Saturday, October 13, 2012

Quarter Life Crisis

So...I'm going through a bit of a Quarter Life Crisis.
I stumbled upon a Thought Catalog article yesterday that was inspirational, but also somewhat responsible for an emotional breakdown last night...
PS: I promise I will start posting actually interesting blog posts with stories and pictures and more than just recycled links soon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Serious Milestone

First off, I apologize for the lack of visuals in this post.
Sadly, I do not have any photo evidence of my recent accomplishment.

Drum roll, please...

I successfully made my first solo turkey!
And it was delicious!
(I've chosen to ignore my minor panic when there weren't any juices to baste the turkey with and my uncertainty about the turkey being done because I was quite pleased with the final product).

But the BIG accomplishment, the REAL milestone was this:
I, Stephanie, who really dislikes touching raw meat, put my hand INSIDE a turkey.
AND, I didn't give anyone salmonella!

Hope you had a delicious Thanksgiving long weekend!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Definitely Raining

Ok, so this is likely the World's laziest blog post of ALL time.
But, my sister introduced me to a hilarious blog - Definitely Raining - that had to be shared.
Here are my favourite posts (you may need to be from Vancouver to find these funny...):

When I realized every person working at Whistler was Australian
When I go to Phnom Penh

How I imagine people spend their weekends in PoCo

When I'm asked to do the Grouse Grind before work 

 Happy Friday! I'm off to party in my Snuggie now!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My First Gig!

I just successfully completed my very first legit, paid gig!
I was enlisted to make a birthday cake for my co-worker's son - a dinosaur-loving 5 year old.
Which led to the creation of this...

The "beach" bit was made of crushed graham crackers, rock-shaped chocolates, and root beer hard candies.
I was going to do coloured coconut for the grass, but my client (!!!) didn't want coconut, so it's just coloured butter cream.

I also made dinosaur sugar cookies for the loot bags, which included a cookie, dinosaur eggs (jelly beans), and a dinosaur gummy.

I think I should just forgot school and open a bakery.
Dinosaur-themed cake, anyone?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Italy Flashback

Yesterday I got crafty in the kitchen and made pizza!
I tried out this Bon Appetit no-knead pizza dough recipe for the first time and aside from a pizza pan mishap (more on that in a second), it was a success!
I'm not very experienced with yeasted doughs, so I have a feeling I likely messed up, but I'd say that it was a pretty good first attempt.

I got special "00" flour for my pizza-making endeavours, which is supposed to produce a nicer crust (and it's what they legit use in Italy) - I'm not really sure why though, perhaps the gluten content?

So although the dough recipe doesn't require any kneading (win!), it does require some serious planning...
The dough has to rise for 18 hours (!!!).
In other words, this dough is not ideal for when you have a mad pizza craving that has to be fulfilled immediately.

After rising for 18 hours, prepped to rest for one final hour

So! After 19 hours of rising and a mere 10 minutes in the oven, this is what I got to enjoy...

Salami with mozzarella

Pesto with kale, tuna & mozzarella

Needless to say, it was a delicious flashback to my time in Italy.
Particularly the second pizza - not all pizza has to have cheese and tomato sauce, at least not in Italy!

So the pizza pan mishap...
Notice how my pizzas are rectangular?
That's because the round pizza pan (it is specifically designed for pizza with the holes and everything) was out to sabotage me: the pizza got stuck and could not come off!
I swear the pan must have been made of the least non-stick material ever.
Aside from getting a little discouraged with my pizza-making skills, I was more upset about the lost pizza that was unable to be consumed - what a waste of fresh bocconcini and Sicilian salami!
Damn you, pizza pan!

Anyway, I'm definitely going to use this recipe again - but NO round pizza pan, thank you very much!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sisters, Seafood & Sunshine

Last weekend I took a mini vacation to Victoria. My mum, my sister, and I had two days of mother-daughter bonding while we helped my sister move into her new apartment.

On the ferry!

The last time I went to Victoria I was 11 years old and it was for a school field trip. So I sort of felt like I was visiting for the very first time.

I quite liked Victoria. It was very quaint with great architecture - it had a bit of an English feel to it - and lots of cute boutiques and independent restaurants. 

The downtown core is so fun and colourful!

How cute is this store sign?

See what I mean by an English feel?

One of the highlights of the trip was eating at Red Fish Blue Fish - a takeout place located right on the wharf.
1. They use sustainable Ocean Wise seafood.
2. They're housed in an upcycled shipping container!!!

3. The food is amazing!

THE best Fish & Chips I have ever had. EVER.

The batter on the fish was super light and crispy - and not greasy at all!
And the chips were very, very close to being as good as the fries I had in Amsterdam.
I have this theory that eating fries in Amsterdam has ruined all fries for me because nothing will ever be as good. Damn you, double-fried fries!!

Seared Albacore Tuna and BBQ Fanny Bay Oyster Tacones

Tacone = taco + cone
Tacone also = delicious
The Tacones were super good. They single-handedly revolutionized oysters for me. And there's something about seared tuna that I just can't say no to.
I look forward to visiting my sister again just so I can more Tacones - they have 8 to choose from!

Spicy Pacific Fish Sloppy Joe

We ordered the Sloppy Joe out of curiosity, not really knowing what to expect.
It ended up being a delicious mix of various fish (tuna? salmon? I don't really know...) with a tomato sauce that had just the right amount of kick.

Everything at Red Fish Blue Fish was great, except for one thing.
Good food draws a crowd...

I have this thing about waiting in line to be seated at a restaurant...I don't like it.
Especially if you have to stand outside and only get served mediocre food.
BUT, I would wait in line again for Red Fish Blue Fish.

When I took this photo we were right at the end of the line. It took us 1 hour from when we arrived to when we started stuffing our faces with deliciousness. That may seem like a long time, but I equate it to waiting 30 minutes for a table at a restaurant because since Red Fish Blue Fish is a takeout place, there's none of the usual get seated, server vanishes, server reappears to take drink order, server vanishes (maybe they had to draw your water from a well?), server returns with drinks and takes food order, server leaves and spends ample amount of time tending to every table except yours, server actually vanishes, and arrives.

Anyway, the point is, I loved Red Fish Blue Fish.
So much that I think I'm going toaccept the challenge posed by my sister's boyfriend: try everything on the Red Fish Blue Fish menu.

While waiting in line, we decided to have dessert before lunch and shared a salted caramel sundae from Jackson's Ice Cream Truck. Delicious.

Salted Caramel Sundae

Last, here are some other snapshots I captured while playing tourist in Victoria.

Decorated (and useful) electrical boxes
(at least I think that's what they are...)
Fan Tan Alley in Canada's oldest Chinatown
Summery tableware
Enjoying patio beers and the sunshine at Canoe Brewpub

Friday, June 22, 2012

PB + Chocolate = Love

I'm not exactly sure when I fell in love with the wonderfully delicious combination this is peanut butter + chocolate, but we've been going steady for quite some time now.
I have this memory of being about 8 and I was inspired to try Oreos with peanut butter by my swimming instructor - she had said that it was one of her favourite things to eat, and she was my super cool swimming instructor and I wanted to be just like her.

It was at that chocolatey, Oreo-y, peanut buttery moment that peanut butter was forever changed.
It was no longer just something to eat with jam.
It was no longer just the filling to my Ritz Bits crackers.
It was no longer just a banned item from school.
A whole new world of delicious possibilities beyond Reese's had opened up and I was prepared to conquer it.

I should note that my experiment entailed scooping a generous helping of peanut butter onto my Oreo directly from the jar - none of this spreading with a knife business.
It was also carried out with super processed, super delicious, Skippy-style peanut butter - the type of peanut butter I still crave despite knowing that there are scary unpronounceable ingredients in it.

Anyway, I was inspired by Bake It In A Cake, and made these beauties yesterday:

You're probably thinking "What's the big deal? That looks like a normal cupcake to me...".
There's a surprise in that innocent little cake.
A peanut butter cup surprise.
And that's no Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker frosting on top.
That's chocolate peanut butter buttercream.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar *
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
12 frozen peanut butter cups

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium-sized bowl.
3. Whisk together water, vegetable oil, and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Whisk dry mixture into wet mixture until combined.
5. Fill each muffin cup until about half full, press a peanut butter cup into the batter, and top cup with batter.
6. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*I halved the sugar due to the peanut butter cup centre. If you're making regular cupcakes, or like a sweeter cake, use 1 cup of sugar.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream
Adapted from Australian Women's Weekly

2 ounces (62 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon cocoa, sifted
1 tablespoon (or to taste) peanut butter

1. Beat butter with an electric mixture until as white as possible.
2. Gradually add about the half icing sugar, beating constantly.
3. Gradually add milk.
4. Gradually add remaining icing sugar and cocoa.
5. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth and easily spreadable.

Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frost with buttercream and enjoy!