Saturday, November 17, 2012

catching up, part three - hallowe'en

We carved pumpkins. And made pumpkin soup - following a recipe from Heidi at 101cookbooks - with brown rice, toasted pumpkin seeds, parsley and scalliions. We used the "decorative" pumpkin from Thanksgiving. And we ate it with roasted kale and beet salad, based on Sarah B's recipe at My New Roots (Have I mentioned that I adore her site, her life, and look up to her a LOT, as another Sarah B from Ontario who dreams about someday being a cook and doing a holistic nutrition degree?)

S. had never carved a pumpkin before (!), but I think he did a great job.

It was my first time carving in a couple years, and for the last decade I have mostly carved OM symbols. Not faces. Don't ask.

The soup was delicious, we ate it all week for lunches and felt so nourished. It was bright, the colour sunny and uplifting, the texture rich and fulfilling, leaving us satisfied and full, yet knowing we'd put great, healthy food in our bellies.

And I got my lover on the roasted kale chip train. Meaning that last week he made me dinner (while I read my book - lucky girl!). It was roasted kale and potatoes, with spicy Italian sausage and romesco sauce. Did I mention I'm lucky?

catching up, part two - birthday adventures

Let's be honest, I tend to think of any activity within a two week period surrounding my birthday, as a birthday-related event. So there were quite a few noteworthy birthday celebrations that I want to post about.

A few days before, also before Thanksgiving-prep-madness began, we took a day off to explore the Scarborough Bluffs. It turns out that my manfriend lives just a few blocks up the street from where my grandparents used to live. I spent some good times there as a child, running around and exploring the Bluffs, working in the garden and playing games with my grandmother. I've lost touch with that side of my family in the past few years (my biological father's family). My grandmother passed away a few months ago, and I saw this as an opportunity to revisit the places I remember from my childhood time with them, as well as seeing my lover's neighbourhood for the first time. It was an amazing and emotional day, beautiful and sunny, feeling more like late summer than impending fall. We saw lots of wildlife wandering down to the base of the Bluffs.

And some vibrant fall colours

We ended up climbing the Bluffs (what I thought was a path turned out to be...a precarious and adrenaline-filled climb, and I was in flip flops). I can't even find the words to describe that experience. There was a point where I didn't think I could make it up any further. And I had no idea how to get back down. I was almost crying (I'm scared of heights). My partner had to shimmy over and try to boost me up. There was a point when I finally got to the top, lied in the grass shaking with fear and adrenaline and exhilaration, when S. was slipping in the mud, barely able to make it up, and I had to try to help him. If at any point, one of us had fallen...I don't even want to think about it. Yet, it was an amazing sense of accomplishment. And I wanted to do it again.

After, we went and saw my grandparents old house...something which didn't give me closure by any means, but which brought back happy memories. Of my grandmother's lovely rose garden in the front yard, the smell of being in the garage with my grandfather, of his shelves and shelves (and shelves) of old jazz records in the basement, of sitting in the living room watching torrents of rain water pouring down the steeply hilled road outside. I wish I had seen them more in recent years, but I've come to terms with that. I'm just glad I had the times with them that I did.

Later that day, we went out for dinner, then dancing.

And then later still, a week or so after my birthday, there were flowers, and an official birthday dinner out.

The dinner was at Union, an adorable little restaurant that focuses on rustic, farm-to-table cuisine, like the one I hope to have myself one day. I got all dressed up. We sat at the chef's rail. We had an amazing charcuterie board. I snuck a picture of the kitchen when no one was watching. S. convinced me to get the steak frites, instead of the vegetarian polenta with greens dish (which he said was not expensive enough). I was disappointed. Still, I'd go back just for that charcuterie plate!


All in all it was a lovely birthday (week+). And now I'm 32. And so excited for the year ahead!

catching up, part one - thanksgiving edition

Well, I have a lot of catching up to do. I would like to offer the "I've been busy with work, and so many other accomplishments" excuse, but I'm afraid that's not really true. I've just been having fun. Enjoying my open schedule and the time it gives me to spend with my man. There have been quite a few kitchen adventures over the past couple of months, as well as other adventures too. October was a pretty busy month with Thanksgiving and my birthday celebrations. I also started a new class - hula hooping! I was proud of myself for joining something new, with new people, something that I struggle to do because it makes me anxious. But I swallowed my fears, and I love it! I knew the people would be nice; I didn't know how much joy I would find in learning new things, grasping new tricks that I had been struggling with, and just generally being playful. It is great exercise for my body and my mind. I find myself feeling more agile, dexterous, and this has translated into more flow in my life, at work, and in the kitchen.

However, all of this means I have had very little time at home alone. And little inclination to post here when I do (instead spending my time hooping, or cooking). But, tonight I have the night off, and I've spent the whole day doing just that - being home, alone. Catching up on some comedies, my favourite food blogs, some kitchen work. So I want to finally make the time to post about the cooking and exploring I've done in the past month or so.

Let's start off with Thanksgiving (oddly, posting this a month late makes it rather timely for American Thanksgiving this week). It was my first time making a turkey - I dry brined our 14lb turkey overnight and it turned out quite well. I somewhat followed this recipe, which was an adaptation of the Zuni Cafe roast chicken I've read so much about. I told myself I wouldn't make WAY TOO MUCH food for once, but that of course did not happen. There were mountains of mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, classic stuffing, slow-braised brussel sprouts (my favourite sprout recipe!), homemade cranberry sauce and some beautiful purple and white roasted root vegetables.

It was a great night, with great friends. What I did manage to do that I'd promised myself was to keep my stress levels down for once, by prepping for 3 days ahead of time, and thanks to my amazing sous-chef. I actually managed to get dinner out only an hour later than I'd originally said.

Naturally, we forgot/had far too much wine to think about it/ to take a picture of the spread. But, I got one the next day (my birthday) of our leftovers for "brunch."
We also started the day off with a lovely bottle of bubbles, courtesy of a very generous friend who'd come for dinner the night before.

My favourite part, as usual, was the mashed potatoes/stuffing/gravy, which I proceeded to eat every day for the rest of the week.

I know its been awhile, but its nice to remind myself how thankful I am for my friends, my family, my love, my ability and desire to spend 3 days prepping and cooking a rather expensive meal for the people I love. And how thankful I am for a "hobby" that I am so passionate about and committed to, that brings me such joy (I meant cooking, but I suppose I can add hooping to the list).