Things I Read This Week: May 12, 2017

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How was your week (and weekend)? I had big plans to enjoy the sunshine yesterday, but instead I ended up binge-watching Master of None season 2 and I have no regrets. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Apartment Therapy – A Travel Editor’s Soothing San Francisco Sanctuary
We bought a grey sofa last week and now I’m thinking that the logical next step is to replicate the living room pictured above piece-for-piece. I especially love that rug!

GQ – Dwayne Johnson for President!
Is there a reality series about Dwayne Johnson in the works yet, or is he too busy making what seems like seventy movies a year? Because I would watch that very, very much.

The New Yorker – I Work From Home
Oh, it’s just too real.

Flare – “Even When I Was Only Eating Three Apples a Day, I Knew I Was Too Big”
This interview with Victoire Dauxerre (former model and the author of Size Zero: My Life as a Disappearing Model) is a worthwhile look at the toxic ideals of beauty prevalent in the world of high fashion. France has introduced laws that ban fashion houses from using “excessively thin” models and require ads and magazines to add a “photographie retouchée” (retouched photograph) label any Photoshopped image, but it’s going to take a long time for the culture of modelling to change in a significant way.

Bon Appetit – Ina Garten Microwaves Her Oatmeal; Continues to Remain Perfect Anyway
“After breakfast, I always go for a walk on the beach from 8 to 9. It’s a great way to start the day.” Preach, Ina. This sounds like a really good way to become a morning person.

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Things I Read This Week: May 5, 2017

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How was your week? Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Bon Appetit – The 5 Best New Sandwiches in America
I NEED this lox sandwich (above) from Philly Style Bagels. Anyone up for a road trip to Philadelphia?

GQ – Brad Pitt Talks Divorce, Quitting Drinking, and Becoming a Better Man
“The terrible thing is I tend to run things into the ground. That’s why I’ve got to make something so calamitous. I’ve got to run it off a cliff.” Wow, this is … so much.

Extra Crispy – What Happens When You Drink Too Much Coffee
Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty.

The Atlantic – The Fear of Feelings at Work
This is so interesting: “Negative emotions can help us in the workplace to be more effective thinkers, to dig into the facts of what may go wrong. To mandate that we should just be positive at work takes away from the idea that emotions have evolved to help us adapt.”

Food & Wine – Ultimate Cinco de Mayo Guide
Celebrate Mexican culture with recipes for all the drinks, cakes, and (of course) tacos you could ever hope for.

No-Knead Bread for Beginners

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It’s Mental Health Week! Seeing as baking is proven to be good for your mental health, I wanted to celebrate by sharing one of my favourite baking recipes: No-Knead Bread.

Like most novice bakers, I thought making bread would be too difficult to master. The stakes seemed much higher than they did for cookies or quick breads. I was afraid of failing after dedicating so much time to making a loaf of bread, so I avoided it. But as my baking skills improved over the years, I wanted to try something more challenging. Enter no-knead bread.

The recipe I’ve shared below is a mash-up of other recipes, namely Mark Bittman’s recipe from the New York Times, Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Bake Everything (which has different proportions), and The Kitchn’s no-knead bread recipe. My first few loaves had problems (too gummy, too bland, unsatisfactory crust), so in an obsessive quest to resolve these issues, I turned bread into a science experiment.

This is my recipe for no-knead bread. I have baked this bread repeatedly and adjusted the recipe to suit my idea of what a perfect loaf looks and tastes like. That’s the cool thing about bread: it’s part science experiment, part magic. The slightest adjustments can yield different results. It’s all good, though; in the end, you have bread.

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You can make delicious bread, too. No-knead bread isn’t difficult, and you don’t need any fancy equipment, but it does take time; this recipe will take 22-24 hours from start to finish. Most of that time is hands-off, obviously, but if you’re baking bread for a specific occasion, be sure to start your dough early enough to avoid disappointment! If you put a batch of dough together before you go to bed tonight, you can have this bread for dinner tomorrow.

And finally, remember to trust and believe. This yields a very wet, slack dough that may look different from what you may have seen elsewhere. As long as your yeast is working (you’ll be able to see and smell it), then you’re on the right track. Don’t give up!

Continue reading “No-Knead Bread for Beginners”

Things I Read This Week: April 28, 2017

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How was your week? Buds appeared on all the trees seemingly overnight and May is just around the corner, so I think it’s finally safe to say this: it’s springtime. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Bon Appetit – Grilled Steak Salad with Beets and Scallions
I’ve made variations of this salad before, and it’s always delicious. Use a mixture of greens you like, and go for skirt steak if you can find it — despite its reputation as a tough cut, skirt steak is really tender when cooked to medium-rare and cut against the grain, plus it’s usually less expensive per pound than strip steak.

Saveur – The Real Reason Chinatown Produce is Crazy Cheap
Hint: it has nothing to do with subpar produce. Thanks to low overhead and their proximity to distribution warehouses, Chinatown produce vendors are able to pass on savings to their customers, as well as offer a wider selection of fruits and vegetables that are difficult to find elsewhere. Bring a reusable bag and experiment with produce you’ve never tried before!

The Guardian – The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We Have No Debt to Repay’
A great read for anyone looking to get a more nuanced understanding of the challenges refugees face when arriving in a new country.

Racked – Princess for a Day, Disney Bride for Life
“The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, because Disney weddings happen ’round-the-clock … Brides and brave-faced loved ones arise as early as 3 a.m. to begin hair and makeup prep, employing glam squads whose typical call-times occur in the middle of the night. The guests, too, rise promptly — weddings that take place inside Disney’s Florida theme parks begin two hours before regular parkgoers enter, which means they can start as early as 7:30 a.m., or two hours after parks close.” This is next-level commitment.

Extra Crispy – Why Baking Is Good for Your Mental Health
File under “articles to refer to next time someone asks me why I’m baking yet another loaf of bread.”

Things I Read This Week: April 21, 2017

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How was your week? Toronto’s a good place to be this weekend — the Maple Leafs and the Raptors are still fighting through the first round of their respective playoff matchups, the High Park cherry blossoms are predicted to bloom any minute now, and tomorrow is Record Store Day! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Bon Appetit – Braised Chicken Thighs with Squash and Mustard Greens
This is more of a cold-weather dish, but this spring has been all over the place and I think I have at least one more weekend of slow braising ahead of me before we (finally!) set up the barbecue for the season.

The New York Times – The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking
Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to help a friend see their strengths and talents than it is to recognize our own? Why is that? We may never be able to completely escape our negative or anxious thoughts, but we can certainly learn to control them. One strategy: consider what advice you would give to a friend in a similar situation, then apply it to yourself. Deep breaths! We can do this.

Chatelaine – We Packed up the Kids and Moved to Tanzania. Then Things Fell Apart
This author’s account of moving her family from Ontario to Tanzania is far from the Eat, Pray, Love-esque travelogues we’ve become accustomed to seeing in the past few years, which is refreshing (not to mention incredibly anxiety-inducing!). Would you ever make such a huge, life-altering decision without a back-up plan?

The Stranger – The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black
Wooow. Ijeoma Oluo’s patience is unparalleled. This whole conversation seems like it required nerves of steel.

High Park Zoo – Help Name the Baby Capybaras!
The High Park Zoo’s three new #capybabies need names! You can submit your suggestions on the Zoo website until May 3rd; voting begins May 8th.

Things I Read This Week: April 13, 2017

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How was your week? The Toronto Blue Jays are back! The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs started this week! This can only mean one thing: watching loads of sports and eating tons of snacks. Here’s what I’ve been reading, a day early because I’m traveling tomorrow for the Easter holiday:

Food & Wine – 17 Great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
If you missed National Grilled Cheese Day on Wednesday,  catch up this weekend with one of these delicious-looking sandwiches, including the Époisses Grilled Cheese and Pepper Jelly Sandwiches (above), which I need in my life immediately.

NBC Sports – Flipping Out
October 2015 was a heady time: “Hotline Bling” was on heavy rotation, Obama was still President, and the Toronto Blue Jays won the 2015 American League Division Series over the Texas Rangers after a controversial 53-minute seventh inning in Game 5 that had everyone in our neighborhood bar gawping at the screen, occasionally breaking the silence to ask, “what in the hell is going on?!” MLB.com columnist Joe Posnanski and Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur recap “a game NOBODY HAS EVER SEEN BEFORE” in what is definitely my favourite piece of sports writing ever.

PRI – These Capybaras Escaped the Zoo for a Summer of Love. Now They’re Back, With Babies
The High Park Zoo: come for the cherry blossoms, stay for the #capybabies!

Stereogum – What Happened To Ludacris?
Ludacris got married in 2014, is currently worth an estimate $25 million dollars, and has a huge movie coming out this Friday, but something tells me that wasn’t really the point of this question.

The New York Times – The Fighter
This feature on Sam Siatta, a veteran Marine who committed a violent crime upon his return from serving in Afghanistan, is one of three NYT pieces to win a 2017 Pulitzer Prize. It’s a sad story about PTSD and the cost of warfare, but worth your time this weekend.

Spring Pastel M&M’s Cookies

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I have a bit of an obsession with limited-edition holiday-themed snack foods. Spotting Pumpkin Spice Oreos or Snowflake Ritz Crackers at the grocery store definitely makes my heart beat a little faster.

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So when I came across Spring Pastel M&M’s in the candy aisle a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help myself. I knew they’d would make cute cookies for Easter, so I threw a bag into the cart when Adrian wasn’t looking and hid them away until the snow (finally) melted.

M&M’s are  an excellent cookie mix-in because they don’t melt or burn easily, the colours are really fun, and they’re not too sweet in small quantities.

Use a stand mixer (or handheld mixer) to cream the butter and sugars, and take your time — spending several minutes on this step helps ensure that your dough is well-aerated, which will help you achieve a great texture in your final cookie.

A note: this recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies, which is adapted from Ashley Rodriguez’s original recipe. It’s my favourite cookie recipe and never lets me down. If you’ve never had a salted chocolate chip cookie, the idea of sprinkling salt on top may sound a bit weird, but don’t skip it; I promise the end result is delicious. Continue reading “Spring Pastel M&M’s Cookies”

Things I Read This Week: April 7, 2017

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How was your week? I woke up to snow this morning, so I’m hiding out with a book and coffee until it melts. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, so if you’re a history nerd like me, you should watch CBC’s 360 documentary, narrated by Peter Mansbridge. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Kitchn – How To Make a Cheese Danish for a Crowd
How amazing does this danish look? I’m visiting family next week and can’t wait to make this for brunch on Easter Sunday.

Wired – An Aircraft Design That’ll Make You Love the Middle Seat. No Joke
I’m six feet tall and mildly claustrophobic, so unless I’m traveling with two other friends in my row, I always book an aisle seat to avoid hours of anxiety and battles over the armrest. This new, wider middle seat design looks like a great concept and I hope to see it on planes in the near future — I’ll probably still choose an aisle seat, but at least I won’t feel so badly for the person in the middle!

Vice – Life After Betraying the Hells Angels
A fascinating glimpse into how the witness protection program changes someone’s life.

Food & Wine – 98-Year-Old Man Bakes Over 144 Apple Pies to Honor His Late Wife
“Everything [Leo Keller] bakes, he gives away for free. He whips up baked goods for the sick, for fellow widowers and widows, and even provides baked goods for funeral receptions. ‘To see the smile on their face. That’s worth all the money in the world. Nobody can buy that,’ Keller, whose caregiver occasionally helps make the baked goods, commented. ‘That smile means so much to me.'”

Munchies – These 3 Dudes Drove 1,000 Miles to Try the Only McDonald’s Pizza in America
I remember eating McDonald’s pizza as a kid and being less-than-impressed — after my friend’s “Make Your Own Pizza Party” at Pizza Hut in 1993, every other chain restaurant pizza paled in comparison — so I don’t know if I would spend two days traveling to West Virginia to try it again. How far would you drive for a taste of vintage McDonald’s menu items? I wonder if they also still carry the Arch Deluxe

Bullet Journal Updates!

It’s been almost two months since I started my bullet journal in the hopes of getting more organized at home, so I thought I’d do a quick accountability post. Here’s how my bullet journal adventure is unfolding so far!

Overall, I really like the process of using my bullet journal. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and I’m still refining the process to make it work for me — I have a tendency to spend way too much time doodling, which isn’t a problem when you use an electronic calendar — but the benefits of using a paper method are becoming very clear.

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I use my bullet journal primarily to track my habits. I experimented with a few different layouts before landing on the one I used for my April 2017 habit tracker (above). It makes it really easy to see how consistent I’m being over the course of the month.

Continue reading “Bullet Journal Updates!”