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Be a tourist!

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Granville Island Market

I guess the longer title for this post should read, be a tourist in your own city. Vancouver has  a lot to offer, great restaurants, beautiful beaches, hiking close by, farmers markets, awesome shopping and a young happening art scene. Vancity has a bunch of different neighbourhoods to explore and I am lucky enough to live with in walking distance of a bunch of different ones. One locally loved hot spot that is also a major tourist destination is Granville Island Market. Located under the Granville street bridge and jutting out into False Creek the market can be reached walking, biking, driving or even by water taxi. I can take the seawall for the scenic route or just head down to Granville for a more direct but noisier walk. I don’t go longer than a month without checking out the market. Exotic fruit? Check. Amazing florists? Check. Crazy cheese and deli selection? Check. Amazing bakeries and pastries? Oh yes and chocolate, wine, coffee, local crafts and in the summer months world class buskers and performers scattered around the market buildings.

Whenever my dad is in town, a trip to the market is a necessity. We gather bread, cheese (horseradish cheddar and St.Agur blue from Oyama,deli) marinated artichokes, humus (from Duso’s), olives, pate (for my dad) and a couple of giant lattes, nab a table and spread out our feast. Talk comes to a minimum as we concentrate on filling our faces. Although the summer crowds can be overwhelming, forge your way through and be prepared to get lost and disoriented by the overload of pyramids of fruit and glassed in displays of fresh pasta.

I went there yesterday with my mom and discovered a new store that has a wall of olive oil and vinegars infused with fruits and herbs, you take an empty bottle and fill it with what ever you like. As I’m typing this I just realized that I could mix the oil and vinegar right there, instant dressing. There was also a row of French fruit infused vinegars that I am going to have to indulge in. The apricot was an amazing saturated peachy orange colour, just dying to be made into a yum dressing. Anyway, I thought I would post some pics I’ve taken there in the past and put them up. I’ll be putting up some salad recipes next week!

Fruits and Veg

Exotic Blooms

Cheese Time!

Beets Etc

Terra Breads’ Apple and Rosemary Focaccia (pre-eating)

Organic Produce

New Year’s Resolutions? Or Maybe Not.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions but this year I am kind of making one. I am going to try to go to one group class a week at the old gymboree, (a.k.a. fitness world) so far I’ve done two and my mom came too so that made it easier! Anywho, I am also going to make more fancy salads! This will be a goal I can achieve. I have been slipping salads into the holiday dinners and one day my nieces will actually try one! But until then, there’s more for the rest of us.

At Christmas I did a pretty close variation on the one I did at Thanksgiving but I changed it up a bit.

Christmas Salad

Ingredients

1 bag mixed sweet lettuce

3/4 c. walnut pieces (or whatever nut you like best)

1/2 c. sugar

1 gala apple

3 oz crumbled goat cheese

3 c. unsweetened apple juice

1 T apricot jam

1/3 c. canola oil

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (wow I just forgot how to spell vinegar, it took me three attempts)

parchment paper

-to make the dressing, pour the apple juice into a sauce pan over medium high heat

-reduce by half, whisk in jam

-add vinegar and whisk in oil (add salt and pepper to taste)

-put nuts and sugar in a saute pan over medium heat

-swirl pan and watch closely, when sugar begins to caramelize (turn golden brown) and nuts are coated, pour onto parchment**

**be careful with hot sugar!!! Not only will it burn you but it will stick to you and burn you! If you haven’t caramelized anything before, don’t walk away from the stove, caramel has a tendency to go from zero to burnt pretty fast.

-slice the apple into thin matchsticks (I like to leave the peel on for colour, and fiber!)

-when the nuts have cooled break them apart

-combine all the ingredients and toss with dressing

(an easy way to clean your caramel pan is to fill it with water, bring to a boil and just pour out, the sugar will come right off)

It’s so easy to overspend at Christmas time, not just on presents but on going out and doing Christmas things too. I like to find stuff on the cheap if possible! What’s more Christmassy than light displays? When I found out there is a street in Burnaby that always puts on a show, I knew we had to go check it out. It was easy to find (and we didn’t have to go over the bridge and get lost in Richmond) and super fun. The whole street (except for a handful of houses) gets decked out and you can vote for the house you like best. There was a group of carolers roaming the street and people milling around. I posted one of the pics last time so here are the rest! Some turned out better than others! 

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Happy (belated) New Year!

Octoberfest!

Yes, I know the other Octoberfest is spelled with a K but this October fest is all about me! October is my favourite month for a few reasons: 1) my birthday! 2) Thanksgiving! 3) Hallowe’en!

It’s jam packed with action and I love planning outings (or innings) around all the holidays. Even though technically my birthday isn’t a holiday (yet). So far I’ve gone to a pumpkin patch, Fright Night at Playland, had a super duper birthday, gone to a wedding reception at a club, had the fam over for thanksgiving, been treated to dinner  and scoped out the latest opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery! On top of mid-terms this has been quite the month!

I was going to a post-Thanksgiving recipe post with a menu of everything but there was just too much going on! I wanted to take pictures but was too busy eating! Most of the stuff I made was just traditional Thanksgiving fare (mashed potaters, yams, glazed carrots, stuffing etc) but I did make a great salad dressing! It was a  killer creamy cranberry dressing but unfortunately I didn’t write down the recipe while I was making it (bad girl!). The salad had caramelized walnuts, dried cranberries, goat cheese and butter lettuce. I’ll just give an informal idea of what I did instead. So, salad dressings are basically made up of two things: a fat and an acid (the most basic being the classic oil and vinegar). To this basic formula you can do anything you want but I think a lot of people forget that oil isn’t the only fat out there and vinegar isn’t the only acid; for this recipe I used cranberry juice (reduced, sweetened and seasoned with black pepper) for my acid and cream for my fat. I emulsified the cream with my hand blender (I think when using cream a true emulsion is needed so it doesn’t break and get all curdled and gross looking) and the results were pretty awesome! It had a wonderfully luxe mouth feel and was sweet and tangy.

When it comes to different combinations, the possibilities are pretty much endless. Have a spoon at the ready; constant tasting is necessary when experimenting. And remember that  less is more, adding salt is easy, taking it out not so much! Keep a notepad to mark down what you’re doing while you’re doing it; if I hadn’t been too lazy I would be posting my dressing recipe right now! Coconut milk is a good option as well, maybe with some ginger infused pineapple juice and a tick of curry paste, toss with some cold cooked soba noodles, bean sprouts and julienned mango and red pepper! Add some sesame crusted tofu and you have a full meal. But I digress. Pomegranate juice would probably work well also.

I took some pictures of my cornucopia and am hoping to improve my photography skills soon! I found a great blog about food photography called Taylor Takes A Taste and am picking up some great tips. Hopefully my next post will show some improvement in the pics!

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