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Tidbits

1. I finally felt well enough to make holiday cookies!

It feels like a while since I last baked, which is all kinds of wrong seeing as Christmas is so near. I’ve been taking chemo pills every day since last week which really drag me down, but I knew I had to get my hands in some butter before chemo #12 this week.

Donned one of my favourite aprons made by Tanya! It’s to protect me from the icing sugar that was flying around the kitchen as I whipped together some shortbread cookies. If you haven’t made all your cookies yet, you MUST make these. They melt in your mouth.

Recipe comes from the back of a Canada Corn Starch box:

  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup softened butter

Sift together corn starch, icing sugar, and flour. Blend in the butter with a wooden spoon or mixer until a soft crumbly dough forms. Shape dough into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls, place on greased pan, and gently flatten with a fork. Place in fridge for 30-60 minutes then bake in a 300F oven for 15 minutes. Makes about 20 cookies.

I topped my cookies with a regular buttercream frosting made thicker with extra icing sugar and half a maraschino cherry.

For real, make these.

2. Archie is going to live!

My mom’s poodle is going to be 15 years old in February. He’s got lumps on his body and has been coughing a lot lately. My mom brought him to the vet yesterday, and he believes the lumps are benign fatty tumours and the coughing is a partially collapsed trachea. Neither of which are currently life threatening. Vet said he could live for another couple years!! Hopefully he learns to like Buster in that time. Archie is the, ahem, jealous type.

3. I’m playing guitar again.

I’ve been playing guitar on and off for 12 years now, but could no longer do it when I broke my elbow last February. The break prevented me from twisting my left wrist so my palm could face the ceiling, or enough to wrap my hand around the neck of a guitar. But over the past several months, I’ve slowly gotten that range of motion back. It still hurts to twist my wrist for long periods of time, so practice sessions are still short. I’m also horribly out of practice. It will give me something new to work on.

5. This is just a really cute picture. 

My Baby Bear sleeping with his bear. I love when he smiles in his sleep <3

6. Hamburgers are the official food of chemo.

My food sensitivity was particularly bad after my last chemo. Even toast and almond butter sounded gross. But hamburgers ALWAYS sound good. I could eat hamburgers for Canada by now. For you Moncton folk, the above comes from Bridges in Riverview. Come to the dark side, come to Albert County for your burgers.

7. TODAY IS MY LAST CHEMO.

Maybe. I still haven’t had a PET scan to see if there’s any active cancer left. It’s just the last chemo on my original treatment plan. But I’m elated to think this may be the last time I have to go through this. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

8. I’m lucky in some ways. 

Because I kept my eyelashes and eyebrows. Sorry for the creepy eye shot. Both have definitely thinned, but both were thick to begin with. Volume mascara and a little eyebrow pencil make me look normal. It would be so cool if this was my last chemo and I got away with keeping my eyelashes and eyebrows.

The hair on my head is already a goner though.

9. I’m going to get better!

As in, getting better is not such a long term thing any more. If today is indeed my last chemo, then my recovery time will just go on and on until I feel like my “normal” self again. No more chemo sessions to bring me down again. I know that is a simplistic and obvious notion, but at this point it kind of blows my mind.

I foresee more sessions on my recumbent bike, more weight training, outdoor activities, and yoga!

I still won’t ever be able to do downward dog because of my bum arm though. I’ll leave that to Buster.

10. Santa tried to throttle my dog.

Yes, I realize getting my dog to pose with Santa has me edging closer to the crazy dog lady line – but I couldn’t help myself! I thought it would be so cute and not very harmful. Except, somehow my Santa shot looks like Santa is pulling a Homer Simpson on my Bart Simpson. “Why you little…!!”

I tried to take some cute Chrismassy photos of my little bear at home, but he was playing aloof.

And with that, I am off! “The Great Balancing Act” is on official Christmas holidays, to return sometime next week. Besides recovering from what may be my LAST chemo, I’ve got out-of-town family to see, cookies to eat, gifts to wrap and unwrap, and a puppydog to keep out of the poinsettias. Have a great holiday!! xoxo

The Burger, The Croissant and The Cookie

First things first, here’s what my elbow is looking like today:

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I need to get another surgery in about six months to take out that bottom screw. They put a big one in there to make sure it held, but it will hit my other bone once I’m able to move my arm again.

To quote my surgeon: “Your elbow is holding together well given the likelihood it could fall apart.” Awesome.

I’ll have to continue regular follow-ups with a surgeon in Moncton to ensure that it indeed does not fall apart.

I also need to step up the physio and work on moving it more. Which I’ve only been doing gently so far because it’s so painful to do.

Overall, I didn’t leave the appointment feeling great. But there’s also nothing I can do to make it magically better. Just gotta wait it out I guess!

Anyways, in order to start fresh in New Brunswick next week (!!!) I have a few more “bloggables” from the Tee Dot I’m going to handily wrap up all in one post.

Three places: A burger place, a bakery, and a Holy experience. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. The Burger

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You may remember back in December when my roommie and I checked out The Burger’s Priest. A teeny tiny burger joint in the East End that has burger enthusiasts foaming at the mouth. I liked it a lot, but I didn’t love it. I feel like I still needed to find “my” burger in Toronto. 

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Great Burger Kitchen at Gerrard and Jones is supposedly also one of the best. Megan and I came here on a whim one Sunday evening because that’s what we did when we had spare time and no recipes to be made at home.

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We may have gone home after and watched Rockstar Supernova circa 2006. We may have re-watched the whole Rockstar INXS series at one point too. Watching old reality TV shows is fun. You feel like you’re from the future.

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Anyways, GBK. It looked like they had great poutines. I can’t confirm this as I was after the meat only.

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I had the classic burger which comes with lettuce, tomato, red onion, ketchup, mustard and pickles.

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Made with all natural Ontario beef served on a bun from the well known local joint Brick Street Bakery.

First, the patty. Flavour-wise it was all there. I loved how thick it was, compared to the thin and salty patties at The Burger’s Priest. It was however a touch too dry for my tastes.

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Also, the patty-to-bun ratio borderlines absurd. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the bun. Actually, it was probably the best hamburger bun I’ve ever had. White, fluffy, but sturdy enough not to crumble in the presence of the burger. But it was twice the size of the patty. I’d say half my bites were easily bun only and contained no meat.

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FYI: eating giant hamburgers with one hand is tricky business. I could probably teach a class on eating with one hand by this point.

2. The Croissant.

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Right. So y’all know I have this undeterred fondness for pastry wrapped in butter. I never specifically set out to find the best croissant in Toronto. Amazing croissants are the kind of thing that find you, ya know?

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But again, in my intense foodie research, I found that Clafouti on Queen West was consistently praised for their croissants.

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I walked in on a late Sunday morning after brunch not sure of what goodies would be left.

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Roommie Megan snatched up the Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Croissant. Ohyes. But I had my eyes on something else.

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An almond croissant. I feel like apart from chocolate and butter, almond croissants are about as “classic” as you can get. And I’ve never had one!

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I tucked it away in my purse, having just scarfed down brunch and all, and gingerly pulled it out come dinnertime. Okay, I only made it till 4pm.

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The croissant easily broke in half, each side coated with a sweet almond paste. Nothing like the marzipan found in chocolates. This was a like a nutty, sugary, dreamy spread.

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The centre of the croissant was soft, but dense! And a little tough on the outsides. I’m not sure if all almond croissants are this thick. I’m better versed in the airy, flaky, greasy sorts. Overall though, it was a damn good croissant. I polished it off with an apple and called it a balanced meal.

3. The Cookie.

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Remember when my sister took me to Le Gourmand at Queen & Spadina?

She actually brought me there for croissants, which I will say were quite good. But I spotted these trays of cookies and knew they were mine. Walking past there the other day I popped in to get the cookie that’s been calling my name ever since. They only had chocolate chip and chocolate chip walnut. I went with the latter.

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I brought it home and immediately broke a piece off to taste. An inch thick and almost the size of my hand, one cookie is actually equal to about four. It was SO soft. With the perfect sized little chocolate chips. I thought about it for the rest of the night.

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The next morning I took another piece at zapped it in the microwave. It was at that point I melted into a giant puddle in the middle of my kitchen floor. Just like Alex Mack. I was in confectionary heaven.

So that ends my torrid tales of foodie adventures in Toronto. Just in time too, because my last pair of jeans are starting to get tight. Now it’s time shape up and get cooking in my brand new kitchen. Which you’ll have to wait till Sunday to see. Have a great weekend!

Highlighting The Week in Food

Hello friends! Here we are again at the end of another week. My weekend will be spent packing and possibly brunching. I only have SIX days left in Toronto! Holymoly!

Anyways, I like to keep it light here on Fridays seeing as most people are “checked out” for the weekend. Here are some highlights from my eats at home this past week…

1. The world’s fluffiest protein pancake

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That picture really doesn’t do it justice. It is so thick!! Here are the ingredients, but the instructions are the important part:

  • 1/4 whole wheat flour
  • 1 scoop (30g) soy/pea/hemp protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the peanut butter and egg whites for a few minutes. If you have an electric mixer, you can use that to fluff them up more. Combine with the dry mixture, adding almond milk until batter is still very thick. Pour into greased pan on medium heat. The smaller the pancakes, the more likely they are to fluff up. Also, don’t over-flip them. They really should only cook once on each side. But knowing when is the right time takes practice!

 2. Canadians! President’s Choice has Greek yogurt!

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For some reason, Canada is waaaay behind on the strained yogurt trend. We only just got Greek yogurt here about a year ago and it was a so-so and very expensive version of it. Now Loblaws, one of the country’s largest grocery chains, has their own version of it. Which means it’s 1) more accessible and 2) cheaper! Plus, it’s significantly thicker than the Liberte brand. At $4 for 500g, I could see myself splurging on this a lot more often.

3. It’s mine. All mine.

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I happened to get care packages from both Brie and Theresa on the same day, and they both contained my favourite goodies from Trader Joe’s!! You have no idea how ridiculously excited I was to open not one, but two jars of my favourite nut butter. I’m blown away by the support from my blog friends since my accident. This week in particular was a bad week for pain and recovery. These packages were a definite bright spot through all that. And no, I will not share ;)

4. Canada’s got some competition.

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Dare cookies better watch out. Trader Joe’s is making a much better version of their maple leaf cream cookies. There is so much filling in these babies. I still maintain Canada makes the best maple syrup (sorry New England) but these American cookies rock my socks.

5. Sweet quinoa is the best thing since savoury oatmeal.

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I combined two of the above foods with cooked quinoa – Greek yogurt and sunflower seed butter. Along with some sugar-free syrup for sweetener and more sunflower seeds and raisins to garnish. I love the texture of quinoa. The little chewy balls of quinoa paired perfectly with the creaminess of thick yogurt. Plus, it kept me satisfied for a really long time.

6. I’m a tea drinker!

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Well, kind of. Ever since my injury, I’ve been sipping on liquids to prevent me from boredom munching because I’m in the house all day. And by “liquids” I mean Diet Coke. In efforts to reduce my Diet Coke consumption, I started subbing it out with tea. I’m up to about two cups a day! Rooibos is my tea of choice, whether with spicy chai, sweet vanilla or creamy cinnamon apple yogurt.

7. Kitchen sink granola.

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Y’all know the drill. The panic and frenzy of eating up your pantry and freezer before moving. I made quite the dent on my pantry today by throwing together all the random grains, nuts and dried fruit I had in there. Here’s the basics:

  • 6 cups “grains” (5 cups rolled oats + 1 cup graham crumbs)
  • 1 cup nuts (sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup oil (coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (pure maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Add ins! (2 cups dried coconut, 1/4 cup crystallized ginger pieces, 1/3 cup raisins)

Mix the grains, nuts, oil, sweetener and spices together. I included the coconut in this as well. Spread evenly on two large baking sheets and bake at 300F for about an hour. Checking on it frequently and mixing it around a few times. Let cool before eating. Trust me on this.

Now I’ve got a HUGE bowl of yummy granola that I think I’ll divide and give away as thank-you gifts before I leave. On top of that – a near empty pantry!

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

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