Monday, 16 July 2012

Five Things I Will Miss About Canada

Leaving Canada, even for just three years, feels surreal. It is everything I know and in a lot of ways, defines who I am. At the same time, my mama is an immigrant from Scotland so I grew up with a pretty good understanding of what it means to live in the diaspora. We don’t intend to stay there forever but we also never really intended to go to California to begin with, so I cannot say where we will end up. I can’t control the future so I won’t bother trying but I can moan about some of the things I love most about Canada and will miss dearly during our adventures as Canadians living abroad.
This list is short. I think I could ramble on and on, but let’s keep it to the seriously miss worthy stuff.
  1. Tim Horton’s.
I said it. And boy do I mean it. On my 22nd birthday when I was pregnant with Lennon I had a 6 pack of donuts instead of a 6 pack of beer. It was wonderful. I know Tim’s is in some states but it just won’t be the same as every street corner. Plus, a whole franchise named after a hockey player pretty much epitomizes Canada.
  1. Snow.
Most people will think I’m kidding but I’m not. I grew up across the Canadian prairies and snow is a part of my identity. It will be weird taking winter vacations and retreating to the mountains instead of escaping them for sunny beaches. 
  1. Multi-Coloured Money and the Loonie and Toonie
I love our purple, blue, red, and green money. Even the brown hundred dollar bill is better than solid green across the board. And who else can get away with calling coins loonies and toonies than the charming northerners known as Canadians?
  1. Eh, Toques, and Aboot
Canadian accents are priceless. Never will a Canadian travel and have a hard time being understood. We speak so slowly, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Every question ends in eh? and the fact that toques are not only necessary but revered is what Canadians are all aboot, eh?
  1. Family and Friends
My new family
Most importantly, more than the beaver and the moose, the lakes and the mountains, Timmy Ho’s and toonies, I will miss my family and friends. The people who have helped me get to where I am today, the family I don’t get to see enough, the ones that I do, the friends I miss already and those that I will soon have to say farewell to, they are what constitutes Canada for me. And I will miss all of you more than you will know. So please don’t forget us as we bask in the California sunshine. Although something tells me I will see many of you starting in November running all the way to June, even July depending on Canada’s elusive summer.
My Mama

My Bestie

My closest friends

My crazy bro's
My dad
Oh Canada, we will miss you and plan to return home soon. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Veggie Butter Tofu

When I was ten my family went out for Indian food for the first time. We had tandoori chicken and I thought I was going to die. As an adult, I'm known for being a wimp when it comes to spicy food so as a child, I pretty much couldn’t even handle chipotle. Tandoori is hot! I ended up sticking to naan bread all night. This shaped my relationship to Indian cuisine for years and I avoided it tirelessly. Until one day, as a 19 year old rebel, I tried it again. Just not the tandoori. To my surprise, it was amazing. I’m talking the most flavourful dishes you will ever try and perfectly cooked vegetables. Oh, also, as a newly veggie, I was so excited to go out for dinner and have more than a couple of options to indulge in. 

Needless to say, an ultimate favourite for many people is Butter Chicken. They also do what is called Shahi Paneer. Paneer is a delicious indian cheese, and this is the vegetarian version available at most restaurants of the butter chicken dish. If you have an Indian market close to you, they will have paneer too. I took inspiration from many takeout meals from our local favourite Indian place and turned it into a delicious vegetable based dish. I hope it inspires you to try more tantalizing Indian food!

Veggie Butter Tofu

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 cup of frozen green peas
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1/2 brick extra firm tofu, cubed
1 bottle of butter chicken sauce (most grocery stores have it in the indian aisle, or your indian market will have some great options)
1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 cup of brown basmati rice, cooked
  1. Saute one tbsp of the butter, the onion and the garlic in a skillet, for 2 mins.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cup of water to a boil, add the rice, lower to simmer and cover, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add cauliflower to the onion/garlic/butter and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the whole bottle of sauce, adding 1/3 cup of water and 1 tbsp of butter. Mix together. Increase to medium heat, or until its a rolling boil.
  5. Add the peas and allow to cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Lower to a simmer and add the tofu, cumin, salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the cauliflower to be soft by the time the dish is done, it can simmer for awhile enhancing the aromatic flavours!
  8. Fluff rice, cover in veggie butter tofu and chow down!

The leftovers didn’t even make it past the end of the next day so I know we will be making this dish again. Which reminds me, back to my grocery list....