it!

My grandma is the most thoughtful, content, candid, and funny person I know. I was lucky to FaceTime with her on Saturday afternoon.

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Some recent meals cooked by Mom back home in BC.

And two quinoa flour recipes! Again, I don’t have any pictures (Best Food Blogger of 2017… I know) because I love baking after dinner. And sadly, there’s never any natural light by then!

Quinoa Flour Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional but recommended

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Place all ingredients except quinoa flour in blender. Blend well.
  3. Add quinoa flour and mix to combine. Add chocolate chips. Stir.
  4. Spread batter into pan.
  5. Bake 55 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool and enjoy!

Healthy Quinoa Flour Carrot Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and/or line pan with coconut oil.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (almond flour to sea salt)
  3. Mix wet ingredients together (melted coconut oil to grated carrots). Mix until smooth.
  4. Add dry to wet, whisking after each addition.
  5. Pour batter in prepared pan, tapping on the counter to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool 20 mins. Flip over and release when cool. Cool completely before slicing.

That’s it! I have an 8-page report due TOMORROW and I’ve only written one, so I should go now!

From Dim Sum to Dill Salmon {Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant}

Good morning everyone! I’ve got a restaurant review to share with you today 🙂 Have you ever been to Fisherman’s Terrace in Richmond? It’s located in Aberdeen Centre, and we visited at 11:00 on Sunday to meet up with Grandpa’s old friends. I brought some healthy vegan pumpkin muffins for my grandparents as well as some report cards to work on for my kids at skating lessons. These muffins were made with butter avocado and sugar banana!

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Looks like a classic dim sum restaurant with the large spinning glass centrepiece in the middle of the table. Aunt Mimi ordered our dishes for the day from their menu. I took a peek at the menu – they sell a “cold marinated chicken feet plate”, “pig stomach”, “cow intestine soup”, and “apple sautéed snails”. Those were just some things my sister and I noticed and discussed. 😛 We actually ended up getting the first three items, though. No snails for us this time, but I can’t wait to try escargot in Paris with Seline this summer!

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This was lobster congee with ginger. I liked the flavour of the slow-cooked rice stew, and so did Seline. The lobster was a bit hard to eat because it was still on the shell. On the right is a piece of charred eggplant topped with a shrimp ball. I loved taste of the blackened eggplant – it was smoky and really tasty.

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Steamed BBQ pork buns were so delicious! Big, fluffy white-flour buns that were softer and squishier than a cloud wrapped around sweet and tangy pork in the most delicious sauce! I really loved this bun. On the right is a fried shrimp and chive cake, which was also very tasty and loaded with chives. I want to recreate this at home!

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More shrimp, this time wrapped in a sticky rice wrapper bun. I also had a piece of pan-fried taro, which I enjoyed as well. That shrimp-chive cake though… yummers.

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This steamed rice wrap was filled with chicken. The rice was really tasty but I found the chicken inside a bit dense and fibrous. Either way, these rice wraps were a hit at the table. Seline loved them, too! Seline’s favourite dish of the day, however, was the fried squid on the right. We ordered two plates and Seline ate most of it, claiming that the Asian calamari was “really, really good”.

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For dessert, we ordered two things: lychee pudding and durian tarts. I was a little reluctant to try durian for the first time, especially after Dad made a deal about how gross it is. Still, I really enjoyed this dessert. The durian taste was prominent, but it wasn’t bad at all. I’m also in love with anything enrobed in flaky puff pastry. 🙂 Cute baby on the right was also sitting with us – he ate his berries while we dined on dim sum.

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Here’s the superb dinner that I really wanted to share with you all – delicious dill salmon! We served it with sautéed corn and leeks with quinoa and steamed vegetables with a scoop of coconut curry hummus from the farmer’s market.

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This recipe is super easy – you’ll need to mix some ingredients, including garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and lemon. Then you’ll add some olive oil, pour it over four salmon filets, and then top them each with half a tablespoon (little cube) of butter for richness and contrast. Here’s the recipe below!

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Baked Dill Salmon

Makes 4 salmon filets

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into four squares
  • 4 salmon filets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Whisk quickly as you add olive oil to emulsify.
  4. Pour mixture over four filets of salmon.
  5. Top with butter squares.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filets.

You will love this recipe! It was definitely the star of this dinner. I liked it so much more than the carrots and hummus. 😛 Another great thing about the recipe is that the WHOLE recipe has just a teaspoon of salt. That means each serving has just over a pinch of salt on the fish. Again, cooking with fresh herbs is such a great way to impart huge flavour without adding too much sodium. Here are some other tips to decrease salt in your cooking. 🙂

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Thanks for reading, guys – have a great week and I’m off to hot yoga!

From Mantou to Banana Cake

Hey guys!

Hey Medha! AKA acid chyme. If you’re reading this I love you. You’re cool. I’m trying to think of a creative inside joke or something, but I don’t think we have any because we’re too busy studying… NOT. So, what do you use to catch an eyemaster? 😉

On another note, I wanted to share this funny afternoon with you guys!

Mom and I weren’t sure what to make in the afternoon, but we had three ripe bananas sitting around. I popped them into the fridge so we wouldn’t get any fruit flies. Drosophilias suck. So do Punnett Squares. And Calculus. Right Medha? 🙂

We decided to make banana bread, and I found two 5-star recipes on Allrecipes and one by Cookie and Kate, one of my favourite recipe sites. I decided to fuse the three recipes together to make my own banana cake recipe, and it turned out really well. Here’s how we did it. If you aren’t into step-by-step photos, just scroll down to the bottom for my recipe 🙂

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Anyways, make sure you use super, super ripe bananas. The blacker, the better when it comes to banana bread! These three were massive, but they don’t have to be too big. Four little ones would do, too.

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Then mix some flour with cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. We used a mixture of spelt, kamut, and whole wheat flour, but that’s not necessary by any means. Feel free to use a mix of any flour you have. All white flour works great as well 🙂 Whisk it all together (and sift, if you’d like) and the dry ingredients are done!

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On to the wet ingredients. You’ll need the three overripe bananas, some coconut oil, vanilla extract, two room temperature eggs (to prevent coconut oil from separating), sour cream, light brown sugar, and honey. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use sugar, honey, or maple, but finally decided on a mix of light brown sugar and honey. They turned out great, and not too sweet. We actually decreased the sugar from 1.5 cups to just 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp!

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When the wet ingredients are all whisked up, carefully pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Use a spoonula (yep!) or spoon to stir them together. Don’t overmix, and seriously, don’t use such a tiny bowl. There was so much flour to wipe off the tablecloth after this!

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Again, be careful not to overmix! If you do, you’ll get tough, dense, chewy, firm banana cake, which would NOT be yummy. I know it’s super tempting to stir until everything is as smooth as possible, but stirring too much will cause the gluten (protein in flour) to form a thick, sticky network. Gluten is what holds baked goods together – which is why gluten-free baked goods often require xanthan gum as a binder – and gives them their structure.

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Sadly, gluten is also responsible for making dough and batter super tough. Mixing too much will cause the gluten to turn firm, and the muffin won’t be as tender.  Streaks of flour in the batter are totally okay! Make sure there are still plenty of pockets of flour before you add the chocolate chips. They’ll bake out to be just fine.

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Time for the funny story! Mom was making mantou for Grandma. Grandma loves Chinese steamed buns, and they’re a huge part of her diet. She eats them alongside meat, soup, or dumplings. 🙂

Steamed buns are made of wheat flour, water, and leavening agents (Mom uses yeast). You can also add things like taro, sweet potato, brown sugar, or corn to make flavoured mantou. By the way, if you’ve never had mantou, they’re usually soft and fluffy. Kind of like a thick, blobby, dense pita bread? Okay, that was a bad description… sorry.

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Mantou are a main source of carbohydrates in the Chinese diet, and I’d say they are equivalent to rice. Mantou are small, cottony, and delicate in restaurants, where they are often deep-fried and dipped in sweet condensed milk. Working men often have two or three fist-sized mantou for lunch. You can also find mantou in Asian supermarkets, frozen! BTW the huge pot on the right is the steaming pot we use for mantou. 🙂

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Grandma made red beans in brown sugar water in her steamer, and she wanted them inside the mantou to make baozi (mantou with filling).

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So my mom put about a tablespoon into each rolled out dough, and then sealed it up.

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She pinched it up with her fingers and sealed out all the air.

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I like the tetrahedral shape! … those are tetrahedrals, right? I forgot all the molecular geometry I learned before spring break!

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Mom says “these are Grandma’s favourite hongdou buns”. Hong dou = red bean 🙂

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She really liked rolling them out! Meanwhile, my banana cake went into the oven for 50 minutes.

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And the red bean mantou went into the microwave to steam a little bit. The heat (we put a boiling pot of water inside) helped activate the enzymes in the yeast. Smile, Mom!

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And about an hour later, my banana cake came out of the oven! It smelled AMAZING when it was baking (thanks, vanilla extract!) and I nearly fainted when we took it out. It looked SO scrumptious! The cardboard on the right is used to protect the table from my sister’s beloved deep fryer. She spills oil everywhere!

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Then we brought it onto a cooling rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes. We should’ve waited longer, but I wanted to dig in! Warm baked goods are the best because the chocolate chips are still wet and gooey – the best.

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AHHH! I want some of this right now actually.

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Into the steamer they go!

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And then I went back to admiring the cake 🙂 We sliced it in half and then quarters (obviously LOL) and I drooled.

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A slice for me…

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With almond butter! I can’t have ANYTHING without almond butter! Like I said, this stuff is crack for me!

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Of course I made sure that I got the piece with the most chocolate chips. 😛 Then I smothered it in rich, nutty almond butter and devoured it. Here’s the recipe – and don’t forget the almond butter!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cake

INGREDIENTS

Dry:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup spelt flour
  • ¼ cup kamut flour
  • NOTE: you can replace the above with simple 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or a combination of whichever flours you’d like
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Scant ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup sour cream // Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional but recommended 🙂 )

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan or a round pan.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together. Sift if desired.
  4. Mix wet ingredients (NOT chocolate chips) and whisk well. If coconut oil solidifies, place in a big bowl of hot water and whisk some more.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Mix a little bit. Add half the chocolate chips and combine.  Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and top with remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then serve. Great for about a week – or you could freeze them!

My homestay student Jadee also had a piece. I’m so glad Jadee likes our baking! She got a big slice for a snack, but I’d happily eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, okay basically every meal. It’s THAT good! OMG I’m going to have it crumbled on top of my oatmeal tomorrow morning – can’t wait!

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She really likes the soft texture and springiness of the cakes. Thanks for being our special baked-goods-tester, Jadee! 🙂

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Yup, I guess that’s it for now! I’ve got lots of Chemistry homework that I’ve been procrastinating (whoa, I’ve put it off for about a week now…) and I’ll be posting a SUPER awesome pesto post on Wednesday. 🙂

PS: the mantou turned out to be a fail! The water evaporated into the dough and made them all soggy and wet. They didn’t fluff up at all and were really dense and firm. We will probably mash the beans and add them to the dough next time.

Have an awesome week!

Mexican Quinoa Salad + Sushi at Grandma’s!

Hey guys!

I have a seriously awesome non-recipe recipe to show you today, but first, let’s see what we had at Grandma’s house!  Like last time, we had sushi. 🙂 Usually, if we aren’t have what we call a lunch party, we order sushi takeout. This time, we ordered from California Sushi, a nice place in Coquitlam!

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From the shrimp tempura Dynamite roll and the savoury Chicken Teriyaki roll to the creamy (and huge!) California rolls and House Green salad,

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and the delicious and colourful Caterpillar, Dragon and Rainbow rolls… I loved every one. So did Mom and Seline!

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We also had the Alaska roll, which never disappoints – and a crispy Yam Tempura roll.

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They were all great! My favourites were the Caterpillar roll, topped with thin slices of avocado, and the Alaska roll (filled with avocado and topped with a garlicky, gingery, miso-y house dressing). But I tried one two three of each, and they were all awesome. 🙂

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Then, we went on a little walk…

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to Crystal Mall!

Crystal is a big Asian supermarket in Burnaby, BC, where you can find anything from passionfruit to Hong Kong-style bubble waffles (have you ever had those?), char siu duck to coconut-filled buns. Those are my favourite!

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There are also lots of non-food stores – usually they sell home appliances and cookware. Pretty awesome!

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We bought some Asian veggies and a mango slushie for Seline. 🙂

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After some essay-writing for me, we had dinner – Taco Day! I really think my family needs to make this an official day. We all loved this dinner!

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Here were the toppings we prepared…

  • Seasoned ground beef: we used Simply Organic brand taco seasoning
  • Cubed avocado
  • Sauteed corn with scallions
  • Salsa: we used Kirkland Organic salsa from Costco
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Grated sharp white cheddar
  • A couple drops of taco sauce on the ground beef

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Dad and Seline had hard-shell tacos and tortilla wraps as the vehicle for all of these delicious toppings, but Mom and I piled ’em up on a bowl of quinoa.

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And check this out! I really want to try serving it like that one day. 😛 Colourful food = yummy/healthy, in my opinion!

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I guess that’s it for today. 🙂 I can’t wait to replicate this again next week for school lunches. The black beans, cheese, corn, and avocado are my favourite parts. Oh, and the salsa. And the quinoa of course. Oh – and the beef. So, basically I like everything. This Mexican quinoa bowl was deeeee-licious – have I said that enough times?

Bye for now!

Party Party

PARTIES.

I promised I would post about the party on this post, and here it is now. 🙂 I am so excited to share all of these with you guys! We told our guests to arrive at 12:00, and when they did, the food was all prepped so we could just sit down and chow.

By the way, our guests = Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Mimi, Uncle Charles, and of course my family of four.

Now, onto the food!

 

Eggy egg egg salad crackers to start. These were made with chopped hard-boiled eggs and green onions, mixed with a little mayo and a squirt of mustard, plus lemon juice and black peppah. I think I snacked on three while I was making them. These crackers (from Whole Foods) are grainy, wheat-y, and really hearty. I love crunchy crackers. These have an “ancient-grain” taste. I loved it with the sassy, creamy egg salad.

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Uh oh! Ran out of egg salad. These are pita crackers from Trader Joe’s and some rice crackers from Costco.

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Chinese chicken sesame salad. The usual, with sliced “omelette eggs” and cucumbers.

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Spicy seaweed salad, a Chinese dish made by Mom.

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Quinoa salad with mixed greens, feta cheese, and sundried tomatoes. I had this for lunch on this day!

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Pork ribs and lotus root soup. I didn’t have any, but my grandparents RAVED about this!

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Lamb with daikon and tofu. Again, I didn’t have any lamb, but the guests really loved this dish. I guess I’ll have to try it next time!

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Maple-soy salmon. I had one and a half – you’ll see in a minute! Oh, and you can also see maple-soy salmon on ‘dis post.

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Incredibly crispy-creamy rosemary roasted potatoes. These were incredible, but I wish they weren’t so spicy. I went a little heavy on the red chili pepper flakes – oops!

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Maple, brown sugar, and cinnamon roasted butternut squash. This. Was. Divine. I had it leftover in quinoa salads for lunch, and also straight out of the microwave for dinner!

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Bok choy and cloud fungus stir-fry with onions.

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Squid with snap peas, canned Chinese straw mushrooms and carrots, sprinkled with sesame.

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The whole spread!

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This was my portion. YUM!

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A scoop of jasmine rice on the side. Perf for soaking up all of that maple-soy sauce from the trout.

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Serving #2!

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Coffee! This was organic decaf that Aunt Mimi brought. I usually don’t drink coffee, so this was just a splash from her mug + lots of milk. 🙂

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Then we brought out ze cake…

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Whole Foods New York Cheesecake with mango! Yum…

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My serving + Mom’s serving. 🙂

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The one in the green-framed plate is mine. I had seconds! I can NEVER turn down cake, especially if it’s sitting in front of me! But I thought the mango tasted a little artificial. Not in a powdery-fake way, but almost like it was canned (it probably was). A little more fibrous and chewy than usual.

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And I had this for dessert on that day (dinner) as well. Truly a fantastic party. I keep telling Mom that we have to do this again soon!

 

In other news, I am STUFFED right now. Just had a big, big Mom Meal dinner with rice, corn, edamame, cabbage, fungus, fish, oh man. Then I had to try the farmer’s market strawberries (first BC strawbs of 2014!). So I put some yogurt on it. Then I added some muffin… and then went to town with muffins. I had big slivers of all three muffins (from Matchsticks) and I think I had the equivalent of half a medium muffin?! Holy.

Well… there’s school tomorrow and I can’t wait to have oatmeal with muffin on top. Oh, and we also bought mizuna from the farmer’s market! I’m gonna put some with quinoa and bell peppers for my lunch. Can’t wait. Tutor’s coming soon – see ya!