Friday, 2 May 2014

20 Feet from Stardom

I'm definitely late on this (seeing as it won an oscar and all) but A and I just watched this documentary last night and we loved it! It's available on American and maybe even Canadian netflix right now. The movie provides an interesting look at the music industry and reeaaaaly makes you want to get up and sing!

I've been thinking about joining a choir lately because I used to be involved in choirs in the past and I've been missing that act of communal singing, there really isn't anything like it. This movie was helpful in re-igniting that desire, singing is just so wonderfully therapeutic.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Lucinda Williams - Passionate Kisses

I've been a fan of hers for a long time but I recently started listening to her again. She has such a distinctive voice! This album will be on repeat for a while I think!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Peter Doig & Summer Rolls

The weekend started off on a good note. We went for drinks (5a7) in Old Montreal on an outdoor terrasse that had beautiful views of the Saint Lawrence and Old Montreal. We may have been a bit too enthusiastic for patio weather as it was pretty chilly but we warmed up quickly after a few drinks. 
 For months I've been trying to get to the Peter Doig exhibit at the Montreal Arts Centre. I had never heard of the British artist before but the publicity surrounding the event had me intrigued. On Saturday we finally had the time to go (no paper writing, yay!) and it was very rainy so it seemed like the best use of our time. His work really impressed me (not that I'm hard to impress). After taking an oil painting class early in the year we were a bit more knowledgable as to how much effort goes into creating a painting. It really is a long and well thought out process! This one above was one of my favourites.
 I also really loved this one. Peter Doig uses lots of vibrant colours but also uses the colour white in a very stark version of the colour. I loved how he drips paint down the canvas, so neat!
Above is his most famous work, the red canoe. We thought it looked like Alcatraz in the background. 

 Saturday night I finally got around to making fresh spring rolls or Summer rolls as they're also referred to. I have intended on making these healthy treats for YEARS but for some reason they always seemed too difficult. After making them I can assure you they are anything but difficult, very easy in fact! What I love about them is you can really make up your own recipe as to what fillings you would like. Picture above (in very dark and dim lighting because it was raining and our kitchen lighting is brutal) are all the veggies, noodles, herbs and egg chopped up uniformly, all ready to be rolled up!
 For our spring rolls we included a scrambled egg pancake, julienned red pepper, carrots, avocado, rice noodles and basil or cilantro (A really dislikes cilantro but I love it, compromising here was very easy!).
And voila! The finished product all wrapped up and ready to be dipped in a delicious homemade peanut sauce.

Summer Rolls a la Brooke: makes 5 large rolls
5 sheets of rice paper
2 eggs
Half a red pepper, julienned
2 medium sized carrots or 10 baby carrots, julienned
1 avocado, julienned
1 cup of vermicelli rice noodles
Basil (either 4 springs for 9 springs depending on the ratio with cilantro)
Cilantro (about 1/4 cup finely chopped for 3 rolls, more if using in all 5 rolls)
*I also think green onions, baked tofu, julienned cucumber and/or a lettuce of some sort would be a great addition!

Peanut Sauce:
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon-1/2 teaspoon of red chill flakes depending on your spice preference
1 tablespoon agave nector
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons of lime juice (I only had lemon juice and it worked just fine!)
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1. First make the peanut sauce, blend all the above ingredients together and add a little bit of water if the mixture needs to be more creamy. Set aside until rolls are all made.
2. Make your egg pancake: whisk two eggs together and fry them in a small frying pan, flipping over once to evenly cook both sides. After the pancake has cooled, chop in half and then chop julienne style.
3. While making the egg pancake, make the rice noodles as instructed on the package (usually place in salted boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes, strain, dry and set aside).
4. Make rice paper according to the package instructions.
5. Assemble! I placed the rice noodles first onto the rice paper in the centre, then placed the red pepper and carrot on either side. After I put the herbs (either basil or cilantro but you could also put both) on top of the noodles followed by avocado and egg. To fold the paper, fold either the right or left side of the paper over the filling, tightly. Then fold the top and bottom of the rice paper leaving only the right or left side. Then fold the right or left side tightly over the other folded parts.
6. Cut in half or keep whole, serve with the peanut sauce and enjoy!

We really liked these summer rolls and I will definitely be making them again in the warmer months. I may also use this peanut sauce recipe and fiddle around with it to make Pad Thai, updates on that to come!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Short Visit Home

I was lucky enough to spend some time home (near Toronto) this weekend for Easter. I got to visit with a few friends, relax and spend time with family. Pictured above are some old trees that line the driveway of my childhood home. After the ice storm this winter many of these trees lost their branches but they seem to be going strong now! This picture doesn't really put it into perspective but these trees are so tall and beautiful. We are lucky to have them.

 One of the best parts of the weekend was a visit to my old university town, Guelph. I met a friend there for lunch at one of our old favourite vegetarian restaurants and it felt so surreal to be back there. I hadn't been back to Guelph since I graduated almost 4 years ago! When we move back to Ontario I hope to spend more time visiting that area, it really is a nice town. 

Easter was great. My parents hosted 30+ of our family and I made these bird nest macaroons which turned out awesome! They were very easy and look so cute, I may make them again. We don't celebrate a big religious Easter, for me its more about welcoming spring and all of the changes that come during this time. It's also just nice to have a reason to celebrate with family and friends. 

After a long winter it felt really nice to get away from the city for a few days. I've been a bit frustrated with Montreal lately due to a number of things: ridiculous politics, the language barrier, unfriendly atmosphere, etc. I found myself desperate for Halifax numerous times, missing the friendly people and the ocean breeze. Everyone keeps telling me that the summers here are wonderful and will make me feel more at home. I really hope so! Coming home (back to Montreal) actually felt exciting this time. On the train ride home I read a blog post about a couple's trip to Montreal. They had never been before and were so enamoured with the city and all it's charm. They went to lots of interesting restaurants and shops in my neighbourhood, just raving about all they had to offer. This blog post really put things in perspective. I am so fortunate to be able to live here! I hope I can embrace this city like I was able to do in the fall during the summer. Things will be very, very busy with me wrapping up school but I know I'll find some time.

Hope you're all enjoying this lovely spring weather. It is so sunny here today and I went for a great, long run up the Mount for the first time since moving here. It felt amazing!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lykke Li

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head! I love it's simplicity, especially that piano. Lykke Li is becoming a fast favourite of mine.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


I've been buying flowers like mad this past week. Irises are one of my absolute favourites and I'm not even sure why. Maybe its the colour? The odd shape? The lovely name? Whatever the reason I'm happy they're in season!

Here are some pictures of my seedlings having just been planted. This year I'm going to try growing a couple of flower varieties to make our front balcony look cheery. I'll also be growing cherry tomatoes, green onions and sugar snap peas (yum!). So far no sign of sprouting yet but I'll give it more time. Heres hoping this summer is a gardening success!

Friday, 11 April 2014


Spring is here!! We've now had quite a few days without a chance of snow and the sun has been so bright. Yesterday I went for a nice long walk to grab a few things for spring. I bought this new table runner (stretched my budget quite a bit but I'm so in love with it), picked up some tulips and irises and bought some seeds for my balcony garden this summer.

Yesterday I finished my last day of classes in my academic career, theres still a lot more for me to finish before I graduate from my Masters but I'm trying to relish in this small milestone. Its pretty exciting! Thats what I told myself when I bought an obscene amount of flowers anyways. 

The best part of spring for me is the improvement in mood. I've been able to run outside almost every day and it makes such a difference. I feel much more sprightly! Shopping for flowers was also such a lovely experience. My favourite flower shop was teeming with rare orchids and many other spring flowers. I could have spent all day in there. The owner was actually friendly to me too (usually he's a bit grumpy and preoccupied), maybe its the effects of spring?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Egg Drop Soup

Last week I decided to make an old favourite based on a recipe I discovered on pinterest. A few years back I worked as a caregiver for a Chinese family and the mother would make this soup once a week for lunch for the kiddos, it was always a big hit! This modification to the old one I used to make includes sesame oil, green onions and delicious ginger. It is incredibly easy and was so flavourful. I think we will be making this a lot now!

4 cups or 1 pint of good quality chicken stock/veggie stock 
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp ground ginger (or a little more if you love ginger like me)
1/4 tsp of garlic power or garlic salt (just make sure you don't add too much salt at the end!)
3 eggs
1 tsp of sesame oil
4 green onions sliced thinly (you can use both the green and white parts)
1/2 cup of frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
* I also think you could use fresh garlic and ginger for this recipe but it would be more work and would include chunks.. to each their own though, chopped finely I think it could be good!

To begin with heat the chicken stock over medium heat and whisk together with the cornstarch, ginger and garlic power in a medium saucepan until there are no lumps left. Then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

While waiting for the chicken stock mixture to boil, whisk the eggs in a bowl.

When the broth comes to a boil remove from the heat. Whisk the broth in a circular motion and slowly pour the eggs into the soup to create those lovely egg ribbons. The whisking must be relatively slow too to get lots of ribbons.

After you've poured all of the eggs and made egg ribbons whisk in the sesame oil, green onions (save some for the garnish) and corn.

Serve with green onions and fresh grated black pepper on top. Yum!!

Based on this recipe with a few modifications: 

Friday, 28 March 2014

This winter….

This winter starting off well. I had heard about how long and freezing Montreal winters can be so I chose to embrace this winter by spending lots of time outdoors hiking, skating and visiting to Quebec city for Carnaval where we even went dog sledding (I got in trouble for petting the dogs, big surprise there). After February, the magic of winter had long since faded and the fact that it snowed a few days ago has made things even more lack-luster. The snow is all slushy and brown, people are grumpy and just plain exhausted from the freezing wind! Everyone reassures me that the summer in Montreal makes things all worth while and I cannot wait to drink wine in the park (it's legal here!), start my balcony garden and bike to work. I sure am proud to have made it through this winter and spent much of outside (although we did binge watch House of Cards on netflix… who didn't?) but spring and summer will be welcomed with open arms!

As for the pictures, these are just a summary of some winter highlights: our trip to Quebec City (such a charming city), my belated Christmas gift from A: an oncidium orchid that smells like vanilla and chocolate, i'm obsessed, skating on the giant pond in la fontaine, drying valentine ranunculus and lastly the bustling art festival nuit blanche. 

Bring on the spring mother nature!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

This is amazing

Bought this yesterday for a study treat. This is the most amazing chocolate bar! My new favourite.