Vacation Jitters!

Since I’m heading back to North Carolina to visit Josh in ohhhh tomorrow (!!!), maybe it’s a good time to finally post pictures from my last two visits in August and November? Oui? Oui!

Thanks to overtime during the office move last summer I had a sweet amount of lieu time to use as I saw fit, and I see very fit indeed to spend as much time as I possible with Josh. Obviously! So I scheduled two vacations close together which had the bonus of making the time between them seem nigh insignificant, but the disadvantage of making the time between a November and April visit seem to take forever.

And yet here we are! And here you go:  

(And if the formatting is all wonky, screw it. WordPress is misbehaving and I’ve no time to mess around with it!)

August
 
   

This is American for 'cheese'; the edibility of heavily processed foods being a constant point of debate between Josh and I.

Josh was very pleased when we returned to the hotel one evening to find his skull-betopped scooter bookended by a pair of badass Harleys.

A small island of Canada in a vast sea of on-sale Americana.

Something's wrong when your bestseller list includes disproportionate amounts of Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, and Dick Armey. Oh and lets not forget the Ann Coulter. Oy vey.

Late night date night at the Wal-Mart extravaganza!

 

November

 
 
 
 

 

 

Gettin' all casual in the kitchen, by which I mean he didn't realize the camera was on secret timer 😉

 

Baking a brie! With caramelized worcestershire and red wine onions cooked right into the phyllo!

 
 

Now that's what cheese should look like!! The brie didn't make it two feet from the oven before being devoured within five minutes right at the counter. Words cannot describe the delicious.

 

Trip to the most psychedelic pizza joint ever!

Psychedlic menu! Just give pizza a try, man! Why can't all toppings just get along? 😛

 

Gettin' all domestic with the washing up.

 

Gettin' more domestic! 😉

 

 

Only one more sleep until more of these!!

Holiday Hootenanny

Ok, so we weren’t supposed to have any kind of ‘Holiday’ gathering at the office this year, over-PC’d or otherwise. Economy blah blah blah. It’s not as huge a deal as one might think – the nature of our business requires a very small staff. The majority of those around us are clients renting space. So while you’d be miffed if your roommates didn’t invite you to a Christmas party, it’s no big deal if your landlord skimps on the Seasons Greetings, dig?

Still, I was having none of it. To hell with my clients, I want a day or two to revel in my emerging domestic tendencies. I do a little breakfast thing once a month for the office. Its generally a thankless job but it provides a creative outlet and a break from the humdrum of complaints and photocopying. So I convinced the Boss Man and his cohort Talea to let me spend a little more of the company cash this month and holiday it up, yo!

So yeah, I slaved over an oven for a few thank yous, but I also got to take a day off work and bake all day. That means sampling all day.

Peep what I can do!

Sugar Cookies - Almost There

Sugar Cookies - Almost There

Sugar Cookies - Done!

Sugar Cookies - Done!

Sugar Cookies - Lots!

Sugar Cookies - Lots!

I made several dozen Sugar and Brown Sugar Cookies and used up the last of my sprinkles on the plain sugar ones for decoration.  They’re colourful and take up space – and who doesn’t love eating cookie bears head first?

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

My lemon squares are awesome if I do say so myself. I got basic recipe on AllRecipes.com somewhere, and made a few adjustments by adding tons of vanilla and almond. I’m starting to think I can spike them with rum too, but I’d like to remember Christmas this year. These are addictive.

By this point I’d been baking for about four hours. Break time!

chillin1

Chilling with my sexy man

Yeah, this is how Josh and I spend quality time together. Over MSN with a not-always-functioning webcam. Stupid technology. Thankfully the cams were working well on this particular night so I could chat with him while being able to actually step away and use my hands for baking instead of typing.

Here’s my other recreational activity:

Eventually, they approved of the cranberries

Eventually, they approved of the cranberries

The bunnies! They turned their wiggly noses up at the dried cranberries at first, but eventually when I wasn’t looking they decided to like them.

Back to work!

I spent all of Wednesday running back and forth between my kitchen, Honest Ed’s for bakeware, and the local Metro for a ridiculous amount of baking ingredients. I lugged so much sugar and flour up my ridiculous winding stairs that my ass literally hurts. I’m baking, and my ass hurts. Fantastic.

These are the last two pictures I managed to take before I fell into a sugar-based daze that I’m only now coming out of:

mmmmmmm delicious...

mmmmmmm delicious...

mmmmmmm delicious side view

mmmmmmm delicious side view

These. Are. SO good. I’m not quite sure of their name, but they shall henceforth be known as Fantasmic. Fantasmic in bar form. Super buttery shortbread on the bottom, brown sugary caramel ooey gooey oh-fuck-its-melting-everywhere-gimme-a-spoon deliciousness in the middle, and chocolate-peanut-butter-cranberry goodness on top. You can’t eat more than two of these. Well, you can eat as many as you want, but chances are the paramedics will find you twenty minutes later huddled in a corner with drool and butter all over your silly face.

And um, yeah. I ate several. Not to mention I was under a bit of a time constraint, because everything always takes three times longer than you think it will. So I spaced out at this point and forgot to document the shortbread topped with hand whipped cream and berries. As well as the cranberry walnut cookies and the rice krispie squares.

Anyways, it was a magnificent spread. I threw it all in the boardroom and topped it off with a nice assortment of fruit and cheese to lighten the sugar-shock a bit. I wanted to throw on a Christmas movie at the last minute, but Shoppers across the street with those $9.99 dvd’s didn’t have anything even remotely holiday-oriented. Littlest Hobo something or other, and that just wouldn’t do. So the shindig was held to the soundtrack of “Oooh, yes I’ll try one of those, I – oh wow. These are SOOOOOO good!” Which was the only thing I needed to hear amidst the occasional “What, no wine?”  (“Um, it’s noon.”) and “Where’s the burgers?” to keep me happy.

Also, my uber boss showed up. He’s quite nice but very nerve wracking because while being  nice he’ll discretely brush up against a wall and judge you based on its cleanliness. If he picks up a piece of marketing propaganda placed on a table and asks “Why is this here?” the answer is always “It’s not!” *toss* You know the type. So I was out to impress and impress I did. He ate enough of those Fantasmic things that the sugar sent him into the most hilarious state I’ve ever seen. Very concerned with his appearance he rarely indulges in sugar – hadn’t, he confessed, for about six months. That he took seconds, thirds, and then some for the road was a compliment indeed. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the day he thought he was a hummingbird.

And now, at the end of a week long stretch of prepping, baking, hauling and coordinating, after being up until 1am Thursday/Friday to get the last of the shortbread done and spending all of Friday fussing and organizing (eating various forms of sugar because I forgot to feed myself real food) rushing and cleaning, and then attending an impromptu family-friend art event (What? Where the hell did that come from? That was this week? Who am I? What’s a hypotenuse?) followed by a Stitch n’ Bitch today, I am finally home and I’m starting to think that I’m the hummingbird.

I.

Am.

Pooped!

I go now. I go to the couch and the tv and the bed. I sleep. Then I wake up and clean like a madwoman – but I shall pay that no mind tonight! Tonight I kick my feet up with some reheated pizza, and I don’t want to see any more shortbread for a good long time.

By which I mean probably tomorrow night.

Delicious and Nutritious (Sort of…)

So it’s winter. How the hell did that happen? Seriously, the last thing I remember I was roasting on a back porch in North Carolina waiting for seven layer nacho dip to be ready. I hate winter. Josh is looking forward to the snow, and I’m sure I’ll have much more fun when I’ve got his enthusiasm to get me out of the house and out to some of the awesome Toronto winter fun there is to be had. It’s just that on my own I’d far rather stay in and complain.

One good thing that comes out of cold weather is that I’m less motivated to go outside and spend all my money on Thai food and sangrias. I’m more likely to stay inside and start cooking up some feel good soups that I can freeze and heat up again easily for my lazy, bitchy days.

Cauliflower is one of my favourite soups to make, because it’s easy to make it thick without adding potatoes (I do try to keep starch to a minimum). But it can get kind of bland, so I spruced up an impromptu recipe with a fun twist.

First I started with your basic Bechamel sauce.

bechamel-sauce-11

You start by melting a stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a large pot, and heating it until it browns slightly.

bechamel-sauce-2

When it’s bubbling, turn the heat low and whisk in a half cup of flour.

bechamel-sauce-31

Whisk away any lumps.

bechamel-sauce-5

Add one cup of milk.

bechamel-sauce-4

Continue whisking until evenly heated and blended. Allow to thicken but not curdle. Remove from heat if necessary.

bechamel-sauce-6

And thus you have your basic white sauce, your base for most thick soups or sauces. From this point you can pretty much wing it and have fun with different variations of what you like. I often throw in whatever is in my fridge. What I had this time was cauliflower, onions, celery and garlic.

cauliflower-pesto-soup-1

Onions are a great way to thicken up a soup without adding a ton of flour or starchy potatoes. If you don’t want too strong an onion flavour, add them thinly sliced right at the beginning. For a more prominent flavour, add them later in the recipe or try sauteeing them first, depending on what kind of texture you’re going for. Personally I like my soups thick enough to lay bricks with, but that’s just me.

cauliflower-pesto-soup-2

I added one cup of water and four cups of vegetable stock for the broth. You can adjust this to your preferences. I also added two cubes of frozen basil, equivalent to about two teaspoons of chopped fresh basil.

Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about half an hour or until veggies are tender.

cauliflower-pesto-soup-3

Now this is where I have the electronic advantage, because this is the point where you’d ordinarily have to ladle the soup into a blender and whir it smooth bit by bit. I’m far too lazy for that, and so I have a hand held blender that I just plug in, turn on, and stir around until I’m happy with the result.

Kind of like this one, except not as pretty.

If you don’t have one of these, I highly recommend them. Who wants to wash a blender? Not me, I value my fingers greatly.

Anyways, if you’re anything like me, a delicious thick soup is simply not enough without a ton of cheese.

cauliflower-pesto-soup-4

 

cauliflower-pesto-soup-5

When all is nice and melted, spoon into your favourite cold-weather feel good bowl.

And now for my favourite soup twist as of late:

cauliflower-pesto-soup-62

Delicious, delicious pesto!!! Yay pesto! Stir a spoonfull into your soup, top with an extra bit of shredded cheese and voila!

cauliflower-pesto-soup-72

It is totally delicious and you have my permission to hit people who want you to ‘share’.

In other news, I am having better luck with my lace knitting. It’s fuzzy lace knitting, but still going well. Peep the begginings of a fuzzy winter stole.

weekender-stole-1

It will be much more exciting when it’s finished and blocked, but that’s how it looks for now.

As for right now, I think I’m going to start chipping away at the bottle of Southern Comfort that Talea got me for my birthday (among other, less alcoholic things). I’ll be back…at some point this week.

Fuckity!

So it’s not like I don’t have scarves to churn out for Christmas or anything. Oh no, I totally have the time to sit here on my couch for an entire evening, knitting and ripping, knitting and ripping, knitting and ripping.

Just in case you’ve wondered where I am, I’m trying to knit lace and it’s not going very well. If I were knitting a standard width scarf it would be easy: a row doesn’t turn out right, just undo it and start again. But when you’re knitting a shawl about four times the width of a scarf, one row is a hell of a commitment. And then you get to the end of the row and think “Where did this extra stitch come from???”

Grrrrrrrrrr!!!

In more positive news, peep my new little widget to the left, linking to my Flickr page! All crafty things for sale will be posted up there until the website is up and running. For now there’s just a few pairs of earrings, but I’ll let you know when new things go up. I gots paypal yo, so just send me a note if you see something that catches your fancy 😉

Should my fingers ever remember how to knit again, you may see some scarves and other fun things up shortly.

Stupid fingers.

Stupid lace.

Also, it’s apparently winter here in Toronto. When the hell did that happen? I feel so unprepared! Ugh. Screw fashion, I’m getting me some ugly ass hiking boots for the thirty feet of sidewalk between me and the bus stop. One good thing about winter means more staying in and less temptation to go out for dinner. That means more home cooking!

Next week: I will show you how to make Cauliflower Pesto Soup, Broccoli Asparagus Soup, and Goat’s Cheese Pasta. Mmmmmmmmm.

For now, back to the knitty, knitty grind.

Firecracker!

At least that’s what I call this little number. For any fellow Canucks out there, don’t be deceived by the fuzziness. It’s fuzzy, but it’s narrow, like the cool kids wear these days. Not the frigid kids. Frigid kids want that blue fuzzy thing I posted about recently. This is more for those nights when it’s cool enough that you can get away with wearing a rocking scarf as an accessory, but not yet cold enough that you end up getting frozen snot all over it.

On that pleasant note, what do you think?

If you want to be trendy AND warm, I could probably do up an extra thick and fuzzy one. Twice as much awesome!

Other fun facts:

– I’m watching Josh sleep right now, he’s extra cute.

– My office job is looking shittier and shittier. I want to sit indoors and make fun pretty things and talk to friends on the computer all day, cause I’m not a huge fan of ‘public.’ Does that make me a nerd?

– My evenings and ‘breaks’ revolve around two nightly episodes of the Simpsons.

– I’ve got a totally wicked craving for a fried egg right now. No, I’m not pregnant and craving weird shit. Got that 800 mile distance going on. I think it’s cause I saw a commercial for the Tim Horton’s BELT sandwhich (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato for nonCanucks), and the egg part is the only thing that interests me. Oh, now I want egg salad. Oh! I will totally make a how-to video on egg salad (Have you tried relish? Have you?)

Stay tuned! Same bat night, same bat channel.