Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Five New Foods, Two Books, and One Hell of a Deadlift

After last year’s pathetic display of accomplishing so few of my goals, I’ve decided to come out of the 2018 gate strong. In fact, I’ve already made 5 new foods/beverages that I’ve never made before (of my goal to make 18 new things year), finished 2 books (of my goal of 18), and deadlifted my body weight!

The foods are:

  • chicken florentine – I had a bunch of spinach I needed to use up, so I picked this recipe.
  • grog – this was the house drink at my birthday party. It was pretty tasty!
  • slow cooker lasagna – made this for my birthday party. I’ve made lasagna a million times before, but never in a slow cooker.
  • kale salad from a recipe from Savio Volpe – Scott took me to Savio Volpe for my birthday and since the reservation said it was my birthday, there was a birthday card waiting on the table and in that card was a recipe for their kale salad. Which is delicious. And which I’ve made several times since then!
  • herbed goat cheese-stuffed chicken thighs – I had a bunch of goat cheese, leftover from my birthday party, that I needed to use up (do you see the trend?), so I google “goat cheese recipes” and found one for stuffing chicken breast with goat cheese that you’ve mixed with herbs. But I did it with chicken thighs. Pretty good stuff.
Making slow cooker lasagna

Making lasagna in the slow cooker

Kale salad

Kale salad

The two books I’ve finished so far in 2018 were:

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker – I started reading this massive tome last year and it took me about eleventy billion years to get through it, but I finally did. The gist of the book is that violence has decreased over human history and Pinker puts forward his theory as to why. Often people think that we are living in particularly dangerous times – probably at least in part because we hear about violent events on the news on the time, but that’s actually a skewed perception, as the news covers the most sensational events (If it bleeds, it leads). Overall we are at much less at risk of being a victim of violence than in any other time in human history1 There’s a tonne of data illustrating the decline in violence and we can see it also in what is considered acceptable – e.g., it used to be legal and considered acceptable by society for people to keep slaves, for a man to rape his wife, for parents to beat their children, to people to brutalize animals, for example2. Pinker presents a pretty extensive theory as to why violence has declined and I’m not even going to try to get into describing it all. You’ll just have to read the 800+ pages to find out for yourself!
  • Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline – {SPOILER ALERT – Don’t read this if you don’t want the book to be spoiled for you!} After reading such a long, dense book, I decided I needed to have a quick and easy read as a bit of a palate cleanser for my brain, and Ready Player One fit the bill. Plus, there’s a movie version of it coming out this year and so I figured I should read it in case I decided to see the movie. I know a lot of people *love* this book, but I thought it was just OK. I mean, I enjoyed reading it but I got the exact same feeling from reading it as I did when I read the DaVinci Code – I was compelled enough by wanting to see how the various puzzles would be solved to keep reading, but the writing is so flat3 that it was kind of a painful, if easy, read. He does a tonne of name dropping of 80s games (game dropping?), movies, and music. Having grown up in the 80s, most of these were familiar to me (especially the movies and music), but the excitement of “hey, I remember that” gets pretty old pretty quick and then it just becomes annoying. And most egregiously, the Deus ex machina of Og showing up to give them a completely impenetrable fortress from which to complete the end of the game was just too much.

And then the one that I’m most excited about: I deadlifted more than my body weight! One of the challenges to doing this was that my body weight has increased due to the muscle mass I’ve put on from all the weight training4. I’d thought I’d lifted my body weight one time last year but then when I got home and weighed myself to confirm, I found that I’d been just shy of my weight.

In this month’s training program, one of my exercises was to do bar bell deadlifts where you start with a weight you can lift for 12 reps, then you up the weight and do 9 reps, then you up the weight again and do 6 reps. Then you start over at 12 reps, but with the weight you used for 9 reps the first time through, then you do 9 reps with the weight you did for 6 reps the first time through, then you do 6 reps at a higher weight. As you can see from my record sheet, on Jan 30, 2018, I did 6 reps of 67.5 kg!

Untitled

Since I’m of the generation of Canadians that still thinks of our body weight in pounds instead of kg, I had to do the conversion to confirm that this was, in fact, more than my body weight:Untitled

And I do, in fact, weight less than 148 lbs, so hooray for me – goal achieved!

  1. Of course, this is not to say that there is no violence or that the violence that does happen is not horrific. []
  2. Again, this is not to say that these things don’t still happen or that they aren’t legal in some societies still today. But they are legal or accepted in far fewer societies today than in the past. []
  3. Full disclosure: I saw the description of the writing in this book as “flat” in a GoodReads review and it totally fit with the feeling I had about the writing that I couldn’t find the right word for, so I totally stole the word! []
  4. Also, it’s kind of cool that after several years of setting, and failing to achieve, a goal of losing the 15 lbs I put on during my MBA (I’d get part way there from half marathon training, but never quite lost it all), I’m now actually happier with my body size despite weighing the most I’ve ever weighed, because it’s all been muscle mass gain. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some fat mass I’d like to lose, but I’ve got some kickass muscles that I’ve never had before! []

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New Foods I Made in 2017

So I guess now is that time of year where I do all my year-end wrap up postings! Decided to start with one of my 2017 goals that I actually accomplished: Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before.

In fact, not only did I achieve this one, but I surpassed it by 8!

  1. chicken parmesan casserole
  2. pork tenderloin in bourbon – this was bourbon-licious
  3. cedar planked salmon – thanks to cedar planks that I got from Costco
  4. cedar planked chicken – because I got the cedar planks from Costco, there were eleventy billion of them
  5. oat fudge bars
  6. BBQ pizza
  7. zucchini chocolate chip muffins – these were a big hit when I brought them into the office
  8. maraschino cherries – I made these from cherries I picked up in the Okanagan and a cherry liqueur that I also got in the Okanagan1
  9. amaretto cherries – I decided to try making these in the same way that I made the maraschino cherries (i.e., soak berries in booze). When I tried then after about a week in the booze, the maraschino cherries were delicious, but the amaretto ones didn’t seem like they’d absorbed any of the amaretto yet, so I’ve now left them for
  10. tarragon vinegar – with fresh tarragon from High Garden
  11. BBQ Chicken with Sweet Chili–Peach Glaze – I had some fresh peaches and made a pretty delicious glaze to go with BBQ chicken
  12. cauliflower tots
  13. broccoli tots
  14. Garlicky Butter Chive Parmesan Pork Chops – not gonna lie, I did not leave these
  15. pita bread – my friend Steph made these when I was at her place and they were so good that I asked for the recipe. And she was like, “these are so easy, I don’t even use a recipe.” So I tried making some (with a recipe I found) and they were, in fact, really easy!
  16. raspberry jam
  17. figs pickled in balsamic vinegar – with figs from Tig & Pat’s annual fig party
  18. fig infused balsamic vinegar – this may or may not have been the left over balsamic vinegar from when I pickled the figs
  19. pickled spicy beans – sooo good
  20. pickles – nor these
  21. pickled beets – haven’t actually tried these yet
  22. sautéed beet tops – since I had the beet tops from the beets that I pickled, I tried sautéing them, because I read that was a thing to do. Didn’t love them, but they weren’t terrible, so would probably make them again should I be in possession of beet tops
  23. jalapeño jelly – nor these
  24. bitters – from the “make your own bitters” kit my sister gave me last Christmas
  25. vanilla sugar – from vanilla beans that had previously been making vanilla extract
My first ever batches of spicy pickled beans, pickled beets, and pickles!

Spicy pickled beans, pickled beets, pickles

Making jalapeno jelly

Making jalapeño jelly

Cedar planked salmon

Cedar planked salmon

Cedar Planked Chicken

Cedar Planked Chicken

Oat Fudge Bars

Oat Fudge Bars

BBQ Pizza

BBQ Pizza

Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

BBQ Chicken with Sweet Chili–Peach Glaze

BBQ Chicken with Sweet Chili–Peach Glaze and grilled peach and veggies

Broccoli and cauliflower tots

Broccoli and cauliflower tots

Sauteeing beet tops

Sauteed beet tops

  1. So they aren’t technically maraschino cherries, which should be made with maraschino liqueur, but I figure they are close enough. []

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Canning Edition

And speaking of stuff I learned through books I read: this year I learned about home canning!

Last year, I made some jams. But this year, thanks to a book that my friend Linda gave to me, Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More, I actually learned more about the science behind making jams, jellies, and pickled things. This also allowed me to add seven new food items to my list of new food items that I made in 2017 (this year’s goal was to make at least 17 new food and drink items that I’ve never made before):

  • raspberry jam
  • figs pickled in balsamic vinegar1
  • fig-infused balsamic vinegar2
  • pickled spicy beans
  • pickled beets
  • pickles3
  •  jalapeño jelly

Making spicy pickled beansScott and I just opened a jar of the pickled beans yesterday and they are super tasty, if somewhat sour. I gave Kalev a jar of the jalapeño jelly, but haven’t tasted it yet myself. The raspberry jam, of which I made a tonne thanks to buying an entire flat of raspberries at one of the local farms, has been enjoyed by many as I’ve given it out to a number of people. The pickles and beets and figs have yet to be tested.

There’s still a number of things that I want to try canning – blackberry jam comes to mind as, for the second year running, I failed to go out blackberry picking again this year. But that book has a number of other cool recipes that I’d like to try, such as peach-bourbon jam, mulled cider jelly, red pepper jelly, pickled carrots, pickled asparagus, roasted tomato-lime salsa, spiced figs in syrup, Dijon mustard, and applesauce. Not in the book, but which I want to try: plum sauce. Looks like I have a good list of potential new food items to make for my 2018 goal of making 18 new foods that I’ve never made before!

My first ever batches of spicy pickled beans, pickled beets, and pickles!

Beans, beets, and pickles.

  1. Yes, the figs did come from Tig & Pat’s annual fig party. []
  2. Yes, the fig-infused balsamic vinegar is the vinegar that was left over from when I made the pickled figs. []
  3. Why don’t we call pickles “pickled cucumbers”? Everything else we pickle, we use “pickled” as the adjective followed by the name of the thing we pickled. []

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Pokémon – Now In Candy Form

Look what I made!

Pokemon candy making

I’d been dying to make these Pokémon candies since Scott sent me the video of how to make them. Well, it was Cath’s birthday the other day and that seemed like the perfect excuse to try out the recipe!

Really, all you need to make these are some candy melts and silicone half-sphere mould. The former were pretty easy to find (I got them on sale at Michael’s craft store, but later discovered you can also buy them in bulk at the Bulk Barn), whereas the latter were more difficult. We checked every kitchen store in the area, plus Michael’s, Canadian Tire, Winners, and London Drugs and found silicone moulds in every shape other than half sphere. In the end, I had to resort to ordering it from Amazon!

Candy melts

Candy Melts are available in just about any colour you can imagine!

Pokemon candy making

Silicone half sphere mould

Then all you had to do was melt the appropriate colour Candy Melts, coat the mould with it and stick it in the freezer. In ~15 minutes, they popped right out and were all beautiful and shiny!

Pokemon candy making

We made two yellow half spheres to make Pikachu, two blue half spheres to make a Polliwag, and one red & one white half sphere to make the Pokéball! Then we made some ears for Pikachu1 and then, using food safe paint brushes and melted Candy Melts of various different colours, decorated them up. Then you use the remaining melted Candy Melts to glue the two halves together and you are good to go!

Pokemon candy making

The original video shows you how to make them as piñatas, but I didn’t think it would be nice to smash a poor innocent little Pokémon! Well, at least until you are going to eat it.

Pokemon candy making

Pokemon candy making

They are Pokélicious!

  1. Sadly, one of the ears fell off on the way to the party! []

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New Foods I Made in 2016

Like my book goal, I managed to achieve my goal of making 16 new food items that I’d never made before – in fact, I surpassed my goal by 1 item.

1 Cream puffs 28-Feb-2016
2 rice krispie easter nests 24 Mar 2016
3 Asparagus and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts 14-Apr-2016
4 breaded zucchini 9-May-2016
5 macroons 14-May-2016
6 macarons 23-May-2016
7 sauteed garlic scapes1 16-Jun-2016
8 crushed salt & vinegar potatoes 17-Jun-2016
9 BBQ’d country style pork ribs 25-Jun-2016
10 grilled zucchini, green onion, and lemon salad 25-Jun-2016
11 fig sauce 24-Jul-2016
12 blueberry jam 24-Jul-2016
13 apricot jam 24-Jul-2016
14 garlic parmesan breaded chicken breasts 24-Jul-2016
15 chirizo stuffed zucchini 1-Aug-2016
16 chicken schnitzel 10-Oct-2016
17 banoffee pie 25 Dec 2016

Taking up canning this summer helped my cause, as I made three things with my new canning set: 2 successful jams and one failed jam that was re-imagined as a sauce2. I also see a trend of making breaded things, with three different kinds of breaded chicken and one breaded vegetable making the the list.

My favourites of all the things on this list are macarons (super time consuming, but so delicious) and the crushed potatoes.

Garlic scape

Why did no one tell me that garlic scapes were a thing before 2016?

  1. Also BBQ’d garlic scapes on June 25, 2016, but didnt’ think it was different enough from sauteed ones to count as a different item. []
  2. Note to self: next summer, try making raspberry and blackberry jam, jalapeño jelly, pickles, and canned spicy green beans! []

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Various Updates

Life seems to have gotten extra busy, so I’m resorting to writing this blog posting on my phone during my morning commute [and then posting it tonight, now that I’m home from my hockey game, with a few edits made and photos inserted!], despite just yesterday saying to my sister “I don’t know how you can write a journal article on your phone!” I stand by my sentiment that this is not the ideal way to type out a long piece of writing but (a) my evenings for the foreseeable future are booked up and (b) when I tried to turn on my ereader just now, the battery was dead so what else am I going to do on this Skytrain ride?

Foot Update

  • It’s been a month since I sprained my ankle. It’s not 100% healed, but it’s mostly there. Been sporting this awesome kin tape – I have no idea if it actually does anything, but figured it can’t hurt. I’ve gotten back to hockey (after 2 weeks off) and a running (after 3 weeks off), though on my runs on Saturday and Monday my left knee was bugging me, so I’m probably compensating for the ankle even though I don’t feel the ankle. I‘m going to get got it checked out today after work to see if it needs adjusting or strengthening or something [and I got some work done on it to work some of the edema out – because it was still a bit swollen today – among other things. Hopefully that will help me get to 100%.
  • As if having a sprained ankle wasn’t bad enough, last week I did this to my toe at hockey:
    Hockey injury But I didn’t do it *playing* hockey. I did it by stubbing my toe on my hockey bag after the game. It looked much worse than it felt, thank goodness!

Garden Update

  • For the most part, my garden is doing quite well, with the notable exception of my tomato plant, which died. When I was away in St. John’s I had to put my whole garden inside as my strata decided that that was the exact perfect time to power wash and paint my balcony and so I couldn’t have anything out there. The tomato plant did not survive that. I just bought a new tomato plant to replace it – hopefully there are no more unforeseen upheavals of my garden this summer.

    My new tomato plant

    This is the new tomato plant I bought. Wish me luck getting it to tomato!

  • When I put my garden inside my condo for a week, my jalapeño plant had two little jalapeños and many little buds. The buds never ended up blooming, but the jalapeños that has started kept going and now about a dozen more buds have budded. I can’t wait until the first ones are ready to eat.
    My first two jalapenos

    My first two jalapeños

    Jalapeno buds

    Jalapeño buds

  • Prior to the Great Upheaval of the garden being moved indoors, my cilantro plant had bolted. I didn’t even know that was a thing until it happened – my cilantro plant shot up to about 2 ft I’m height and the leaves went all feathery. Dr. Google explained to me that cilantro plants don’t like it when it is hot, so when the temperature gets too high they start to bud, then shoot up I’m height and go to seed – the idea being that the seeds will fall and the plant will regrow when conditions are better. If you catch the buds early enough you can cut them off and keep your plant going, but I knew nothing (Beth Snow) of this until it was too late. So I let it go to see and then harvested the seeds and have now planted them. And now we wait to see if they will grow.
    Coriander seeds that I harvested after my cilantro plant bolt4ed

    Freshly harvested coriander seeds

    I did manage to get this parsley to grow from seed1, but it was seed that I bought rather than seed that I harvested.

Goals Update:

I’ve tried out making quite a few new food items towards my goal of making 16 new food or drink items I’ve never made before.These include this grilled zucchini salad:

Country-style pork ribs:

Country style pork ribs

Garlic Scapes2 – I made them both sautéed and BBQ’d:

Garlic scape

Homemade Salsa:

My first batch of salsa

Smashed potatoes ((These are delicious. I’ve made them several times now because they are good!)):

Smashed potatoes

I’ve made a total of 11 so far and since it’s only just past halfway through the year, I’m ahead of schedule.

Another goal for this year is to knock 16 items off my 101 list and so far I’ve only done 3 in 2016, which means I’m way behind schedule on that one! The most recent of the 3 was to “go for a ride in a float plane”, which I did when I returned from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver last week. It was super cool!

Tangent: While on Salt Spring, we played a fair bit of tennis. I tracked it with my GPS watch to see how far I ran – here’s a map of one of our matches:

Tennis, as tracked by my GPS watch

We also saw some goats and chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese:

Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Cat Update

My cats are still the most awesome cats who have ever catted. Even despite the fact that Watson is kind of a jerk who never lets his sister on the cat tree. You know the giant cat tree that I bought them that is big enough for like 10 cats? Watson seems to think it’s not big enough for more than 1 cat. And if the 1 cat is not him, then it’s not even big enough for 1. If Crick tries to go to there, he chases her off. Sometimes he doesn’t even stay on the tree – he just doesn’t want her on there. Like I said, he’s kind of a jerk. But I still love him.

Watson won't let Crick onto the cat tree

Poor Crick is relegated to siting on the fireplace mantle, since Watson will not share the cat tree.

Lord Commander Watson Snow, the Watcher on the Wall

Lord Commander Watson Snow is the Watcher on the Wall

Crick gets him back by eating his food. I always put their food in two dishes and usually, Watson will have a few bites and then wander away to clean himself. Meanwhile, Crick eats her entire dish and then starts in on his. She’s a little piglet. And I love her.

Crick is hiding under the open dishwasher

Crick is hiding from her brother

Watson

Watson is keeping up with the news

Crick thinks she's a shoe

Crisk is disguising herself as a shoe

It's too bright in here!

It’s too bright in here!

  1. All my other herbs have been from seedlings. []
  2. Why has no one ever told me about garlic scapes before? I got them at the New West Farmer’s Market, w It’s the top part of the garlic, is only available for a short period each year, and is like a mild garlic taste without the bite. Very cool! []

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Easter Treats – My First New Food Item for 2016

Due to my immune system having gone MIA for the first 3 months of this year, I’m rather behind on many of my goals. Including the goal of “Make 16 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before” for which, up until Thursday, I have made a grand total of 0. But now that I’m mostly healthy (just waiting out the remainder of my 100 day cough – which isn’t infectious, it’s just irritated lungs), I have made my first new food item of the year, just in time for Easter!

Easter treats

Easter treats

One of these eggs is hatching!

This treat was super easy to make and combines three awesome things – Rice Krispie squares (or nests, in this case), Mini-Eggs1, and Peeps.

  1. I’m generally a chocolate snob, preferring to eat high quality dark chocolate, but for some reason the combo of milk chocolate and whatever heaven they make that candy shell from makes Mini-Eggs one of my exceptions. See also: Reese peanut butter cups. []

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I’m cooking beets for Christmas dinner. Wait, why did you think I had a big knife and red on my gloves?

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Christmas Baking 2015

For the official record1, the following baked goods were baked at the annual Snow family Christmas baking extravaganza 2015:

My Mom:

    • Tiger Cookies

Tiger cookies

    • Cranberry Nut Clusters

White Chocolate Nut Clusters

  • Fake Nanaimo Bars2

Fake Nanaimo Bars
Nancy (my sister):

    • brown sugar jam cookies

Jam sandwich cookies

  • cheese crackers

Daniel (Nancy’s friend):

  • lemon squares
  • almond crescent cookies

Beth:

  • shortbread cookies
  • amaretti
Ameretti

Amaretti dough

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – pre-baking

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – baked

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – close up

  1. My blog is the official record. []
  2. Which I’ve been referring to as “Parksville Bars”. Parksville is the town next to Nanaimo. []

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Making Dinner With A Little Vitamin Beer

A friend of mine and I have taken up home brewing, because science. It’s a long story that I’ll blog about later, but suffice it to say that we recently finished our first batch and it was, shall we say, suboptimally carbonated. Tasted quite good for a first batch, if I do say so myself, but one can only drink so much undercarbonated beer, so I came up with the idea that I should look up some recipes for things you can make with beer, because beer. And I came up with the following, all of which tasted pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread:

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread

This was really quick to make and really tasty, if you are in the mood for a dense bread. I had read the comments on the recipe before I made this and noted that someone had commented that it didn’t take nearly as long as to bake as the 50-60 minutes stated in the recipe, so I made sure to check on it early and it ended up only taking about 35 minutes to bake!

Savory Beer Pork Chops:

Savory Beer Pork Chops

These pork chops were also pretty delicious. As well, when I put the brown sugar into the beer to make the marinade, the beer foamed up and looked like real beer!

Homebrewed Beer

Potato Beer Cheese Soup:

Potato Beer Cheese Soup

This was a pretty good soup – and I generally don’t even like soup!

And so I was 3 for 3 on delicious tasting recipes. Can’t say that this was the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten – pro tip: when you meal is all beige, something is drastically wrong in the nutrition department.

In addition to finding a way to not waste beer1 and making a delcious dinner, I also managed to bring the number of new food items I’ve made this year to 10 and so I’ve officially completed 67% of my goal to make 15 new food items in 2015 and it’s only February!

  1. Which I’m relatively certain is at least a misdemeanour, if not a full out crime. []