The First Week of "Spring."

Happy Spring! Break out the light jackets! Open the windows! Breath in that fresh, spring air! 

J/k, lol, it's still winter in Canada. Until, like, May. 

We've come up with a couple of coping mechanisms. New recipes, such as....

These were kind of an impulse baking decision. After I got home from singing for Palm Sunday, I decided a mini-brunch would be nice, so I made these muffins and some scrambled eggs. We had all the ingredients on hand, and muffins are usually simple to put together. These have a really nice texture:  a bit crispy on the outside, but soft inside. They'll be great for breakfast tomorrow, too. 

Forty Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli, from Appetite for Reduction, part of our on-going attempt to cook through this cookbook. 

Just like Isa Chandra says, this recipe ain't pretty. It's not worthy to serve to guests. But it's ridiculously easy (put broccoli, garlic, and chickpeas on a pan and roast), and remarkably flavorful. We'll definitely return to it for weeknights. 

Our friend Katie celebrated a birthday last week while we were in Toronto, so we had her over belatedly for some birthday beer and a little snack assortment on this lovely new (bridal shower present) tray! Everything looks delicious and classy on this tray. 

And finally, we made the roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Like the broccoli recipe above, this was very simple. Tomatoes and onions roast in the oven for an hour or so. You pour them with their juices over some toasted bread, rubbed with a garlic clove, with some white beans, and then garnish with some slivered basil. Also, bonus, this is vegan! Definitely one of the richest vegan meals I've made.

Y'all, this is crazy good. The onions break down into something like butter, and the tomatoes brown and then just sort of burst. It felt really rich, and it was incredibly filling. Like a lot of the recipes in her book, in my opinion, this is great for a weekend evening. Some of them are fairly indulgent, some (though not all) take slightly more time than I would allow on the average weeknight to make dinner. But they're usually great with some wine, and a nice alternative to eating out.

Second, I coped with the extension of winter by going where few Canadians have gone before: 

Not just a Target (since most people in London, especially, have been to Target in Michigan). 
But a Target in Canada. 
Canadian Target! Finally. 

It seems like a regular Target in a lot of ways, but with one new feature I've never seen in Target: the cart escalator. You put your cart on it, and it takes it upstairs! Maybe this is common in Targets in metropolitan areas? 


Seeing all the familiar Target brands and layout in Canada was sort of surreal, since it's a place that I so strongly associate with America. It was also crazier than the mall on Christmas Eve. I could barely walk through it. Canadian Target will be more fun to peruse after the novelty wears off and everyone in town isn't inside it.
I snapped a couple of photos of these items in the underwear section. Two things every bride needs. 

I purchased neither, though that tank top would probably work well for our pre-wedding 5K fun run. 


Toronto in March

Last weekend, John and I traveled to Toronto for the graduate student conference at the University of Toronto: Sounding Bodies. Our friend Emily (below) was one of the conference chairs. She and John know each other through ethno and they go way back. In this photo she's standing next to Chris, our friend at U. Buffalo. The two of them each presented at our student conference last summer, and it was fun to get to see them again.

Also, at some point during the day on Saturday, they realized that they were dressed alike.

As someone who has endured many a grad conference, I have to say, the U of T did a class job. They provided breakfast, lunch, and then apps and beer at the bar afterward. And they had a great keynote: Tomie Hahn. Her presentation was partly what drew us to the conference. Tomie is an ethnomusicologist who studies Japanese dance and the bodily transmission of knowledge. And, you know, monster truck rallies. Apparently she is also quite the performance artist. The videos she showed us of herself dressed as a robot made me and John think of Björk. Tomie embodied (!) everything I love about a great keynote for a grad conference. She was friendly and enthusiastic about each student's work, she participated in every Q&A, and spent a lot of time socializing with the students. Her keynote itself was, understandably, more physical than most. At one point, she brought out a bunch of industrial sized rubber bands and showed us an exercise that involved banding about 20 of us together. 

Here she is demonstrating this on one conference participant.

I was on the other side of the room, banded to about 4 other people (including the dean, lol), so you can't see me in this picture. But here's my friend Matthew with his back to us. The exercise involved slowly moving and understanding what the people around you were doing by sensing their movement. 

Besides the conference, we got a chance to explore a bit of Toronto. I took a picture of this TD Canada Trust sign in China Town, like the country mouse I am. 

We had great soup in Korea Town. 

John and I stopped for a short breakfast at the By the Way Cafe on Bloor just before heading to the bus station. I'm sure he wouldn't want me to post this photo, but he doesn't read this blog, so it's ok.

Delicious fruit, yogurt, and granola bowl.

We took a long walk from the cafe to the bus station, through the U of T campus. Sunday was St. Patrick's Day and we stumbled upon several groups getting ready for some kind of parade. We saw the old timey fire trucks. 

And the Philippine Heritage Band. 

Somehow this marching band in a St. Patrick's Day parade seemed very Canadian to me - in a good way. Canadians have told us often that while America is a melting pot, Canada is a "cultural mosaic" (or tossed salad, depending on who you ask). Immigrants who move here aren't expected to give up their cultural traditions in the same way immigrants in America are expected to conform, or so the narrative goes. For me, this parade exemplified that idea, in that, a parade celebrating Irish heritage featured multiple marching bands from local Asian communities. The attitude seemed to be, "Let's have an Irish party! Everyone's invited!"


Mom's Visit

John took a trip to Little Rock and Memphis this past week for the Society of American Music conference. So I thought it would be fun to ask my mom to come up and keep me company. Sunday was her birthday, so we celebrated in (relaxed) style. I only managed to take pictures of things that happened on Sunday, but on Friday and Saturday we went to Zen Gardens and Bungalow for dinner, and I got to introduce Mom to the magical wonder of Bulk Barn.
On Sunday, we went to Morrissey House for breakfast. I've eaten there many times, but somehow never for breakfast, and it didn't disappoint. I had the huevos rancheros with potatoes. A++.

Matthew came over for a dinner of gnocchi in tomato broth from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (recipe here). For dessert, we each split these cupcakes from Hey, Cupcake, a place very near our house that I've never tried before. Clockwise: chunky monkey (banana chocolate), carrot cake (Mom's favorite), and peanut butter cup (almost too rich to eat, but awesome). 

While I cooked, we followed the IU-Michigan game on my phone. Mom called out  the updates while I finished dinner, and IU just barely pulled out a win! It was very exciting, and a great touch to the birthday dinner. Now they're the Big Ten champs!


 IU basketball, gin and tonics, and cupcakes. A pretty good birthday.

Over the weekend, my friend Gwen asked me to dog sit for her very sweet and well behaved dog, Ollie. Mom and I loved having Ollie to play with. I even got to take him running, which was so much fun. I've always wanted a dog running partner. Running with him was just like I've heard other people say - it was easy to relax and enjoy running because I could see how much fun he was having. I tend to over think running, among other things (I know, you're shocked), and it was fun to see Ollie run just for the sheer fun of it. It helped me relax and just run without thinking too much. The house is a little too quiet now that he's gone. 



Streak Week

Just before my beloved students took their midterm this week, one of them drew a massive chart on the board of all the forms we've studied so far this semester. She was flattered that I wanted to take a picture. If you zoom in, you can see a very concise illustration of binary, ternary, compound ternary, and rondo forms, among other things. After I took a picture, other students whipped out their phones to take pictures, and she signed her work. 

And then, because I have to be the kill joy, I erased it and handed out their tests. Life is tough.

Here are some more foods we've made from Appetite for Reduction in the past couple weeks: 

Masala Baked Tofu.

This recipe involves a simple marinade of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and spices. Then you simply roast the tofu for a half hour, and it's done. We also ate some basmati rice with a little leftover coconut milk, roasted broccoli, and a tahini salad dressing that John suggested for salads earlier in the week (spoiler: it's good on everything).

Chipotle Lentil Burgers.

We made these the week before Reading Week, but I never got a chance to post the picture. These burgers are extremely easy to make, and very flavorful. They are similar to other veggie burger recipes we've made in the past, but I have to say, the easiness - to - flavor proportion with these burgers is the best I've seen. We ate them with chips and some mashed avocado, and with the chipotle ketchup that the book suggests. 

And finally, this isn't from Appetite for Reduction, but the tahini dressing is worth posting because, seriously, it goes with everything. John made 2 cups and we dipped things in it throughout the week. In fact, it would make a great dip for a veggie tray. You can find the recipe here.

Shifting gears...it's been cold. But we've been running our little hearts out anyway. 

John really pulls off this Hoosiers hat and his Blue Man Group shirt. 

I decided to try a running streak. My motivations were basically twofold. First, it helped get my mileage up while keeping my three main runs for the week relatively low. My three main runs were 3.5, 4.5, and 6.2 miles each, but I ran a total of 18.38 miles for the week because of the streak miles on what are normally non-running days. It's also really easy to do a mile on the treadmill as a warm up for days when I lift weights. The other reason I wanted to streak was my on-going effort to adjust my running form and help my foot. It's hard to engage mentally for long periods of running, and so form adjustments progress slowly. But it's easier to focus and maintain good form for one mile at a time, and so I hope to give myself more chances to ingrain those correct movements. 
I started the streak last Monday and ran at least one mile every day. A week-long streak is modest compared to some Streakers I know, but I feel like I got a glimpse of some of the things Kira has blogged about. As she said, motivation is overrated. Running every day meant I didn't think about switching up the days I would run. It meant eating in such a way that I didn't heart burn on the run. Every day was a running day, and I think I made good decisions in terms of food and sleep because of that. And also as Kira has said, the laundry. Holy crap. I used every pair of athletic socks I have, even the ones I usually avoid. I also ran in weather I would normally avoid, like 23 degrees F., cloudy, and windy. 

While the mini-streak was worth trying, I think I'm going to let it go for now. I don't need to have high mileage at this point, and I don't want to do too much, too soon with my foot. After several weeks of very painful and not at all relaxing massage therapy, my neck and back are starting to relax. That means I can finally do my physio exercises without becoming motion sick (YAY!), and I want to focus on strengthening and healing my foot before packing on miles. I think I'll do another real streak after the semester ends and I do need the miles. And I intend to keep running one-mile warm ups for strength training, especially since it's very convenient at the gym. 

What about you, running friends? Anyone out there have experience with streaking, running or otherwise?

What with all the cold weather, I'm going to officially say that March came in like a lion, and thus predict that it will go out like a warm, happy lamb.