2013 in My Kitchen

As I sit at my desk, counting down the minutes until I can legitimately leave the office on New Years Eve, I can’t help but think back on everything that’s happened in 2013.  It has been a year of change, adventure, and reflection on life; all positive!

At the very end of 2012 I bought a bike.  It changed my life, I love it and it has made my carless world so much bigger.  I’m healthier, more active and so happy I got to start 2013 with new wheels!

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My husband and I started the year off realizing that we could use my mom’s US Netflix account, so we began watching documentaries of all sorts.  After getting depressed about the state of the world from too much Zeitgeist, we started watching food docs…and decided to become vegetarian. The husband has been stricter about this than I have, but since last February I can count the number of times I’ve eaten meat on both hands.  For him it would be meat and fish on one hand.

I’ve learned to cook wonderful new foods and our diet now consists mostly of beans, lentils, kale (and other dark leafy greens), cauliflower, squash and pretty much any veggies that can be oven roasted.  I’m no longer afraid to try new things in my kitchen and I’ve hosted several successful dinner parties with brand new recipes.   I’ve also embraced new flavours to the point where my spice drawer is completely over flowing.  At the suggestion of my mother, who wouldn’t touch a lentil if her life depended on it, we both went to the doctor to confirm that our new diet wasn’t killing us.  I’m happy to report that we are both healthy and getting all the required nutrients from vegetarianism, and our cholesterol is fine, despite a more than modest increase in cheese consumption…HOORAY!

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I spent my birthday this year on a plane to Reykjavik, where upon arrival I was wished a happy birthday by a very nice Icelandic customs official.  I showed my passport to about 20 other people in the Vancouver and Seattle airports and got no love, so Iceland was off to a good start for me!  We spent 2 weeks in Scandinavia having a wonderful adventure. The highlight was the first 3 days in Iceland, which started at the Blue Lagoon, included numerous waterfalls, the cute seaside town of Reykjavik, walking between the continental plates, and a hike on a 1,000 year old glacier.  After that we spent a week in sunny Denmark, fell in love with the beautiful, cyclist friendly island of Bornholm, and experienced the beauty and expense of Norway.  No joke people, $15 for a pint!

Blue Lagoon

We ate great food throughout the trip, 90% of which was in simple cafe style restaurants where you order at the counter and your food is brought out when it’s ready.  We developed an obsession for Icelandic hot dogs (all bets are off on holiday!), had an amazing roasted celery root veggie burger in Copenhagen, bravely tried pickled herring, and had one of the best Indian meals of our lives in Oslo.

After an amazing trip, I  came  home to a beautiful and long sunny summer in Vancouver that was filled with bike rides, picnics on the beach, and just about every other weekend spent in Whistler with various friends.  I realized the importance of just saying ‘yes’ sometimes, and not over thinking how much something will cost, or what it will involve. Sometimes you have to just do things!  I also was reminded that my backyard is pretty awesome!

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I also discovered a love for all things bitter this year.  Move over IPA, ESB is now my brew of choice.  And although I do dearly love an Aperol spritz on a hot summer day, I have a new appreciation for the broader spectrum of Italian bitters.  My favourite new cocktail of 2013…the negroni!  Who says your palate can’t change!

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After a busy fall, I’m ready to enter 2014 energized and open to new experiences and challenges.  My resolutions for the New Year include reading more (and playing Candy Crush less), continuing to try new recipes and experiment with new flavours in my kitchen, and taking up photography as a new hobby (with my sweet new Canon EOS camera!). So look for great new photos, which I will no longer have to pinch from google for my posts, new recipes as I start to formulate my cookbook, and tales from another adventure that will likely happen mid year (destination TBD at this point).

I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and will leave you with one of my favourite recipes from 2013.

Spaghetti Puttanesca 

  • 1 package spaghetti, spaghettini, or penne (or really any pasta that makes you happy)
  • 1 jar strained Italian tomatoes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced (or 1 T anchovy paste)
  • 3 T capers, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 T dried chili flakes (or less if you can’t take the heat)
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 medium onion, diced

Cook the onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft, then add the garlic and simmer for 1 minute (don’t burn the garlic).  Then add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, except the basil.  Let the sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat (or longer if you have time).  Add the basil right before you serve it over your cooked pasta. You can finish it with a little Parmesan cheese if you want, but I don’t think this is traditional.

Buon Appetito!

 

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