Six and a Half Days a VEGAN

Throughout my childhood I was surrounded by multiple family members that were as they said, “vegetarian”. I put this in quotes because they were only vegetarian when they wanted to be; when someone made, they gobbled them down. Nevertheless, as a child I too aspired to be just like my Grandma and become a “vegetarian”. Multiple times throughout my youth I would claim that I was officially a vegetarian and was not eating meat, everyone scoffed at me and my mother was not happy having to prepare separate dishes for me. To be fair, the longest I have ever stuck to being a vegetarian was about a month, this lasted until my father brought home Swiss Chalet one night.

Even with all my failed attempts, I still dream of the day when I fully quit meat. I have never been one for meat, I only occasionally eat chicken and beef, and very rarely, pork. I’ve always been a huge supporter of animal rights and anytime I see an animal cruelty video I automatically become vegetarian again. However, I love other animal products. Cheese, milk, and eggs are a large part of my diet and I truly can’t fathom a life where I never eat them again. Which is why I would like to challenge myself to become vegan for the next week.

So what is a vegan? A vegan is someone that does not consume or use ANY products that are made from animals. This means; meat, eggs, milk, cheese, leather products, honey, wool, silk, and more, are fully off limits (The Vegetarian Resource Diet, n.d.). For this week I only stuck to the food portion of being vegan, I wasn’t ready to sift through my wardrobe just yet. However, I myself do not purchase any leather in my usual non-vegan life (I do own a leather wallet, but it was a present and you just can’t let it go to waste). I’m also aware that a lot of beauty products are either tested on animals or made from animal products. For example, many eyeshadows contain fish scales to give the product a shine. When purchasing these products I always consult the PETA website as they have a fully consolidated list of what brands are vegan (PETA, n.d.).

I personally find that the vegan diet is one of the most complex, and hard to maintain. There are just so many restrictions and you truly have to look at all the ingredients in a product before you buy it, vegan is not for the lazy. By doing a quick Google search you can find numerous vegan diet plans. As it is a predominately vegetable based diet, you need to make sure that you are having enough protein and calcium and other vitamins and nutrients that you may lack due to not eating animal products. Soy products, nuts, lentils, beans, and more are all great sources of protein (MacEacheren, 2015).

DAY 1:

I highly recommend that you go shopping for delicious and nutritious vegan food before trying to make the transition; I did not follow my own advice. I woke up on Monday knowing that today was the day that I was going to start my vegan diet, but I couldn’t find the motivation to get to the grocery store. I looked through my sparse food products to see what I could eat that would be vegan. I read through the ingredients of my Quaker instant oatmeal and discovered that luckily, it was vegan! Hooray!! I scarfed down two bowls of that and a large black coffee and got on with my day (binge watching Bates Motel, which I highly recommend). Thankfully, that tided me over until around dinner time. For dinner, I was ecstatic to find that my dried pasta contained no eggs and that the one jar of pasta sauce I had was in-fact cheese and meat free! I devoured a bowl of that and chalked it up to a relatively success first day of veganism (considering the not grocery shopping thing).

DAY 2:

I woke up in a chipper mood, which soon faded as I realized that I had ate my last bit of instant oatmeal yesterday. It went even more downhill as I saw that I only had one piece of bread; I toasted it up and added some peanut butter to it and chugged down a large black coffee before running to class. By 4 o’clock I was starving and so were all my friends. They wanted to go to the pizza restaurant called True True which is located on King Street, right across the street from George Brown’s St. James campus. I decided to go with them and hoped that they would have a vegan option. There were a couple salads on the menu, but I had never tried the pizza before and it looked so delicious. After hearing remarks, “who orders a salad when they come to a pizza place”, I decided to stray from the vegan diet and order a pizza called the Aristocrat. I felt ashamed that I literally only lasted one day, but the pizza tasted so good. I ended up going to see the movie Get Out (I highly recommend) and ordered popcorn, because what’s a movie without popcorn? On my way home from the theatre I decided to pop into Metro to get some groceries as this was getting ridiculous. Thirty dollars in debt later, I had two bags of groceries and tears in my eyes.

DAY 3:

I woke up ready to take on the vegan day today. I brewed myself a coffee and had a bowl of instant oatmeal. After my one class of the day, myself and my friends were hungry and wanted to go to Cluck Cluck’s which is a chicken and waffle place by George Brown. I had it one time previously, and it was super yummy. I walked all the way to Cluck Clucks to realize that I was not going to eat there. They had no vegan options (duh) and I wasn’t going to be that person that just sits there and doesn’t order any food. So, I left the establishment and walked home. My roommates were out, so I took over the kitchen. I made a red curry vegan soup and also vegan quesadillas. I had a quesadilla for lunch, which was mediocre. I’ll talk about how I made them below and how I would improve them. For dinner I literally ate the whole pot of soup that I made, it was a total win. I love anything curry and this was no exception, I will definitely be making it again (but maybe with chicken, shh).

 

17475381_10154224305181836_1967997606_oCurry Soup 

Ingredients:

1 box of vegetable stock

1 bunch of broccoli

1 can of tomatoes

1 yellow onion

2 tbsp ginger

3 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp Thai curry paste

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

  1. Rough dice the onion and then lightly sweat in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Roughly chop the broccoli and add to the onions.
  3. Add minced garlic and ginger.
  4. Mix in curry paste.
  5. Add stock and can of tomatoes.
  6. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Season to however you desire.

DAY 4:

17474446_10154224303816836_826340560_oToday I got crazy and had a bowl of Apple Cinnamon oatmeal and a black coffee. Since I knew I had class until 6:00 at night, I decided for the FIRST time this year to bring a snack to school. At 2:00pm my friends were ready to eat, and so was I. They decided on McDonalds, where I ordered a coffee and ate an apple while I slowly suffered whilst watching them eat their fries and all day breakfast. Don’t be deceived, McDonalds fries and hash browns AREN’T vegan as they’re cooked in animal fat. My stomach growled all throughout my next class. When I got home I devoured the remaining quesadillas that I made, which had gotten soggy and I didn’t even bother trying to make them better as I was so hungry.

DAY 5:

I woke up crazy late at 2:00 in the afternoon, strangely, I wasn’t very hungry. I ended up 17499786_10154224305211836_1973088577_ohave two slices of toast with some peanut butter and a cup of black coffee. That’s all I had to eat until I got home from my late class at 11:00 at night. When I got home I decided to make myself a little feast. I chopped up an eggplant and fried it then added in some tomato sauce, bread crumbs, and seasoning to make almost an eggplant parmesan dish. I also made myself some home fries by cubing a potato and frying it in some oil and salt. I ate my two dishes and watched some Netflix for the rest of the night.

 

DAY 6:

17475310_10154224305161836_1587381464_oAs per my  usual, I woke up and had another bowl of instant oatmeal and a cup of black coffee; I am really starting to get tired of oatmeal. For lunch I decided to whip up some vegan grilled cheese which sounds almost as bad as it tastes. I had purchased some vegan cheese from the company Daiya after hearing that it was the best vegan cheese out there and that it almost tasted identical to real cow cheese — I disagree. It wasn’t the worst sandwich in the world, but it certainly does not live up to the real deal. I masked some of the flavour by dipping it in tomato sauce. In the evening I munched on an apple with some peanut butter and then went to bed.

 

DAY 7:

I awoke so excited knowing that it was my last day of being a vegan! I made myself some toast with peanut butter and got myself a black coffee and continued my life knowing that tomorrow I could devour a whole roast chicken. I didn’t each much on as I was so sick of what food that I had in the house, I ended up just eating an apple and some carrots throughout the rest of the day.

Day 8:

I went to Loblaws and purchased a whole roast chicken — I devoured almost all of it and feel no remorse.

I do not think that I will continue with this diet in the near future. Not because I found the diet to be too challenging and unbearable, but because it really interfered with my social life. You don’t realize how related food and your social life is until you can’t eat what your friends are having. It really sucks being the person that goes out with a group of people and has to ask just for water, it also is a pain to ask staff to alter meals for you.

An aspect that I also found difficult was not being able to taste my food in my cooking labs at school. As a chef, I think that it would be extremely difficult to be a vegan, unless you work only with vegan foods. You could definitely get other people to taste your dishes for you, but I just can’t see one being a very successful chef as a vegan. I’m sure it’s possible, but for myself, it’s just not realistic.

Other than the negative impact the diet had on my social life, the diet wasn’t all that bad. I did find myself starving midday a few times but I think that was due to a lack of preparation on my part. I feel that in order to sustain this diet you must have a big budget if you want to eat healthy; you could easily be an unhealthy vegan by just eating pasta each night (kind of like what I did), but that’s unrealistic and frankly a bad diet choice. While on my journey I watched a lot of vegan YouTubers to see how they go about their daily life. One that I found that I absolutely adored was a woman named Jess, she cooks the most aesthetically pleasing vegan foods that I have ever seen. She truly inspired me to keep going on my diet and realize all the options vegans have (JessBeautician, n.d.). I highly recommend checking her out if you’re considering going vegan. A few tips that I would offer to anyone that’s wanting to give vegan a try are; plan your meals, have a large budget, and try not to replicate non-vegan food (grilled cheese). Explore the diet for what it is and try to be creative with your recipes. I think everyone should attempt this diet at some point in their life, even if it’s just for a week. I learnt just how difficult this diet can be and have a new found respect for vegans.

 

Sources:

J. (n.d.). JessBeautician. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL-019jclyQT5ngcf_RoALw
MacEachern, D. (2015, October 5). The 15 Best Protein Alternatives to Meat Besides Tofu. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-15-best-protein-alternatives-to-meat-besides-tofu.html
P. (n.d.). People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): The animal rights organization. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx)
T. (n.d.). Veganism in a Nutshell. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm
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A Bisket – A Basket, A Tisket – A Tasket

February 15th was the busiest that I have ever seen the St. Lawrence Market. I’m not sure why the market was booming, but I’m glad to see that it’s getting the attention that it deserves. The market contains over 120 vendors that specialize in selling local foods, such as; meat, fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and preserves (“St. Lawrence Market”, n.d.). I don’t travel to the market often, but find that when I do, I’m blown away by the quality and quantity of products that appear before me.

The upstairs of the building was making me incredibly anxious due to the amount of people so I decided to take a look around the lower level. Although it was still busy, it was way less stressful downstairs. 16776772_10154128692456836_1593035106_oAs I browsed the displays and vendor carts I stumbled across a place called A Bisket- A Basket; it showcased a lovely looking display of jams, jellies, and marmalades. I was just thinking the other day that I missed having jam on toast and this display just made me crave it even more. The whole section was wooden and gave off an incredibly country vibe which reminded me of my grandparents (they used to live in the country and had a delicious vegetable garden). I studied the selection carefully to determine which one would be the winner; at 8 bucks a pop, I had to choose wisely. There were a huge variety of flavour combinations that I had never heard of, many of which included ginger. 16810358_10154128692271836_1554516241_oSome examples of the products are; orange ginger marmalade, piña colada jam, and margarita jalapeño jelly. I ended up purchasing the 250ml jar of strawberry rhubarb jam.

At the cash I struck up a conversation with the owner of A Bisket – A Basket, his name is Urs Aeby. Urs was more than willing to answer a few questions about him and his delicious company. He stated that before creating A Bisket – A Basket he was a chef in hotels overseas. He worked in places like Malaysia and the Middle East where he created French cuisine. An interesting point that he mentioned was that he would always try to create new fusion recipes and asked his kitchen staff to create dishes that were different and creative. When Urs retired he decided to create this business which he has now owned for the last 10 to 15 years (he couldn’t remember exactly).

16763492_10154128692151836_1679339316_oI questioned Urs on the quality of his products and was told that all of his items are made with natural ingredients, however, they are not organic. His reasoning behind this was that before opening the business he knew horror stories of friends that went bankrupt due to the high cost of using organic products. To him, it was not worth it to make the products organic; he finds that the jams still have the same quality whether they’re organic or not. He does buy all the fruit locally and takes pride in using no preservatives in his products.

When I got home I decided to give the company a google and I discovered that A Bisket – A Basket also has a website. It is rather simplistic, but it does get across what the company has to offer. The site lists all of the products that they have and lets you know their location and contact information. I recommend checking them out either online or at the St. Lawrence Market (“A Bisket – A Basket”, n.d.).

It was refreshing to learn that the jam I bought was not loaded with preservatives and was created with all fresh produce — it is absolutely delicious. Going to the market was a great experience for me, I would love to back again to talk to Urs more about his company and to talk to other local vendors. I think that it’s great to support locals and that more people need to be aware of the fantastic products that Canada has to offer.

References:

A Bisket – A Basket: Sweet and Savory Condiments. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://www.abisketabasket.ca/aboutus.html

St. Lawrence Market. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/pages/read_more_st_lawrence_market/

Butter Chicken Cravings

Today’s blog post started with an extreme craving for a dish that I once had at the restaurant Firkin On Harbour. Firkin is a chain of British pubs that have the name of their location in the title of each joint. I fondly remember going to the restaurant with a group of friends this past summer for Canada Day where I ordered a dish of butter chicken poutine. I believe it had a slightly different name than that, but I cannot seem to find it on their menu anymore, which is a shame, I really quite enjoyed it.

Since my dish is obsolete, I decided to try to recreate it. So throwback to this past Saturday when I took a trip to my local Walmart. As a student and one that is recently unemployed, I am tight on cash and am looking for cheap, yet tasty, food. Walmart is definitely not the place to find superb produce, but sometimes you can find some cheap cuts of meat (however, I can’t vouch that it’s top quality). For my butter chicken poutine I decided that the best cut of meat to buy would be chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs, as the name states, are the thighs from a chicken. The thigh is part of the “dark” meat of the bird which typically is a lot more moist and tender and contains more fat than the “white” meat. Many people find that dark meat possess’ a lot more flavour on its own whereas, white meat tends to be more bland. I chose to use the thigh because of how moist, tender, and rich the flavour is, which I believe goes better in a higher fat dish like butter chicken (Inniss, 2016).

The domestication of chickens started in Southeast Asia in at least 2000 B.C. and possibly before (Clauer). Chickens were not just used for food, in approximately 400 B.C. the Greeks used the chicken for the sport cockfighting; The bird was also sacrificed to Greek and Roman Gods (Carr, 2016). Chicken has been a staple in homes for many years now because it is so easily accessed and due to its reasonable price point. It’s a meat that does not have a strong flavour by itself but rather absorbs the flavours that is put with it. Chicken is known for carrying the bacteria salmonella and must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be safe to eat. It can be sold as the whole bird or into cuts with either skin on or off and also with or without bones. The cuts range in prices, usually the light meat is more expensive than the dark (Inniss, 2016).

I find that chicken thighs are typically either fried or covered in a sauce and over a carb of some sort, like rice. I see a lot of use for it in asian recipes, for example; honey garlic chicken, sweet and sour chicken, ginger chicken, and others. In general, it is not often served alone but as an addition to one final dish. As meat is not cheap, I think that by adding it to other products it is a great way to optimize your meat. The chicken thighs that I purchased were $7.32, weighing in at .556kg and had a total of 8 thighs in the package.

When making butter chicken I never create it the traditional way, I always try to find healthier alternatives. Indian cuisine is not something that I am extremely familiar with, so I did borrow some of the ideas from this recipe  (Susan, 2016), but I still attempted to create my own take on the dish.

Ingredients: 1 Yellow Onion, 1/2 Red Onion, 2 Green Onions, 4 Yellow Potatoes, 1Pkg Chicken Thighs, 1 Can Unsalted Diced Tomatoes, 3Tbsp Tomato Paste, 1Cup Plain Greek Yogurt, 1Pkg Cheddar Cheese Curds, 2Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes, 1Tbsp Turmeric, 1Tbsp Ground Cumin, 2Tbsp Ginger, 2Tbsp Garlic, 1Tbsp Curry Powder, 4Tbsp Olive Oil, 2Tbsp Canola Oil,  3Tbsp Sugar, 1Tbsp Cayenne Pepper, Salt & Pepper To Taste. *All ingredients are approximate (I was more just throwing them in and tasted as I went)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 16357855_10154078048726836_1693186796_o
  2. Put the chicken in an oven proof dish, rub with approx. 2Tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Let it cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Roughly thin slice both the red and yellow onion. Cook over medium high heat with 2Tbsp of olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, and yogurt to the pan. Stir. Then add all the spices. Taste to see what it needs more of.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, cut into bite sized pieces. Add to pan. 16357972_10154078048746836_2082263294_o
  6. Wash the potatoes. Peeling is optional (I chose not to). Slice
    into fries either by hand or with a mandolin (I used a mandolin). Rinse off excess starch. Dry. Rub with canola oil and salt place on
    a baking sheet. Put in the oven check every 10 minutes or so, it should take about 25. Flip as you go.
  7. Place fries into a dish, top with cheese curds and then put a layer of the butter chicken on top. Garnish with sliced green onions.

 

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I quite liked the dish that I created overall and would definitely make it again. It had both the sweet and salty aspect that is extremely nice on your palette. All of the ingredients that I didn’t already have cost me around $20 dollars. Which is completely feasible, especially since the quantity is about 4 portions, therefore averaging about $5 dollars a meal. By the end of Saturday night my cravings were satisfied and I learned how to create a new dish, woohoo!

 

 

References:

Carr, K. (2016, September). History of Chickens. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from http://quatr.us/food/chicken.htm

Clauer, P. (n.d.). History of the Chicken (Poultry). Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://extension.psu.edu/animals/poultry/topics/general-educational-material/the-chicken/history-of-the-chicken

Inniss, J. (2016). Poultry Lecture Notes. Retrieved January 25, 2017.

S. (2016, August 27). Crockpot Indian Butter Chicken {Easy & Healthy}. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://www.simplehealthykitchen.com/crockpot-indian-butter-chicken-easy-healthy/

Firkin on Harbour | Downtown Toronto Restaurant | Bar | Pub. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://firkinpubs.com/firkinonharbour/

 

 

 

Broccoli & Cheddar SOUP!

Yesterday I created my very own batch of broccoli cheddar soup. Although I am a big fan of the soup I had never previously made it before. I often order it when I go out to eat at Panera and I was curious as to how to make it myself. By making it I can both save some money and eat a delicious meal.

I didn’t really know where to start as I don’t make soup very often. Obviously we would need broccoli and cheddar cheese and also some sort of creamy base. I decided to go online and look through a few recipes to see what I could find. I came across a recipe on gimmesomeoven.com for Broccoli Cheese Soup.

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 1.39.35 PM.png

Ingredients for Broccoli Cheese Soup from gimmesomeoven.com

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I will now let you know how I created the dish with a sequence of my own pictures below:

First start by cutting up all the veggies into a small dice. Put the carrots and onions in a pan with a little bit of butter and cook until the onions are translucent. Once combined add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Next, add the flour to the veggies an mix until they are all

15302319_10153917544356836_1315058983_o.jpgcoated. Wait for the flour to become slightly golden and then add in the stock (I used chicken). Once the stock is combined add the milk. Now add the broccoli, stir, and then wait about 10 minutes for the broccoli to partially cook.

15310832_10153917544216836_1064833460_o.jpgOnce the soup is almost complete, add in the cheese, stir, and let it simmer for a few more minutes. Taste it and then season to your desired flavour.

When tasting the soup I found it to be quite rich and creamy. The cheese and 1% milk that I used definitely were the contributors of that. The salt and cheese gave the soup a subtly salty flavour and the onions and carrots added a slight sweetness to it. I found that the soup was quite savoury but was not sour at all. The only factor that made it slightly bitter was the broccoli.

I had one of my roommates try my soup and they mainly gave it all positive feedback. They appreciated the creaminess and the overall flavour but suggested that perhaps instead of having only whole pieces of broccoli that perhaps I could blend a portion of it. They also suggested that I should make it a bit spicier.

I think that overall the soup was quite a success and not even that challenging. It was different than what I am used to cooking as I don’t often make soup. However, the recipe was quite easy to follow and also took me under half an hour to complete. I think I would definitely make the soup again I may follow some of my roommates advice and maybe add in a chilli and blend it.

I learned that it can be quite easy to create dishes at home that I usually consume at restaurants. I now know that it is actually a lot cheaper and healthier to make this dish at home. I’ve realized that it is great to try new recipes and that it’s easy to put your own spin on it; Don’t be afraid to try new recipes!

References:

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/broccoli-cheese-soup-recipe/ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preserving — Raspberry Jam

Today was my first attempt at making homemade jam. Prior to this experience I had only ever bought pre-made jam from from the grocery store, my personal favourite is strawberry. However, when I went to Loblaws today their selection of strawberries were
not up to par, so I went with raspberries.

Before starting my preserving journey I researched a recipe for raspberry jam. I found one that appealed to me from the site food.com, you can find the recipe here. The recipe was extremely simple — which is one of the reasons why I chose it. Just a regular person with no culinary experience could easily make their own jam at the comfort of their own home.

The raspberry jam recipe only requires 2 cups of raspberries and 4 cups of sugar. I also

ras

Raspberries!

added a bit of lemon juice to give it a bit of tartness so that the jam would not be quite so sweet. The first step to the recipe is to wash and then mash the raspberries. Put that on top of the stove and let it come to a full boil and simmer for two minutes.

 

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Pouring the sugar into the raspberries

Once it has cooked for a full two minutes then you can start adding the 4 cups of sugar whilst stirring the raspberries.  When the sugar is completely mixed in you must add a squeeze of lemon and let the raspberries come to a full boil again. I ended up cooking it for probably about 10 minutes although the recipe only advises two. Once cooked pour it into a sterilized jar.

At first when I finished the recipe I was incredibly

14959180_10153846917806836_1152887225_o

The finished product!

disappointed with my product; The consistency was like that of a syrup instead of a jam. However, the colour and taste were almost identical to the raspberry jam that I have purchased in the past. Incredibly disheartened after seeing the consistency of my jam I left it for the night. Luckily, when I awoke the next day I checked my jam and it had firmed up to the perfect consistency! Still a little bit watery compared to store bought variety but it was much better than the completely liquid form it was a day prior.

Before creating my jam I did lots of research on the subject of preserving and I found that often recipes for jam call for pectin or gelatin. These are both firming agents that would help the consistency to be less watery and more like a jelly. I however chose the more simple route that more people at home would find easy to do. I think the recipe overall was quite successful especially once I allowed it to sit overnight. I definitely recommend trying out this recipe if you’re interested in preserving! It’s quick, easy, and tastes great!

Sources: http://www.food.com/recipe/raspberry-jam-35192

 

 

 

My Trip to the St. Lawrence Market

On October 19th I took my first trip to the St. Lawrence Market in years. I can vaguely remember going there way back when I was just a child but I hadn’t been back since. I chose to go to the market because so many people I know rave about the produce and fresh meat and dairy products that are available there. It also happens to be extremely close to George Brown College and my apartment which is definitely an added bonus.

I browsed throughout the different fruit and veggie markets and came across actually quite a few products that I have never tried before; Persimmon, granadilla, etc. Or, if I have tried them it’s been in a restaurant or a pre-made food/drink that I have not personally prepared. I decided to purchase a starfruit as I have never bought one before and it really stood out to me. The curvature of the fruit was much more interesting than the others and the name itself intrigued me.

Starfruit is actually the common name for Carambola; It got the nickname starfruit because of the shape of it and when cut into pieces it actually resembles the shape of a star. Carambola is said to have originated in Sri Lanka and now is grown on trees in tropical locations such as; Thailand, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, as well as a few places in the United states—Hawaii and Florida. Starfruit typically blooms in April through May and then again in October until December. I purchased my starfruit for 2 dollars at the market which to me seems a bit expensive considering you only get one fruit for the price.

14813072_10153805799956836_415056563_oThe starfruit is about the size of my fist and feels hard and waxy to the touch. It has five ridges that go vertically down the fruit. The colour is a pale yellow with a light green going down each ridge, according to what I have researched I believe that my starfruit is not quite ripe yet; It should be a a golden colour with no green. The scent of the fruit reminds me of a granny smith apple — crisp and tart. When biting into the starfruit the texture reminded me of a grape and a green bean combined. Stringy and chewy on the outside and soft on the inside; It was also quite juicy. Strangely, the flavour to me also reminded me
a bit of both a green bean and a grape along with a granny smith apple. I believe that due to it not being completely ripe the fruit was a lot more tart and sour than it would be if fully ripened. My starfruit was quite tart and sour with just a hint of sweetness, it also possessed an earthy note.

Due to its sweet yet tart nature, starfruit is typically used for drinks, relishes, and desserts; However, it can also be used in savoury dishes. It can also be eaten just the way it is, all of the fruit can be consumed so you don’t need to worry about taking out seeds or anything. It is not often cooked, it is just eaten raw. I personally would like to keep the taste of the starfruit as true to itself as possible and create something sweet with it. I think a great recipe for it would be a sherbet or sorbet which would truly showcase the flavour of the fruit. I have found an extremely simple yet delicious looking recipe for Brazilian Star Fruit Sorbet  (see below). Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 10.29.02 PM.png

I have not tried this recipe yet, but I think that it looks extremely promising and would be a delightful treat in the summer months when this fruit is in season.

I really enjoyed this experience as it has opened up my eyes to what different foods are out there that I have yet to explore. I am not typically one to explore markets, I just tend to buy products from the closest grocery store to my home because of convenience. Due to this adventure though I will definitely be heading back to the St. Lawrence Market and possibly to other markets as well. It definitely had a more interesting variety of produce that places like Loblaws and Metro can’t offer. I would highly recommend checking out local markets near you to try new and exciting products!

 

Banh Mi — A sandwich worth trying (if you like cilantro)

I recently visited the restaurant Banh Mi Boys located on Queen Street West in Toronto. Banh Mi Boys is a Vietnamese sandwich shop with a twist; It incorporates Taiwanese and Korean flavours into classic banh mi sandwiches. I had never had banh mi prior to my trip to the restaurant and was excited to see what it would be like.

The menu is relatively simple; It gives you the options of banh mi, tacos, steamed bao, and then sides and entree salads. They do however offer a few crazier options that you don’t often see on sandwich menus. A couple different types of banh mi that hey have are; squid, duck confit, and braised beef cheek. I decided to play it safe with this endeavour and went with the five spice pork belly banh mi and I also got a side of kimchi fries.

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Visually I found the sandwich to be appealing, it was colourful and had a good amount of filling in it. Right away I was not pleased with the scent of the sandwich as it smelt strongly of cilantro. I wasn’t aware that the sandwich would be heavily garnished with cilantro. If I had known prior I would have seen if there was a way to have it without it so that my view on the food wouldn’t be so hindered. Each bite had a good combination of texture, the bun was crunchy, the veggies were crisp, and the meat added a chewy element. The carrots and cucumber added sweetness, the meat was savoury, and the cilantro added bitterness. I wish that it had more saltiness and also found that it lacked a sour element.

My favourite part of the meal were the kimchi fries that I ordered. The kimchi fries consisted of fries, mayo, kimchi, and green onions. I had never heard of kimchi fries prior to seeing it on the Banh Mi Boys menu; I enjoy the idea of incorporating two different types of cuisine into one to make something new and tasty. Each bite of the fries had all of the five basic tastes within it — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umame. The fries were perfectly done — they were crispy and salty. The onions added some bitterness, the mayo added sweetness and the kimchi added a mix of everything. The texture was relatively soft with a bit of crunch from the fries and kimchi, I feel like this worked extremely well for the dish.

My trip to Banh Mi Boys allowed me to experience a new type of fusion cuisine that for the most part was quite satisfying. The food re-established my distain for cilantro and I learnt that combing different cuisines together can work extremely well and create more exciting dishes. I would definitely go back to Banh Mi Boys again, especially for the kimchi fries! I would love to try more of their dishes but hopefully sans the cilantro.

Culinary Biography

Ever since I was young I have enjoyed cooking, I would throw different ingredients together and create my own new masterpiece (creative — not often tasty). My sister was a very picky eater (and still is) so I would try to disguise vegetables into certain dishes in order to make her eat things that she didn’t like. To this day I continue to experiment with my food, I love to experience new flavours and really enjoy getting creative with my food. I chose to go to culinary school because it’s something that has always been close to me and I hope to learn new techniques that I can incorporate into my own style of cooking.

I have never worked in the industry before but I would very much like to one day. I would love to try all the different positions that relate to the industry — not just a chef. I think that as a person in the culinary field you need to know the different positions that revolve around your work. For example; waiter, bartender, sous chef, chef, etc. I would personally like to try all these roles throughout my life to know how each position operates.

My philosophy of cooking is that there is no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to food. Each person you meet has had a different experience with food than you; new techniques can always be learnt. A chef that I grew up watching on The Food Network was Rachael Ray, she was always adored by my household and I have many cookbooks by her. One quote that every chef should live by from Rachael is, “Never be a food snob. Learn from everyone you meet – the fish guy at your market, the lady at the local diner, farmers, cheese makers. Ask questions, try everything and eat up!”. I could not agree more, if you are truly passionate about your work you will never stop learning.

My hope is that this blog will too help me learn more about food and grow as a culinary professional. I currently have a food instagram account that I post on occasionally. I basically use it to document what I eat, where I eat, and my opinions on the dish. I also sometimes talk about health and fitness and just my life in general. I’m hoping that this blog can be a further extension of my instagram and that I will be able to incorporate both of them together to further share my thoughts on culinary.

One of my favourite food accounts that I follow on instagram is called@trainer_pam, this account was created by Pam Chan, a personal trainer. Pam’s account always puts a smile on my face as her food is always smiling back at me! She’s a bit of a kid at heart and always creates faces with her food that I find absolutely amusing. On top of the funny faces, all of her food is healthy and wholesome, I always look forward to her posts. Definitely check out her account if you’re interested in food with a smile.

 I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me and I hope that you will enjoy my blog posts in the future!