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Circle Craft Holiday Market

12 Nov

I finally got to go to the Circle Craft Holiday Market! It is a yearly market downtown that is always held on a long weekend. I wasn’t able to attend in the past because I was working but my days off have changed and when my friend asked if I wanted to go I didn’t even pause to think, I just said yes!

A Holiday Market? Hell yeah!

I went in with a budget, which I’m pretty sure I went over. I went in with the plan to buy Christmas presents, I mostly bought stuff for myself. I went in with a plan to buy a healthy meal at some point in the day, instead I ate all the samples.

Suffice to say, the day didn’t go as planned, which I’m glad about because the fun was spontaneous, I like the stuff I bought, and the samples were free!…which in my version of math helps offset the cost of oh say, the necklace I bought… πŸ˜‰

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It was definitely not crowded, I guess most people went on the first and second day it was open? I like that it wasn’t crowded, no fighting to see the displays, easy to walk around without getting bumped, it was much more relaxing than some of the Christmas events I’ve been to. Plus, it was inside so we were cozy warm. πŸ™‚

 

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One of my favourite booths was a company called JusTea. It is a Vancouver based, family run business. They go to Africa a couple times a year and source all their tea from there. The tea is all ethically sourced, and some of them are picked (or is the right word harvested?) by a woman’s co-op. Each tin has a picture of one of the farmers on it, so you can see who was making your tea leaves. The teas smell amazing! I kept taking deep inhales of the teas like I was trying to get high from them or something lol but really, it was just because it smelled that good. There was a fruity tea called Purple Rain that not only smelled delicious but had a taste to match. In the end I bought African Breakfast, which is their version of an English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe. It is a mixture of different tea leaves which gives it a more complex taste. Each tin also comes with a hand crafted spoon that took 9 hours to make. 9 hours on a spoon, talk about a personal touch! The gentleman manning the booth mentioned that when you want to buy more you can go to their store and they will sell it to you in a compostable bag, so you can refill your already existing tin, and not create garbage when throwing out the bag. Why doesn’t every company do that? That little touch makes me love them even more. Here is their website if you want to check them out: https://justea.com/

Another great booth is abeego, they sell reusable beeswax wraps that you can use to keep your food fresh and protected, whether it is covering the top of a bowl of leftovers you have in the fridge or wrapped around the sandwich you’re taking to work. I actually own a set of these, they were a gift, and I haven’t used them yet because they kinda freak me out. Instead of buying any at this booth I just grilled them to get a better understanding of how they work and I am kinda amazed. The beeswax has antibacterial properties so you don’t need to worry about your beeswax wrap touching your food. Like you see in the picture you can wrap it around the cut end of a vegetable (their sample is a cucumber) and it will keep the end fresh. You can take your cheese out of the plastic and wrap it in a beeswax wrap and the cheese will stay fresh and mold free longer. They are fairly low maintenance for care, rinse them off using cold water, use a mild dish soap if you really want, then let them air dry. They can be rolled or folded for storage. An important thing to remember is not to get them hot, they are made out of beeswax after all, and what does beeswax do when it gets warm? It melts. So if you’re putting hot left overs in a bowl and want to use the beeswax sheet to cover the bowl, wait until the food is room temperature before covering the bowl. Pretty easy right? Oh, and when they finally reach the end of their life, which is when they stop sticking to surfaces or itself (this can take a year or more to happen) you can either compost it or rip it up and use it as a fire starter when you next go camping. Which for me will be never, so compost it is! I’ve gone from wondering “what the hell I am supposed to do with these beeswax wraps?” to “I can’t wait to use these!” Super glad I stopped and talked with them. Oh, and they are also locally made and ship anywhere so if you are interested their website is: https://canada.abeego.com/

I bought myself a necklace I absolutely 100% do not need, but really wanted, and apparently wanting it mattered more in the moment than needing it lol

Again, a Canadian made product, well, work of art really. The holes in the charm are the Capricorn constellation, my constellation. It is simple, and pretty, and I can see myself wearing it often. She also had a necklace I’m regretting I didn’t get a picture of that is the word fuck, dangling down so you’d have to turn your head sideways to be able to read it if you were looking at someone wearing it. I actually also really wanted that one, but since I spend the majority of my time at work, where I would not be able to wear it, I opted for the one I could actually wear and enjoy on a daily basis. Go figure lol Rachael, the artist, has a lot of beautiful pieces, and since Christmas (and other holidays) are coming up you may want to check out her website at http://www.laughingsparrow.ca This was my most expensive purchase at the Market, and while I wish jewellery didn’t cost so much I can understand why a hand made piece, that is sourced from sustainable materials can’t be cheap. You get what you pay for, and I feel I got something great that will last.

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The other edible things I purchased are a jar of Pink Grapefruit & Champagne preserve, which I will instantly make less fancy by putting on toast. I don’t know how to describe it other than delicious. The Preservatory is a business out of Langley BC, they focus on small batch artisanal preserves, and lemme tell ya, they are good at their niche. I have seen them in a shop called All of Oils in Surrey BC but hadn’t tried them until they offered samples. Man am I glad they offered samples. Their website is: https://thepreservatory.com/

Sweet Thea is a bakery out of Langley BC, they are where I got the cookies. I know the package says I bought Ginger Crinkle, and I did, but if you notice, not all the cookies in the bag look the same. That is because the friend I went with bought a bag of Chocolava cookies and we swapped three for three. I honestly don’t know which I like best. Normally I’d be saying of course the chocolate cookies, but the ginger is also incredibly good. They are soft cookies, both types, and just so decadent. We split one of each cookie in half so for our first cookie we got half of each and while normally I am that person to keep dipping in to the cookie package, I didn’t reach again. Not because they weren’t good, but because they were so satisfying I didn’t need more. I didn’t even know that was possible, did you? You can find their website at: https://www.sweetthea.com/home The lady we bought from wasn’t as friendly as people at the other booths but I’m going to assume that is because it was nearing the end of the day and she was probably tired after a long three days working the market. We may have gone at a quiet time but I’m sure the other days were much busier.

That deceptively simple Lemon Square package is hiding an amazing lemon coconutΒ  square inside. That small square is meant to be cut in to four pieces! The flavour is so strong, not in a bad way, that you don’t need more than a small square to satisfy you. Well, in theory, I am not cutting and sharing that square lolΒ  Here is their website: https://thelemonsquare.ca/

And lastly, Whiskey Marmalade by Blaire’s Confectionery. They are a company in Kamloops BC that makes Scottish treats. They had various types of marmalade, shortbread, fudge that isn’t fudge (apparently in Scotland it is called something different), and probably other yummy items that they didn’t have at the booth or I didn’t notice. Hey, I can’t manage to see everything ya know, especially when I am sampling shortbread and fudge that isn’t fudge lol Their website is being redesigned right now and when I tried to go to it was directed to check out their page on Facebook so if you want to find them I’d search for them there. I didn’t sample the marmalade, I hate marmalade, but I thought my brother might like it, so I got it as part of his Christmas present. Don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog so no ruined surprise for him! I also wanted to buy the fudge that isn’t called fudge but couldn’t bring myself to spend $10 on a food indulgence…says the woman who ended up buying cookies and a lemon bar *rolls eyes*.

Can a couple pieces of art be anymore Canadian than a beaver in a canoe or a mama bear and cubs in a canoe? I’m thinking no.

So there you have it, an afternoon of wandering the booths, buying stuff, hanging with a friend, and enjoying my first Christmas activity of the season. Only 42 more days until Christmas!

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My Protein Smoothie Skills

9 Nov

I used to make delicious protein smoothies. Which I know is a stupid thing to be blathering about but hey, if it is something you are eating (or drinking) daily, you want it to taste good, and fulfill your nutritional needs…but mostly taste good lol

My preference was for unflavoured protein powder because then it wouldn’t interfere with the flavours of the other ingredients, or have that gross artificial taste that so many of the powders have. Also, the tubs are huge, and I didn’t want to be committed to a specific flavour for so long. What if I buy chocolate because when shopping I want chocolate but three days later I’m not in a chocolate mood anymore? I’d rather buy unflavoured and switch up the other ingredients to make the protein smoothie taste however I want it that day.

I got off the protein smoothie bandwagon a while ago, so haven’t made one in ages. I did however, in a half-hearted attempt to get back in shape, buy some protein powder maybe a month or so ago and started experimenting with smoothie bowls.

They were not good.

At all.

I thought I didn’t have ratios of ingredients in there correctly, I thought because I was making them thicker, more ice cream texture, vs a drink, I’d messed something up. Then I realized that it was the powder I bought.

protein powder gross

When I was at Costco they had a powder on sale and I figured I’d give it a try. It is a smaller sized tub, wasn’t too expensive, and sure it came in vanilla flavour but vanilla goes well with so many fruits and I figured mixing it with water or milk for just a simple protein drink will make it suck less than when I did that with the unflavoured powder…though I did add some cinnamon to the unflavoured one to make it palatable, but that’s a whole other thing.

So! I bought the vanilla bean flavoured stuff and oh the regrets! It is not good. The flavour is that horrible fake flavour I was wanting to avoid and the powder does a crap job of dissolving when mixed, even when mixed in a blender. How is that even possible?

I’d heard I could take it back to Costco, even after it was opened and tested, but I didn’t have the receipt anymore, so I was stuck with it. Which meant I stuffed the container in the back of a cupboard and tried to justify buying a different type when I have a protein powder already. Oh the perils of being cheap and trying to avoid wasting food, sigh.

Out of nowhere I realized something that others would most likely have thought of way sooner, I could add some vanilla extract to the smoothie, force a truer vanilla flavour, and that might drown out the fake vanilla flavour.

Right?

Well, maybe, but worth a try!

So this evening I made a protein smoothie, there was the protein powder, milk (I used to use almond milk but didn’t have any so regular milk it is!) plain Greek yoghurt, one frozen banana, frozen peach slices (cause peaches and vanilla are two flavours that pair well), and a bit of vanilla extract.

After almost killing my blender, it apparently doesn’t care for frozen peach slices, I taste tested it and decided it was a bit bland, so I tossed in more frozen peach slices and hit puree. On the second taste test I figured it was ok enough to be palatable so poured it in to a cup and voila! Protein smoothie.

protein smoothie

Peach Vanilla Protein Smoothie

Uh, yeah, so apparently my skills at making a delish protein smoothie are a tad rusty. It was not bad, but not good. Nothing I’d Instagram about, which is saying something considering how many food pictures I have on there!

I’m hoping my skills at making a tasty and nutritious protein smoothie will return, maybe they just need practice, it has been a while after all. If they have deserted me, well, I guess that is why Pinterest has so many protein smoothie recipes pinned on boards!

protein smoothie drinking

Proof I drank it!

The Three Things

7 Nov

Tonight I baked two loaves of banana chocolate chip bread, and since I know nothing is believed without proof I’ll pop a picture in here once they are done in the oven. Until then, you’ll just have to believe that my apartment smells amazing. πŸ˜‰

I really like to bake and yet I’ve hardly done any baking this past year. 2019 has most definitely not been a year of baking for me. When this baking project came up I got excited I’d be baking, which got me wondering why I was so excited, and since I have an hour long commute that gives me plenty of time to think about things…in depth.

The conclusion I came to is that I need three things to align perfectly in order for me to bake:

Time to bake.

Money to buy ingredients.

Energy to bake.

These three things may not seem all that important but this past year has been a perfect example of how with even one of these things missing, baking just isn’t happening. At least in my world.

If I have the money to buy ingredients I most likely don’t have the time to bake because I’m working all the time. If I have time to bake it is probably because I’ve not been working as many hours, which means I can’t afford ingredients. And if by magic I happen to have both time and money I am usually exhausted and don’t have the energy to care about baking.

Those three silly things all of a sudden add up to some annoying results don’t they?

Truthfully, I didn’t really have all three aligning this evening but the baking had to be done this evening because it is for something tomorrow and I gave my word I’d bring it so I had to force two of those three things to fit. Which I mean, fine, this one random time is ok, but I can’t always do that…so maybe I need to change some larger things in my world so those three things can align more often…looks like I have something to ponder on my next commute!

I do after all like to bake, and winter is perfect baking season…not only does it keep my apartment warm but people are more likely to eat what I bake, sweater weather tends to make people more forgiving with their meal plans lol

For now though, I’ll just be content that I got to bake something this evening and I’ll enjoy the warmth of the oven and the smell of the bread while they last.

(apologies for the slide show below, I couldn’t decide which angle I liked best so you’re stuck with all of them lol)

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A Mouth On Fire

2 Aug

Last night I bit in to a Snickers bar and had the oddest thing happen. As soon as the chocolate was touching my lips it felt as if my lips were on fire. Tingling, painful, fire sensations all along my lips. Being the dummy that I am I continued to bite in to the chocolate bar and the “on fire” sensation spread to the inside of my mouth.

fire

How my mouth was feeling. Super pleasant πŸ˜‰

For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on. This is not what a Snickers is supposed to do to your mouth!

I paused, read the package to see if maybe it was some weird special kind that is supposed to be a spicy or hot flavour, which yes, I realize makes zero sense, but I dunno, I couldn’t think of what else it might be.

While reading the label I was holding one hand over my mouth, as if that might magically make things better. (go ahead, roll your eyes at me, I’m rolling them at myself).

After I removed my hand I started googling to see if I could figure out what was going on and while reading horrifying articles about nut allergies I scratched at my cheek and rubbed my eyelid and omg fire! The fire sensation immediately started in those two spots also. My eye started watering, my cheek felt like it was under attack, and all the while I still felt like my lips and mouth were on fire.

So I did what seemed normal and messaged some friends, described what was going on, and waited for them to solve the mystery of why I was on fire. They didn’t know either but our best guess was I, over night, became allergic to peanuts.

I say overnight because I almost daily eat peanut butter, don’t judge, to me a day without peanut butter is just sad. Plus a week or so ago I ate some mixed nuts, and well, lets just say nuts and I have always gotten along juuuuuust fine.

The idea I might all of a sudden be allergic was not at all appealing.

My face started being itchy but whenever I touched it to scratch the fire sensation would spread to that spot so I did my best to resist and eventually things calmed down a bit.

By the time I went to bed my cheek had a rash, my lips looked like I had lip liner on because they were lined red, they also still felt tingling and fire like, my eye had at least stopped tearing up, oh, and one nostril felt like it was on fire. So ya know, great shape to easily fall asleep in.

In the morning I was happy to find the rash was gone and my eye seemed fine…don’t you love how my first concern was over vanity issues and not say, the pain issue? πŸ˜‰

The fire sensation had gone down to tingling and my lips felt like how they do after they have been sunburned, they feel swollen but don’t really look it, and feel stretched a bit too tight when I smile. Something new was the fire sensation was in my throat in one little patch.

Except for the dreadful idea I might now have an allergy things seemed to be getting back to normal.

Well. Let’s just say your girl isn’t always the smartest, and when I got to work I snacked on a mini bar that has as its number one ingredient peanuts. Didn’t even think about the whole “maybe I have an allergy thing and should be careful for a bit” issue. Just bit right in. And what do you know, nothing happened, except my enjoying the snack bar.

Guess who isn’t allergic to peanuts? This girl! Yay!

I even made sure to eat some peanut butter at lunch just to make sure. You know, for science.

But now the Snickers Bar causing all that pain and weirdness is an even bigger mystery. Maybe it was contaminated somehow? Maybe they changed their recipe and some random ingredient in there gave me that reaction? Maybe my body was trying to teach me a lesson about eating chocolate bars late at night?

Before I ate the mini snack bar with the nuts in it and the peanut butter I was going to ask my doctor to set up an allergy test for me but now I don’t know that I need one. Instead I am going to contact whoever it is that makes Snickers Bars and let them know what happened and see if they know what is going on. Let’s see if they can solve the mystery!

 

Eton Mess

3 Jul

For Canada Day (that’s July 1st for all you non-Canadians) I went to Squamish to hang with a friend and her peeps. We went for a walk with her dog, then back to her place where she made a delish dinner and I took care of dessert.

My only vague self imposed guideline I have for dessert on Canada Day is I want it to be red and white. I figure, if I’m going to have a flag on my car, and wear a t-shirt that has some sort of Canada pride image on it, and be all in your face about how it is Canada Day then that might as well extend to dessert. Listen, it may be weird logic but it is my logic, so let’s just all pretend we are ok with it, ok? πŸ˜‰

Now granted, Eton Mess is a very English dessert, but the two countries still have a connection, and well, it is one of my fave desserts and I wanted to try making it. The first, and only, time I had it was in Wales at some random restaurant. The menu didn’t adequately describe it so I had no idea what I was getting in to when I ordered it and oh wow was I happy when I got my first taste. It is a light, not too sweet, perfect for the summer dessert, aaaaand, it is red and white!

The most simple version I have found online involves meringues, whipped cream, strawberry sauce, and cut up strawberries.

Basically, you make meringues (or buy them if you can find them ready made), blitz some strawberries to make a strawberry sauce, cut up the remaining strawberries in to bite sized pieces, and make the whip cream (or I suppose you could buy that ready made also if you wanted). Once all the ingredients are prepped you crush about three quarters of the meringues and mix them with the cut up strawberries, then you mix in the whipping cream. Add some of the strawberry sauce and lightly mix so it gets swirls of red. Then you evenly distribute between serving bowls and top with the rest of the broken meringues and maybe a sliced strawberry if you want to try to be artistic about it. I opted for saving some of the strawberry sauce and put a layer of it in the middle of each of the servings. If I make it again I’ll also drizzle some on the top of the dish, ya know, for prettiness sake. πŸ™‚

Eton Mess 2019

Eton Mess, Canadian style!

The recipe I used is from the BBC Good Food website (www.bbcgoodfood.com), they also have an app if you’re interested, bbcgoodfood.app.link . I can’t vouch for the app, I haven’t used it, but it is there if any of you want to give it a try.

The ingredients measurements are:

2 large egg whites and 120 grams castor sugar to make the meringues

500 grams of strawberries, chopped. 1/3 of the strawberries get blitzed to turn into sauce

450 ml double cream (I used whipping cream) and 1 tbsp icing sugar for the whipped cream

A minor annoyance is that the recipe says to “spoon dollops” of the meringue mixture on to the baking tray, and cook on the bottom rack in the oven for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

What, I ask you, is a dollop? And why in the world is it being used as some form of measurement? In a recipe! For a food that can easily burn! Oooooh, if the BBC could have heard the names I was calling them when I saw the word “dollop” they’d have ducked for cover. I ended up using the large sized spoon that comes in your cutlery set, and put similar sized “dollops” on to the baking tray, it made ten “dollops” in case you were wondering.

Other than the “dollop” issue and having to call my mother to get help converting Gas 1 to an oven temp that makes sense over here (ended up using 250F), the recipe is easy to follow, and has good results. So here is a link to the recipe I followed, in case you want to take a look:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/eton-mess

If you’re American you could always top with some blueberries and make it a red, white, and blue dessert for July 4th. And as far as I know there is no rule that says you have to use strawberries so you could always use raspberries, or some combination of red fruits to jazz it up a bit, get a new flavour in there. I might try making a raspberry sauce next time for the middle layer…we shall see!

My friend’s dog and I taking selfies, he has the best expressions! lol

 

Sauerkraut

17 Apr

This is the meal where I discovered sauerkraut is not the condiment for me, and I love condiments!

sauerkraut

This was my dinner last Sunday, and yes I know, that is a hella lot of gravy but I didn’t plate it and it’s rude to judge…just sayin… πŸ˜‰

It is beef, with potatoes and veggies, as well as the gravy and sauerkraut. I decided to splurge on this dinner since my normal Sunday dinner is a sandwich, or maybe a bowl of soup, nothing as protein filled and tasty as this promised to be.

The meal was delicious, as I fully expected it to be lol Too much food for one person, but what I ate of it was yum!

Since the sauerkraut was there, and apparently it is a condiment used with beef, I figured why not give it a try? Uh yeah, bad plan there, it was um, well, kinda gross. No, that’s not fair, because I know some people really like it (you weirdos you! lol), it just wasn’t for me. I think part of it is that I liked the taste of the beef and didn’t find the sauerkraut complimentary to the beef, rather, it was over powering.

It’s like when people season the hell out of their vegetables and now their vegetables no longer taste like vegetables, instead they taste like the seasoning. I just don’t get that. Veggies taste great, why hide the taste underneath a bunch of seasoning? That’s how I felt with the sauerkraut, why hide the taste of the beef under the sauerkraut?

Maybe I’m just some sort of weird food purist at heart…says the woman who firmly believes ice cream is an acceptable option for dinner…not dessert, dinner. Yeah, let that sink in and wonder who decided to let me adult! lol πŸ˜‰

 

Hippie Snacks: Cauliflower Crisps

7 Apr

I went to Safeway after work with the intention of buying more bandages (for the cat, loooong story!) and a piece of cake for me (loooong day!). I ended up with the bandages, much to the cat’s dismay, but instead of cake I sampled and then bought Cauliflower Crisps by a company called Hippie Snacks.

cauliflower crisps

Who am I?

I went in for cake and I bought a vegan version of a potato chip that is made out of cauliflower!

It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore. πŸ˜‰

They also make a version out of avocado, which you would think would be amazing cuz hello, avocado! But no, not really, don’t do it ok? If you’re going to try one of them try the cauliflower version. They come in original and ranch flavour, I wouldn’t mind trying a dill pickle flavour, or bbq, ooooh, that could be nice…but I don’t think those flavours exist yet.

The tag line on the bag is “Real food tastes better”, the ingredients are cauliflower, coconut milk, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, tapioca starch, sesame seeds, water, sea salt, and mustard flour. I bought the original flavour so no ranch flavour added to my ingredient list.

I could definitely make the argument that a piece of chocolate cake would have tasted better, and is still “real food” but these aren’t bad. I’m not really a chip person so I don’t need a healthy alternative for that particular junk food category but if you’re trying to cut down on chips this might be a good option for you.

Cauliflower is a pretty forgiving vegetable, with no real taste of its own you can do to it whatever you want. so mix up some guacamole or make some salsa and dip these in, it’d be yum! Maybe even top with a bit of cheese…see now I’m starting to see possibilities for these chips, which is a good thing since they cost me over $5 for a 70 gram bag. *rolls eyes*

A high price point, which will put me off buying them again because while yes I value healthy food I value sticking to my budget more but if you can afford them why not jump on yet another cauliflower food train and give em a try?

cauliflower crisps 3

cauliflower crisps 2

 

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