Quatrevingt-neuvième Jour: Neunundachtzigsten Tag : Tous sont sous neige!

Today (le 17e nov) It snowed a barrel of cats and then some! There is so much snow.  This is probably about at the extent of what a Vancouverite can handle, so yes….  I decided to brave it later in the day to get cheese (yes, only for cheese or honey or coconut milk would I brave bad weather), and slid the length of 2 city blocks.  Surf’s up? The snow is really wet like in Vancouver, but in a quantity one would find in the Okanagan…. and a month and a half early.  I thought I kind of overdid it when I bought my new winter coat – I look like an eskimo ready for hibernation in it- but much to my surprise lots of other people at the grocery store apparently had coats like this too.

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You can’t see in the photo, but it has been snowing sideways all day.  I actually saw a bus slide sideways the whole way across an intersection and onto the sidewalk diagonally on the other side of the itnersection…. oops. I am not excited to walk to school tomorrow after everything has frozen overnight and then melted a little bit in the morning. I am going to call walking on this slippery snow “Montreal surfing.”

I am going through a major diet re-examination right now, especially in light of the holidays coming up.  I really don’t want to be tempted by anything unnecessary or that isn’t actually one of my most favorite Christmas foods.  So…. I am going to try and post any new local winter foodie recipes I find, as some inspiration.  I have now cut all the grains out of my diet, so the majority of the food I am eating right now is:

For fruit: apples, pears, frozen blueberries. I do think eating some exports in the winter is a bit more acceptable, but I try to buy ones that are in season right now, not forced-grown…. so: oranges, kiwis, pineapple, mangoes.

For vegetables: Kale, radishes, cauliflower, zucchini, acorn/butternut/buttercup/spaghetti squashes, mushrooms, eggplant, garlic, ginger, green beans, and onions.

For starches: sweet potatoes, baby potatoes, yams.

For dairy: Goat yogurt.  I use goat cheese as a light condiment or ingredient in salad dressing.

For meat: Chicken thighs, ground grass-fed beef, ground pork, boneless pork shoulder, locally made sausages without additives or nitrates, cured pork or wild boar sausage. Local organic brown eggs.

For fats: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocados.

For liquids: White wine, coconut milk, coffee, black tea, peppermint tea

Today I made this amazing salad that I have to share! First of all, I bought the world’s largest cauliflower at the marché yesterday!

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So…. I have been looking up a lot of cauliflower recipes.  I tried making “rice” today.  You basically cut up the cauliflower into rice-appropriate sized pieces (much easier with a food processor than by hand, if you have a processor to use), and then you sauté them in olive oil and spices (I used whole cumin seeds and paprika) for about 7 minutes on medium heat. It does NOT taste like rice in terms of flavour …. but in terms of texture, maybe.  I quite despise cauliflower, but I am attempting to make myself like it this week.  Verdict on cauliflower rice: great to mix in with things!

SO, the salad I made:

I threw some chicken and boiled potatoes I have cooked earlier on a plate with my cauliflower rice, added radishes and kale, and made a dressing of vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, feta cheese, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, roasted garlic, and drizzled the whole mess over it.  I served it with a small side of apple-orange-cranberry sauce I made, and the whole thing was just overly delicious.

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Highly suggest you try making this salad too! Tomorrow I hope to try making this:

http://www.thefirstmess.com/2014/01/23/vegan-sweet-potato-soup-with-coriander-blood-orange-recipe/

(Image c/o The First Mess at the link above)

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Happy Monday, and happy snowday! (Also happy birthday to my friend Véronique!!)

Here is some Tchaikovsky, to finish off the evening:

Quatrevingt-huitième Jour : Achtundachtzigsten Tag : Beaucoup des chats! viele Katzen!

Today (le 16e novembre) is my Dad’s birthday! He had the best birthday horoscope I’ve ever heard. I really do hope lady luck is on his side this year!

It also snowed today! Finally got to pull out my winter boots! Haven’t broken out the coat yet, but soon, I think!

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Yesterday I went to check out the McGill library, since I needed to do some research on an art history paper.  I found out there is an entire library wing devoted to art history and architecture! The Blackader-Lauterman Library! So many books! I couldn’t take any books out of the library since I am not an actual student there but I found the ones I was looking for, and spent a good four hours typing notes and quotations from them madly on my computer.  It was definitely an efficient way to get work done, and luckily the metro is not too far to walk to after I was finished. I am hoping I can finish writing this paper by the end of next weekend.

Today I went to the Marché again, and finally worked up the courage to talk to the cat busker! His name is Sam, and he busks every week with his cat! This week is cold, and the kitty had a little sweater! So adorable! We had a good conversation, and he told me about a concert at an art gallery tonight that is having a cat painting exhibition.  Very excited to go see this tonight with Thor!

Sam and his cat:

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I also got some buckwheat honey, a cauliflower larger than a basketball (no joke, I have no idea how I will eat this whole thing!!!), sweet potatoes, fresh oranges and kiwis, and some more local brown eggs.

And the update from later tonight: the cat gallery show was awesome! Some of the paintings were so interesting although the prices were a bit high… I was really inspired by the wide variety of styles, ranging from acrylic to ink to a 3D metal cat sculpture in a bird cage.  Sam the busker was also present and sang a song while his cat sat on a stool by the wine and beer bar, and received many pats  and scratching behind the ears from the audience.

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Afterwards Thor and I went for pie at an Australian Pie restaurant a block from our apartment building.  The pies were fantastic! The one I had was stuffed with bacon, swiss cheese, and chunks of stewed beef and carrots.  I took home a few extra pies for dinner this week, since each one is the perfect size for a meal.  Their rum balls are also pretty good!

So it is now snowing quite profusely outside, to the point it will smear your mascara and make the vision through your glasses quite compromised. Enjoy the last bit of the weekend!

Quatrevingt-quatrième Jour : Vierundachtzigsten Tag – Geschirrspüler des Lebens

Yes it’s a long title, I know! Today (le 12e nov) we learned about some common household belongings, many of which I didn’t even know the name of in French!
Dishwasher : Le lave-vaiselle : die Geschirrspülmaschine
Stove : La poèle : der Herd
Oven : Le four : der Backofen
Carpet : La moquette : der Teppich
Washer: La machine à laver : die Waschmaschine
Dryer : La sécheuse : der Trockner
Alarm clock: Le réveil : der Wecker

And a few words in light of the impending arrival of winter:

Snow plough: Un chasse-neige: ein Schneepflug
Frost: Le gel: der Frost
Slippery: glissant: rutschig
Snow shovel: Une pelle à neige: eine Schneeschaufel
Mittens: Des mitaines: die Handschuhe

Today I am also going to rain a bit on everyone’s parade and talk about something that I think needs to be a bit more common: buying local and organic seasonal food. I have several reasons for supporting this.  One of them is my experience; since switching to eating this way I have noticed a remarkable change for the better in the way I feel, despite not sleeping and being under a lot of stress.

Keep in mind, these are my thoughts, you are entirely entitled to your own on these issues.

My other reasons include trust and global environmental impact.  I don’t trust big companies very much, and I don’t like when I can’t see the faces behind where my food is coming from.  The Marché Jean-Talon has really impressed this on me, in that I have conversations every week with the people who sell me my fruit, eggs, honey, and vegetables.  I know that the man who sells me strawberries took over the business from his father and grandfather, that he loves hockey, and has two children.  I can’t say the same thing about people behind the products I could buy at a big grocery store chain.  The average food in your grocery store has also traveled a long way to your hands and kitchen table…. in fact on average, 1500 miles! (for both organic and conventional, if you buy at a grocery store). I want to reduce the threats on our planet, reduce climate change, and help my local community economy.  One of the best ways I can do this is by buying local products from within the city and the province.  It’s even better if I take it directly from the hands of the grower/producer. Your food will also usually last longer, since you are cutting out all the time the food spent travelling to get to you! I even had a tomato last 3 weeks on my counter before going bad!

I also have a big priority to eat organic food, where possible.  There is a lot of evidence showing there is no difference between the nutrient content of conventional and organic food, but this doesn’t matter to me.  My body feels healthier when I eat organic, and I enjoy eating the food more because it is generally more flavourful.  Now I will spout the stereotypes about organic food.  There are 2 different types of organic foods: Certain ones only meet the bare minimum to be labelled organic, and that while possibly healthier than conventional foods in production method, still have their flaws. The other type, usually a local product, has not been mass-produced, and the grower or manufacturer has gone beyond the bare minimum requirements for that product to be labelled organic.  “Organic” is a hype marketing word now, intended for a certain consumer sector, so it can be difficult to find products that are actually produced in the most simple methods, and not just marketed as being produced “rather simply” (without pesticides, herbicides, or genetic mutations). You probably know that conventional food producers use chemical pesticides (usually applied by people in hazardous protection suits), incorporate genetic enhancements to their crops to help them produce their own “pesticides” (meaning the plant is technically poisonous to creatures…including us! and it is now genetically modified), grow hundreds of their product in a small crammed space (chickens, carrots, etc, doesnt matter if it is an animal or plant), and inject animals and plants with chemicals and antibiotics to keep them from getting sick, falling to diseases, or not looking appetizing to the consumer.  Often they use soil with a few basic added compounds to keep the plants nutricious, however trace minerals (very important!) and not often included.

In organic growing conditions the animals are treated far more fairly, not injected with antibiotics and growth hormones, and the food they are fed is also organically grown.  For organic plants the soil hasn’t been conventionally treated for at least three years, and soil and manure is as natural as it comes.

The debate will always be present whether or not one should buy organic food or not, but regardless of that standpoint I think eating mostly local and seasonally available food is a valid point.  In addition to eating local products, eat seasonal.  This means eating foods during their actual growing periods.  Eating greenhouse-grown or imported strawberries outside of their natural maturation period contributes to environmental pollution.  There is no reason to eat strawberries out of season in winter; it’s an unnecessary luxury of our modern age.  Use foods when they are in season, and for the other months you can store them, freeze them, dry them, can them, or make jam with them.  Aim to eat your food in the most unprocessed form.  It should not come in a box with a list of ingredients.  It should come with the leaves and stems still attached, looking gnarly and wild, with some dirt on it.  That’s food.

Here’s a playlist of videos based on some of my thoughts of eating seasonal local organic food.

And before I go, here is some local beer and wild boar sausage I picked up this week,  Absolutely love it.  The beer has three different types of tea it, and tasted absolutely amazing.

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Soixante-treizième Jour – Il fait froid…..

Ok I am officially a wimp (je suis une mauviette) against cold weather.  Today (le 1e novembre) it feels really cold! I am now very glad I brought my thick long-sleeved shirts with me! Apparently there is supposed to be some snow appearing sometime in the next two weeks.  Going outside has suddenly become my least favorite activity, as now I just want to stay warm.

This morning it took a long time to get out of bed! I slept well for the second night in a row, but I was very drowsy from my naturopathic sleeping pills when trying to wake up.  I probably slept for just short of 12 hours.  Then Thor and I went for breakfast?..lunch? at “Beauty’s,” a diner at the corner of Ave Mont-Royal and Rue Saint Urbain.  I had a latte and a huge plate of pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, and a bagel! As you can imagine, I couldn’t finish all of it! We talked quite a bit about the current scandal in the news, the case of Jian Gomeshi.  I don’t really want to go into the details of my thoughts on this recent news, since it is such a finicky case.  I feel that a lot of obscured information is circulating in the press and that both sides of the argument are being manipulated.  Honestly what will come of it? Gomeshi’s career has already been ruined quite extensively.  If he has been abusive, will he learn from this exposure? I don’t know if people like that can change so easily. I just hope that the women he may have hurt can move on and find some peace, for whatever has happened to them.  I guess none of us will ever really know.

After breakfast Thor and I parted ways and I headed to the Marché Jean-Talon.  I would have just gone home in my hung-over stage, if it wasn’t for the fact I am almost out of honey.  Honey and coconut milk are two of the only things I will brave hell or high water for. The Marché is currently in the winter-ization process.  Suddenly most of the vendors are inside in a giant warehouse that is being constructed.  Only a small handful of vendors are still out in the cold air.

Here are my treasures today:

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I finally broke down and bought the garlic I have been eyeing every week.  I need to find a recipe that uses lots of garlic now! The vendor completely sweet talked me into buying it.  Luckily I was able to resist buying a 3 foot tall rosemary tree.

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I went to “Les sauveurs de Québec” again, the store with all local products.  A lot fo things are really overpriced, but they do have some things I feel like buying occasionally, and a very large selection of local beer, wine, and spirits.

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This amber raspberry (framboise) ale is really good, I am drinking it as I write. It’s made in Mount Tremblant, QC, with local raspberries, barley, wheat, and hops.  The flavour of the raspberries is absolutely vivid, but not sweet.  If I gave the Granville Island Raspberry Ale a score of 5/10, this Saint Arnold amber ale gets a solid 7.5/10.  It,s quite good by my standards.  They also had an IPA released in the Chartier series by the microbrasserie, Glutenberg.  Gluternberg is located in Montreal, but they mainly sell their beer in Quebec and in the United States.

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I also found this really amazing beer sausage:

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When I returned home from the Marché I found a wonderful card in the mail from my grandmother.  I always love getting cards and letters from her in the mail, and she is the coolest for check out her stamps! :

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Now it’s time to compose while I eat beer sausage and drink my amber framboise ale!

Soixante-douzième Jour – Joyeaux Hallowe’en!

Yesterday (le 30e oct) I slept almost the entire day.  My head hurt so much all over, and it actually felt like my brain was tender inside my skull.  I have never had so much pain before.  I think the amount of stress I am currently under had just driven me to intense physical discomfort – never a good sign.  I forgot that I had brought a naturopathic migraine cure with me, and after using it a bit my pain was gone by the evening. It’s a mix of herbs -peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, melaleuca, and vertiver. After heavingly drugging myself with melatonin, valerium, and white wine, I was finally able to get some rest – the first time I have slept more than 3 or 4 hours in a week.

By the way this is the best wine I have ever had:

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Today (le 31e oct) I went to see Rocky Horror with my friends Maxime and Véronique.  It was quite a lot more crazy than the shows I have seen in Victoria or Vancouver! There were the usual hoards of guys in drag and girls wearing barely any clothes humping and smacking each other, but the crowd was just endlessly rowdy for hours.  The movie started an hour after the projected 8pm start, and was preceeded by a rather uncoordinated dance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and a really sad costume show.  Some of the costumes were good – there was a Jabba the hut costume, and a group that dressed up like the characters from the cartoon show, Archer, but the majority were your standard Hallowe’en costumes.  The costume show took a very long time and I was almost ready to go to sleep by the time the movie actually started.  As per usual, the movie itself was fantastic, but the speakers were so loud most of the sound was distorted.  I think of all the years I have seen Rocky Horror, this showing had the most exciting audience, but my favorite is the show in Victoria, since we could use more props (there were some prohibitions at this Montreal showing since I think damage was caused by throwing rice before) and the volume of the movie in Victoria wasn’t too loud.

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(Me dressed up as Magenta, to see Rocky Horror)

All in all it was a lovely evening, and it was great to visit with my new friends again! They took me to a casual but very nice restaurant in the Place-des-Arts Métro, called “Mike’s.” I had a really fantastic pizza, some Woodridge Sauvignon vin blanc, and I also learned about a dish called a “gondola.” No, it’s not the gondola that goes up a mountain, its a pizza that is folded like a crepe (it’s different than a calzone, not the same thing). I explained what I know a gondola to be in BC, and we had a good laugh over that.  This restaurant also had the craziest desserts I have ever seen! We saw one of them brought to another table in a glass dish the size of a small soup pot, brimming with chocolate brownie, ice cream, waffle piece, and the whole outside dipped in chocolate and coated in chopped nuts.  Needless to say it probably contained more than a daily calorie intake!

Now I am back home watching “Ghostbusters” and drinking hot tea.  I hope I have another good sleep tonight so I can focus on my work tomorrow.

Happy Hallowe’en! Be safe everyone.  Eat, drink, and be merry!