29 things before 29

Today is my 28th birthday!

Does anyone else get really nostalgic about birthdays? For me it’s probably partially because my birthday happens right before school starts, another super nostalgic time for me. I kind of treat fall as my new year, so I basically do my version of new years resolutions in the fall.

This will actually be my second age-based goal list. I started my first one after I went through a breakup right before my 25th birthday. It wasn’t a particularly bad breakup, but it kind of forced me to figure out who I was and what I wanted. Getting dumped meant I suddenly had a lot of time on the weekend that I hadn’t had before. And rather than sit around feeling sorry for myself, I wrote a massive list of everything I wanted to do in the next year, and then I went out and did them.
26 things recap  26 things recap  26 things recap
26 things recap  26 things recap  26 things recap
I went bowling. I wore lipstick to work. I got new glasses, a new phone and a vacuum. I went out for brunch with someone I only knew from tumblr. I went swimming. I walked 15km in one day. I tried hot yoga. And I finally bought pamplemoussi.com which inspired me to start this blog!

And now I’m starting a new list!

pamplemoussi’s 29 things before 29

  1. write 100 posts here
  2. volunteer somewhere
  3. get my wisdom teeth out
  4. make cheese (ricotta counts!)
  5. go rock climbing (indoor, obviously)
  6. have an article published somewhere online
  7. sew a blouse
  8. make spicy black bean hummus (inspired by a yummy spread at Nu Bügel)
  9. go swimming in a large body of water
  10. get three massages (I gotta use all that insurance money!)
  11. buy a filing cabinet for office
  12. do one proper push up (currently I can do zero, sooooo)
  13. get my eyes tested
  14. clean out linen dresser (use vintage pillowcases for quilt?)
  15. drag some friends to a weekend getaway at my parents farm
  16. make a gallery wall (maybe I’ll do the $20 version from Back to Her Roots!)
  17. clean out iPhoto (so many duplicates!)
  18. take a full week off with Will
  19. get a new phone
  20. save $1000 in an emergency fund
  21. print and save all my blog recipes to hard copy
  22. leave the country (even if it’s just to the states)
  23. get married (admittedly, this one’s a bit cheaty)
  24. make another quilt (this baby one was so cute, I want to make a little lap quilt for myself)
  25. buy a new sewing machine
  26. buy a new hairdryer
  27. clean out iTunes (maybe my computer is slow because I have music from high school on it)
  28. make delicious bread (I’ve made bread it was just… less than delicious)
  29. sand and stain my front hall bench

So there we go. 365 days to get all of these done!

(When I originally started writing these, I put it as “28 goals before 28″, not realizing that I was actually turning 28 in two days. Age really sneaks up on you, eh?)

Cheers and Cheese Sunday School at CHEESEWERKS

When I told my sister I was going to a cheese class as my birthday present from Will, I think she thought it was going to be a very snooty afternoon, but it was totally relaxed and fun. We learned all about cheese – production, cheese types, and most importantly, beverage pairings.  I’ve been to CHEESEWERKS for dinner before (I had the Picton as a mac and cheese  - so good!), so I knew that they knew their cheese, and this class definitely confirmed that.

cheese and cheers class
We started out with a little snack – a grilled cheese sandwich made with a smoked cheddar and a roasted tomato soup. The soup definitely reminded me that I need to make tomato soup while tomatoes are still in season, because it was so simple and so delicious!

cheese and cheers class cheese and cheers class
Then we moved into the cheese. We got to try 12 cheeses in all, covering all the major types: fresh, soft, semi-soft, firm, hard and blue. The pairings were very clever and definitely enhanced the cheeses. The ricotta at first seemed quite boring, but when you paired it with homemade blueberry soda it was almost like cheesecake, as one woman in the class observed. It was also interesting to get to compare two different kinds from the same category. The double-cream brie was delicious. But then the triple-cream brie was basically like butter, and reminded me that I need to have brie and baguette dinners more often.

cheese and cheers class
I also got to try my first Caesar ever! OK, technically as a vegetarian I shouldn’t drink Caesars since they have clam juice in them, so I would never order one. But they made one and had it in front of me, and I didn’t want it to go to waste just because it had a tiiiny bit of clam in it. It was amazing. So spicy and salty. Apparently I need to start drinking Bloody Marys.

cheese and cheers class
The one I was most excited to try was the Devil’s Rock which is a really creamy blue cheese. I’ve seen it at St. Lawrence Market before and been very tempted to buy it, but I was put off by the pricetag. It was the creamiest blue I’ve ever tasted!

cheese and cheers class
And now I’ve got the listing of cheeses next time I was to do a little cheese-based dinner (likely: lately this week). I would definitely recommend the class if you like cheese and want to expand your horizons a little. We both left full and excited to recreate some of the pairings (cider and brie, so good!)

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

Bars

It’s almost back to school time! And just before you think I’m being premature in thinking that, working at a school means that I’ve been prepping for the next school year since, well, June! All the teachers started coming back this week and keep asking, “How was your summer?” I want to tell them that there are still two weeks left but I know that’s going to go by so fast that I’d better be ready for fall soon!

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pamplemoussi’s pips, volume vi

It’s been a stressful week, right? So here’s a penguin celebrating the small things in life:

Take five steps, hooray!

In salt news, I was excited to learn that there are suggestions that Health Canada’s salt recommendations are too low, because I’m a pretty healthy eater, but I always feel like I eat way more salt that they suggest. I like flavour! Eating at macrobiotic restaurants makes me realize how much I miss salt when it isn’t there!

chips chips chips chips chips chips

In exciting tiny pizza news, President’s Choice makes these tiny naans that are so perfect for mini pizzas. Like, we have eaten them twice in a row this week because they were that good. I bought them to use as burger buns, and they’re pretty good for that, nice and non-doughy. But as tiny pizzas, they are life changing.

And on the side, Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini chips. Again. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

chips chips chips
Speaking of chips, Lays has another flavour contest which is SO EXCITING to me. The jalapeño mac n’ cheese one is quite good! It’s noticeably spicy and the cheese flavour isn’t too fake. It reminds me a lot of the winning American flavour, the garlic cheese bread one.

chips chips chips
And I may have bought two other flavours to try soon! I’m so excited to try the cinnamon bun ones, I feel like I’ll either loath them or become obsessed and end up buying every single bag in Toronto. There’s also a bacon poutine one, but even when meat-flavoured chips don’t have any actual meat in them, they kinda weird me out.

I realize that this post makes it seem like I just lay around, cramming potato chips into my mouth and ignoring any and all healthy food guidelines. I mean, I do. I totally do. But I promise that I work out and eat lots of green veggies to balance that side of myself!

photo (1)
Lastly, this is my weekend plan: making my own veil! I spent $9 on supplies to hopefully avoid spending almost $100 (!!!!) for something small and simple!

Tiny Banana Walnut Muffins

banana muffins
I think I read too much Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day as a kid because I have all these weird housekeeping tips that just stick in my head. Like how if you put a slice of bread in your brown sugar, it stays soft. Or that you can basically clean ANYTHING with some combination of baking soda and lemons.

But the one I use most often is that if your bananas are overripe, just throw them in the freezer to use for baking later. Which is great! But those tips never suggested what to make with the bananas. So for decades I’ve been throwing overripe bananas in the freezer and just leaving them there for years. I think once I made banana bread with them, but that’s about it.

But then I remembered banana muffins! Which are actually my favorite kind of muffins, once you add some things to them. And these are the perfect muffin, the kind which only dirty one bowl and take maybe 10 minutes to throw together and throw in the oven. And as long as you make sure you use cute little muffin liners, washing the tins is easy (I have surprisingly few housekeeping tips for making dishes less terrible!).

banana muffins
If you’re using frozen bananas for this, just make sure to take them out of the freezer to thaw about an hour before you start cooking. Unpeeling the frozen bananas really grosses me out, but it’s totally worth it for these!

Also, a weird yogurt based trick: whenever I buy plain greek yogurt for a recipe, I end up throwing half of it away. So for a recipe like this that only uses a bit, I just use the fruit-on-the-bottom ones that I buy anyway for my lunch! I just avoid all the fruit, and if a little sneaks in, ehh, I’ll chalk it up to added flavour.

banana muffins
Banana Walnut Muffins

  • 3 overripe bananas – frozen and thawed for about an hour is best!
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare your muffin tins with liners. 

Slither the bananas out of their skin (seriously, there is no other way to describe how to take them out). Mash them and add the sugar, then the oil and the egg yolk. Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in the bowl all at the same time and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Add the yogurt and whichever mix-ins you’re using – this time I only used chocolate chips so I could avoid any nut allergies but I usually add walnuts!

Scoop the batter into the tin in 1 tablespoon scoops (or 1/4 cup scoops for regular sized muffins). Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops are firm but springy and the tops are slightly browned. Let cool and enjoy with a cup of tea!

Quick Cherry Tomato Pasta

cherry tomato pasta

So I don’t often make a meal and post about it on the same night, but this pasta is that fast!

I actually have the week off, so I was planning to do all the slow cooking, fancy meals I never get a chance to. But this afternoon I got a physical, and afterwards I just had such a massive headache that there was no way I could cook anything elaborate. I just needed fast and tasty.

cherry tomato pasta

And this pasta fulfills both needs! I’ll be honest, I used that entire head of garlic. Normal people, you can use a couple cloves, but Will and I are garlic fiends. And this is my parents’ garlic, and it was picked only a few weeks ago and it’s still so fresh and fragrant. Next on the docket is to roast a few heads and eat it with a baguette. Mmmm.

cherry tomato pasta

Quick Cherry Tomato Pasta

Serves 2 very hungry individuals

  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I just used one plastic clamshell worth)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffoned
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of dried pasta

Start by bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water to add to the mixture.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic, and laying the flat edge of a knife on it, smash it to flatten it. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic to it. Slice the tomatoes in half. Once the garlic is fragrant and golden, add the tomatoes and the pepper flakes. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have softened and released a lot of their juices. Add half of the basil leaves.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce, adding a little pasta water if needed. Garnish with the basil leaves and enjoy!

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

kale caesar kale caesar
kale caesar kale caesar
kale caesar kale caesar

What a nice weekend in the country! It’s always so nice to see my parents’ gorgeous farm. Every time I’m there, the gardens have expanded and they have even more chickens.

I told my dad that I was sad that I didn’t love vegetables as much as I do now when I lived at home. Sure I ate whatever my mom made for dinner, but I definitely wasn’t as rabid about kale and garlic and tomatoes as I am now!

kale caesar
(I didn’t end up using the vinegar – the lemon juice and capers made it acidic enough!)

kale caesar

And this salad, man. Rabid doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about it. I wasn’t sure Will would even like it, as he’s pretty attached to regular caesar salad, but he ended up scraping the leftover cashews out of the bowl! I was inspired by one of those fancy $10 salads that I used to get for lunch when I worked downtown. It has a lot of the flavour of a caesar salad but without making you feel overloaded by dairy afterward. I added some cashews and hemp hearts to give it a bit more texture.
kale caesar
Kale Caesar 

  • one bunch kale (note to self: try with dinosaur kale next time!)
  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 15 minutes
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (my head of garlic was small so I used the whole thing)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • lots of fresh ground pepper

Wash and dry your kale and pull it off the stems and into bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside while you make the dressing.

Start by peeling the garlic. Mince it on a wooden cutting board, adding a pinch of salt to help make the garlic more paste-like. Once the garlic is very fined mined, put it into a small bowl and add the olive oil to it.

Finely chop the capers, adding them to the dressing. Add the lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the cashews and roughly chop them. Add them to the salad bowl, along with the hemp hearts and the dressing. Toss thoroughly so the dressing coats the kale. Top with a touch more fresh pepper and enjoy!

A Baby Quilt for Bowen!

baby quilt
Exciting news! I have reached the age where my friends are having babies. I am so pumped about this stage. As evidenced by many recipes on this blog, I quite like tiny things. And new babies are the perfect excuse to pick up a new skill. When my friend Melissa told me she was pregnant, I thought about trying to knit some little booties or a hat. But eugh, my knitting skills really wax and wane sometimes. I’ve given people far too many scarves with holes in them and that just wouldn’t do for a sweet new baby!

baby quilt

And then I remembered my goals list from a few years ago, when I decided I wanted to make a quilt. OK, an adult sized quilt seems a bit ambitious for a first quilt. But a teensy tiny baby one! I could totally handle that.

I bought the patterns from Poise Gets Cosy and I would highly recommend it for a first time quilter. Her instructions were simple and easy to understand. The few times I was confused by something (namely the binding and how to make the corners turn out neat!), it just required some squinting at the photos until it started to make sense.

baby quilt
I also liked how her instructions included the best way to mix up your patterns, because I was getting totally neurotic about that. As if the baby is going to care that there’s an elephant next to an elephant, right?

baby quilt

There are lots of tiny animals on it, including octopuses, foxes, squids, crabs and elephants.

baby quilt
Lastly, I love how when the light shines through it, it looks almost like stained glass!

I’m excited to be able to cross something off my life list and celebrate a new baby while I’m at it. Welcome to the world Bowen! I hope you enjoy your quilt.

pamplemoussi’s pips, volume v

It’s back! I’m bring pamplemoussi’s pips back! Mainly because it gives me an excuse to post this photo in a food blog:

pips vol v

That’s the boy I got engaged to in May! Cute, right? I love how classy this photo shoot turned out. Plus it happened in a nice ravine by our apartment that we’ve spent a lot of time exploring. Our photographer did such a good job – his name is Kam Mudhar at Flashing Lights Photo + Design and he’s so much fun to work with!

OK, onto the actual food things.

pips vol v
What have I been up to in the past little while? Well, last week I added some googly eyes to a carrot because it already had arms and legs.

pips vol v
Almost as good as the time I added googly eyes to a red pepper. I have a lot of googly eyes laying around, is what I’m saying.

 

The number one thing on my to-make list is this amazing looking one-pot french onion pasta. Oh mannnn. And the second thing on my to-make list is any kind of tomato-related pasta. Basically August is going to be a month of pasta.

 

Lastly, I recently had a craving for this stuff:
cheese dip
Naturally I gave in, because delicious. And then I remembered The Queso Dip Consumption Ritual Between Female Roommates, which is hilariously accurate. My sister and I definitely had an unspoken agreement that someone had to buy queso dip about one every six months. And we would eat it while watching the Kardashians and it would be the best. That McSweeneys! I also enjoy their Reviews of New Food, which is a good place to discover new American junk food.

Bubbly Watermelon Rosé Sangria

watermelon sangria
This is my fourth recipe this week! It’s a quick one, but a yummy one. I figured a cocktail would be the perfect thing to post before a holiday weekend.

This is probably more like a cross between sangria and a wine spritzer, which are my two favourite drinks in the summer. I feel like spritzers are perfect for hot weather since they’re not as dehydrating as a straight glass of wine. And adding some fruit to it just adds to the summeriness.

watermelon sangria
And the other thing I love is rosé (also: Brooklyn Nine Nine). Maybe I’m just falling for the LCBO’s clever marketing, but every one I’ve tried this summer has been delicious! We have a bottle that we picked up on our Niagara-on-the-Lake engagement weekend from Between The Lines winery and I am so excited to crack it open. Maybe for a little post wedding celebrating?

watermelon sangria

Bubbly Watermelon Rosé Sangria

  • 1/2 bottle rose (I just used a bottle of Jackson-Triggs – I didn’t want to go too fancy since I was adding to it!)
  • 3/4 cup watermelon juice
  • 1/2 small watermelon, diced
  • 1.5 cups sparkling water

Place the diced watermelon in a pitcher and pour the wine over it. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour. When ready to serve, add the juice and the soda and stir briefly. Serve with plenty of the watermelon in each glass. Yum!