Tuesday, November 30, 2010

raw canvas

"eat. drink. make art."

that is exactly what raw canvas is.

raw canvas is a tapas lounge, wine bar, and art studio in the beautiful yaletown in vancouver. though i haven't yet enjoyed the tapas or the art studio, i've enjoyed the wine there while watching my friends steel audrey perform. its a cozy venue for a music performance.

raw canvas has a pretty narrow space, but it is beautiful, with gorgeous (probably antique) furniture, patterned wallpaper, wooden tables, and art everywhere. its got a wine bar at the side, a couple long wooden tables, and a few smaller tables in the middle, and a large, open room at the back filled with canvases. if you want to paint while enjoying a glass of wine & making new friends (or coming with old ones), you just buy a canvas, and it comes with the paint, brushes, and smocks you need. you don't even have to clean-up. all their paints are made locally on granville island, where they refill paint with a zero waste system. what a great idea.

you can see more of my raw canvas photos here.
i also took some photos last month for steel audrey's upcoming movember show: vive la moustache! check out the photos we came up with!

raw canvas
1046 hamilton street
mon-fri: 4pm til late
sat-sun: 1pm til late
Raw Canvas on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

hot harira soup for my cold body & soul

i realise that there are colder places on this earth at the moment (i'm truly sorry for you, calgarians), but i am not liking the ghastly cold vancouver weather right now. AT ALL. i leave my house bundled up with all the warmest clothes i have, i look ridiculous, and i STILL freeze my butt off. well, my toes, mostly.

sooo... i've been staying inside a lot. and i made a huge pot of hot, comforting soup yesterday to warm my cold, bitter soul. moroccan harira soup. it seems that this soup is traditionally made with lamb, but i used chicken instead. i mostly followed this recipe, at epicurian.com but originally from gourmet magazine issue march 1994.

i tweaked a few things to make it even better:

  • chicken (i used 1 thigh, because i am poor. you can use however much chicken you can afford)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water (i probably added a couple more cups onto that)
  • 4 blanched tomatoes, de-peeled & chopped up (or a can or 2 of diced or pureed tomatoes)
  • 1/4 or 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp coriander (optional)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 14-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raw long-grain rice
  • 1 & 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional. i didn't have any)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • in a large pot, bring chicken, broth, water, 1/2 a cinnamon stick & 2 cloves of garlic to a boil. simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. remove chicken & let cool. remove cinnamon stick & discard.
  • while pot is simmering, saute chopped onions, garlic & spices (mustard & coriander) in a separate pan on low to moderate heat. about 5-10 minutes.
  • add to large pot onion mixture, tomatoes, rice, lentils, & chickpeas
  • close lid & simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
  • remove bones & skin from chicken & shred/chop up chicken.
  • stir chicken into soup; add salt & pepper to taste. simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
  • add half of the chopped parsley (& cilantro if using).
  • serve soup hot and garnish with the rest of the parsley.
  • enjoy with toasted bread or fresh, warm biscuits (recipe to follow)
i made my mom's biscuit recipe. super quick & easy!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter/shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk/milk substitute
  • heat oven to 450F (225C)
  • whisk flour, salt & baking powder in a bowl.
  • blend in butter with hands or pastry cutter until mixture looks like fine crumbs
  • stir in milk, only until flour is all moistened. do not beat!
  • transfer dough to floured surface & knead about 10 times.
  • roll or pat dough until about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.
  • cut out shapes & put on baking sheet.
  • bake 10-12 minutes.
  • serve with honey-butter. (1 part honey to 1 part soft butter)

now that i'm done typing out the recipe, i remember that i've already posted the recipe here, back in 2008. oops!

Monday, November 22, 2010

eastside culture crawl

attention vancouver folk:

east vancouver's annual east side culture crawl is happening upon us this weekend: november 26 - 5 to 10pm, november 27 & 28 - 11am to 6pm. this year, my very own sister is opening up her studio for all to peruse & discover amazingness. the crawl is a free 3-day tour of sorts, where artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, woodworkers, screenprinters, etc etc) open up their studios to the public and the public has a chance to not only see hundreds (390 this year i believe) of artists' works, but behind the scenes as well. if you've never been, you really should go this year! the perimeters are main street to victoria drive and from first avenue north to the waterfront. andrea's studio is on victoria & powell, and its right across from a jjbean, so its the perfect spot to go & grab a hot americano or latte while you tour.

(illustration by andrea armstrong)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"neiner neiner weiner"


best road-trip discovery EVER. found this gem somewhere in the lovely state of washington on my way to shoot a wedding last year.

a new diner in my hood: the red wagon

there's a new diner in my neighbourhood that my sister & i have wanted to check out ever since we saw it on the corner of hastings and garden a few weeks ago. the red wagon restaurant.

we finally got to try it out last week. being the breakfast-loving person that i am, we decided to check out their breakfast. it was a rainy weekday, and its a new restaurant, so i wasn't surprised that the cafe was pretty quiet when we got in. it's a really great space, with lots of seating, and 2 walls of windows streaming in natural light.

the breakfast menu looked great - i was eyeing the 'trucker's breakfast,' something like 2 eggs, 2 buttermilk pancakes, 2 bacon, toast... but i wasn't sure if i was hungry enough to finish it. i ended up ordering a spinach & mushroom benny, and my sister got the goat cheese & basil frittata. both of our plates came with home-fries (fried potato chunks). the potatoes had really good flavor, but they could have been a little crispier, and there were just so many that i was sick of potatoes after eating. the hollandaise sauce on my eggs benedict was pretty tasty - it was light and not too rich. our server informed me that the chef makes the sauce himself. the poached eggs were a little under-cooked, however. i like my yolks runny, but when the egg white is runny, i get a little grossed out and the runny texture of the egg white distracts from the other flavors on my plate.

after i'd eaten, though i felt full from the potatoes, i felt slightly dissatisfied. maybe my hopes had been set too high in the first place (a new breakfast joint so close to my house!), but i felt like i wasn't getting my money's worth from the meal. the breakfast menu prices are a little higher than typical diner style, the average plate was around $10 before tax. though the prices seemed pretty similar to the prices of another breakfast diner in the neighbourhood that i like, the quality of the food i ate didn't really make up for the price. it was good, but it wasn't great.

however, i'll still give it another shot. the service was great, i really like the idea of this place, and i do want to support local business. i've also only tried one meal, and that's not really enough to warrant a balanced review of the place. other reviews i've read seem to focus on red wagon's lunch menu, so i'll go back for lunch sometime.

but don't just take my word on it. read other reviews, here & here and/or go check it out yourself!

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 15, 2010

sick day

i had an omelet today. oh.. but no, not this one. this one's a couple weeks old.

i was sick today (& yesterday & the day before), so the task of actually cooking food was more than enough to wear me out, i didn't need an added burden of lugging the weight of my heavy new camera around. i spent the day watching pride & prejudice (a&e with colin firth) and getting up from my couch to make hot water for my hot water bottle, make tea (4+ pots), and use the bathroom (i drank 4+ pots of tea plus many glasses of water). hopefully tomorrow i will feel up for the task of being productive.

oh yeah. my sister commented that i post a lot about eggs. (like here & here) yeah... i like eggs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the sandwich & its glory

sandwiches are glorious inventions. so many, many options. and so easy (not too easy - a good sandwich requires a little bit of time & effort).

this particular sandwich consisted of organic turkey deli meat, alfalfa sprouts, fresh basil leaves, chorizo, pickles, mayo, & wholegrain mustard. my favorite accessory to add to a sandwich is a slice of mango. especially when smushed together with turkey, spinach, and ranch dressing. you should try it next time you want an amazing sandwich.

my new napkin friend:
found at rags & dishes - discounted kitchen linens etc on main street
i heart napkins.

alfalfa sprouts - what did i do before i knew who you were?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

well, hello

have you met my newest family member?


another horrible culinary experience

i haven't been blessed in the culinary area this week so far. disaster cupcakes, and now this. ratatouille. it looked so easy. and it was easy. but it wasn't great. i found it flavorless, a bit bitter, and had to get a dish just to put the eggplant & tomato peels in because they were tough and icky. moral of this story: when you are wondering what to do with the vegetables that have been sitting in your fridge for a while.... don't use them in a dish that calls for 'fresh' vegetables. you will be horribly disappointed. and maybe just stop trying new recipes. or stop cooking full stop. wait... maybe that's a bit harsh. lets just say i haven't been inclined to cook or bake in the last couple days. hopefully that will change soon. :)

at least i got pretty photos out of my culinary horribleness.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

a baking re-incarnation

a couple days ago i had a craving for chocolate. i made some sort of mini chocolate cake, essentially cupcakes. i didn't like them. at all. i still stuffed my face, but i thought they tasted horrible, and not chocolatey at all.

do i eat them? do i throw them away? no! i make them into another kind of dessert! a trifle! i chopped the cupcakes up, and layered them in a container with whipped cream, chopped chocolate, and raspberries. problem solved. next time i might add some chocolate sauce in there though, moisten it up a bit. wait... next time i won't make those cupcakes, that's what!

anyone else have a disaster-averted story? or a re-incarnation of something that didn't initially turn out?

Friday, November 5, 2010

best pasta concoction ever

i was walking on main street on wednesday, near king edward, and randomly walked into a deli store. maybe i was hungry (likely. i often am), maybe something caught my eye that made me think "i want some deli meat!" or maybe it was something else. anyway, i'm glad i did. i was greeted in a friendly manner, and immediately was offered to try some chorizo. i'm not a huge chorizo fan, and i don't buy/eat lots of meat. it was tasty, however. i bought some. i also bought some organic turkey deli meat, and a cute jar of maple mustard. to be honest, the guy was so friendly, and knew his product, and was passionate about it. if i stayed any longer than i did, i probably would have bought some of their handmade pastas, too, or some other condiment in a cute jar. luckily for my wallet, i left at some point before it was too late.

on my way home, i excitedly thought about my dinner plans. i wanted to incorporate chorizo somehow, meanwhile wanting to use up some kale in my produce drawer. i also had a weird craving for mushrooms. i stopped for a few quick groceries at donald's (i love donald's), and went home with a rough plan for my meal. it was to be a pasta dish.

"joey's best pasta concoction so far"
serves 2 big meals, or 4 small ones
measurements are roughly estimated - i don't measure things when i cook
cooking directions are also roughly estimated - i don't follow rules & half the time don't know if what i'm doing is actually the right way to do what i'm doing...

  • mushrooms (i used organic crimini mushrooms because i hadn't used them before and they looked tasty) - about 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • garlic - 2 or 3 cloves, minced
  • onion - 1 medium sized onion, any kind you like baby
  • sage - 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried (use fresh, its so much better)
  • butter - lots
  • kale - de-stemmed, roughly 2 or 3 loose cups
  • cream, or coconut milk
  • parmesan cheese - lots. freshly grated
  • chorizo - 1 link, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • pasta noodles - 1 to 2 cups? i need to start measuring! i just poured out of my pasta jar until i was happy. i used emmer pasta, an ancient variety of wheat - tasty!
  • salt & pepper - "to taste," soo.... lots. :)
to do:

boil water with some salt for your pasta noodles. when water is boiled, add a tiny bit of olive oil to deter pasta sticking to the pot bottom. add pasta & cook according to package directions. don't drain them when they are cooked. if your pasta is ready WAY ahead of everything else, set a bit of the pasta water aside and then drain the noodles so they don't get soggy & icky.

in a large saucepan, or a wok (i used a wok), on low heat, melt a gob of butter, add your onions & saute until translucent. add half the garlic. turn heat up to medium & add them mushrooms & sage. until the mushrooms are browned and/or cooked to your liking. add the kale & cook for a few minutes. set aside mushroom concoction, in a bowl or something, and keep the wok/saucepan on the heat. you may want to turn your heat down a bit at this point, and add a larger gob of butter & the rest of the garlic. you don't want to burn the garlic. add a couple cups of cream (i used coconut milk, it seemed to work fine!), and cook until bubbly. add your grated parmesan, stir it around and cook for a bit. now add the noodles, a bit of the pasta water, and your chorizo. and everything else - including salt & pepper. cook for a bit longer, and make sure everything is coated in sauce. if not, add a bit more cream & cheese. serve, & garnish with more grated parmesan cheese & maybe a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley if you have it.

essentially, i made an alfredo sauce, but i'm not a cook who follows rules well, so i cook things the way i cook things, not necessarily how they are supposed to be done. so if you want, find a good alfredo sauce recipe & try that! (this recipe looks decent)

i preemptively did a photoshoot with my bowl of pasta before tasting it, assuming it would be decent enough to validate being hungry for a few more minutes. while eating my delicious pasta dinner, i decided it was the best pasta concoction i had thrown together yet. thus, it deserved a blog post dedicated to it.

and here it is. enjoy. :)

giveaway winner & a tale of 2 pumpkins

last night, november 3rd, at 11:11pm, i wrote 9 names on pieces of paper. i tossed them in a hat, got my sister to mix them up, and i stuck my hand in and grabbed one piece of paper. on that paper, was the name 'ty.' congrats tyler on winning my contest!

... if you are wondering, i did in fact pick the winner randomly (out of a hat, the good old-fashioned way). i did NOT pick ty just because he called me cool. :) for those of you who haven't heard of this music blog, mp3po - another music blog, check it out! tyler is a contributor to the blog and has great music taste.

tyler, please email me your shipping info & pick any* photo (or 5) from my flickr, of which you'd like cards made out of.

*if you pick something i don't like, i have the right to overrule your decision :)

i am excited to have finally reached 100 posts. i can't wait to do another giveaway. i also am excited to attempt to make fudge. thanks for the suggestion, tyler!

and now i'd like to tell you a short story. a story of 2 pumpkins.

here they are, happy. well, the one is. the other one is bored, or constipated.. but happy enough. they were enjoying fall, and the halloween weekend. they went out halloween night...

... and came back the next morning with makeovers.

what happened?!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

summer is over, but today was quite nice

these yummy tomatoes were purchased from the last summer farmer's market i went to this year. summer is officially over. summer has been over for a while, but i am still dealing with it. today was a bizarrely unusual fall day, and it hit 17 C. i only had a light sweater on, walking on main street today, and was in my own little private bliss.

i do know that when fall begins to hit harder, i will cope by staying inside, baking lots of things and keeping my oven on a lot (not just for heat, but it's a bonus for sure). i don't have proper wear for rainy wintery vancouver, my boots and my jacket are both with broken zippers, so staying inside just seems like the right thing to do. how do you cope with fall/winter (if you have it)?

oh yes, this is my 99th post. my contest is officially closed & i will draw up the name & post the results next post. woo! please stay tuned... you may be the winner.