Sunday, November 15, 2009

Giant Breakfast

I'm sure everyone has had this happen to them; you intend to have a smaller meal, but one thing leads to another and you end up having a feast.

I slept in this morning, as I've been exhausted all this week. Getting back to the grind of things is tough when you're out of sync. By the time I actually got up and out of my room, it was 1:30. As soon as I opened by door, the perfume of bacon filled my nostrils. I wandered to the kitchen and found one of my roommates frying up some bacon and hash browns. He offered some bacon and I offered to make pancakes in exchange, since we didn't have any bread. I planned to have two pancakes, some bacon and an egg for breakfast with a glass or two of orange juice.

While making the pancakes, I accidently added too much liquid so I had to balance it out with dry ingredients. I made 4 pancakes at first - two for my roommate, two for myself. I fried up my over easy egg and polished off my plate quite easily. I started to clear the table when I noticed that the two bananas on the tables were getting really ripe to the point where it's almost over ripened. I had to use at least one, I thought. I still had pancake batter left, so I finished it up and made 3 more.

My next plate was two pancakes, peanut butter spread on top, and quarters of the sweet bananas, with a cup of coffee.

Once finished, I realized how much I've eaten. I haven't had the time to eat breakfast lately, since I've been struggling to get good rest. I'm so full, but so happy right now. If only it was Saturday today so that I could sleep in again tomorrow. If only...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

LinX and "Wine" Shot

Hi everyone! It has been awhile since I've posted something substantial. Here we go...

So I've been crazy busy this year balancing work, school and pratices. I've been even busier for the past month, and a bit, because I've been sick a couple of times. Catching up on school work and working at the school has taken a great bit of my time.

I've been craving some tasty French onion soup for sometime now, but I haven't found the time to go out for some. I had recently heard that Humber's new bar/club/restaurant, LinX, serves a pretty yummy version. So, last Friday after my classes were over my friend, Kelvin, his friend, Karen, and I decided to try out.

Kelvin ordered the fish and chips. He said that it was decent. It didn't look like he enjoyed it that much, but with him, food is food.

I ordered a plate of sweet potato fries, to share with Karen, and French onion soup. The fries weren't good at all. If you do go to LinX, don't get the sweet potato fries. Firstly, the fries didn't really taste like sweet potato. Some of them even tasted like they weren't cooked, while all the others were soggy. Gross.

The French onion soup was heavy. As you can see in the photo, there's quite a bit of grease. Despite there being a lot of onions, it tasted like Paula Deen was in charge of caramalizing the onions - too much butter. Also, because of the amount of onions in the one serving, there was very little soup. In fact, the soup's composition was this: lots of buttery onions, a soggy garlic bread, a layer of cheese (that wasn't broiled long enough to my liking) and a spoonful or two of soup. It was sad.

Looking over the small menu, I doubt I'll ever go back for any food - unless they decide to improve upon their selection and lower the prices. It's just too expensive for the quality of food we receive.

On another note, one of my assignments was to shoot beer or a pour shot of an alcoholic/alcoholic-looking beverage. I chose the pour shot route and here's the results of this past Monday's photo shoot.

Failed attempt.


These drink shots were taken with a Hasselblad H3DII-39 with the HC 150 mm, f/3.2 lens.

Hope you have a great weekend. Oh, shout out to Ange: happy birthday!!

~ Christine


205 Humber College Blvd.
Etobicoke, ON

Monday, November 09, 2009

Breakfasts are Happiest Meal of the Day – November 9, 2009

I am in love with McDonald’s. I just can’t get enough of it. I watched “Super Size Me” while eating a BigMac meal with iced tea, extra pickles on the burger, and 10 chicken McNuggets on the side. While I don’t eat McDonald’s for every meal every day, I definitely eat it more than I should.

My favourite sandwich from McDonald’s is the Sausage Egg McMuffin. It’s a salty, greasy breakfast sandwich straight from a dieter’s hell. I’ve tried to duplicate them at home, but to no avail. I’m not sure what it is, but the sausage patties from the grocery store just don’t taste the same, effectively ruining my homemade efforts. I’ve since realized that the Bacon Egg McMuffin is easier to make.

It’s a super heavy breakfast that makes me want to nap. I usually forgo my usual glass of milk and drink juice or coffee to help cut through the grease. Otherwise, it’s snoozeville for me.

Anyway, this is DEFINITELY not Diet-friendly. I only make this as a treat to myself on the weekends, but this morning, I felt I deserved a reward for waking up at 8:00 AM on a Monday without my alarm.

Homemade bacon and egg McMuffin

Homemade Bacon Egg McMuffin

1-2 strips of bacon, cooked
1 tsp fat (bacon fat, butter, or vegetable oil)
1 egg
1 slice of cheese
1 English muffin, split in two
Margarine, for spreading

First, heat up a small non-stick pan with fat. Make sure the pan is warm when you add the egg, and then turn up the heat to medium-high.

Cook until the whites are half-cooked (for a runny yolk) or 90% cooked (for a hard yolk). Flip over and add cheese. For a runny yolk, turn off the heat and let the egg cook in the residual heat. For a firm yolk, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until the toast pops.

After adding the cheese to the egg, toast the English muffin. When it’s done, spread both slices with margarine.

Homemade bacon and egg McMuffin, closeup

Assemble the bacon on the bottom slice (denser and has smaller holes), and top with the fried egg. Place the top slice on the sandwich, squeeze happily, and enjoy!

I Think I Have a Sushi Problem – November 6 and 7, 2009

I had JUST finished writing that Jimmy and I would save Sima Sushi for special occasions in my last post, and now, we’ve eaten there twice this past weekend. For no apparent reason. Friday’s dinner celebrated the weekend (it's Friday!), and Saturday’s lunch (not pictured)… well, there’s no excuse for Saturday. We were out shopping, realized we were hungry, and stopped at the closest open restaurant… which happened to be Sima Sushi.

Yeah, we may have a sushi addiction on our hands.

We decided to visit Sima Sushi again after Jimmy watched me edit the previous pictures and type up a post. “Stop blogging about Sima Sushi. The pictures are making me crave sushi,” he complained. Twenty minutes later, we were getting ready to go out for more Sima Sushi.

We were pleasantly surprised that the place was packed when we arrived. Mostly small groups of friends, a few couples on dates, and the loud buzz meant that everyone was having a good time. In fact, when I looked around, there was a nice mix of demographics. They were undergrads mostly but also older graduate students, tourists, and Kingston couples and families. Although most of the crowd was white, there was sprinkling of Asians, too. It looked like the type of crowd that Ta-Ke Sushi used to attract.

Once we were seated, we both agreed that we weren’t going to mess around. Jimmy wanted sashimi, and I was craving their rolls. We both had a small bowl of salad and miso soup included with our meals (no pictures).

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Jimmy ordered the regular sashimi dinner (as opposed to the deluxe), and he really enjoyed it. It came with a platter of the usual suspects: salmon, tuna, and red snapper. It also had butterfish (that wonderfully porky stuff I couldn’t identify last week), tuna tataki (seared tuna), and a squid roll. This was served with a small bowl of rice that had a single soybean on top. Jimmy didn’t like the rice because it was scraped from the bottom of the pot, ruining his expectation for fluffy, sticky, sushi rice.

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Jimmy loved the fact that he received two servings of salmon, his favourite, but he was even more impressed with the tuna tataki. It was slightly seared and lightly marinated, which both intensified and mellowed out the flavours. The thin layer of cooked tuna contrasted really nicely with the suppleness of the raw part. This became Jimmy’s new favourite.

I tried the squid roll, but I didn’t like the way that the ingredients fell apart in my mouth when I chewed. It was a little unsettling, and I felt like a little bit of rice would have gone a long way to harmonizing the different textures (chewy squid, tiny popping pearls of roe, and creamy avocado).

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Having a serious craving for their makimono, I ordered a trio of rolls: tekka, spicy salmon, and the Rockstar.

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The tekka (tuna) roll was quite delicious in its simplicity. I attribute this to the freshness of the fish itself. There are only three elements to a tekka maki: the nori, the sushi rice, and the tuna. The tuna was very fresh and it really showed. Other tekka rolls are often boring and uninteresting, but Sima Sushi’s version was delicious. The texture and flavour of not-so-fresh fish can’t be disguised in this simple roll, and this roll was actually outstanding.

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Moving up on the maki complexity chart, I had the spicy salmon roll. I can’t normally tell the difference between a spicy salmon and a spicy tuna, but I definitely can at Sima Sushi. The flavour is both similar (the ingredients) and completely different (the fish) at the same time. I ordered the salmon because I already ordered a tekka maki.

It was delicious! The salmon actually tasted like salmon, and the cucumbers balanced well with the tempura crisps, the spicy mayo, and the fish. While eating this, I came to the realization that this was my favourite version of the spicy salmon/tuna maki because it wasn’t rolled inside out (rice on the outside). The rice acts like a buffer between the flavourful filling and the texturally different nori. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I eat at other places now.

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At the very top of the maki food chain, the Rockstar roll was a garish monstrosity compared to the tekka and spicy salmon rolls. The Rockstar had all of my favourite maki ingredients: shrimp tempura, avocado, roe, spicy salmon, and cucumbers. This was sinfully delicious and very rich. It is the ultimate decadent roll. Unfortunately, I ended up eating too much of this, and the plain grease and heft of it filled me up within fifteen minutes.

Note to self: one big roll and a small roll is enough for dinner. Three rolls was overkill.

We finished with hot green tea (free) and took our time digesting. It was amazing to see how quickly the tables turned over, as well as the sheer amount of tables they turned while we were there. It was at capacity from 6:30 to 7:30, but since the tables were turned so quickly, no one waited more than five minutes for their table.

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The final bill came to $43.84 before tip, a cheap price for dinner in comparison with a steak dinner (just as filling, though with less variety) which easily costs twice that amount, even without drinks. We blissfully meandered our way back home, promising that we’d visit again soon. We didn’t realize just HOW soon we would be seeing them.

(There aren’t any pictures after this point, so feel free to skip it if you’re here for the food porn.)

The very next morning, Jimmy and I went shopping for brunch materials. On our way back home, Jimmy proclaimed that he was starving, so we agreed that we would eat at the next open restaurant. Somehow, that turned out to be Sima Sushi.

It’s bad when the sushi chefs and waitress recognize you from the night before and greet you with, “You’re back? You’re having sushi for breakfast?” It was shameful, but we really couldn’t get enough.

Jimmy ordered the regular sashimi lunch, and I had the sushi lunch A. I don’t remember exactly what it came with, but they were the usual selection: salmon, tuna, red snapper, California roll. I still can’t get over how delicious their California rolls are. For all you California roll haters, have some at Sima Sushi, and you’ll be blown away!

We still had room for more after finishing our lunches, so we ordered a spicy salmon (or was it tuna) roll to share. It was gooooooooood.

The bill came to $30 (including tax and tip), and while it’s expensive for a lunch option, it’s perfect for a special occasion.

While we were eating lunch (we were the first customers), people trickled in steadily. In fact, there were four other tables by the time we finished about a half hour later. It’s obvious that the word is getting out about Sima Sushi.

It makes me happy to see this new place thrive, and I just hope that the quality doesn’t decline. Either way, Jimmy and I plan on visiting often enough to be able to see the difference. I’m not sure this sushi addiction will be going away any time soon!

~ * ~

Sima Sushi on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 06, 2009

Learning to Love Japanese Food All Over Again at Sima Sushi – October 29, 2009

Last week, neither Jimmy nor I wanted to cook, so we went out for sushi. We had enjoyed Sima Sushi in the summer, and we wanted to see if it was as good as we remembered.

We both ordered meals that came with a bowl of miso soup and salad. No pictures of the miso soup, but it looks exactly the same as every other bowl of miso soup. The soup wasn’t as rich in colour (they must not have used red miso) or flavour (no kelp and bonito broth?) as Totoya’s in Ottawa. It was decent.

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The salad, as you can see, is the regular house salad served in Japanese and Korean joints. While the ingredients are the same, the dressing for this one had more citrus in it, which is a good thing. It was so strong that even Jimmy was able to pick it out. I liked the brightness of it.

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We ordered edamame to snack on while we waited for our dinners. The soy beans were sprinkled with table salt, so it wasn’t as flavourful as sea salt. Jimmy couldn’t taste a difference, so he was pretty happy with it. The beans weren’t cooked to mush, and I appreciated that.

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The spicy salmon roll is a favourite of ours, and yes, we know it’s not exactly authentic. This version was damn good—on the same level as Totoya, for sure. This roll was slightly larger than we expected, and it contained slivered cucumbers, a nice touch. The salmon was finely chopped, but the roll still tasted like fish. This is a good thing. Totoya’s version maintains the texture of the fish, while Sima Sushi allows the diner to enjoy the flavour of the fish. Jimmy liked this, too.

Sadly, all of my pictures of Jimmy’s main dish (unagi-don) were blurred to hell, and I couldn’t justify posting them. Apparently I have standards for posting pictures now. I know, shocking!

Anyway, it was, by far, the best barbecued eel bowl we’ve ever had. Unassuming in its small lacquered box, we were entranced by the smoky smell of barbecue. The eel was cut thick and laid directly over top of the rice, with no layer of nori to distract from the eel. It was juicy and tender, and there wasn’t a hint of fishiness. The sauce was mild, enhancing the unagi’s natural flavour instead of disguising it. I was amazed. Jimmy proclaimed it was the best unagi he has ever eaten, and I agreed. The balance between fish, sauce, and rice was perfect. Used to eating thinner slices of unagi over larger quantities of rice, Jimmy almost ran out of rice. He’s been craving this dish ever since.

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I ordered the deluxe sushi dinner, which comes with chef’s choice of nigiri sushi and a makimono on the side (usually California roll).

First, the sushi. I was pleasantly surprised by the uni (sea urchin roe) on the far right of the plate. Having never eaten this delicacy before, I was a little scared that I might not like it, as what happened with Taiwanese stinky tofu. My reaction to the uni went from, “Wow, this is kinda briny,” then “Holy crap, it’s so creamy!” to “OH MY GOD, THIS IS SEAFOODY CUSTARD HEAVEN!” It left quite an impression. Now if someone asks me what uni tastes like, I can confidently answer, “Creamy seafood custard.” I loved it.

Going to the left of the uni: amaebi, which translates to sweet shrimp. This was a delicate piece of raw shrimp on sushi rice. It really was sweet, but not unnaturally sweet. It was like eating the best piece of shrimp times ten. That shrimp flavour, however you would describe it, was magnified. Each bite was filled with shrimpiness. (I know that’s not a word, but that’s how I’m going to describe it.) Loved it!

The next piece of sushi was ika (squid). This was a rather thick slice of squid, gently scored and lightly blowtorched. I didn’t enjoy this one as much because I found the ika too thick and difficult to chew. It took me almost five minutes to chew through it, so I didn’t enjoy it as much. Although each bite released more of the fat and mingled with the rice in my mouth, having to chew for that long really grossed me out. I would pass on this next time.

The pale pink sushi was so delicate and sweet, I really wish I had asked the server what type of fish it was. It was sprinkled with tiny shreds of green onion, and that added a different dimension to the flavour. I liked this one too much to enjoy it, unfortunately, and I gobbled it up without stopping to think about it.

I didn’t get to eat the salmon, but Jimmy said it was comparable to Discover Japan’s salmon sushi. I’ll take his word for it.

The milky white fish was an unexpected winner. I have always been wary of opaque slices of raw fish. I can’t explain why, but I try to avoid eating them if possible. I have it in my mind that they’re going to taste unpleasantly fishy. After eating this sushi, I have decided that I’ve been ridiculous my entire life, and that I need to start eating all sorts of fish. This was spectacularly buttery and delicious. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that I was eating a slice of fatty pork. The flavour was quite strong and the texture quite meaty, so it probably won’t be for everyone. I have to find out what kind of fish this is.

The dark pink is the ubiquitous tuna. It was sweet and had a lighter tuna flavour than I had thought, judging by the colour. Because it was light, I wolfed this one down to move onto stronger flavours.

The almost translucent fish was very good as well. I only remember that it had a hint of smoke and was slightly drier than the others.

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The California roll shocked us by being delicious! The fake crab, the avocado, the shredded cucumber, and the little bits of roe were all packed full of flavour. I normally scoff at California rolls because they’re not really Japanese, but this has converted me. It can be just as amazing as any other roll, as long as you pay attention to the ingredients you use. Jimmy and I fought over these!

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We decided to forgo the dessert, and instead, indulge in hot green tea. It was very cleansing after eating such a rich dinner, and we slowly wound down after dinner’s excitement.

I’ve learned a lot from Sima Sushi.

1. Food tastes better when you keep it simple and focus on the natural flavours.
2. Eating slowly and enjoying the food makes for a nicer dinner than stuffing one’s face.
3. I should probably bring a mini bendable tripod when I dine out. I can’t believe I don’t have any focussed pictures of the unagi!
4. I need to learn more about seafood to identify the sushi I eat.
5. Dessert is overrated.
6. Yes, Sima Sushi is my new favourite Japanese restaurant in Kingston!

We ended up spending $54, including tax and tip, on an unexpectedly spectacular dinner. We were full, happy, and determined to save Sima Sushi to celebrate special occasions. I don’t ever want to dine there on a fluke night and ruin this bubble of mine.

~ * ~

Sima Sushi on Urbanspoon

Moan-Inducing Cakes from Card’s Bakery in Kingston

Chocolate cake from Card's Bakery

For the past few years, Card’s Bakery has been my bakery of choice. I often dropped by for a small pick-me-up (lemon-cranberry loaf, brownies, seasonally decorated sugar cookies, cupcakes) while heading home from grocery shopping at Food Basics. It’s an inconspicuous store-front, but if you take another look, you’ll see a few elegant wedding cake displays in the window.

It actually wasn’t until last year that I started ordering cakes (Cakes by Krista) for special occasions that I really fell in love with the place.

This year, I ordered two cakes: one for Jimmy’s brother’s birthday and one for Jimmy’s own birthday.

Chocolate cake from Card's Bakery

I ordered a small chocolate cake (one size up from a baby cake, but one size down from the 9-inch) with mocha filling and buttercream icing. This cost $22, I think. I wish I took a video of everyone’s reaction when we ate our first bite. There were moans and gasps!

Dragonfly detail

The cake was so moist and dense, it was almost fudgy! The mocha filling didn’t stand out much because of the richness of the cake. The buttercream, however, was able to stand up to the cake and made each bite creamy, with a touch of sweetness. I loved the fact that the cake itself wasn’t sweet and relied on the filling and the icing for the sugar hit. Some people were scared off by the massive amount of icing (about a quarter inch thick!), but it wasn’t too sweet as long as you ate it with the cake and not on its own.

Chocolate cake from Card's Bakery

Since Jimmy liked the chocolate cake, I ordered a similar one for his birthday. It was a 9-inch chocolate l’orange (chocolate with a hint of orange) cake with mocha filling and chocolate icing. Because it was larger, it cost $35.

This time, the icing was spread thinner. I also noticed that the chocolate icing wasn’t as sweet as the buttercream. I enjoyed it, but Jimmy preferred the creamy punch of the buttercream more. He was also a little put off by the texture of the grated orange rinds in the otherwise smooth cake. I really enjoyed the subtleness of it all, so I thought he was nuts. In the future, though, I’ll be buying him the basic chocolate with buttercream.

Flower detail

Although the first cake’s mocha filling didn’t impart any flavour to the cake, I hoped that it was a fluke. Unfortunately, the filling didn’t do much for Jimmy’s cake either. I think I’ll ask for a fruity filling—something lighter that can withstand the cocoa’s assault.

I completely overestimated how much cake we would eat, so there’s still two-thirds of a cake sitting in our fridge. Not that I’m complaining, of course!

Thank you for two beautiful and delicious cakes, Krista!

~ * ~

Card's Bakery / Cakes by Krista
304 Bagot Street
(between Princess and Queen)
Kingston, ON
(613) 544-4448

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Almost-Vegetarian Tomato Vegetable Soup – September 15, 2009

When I first started The Diet, I got into a month-long soup kick. I realized that soups were one of the easiest way to pile in vegetables without missing the meat. I made many variations of this vegetable soup, with whatever vegetables we had on hand, because it’s so easy and filling.

The title of the post is “almost-vegetarian” to reflect the fact that I use chicken broth powder to give the soup more depth. Feel free to substitute it with vegetable stock powder to make it completely vegetarian.

I added a scoop of leftover rice to bulk it up a little bit. The starch also thickens the soup, which makes it look better.

Unfortunately, Jimmy and I devoured this soup, and I forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Just imagine a red soup with chunks of vegetables.

It only took me 20 minutes to make this soup in the morning, and I think it was a nice alternative to the usual cereal, toast, or congee for breakfast.

~ * ~

Tomato Vegetable Soup

Tomato zucchini soup

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup diced onions
¼ cup diced carrots
¼ cup diced green zucchini
¼ cup diced yellow zucchini
Few shakes of Italian spice seasoning (if you have dried herbs on hand, use oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, and basil)
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups water
3 tsp chicken broth powder
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup cooked rice (optional)
Squirt of Sriracha (optional)
Grated parmesan for garnish

Heat up oil in a pot, and sauté garlic and onions until the onions are clear. Add the vegetables (except for tomatoes) and spice seasoning.

Tomato, closeup

Once the carrots have softened, add chopped tomatoes. Stir constantly until about half of the tomatoes have disintegrated.

Add tomato sauce, water, and chicken broth powder. Bring to a boil. Add cooked rice, if desired. Adjust the seasoning. Add Sriracha hot sauce, if desired.

Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Serve hot with crackers or bread.


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