Monthly Archives: October 2012

Beijinhos

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Happy Halloween! For the occasion, I made some Brazilian candy. I wanted to make something simple, something that doesn’t require a candy thermometer (which I don’t own). Also, the Brazilian community isn’t very big in Montreal, and it’s difficult to find Brazilian sweets, which i adore. Beijinhos means little kisses, and they’re usually decorated with whole cloves. I didn’t have any, so I left them out.

There are so many recipes on the Internet for beijinhos, all slightly different. The only tricky part is getting the consistency right, I.e. condensing the milk enough but not too much. I went on YouTube and followed a video tutorial instead of a recipe, so that I could have a visual reference. I can understand enough Portuguese to follow along, although the YouTube lady started speaking really fast to her dog at one point in the tutorial and I got really confused! But then she went back to quietly stirring the candy and it all ended up fine.

Stirring stirring and more stirring
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Rolling into balls

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I have a Halloween party coming up this weekend and I can’t wait! I’ve been planning my costume for weeks. Enjoy Halloween night.

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Sandy

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Sandy the hurricane reminded me of one of my favorite tv shows, Rookie Blue. The main couple on the show is Sam and Andy, or Sandy (in the picture of my tv screen).

This morning I’m taking it easy, starting the day with coffee and some Rookie Blue. I’ll tackle my to-do list a little later. I’m not going to complain about a hurricane when it gives me an excuse to hibernate a little, and do my assignments from under a cozy blanket.

My thoughts go out to anyone affected by the hurricane. I was in Florida earlier this year for a hurricane of barely level 1, and I was scared shitless. We just don’t get winds like that in Montreal.

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Mini Vanilla Cupcakes

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Last night, my engineering “family” and I had a small dinner party. We had wine, cheese, lots of bread, different pâtés. It was a great way to spend a Sunday night. Usually, Sunday is either reserved for laundry and homework, or dinner with my actual family.

A month ago, I bought mini cupcake pans but I never got around to using them until now. I figured I’d contribute some cupcakes for dessert. They’re labour intensive though, so I don’t think I’ll be making them again anytime soon. I like simple, quick, easy recipes, the kind that don’t give you mounds of dishes. If you have quite a bit of free time and patience, the recipe I used can be found here

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I don’t have pastry bags, so I used a sandwich sized ziplock bag, cut a small hole in the corner, put an inexpensive star tip (bought at the grocery store) through the whole, and duct taped the bag and the tip together, engineering style. Duct tape is the key to happiness, it really is. I forgot to photograph my contraption before I filled it with icing, but here it is!

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Healthy “Fried” chicken

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Lest you think all I do is drink coffee and study, today’s post has neither coffee nor studying. Only chicken.

Easy, healthy, delicious. The recipe is inspired by Fee fie faux fried chicken from “Crazy Plates”, by the Podleski sisters.

You need:
– 2/3 cup flour
– Pinch thyme, paprika, salt, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper.
– 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or crushed cornflake cereal)
– 1 cup buttermilk *
– 10 pieces of skinless chicken thighs and/or drumsticks

Preheat oven to 425

Mix spices and flour in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, pour the buttermilk. Put the breadcrumbs in a 3rd bowl.

Dip chicken in buttermilk, then flour mixture, then buttermilk and finally in breadcrumbs. Place on a pan covered in tin foil.

Bake for 40min, until chicken isn’t pink.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, you can always put a few teaspoons of vinegar in 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 min.

Finished product

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Are you productive at Starbucks?

It’s midterm season! Woohoo. Hope everyone is having fun, I know I am.

Student life is partly how I imagine working from home. Some days, it’s hard to change out of my pyjamas or turn off Netflix. There are just so many things to distract me. If I’m being unproductive at my apartment, I pack everything up and go to a coffee shop.

People (notably my mother) ask me why in the world I can’t study at the library like a normal person, or how I get any work done in a place so loud and bustling. I think the heightened productivity at a cafe is due to a combination of peer pressure (the coffee shop near my place is full of people working away) and caffeine.

As you know from the cheats series, I’m trying to avoid coffee shops, but sometimes, I just need to break down and go! My grades depend on it.

So, mom, here’s how to get shit done at Starbucks:

1) Set small goals. Head to the coffee shop with only what you need to accomplish (an assignment, a chapter, a section of a paper, a presentation, etc) and expect that you will not leave until the task is done. If it’s a big project, break the goal up into sub-goals, like reading 15 pages before purchasing another tea.

2) Choose an appropriate coffee shop. Generally, the ones a bit further from the downtown core have more seating room, are more relaxed and tolerate lingerers. Don’t go somewhere where they will kick you out after 20 minutes, or glare at you until you leave.

3) Go empty pocketed. Either leave your phone at home or turn it off.

4) Never ask for their wifi password. You’re here to study, not facebook stalk.

5) Stop Eavesdropping, unless the people one table over are talking about something really interesting. Then, by all means, eavesdrop and report back to me please!

Am I the only one that isn’t productive in a library? There’s something about the juxtaposition of painful silence and noisy typing that drives me mental.

Coffee Shop Cheats: Save $ at Starbucks

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I know, I know. I’m supposed to be avoiding coffee shops, but let’s face it, it’s not realistic to say that I will never go to a coffee shop again. One thing for sure, i’m obsessed with coffee. I’m just trying to be smarter about it.

How?

  • By packing a muffin or a baked good before I leave the house (check out the healthy recipes I will be posting for inspiration). That way, I’m not tempted by the high-fat goodies in the elegant display.
  • By bringing my own mug. Most places offer a discount.
  • By becoming familiar with the deals. At Second Cup, if you load a pre-paid card with 30$, you get a free latte. Also, on Tuesdays, lattes are significantly cheaper. At a different coffee shop, buy 10 coffees and get a free one.
  • By buying a simple brewed coffee. It is usually the cheapest item on the menu, and they sometimes offer flavoured coffee for a fraction of the price of a sugary mocchacino. I can then go for some extra flavour with any add-ins they have at the counter, such as milk, cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla sugar, etc.
  • By not ordering the largest size. I know it’s only 20 cents more, but I drink super slowly and I never end up finishing it. I rather have those 20 cents in my pocket.

It should be noted that I completely disregard any rules when it comes to seasonal coffees. Gotta live. That means indulging in a pumpkin latte every fall, an eggnog latte every winter, a candy-cane latter during Xmas shopping and a maple latte in the spring. The rules also go out the window when I’m in need of some extra study motivation. Isn’t that plate with the scone cute? The scone came with raspberry jam and butter. It was by far inferior to my scone recipe though so if you’re craving scones, save your $ and check out my super easy scone recipe.

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Etiquette by Emily Post

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Yesterday, on campus, there was a used book fair for charity. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go and I jumped at the opportunity. I left with quite a few books: a cookbook, a book on ballet positions, a book of sketches of the city, and my personal favorite, Etiquette by Emily Post.

Have you seen the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris”? One of the themes in the movie is lusting after the golden days, and how no matter how romantic the past seems, it’s not all that much better than today. I may dream about living in the 20s but someone from the 20s probably dreamed about living in the 1890s.

I can tell you one thing. This etiquette book has effectively killed all dreams I had of the roaring 20s. In the age we live in, I can, as woman, study engineering never mind travel alone.

Funnily, some things never change:

Don’t be jealous of every attention your best boy friend pays to another girl. The more you show your dislike for this “interest” the more jealous he is likely to try to make you.

Women giving crappy relationship advice to other women seems to be timeless.

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Lazy Student Recipes: Cuban/Caribbean-ish Rice and Beans

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Last weekend, I loafed around in my slippers, drinking tea and watching tv shows on Netflix. I always keep rice, a can of black beans and a can of tomatoes in my pantry. This is the kind of recipe I know I can make without having to run to the store. It’s also very budget friendly, especially if you buy dried beans and cook them yourself.

I know this requires simmering, but I swear it doesn’t take much effort. Just leave the pot on the stove and check on it once in a while! Trust me, I’m an engineer (in training) 😉

Essentials:

– A can of black beans
– A can of diced tomatoes
– Medium-sized Onion
– 2 Cloves Garlic
– 3 tsp Cumin
– 2 tsp Chili Powder
– Dash of hot sauce (to taste)
– 2-3 cups Rice

Prepare the rice as usual. In a large pot, fry the onion and garlic in oil until they brown. Add the spices, beans, tomatoes. Simmer for at least 20 min, or until the mixture is less liquid. Serve over rice.

The recipe is super simple. The goal is to use anything you have in your pantry. If you feel like using taco spice, go ahead. If you have some bell peppers, chop one up and saute it with the onion. I love it very spicy, and often use cayenne pepper or fresh jalapeno to season the meal. It will definitely warm you up. Just be creative! As you can see from the pictures, I added some shrimp to the dish and garnished with like wedges.

Are you a creative cook or do you prefer to follow a recipe to the letter? I’m a bit of both, it depends on what I’m making. I cook creatively but bake methodically.

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My neighbour serenades me

Okay, not really. But he used to sing in the shower. Loud enough that I was forced to listen to it. He used to give nightly concerts, his repertoire including Broadway show tunes and some Bruno Mars. Had it been 5 minutes of humming in the morning, I would have had no problem with the singing. His showers were half and hour long, every day, always at midnight! So I complained to the building management several times and he stopped (hallelujah!).

Now, for the past week, at midnight, right in the middle of his shower, a waterfall would form in my bathroom. Drops of water would fall from the ceiling right into my bathtub, dripping and dropping a new serenade.

After several days of testing and investigation the maintenance guy thought he finally fixed the problem but as he was going out the door he told me:

You know the guy upstairs? He is crazy. He showers without closing the shower curtains so his bathroom floor floods and leaks downstairs

Seriously guy upstairs, you have painted quite the picture of yourself. Friends had the ugly naked guy, I have a show tune shower singer clearly lacking common sense! But really, last night it dripped again so it’s back to square 1! Although the plumbing is probably more to blame here than my neighbour.

Argh, neighbours. Did you know that under Quebec law, you must suffer reasonable neighbourhood annoyances, according to the local customs. I think in this case, his behaviour is beyond the limit of tolerance. Did I mention I was loving this law for engineers class? Love love love.

This weekend’s double rainbow, just cause.

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6 Beautiful Things about Montreal

From what’s in the news lately, Montreal is one f***ed up city. People are fighting about language (French vs English), the roads are falling to pieces, people are protesting tuition fees, the city is heavily corrupt and winter is right around the corner. Lately, when I say the name Montreal, it is usually followed by a complaint. It’s just so easy, there are so many things wrong with this city, so many things to hate. Yet when I least expect it, the city sneaks up on me and I notice how beautiful it is.

Reasons Montreal is beautiful:
1) Sunsets. I know, the sun sets everywhere but I love urban sunsets and ours don’t disappoint.

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2) Quirky Art The city commissions the weirdest projects. This summer artists transformed a drab alleyway into a purple paradise. Last summer, they made architectural trees. Yeah, it kind of looks like they hung elephant condoms on a wire, but it adds to the quirkiness of the city. Montreal isn’t the model with the perfect face. It’s the model with two different eye colors and a crooked nose, but it works.

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3) European feel I love walking around the plateau and looking at the architecture.

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4) Nature A 20 min drive gets you to breathtaking scenery

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5) Food is a beautiful thing. A short metro ride to little Italy gets you the most delicious pizza you’ll find outside of Italy. A short walk from there gets you all kinds of international foods. Montreal is food obsessed.

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6) Culture Montrealers have “joie de vivre”, which means the enjoyment of life, that translates to everything we do. Friends get together, talk and drink wine until the wee hours of the morning…on a Thursday night! That is maybe the most beautiful of all.

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Please forgive my crappy photos, they were all snapped with my iPhone

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