January 30, 2006

Year Of The Dog

Happy Chinese New Year! Fellow roosters take note: "Your hard work, both mental and physical, may take a toll."

Vanessa came back from Montreal Wednesday night- her first time back for new years since she's been at McGill. Friday night I took her to Extreme to try out the Resist-a-Ball class since she hasn't been active at all. Omigod, was she a disaster! We had to balance on the ball and she ended up falling over the place. She was either chasing after her ball that kept rolling away, or she was bumping into me and making me fall. It was a riot; she kept laughing and made me laugh so I kept losing my balance too. Next came the sit-ups we had to do in partners, where we had to link our ankles together and meet each other halfway. Let's just say that I had no one to clap my hands with at the top of my sit-ups 'cuz someone was laying on the ground three-quarters of the time! Hehe, but it was a good time, I had fun. That evening, instead of heading downtown to watch the Wintercity opening ceremonies as I had originally planned to do, my family had a big dinner at home for the eve of new year's eve.

Saturday was another big day for food. In the morning my family went out for dim sum, cleaned all afternoon, then headed to Pacific Mall in the evening for dinner with the relatives. One of the dishes must have been contaminated with nuts though because Christian ended up with a terrible stomach ache after dinner :(

Sunday morning we went to the temple, which was absolutley packed. We had to park 2 blocks away and walk in the cold and rain. Inside was smoky and I got burned by the incense I was holding. I got my fortune on a piece of paper, but I have no idea what it predicts because my mom can't interpret what's written >_< I went out for lunch during which I tried Hong Kong french toast for the first time. Pretty yummy, although it would have been better with syrup or some strawberry toppings. All in all, new years was a nice time with my family, although it wasn't without any hitches. They say that on new years day you should always think happy thoughts, and anything depressing that comes to mind will result in a year of unfortunate events. I guess I totally jinxed myself... *sigh*

My mom had a day off today so we hung out on Bloor Street in the afternoon. We watched Eve & the Fire Horse, which was a beautiful movie about Chinese girl that is doubly cursed - being born in the unlucky year of the fire horse and being named Eve - who tries consolidating her parent's buddhist beliefs with her sister's Catholic views through a child's imaginative perspective. Later, we explored the shops along Bloor as my mom was determined to look for a pair of boots. She found a pair of walking shoes that she was about to buy them until she realized that it's bad to buy shoes right after new year (because the Chinese word for shoes sounds like "hai hai seng"). But we still ended up walking into every shoe store we saw even though my mom insisted that she wasn't going to buy shoes... that is, until we were met with the 50% off section at Nine West. My mom found a pair of boots that she liked, and coincidentally, they were the first pair of boots I tried on in like 2 years that I actually really really liked. Sooo we both bought the same boots :P

Posted by mich at 6:57 PM | dreams [0]

January 23, 2006

Put On A Happy Face

According to British psychologist Cliff Arnall, today is considered the unhappiest day of the year when you take into account the weather, debts from holiday shopping, the time since Christmas, and abandoned New Year's resolutions (and maybe since it's a Monday too). Throw in the federal elections into the mix and you might get a very unhappy Paul Martin by the end of the evening (but let's try to be optimistic, folks!) :)

I must tell you all about this new snack I'm obsessed about now: Terra Chips. I tried the Mediterranean flavoured exotic chips that uses a variety of vegetables like taro, ruby taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata, and parsnip. Mmmm, yummy and colourful! They have them at Loblaws, but when I saw them in Kensington Market for half the price I was all over them like a fat kid on a Smartie! We also dropped into Moonbeam Café while strolling around the market and I saw Sook-Yin Lee at one of the tables. I'm pretty sure she lives in the neighbourhood, so it would make sense. But Christian doesn't think it was her. I just think he's blind. :P

I just found out today that Carl Zeiss is coming out with lenses for Nikon SLRs!! I am absolutely ecstatic. I'm a huge fan of Zeiss lenses; although I can't afford the Contax 645 and I can't mount my Zeiss lens from my Contax RTS onto my digital, this is the happiest news ever!

Posted by mich at 5:56 PM | dreams [1]

January 22, 2006

Don't Vote. Eat Your Ballot!

Since I have a recipe theme running through my last few posts, and seeing how it's election day tomorrow, I found a few recipes for edible ballots. So go out and pick up your ballot!

Posted by mich at 11:07 PM | dreams [0]

January 21, 2006

Recipe(s) For Disaster

Oh boy. The family wasn't happy about the dinner Christian and I had prepared last night. The menu for the evening consisted of Sesame Broccoli, Vegetarian Curry, and Roast Duck (prepared by my dad). It was our first time attempting a curry dish, and given that we had no idea what was required for a delicious curry, we didn't give a second thought to our shady recipe that didn't include milk or water in the ingredients. First of all, we added way too much curry powder (1 tsp rather than the 2 tbsp would have been more reasonable) so it just tasted like spiciness. Our curry had to cook for almost an hour and even after all that time, some potatos and carrots remained a bit raw, and the veggies didn't absorb a lot of flavour. We only realized that our curry wasn't going to turn creamy without adding any liquid so my mom suggested pouring in some coconut milk and then some sugar to reduce the spiciness. Either way, the dish still turned out very very hot- I thought I could have breathed out fire.

While making the curry dish, my dad had the duck cooking on the stove. I didn't have any more space on the stove to make my broccoli, so my dad took off the duck a bit early, thinking that it was all ready. Cooking up the broccoli was a cinch, but it turned out either too sesame-ish or vinegar-y for everyone's taste (although I thought it wasn't too bad). So with the broccoli dish a miss and the vegetable curry (aka fire in a dish) gone wrong, we were looking forward to the roast duck to save the day. But right before dinner was ready to serve, we realized that the duck was still not fully cooked, resulting in a vegetarian dinner. My family ended up waiting until 9pm for dinner only to be presented with a couple of pitiful dishes. They opened a can of chunky stew to go along with the meal, and my youngest sister just settled on leftover "choi fan" that my mom made the night before.

Vegetable Curry

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots; cook and stir until tender. Season with curry powder, turmeric, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

2. Add the cauliflower and potatoes to the pan, and stir to coat with spices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.

Makes 4 servings.

Sesame Broccoli

1 tsp vinegar (rice, white or cider)
2 tsp Asian sesame oil
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 lb/450 g)

1. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, chili flakes and salt.

2. Cut broccoli head into florets. Peel large stems; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Steam or boil over or in medium saucepan of boiling water until crip-tender, about 5 minutes; drain.

3. Toss broccoli with dressing. Serve wamr or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by mich at 1:44 PM | dreams [0]

January 16, 2006

Spanish Treat

I found a Spanish recipe for Toasted Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate in the Toronto Star a while back and decided to test it out. It was quick and simple and I didn't mess it up this time! The olive oil and sea salt really add a nice twist to the chocolate.

I'm back at Extreme Fitness after a few months hiatus. I tried out Goodlife too but it just doesn't compare at all, especially when it comes to their classes (I love Extreme's yoga and pilates!) And upon going back to the gym, maaan, I found out how much fatter I got. I'm not talking like how all girls say they're "fat"- I was told by a computerized machine *sigh*. That's the ugly consequence of baking too many holiday treats.

Toasted Bread With Bittersweet Chocolate

16 thin slices (each about 1/2-inch) baguette
4 oz (120 g) bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Spread bauguette slices on baking sheet. Bake 8 inches under pre-heated broiler until toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn slices over. Set equal portions chocolate on each. Broil just until bread is golden and chocolate is beginning to melt, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer toasts to serving plate. Generously drizzle each with oil. Lightly sprinkle each with salt. Serve immediately.

Posted by mich at 9:36 PM | dreams [0]

January 14, 2006


I wish I had known what a slow cooker was before I attempted a recipe I found in my mom's slowcooker recipe book. When I asked my mom what it was, she made it seem like it was a crock pot. So that's what I used to make my Sweet and Spicy Cashews for the first 10 minutes of cooking, until it dawned on my mom that I was using the wrong thing to cook with. A few cashews were already burned a bit by the time I transferred them to the slow cooker. In the end they came out looking a little more than toasted:

Oh my goodness! After typing out the recipe, I just realized I did a huge boo boo in following the recipe: I added the butter in the beginning instead of mixing it in after the cashews were toasted. No wonder they burned. Noooooo! What a waste of cashews! I scrounged around the bowl for the lightest coloured cashews; once those were gone, I settled for the ones with only one side that was burned and ate the less burned side. When the only choices left were burned or very very burned, I was left nibbling at the tiny parts of cashews that weren't as burned as the rest of the nut. Yum yum, haha!

This afternoon I went for a spa treatment that was my xmas gift from my mummy. An hour and a half of soothing facial treatment and relaxing massage- I wanted to stay on that bed forever.

Spicy Cashews

2 cups raw cashews
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Sweet and Spicy Cashews: Substitute 1 tbsp butter for the olive oil and add alon with 2 tbsp brown sugar.

1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine cashews, chili powder, cayenne and cinnamon. Stir to combine thoroughly. Cover and cook on High for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until nuts are nicely toasted.

2. In a small bowl, combine sea salt and olive oil. Add to nuts in slow cooker and stir to thoroughly cominbe. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl and serve hot or allow to cool.

Posted by mich at 5:21 PM | dreams [1]

January 8, 2006

Helloooo Nurse!

I made a pretty darned good chicken noodle soup the other day for my poor sick baby. It turned out a bit too thyme-y but we'll just overlook that!

Last night Chris, Sandra and I had dinner with Kris, whom we haven't seen in ages! As always, upon seeing her she bursted into laughter within the first couple of seconds. We had dinner at a sushi place, during which Chris^2 unwittingly ingested balls of wasabi tucked into their sushi pieces, resulting in flaming red faces and tears. Value entertainment that can be replayed on captured video :P Good times, hehe! Later on we trekked up to Williams for yummy waffle desserts. There goes my one dessert for this week >_<

This afternoon Michelle hosted a lovely latke lunch for a small bunch of us. Her potato pancakes were delicious and she also filled us up with salad, cheese & crackers, sandwiches, and veggies & dip. After getting all stuffed, she hauled out a fruit platter and apple pie, omg! It was a great lunch and a fun afternoon, but now I don't think I have space for dinner :P

Hearty Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

2 cans undiluted chicken broth
2 large celery sticks
1 onion
1-1.5 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 skinless, boneless chicken breats
1 cup broad egg noodles or 1/2-in. bundle spaghetti
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsely or coriander

1. Pour chicken broth and 2 cans of water into a large saucepan or pasta pot and set over medium-high heat. Slice carrots into thin rounds, then add. Thinly slice celery. Finely chop onion. Add celery and onion to broth along with thyme. Stir. Cut chicken into 1-in. cubes, then stir into broth. Bring to a boil. If using egg noodles, stir in. Then cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. If using spaghetti, break into thirds, then stir in and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 min.

2. While noodles are cooking, chop parsley. Remove soup from heat and stir in parsley. Ladle into warm bowls. Great with pieces of french bread for dipping. Soup will keep well, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months. Noodles will absorb liquid, so you will need to add more broth or water when reheating.

Makes 7.5 cups.

Posted by mich at 6:05 PM | dreams [0]

January 4, 2006

Happy 2006

It was a festive and, for a few people, a wild new year's eve party at Christian's. Let's just say that the few us that stayed overnight were up until 4am... the photos that will never see the light of day tell the story. However, I *will* put up pics of my oh so yummy Candy Cane Cake! It's actually an upside down angel cake because when I tried to flip it right side up, the whole cake cracked >_< Luckily my dad was around to help me flip it back without completely destroying it to pieces :) As per usual, continue reading for the recipe!

New Year's day was spent doing some cleaning up at Christian's before heading up to Pacific Mall to meet with my family and relatives for dinner. The rest of the evening was spent at my place playing mah jong and poker until 3am.

Reflecting back on 2005, this year turned out to be a huge emotional roller-coaster for me. A bit of it was of course school related, having been stressed with not only school work but with creating the CSSU yearbook. But those were just peanuts compared to having to come to terms with the fact that I was entering a new phase in my life and was forever leaving my student life behind me. Immediately following my convocation it all hit me- hard, and I fell into a sort of depression that I hadn't experienced since my high school days. It was a variety of different things that kept putting me in slumps. I had all these plans of things that I wanted to do after graduating, yet I didn't know exactly when I wanted to do each thing... it felt like I was being pulled in all sorts of directions and I couldn't focus on one thing. Even now I get anxious thinking about what path I should follow. I gave up the photography job on the cruise ship in the fall (and instead, landed a job from hell) and I don't know whether I should still go for it come summertime or just give up on it and move on. During my last year I never worried about going to those career fairs or applying to companies to get a job right after school. That wasn't my goal- I didn't want to feel stuck in a job so early on before I got a chance to do something adventurous and exciting. I figured doing my own thing would be satisfying and fulfilling, but in the end it was frustrating and I feel like it didn't amount to much. I hate to say it, but sometimes I regretted not getting a stable and boring computer job... at least I wouldn't feel useless and demoralized. Through it all, sweet BFF helped put things in perspective for me and lifted me up during my lowest lows, and for that I am so thankful ^_^

On a happier note, 2005 also had its memorable moments:
Bus driver losing bus keys during the CSSU ski trip and waiting a few hours for another bus to drive us home · reading week trip to Montreal with Christian · dogde ball games at Hart House · salsa dancing for the first time · experiementing with a Hasselblad · seeing the CS gang all dressed up for the CSSU formal · having my photographs published and exhibited · completing a decent application for Capstone · waiting 7 hours in line to see Coldplay at The Edge only to be completely shafted · 24 marathons · biking 50 km along the Gardiner and DVP · camping trip at Algonquin · Canada Day in Ottawa with Christian · discovering the amazing gym classes at Hart House · taking a fashion photography course leading to fashion shoots with models · watching Kid Koala perform at the Harbourfront's Dim Sum festival · seeing Nel on his summer visit back from HK · spending a day at Centreville with Christian and winning stuffed toys for the both of us · beach volleyball at Ashbridges Bay · getting creamed with bananas sitting front row centre at the Blue Man Group show · tennis nights with Dennis & co. · seeing big stars while volunteering at the film festival · hiking in the Cheltenham Badlands · 6 days of Disneyworld "boot camp" · dining at Canoe and Rosewater Supper Club · having had the best Christmas holiday to date

Candy Cane Cake

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon red food color
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

White Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, if desired

Crushed candy canes or crushed hard peppermint candies, if desired


1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Generously grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube (bundt cake) pan.

2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

3. Pour about 2 cups batter into pan. Pour about 3/4 cup batter into small bowl; stir in food color and peppermint extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.

4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn pan upside down onto wire rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.

5. In small bowl, mix all icing ingredients. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and spreadable. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle top with crushed candy.

Makes 12 servings.

Posted by mich at 7:36 PM | dreams [0]