Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Noble Silence

I'll be taking a short break from social media for the next 10 days as I will be attending my first silent meditation retreat north of the city. Hope you are having a great start to December--see you on the 16th! x

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mauritian Napolitaines

One of my former colleagues (and friend) used to bring me the most incredible shortbread sandwich cookies. Her sister has pretty much mastered the art of making these traditional sweets from Mauritius, and she makes them every year over the holidays. Both times my friend brought me these cookies, I reluctantly shared them with hubby, but it has definitely crossed my mind to eat them all myself.

My friend warned me that it's a bit of a process to make these cookies and that her sister has tweaked the recipe by making many batches over the years. It's been on my mind to try making them so I did yesterday. Everything was going along swimmingly until I got to the icing stage. I was using this recipe, which worked out very well for the most part, but I couldn't seem to frost the cookies to my liking. I broke a cookie in the process of trying a few different techniques, so hubby and I shared that one, and it was DELICIOUS. Eventually, I decided to spoon all the icing onto the cookies and call it a night.

Not being able to nicely coat the cookies to my liking ate away at me throughout the evening. I read a few different recipes and decided to try another method today. I couldn't scrape off the icing from yesterday so I just turned the cookies over and frosted the other side. Lo and behold--it worked! The below image to the right much more closely resembles the Mauritian Napolitaines in my memory. I'm definitely going to make these again (and perfect the recipe) when I'm back from the meditation retreat.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

It's been years since I've made pineapple fried rice. It used to be one of my go-to dishes. Hubby remembers me making it all the time, and in my heyday of cooking, I would be really extra and serve the fried rice in the hollowed out pineapple shell. I decided to recreate the dish today and used this recipe as the base--as per usual, I made a bunch of substitutions including omitting the shrimp, cashews, and coriander. I also added scrambled eggs and a bunch of other seasonings. I presented the fried rice in the pineapple shell, just to see if I could still remember how to do it, and it turned out so well! It was surprisingly fun to make this dish, and the result was delicious--the pungency of the shrimp paste and fish sauce really came though.

The pineapple shell was literally just for this blog post though. I put all the rice back in the wok right after taking this photo (and a video clip). We had to heat up the rice anyway, because I had made it earlier in the afternoon, before I totally fell off the rails trying to frost some shortbread sandwich cookies. Hubby came home to find me covered in cookie crumbs and icing--and not in a good way. If you want to see some delicious tasting but terrible looking cookies, you'll have to tune into my vlog tomorrow. Back to the fried rice. I feel kinda silly for going so many years without making this delicious dish. In an attempt to make up for lost time, I'm going to cook this again tomorrow, minus the pineapple shell.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fancy-ing It Up

We ran out of roti a couple of days ago, so I made another batch. I also made a west indies style chicken curry in the Instant Pot and another batch of rice and peas. I had half a can of coconut milk left, so I used it to make a half portion of this haupia recipe, which is a Hawaiian coconut dessert that hubby and I both love. It was super easy to make, but it had to set in the fridge for 8-24 hours, so I promptly forgot about it. Until today.

I cut us three little pieces each, but they looked kinda naked on the plate, so I decided to add some blueberries. The recipe called for some toasted coconut, so I thought, "why not?" Then I remembered we still have some of the taro condensed cream from the Filipino supermarket, so I decided to fancy up the plate even more. My "edible art" needs some work, but I'm more than happy to keep trying. The end result was delicious!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Travel Bug

Hubby and I went to an ARC'TERYX event tonight, and I got a twinge of the travel bug. It's been a while since I've felt this way. It felt exciting, yet a bit foreign. I kind of want to go to Africa again, but we'll see.

Friday, November 30, 2018

How to Disrupt the Holiday Gift Giving Cycle

Over the past few years, I've been trying to live a more simple life with fewer possessions. For the most part, this has worked really well. I've decluttered a lot and stopped the flow of products coming into my home. I've implemented a lot of pattern interrupts, and I've been feeling good about the changes. With the holiday season upon us, I've been thinking a lot about the gift giving cycle. What we give, how gifts make us feel, and why gifts seem so integral at this time of year. I've started making little adjustments in the gift giving cycles that I'm personally involved with, so I wanted to make this video in case any of you feel similarly. I haven't moved completely away from giving gifts, but I try to adopt a more minimalist mindset when it comes to selecting gifts. I've also tried to replace some gift giving with cards and/or celebrations instead. The result has been more quality time with loved ones and less pressure/stress associated with shopping.

If you're like me and you want to somehow disrupt a gift giving cycle that you're currently a part of, I've included four strategies that you can utilize today to start nudging behaviour in a new direction.

Strategy 1: start having conversations about gift giving

This is about being honest with yourself and your loved ones. Since I started decluttering, I stopped wanting stuff. I don't put as much value on gifts as I used to, so I really don't want my loved ones to spend a lot of time, effort, and money to pick out a gift for me, when what I really want is for us to spend time together. As a result, I've started having conversations with family members and friends to let them know that I prefer not to receive gifts.

If you're in not in the same situation as me, but there's something about a current gift giving cycle that doesn't sit well with you, I recommend having a conversation as soon as possible in order to start opening up the dialogue.

Strategy 2: give and receive with a minimalist mindset

To me, minimalist gift giving has a couple of key characteristics:

- The gift shouldn't create clutter or burden for the recipient. Since I started decluttering, I've been liking giving and receiving perishables as gifts. Not just any perishables though--the perishables should be something that the recipient will use up rather quickly.

- Most minimalists are very intentional about the the products they bring into the household and they like to pick out their own stuff. I give a lot of gift cards and cash for this reason. These gifts have a bit of a reputation for being impersonal, but they allow for flexibility and choice--which are key attributes that all recipients appreciate.

Another approach could be to start giving gifts at times of the year that do not correspond to a holiday or occasion. I love giving small, unexpected, and zero-obligation gifts that are not tied to a holiday or occasion. It's thoughtful and does not create a burden on the recipient to reciprocate.

Strategy 3: exchange holiday cards instead of gifts

This strategy is pretty self explanatory, but it was a pretty big AHA moment when hubby and I implemented it this year for our 9th wedding anniversary. If you've followed my YouTube channel over the years, you will have seen that hubby and I tend to buy each other a lot of gifts for special occasions. It was really eye opening last year when we did the Love Languages quiz and found that "receiving gifts" ranked very low for both of us. We've tweaked our gift giving traditions over the years, but gifts were pretty much a constant. We've been following the traditional annual gifts for wedding anniversaries since the beginning (1st year was paper, 9th was willow). Instead of buying each other a willow gift this year, we made each other cards somehow incorporating the concept of willow. Hubby did so well with his card--it was hilarious! To me, this was much more gratifying than exchanging gifts.

Strategy 4: celebrate together without exchanging gifts

My friend and I have a tradition where we get together to during one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season and buy each other gifts. One of us picks the theme for the year and then we have around 1-2 hours to shop, wrap the gift, write the card, and get back to the meeting spot. We then go for dinner and open the gifts. This is a really fun tradition, but I wanted to try something different. Since it was my turn to come up with the theme, I approached my friend and asked her how she would feel about trying something new. I proposed my idea and she agreed! Our holiday event this year won't involve gifts, but we will celebrating together over good food and good conversation. What could be better?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Flavour Inspiration - SOMA

Hubby and I have a few goodies from SOMA kicking around, so we've been slowly making our way through them. Treats from SOMA are a bit spendy for day-to-day consumption, so I was inspired to try to replicate the flavours. Yesterday, we tasted the mango bar with chili lime salt and WOWSA! While I won't be making chocolate anytime soon, I do have mango lassi on my list of recipes to try, and the SOMA treat reminded me of a delightfully mango-y mango lassi. I also plan to buy some li hing mui powder (which the mango bar reminded me of, for whatever reason)--this powder is super popular in Hawaii, especially sprinkled on top of shave ice, and I need some in my kitchen pronto.

Tonight, we tried the SOMA rose hot chocolate (no longer available). I made a couple of chocolate shots and added some steamed almond milk. The resulting hot chocolate had a nice rose flavour, but something was lacking. It tasted a bit watery. We've tried a couple flavours of the SOMA drinking chocolate in the past year or so, and they don't compare to the ones I remember from years ago. I used to love the spicy Mayan hot chocolate, as well as the jasmine scented hot chocolate (both no longer available). I plan to experiment a bit to try to make a similar rose hot chocolate with the ingredients in my pantry. Stay tuned...

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