1. Hotdogs and Baseball

    July 21, 2014 by Sarah

    All I know about baseball is that you are supposed to hit a ball with a bat and run around some bases. I wouldn’t say it’s a game I’m too familiar with. So after spending an entire day last weekend in the hot sun at the Khatsalano festival, it was actually quite nice to be able to sit down in the shade (and feel a little bit bad for those whose seats were in the direct sun..) and watch the Vancouver Canadians lose to Everett. The free tickets, perfect view, good company, racing sushi mascots, and fireworks after the game were a nice touch too. Not to mention the (mandatory?) hotdog. I don’t care what mystery scraps off the butcher floor have been collected to create them, I can’t help but love them. And for whatever reason or crushed hoof, this was a particularly good one.

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    So do yourself a favour- go for the hot-dogs, and stay for the game. And just clap (and boo) along with everyone else, and pretend you know how scoring works.

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  2. Hostel Food

    July 17, 2014 by Sarah

    While travelling, there could be nothing more ideal then eating culturally rich foods, handcrafted by the countries finest grandmothers, for every meal. But a lot of the time, unless you’ve got a personal invitation into someone’s home (or go through an old ladies trash), it’s just way too expensive (and maybe a tad unrealistic). If you’re backpacking on a budget, eating out is one of the quickest ways to drain your money. While trying new foods is one of the best parts of travelling, you can save your pennies by making some of your food yourself. If you’re staying at a hostel, chances are you’ve got access to a kitchen. And, unless you are hundreds of miles away from civilization, access to food to cook in it. Here are a few tips for cooking and eating at hostels:

    Carry around basics. Keep light food that wont go off in your backpack. Keyword- light. This isn’t a food drive- don’t even think about carrying around cans unless you’ve got shoulders of steel. So loaf of bread- yes. Cans of soup- no. This is (foolishly?) assuming you actually have space to spare (and haven’t overpacked or over-shopped for souvenirs).

    Watch out for freebies. Check out the kitchen facilities, before you go and buy any food. Most often you can find all sorts of spices, cooking oil, and if you’re lucky some other dried goods that people have left behind. Sometimes you’ll find some ominous plate with an ‘eat me!’ label in the fridge-try at your own risk.

    Hostel in Inverness, Scotland

    Hostel in Inverness, Scotland

    Attend the collective dinners. Many hostels will have nights (often once a week) where a big meal is made for all the guests, for a small fee. This is a good way to meet other travellers, eat cheap food, and if you’re lucky, try some regional specialties.

    Keep it simple...or embrace an empty kitchen!

    Keep it simple…or embrace an empty kitchen!

    Obey fridge etiquette. Often hostels will have a fridge (or two or three) for the guests, in which you can keep your perishable food during your stay. Make sure you label it, and throw out (or give away) any extras when you leave. Nothing is worse then a fridge full of rotting food (especially when the cleaning staff are left to clean it out).

    Hostel in Edinburgh

    Hostel in Edinburgh

    Be aware of your fellow guests. Chances are, there are a lot of other people using the kitchen at the same time. Don’t hog the stove/oven/counter. If you can, only use one pot or pan (at least at a time). Or just make a big dinner for everyone to share. And don’t forget to clean up after yourself!

    Never eat alone. For all the reasons above- meet new people, try new food, save money, and save space. You’ll probably come across a whole lot of subtle cultural differences that you would have never otherwise noticed (like my Dutch friends who found it very strange that I toasted my bread for breakfast).

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    Dinner with Aussie and Indonesian friends in Athens, Greece

    Always eat the continental breakfast. If you’re lucky, your hostel may have a free continental breakfast. Or charge a small fee for something simple. This is one of the easiest ways to save money. Now there’s probably a sign forbidding you from taking extra food….but you wouldn’t want anything to go to waste. Especially if the breakfast food looks more like your lunch food. There might have been some extra bread and meat and cheese that somehow ended up in my bag that may have been enjoyed over a few afternoons in Amsterdam….just use your discretion.

    Free breakfast in Barcelona....better then nothing!

    Free breakfast in Barcelona….better then nothing!

    Contribute your leftovers. Just like those before you, contribute any non-perishables to the collective food shelf or cupboard when it’s time to go home.

    Outdoor kitchen in Costa Rica

    Outdoor kitchen in Costa Rica

    Embrace your new kitchens quirks. Like the lizards crawling all over the counter. Or the shifty looking propane tank you have to hook up for the stove to work. It’s all part of the experience.

    Gnocchi bought from (supposedly) the best deli in Rome...cooked in the microwave. We got back to the owner casually telling us the stove was 'dangerous'....

    Gnocchi bought from (supposedly) the best deli in Rome…cooked in the microwave…in tupperware. We got back to the owner casually telling us the stove was ‘dangerous’….


  3. Shredded Lamb, Mint and Carrot Salad

    July 14, 2014 by Sarah

    The middle of July is not an acceptable time to roast a lamb. Regardless of how much you may love mint sauce. When the temperature gets up into the high 20s (which, yes, is considered quite hot here), the last thing you want to do is have the oven on all day. I forgot about this whole heat concept when I pulled a leg of lamb out of the freezer to make for dinner a few Sundays ago. It was out defrosting on the deck in the sun (which I hear may not be food-safe approved…), when someone came home and announced that it was too hot for lamb and we should barbecue something instead. Well then. Anyways, a day or two later I took the sad lamb out of the fridge, and cooked the sorry leg in the slow cooker instead (which, for the record, does not heat the house up). And then, the day after that, made this out of the leftovers.

    Shredded lamb, mint and carrot salad- the name pretty much gives the recipe away. Shred some lamb, shred some carrots, and chop up some mint. Sprinkle over a few sesame seeds and some orange zest and pour over a dressing made out of the following:

    • Juice of half an orange
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • Olive Oil
    • Honey
    • Salt and pepper

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  4. New Zealand Spinach

    July 3, 2014 by Sarah

    What is it? and Will it kill me? Two essential questions to ask when you come across something strange in the wild. Or your family garden….cause you can never be too sure of people’s motives. Especially when there are poisonous weeds conveniently growing amongst the vegetables.

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    Sure it’s spinach shaped, but so called ‘new zealand spinach’ is also all thick and waxy and a bit bumpy- all things that seem to whisper ‘stop!’ and ‘update your will’.  As you can imagine, it’s not exactly something you want to eat raw, tossed in a salad (pulverized raw in a smoothie however, is delicious).

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    As a general rule- wash it, chop it up a bit, and cook it down with some garlic (and pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg). And then add it to whatever recipe you might add cooked greens to. With an egg and some cheese for breakfast, mixed into some wild rice (with feta, walnuts and dried cranberries), baked into a quiche, or perhaps, a hot spinach and artichoke dip:

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    FYOR (find your own recipe);)


  5. 3 Summer Drinks

    June 22, 2014 by Sarah

    For everyone who doesn’t enjoy drinking hot things in hot weather..here are some ideas:

    Raspberry Basil Lemonade

    Just smash up some raspberries (or strawberries or blackberries..), smash up some basil (or mint or..)…..then simply pour your massacred berries and herbs into glasses and top up with some lemon san pellegrino…. (or lemon juice and soda, or lemon juice and honey and water…). I can imagine this whole process would be made much easier with a mortar and pestle (at least for the basil). However if you happen to have a bowl and glass wine stopper shaped like a golf ball, that works too. A chewy drink never killed anyone…I don’t think..

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    Cantaloupe Lime Wine Cooler

    To make, chop up half a cantaloupe and blend it till it’s liquified. Then pour over an orange san pellegrino (lemon didn’t work quite as well), and the juice of one lime. And then, if you’re in the mood, as much white wine as you like…

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    Mint Iced Tea

    This can be made two ways- with fresh mint or a mint tea bag. Despite what these pictures show and what you probably picture in your mind to taste better- I much preferred using a mint tea bag, simply cause it’s a lot stronger tasting. So you can brew your tea either way, then put the tea pot in the fridge for a few hours till it’s cold. Then add a few tablespoons of honey (or as much as you like) and the juice of a lemon to a pitcher, and pour the mint tea over top.
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  6. Richmond Night Market

    June 12, 2014 by Sarah

    The Richmond Night Market. Which, if you are not local, essentially translates to the Asian night market. Packed full of people, food, and cheap phone cases, it’s always entertaining to spend at least one evening out there every summer.

    IMG_0942(They seem to have adopted some sort of ‘candyland’ theme this year ..)
    IMG_0930There’s two popular ways to prepare for the night market- 1) Eat or 2) Don’t eat. The route you take often depends on what you value more, your wallet or your taste buds. In other words, there is a ton of great, interesting food, that happens to be pretty expensive.

    This time, with my frugal post-grad budget, I was obliged to take route 1. However, as I was accompanied by a bunch of generous friends who took route 2, there was plenty of taste testing going around. I also found if you hung around looking hungry enough, there were some kind vendors who were more then happy to give you a free taste. Which is great, until it’s fish tofu getting passed around…which tastes just like it sounds.. essentially a chunk of fish that had been treated in some manner that gave it the texture of raw tofu…and the smell of raw fish….and, let’s just say, is not something I’m going to try and recreate at home….

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    I somehow managed to bypass the deep fried milk and ‘imitation shark fin soup’, and settle on a tangerine lemonade….not too exotic this time, but managed to quench the thirst of a hot night in a busy crowd…
    IMG_0940The Richmond Night Market is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday between May 16 and October 13th.

     


  7. My Top 5 Favourite Books

    May 31, 2014 by Sarah

    And now for something completely different…..

    IMG_0838-psSince I’m the boss around here, I get to do whatever I please. And while it may seem that all I do is eat (at least if you just read this), I do in fact enjoy many other things. And one of those things is books. So to encourage myself to read more, especially now I’m officially finished school, I thought I should write about them too. Where better to start, then to list my top 5 favourite books of all time- so far- that I remember- (although I figure if I don’t remember it off the top of my head like these, then it’s probably not worthy of the list).

    Book recommendations from trusted sources are always the best way to find new books. Now whether or not I should be considered a ‘trusted source’ is debatable, but I thought I would put my two cents in anyway. And now, in no particular order, the books (along with their first lines..some more telling than others..):

    Shantaram

    By Gregory David Roberts

    33600Shantaram is the story of a man who escapes from high security prison in Australia in 1980, and flees to India. He proceeds to open a health clinic in the slums of Mumbai, work in Bollywood, and smuggle weapons for the Afghan mafia.

    “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”

    The Pillars of the Earth

    By Ken Follet

    Pillars-Of-The-EarthThe Pillars of the Earth takes place in 12th century Britain, and tells the tale of the building of a Gothic cathedral. It follows the master builder, Tom, and his family, amidst much political and social turmoil.

    “The small boys came early to the hanging.”

    East of Eden

    By John Steinbeck 

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    East of Eden tells the stories of two interwoven families, living in the Salinas Valley in California in the 1950s. Amidst themes of love (and absence of), identity, acceptance and self-destruction, the characters subtly reenact the stories of Cain and Abel and the fall of Adam and Eve in the Bible.

    “The Salinas Valley is in Northern California.”

    The Mists of Avalon

    By Marion Zimmer Bradley

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    The Mists of Avalon is the retelling of Arthurian legends from the perspective of female characters. It tells the story of the struggle for power between Morgaine (also known as Morgan Le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (Welsh version of Guinevere). It takes place at a time when Christianity has just started spreading across Britain, with Christianity vs. Paganism being a major theme.

    “In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen.”

    A Fine Balance

    By Rohinton Mistry

    a-fine-balanceA Fine Balance is set in India throughout the late 1970s- early 1980s, and brings together four characters from vastly different walks of life- a Parsi widow, a young student boarder and two Hindu tailors trying to escape the caste system. It describes a period of expanded government power and suppression of civil liberties, cryptically referred to as the ‘Emergency’.

    “The morning express bloated with passengers slowed to a crawl, then lurched forward suddenly, as though to resume full speed.”

     

    ….Recommendations please!