Curried Quinoa Salad

John and I have been searching the internet for lunch ideas that don't involve lunch meat sandwiches. Salad is great, but it's easier over the summer and takes a few minutes to toss together. Roasted veggie sandwiches were a hit around here for a little while, but they take too long to prepare for the average school day. Hummus is another great lunch, but you know, I'd like to have a few ideas on hand.

The kitchn.com did a week of special posts on lunch a while back, so I'll share a few links that have been helpful:

Five lunches under 400 calories.

14 Great ideas for weekday lunches.

10 Vegan Lunch Ideas (I'm definitely making the "chickpea of the sea" recipe listed there).

After searching through those posts I finally just googled "curry quinoa salad" and this recipe came up. It's easy and delicious. If you make it with veggie stock then it's totally vegan.

Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook, so it's something I could potentially do in the morning before going to school. Realistically, I'll probably make a double batch of this on a Sunday evening and John and I can portion it out during the week. It can be served hot or cold, so it'll be easy to transport to school.

My only comment is to hold off on salting it until after tasting it. I'll probably halve the bullion cube next time (the cubes from Bulk Barn are rather large), since this batch was pretty salty.

Curried Quinoa Salad
adapted from Vegetarian.about.com
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 vegetable or chicken bullion cube
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup cashew pieces
  • dash salt (to taste)
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add bullion cube and stir until dissolved, without reducing the heat. Stir in quinoa and spices. Stir and cover, reduce heat to medium low; let simmer for 12-15 minutes. When quinoa is fluffy and water is absorbed, add raisins and cashews. Stir for 2-3 minutes over medium low heat, until raisins and cashews are heated through. Add salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro (optional).


Jason and Samantha's Wedding

I'm a little disappointed with the pictures I took at this wedding, so I'm excited to see what my mom's and Halley's look like.

That's my cousin Jason on the right, with his new wife, Samantha.

They had a lovely, traditional wedding at Stonewall Golf Club (where, yes, there is a large portrait of Stonewall Jackson above the fireplace).

I cropped that one to show a close up of me and some of my cousins and other relatives.

Jason and Samantha, plus all of Jason's relative who were present.

I can't remember all of the delicate details of this cake, but it had several flavors and it was really delicious. I think the design was lovely, too.

They played music and introduced the bridal party as they entered. That's my cousin Jessica, Jason's sister, making her entrance.

After everyone was inside, Jason and Samantha had their first dance to "I only have eyes for you."

Here's Samantha, looking on as Jason danced with his mom.

Gorgeous, gorgeous dress.

I'll end with this picture John took our our table, after the dancing had already started.

It was a beautiful wedding, and I'm so glad we got to go. Congrats, Jason and Samantha!

Manassas, Virginia

Before the wedding on Saturday, I set out with John, my dad, my cousin Halley and her fiance Josh, to explore the historical sites of Manassas, VA. As I mentioned earlier, Manassas was the site of two major Civil War battles, and nerdy as it may be, visiting Civil War Battlefields is one of my favorite vacation activities.

The volunteers at the visitors center sent us down the road to a couple of stops on the driving tour. The first was Stone House, an old building that was once a tavern. It was used as a make-shift hospital during the second battle, since it was near a couple of main roads and had 18" stone walls for protection.

It had a lot of your standard historical-site stuff inside - a room set up for dinner as it might have been in 1861, an old chair by the window in the hall. The restored the bar area of the tavern.

They also had some replicas of old posters, courtesy of the local historical society. This one was my personal favorite:

The bigger of the two upstairs rooms was where they put a lot of injured soldiers. Halley sort of prodded this old-timey stretcher with her foot, but I couldn't get her to lie down in it.

After we'd seen enough of Stone House, we headed to another battlefield spot where we'd heard there would be some demonstrations, commemorating the anniversary of the second battle.

These guys were dressed up as Union soldiers, and demonstrated the various features of their rifles. Their leader, the guy in front, obviously knew a lot about all their equipment and the gory details of the battle. But he talked...and talked...as hot Virginia sun beat down on us. The longer he talked, the less I was interested.

We were all thinking, "Come on, shoot something already."

Finally, they fired their guns.

Then these guys came around to tell us about the cavalry regiments.

They demonstrated some of the commands that they might have used to maneuver on the battlefield.

I'd say this was sort of cool. We stayed long enough to see them ride the horses around and gallop, and what not.

I got John to hold still long enough to take this picture (it later prompted him to tell me the many reasons why he didn't agree with the Confederacy on issues other than slavery).

I'm glad we went to the battlefield, especially since there was basically nothing else going on during the day before the wedding. Now I can cross "Bull Run" off of my list of Civil War sights. The list looks like this:

Gettysburg (so worth it! Really cool place to visit, especially around Memorial Day. I can also vouch for the quality of their hospital, since I got a horrible stomach virus on the last night our 8th grade trip and spent the night with an I.V. Seriously, though, there is so much to do there.)
Monocacy Junction (pretty good museum, considering how small the area is)
Antietam (also a really well maintained place with lots to see, and a good visitors center)
Bull Run/Manassas


The End of Summer

Even as I sit in my pajamas at almost 2 pm for the 10th day in a row, I'm asking "How can summer be over already?"

My birthday is always the first sign of the end of the summer, though our semester doesn't start until after labor day. The Canadian trees already know what's about to happen, and the colors are starting to change.

For my birthday, John got me this awesome food processor!

I toyed with naming it "El Chopalito," since it's a mini-processor, but I think I'm going to call it "L'il Choppy Chopsalot," or "L'il Choppy" for short.

So far we've used it to make 3 batches of hummus, peanut butter, and spinach pesto. Only the hummus has turned out exactly as planned, and I'm going to wait to post pictures of that stuff until I'm happy with the results.

In other news, this weekend John and I are traveling to Manassas, VA, for my cousin Jason's wedding. You may remember Manassas (from 8th grade social studies) as the southern name for the Battle(s) of Bull Run. The second battle took place in late August, and its anniversary falls on this weekend. John and I were already planning a trip to the battle fields, since they are maintained in a national park just down the street from our hotel. They have a 1-mile trail where you can take a self-guided tour of the battle fields. *AND* they will have various demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of the battle. John and I particularly hope to see the cavalry demo.

We're hoping for a weekend with some Civil War sites, some crab cakes, and relaxing time in the hotel hot tub. Until then, soak up the sun while you can.


Favorite Recipes, August 09-August Oh Ten

Now on to the list of favorite foods. This is going to be a challenge, since I love so many of the things we make. All of the things on this list are recipes we've made more than once - which says a lot for us, since we try at least 1-2 new recipes every week. I've whittled them down to my absolute favorites and grouped them by categories, for your convenience.

The desserts are my exception to the "I've made this twice" rule, since I only repeated a couple of those recipes. But they're all delicious recipes, a couple of which I've made for various groups at school, and things like the red velvet whoopie pies that are valentine-specific.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Skillet Cornbread
Mrs. Chilla's Breakfast Casserole
The first two are my go-to recipes for food to take to parties. The second is by the mother of a friend of mine, and my family ate it on Christmas morning.

Creole Shrimp and Sausage Stew
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
Seafood is pricey, so we mostly make this when visiting my parents, who generously supplied us with the ingredients. I also haven't made the scallops more than once, but the recipe is too good and simple to leave out.

Non-vegan Soups and Stews
Zuppa Toscana
Thai Style Chicken Soup
These are the recipes that make me want to keep eating meat.

Double Chocolate Cookies
Interlochen Chocolate No-bakes
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
"Life by Chocolate" Cakes
My classmates love the double chocolate cakes, and the no-bakes take me back to a simpler, more pine-filled time. The whoopie pies taste better than hostess cakes, and the last recipe is only for those who can handle truly rich, chocolatey food.

Vegetarian and Vegan
Thai Curry Soup with Tofu
Sesame Maple Ginger Tofu
Pasta with Cashew Cream Sauce
Roasted Vegetables on Creamy Polenta (simple! vegan! Amazing!!)
Chana Masala and Indian Style Cabbage

A few more words about those vegan/vegetarian recipes:
John and I changed our eating habits in a big way over the previous eight months or so. We did this because we both wanted to lose weight and develop healthy ways of eating when we're young, so that we still have them when we're old. For us, this meant cooking with recipes that seemed foreign to us at first (and many of them literally are, since Thai and other Asian food can often be made healthily with a lot of flavor). We're trying to find more and more recipes that include fresh vegetables and whole grains, since meat and dairy are fairly expensive in Canada.

There are a lot of other vegan/vegetarian recipes on the blog besides just these, but these are our very favorites. They are some of the best recipes of any kind that we've made in the past 12 months.

In terms of losing weight, it's helped us both, though food is only part of the process. We believe in finding food that works for you and tastes good, and we don't mean to promote a vegan-only way of eating. Both of us still consume dairy and eggs and we don't label ourselves as vegetarian or vegan, we just lean that way. We both believe that no one diet works for all people, for all time. If you're considering an attempt at some vegan cooking, take a look at those recipes, all of which are beginner-friendly.

So that's our list of the best recipes of our first year of blogging. Thanks for reading all of our food related posts and for never saying, "Hey, why is your Canada blog all about food?"

Happy Anniversary, Canada! Year 1 in Review

John and I had our 1 year anniversary with Canada a few days ago (the 18th). Today marks 1 year of blogging for Sounds Like Canada. I wish I had thought ahead to plan a giveaway or some kind of surprise. Instead, I'll just review what we've learned in the past year, with links to our favorite posts. I'll post another list of our favorite recipes.

Right away we learned how Canadians store their milk, and their funny French translations for groceries.

I learned that it's easier to offend minorities when I can't see, and received an invitation (ladies only) to experience Canadian culture with other foreigners.

We joined Costco, celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, and observed the geese. I made a photo study from pictures of my favorite tree.

John went to SEM, I went to SMT, and we both went to Music Theory Midwest.

We learned about the Ontario provincial government and all that it had to offer, like license plates and a housing board. We took advantage of our local fire department.

After Christmas in Fort Wayne, Carla and Dave came to visit! We saw the London Knights and the Western Mustangs play hockey.

I killed our bread maker, and did a series of posts about alterna-milks.

We took a GIANT road trip:
Fort Wayne, IN
Oxford, OH
Nashville, TN
Atlanta, GA
Cookeville, TN
Memphis, TN
Springfield, IL
And I went to Baltimore for my friends Andrew and Alyssa's wedding.

We ran two 5K races, one where I got very muddy.

We explored the beaches of the Great Lakes in our area, including Port Burwell, Port Stanley, and Grand Bend, as well as another smaller body of water, Lake Whittaker.

We visited Bloomington, John began a running regimen, and I completed a duathlon.

When I stare at this long list of stuff we did, it seems like it was actually a pretty good first year in Canada - not to mention all the hours at school that didn't seem blog worthy.

A year ago I was having trouble adjusting to what seemed like a huge amount of change. Now I'm just waiting for school to start so I can see all the people who are gone for the summer.

John and I have a guest room, and you know how to get in touch with us. If you feel like taking a trip to Ontario, just say the word!


Zucchini Flatbread Pizza

John said this recipe was kind of a mental stretch for him at first and that he didn't expect to like it that much. But when we tasted it, he immediately said, "Thing of the week!"

I think you could make it on a bigger cookie sheet and up with more pizza with thinner crust. We had a few slices of zucchini and onion left over, since our cookie sheets are small.

To me this tasted a LOT like a bialy from Bloomington Bagel Company, which was basically a little pizza style food, made with bagel dough and cream cheese. I love the idea of a "pizza" with something other than marinara sauce, and this was a great example of how to make such an alternative sauce out of cream cheese (though, of course, it's way worse for you than regular pizza).

Still, a cream cheesey pizza is ok every now and then. The fat is satiating, so I was less prone to snacking after eating this.

Zucchini Flatbread Pizza
from The Sisters Cafe

1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
3/4 cup cream cheese
to taste: dill, pepper, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, etc.
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 small red onion, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 zucchini (yellow or green), cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
3 T. chopped fresh parsley or your favorite herbs
olive oil

1. chop veggies. prepare dough. preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. combine cream cheese with dill, garlic salt, and other desired seasonings.
3. brush a large baking sheet with olive oil, and stretch dough out in the pan.
4. spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough, sprinkle with Parmesan.
5. arrange 1 row of zucchini slices down 1 long side of the dough. arrange onion rounds in a row alongside zucchini. repeat until all is used. brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. bake until puffy and golden brown, about 24 minutes. sprinkle with fresh herbs.


Jamaican Cook Up Rice with Spinach

This is one of those recipes that takes a little while to make, but it's worth it because it makes 5 nights of dinners for two people.

The only thing that makes it take awhile is the chopping. There are a lot of veggies in this recipe, but once they're chopped, the rest is pretty simple.

Naturally, I have no idea what callaloo is, so we used spinach (I'm guessing it's a leafy green?). The tofu preparation is delicious and you can do everything else in the time that it's baking (though our rice took a little more like 35 minutes total to cook). Plus, the allspice on the tofu will make your kitchen smell like Christmas.

We've had this for 3 nights this week and I'm not tired of it yet. I think we'll definitely make it again during the school year, since it makes such large amount, and it would be perfect on a snowy Canadian evening.

Jamaican Cook Up Rice with Spinach
from Cheap, Healthy, Good

1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
6 small Japanese eggplants (about 12 oz), diced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup almond milk
1 cup brown rice
2 cups carrots, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp dried allspice
2 tsp salt
6 cups callaloo greens or spinach, torn

Caribbean Roasted Tofu
14 oz roasted tofu, cubed
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp dried allspice
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp canola oil

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Combine 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp allspice, salt, pepper, lime juice, and canola oil in a medium mixing bowl.

2) Toss cubed tofu in marinade until coated.

3) Spread evenly over baking sheet.

4) Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once.

5) In a large saucepan or stew pot, heat oil over medium heat. Combine onion, green and habanero peppers, and eggplant in pot and sautee for 7 minutes or until soft.

6) Add liquids (almond milk and veggie stock), rice, carrots, and spices. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes (more like 35 for us) or until rice is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, stirring occassionally. Add water as necessary to keep rice from sticking to the pot.

7) Stir in greens and tofu (or beans), and cook until greens are wilted. Serve warm.

Black Bean and Feta Tacos

I love it when I find a recipe that requires very few, but very flavorful ingredients.

These tacos only call for a few things and they take about 15 minutes to prepare - total. For our oven, 10 minutes was too long. Five minutes at 400 degrees would do just fine. I also really liked using the coleslaw mix. That saved me time that I would have spent chopping veggies. That said, if you wanted to add a tomato or some mushrooms or something else to these, it would probably taste pretty good.
John tried Tabasco sauce on them and preferred to the sriracha that I used. I'm sure the chipotle hot sauce called for would also be pretty good.

This meal was also fairly cheap, so we made it again the next night. Everything we bought seemed to make that easy. The tortillas came in a pack of 8, the coleslaw mix came with 4 cups, we bought a big bunch of cilantro, and we are still working our way through the kilo of feta from Costco. This will make a really great weeknight meal during the school year, since it's so fast and flavorful.
Black Bean and Feta Tacos
from Cara's Cravings

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 green onions, chopped (I forgot these, and I think they would have added a lot).
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 reduced-carb tortillas, such as Trader Joe's brand
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (I think goat cheese or another strong cheese would also be good)
Bottled chipotle hot sauce or other hot sauce

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place the beans and cumin in a small bowl and partially mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss together the coleslaw mix, olive oil, lime juice, green onions, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Lightly spray both sides of each tortilla with nonstick cooking spray, and place on a baking sheet. Divide the bean mixture among the tortillas and spread out evenly.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until tortillas are crispy but still a bit pliable. Remove from oven, and top with the slaw mixture and feta cheese. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve immediately.

Duathlon Results

Last Wednesday I completed my very first duathlon. It's called the Lake Whittaker Splash n' Dash (click the link on the left), held every Wednesday during the summer by local triathlon coach Sheri Fraser.

You can read about our first visit to the lake itself here.

The duathlon went really well, except for one major issue: I forgot my camera.

Instead, I will highlight this narrative of the experience with pictures of the gear I use to swim.

Old swim suit from high school that I discovered in a drawer about a month ago.

There were between 20 and 30 people there, all of whom seem to know Sheri and train with her. Everyone was really welcoming, and the whole thing is a lot more like a group work out than a race. We started in the water and swam in a sort of misshapen circle around two giant buoys in the lake. My very poor eyesight kind of freaked me out during this part. I thought everyone was way ahead of me and that I was the last one to complete the first loop. I clung to the blurry image of a couple of guys about 15 yards ahead of me, since there were times when I couldn't see the second buoy.
I opted to swim only one loop, which ended up being about 900 meters (a little more than the official sprint triathlon distance). Others in the group got out of the lake and hurried back to the starting line for their second loop. I got out to start my transition and realized that I'd actually finished in the first third of people. Apparently my nerves helped me complete the swim leg really quickly.
Swim time: 15 minutes.

I was nervous about the transition (the part where you put on running shoes and go on for the second leg), but it actually went by really fast. I wasn't rushing myself, since it's only sort of a race, but I made it out of the transition with few issues.

Bungee goggle strap courtesy the Park Forest Swim Club lost and found, 2001.

The next leg was running. The distance for the run varies by week at this particular event, and can be anywhere from 5 to 7k. For this week it was just 5K and I was relieved, since I've been running much longer distances and I knew I would be able to handle it. Since a lot of people were still swimming their second loop, I had the road to myself for a little while. Gradually people began to catch up with me, but I was still one of the first few to finish the running leg (again, I only swam one loop, so it's not as if I was blazing by people with my super fast running...).

Silicone swim cap - for a few more bucks, you get a cap that's WAY easier to put on and more comfortable.

At one point I got confused about where the turn-around spot was for the 5K, and that cost me some time. The actual distance was about 5.2K, since the finish was a little ways past the start. I was hoping to run a sub-30:00 5K , but with the confusion and the extra few meters, I was a little over that.
Run time: 31:15.

The total time was about 50 minutes, which I'm pretty happy with. After the run, Sheri set out a bowl of watermelon pieces, a big cooler of water, orange slices, and peanut butter/honey/oat/nutella bars that were delicious.

I enjoyed getting the experience of a multi-sport event. It forced me to try "brick" work outs - where you go right from swimming to running, etc. - and that's been pretty great. It turns out that I'm in good enough shape to do that now.
I don't think I'll participate in either of the last two dates for the Splash n' Dash, since it costs about $34, and we don't get paid again for over a month. Next summer I'll consider buying a pass to the conservation area where it takes place, since I think John and I would probably go there from time to time to run and swim. You can buy into the duathlon series for $100 for the whole summer, so it makes the whole thing a lot more reasonably priced.

Part of my motivation for the duathlon was my interest in joining the Western Triathlon Club at school, and maybe trying a sprint triathlon. I have a handle on the swimming and running segments, but I have basically no experience with cycling and I don't own a bike. So that might take a little while to develop. In the mean time, I have some good cross training swimming ideas for my 10K training. I'll be running the Halloween Haunting 10K in London in October, my first time racing anything longer than 5K.

Night at the Improv - Squid Ink Pasta

After John and I got back from Bloomington, we had hardly anything to eat in our house. My mom sent us home with a big box of groceries (thanks, Mom!) and so we tried to make dinner out of what we had on hand. We also had about 5 strips of turkey bacon, and a resealable bag of frozen peas that needed to be used up. And so we made this:

Among the box of groceries was a package of squid ink pasta.

The colors in this turned out to be really striking! To me, the flavor wasn't very distinctive (which was fine - I wasn't sure if squid ink would taste all that great). We made a light cream sauce out of 2% milk and romano cheese and this turned into a pretty decent just-got-back-in-town meal.

Improvised Squid Ink Pasta

12 oz pasta
1-2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
5-6 strips of turkey bacon
1 cup 1% or 2% milk
2-3 tbs romano or parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta water, and cook pasta according to directions. When finished, reserve a cup of the pasta water.
Heat a medium sauce pan and fry bacon until brown. Crumble or slice and set aside.
Add oil to the pan, then add garlic and heat until fragrant. Add peas, milk, and cheese(s). Stir to combine. The sauce will thicken as it heats, but you may also add the pasta water, a tbs at a time, to thicken it. Return the bacon to the pan. Continue to stir as sauce thickens. It will be fairly thin, since it is made with lowfat milk, instead of cream.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.



The impetus for our trip to Bloomington was to go to our friend Julia's final IU recital.

Julia has also offered us a place to sleep when we were in need. We had nowhere to sleep on our last night in Bloomington, August 2009, since our bed was in the moving truck.

Julia sang really well that night. Her performance had so much musicality and nuance.
After her wonderful recital, she had a reception at the Irish Lion Glen in Bloomington, complete with Blarney Puffballs (a staple Irish Lion food).

Julia's good friend Elyse made a wonderful book of pictures, stories, and messages from her Bloomington friends and presented Julia with it at the party.

The book was entitled "Bloomington: A Lahve Story."

Julia tried not to read it right away because she was afraid of crying during the party.

She stole a few glances anyways.

Here's Julia with her brother, Dan. He plays guitar at IU and accompanied her on "Skylark," by Bloomington-ite Hoagy Carmichael as the closing piece of the recital.

At some point during the evening, Mark and John "borrowed" a couple of scarves from the girls at the table and began a series of poses. Our friend Carl commented that they looked like a "pair of old queens," celebrating the Prop 8 overturn.

We were able to see a lot of my old Bloomington friends at Julia's party, like Amanda, the curly-haired girl in black.

Also, Molly, who stole my camera at one point and made everyone show her their worst face and then pose for a portrait.

I wish I had more pictures of the party and then the after-party-party at Mark's apartment. It was wonderful to see so many Bloomington friends, since many of them won't be there if I try to visit next summer. It was also a little hard to be back there, since I have so many memories tied to the place and I miss it so much.


Sometimes when I think about Bloomington, I miss my friend Mark.

He and I were in the same masters class at IU, a.k.a., the Greatest and Most Sociable Masters Class in the History of Music Theory.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's Australian Adventure, Summer 2008, with Sargibso.

We have lots of mutual friends, and John and Mark also get along really well.

Here with Aisha, another masters classmate, at our Obama Inaugural Black-tie Gala.

We stayed with Mark for the last night of our Bloomington trip.

He helped up bring our stuff out to the car on the morning we left.

He saw the fun-noodles in our trunk, and...this....started happening.

You can follow Mark's musical thoughts here.