But I did.
Trust me, I didn’t succumb to the traditional sushi rolls.
Instead, I had a delicious raw sushi roll at Organic Lives. Completely inauthentic, it was filled with a pecan pate, sprouts, veggies, avocado and mango. With the zippy fruit-based dipping sauce, it was so completely different from any sushi roll I have ever had. The only similarity was that it was a nori roll wrap.
Once the hubbub subsided after I returned home, I was craving a more traditional sushi roll. Without all the hard work of actually rolling the little buggers…
When I visited Japan, one of my favourite meals was eating sashimi at the Tsukiji Market, which is the wholesale marketplace for seafood in Tokyo. With daily auctions, this is where you can eat the freshest fish. The sashimi was unbeatable. I have never been able to enjoy sea urchin anywhere else. So fresh, it was so buttery soft and creamy.
I actually visited Tsukiji two days in a row and sampled sashimi from two different vendors. Both times, I ordered a sushi bowl with an assortment of sashimi. One resto had better sashimi and the other had better rice. The rice was so good, it eclipsed the fish. And I don’t really like rice, actually. I consider it filler in sushi rolls, when I would rather be eating the filling. I tolerate rice for the most part, but here, I learned how great rice can taste.
I have experimented with a few rices since my return, and I still remain partial to a short-grain Japanese-style rice. Recently, I bought the Taiwanese Yih Chuan Aromatic Rice, which has a faint aroma of taro (yes, on sale at T&T). It brings rice to the next level. The rice is nicely flavoured, shaped and most importantly, tastes great.
My whole preamble about rice is because if you are going to make a sushi rice bowl, you should try to use a nice rice! The dressing helps, too. The toppings, too. But let the rice get the spotlight it deserves as it isn’t supposed to be a bland side.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, I wouldn’t call this an authentic Japanese recipe, but a lively citrus-flavoured sushi bowl. Top with your favourite sushi toppings such as steamed asparagus, avocado, grilled tofu, and dare I suggest mango? (Mango, next time…). The key to keep this a sushi bowl, and not a rice salad, though, is to include the toasted nori strips. You can buy them pre-shredded, but you could also toast the nori and then cut it into thin strips yourself.
Armed with pounds of juicy Navel oranges, I turned to Radiant Health, Inner Wealth for inspiration. Tess loves to use fresh citrus juice in her cooking, and I was drawn to this recipe because it included some of my favourite ingredients – baby spinach, orange, almonds. However, there’s that pesky raw red onion. At restaurants, I will usually pick the onion out because they can be incredibly spicy and can detract from the rest of the salad.
At home, though, I know the trick to make this onion palatable and a welcome addition to the salad. America’s Test Kitchens recommends soaking the sliced red onion in water for at least 10 minutes, and it actually works. You lose that rawness, but you still get the crisp, clean onion flavour, that complements the salad as opposed to being moody and detracting. Since I knew I would have some for leftovers, I threw my onions into the leftover dressing, which also works great.
So this salad is everything you think it would taste like. It is light and refreshing with baby spinach, juicy oranges, crunchy toasted almonds and the twist is the light balsamic vinaigrette. And do not fear the red onion if you come over to my place to eat (trust me, if I will eat it, it is ok!).
I should judge the difficulty of recipes on my ability to make them after a bike ride (yam and black bean stew, I’ve got my eyes on you!). To be honest, I don’t think any of my recipes are hard to make (heck, even I can make it!) but I know some can be lengthy, especially if dried beans are involved.
Last weekend, I cycled to Kitchener with a friend. We opted to take a shorter route home, cycling to the Aldershot GO Station in Burlington and training the rest of the way home. I cycled 209km that weekend, and with the shorter distance on Sunday, it meant I was home by 3:30pm and able to do some weekend chores.
Um, no. Utter fail.
I got as far as: a) blending myself a recovery smoothie with banana and maca; b) during the post-ride euphoria, calling Rob to tell him I arrived alive; c) taking a nice warm bath; d) throwing all my cycling clothes in the washing machine to get washed; e) making this soup; f) unexpectedly catching up with an old friend over the phone for an hour…. Giving my mom a well-deserved (brain-supported) phone call, unfortunately was not in the cards (=biggest failure).
Thank goodness I still had some delicious leftover raw pad thai for dinner that I picked up from Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (which travelled incredibly well over 80km on my bike!). (Their big green juice with maca was also exactly what I needed when I finally arrived in Waterloo).
Anyways, I had a few recipes on my week’s menu, but was only able to muster enough energy to make this Orange Beet Soup, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I figured it would be a simple thing to throw together and should take under 30 minutes, right?
Obviously, in my post-cycle haze, my coordination (hand and mental) decrease. It took me more like 45 minutes and I didn’t even grate my vegetables by hand (thank you food processor!) plus another 15 minutes to clean (curse you food processor!) . I peeled my beets which took up a lot of time, and probably unnecessary in retrospect.
Also problematic: juicing my oranges. 1.5 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. By me armed with my lemon squisher. 4 oranges later and many more minutes later, I had it all. Reinfeld may suggest 1-2 oranges, but that is impossible! Unless you get so much more juice with a juicer? Or pick an incredibly juicy one from a tree in Florida? Because I use all the pre-juicing tricks: microwave for 20 seconds, smash it and roll it around on the counter. And it took me just over 3 oranges.
Anyways, I will see if my kitchen speed increases if I were to make this at any other time.
Because this is a great soup and should get repeated. Like when I have a garden filled with beets (oh yes!).
Simple ingredients layer to create a nice, light, flavourful soup. Beet is at its core, but it is sweet from the layers of orange and carrots. The dill add another dimension with a nod to the Eastern European pairing of beet and dill, and the red miso creates that subtle complexity.
This soup is great warm and chilled. Chilled, it is a refreshing and bright starter and if I had a high-powered blender, this would make this the ultimate savoury summer drink (my immersion blender left a bit of pulp, which is fine for something labelled as soup).
After hanging up with my friend, it was 7pm, and I was positively pooped. I didn’t even photograph the soup. Yet. (It was photographed as leftovers the next day, which is also when my mom got the brain-active phone call she deserved!).
I cleaned up my kitchen and called it a night and fell asleep around 8pm, before the sun had even gone to bed.
So what kind of meal would you make if you were hosting a dinner party after cycling 100km?
Without going to the grocery store, to boot.
While I prefer not to try new recipes on unsuspecting guests, I warned my brother and sister-in-law that this was a new recipe… AND that I would likely be pooped post-bike ride. They were fine with the menu.
The most important part of having them over is not about the food, you see, it was about catching up. How their plans for puppy parenthood are progressing, moving plans on both ends, and since my apartment is now on the market to be rented, it has never looked cleaner. Oh, and games. Fun was had by all as we introduced them to Bananagrams and Dominion.
I still get a bit stressed when choosing a menu for guests. My tastes have changed and I would like to showcase how great the food tastes. A bit harder to do without rehearsing a recipe, but I trusted the complementary flavours within this
soup stew. Yam, black beans, orange, cilantro – what’s not to like?
I adapted this recipe from Appetite for Reduction to create a heartier soup, I mean stew. I decreased the amount of yam, increased the black beans, used canned tomatoes instead of fresh and, of course, used Aleppo chili flakes instead of the serrano peppers.
The yams, partially mashed, created a creamy consistency which meshed well with the extra black beans. I squeezed 2 Navel oranges to acquire 1 cup of fresh orange juice. This added more of a lightness to the soup, rather than an intense orange flavour. The sweet cilantro and orange paired well with the slight zing from the Aleppo pepper.
Let me tell you how perfect this stew was:
1) It is a very easy recipe easy. I had no problems whipping this up after the bike ride, since it came together quite seamlessly.
2) It serves 8, so there was plenty of food for seconds. And (souper) leftovers for me!
3) It tasted very good. No complaints from my guests. Not a typical meal for company, but it would suit me well if I visited someone.
4) For recovery meals after endurance-based exercise, this was ideal with a high carb content. As is, this has a 1:5 protein:carb ratio, but enjoy it with a glass of soy milk for an overall 1:3.5 ratio. Apparently, liquid-based meals are easiest to digest while in recovery so a soup is perfect.
Sounds like a winning meal for everyone.
They are a very healthy way to wrap around a sandwich filling, while having the benefit of not getting soggy like rice paper rolls, etc.
I am still working on the best technique on how to keep them together, though.
Attempt #1: A little lop-sided but still very tasty!
Attempt #2: I think I could use smaller apple slices, but this was a better success!
But like most things, it is what is inside that counts.
This is such an unusual pairing of ingredients but they work wonderfully together. Just as Gena suggested, I used the Zesty Cashew Orange Spread with an apple in a Swiss chard wrap. That dip, divine as it is solo, it is even better in this wrap. There is something about the crisp, sweet apple, paired with the sweet green, along with the tangy citrus spread that knocks my socks off. This is a lovely snack, and once I get some toothpicks, a lovely snack to take on my long cycling trips!
A few months ago, I stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant called Rawlicious. I try not to go out to eat very often, but if I do, I try to go somewhere that is different than what I might make at home. While I may not agree with the philosophy of raw purists, I see no harm in eating more raw foods, nor in exploring the techniques that goes into raw cooking.
Raw cooking – is that an oxymoron?
While I have already been smitten by raw kale salads, it was at Rawlicious that I discovered spiralized zucchini noodles (oh yes, I want a spiralizer! especially if I grow zucchinis in my backyard!) and raw cheesecake (tastes more like a mousse than a cheesecake but I was impressed by the versatility of cashews!).
I know that some vegans can have a hard time giving up certain meat or dairy products, and there seems to be a plethora of vegan alternatives for sale. However, talk about processed food! I can’t say I am really interested in soy yogurt or processed meat alternatives. I am still searching for a good sour cream alternative, if only to make a Hungarian Chickpea recipe I have had my eye on (anyone care to share their favourite recipe?).
You will note that I changed the name of this from cashew cheese to cashew spread, because I’ll be honest that this didn’t taste at all like cheese. But it was DELICIOUS! A sweet, creamy dip with full orange flavour with a complexity coming from the miso.
There are many ways to use this addictive spread, other than eating it straight from a spoon (that is great, too!). Mix it with some salad greens, spread it onto bread or crackers, or add it to your favourite sandwich/wrap.
In a few months, I will be moving from my tiny (but cozy! I love it! I will miss it. Anyone want to rent it?) apartment to a house. Not any house, though. A house with a garden: which I plan on filling with vegetables.
While I had a mini container garden on my balcony last year, there will be a lot more space in the new place. Thus, the question is what should we be planting as beginner gardeners for our first garden?
My first list was to pick the things I like to eat: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, cilantro, garlic, and lots of herbs. I have visions of lots of kale, swiss chard and snow peas. However, after reading a bit more, I definitely had to revisit these plans. Butternut squash need a lot of room. Broccoli and cabbage scream “eat me!” by attracting a lot of bugs. Bok choy is hard to grow. Cilantro likes to bolt when the weather gets hot. Garlic needed to be planted in the fall. Hmmpht, this is not as easy as I was hoping.
In an effort to find easy plants to grow that we will want to eat, we’ve been investigating new vegetables. Eat them now to see if we want to grow them later.
The first vegetable we were intrigued by was kohlrabi, one of the oddest looking vegetables (?alien baby in vegetable form). Truth be told, I had never even heard of kohlrabi until Dawn started posting a bunch of recipes as she got them through her CSA. I had not seen them in the grocery stores, either. Until I started to look, of course. Bestwin for the win, sells 4 of them for $1.
Rob took a few and made a light, yet earthy Indian-Spiced Kohlrabi and Quinoa Salad and I used the last kohlrabi to make this delicious wheat berry salad, inspired by Enlightened Cooking. It has been a while since I’ve cooked up some wheat berries. Since wheat berries take an hour or so to cook, I was tempted to bring out quinoa instead for the salad. After seeing wheat berries appear in a few recent recipes, I reconsidered. It has been too long.. and I should be cleaning out my pantry, right? It was the right decision, too: wheat berries were fabulous here.
Reminiscent of two of my favourite wheat berry salads, a bright citrus dressing pairs incredibly well with plump, nutty wheat berries. The salad is flavoured with a tart-sweet crisp apple, chopped sweet red pepper, dried cranberries as well as crunchy carrots and sunflower seeds. I added lots of cilantro and mixed in slivered baby spinach (pea shoots were great, too!) for more body. While it may seem counter-intuitive, a tip I’ve picked up for wheat berry salads is to dress it right before serving. Otherwise, the wheat berries sop up the dressing and it becomes dry when eating them as leftovers.
Oh yes, and the fresh kohlrabi. Hard to describe, but it tastes like broccoli and cabbage with the texture of an Asian pear in a broccoli stem form. Maybe that makes sense to some of you. The conclusion, though, is that I like it! This was a fabulous salad, kohlrabi and all. Hopefully it makes it into our new garden.
Have any suggestions for planting a garden in Toronto? I am all ears!
Other kohlrabi recipes that have interested me:
Kale and Kohlrabi Salad with Miso-Tahini Dressing by Florida Coastal Cooking
Kohlrabi Slivers and Pea Shoots with Sesame Dressing by Gourmet
Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad by The Wednesday Chef
Coconut Curried Tofu, Eggplant, and Kohlrabi with Green Jasmine Rice by Eats Well With Others
Turnip-and-Kohlrabi Slaw with Ginger-Vinaigrette Dressing from The Bitten Word
Asian Slaw with Kohlrabi, Daikon and Turnips by Eggs on Sunday
Savoy Cabbage, Kohlrabi and Grapefruit Salad by Food & Wine
Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad in Plenty by Ottolenghi
While travelling in Morocco, one of my favourite meals was from Al Fassia in Marrakech. Even during the low tourist season, we made reservations before we arrived in Morocco. It is deservedly that popular, and they had to continually turn people away who wandered in from the street. We shared a delicious vegetarian harira, a hearty tomato-based lentil and split chickpea soup topped with dates and lime; followed by a pigeon bastilla, where pigeon meat is cooked, topped with ground almonds and pistachios, wrapped in warka, a thin phyllo-type dough and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar; a slow-roasted lamb shoulder dish whose name escapes me right now, but I cannot explain the sheer volume of the entire shoulder; and somehow still (not really) had room for the traditional Moroccan Orange Salad for dessert.
The Moroccan Orange Salad is prevalent around Morocco and incredibly delicious despite seemingly so simple. Personally, it is so much more than oranges and cinnamon, and if you are in Morocco and they don’t include orange blossom water, then consider it inferior, truly. But if you are elsewhere, and don’t have it, just delve into the simplicity of oranges and cinnamon. They complement each other, with the sweetness of the orange, the sweet earthiness of the cinnamon and the addition of orange blossom water gives it that subtle edge, that curiosity if you are not familiar with it.
One of my most memorable experiences during travelling is participating in a cooking class. During this trip, we opted to eschew the multitude of cooking classes, and signed up for a class at a nearby riad, where the reviews of the cooking were very positive. Best to learn the local cuisine from a local where we know the food tastes great, eh?
The cooking class was a great experience, because not only did we learn how to make delicious meals, but we also went to the market to gather ingredients for our feast. This is also how I scored an earthenware tagine for $2. I have no idea what the cost would have been for a tourist, but that’s the local’s price.
During the cooking class, we learned how to make 3 Moroccan salads. Although salads in Morocco typically means dip and not what you might think a salad is in North America with greens. We made zaalouk, a fried eggplant dip; tomato jam (confit de tomates), a savoury tomato spread; and zucchini stuffed with tomato and cilantro. For the main dish, we were able to pick which tagine we wanted to learn (chicken with preserved lemons tagine, lamb with dates and almonds, or veal with apricots tagine). We opted for the veal tagine, and since I was so smitten with bastilla, I asked to learn how to make that instead. For dessert, we learned how to make milk bastilla, a piece of fried warka dough is topped with custard and strawberries. Our teacher was also generous with her knowledge of Moroccan food culture and even other recipes we were curious about! I had really enjoyed a traditional Moroccan cookie, coconut ghoriba (Moroccan macaroons) and this orange salad. I frantically scribbled the recipes down as she rattled the recipes off the top of her head.
I was lucky to be travelling in Morocco during clementine season, but this salad can be enjoyed whenever you have juicy oranges available. I am partial to Navel oranges, but feel free to substitute your favourite. You could also add some slivers of almond, mint and/or dates for extra oomph.
This is a light, sweet-savoury salad that is perfect any time of year. It would quench your thirst during the summer and bring you back to the tropics while you are combating the harshness of winter.
I can do mad damage if I am in the right store.
Not a clothing store, not an electronic store, not even a bicycle store…. Food-related? Yuppers!
Kalustyan’s, oh yes.
Sometimes it isn’t as bad for local stores, since I tell myself I can always go back next week. That’s my inner monologue trying to talk some sense into me. Sometimes it works. Other times not.
Last week, I went to T&T. I hadn’t been in a while, since it isn’t close by and I am not (currently) biking (snow! grr!).
Watercress, 2 bunches for 88 cents. That was the plan. Maybe some mushrooms.
I came back with watercress, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms (love them! on sale!), snow peas (love them!), soy milk (new kind to try!), mango nectar (I have plans!) and a new, mystery ingredient: pea shoots or dou miao (unlike Chinatown, T&T actually labels its produce, hehe).
They were so fresh, and even though I had never heard of them, I figured a new green in my life couldn’t hurt.
In fact, I think the pea shoots were a wonderful discovery: my new favourite green. They are sweet, just like baby spinach (it has been usurped as my previous favourite green), with a hint of sweet pea taste. The leaves/tendrils are soft and silky yet the crunch comes from the stalks. I love that body. A welcome taste of spring amongst this never-ending winter. (Aside, before spring pea season comes pea shoot season!!)
I tossed the pea shoots into this Moroccan Barley Salad, inspired from the Moroccan Barley-Spinach Toss in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (Tess has posted a version with quinoa here). In my version, barley is toasted, then cooked and mixed with a light, fresh dressing made of fresh orange and lime juices, cinnamon, cumin and green onions. I also topped it with sprouted buckwheat. The barley salad is cinnamon-heavy with a lightness brought from the citrus juices. It isn’t that sweet with the agave because I used currants (not raisins). The sweetness comes from your greens. In my case, pea shoots! For leftovers (not photographed, sorry!), I added even more pea shoots, so this was more of a pea shoots and barley salad, and I was in heaven.
Pea shoots, as it turns out, are the young leaves from the sprouting pea plant. The early shoots and tendrils can be harvested numerous times (it will eventually become bitter as it ages) until the plant produces peas. While they are uber pricey at places like Toronto Sprouts at the St Lawrence Market (over $4 for 125g), I thought they were reasonably priced at T&T ($11/kg or $2 for a large container).
However, it would be even cheaper to grow your own (I hope! In my garden to be!) and I picked up some dried green peas from Rube’s Rice ($0.95/lb) to see if I could grow them at home (I am really encouraged by Shauna’s post!).
In short, scour your Asian grocery stores for this delicacy! Or grow it yourself!
Hi, I’m Rob.
Saveur is busy focusing on other stuff this week, so I’ve stepped into help her out. I’m in the privileged position to be the frequent benefactor of some of her cooking exploits, so it’s only fair that I step in to give her a hand.
Don’t be alarmed! It would be inaccurate to say that I haven’t already had some input here in the past. I’ve helped make some of the dishes on here and done the photos for a couple of them, too.
I’ve written a guest post, too. I introduced tempeh to Saveur a few months ago when we made the CAT food sandwiches together prior to a picnic. I had extra tempeh left over and wondered what I could do with it. Saveur suggested the Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps she saw on fresh365. These looked PERFECT! We would make them together. It would be a team effort.
The Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps required some Worcestershire sauce. Neither of us had any, so I dutifully picked some up at the supermarket. It’s a wonderful sauce that I’d like to try with more recipes. It has tamarind in it, which I’ve decided is always the secret in making pad thai taste better. After making this recipe, though, I lent my Worcestershire sauce to Saveur and eagerly await the day when it can come back.
These wraps really are delicious. They’re not too spicy, but are full of many other bold flavours. Citrus, sour, sweet, and warm; they’re all there. The allspice and nutmeg provides the flavours associated with Jamaican jerk cooking. I would be a jerk if I said any terrible things about these wraps.
I do need to give one warning about these wraps, though. They’re better fresh than they are as leftovers. The tempeh will absorb any extra juices like a sponge and make them a bit dry the next day. Why would you have leftovers, though? They’re so tasty that you want to eat them up right away!
Sometimes you are destined to make a recipe. Everything was leading me towards this soup:
1) I got a lemon squeezer for Christmas! Perfect for squeezing small oranges as well.
2) My mom gave me her second garlic press (I never thought I needed one, but it is great for salads)
3) My mom offloaded a case of oranges/clementines onto me before her vacation
4) I had 2 yams in my fridge that needed to be used PRONTO
5) Baby spinach was on sale
6) I borrowed ExtraVeganZa from the library and was reading it over the holidays
7) Have I mentioned how much I love soup?
Even though I wasn’t expecting much, I am so glad I followed all the clues.
The stars were aligned properly, though: this soup was phenomenal. I was blown away by its taste. Healthy food does not need to be bland!
This soup was both incredibly delicious, healthy and a snap to put together. I adapted the original recipe from ExtraVeganZa only slightly, with less oil and likely more yam. This soup was silky smooth from the pureed yams. I rarely go to the trouble of squeezing my own orange juice, but with an overabundance of citrus and a new lemon squeezer, I had no excuses. The freshly squeezed juice is paramount for this recipe. The delicate splash of citrus made this a light-tasting soup, and the extra dimension came from the dill and ginger. They really brought the soup to the next level with the curiosity it raised with each spoonful. The soup would likely be great without the spinach, but the extra bulk made this a soup with texture. A perfect play from winter’s finest characters. It brought a smile to my face with its first bite.
Here are other soups with orange that have piqued my curiosity:
Black Bean Soup with Orange Zest at Recipe Trezor
Carrot and Orange Soup with Ginger and Thyme at She’s in the Kitchen
Honeyed Carrot and Orange Soup at Tasty Kitchen
Balkh Brown Lentil Soup at Vegan Feast Kitchen
Caspian Butternut Squash Soup with Bulgur at Vegan Eats and Treats
I had a veritable Brazilian meal. Along with the Portobello Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms), I also made a savoury side of rice, Brazilian-style of course.
This recipe was also found in Viva Vegan, which is a treasure trove for Latin food recipes. I must admit my bookcase was severely lacking in this area, and I am starting to learn more about Brazilian cooking. Brazil may be my next vacation destination, but since there are so many countries on my vacation hit-list, I will have to settle (for now) to cooking up Brazilian specialties at home. It is a lot cheaper than an airplane ticket, and a lot more fun too (the airplane ride is less fun, not the Brazilian vacation!).
This rice is unique because it incorporates not only slow-cooked onions and garlic, but also has a touch of sweetness from the orange. It paired well with the less-sweet Portobello Feijoada, but could work well with any other savoury dish.
My last post was written a while ago… one of my many recipes from the draft folder. And while these fruit, nut and seed bars were made later in the summer as well, I am writing this post after biking the double imperial century ride from Ottawa to Cornwall and back. The big kahuna. The grand finale.
And I did it!!
It was such an amazing feeling to accomplish such a feat, especially since I only started long distance cycling this year. If I can do it, anyone can!
What was more amazing during this ride, though, is that I learned how great it is to cycle in a group. Usually I bike with 1-2 other people, but we just have fun while cycling, stopping when we want, etc.
This was different.
My Dad and I joined the Touring 1 group for the Imperial Century Route (160km). The posted average speed was going to be 23-26 km/h. I usually get around 23km/h which is really not that fast but I can’t seem to do any better. I can do 26km/h average when mainly downhill…. but not when I factor in going back uphill! Hills are my weakness.
So there were 6 of us in the group. Totally not a beginner group (um, what kind of beginner would be cycling 320km??). A and T were both older gentlemen who enjoy cycling and were along for the ride. Strong cyclists but always reminding us to have fun! H was going for a ‘hat trick’ award. This year, she had already cross-country skiied 160km over 2 days, ran a marathon, and once she did the double imperial century, she was all set! Her friend L came along for the ride – but she had only done the shorter routes before. My dad has done the Cornwall and Kingston rides for 10 years, so he’s very strong.. and then there’s me!
It is mainly flat, but I found it quite windy. Being in a group of 6 (3 pairs), we rotated routinely, and were able to draft off of each other. The hills at the end had me struggling a bit, especially when I fell out of formation but the group would wait at the top and my Dad would try to deflect some of the wind off me. Once you lose the group, it is even more hard to join up again! We left at 0800 and arrived in Cornwall at 1600. Not bad at all. I was very pleased! 165km. 4 breaks, including a longer one for a flat tire. Average speed 26.1 km/h.
We lost and added a person for our return ride. T wanted to do the 120km and J joined us from the faster group. There were 60 people doing this ride and we were the only group doing the 160km back. We had 1 other person, biking solo, pass us, so most people picked the 120km back.
Anyways, we got the hills over with at the beginning and the route was mostly the same but it did change in some places as well.
In the end, our stats were: Left at 0730. Arrived at 1430 (imagine that!!) with 4 breaks. 162 km. Average 26.6 km/h! By 124 km, our average was 27.0 km/h! But it rained the last 30km, so we slowed a bit.
The group was really fantastic. Very encouraging and never dropped me despite being the weakest in the group. In fact, they were great about whisking me along. I felt a bit like Lance Armstrong as people tried to figure out where to position me in the group to capitalize on my strengths. There was a LOT more wind this time and sometimes it helped us! Our max speed was 39km/h which we got on a flat.
In conclusion, it was a great end of season trip. While I won’t be putting away my bike just yet (I hope to keep commuting until December, at least until the snow arrives), I am also not entirely sure where to go from here. I am considering investing in a nice road bike, but we’ll see.
Now about these bars! I spotted them at Enlightened Cooking. They were a nice change of pace from the date-heavy bars, with a citrusy burst from the orange juice and the apricots. The seeds and almonds provided a nice crunch as well. They were a bit more moist then some of my other bars this year as well.
But not because the bars weren’t photogenic.
They just didn’t have the substance to back up their looks.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the first few bars I tried. The bars weren’t really sweet at all and the filling had that cornstarch feel to it. I didn’t think it was fit for dessert. Adapted from Fat Free Vegan, these blueberry oat bars boasted no refined flour, no white sugar, no added fat, no soy, and no gluten. Another healthy recipe that fools you, I thought. The decreased sweetness was partly my fault, though, as I substituted brown sugar for agave nectar in a 1:1 ratio without modifying the liquid content, which is a no-no. Who knew agave nectar was 1/3 more sweet than brown sugar? I digress…
Then I wrapped one up and brought it with me on my long bicycle rides. And this is where the bar shined. It travelled well, in spite of the gooey centre, and its lack of sweetness was perfect. I am figuring out what I like to eat pre-, post- and during exercise, and I am definitely shunning sweet, dry and heavy dishes. These bars were perfect specifically because they were not that sweet, they were very moist and they were filled with carbs (only 1g of fat per serving).
I had already eaten 2/3rds of the bars before I decided to snap some photos. Thank goodness I still had some left!
Living in a city as nice as Toronto, I am surrounded by many great restaurants. I try to cook at home most of the time, for health and economic reasons, but I am slowly scoping out delicious, cheap places to meet over food prepared by someone else.
Currently, some of my favourite places to eat out, if I must, include:
Folia Grill – excellent home-grown Greek fare with a delicious chicken gyro pita for $4
Sky Blue Sky – a quaint sandwich shop, with all under $5, including the suprisingly filling pulled pork sandwich. Chatting with the owner about the trendy (pulled pork) and less popular (cashew butter and cucumber) sandwiches is equally amusing when selecting your choice
The Fish Store – delicious fish sandwiches prepared from your choice of fresh fish, all under $10, and a delicious homemade lemonade for $3
Manpuku – my long-time favourite for Japanese, but you won’t find any sushi here. Their nikku udon (beef soup with udon noodles) is a great heart-warming dish for under $6
Guu – still Toronto’s newest sweetheart, with a second location expected in the Annexe, this is a popular Japanese izakaya (aka tapa-style bar). Everyone is welcomed as soon as they enter and leave the resto and the dishes have yet to disappoint me. All dishes are under $10, but the sizes are smaller and meant for sharing.
Pomegranate – a newer find that complements my latest love of Middle Eastern food. This is Persian food at its finest, at reasonable prices around $15.
Amaya – A bit of a splurge restaurant (mains under $20), especially since it is Indian, but I am enthralled by their butter chicken. If only I knew how to make it myself!
Canoe – This is arguably Toronto’s best restaurant and it has the price-point such that it is very elitist, and limited to special occasions only. You get what you pay for, and it is lip-smacking delicious. I really appreciate their use of local, unique ingredients, prepared, oftentimes, in a myriad of ways. I know these are dishes I would have a difficult time recreating at home, which is important for my restaurant adventures. While the written menu did not immediately appeal to me, I just had to ask the server to explain what each dish entailed. It is here that I had a surreal mushroom soup that tasted like apple due to the varieties used, and I had squab prepared in 3 different ways: marinated with Newfoundland screech, drenched in a Saskatoon berry sauce and served with a side of dinosaur kale.
Enough gushing over Canoe, because I like to post things I make myself on my food blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw Canadian Living had Canoe’s recipe for wild rice pudding with a rhubarb compote. I could now bring the taste of Canoe into my own kitchen.
It boasted a baked rice pudding with short-grain and wild rice within a orange- and cinnamon-scented creamy base, topped with a sweet-and-tart rhubarb compote.
While I have not had this at the restaurant, I might have to go there to try it out because my kitchen adventures were not as successful as I’d hoped. The rhubarb compote almost seemed to be in excess with the delicious flavours from the pudding. The wild rice added a nice crunch and the orange and cinnamon flavours blended well together, but my pudding was too thick for my liking. I wonder if there was too much evaporation during the baking? I think my substitutions were legit, but you never know. Maybe the recipe was meant to be a teaser, just to bring us back into the restaurant?