Oh, hello 2017. I really did drag my feet, didn’t I? It’s been almost a year. A year since my last post. A year of me hemming and hawing and biting my fingernails over what my next entry would be. A year of me saving memories in my head to write about, mental notes of new experiences like when I went camping for the first time VOLUNTARILY, and not just because school required it.
Aaah…what a wonderful memory of warmth and carefree, sunnier days on this cold, January day. I probably should mention that we were at a very well organized campsite with clean bathrooms and showers, and one of our friends who went with us is a chef. So we feasted on grilled pork belly, paella, grilled steak and salmon egg bennies for breakfast. I know, it sounds more like glamping. I loved it! I can’t wait for summer again. Bet you Paul smiles as he reads this, his plan is to make a Canadian out of me.
It’s also been a year of me photographing every dish made in my kitchen or served to me with my iPhone. Actually, I should say, our kitchen because Paul and I moved in together. Except for a shower leak disaster that displaced us for most of the summer, it’s been a pretty tasty ride as we’ve discovered new dishes together that have become dinner staples for us now. He taught me about taco nights and his Portuguese childhood favourites such as kidney bean rice and fried sole. I always HATED kidney beans. I‘ve loved every bean and legume out there EXCEPT for kidney beans. But everything really deserves a second chance. Kidney beans especially. I now can’t get enough of his Mom’s kidney bean rice.
I introduced Paul to Korean Kalbi ribs, Chinese veggies, miso black cod, and quinoa salads. I’ll never forget something Paul said to me when I first met him.
“Do you eat quinoa?,” I asked earnestly and eagerly because I LOVE a good quinoa salad.
His response, “I try not to.” Ever so cheeky with just the right amount of dry, blunt, in-your-face-so-typically-Paul fashion that, of course, I had to hide a smile.
Now, he loves it when I make a quinoa salad, and he thinks bok choy is the best thing since sliced bread, or Portuguese buns, I mean (which I later learned is the parent of the Filipino pandesal!). He’ll suggest it as a side for almost any kind of protein we have. His favourite is bok choy with sliced fresh shitake mushrooms. Guess what Paul, maybe I’m making an Asian out of you (wink).
“What exactly do you do with all these photos??“ Paul has asked me repeatedly. Because hangry or not, I make him wait until I’ve captured anything edible we’re about to eat. Oh, it’s all for this blog, and I’m sorry it took a year. But now I’m back! And thank God I can finally start deleting some of those photos from my iPhone. Like the million and one photo bursts of the same turkey from last October’s Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful, plump, juicy, crispy skinned turkey. My first Canadian Thanksgiving! My first time cooking a turkey! With homemade turkey stock for the homemade turkey gravy, of course. Many reasons to paparazzi that bird. That might get me back some of my iCloud space.
Or the family trip to Kelowna for the first time. And I mean the whole family. All 4 generations came together to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. We discovered the beautiful wineries of the Okanagan Valley with their breathtaking views, and the local farms and little produce stalls that filled and dotted the landscape. And we tasted, we drank, we bought, and of course, we ate.
And my first winter wonderland getaway to Paul’s family’s cottage. A slice of magic by Muskoka Lake surrounded by nothing but frozen ice, birch trees, and white, white snow. Nothing for miles but snow and bare trees reaching high for the skies. We went snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the coolest retro skis that his parents have owned since the 70’s. It might as well have been straight out of a page from “The Quintessential Canadian Winter Holiday” travel guide.
It was also my first time to meet his family. I couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception from a family that enjoys food and preparing it as much as my family and I do. It was amazing. They fed me with Portuguese delights, homemade cakes, and pies, and oysters, oysters, endless amounts of freshly shucked oysters spun my way sending me off into a dream where this could possibly be an everyday staple. To snack on midday, before dinner, after dinner, in the middle of the night, with a side of french toast in the morning! If there’s anyone you want to be stuck with in the middle of a winter storm in the middle of nowhere, it’s the Girards. They fed me everything from steaks to roasts to sausages and eggs and kidney bean rice and sole, cheesecake and carrot cake, and, of course, the oysters. All while a storm raged on outside. How hygge is that??
So here I am, back after a year. Armed with memories of birthday celebrations, holiday travels, family gatherings, forging new relationships and strengthening old ones, and a ton of absolutely delicious food. My small victories. Happy New Year!