Dish of the Week

I’m so happy!! I made my first Thai curry from scratch!! AND I more or less made it up!! I wrote before how I like to make things up with instant noodles. Well, today I came home for lunch because my hand was hurting and I couldn’t type. I got home around 1 pm, Alan had already eaten, I was hungry, and all I had that was quick to make was a package of Thai instant noodles and a few Thai ingredients I had bought on the weekend. I wanted to use the rice noodles but not the sauce that came with it. So I started browsing my Big Book of Thai Curries for inspiration. On page 51 I came across something that looked promising. Noodles with Curry Sauce. Gueyteow Gaeng Jay. The sauce required fresh red chillies, large garlic cloves, onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar & salt, all of which I had available. But the actual noodles were fresh egg noodles, beansprouts, long beans & coriander leaves. I had none of that. But I had rice noodles, apple eggplant, carrots, and lemmongrass. Surely I could make it with these few alterations! Also, I was making only one portion, so I had to divide the recipe roughly by four. So this is what I came up with:

Noodles with Curry Sauce

Noodles

I made the curry sauce according to the directions in the book, but the rest I came up with… In case anyone is interested, here goes the recipe:

1 pckge instant rice noodles (45g)

1 carrot, grated

3 small apple eggplants, sliced and halved

bit of lemmongrass

Curry Sauce

1 fresh red chilli

1 large garlic

1 small onion

5 cherry tomatoes

1 shallow tbsp soy sauce

1 shallow tbsp lime juice

1 small tsp sugar

bit of salt

1. Make the sauce. Wrap the chillies, garlic, onions and tomatoes together in tin foil. I chopped them roughly. Preheat the broiler for 15 min and place the wrap under the grill until they begin to soften; about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the foil, place it in a blender and bled everything together. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar & salt, stir well, set aside.

2. Add some sesame oil & canola/sunflower oil to a wok

3. Stir-fry the carrots and eggplant for a bit. Mix about a tbps of soy sauce with a tsp of sugar and add to the carrot mixture. Continue to stir-fry until the eggplant has softened, adding a bit of water if necessary. Add the lemmongrass. Once the eggplant is ready, reserve the carrot mixture. Keep the work at hand.

4. Boil rice noodles for 3 mins, strain and set aside.

5. Heat a bit more canola/sunflower oil in the wok. Pour the curry sauce in. Let it sizzle for a few minutes. Add carrot mixture, stir and let it cook for a few minutes more. At last, add the rice noodles, mix it well and once the noodles have throughly warmed through, remove and serve immediately.

It was spicy but VERY good. Even Alan dared to try a bit and to his utter surprise – he hates spicy food – he loved it. He asked me to make it again for dinner and I repeated the recipe. He said it was the first time he had spicy food that had a taste. I was SO happy because that’s the principle behind Thai food – everything needs to be in harmony: the chillis, the tartness of the lime, the sweetness of the sugar and vegetables, the saltiness of the soy sauce and salt. In the end, it was indeed very spicy – our noses were running – but one could taste the subtle flavours behind it all. The carrot and the eggplant made a really great combination. I’m very pleased!

Makeover Monday

Let’s see how I did with my goals for last week:

1. Finish letter to the chair of my department regarding a conference I’m helping organize – I finished it last Tuesday, revised it on Thursday, printed it today and tomorrow will be handing it in. So, goal accomplished.

2. Finish entering data from the royal register into my database – Half done. Totally inexcusable. There was definitely enough time to do this, if I had spent less time on internet forums…

3. Drink 8 glasses of water/day – I started well; on the first day I drank 5 glasses and was so impressed by my success that I completely forgot about during the following days. Well, I didn’t actually forget, but my excuse is that ever since I read about the horrors of plastic, I have to find a proper non-plastic bottle to bring water to school. Until then, my motivation to drink while I work in my carrel is in jeopardy…

4. Eat at home at least 5 days/week; eat out only 1-2 times a week – I think it was more a fifty-fifty split last week… Although I did bring lunch to school quite a few times last week.

5. Go to the gym at least 3 times – I went twice, but did some Yoga at home and went cycling on both Saturday and Sunday.

I’ll keep the same goals for next week and see if I improve.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now it’s your turn. Want to play? Here’s what to do:

1. Choose a goal or several, like me. (It can be a new one each week or something more long-term.)

2. Write a Makeover Monday post to share your goal for the week ahead. State whether or not you accomplished your goal from the previous week. Brag away! If you are working towards a long-term goal, report on your progress.

3. Please leave me a comment so I feel loved.

4. Spread the good karma by visiting other Makeover Monday participants to encourage and congratulate them on their own makeovers.

5. Feel the love coming right back at you!

—————–

Reading more about the subject, I found some other interesting sites about the various kinds of plastic and how to choose safer ones. See here.  Looks like my Britta filters are safe.

Exploring new neighbourhoods

The house is a mess, we need to do some groceries for the week, and there’s laundry to be done but, hey, it’s Sunday and it was a nice day out. So out we went with our bikes again. This time we headed east in search of elusive fresh Thai ingredients for the homemade Thai curry paste I’ll make sometime this week. I didn’t feel like braving the madhouse that Chinatown can be on a weekend, so I decided to go to Gerrard St East where I heard there was a smaller Chinatown (aka East Chinatown) and a good grocery store to find Thai ingredients. So we cut through Riverdale Farm (what other large urban centre can boast a full farm downtown?) and across a pedestrian bridge over the Don Valley to East Chinatown. It was nice, I found some of the ingredients I needed, although not without asking some friendly-looking Indian lady at the Chinese supermarket.

Once we paid for the galangal, lemmongrass, apple eggplant, and fresh green chilies, it was time for lunch. Across the street from the grocery store was Hanoi 3 Seasons, the only North Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto. I had heard good things about it and was not disappointed. The specialty of the house was cha ca la vong, a grilled fish infused with turmeric and dill, served with vermicelli noodles and a salad. It was indeed very tasty!! The place didn’t look like much from the outside but service was impeccable and the food was very fresh and well done. We will certainly go back.

Hanoi

Some pictures of the grocery store and East Chinatown:

shopping greens?

Trinity Supermarket

East Chinatown

We then started walking down the street and stopped in front of a very interesting-looking restaurant. It specialized in Cambodian cuisine – you could tell by the huge map of Campodia inside – and the owner was sitting in front, smiling at us and assuring us the food was very good. We explained we ate already to which he shrugged his shoulders and replied “not now, come back another time!” He ran in and came back with a discount cupon and started explaining what was Cambodian cuisine “same as Thai, Thailand and Cambodia used to be one place until they split up in the fourteenth century but many customs are still the same”. He gave us his card and we promised to return. He was nice enough to let me take his picture:

Ankhor

Alan and I are planning a trip to Asia next year and this friendly encounter only made me go even more…

We continued along Gerrard St until Little India. I hadn’t been there yet and wanted to check it out. To our surprise, they were having a festival!! It was great, there was music everywhere, lots of food… it made me sorry for having eaten lunch! I must go back to Little India!! Here are some pics from the festival:

Little India

The house continues to be a mess but at least we had a good day! And that’s what Sundays are all about!

Saturday Bike Ride

Since it was sunny, dry, and cool (high of 21 C today) we decided to go for a bit of a bike ride by the lakeshore. Toronto’s lakeshore used to be pretty abandoned, a mostly industrial area, and in the past few years much money has been poured into making the place a nice place to enjoy the outdoors.  There are bike paths, rowing clubs, tennis clubs, a massive pool, amusement parks, anything to entertain the crowds.

The plan was to meet up with our friend Heidi, who wanted to check out a new Italian cafe/restaurant that opened along the lakeshore somewhere west of High Park. So off we went. On the way, we passed by the entrance of CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds and came upon a big parade! Apparently, the CNE was being opened just then. So we snapped a few shots of all the bagpipers and the flags, before we continued on our way. We took our time, the weather was truly beautiful! As far as I’m concerned, there should be a maximum temperature of 25 degrees in the summer… We got to the place around 11:30, just in time for a nice brunch. We lingered on for two hours, sipping our perfectly-made capuccinos at leisure. On the way back, we cut through High Park and some nice residential streets before getting home about an hour ago. We did about 25km, which is not much on a bike, and feel really good. I think we might explore High Park a bit more tomorrow…

Here’s a map of our route. The red is our way there and the blue is the route back…

Bike path

And here’s a slide show of the opening of the CNE and some pics I shot along the way…

Slideshow

El Camino

I don’t really remember when I first heard about the camino, the thousand-year old pilgrimage route across Northern Spain to the tomb of St James in the Galician town of Santiago de Compostela. It was probably back in the days when Paulo Coelho got so famous for his book on the pilgrimage to Compostela. No, I’m not one of those people who first became attracted to the camino by Coelho. If anything, he probably threw me off it for a while. I didn’t like his writing at the time and couldn’t really understand how a man that wrote so poorly could become so famous. But I digress…

It was back in 2003 when I first decided that the camino was something I needed to do. Studying premodern history, I had always been fascinated by trips where the journey meant as much as the destination. I read books about English immigrants to Australia or Hong Kong who would spend six months on a boat to get to their destination. Six months of their lives. Spent on their trip to visit Uncle Ted. The idea was so foreign in today’s world, where we don’t give a passing thought to the in between stage of our next vacations to Mexico or Paris. The more I read about the camino, the more it called me. It struck a deep cord. So deep that I don’t dare attempt the walk before my thesis is done.

When I first got to Toronto, back in 2003, I joined a listserv dedicated to discussing the Camino de Santiago. It was a place where people exchanged tips, itineraries, lists. It was fairly active and I would find myself starting to dream about the walk every time a new email went through. I signed out of the list because I couldn’t get any work done.

But when the camino starts to walk you, it never stops. It made sure to remind me of its existence quite frequently. During my first year at U of T, I met Steve Pede in one of my classes. He had been a business man in the States, who, after walking the camino, decided that he wanted to quit his job, sell his house, and come up to Toronto for a year to get a master degree in Medieval Studies.  Over Latin homework, he would tell me of his camino and of a great gathering of pilgrims that he was helping organize in Toronto in 2005. I quickly jumped on board and helped him in whatever way I could.

That was in May 2005. In April 2006 I went to Spain for a year. I toyed with the idea of  doing a part of the camino while I was there but there wasn’t the time and it wasn’t the right moment. But over the summer we met Franko. An amazing guy who had walked from Lake Constance, in Switzerland, all the way to Santiago de Compostella. 2,444 km. And he had just finished it. I saw his backpack, his walking stick, and he showed me his pilgrim passport with all the stamps he got along the way. The dream was kept alive yet again.

Now it’s a year later and while browsing through Chapters yesterday, I came across Robert Ward‘s book All the Good Pilgrims. Robert had been part of the organizing committee for the gathering back in 2005 and we had many pleasant conversations. I started the book immediately after walking out of the bookstore and had tears in my eyes before I hit page 20. I haven’t finished it yet but finding the book was enough to bring me back to that mental state of needing to do this pilgrimage. It also reconnected me to Robert. I emailed him to say hello and thank for the book only to find out he had started drafting an email to me just the night before. Was it just a coincidence or another one of those camino moments?

Farmer Markets & the new consummer

During the summer months, Toronto is filled with markets where local farmers sell their ware. I feel very bad that I still haven’t been able to patronize some of these markets – they are usually during the week – but at least I get to buy local, seasonal produce at the Pusateri Fresh Market, on Church St.

This weekend, the Toronto Star ran a piece comparing two farmer’s markets: the more upscale one at the Brickworks, and the traditional one at Nathan Philips Square, near City Hall. In it, the author criticizes the Nathan Philips Square market for not having music or entertainment for the kids. Please. It’s a market. Where people go to buy fruits and vegetables. Is entertainment for kids a good criteria??

Well, Taste T.O. took exception to the article and wrote their own defence of the Nathan Philips Square market. I have to agree with their conclusion:

“It is not the job of the farmer or the farmer’s market to entertain us, to baby-sit our kids or to give us that “back to the farm” experience. It is not their job to ensure that we feel a sense of community, or to ensure that we go home feeling all warm and rosy because, ooh, look, we supported a farmer today. Let’s stop being so demanding and so damned patronizing and let the farmers do their job – to grow the food we eat. Isn’t that enough of a responsibility?”

Read the full piece here.

Makeover Monday

My friend CableGirl has a weekly thread entitled “makeover monday”. I think I’ll play along… Here’s my goals for this week:

1. Finish letter to the chair of my department regarding a conference I’m helping organize (I’m working on it, JP!! Fear not…)

2.  Finish entering data from the royal register into my database (I have about 300 pages left to go through; should be doable)

3. Drink 8 glasses of water/day (this one I stole from CableGirl, but since I’m VERY bad at drinking water – I go days without having a glass of water – I thought it would be a good one)

4. Eat at home at least 5 days/week; eat out only 1-2 times a week

5. Go to the gym at least 3 times

I think  that’s enough for one week.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now it’s your turn. Want to play? Here’s what to do:

1. Choose a goal or several, like me. (It can be a new one each week or something more long-term.)

2. Write a Makeover Monday post to share your goal for the week ahead. State whether or not you accomplished your goal from the previous week. Brag away! If you are working towards a long-term goal, report on your progress.

3. Please leave me a comment so I feel loved.

4. Spread the good karma by visiting other Makeover Monday participants to encourage and congratulate them on their own makeovers.

5. Feel the love coming right back at you!