It’s been awfully quiet around here.

I decided that I’d posted enough mopey posts, and life is actually pretty great.  Life update: I moved to a new apartment and have a delightful part-time room-mate.  I made it through the first semester of nursing school and I’m excited to be going back in January for my maternity rotation!

Now I’m in San Francisco for the holidays and having a blast with family and friends.

Tonight’s dinner is my family’s traditional Christmas dish: Tourtiere.  But this time we’re eating it as the main part of Christmas-eve dinner (as per my traditional French Canadian heritage) as opposed to as part of actual Christmas dinner which is how we usually eat it.  For the last ten or so years, I’ve made Tourtiere for my family.  I usually make about a dozen pies.  We freeze them and give them away as presents to family and friends for their holiday dinners.  My family is all back in Victoria this Christmas, so they won’t have any of my tourtiere, and I just made the one pie today.  I can’t wait to eat it.

Over the years, the recipe has evolved.  I use ideas from Canadian Living and from friends who make tourtiere and from my Grandmere’s recipe.

Want to try it?  I think it’s delicious all year round (and I usually stash a few pies in our freezer for later dates), and Peter prefers it with ketchup, which I think is ridiculous.  Here’s today’s version of the recipe for you (alter as needed!)   Also, the pie below hasn’t been cooked yet.  I stuck it in the fridge so that I can cook it later. They keep well frozen if you wrap in tin foil and then in a plastic bag.  Add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time if cooking from frozen.

Makes enough to serve 8 or so.

1 1/2 cups cubed, peeled potato

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

2 c sliced mushrooms

3/4 c finely chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

3/4 c chicken stock

1 1/2 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon savory

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup parsley

1 batch of pastry for a 2 crust 9″ pastry:

2/3 c shortening

1 tsp salt

2 cup flour

3 – 4 Tbsp water

In a saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain and mash.  Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, in a large saucepan, saute the meats over medium-high heat, (don’t stir too much, you want it pretty lumpy.  My mom used to get mad at me for poking it too much) until no-longer pink.  Drain off the fat.

Add the mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savory, thyme cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf (NOT THE PARSLEY!) to the meat.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and simmer until there is almost no liquid left.

Pull out the bay leaf, stir in the potatoes and parsley and let it cool.

Make the pastry by cutting the shortening into the flour and salt.  Using a fork, gently toss in the water and mix gently until the pastry comes together in a ball when you squish it with your hands.  Roll out 2/3 of the dough between two sheets of wax paper.  Put in the 9″ pie plate, spoon in the meat mixture.  Roll out the rest of the pastry and top the pie with it.  Flute the edges.  Cut steam vents (I like to make it look festive by cutting the shape of a snowflake.  Brush with milk or an egg wash for an extra-golden crust.  Bake at 400 F for about 50 minutes until golden brown.

Serve (with Ketchup if you really want).  Enjoy!  Merry Christmas.

-a

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I feel like the city of Vancouver is trying to make it up to me for giving me such a rough start to my time here.

This autumn has been beautiful.  It has only rained a little bit and never for more than a few days in a row.  I keep expecting endless rain, wet feet, rain coats and umbrellas, but Vancouver has been sunny and crisp.

UBC doesn’t seem to spend much time raking leaves and as a result the colours have been piling up on the ground.  I frequently swish through the leaf piles and my heart sings a little.  Speaking of which, I had a great time playing in some leaves with one of my nieces this weekend.  Another advantage of being in Vancouver is how much more I’ve been seeing my family!

My big news this week is that I’m moving away from UBC!  Kits will soon be my new neighbourhood and I can’t wait to be closer to people I know and places to discover.  As a result, I need to use up my groceries in the next few weeks so I don’t have to move them.  The more I eat, the less I have to pack!

So, this autumn and move bring you today’s recipe: Autumn Squash Soup with ginger, carrots and apple

 

 

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

1 Tbsp olive oil or left over bacon drippings

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

3 Tbsp ginger

1 Apple

2 cups of broth

salt and pepper to taste

Start by taking a butternuts squash and cutting it in half.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Don’t bother peeling it.  Put it face down on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet.  Stick it in the oven at 350 (I don’t bother preheating) and let it roast until it is dents in when you poke it with your oven mit.  About half an hour to 45 minutes

Heat up some oil or left-over bacon fat in a heavy bottomed saucepan (I had some leftover bacon drippings in my fridge that I’ve been meaning to use up).

While this is cooking, take an onion and chop it up.  Don’t be fussy about making it small.  A rough cut is fine.  Put it in the pot with the oil.

Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic.  Throw those in to the pot too.

Let that cook until softened.

Chop up a carrot (or two) and toss that in with the onions.

Grate about 3 Tbsp (or about 3 inches) of ginger.  Put that in the pot with the onions, garlic and carrots.  Add 1 – 2 cups of broth.

Let this simmer until the carrots are soft.

Peel and chop up an apple.  Put that in the saucepan

By now the squash should be done.  Take it out of the oven and scoop the flesh out of the skin into the pot with everything else.

TURN THE HEAT OFF!  (Let your soup cool down for a sec.  You’re going to blend it in the pot.  Splurts of boiling hot soup on your skin is a bad thing)

Now take an immersion blender and blend your soup.  Is it too thick?  Add some water or some more broth (I had run out of broth, so I added about 1 and a half cups of water.  Broth would have been tastier.)  Blend it to a texture and thickness that you like.

Now season with salt and pepper to taste.  I used some salt with some blended-in herbs de provence, and it was delicious!

Want to make it heartier?  I added half a cup of cooked quinoa to the soup after I blended it.  I like the texture and it adds some protein.

TADA!  Autumn soup.

 

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One great thing about being here is how much I’ve been able to visit my family and friends in Victoria.
Check out the cute hippo I got to cuddle this weekend.

I am so happy tonight – I found a pottery studio!

It turns out that UBC has a pottery club.  And it’s amazingly reasonably priced.  So, now I have a studio where I get to go and make things.

Hip hip hooray!  Also, the pottery club seems to be full of talented, very nice people.  I’m hoping it will be a great way to meet people outside of nursing.

And to top it off, one of the potters there was making yarn bowls!  Something I’ve always wanted to make.

Then to top off the topping it off, the noodle restaurant was open beside the studio and I picked up some won ton soup for dinner.  This is my go-to feel good food.  Not that I needed it tonight, I was feeling so good.  But, I got some anyhow and it is delicious.

A very happy day indeed!  Stay tuned for pictures of new pottery pieces.

Check out what my fabulous sister sent to me in the mail!  What a thoughtful present.

She sent me snacks, her new favourite tea and post-its and pens, some Archie comics (because we used to read them religiously), a Martha Stewart magazine to dream over and some beautiful smelling natural bath salts.  And the part that made me smile the biggest was that she put little notes on each thing!  What an amazing gift!

And yes, the card has a bird pooping on someone’s head.  On the inside is the promise of things getting easier.  It’s great having a sister who has done something very similar.  She went to law school away in Ontario and her husband lived in a different city.  She has spent many hours listening to my complaining about school already.  Thanks, J!

-a

I sat down this afternoon and wrote out and these fabulous weekly post-its everything that I have to do until I go home to San Francisco at Christmas.

If I can get through those 8 sticky notes, I will have made it through the first of five semesters of the Nursing program at UBC.

I can’t wait until the end of this week when I get to take that first one down, scrumple it up and recycle it.

Then soon, they will all be done and I’ll be with my Prince Charming for three whole weeks.

If I had done this when I started, there would be six more notes up there on the wall.  Which means that when I take down this week I will be half way through.

This has been the hardest thing that I have done so far with my life.  The previous hard thing was when I picked up and moved to Chad for three months to do my practicum.  But this, this.  It’s hard to explain the challenge it has been.  The drastic change in my life it created.  Before, I lived in a city where I knew so many great people, had my husband with me each day, got to make pottery, make food, make friends.  We travelled, I adventured.  I didn’t work.

Now, I’m in a city where most of the people I know don’t know me very well, and I’ve left my Prince Charming behind at home in SF.  I’m so fortunate to have met new friends and reconnected with old friends and family.  But you know how it is with new friends – there’s not that ease of the old friends who know your soul.  And the work!  Oh, the work.  Going from making pottery and volunteering a few hours a week to being in class twelve hours a week, plus two 8 hour days of clinical, plus 2 hours of lab equals 22 hours a week of intense learning.  Add on to that the MOUNTAINS of readings we have to do each week.  It makes for a busy schedule.  I have yet to feel like I’m living in Vancouver because I so rarely get out of my apartment to explore.  It has been a serious adjustment.  I have spent more hours crying than I would care to admit.  But it’s getting better.  Each day is a little easier than the last and before I know it, December will be here and I’ll have made it.  Made it to the point where I said if I was still as miserable as I was at the beginning I would quit.  But, I’m not quite ready to give up yet.  I’ve got to keep going.

So.  Here it is.  My 100th post of Fairy Tales of the City.  This new city has yet to make the fairy tale status, but this heroine is facing the fiercest dragon she’s ever faced.  Time to put on my helmet and armor, because I am tackling this beast.  Armed with love from all of you.

Wish me luck, some days  I need it more than others.

-a

I spent two days this week at a hospital getting started with my first clinical rotation.  I have so much to learn still!

One of the great things about this, is that the hospital where I’m placed is right close to a kitchen store.

I bought so many things for my new kitchen there, including this beautiful little saucepan:

This little saucepan is perfect for just one person.  Perfect for poaching an egg, or for a little bit of porridge, or some rice.  There are so many things I can make!

Last night I cooked up a cup of rice so that I would have leftovers for making Jambalaya tonight!

There’s nothing quite like a little bit of planning to help me make some delicious food.

Hope you’re all having splendid weeks!

-a

No picture for this one because I’m planning on making it this week, but while I was thinking about it, I thought I had to share it because it’s one of the best meals I make.

It’s perfect for Peter and I with a few leftovers and not too spicy.  Just writing out the recipe made me hungry.

Originally from sugarcrafter, but I’ve cut the recipe in half and changed the spices a smidge.

3 slices of bacon

2 links of chorizo

1/4 onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 Tbsp Chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 small tomato

1/4 c plain tomato sauce

1/2 c chicken broth

1/4 lb shrimp

1 1/2 c brown rice, cooked

1.  Chop the bacon into 1″ pieces.  Chop the sausage into 1/2″ pieces

2. In a large saucepan, saute bacon until almost crisp.  Add chorizo, onion, garlic and pepper.  Cook until softened.  Add spices, tomato, tomato sauce and broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Cook until thickened about 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

3. Stir in shrimp and rice and cook until heated through.

NOMNOMNOMNOM

Atenelol: a beta-2 receptor antagonist.
haha. lol.
(I think I’ve spent too much time today reading about pharmacology)

One thing I’m going to have to learn over the next 20 months is how to be alone.

I am living on my own for the very first time.  In the past I’ve always had room mates, or family or Peter living with me.

Things I need to learn:

What do you cook when it’s just you?

What sort of groceries do you keep in the house?  Do you end up eating out more?

What on earth do you do at the end of the day when there’s not enough time to go out and see people and you don’t want to go to the gym, but there’s still a few hours in front of you?  How do you spend your time?

So far I’ve learned that the CBC makes good company, salad greens go bad far too quickly, going to bed early seems like a good idea, but then I wake up far too early in the morning, and there’s only so much time I can spend studying.

Send me your tips on being alone!  I can use all the help I can get!