Food, Face Mask, Flying Home

My last few days in Scarborough were snowy. Very snowy and up to -30 degrees at night.

On my last day of work, the team went to a restaurant called The Local, which is run by hospitality and cooking/pastry students at Centennial College. Here, the students learn to make sauce, stocks, bread, and more, while serving the public. It’s a special place with a connected cafe, open to everyone, and nothing is made from a box. In fact, all the ingredients is fresh, seasonal, local, and homemade. For example, the signature burger uses a homemade burger and bun – and homemade ketchup and a homemade pickle!

Below: plate one with creamy dill trout, Mediterranean pizza, Latin cheese puff, goddess salad, Asian green salad, rice with black beans

The menu switches up every three weeks. According to their news report, “choices are influenced by Scarborough and the school’s multicultural environment”, so everything is globally-inspired.

Below: plate two with Jamaican jerk chicken, more creamy dill trout, and spiced rice with black beans

Other cool things: there is free parking for community members who stop by for lunch/dinner, and there is no tipping! Food is served buffet-style, and there are always plenty of veggie options.

Below: dessert of white chocolate mousse with berries, salted caramel apple crumble, and raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Packing went much smoother than I’d expected, since I had fewer things. Before I knew it, both suitcases were packed and I was on my way home.

That night, I had plenty of extra oats and yogurt to use up, and I did.

“Chock full of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics (the healthy bacteria that aid digestion), there’s no doubt yogurt provides delicious benefits for your insides. But it can also do beauty wonders for your outsides as well, namely for your skin. Yogurt contains lactic acid that dissolves dead skin cells. This gentle exfoliation not only helps to create a natural glow and prevent breakouts, but works to diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles. When topically applied to the skin, a velvety yogurt face mask will help moisturize, fight acne, prevent premature aging, relieve sunburn, and reduce discoloration. It’s an all-around beauty multi-tasker.”

  • Honey: Softens and moisturizes skin, rich in antioxidants which prevent free radical damage. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Oatmeal: Great exfoliant. Nourishes skin and removes excess sebum and dirt from deep within skin pores.

This made me feel super fresh.

Yogurt Face Mask

  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp oats
  • OPTIONAL:
    • cinnamon
    • nutmeg
    • olive oil
    • mashed strawberries
    • lemon juice
    • mashed avocado
    • cocoa powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Wash your face, making sure hair is tied away from the face (or use headband).
  3. Optional: do a facial steam to open pores.
  4. Smooth yogurt all over face and neck. Use a thick coat.
  5. Keep on for 15 minutes, then rinse off, gently, with warm water.
  6. Splash cold water on your face to close pores.
  7. Pat dry with a soft towel.
  8. Moisturize.

How gorgeous is this? Flying over the Rocky Mountains is always such an honour, especially in the midmorning. Canada has so much to offer ❤

Exciting news: I purchased all my MCAT books and created a big study plan. I have 225 days until the MCAT that I’m planning to write on the first day of September. Let’s get studying! WOO!

🎪 c i r c u s 🎪

“Cindy, what do you do in your free time?”

This question used to be easy to answer. Read. Sketch. Go shopping with friends. Cook and bake (fortunately, this one still holds true).

Throughout high school, I committed every conscious moment to competitive figure skating, whether it be daydreaming about ice dance test days, stretching at home, or scrutinizing the routines of my favourite athletes. When I wasn’t in the science lab, I was gliding, stumbling, and twirling at the ice rink next door, or working as a skating instructor. Starting university in a different province, and leaving my skates in the storage room back home, undoubtedly left a hole in my heart.

Revisiting the rink, my home away from home, for the first time after 2.5 years away

Without skating, my days felt free, yet empty. An alarm clock no longer woke me up at 6:00 AM for morning ice time, I didn’t need to discreetly create skating lesson plans during class, and I didn’t have to lug my skate bag, full of children’s report cards, to and from the rink. At the same time, I missed the commitment, the community, my coach, the thrill of competition, and most importantly, the sense of accomplishment that would surge through me after each successful landing.

My first year of university consisted of sporadic dabbling in various activities: Zumba, Pilates, yoga, even ballet. On a side note, shoutout to the University of Waterloo’s fitness and recreation program for the impressive variety of student budget-friendly activities! First of all, I probably astounded fitness instructors with my dancing skills (nonexistent) and spectacular ability to dance (three beats behind). Zumba took my breath away, literally, in three songs, and I didn’t feel challenged by Pilates or yoga.

I received a yoga teacher training certification that year, in a beautiful Waterloo studio, a 200-hour commitment over the course of ten months. I received my training in Ashtanga yoga, and have since led gentle seated yoga at the local retirement home, and explored yoga-inspired movement with children on the spectrum at KidsAbility. Thanks to my anatomy and physiology courses in Kinesiology, I became more and more confident in teaching scientifically-backed exercises and referring to anatomical terminology for advanced students. I also spent a year with the University of Waterloo’s Acro Yoga club, where people partnered up to perform circus/dance partner acrobatics.

At the same time that I was beginning to experience restlessness, I was saved by a pole dance studio. Last May, a Kitchener pole dancer and businesswoman opened a brand-new pole studio in Waterloo – and she installed aerial rigs. Complete with hoops, a few trapezes, and plenty of silks and hammocks, Brass Butterflies became a new home. The sense of community in the circus world was incredible, and I cannot even begin to name the talented, creative, kind, encouraging, and hilarious people I’ve met, both at Brass Butterflies and Cirque-ability, the Toronto studio where I trained during my co-op term.

While aerials have certainly given me the opportunity to develop strength, coordination, grace, and balance, the most important thing I’ve gleaned from joining the circus was confidence. Courage. I am no longer self-conscious about making mistakes that offer the possibility of looking silly in front of others. I’ve also developed a newfound sense of appreciation for the master circus artists, like the superhuman athletes at Cirque du Soleil.

Up until recently, you have to be born into a circus family, or attend professional circus school, to learn to fly. Now, to the delight of many normal people, recreational circus classes are popping up in most cities for adventurous workout seekers. Perhaps most people try recreational circus classes for a fun workout, but circus has truly become a home, a mentality, a way of life. Plus, it’s always fun to take a break from studying by dropping my schoolwork on the ground, literally. Note that aerials are not a workout that can be DIY-ed, even for former dancers or gymnasts, and safety should always be emphasized. A few weeks ago, paramedics were called to the studio when my classmate broke her wrist after a fall from the silks. Another time, one woman slipped out of the hoop, and later discovered at the Grand River Hospital that she had broken three bones in her neck.

Regardless, for a year, I have been completely infatuated by circus, experimenting with aerial silks, hoop, Spanish web, corde lisse, and even contortion. Understandably, starting aerials in my late teens, my chances of performing professionally are virtually next to zero. My goal, however, is to continue living my dream at dizzying new heights – by becoming a sports medicine physician for Cirque du Soleil, or perhaps Disney on Ice, another lifelong dream.


I’d love to end with this – if you have any questions about skating, yoga or yoga teacher training, or aerial arts, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a Facebook message, or an email at emailcindy@shaw.ca.

And, if you have any circus connections, sports medicine connections, or something that you think might give me a hand, well, you know what to do.

✧ Lately ✧

Does anyone have a cool human body project idea?

A walk back home, taking the scenic route. What an interesting place, right? In my opinion, this doesn’t even look like Canada.

A trip to the library = six new (to me) books. I. Can’t. Wait.

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Deliciousness in the form of Thai green curry and biryani rice.

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Vegetable Biryani

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, quartered and cut into 5-cm  segments
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • S+P
  • 2 cups yellow onion
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins or currants
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash, carrots, and bell pepper with 2 tbsp oil, curry powder, and salt.
  2. Roast vegetables until tender when pierced, 20-25 mins.
  3. Warm 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, 6 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic, 1 minute.
  5. Stir in rice. Cook 1 minute.
  6. Add broth, raisins, and turmeric. Simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer gently until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 10-12 mins.
  8. Remove from heat. Keep covered until vegetables have finished roasting.
  9. Fold in roasted vegetables and cashews. Season with S+P. Serve.

I went for the most enjoyable walk on Monday evening.

The beach at East Point Park was quite nice. I’m looking forward to a jaunt to Guild Park soon!

Who knew Scarborough could be so pretty?

The sunshine and superb blue skies made a huge difference. This walk really brightened by day, literally and figuratively.

Another day-brightener: I had pizza twice. One slice was ricotta and olive, the other was poached pear with ham and brie. Completely in love with both.

2018 Winter Olympics! Did they come fast or what? The Olympics make me realize that the years go by FAST. I’m looking forward to figure skating! Also, I finished reading the Maze Runner, and now I’ll have to see the movie 🎥

Tonight, I had chili! Topped with cheddar and lime – the best.

Healthy Pumpkin Chili

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 large chopped white onion
  • sprinkle garlic powder
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 lime
  • desired toppings

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic powder until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers, cook another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, broth and spices (excluding the lime until the end). Stir until well combined.
  3. Bring to a slight boil, turn down heat and cover to let simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in the fresh lime juice.
  5. Serve with your favorite spices and toppings.

Have a glorious rest of the week, everyone!

Charcoal Waffles ♡_♡

Mmmm, pizza. It’s been a while since I’ve had truly, truly amazing pizza and this one from Lamanna’s, an Italian bakery and hot table in Scarborough, did not disappoint. Smothered in provolone and mushrooms, the toppings were simple and tasty – but the crust, charred to perfection, was my favourite part.

Dessert? Large gelato with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of hazelnut (check out that size compared to the little gelato spoon and my water bottle!) – followed by an unpictured lobster tail cream pastry. Talk about an amazing lunch!

Another day, I had lunch at Light Cafe in downtown Toronto, a chic and modern new spot in Baldwin Village.

The truffled mushroom croissant is their specialty, loaded with creamy truffle mayonnaise, sliced tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and lettuce. The croissant was toasted and tasted fresh. Salad was dressed in sesame, and had plenty of fresh tomatoes inside.

The soup was another highlight: rich, creamy, savoury Lobster Bisque!

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For dessert, I had to order the famous Light Cafe dish – black sesame waffles. There were four heart-shaped black sesame waffles, made with charcoal for that incredible colour, a little vial of rich sesame syrup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a scoop of black sesame ice cream. All of it was devoured. 😇

Waffles with ice cream is hands-down one of my favourite desserts of all time, and bonus points for special-flavoured waffles like ube (purple yam, specialty of the Philippines), black sesame, or red bean.

This is one of my favourite photographs from my trip downtown. I love how 50% of it is that urban traffic look with trees in the back, and the other half is a pretty lake with trees, and apartments in the back. The contrast is cool!

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The reason for my Toronto trip? Stock. Up. On. Muffins. Since I don’t go downtown very often, and I won’t be going often anymore since it’s starting to get chilly, I bought plenty of muffins, chopped ’em into thirds or quarters, and stashed them in the freezer. These are some of the muffins I remember:

  • blueberry streusel
  • blueberry bran
  • plain blueberry
  • blueberry scone
  • lemon poppyseed
  • carrot
  • banana chocolate chip
  • mixed berry and oat
  • cornmeal
  • lemon currant scone
  • ginger scone

There were definitely more, but that’s all for the ones I can recall. 😎 Apparently, I seem to like muffins a lot?

Excitement. In the form of a delicious plate of coconut Thai green curry with broccoli, mushrooms, onion, and carrots – and in the form of a new book. Sci-fi isn’t really my genre, but this one, RUSH by Eve Silver, had me intrigued all the way through.

A trip to the library meant I took lots more snapshots of the books that are on my to-be-read list. I can’t wait to take these out and see if they’re good.

On Mid-Autumn Festival, which is like Chinese Thanksgiving, I had an incredible meal at a buffet called Dragon’s Pearl, with friends of my grandfather. I. Love. Buffets. So what did I enjoy this time?

  • yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy
  • steamed ginger and scallion fish
  • Japanese sweet egg, bean curd sushi, other assorted sushi
  • stir-fried vegetables, crispy stir-fried noodles
  • peking duck on a flatbread, with sweet and sour sauce and cucumber
  • creamy crab salad
  • crispy shrimp cakes
  • garlic mussels
  • grilled salmon and plaintains

Dessert was just as delicious.

  • tiramisu
  • green tea cake
  • sweet sesame mochi ball (favourite)
  • regular cheesecake
  • unsweetened cheesecake
  • bread pudding with golden raisins, whipped cream on top (#2 favourite)
  • English trifle
  • kiwi custard tart

Do you like buffets? I’m a sucker for variety, so I adore buffets!

One morning, I had some quiet time to myself in the office so I started designing a new poster for the Integumentary System, which is the system about human skin, hair, and nails.

Totally random note here. This is such a beautiful logo! I like graphic design a lot and want to learn more about designing lettering.

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Speaking of graphic design, I’m creating a PDF doc of Anatomy-related study tips. The entire study guide is written out now, but I’m figuring out how I’d like to design the other pages. What do you think?

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That’s pretty much it for today, guys. Hope you all have the most wonderful rest of the week. 🙂

Lately ✿

The last smidge of summer was filled with bittersweet (mostly sweet – literally) moments.

Exhibit A: this dessert plate that featured chocolate banana “ice cream” à la Tom Daley, peanut butter tofu pie, and chocolate almond banana bread (on my Recipe page) with coconut yogurt and nut butter. Mmmmm.

Tofu haters – I promise you won’t taste the tofu. This is a super satisfying dessert that’ll be sure to cure any sweet-salty cravings. One of my all-time favourite recipes, and it’s a hit with guests, too!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Makes 8 slices

NOTE: requires chilling coconut milk overnight, requires 30 minutes out of freezer before serving

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups of crushed graham crackers (about 10-12 crackers)
  • 4.5 tbsp melted coconut oil, or more if needed

Pie

  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (125 g)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight so the liquid and cream separate (do not shake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, if needed

Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (175 g)
  • 1/3 cup milk (almond, dairy, or coconut are fine)
  • roasted salted peanuts, chopped, if desired for decoration

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly oil glass pie pan.
  3. Process graham crackers until you achieve a fine meal. A little texture is okay. Add melted coconut oil and pulse to combine.
  4. Press the crust into the pan and push down to flatten.
  5. Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Add tofu, peanut butter, maple/honey to a blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Add more maple/honey for added sweetness, or more salt if the peanut butter is not salted enough.
  7. Scoop out the cream from the coconut milk can. Whip into whipped cream in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  8. Fold peanut butter-tofu mixture into whipped coconut cream.
  9. Pour filling over cooled crust. Freeze to chill. After one hour, prepare ganache.
  10. Add chocolate chips to a bowl. Heat milk to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips. Do not touch for 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
  11. Stir gently with spoon until a smooth ganache forms. If it doesn’t melt, heat it in microwave for 10 seconds until smooth.
  12. Spoon over top of pie. Spread evenly with knife. Work quickly. I drizzled mine on, then swirled with a knife.
  13. Top with peanuts, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze to set.
  14. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and serve.

The last bit of summer was filled with Mom’s incredible cooking. This is my favourite type of fried rice, which is made with dried and rehydrated scallops, green onions, egg white, and more. Shiitake mushroom chicken broth, too. Isn’t that a colourful salad on the side?

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This was my last meal in Coquitlam, BC, so Mom made all my favourites! Tomato scrambled eggs with shrimp, red bean pancakes with sesame seeds, broccoli-carrot stir-fry with mushrooms and cloud ears, and leftover scallop fried rice.

Something similar, but this was on a totally different day: peri peri chicken, the same tomato scrambled eggs, stir-fried veggies (this time with chestnut) and plain rice.

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I love Mom’s cooking so much. More of those red bean sesame pancakes, along with cauliflower and not-too-spicy mapo tofu for my pathetic spice-wimp taste buds.

This meal, actually, was followed by an MRI to screen my pituitary gland. Lying completely motionless inside the little pod (for ~50 minutes) was eerie and unsettling, yet strangely meditative. Except for the needle, it was a neat experience.

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Another day, Mom and I made spaghetti bolognese with fresh ground beef, mixed it with al dente shells, and layered/topped it with an entire log of mozzarella cheese.

Served with garlicky green beans, this dish was a massive hit in the Wei home! I credit that incredible fresh mozzarella.

This summer, I challenged myself to bake a whole bunch of things. Most of the “whole bunch of things” never got baked because of busyness laziness, but these flaky feta-chive scones did! I think you’ll like them as much as my family did.

Flaky, Buttery Feta Chive Biscuits

Makes approx. 12 small scones

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes (170 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very cold water
  • 3/4 cup cold sour cream, or cold plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup large crumbles of feta cheese
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash, with a splash of milk if needed
  • coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper, and paprika for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place rack in centre/upper third of oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper. Use two knives/forks, or a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Dough should have buttery pea-sized chunks throughout.
  5. In another bowl, lightly beat egg, sour cream, and water, with a fork.
  6. Add wet mixture into flour mixture all at once. Stir enough to make soft, shaggy dough. Use fork to scrape from bottom to top of dough.
  7. Add chives and feta.
  8. Dump mixture on a clean counter to knead dough together. Mixture should come together in 10-15 kneads.
  9. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds, using biscuit cutter. You can also roll the dough into a rectangular shape, and cut the biscuits into triangular shapes. Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, black pepper, and smoky paprika.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Biscuits are best eaten on the day they are made, but will last up to two days.

We froze some of them!

These prune blondies were also whipped up. My mom enjoyed them, and I really liked the chewy texture that reminded me of glutinous rice.

Prune Blondies

Makes 12 blondies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, softened in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp mixed nuts, toasted/chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. In blender, combine prunes and water. Process until smooth. Add brown sugar, oil, egg, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Fold with a spatula until just combined, then pour batter into prepared pan. Top with nuts.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting/serving.

I also made a large list of books that I can’t wait to get my hands on (some of them, for the second time). Have you read any of them?

Books to Read

  • Boo
  • The Female of the Species
  • Unnatural Deeds
  • With Malice
  • And the Trees Crept In
  • A Mother’s Reckoning
  • What Happened to Ivy
  • Red Rain
  • Burning
  • The Cellar
  • Confessions About Colton
  • Run
  • The Letter
  • Her Fearful Symmetry
  • The Hour I First Believed
  • The Little Friend
  • My Name is Memory
  • Mystic River
  • She’s Come Undone *
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • White Oleander *
  • The Shipping News
  • Change of Heart
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • The Book of Ruth
  • Mystic River
  • Black and Blue
  • Everything I Never Told You
  • Visitation Street
  • The Vanishing Season
  • Elsewhere
  • The Afterlife (cool)
  • Shine
  • Before I Die
  • Where I Want to Be (cool)
  • Falling Into Place (cool)
  • The Age of Miracles
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • The Giver
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • Eat When You Feel Sad
  • To the Lighthouse
  • 300 Million
  • 1 Dead in Attic
  • An Invisible Sign of my Own

Seline, my sister, also wrote a special poem inspired by the stunning rocky hills on Salt Spring Island. She actually has her own poetry blog, which, by the way, looks a lot prettier than my unplanned collages of unfiltered (i.e. ugly) iPhone photos.

Rocks

The rocky path

Illuminated by a simple

Ray of sun

No one beside

In front

or

Behind

As I glide down the hill,

wood chips sticking in my shoes.

I trot

down

the trail.

I jump

Left

to

Right,

Hopping from one rock,

to another.

Finally reaching my destination

on top of

the rock

for all to see.

And that’s it, everyone! Have a glorious rest of the week.

BC, I’ve Missed You ❤

I’ve missed having big, fluffy blueberry-studded pancakes topped with the creamiest nut butter and a smattering of more fresh blueberries.

So much, in fact, that I had this breakfast three days in a row. Half a mashed banana in the batter makes quite the difference for texture and subtle sweetness, in my opinion.

I made banana pancakes another morning, bunny-style. Pretty proud of how these turned out, in terms of taste and presentation!

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Seline is a fabulous artist, and she persuaded me to do some doodling with her. We drew the same picture of a goddess character from her favourite anime, Seven Deadly Sins. My rendition is on the left, and hers is on the right.

My mom cooked Hainanese chicken rice another day, which we enjoyed with braised broccoli and carrots.

We played with the aerial silks at the Vancouver Circus School, went to the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in Coquitlam, and looked over LaFarge Lake.

More delicious Hainanese chicken rice was devoured. This is one of my favourite versions of chicken + rice. I love Chinese bok choy, stir-fried with garlic.

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There is always a plethora of cookies and baked goods in the Wei family home. Here, I have dessert: yogurt with a blueberry-banana muffin top, lemon poppyseed muffin, cream cheese pound cake, and a coconut cookie.

Mom is looking so cute here as she cooks. Seline put a removable tattoo on my wrist, and I think it’s fun to look at.

Mom makes a great winter melon stew with krill, as well as braised chicken drumsticks with taro chunks. I adore taro. Do you like taro? Have you tried it in sweet and savoury dishes?

More dessert: I made an Earl Grey cake on my second day home, and that was super flavourful and crumbly. On the right: cream cheese pound cake turned into French toast for one breakfast, topped with a generous smear of Nutella.

This morning, my breakfast consisted of a large mug of unpictured English Breakfast tea latte, and a big plate of two scrambled eggs, baked treats, a chopped peach, and creamy honey-flavoured yogurt with flaxseeds and blueberries. Breakfast was followed by a little too much nibbling on shortbread cookies.

The family doggie turned nine a few weeks ago, but he is still full of energy. He loves the park!

Yesterday, met up with the grandparents in Burnaby, where we ordered lots of great sushi. My favourite rolls are the Aburi flame-seared ones.

This is completely out of place, as it’s from back in Waterloo – Famoso Pizzeria, where I savoured this great Cavoletti pizza with (get this!) toasted walnuts, chopped dates, honey, crispy prosciutto, brussels sprouts, and gorgonzola. For my side, I chose a salad topped with Caprese ingredients – mozzarella, tomato, and pistachio pesto.

With tiramisu and a scoop of salted caramel gelato. Yummmm. Tiramisu is amongst (among?) my top five favourite desserts.

Rouzao rice is a Taiwanese specialty that my mom cooks once in a while. It’s essentially a stew of ground pork and pork belly, spiced with soy sauce, star anise, onions, and garlic.

A couple nights ago, my family and I went to the Richmond Night Market, where Seline and I shared a carton of takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls), and I had a bag of sesame bubble waffles and a taiyaki (Korean fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean).

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on our vacation plans. My family is going to Salt Spring Island in two weeks, so I am very excited about all the activities we’ll be doing.

With a mug of tea, I spend some mornings designing the activities of each day. It’s such a short vacation (~3 days total), but so much to do there.

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I can’t wait to go to a public skating session. Skating is great in the summer, in my opinion.

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Yesterday, I feasted on the most delicious homemade crepe I’ve made. Here’s the super simple recipe:

Easy Nutella Banana Crepes

Serves 1

Crepe INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Topping INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp Nutella

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together all crepe ingredients.
  2. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Pour batter into large pan and rotate pan in circular motion so batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes, until bottom is cooked. Flip and cook the other side.
  4. Place crepe on a cutting board and generously spread Nutella on the entire crepe. Top with sliced banana, fold, and place on a plate. Decorate with more banana slices.

NOTE: You can place banana slices on the center third of the crepe and then fold the two sides over, or place bananas on 1/4 of the crepe and do two half-folds.

I also baked up a storm!

These lopsided round-ish treats are muffin tops that I found via Evangeline on Nutrition with a Mission, who discovered them on Athletic Avocado. I made a couple small changes here and there:

Blueberry Banana Muffin Tops

Makes 6 large, 12 small

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packed cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used a mix of brazil nut and cashew nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup crushed nuts (I used a mix of roasted nuts from Costco, like cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine almond butter, egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and banana in a bowl. Whisk until well-combined. Add a splash of water or milk if needed.
  4. Add almond flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix in blueberries, and combine.
  5. Mix all topping ingredients together.
  6. Spoon batter into 6 large or 12 smaller muffin tops.
  7. Bake muffin tops for 20 minutes, or until done.

I also made these tasty lemon poppyseed muffins.

Vegan Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 5 tbsp water)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line a standard muffin tin.
  2. Prepare flax eggs. Allow to rest.
  3. Add applesauce, lemon juice and zest, oil, almond milk, maple syrup, sugar, baking soda, salt, and whisk for one minute. Foaming will occur as the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda.
  4. Add flour, almond meal, and oats. Stir with a spoon until combined. Do not over-mix. If batter appears too thick, add more almond milk. It should be thick and not pourable. Stir in poppy seeds and whisk again.
  5. Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin tins.
  6. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for several minutes in the pan. Remove from tins, and let cool on a cooling rack. Will keep, covered, for several days.

The muffins, and the muffin tops, were both incredible. If you have a day in the kitchen, I highly recommend giving them a shot!

Another recipe I tried, adopted heavily from Allrecipes to reduce sugar (original was 2 cups), and swap 75% of the oil for unsweetened applesauce.

German Apple Cake

Serves one 9×13, can cut into 12 medium-sized pieces

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 heaping cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used 4 gala apples)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9×13 inch cake pan.
  2. Toss diced apples with a scoop of flour to coat (prevents sinking).
  3. Beat oil and eggs until creamy. Add sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add cinnamon, baking soda, then salt.
  5. Add flour, and mix until combined. Fold in the apples.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until cake tests clean.

Have a beautiful week, everyone ❤