Ok, a little about me and my preferences

I found this list of questions on Epicurvegan's blog and, since I'm a little lacking in substance posts lately, thought I would put a few minutes toward completing it myself.

If you have to choose between locally grown or organic, which do you usually choose?
Being a broke-ass student, organic is often out of my price range. I prefer to buy my greens as organic but very often the lower price of non-organic wins out. In that case, actually in all cases, I do make an effort to buy local and seasonal.

2. Favourite way to prepare potatoes:
I prefer to eat my potatoes roasted but am far too lazy and impatient to prepare them that way myself. In terms of preparation, I don't make potatoes often...sometimes mashed with roasted garlic.

3. Do you press your tofu before preparing/cooking it (if you eat soy)?
I have started to do this but really only with tofu that I have frozen then thawed. A LOT of water comes out and can be replaced with tasty marinade. Tofu that has not been frozen doesn't really need it in my opinion but also doesn't take on flavours in the same way and has a very different texture.

4. Name your favorite recipe that is a tradition in your family:
Zucchini casserole. Oh baby!

5. Any food allergies?
Nope. Just that pesky ethical thing.

6. When you want to go to a fancy dinner, where do you go?
Around Vancouver we have tried Cru, Aurora Bistro, Bin 941, and a handful of others. I quite like splurging on a fancy dinner now and then. Of course there's always stripmall Henry's which offers a happy mix of great food that the restauranteurs treat like fancy stuff but is delivered in a stripmall where the view of parked cars enhances the decor of chalked roosters. My favourite!

7. When you have a cold, what do you crave?
Soup. Garlicky, spicy, hot and sour soup.

8. What kind of water do you drink? (Filtered, spring, tap, etc.)
The kind that comes out of a tap. Anywhere. Even in public bathrooms.

9. Name a flavor of soda you'd love to see:
Tough one. I don't really drink soda plus I'm all about the savoury, not the sweet, so maybe a flavour that is kind of bitter like tonic. Or herbs added to fruit flavours like rosemary-apple.

10. If the recipes you ate as a child were compiled into a cookbook, what would the title be?
Sunday Night Dinners for Forty.

11. If you were allowed to grow one food that can't grow in your climate, what would it be?
Ah cripes. I mean, the Fraser basin is a pretty good place to grow lots and lots of amazing produce, but they haven't yet got a handle on mangoes and pineapple or even really good citrus.

12. Favorite type of mushroom?
I could go on and on here. I hated mushrooms for too long and now adore their subtle muskiness and funny texture. Shitakes - YUM. Porcini - WOW. There are some blue stem mushrooms at a grocer's nearby that I'm dying to try but need to find out how to treat them. Run of the mill mushrooms available on a daily basis? There my preference would be portobellos.

13. Most frustrating part of your kitchen?
I'm pretty satisfied with our kitchen actually. Lots of space, lots of appliances. If anything I would just like some more disposable income to be able to buy some fancy ingredients and some way to speed up dishwashing that doesn't involve a motor or excessive amounts of water.

14. Last food you burned?
Popcorn. How lame is that?

15. Usual response to a veg*n's favorite question, "But where do you get your protein?":
I eat a lot of beans and I have a lot of gas. Well, less gas when the beans make more regular appearances. I sometimes eat tofu but it's not a staple. I drink soy milk but not too much. Stop forcing the cheese on me since it's actually kind of low on the protein count!

16. If you were baking your own birthday cake today, what flavor would it be?
Chocolate. Only chocolate. Always. With chocolate icing. Fudge chocolate icing. Plus icing between the chocolate cake layers. Yum.

17. Favourite brand of chocolate chips?
No idea. Whatever is cheap? I can't remember the last time I made something involving chocolate chips.

18. You have $200 of your tax return reserved for Williams Sonoma - What do you buy?
Like Epicurvegan, I would appreciate a mandoline. We've also been toying with the idea of buying a proper set of cutlery that all match and have a nice weight and balance along the fork/knife/spoon.

19. Do you plan your menus in advance? Any tips to share?
Only in the short term. When we're hosting dinner I'll usually get the idea of what to eat before deciding who to invite. I get cravings, you see, and sometimes the craving is only satisfied by making a huge amount of whatever it is, or the thing can only be made in large amounts - like lasagna. Tips? Always make more than you think they'll eat.

20. You have 3 minutes before you have to leave the house and you're starving - What do you eat?
I spend 5 minutes moaning about how it would be nice to have more time to prepare something then I either grab a yogurt or eat a very quick bowl of cereal or make a super fast sandwich. This is all dependent on what supplies, if any, are available in the house. We're often stranded without any "fast food" but we're getting much better about making at least one large dish like a casserole each week to take for lunch and eat as leftovers or when you need something ASAP.

21. If Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, and Rachel Ray got into a fight, who would win and how?
Martha would win. She's frickin' tenacious and mean. She'd be biting when the other two would still be wrestling. Well, actually, Rachel can probably be pretty vicious when she needs to...

22. If you eat oatmeal, what do you add to it before serving?
Cinnamon and maple syrup.

23. If you got to travel to one country and learn all the traditional dishes there, where would you go (ignore commitments in your current place of residence)?
India (North).

24. Favourite late night snack?
Popcorn, see answer to question 14.

25. Favourite springtime food?
Springtime is kind of hard to answer. My favourite stuff comes out in early summer like peas fresh from the garden and baby carrots. New potatoes? No, too early for them as well. Huh, tough one.

26. Favorite food-related magazine?
They are all a bit disappointing to me. Either they are too meat-focussed or they reuse the same recipe-types over and over and over again. I prefer online recipe searches for variety.

27. Which do you prefer: shoyu, tamari, conventional soy sauce, or Bragg's Aminos?
Different sauces for different dishes. I love the saltiness of soy sauce, the deep, earthy flavour of tamari, the funky complex flavour of Bragg's and actually I've never used shoyu. Depends on the dish.

28. What vegetable or fruit do you dislike the most?
Eggplant. Blech.

29. Name a holiday food you look forward to all year long:
The treats! It's hard to justify stuffing your face with sugar like that any other time of the year. But all the savoury dishes on one table is very appealing. I make them during the year too just never all at once. Oh, oh! Just thought of it. Mom's (aka. Grandma Anne's) onion casserole!

30. If you could convert anyone to veganism with your magic wand, who would you convert?
Well, I can't even convert myself to veganism so I suppose my answer is no one. I try not to proselytize (some would disagree) but I do think most people would be delighted by the benefits and variety of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet if they gave it an honest attempt. Meh. Every body is different and people have different needs, both biophysical and psychological. These are individual choices to make and luckily
in our largely secular society we have the right to choose for ourselves. I'm glad I have the choice and that you each do too.


Feline flatulence

I know, I know, two cat posts in a row. But COME ON! Doesn't this make you snort, even just a little? Made me snort, so it did.


gumby cat

Yep, Borissimo really does sleep like this. Quite often actually. I suspect we should start saving now for the kitty physiotherapy and chiropractic he'll need as he ages.


Rockin' Rocco!

Happy Birthday today to the one and only

Ok, he may not be the only Rocco out there, in all truth. Some Roccos of note:

Mark "Rollerball" Rocco

Famed chef Rocco DiSpirito

And my favourite of all time, the ever cutie patootie, my very own Rocco.
Much love, sweets.



I'm actually typing along here to give Rocco some material for a shot he wants to take. He's in a photography course at a local community college and the assignment this week is to take three portraits of a person under three unique (and solo) lights. So far we have me lit by the tv, me lit by the laptop (posed) and now me lit by the laptop (in action). We just did the two second shot there at the last period, and now (yes, right then) we took a four second exposure.
Fun stuff. If anything is worth reproducing, you'll see it here.


Are you ready for this?

Adult footie one-piece PJs! In blue fleece!

With red sticky gripper bits on the feets!

See the itty bitty cute grey fuzzy bum and the much larger, much more padded blue fuzzy bum? Two cute fuzzy bums!

PJs available in a variety of models (some with bum flap) and fabrics. It should be noted that there are also very cute pictures in existence of Rocco trying on the fuzzy blue adult footie one-piece PJs, but he does not consent to have them shown on The Inter Web. Phooey.


Physical feats

I ran yet another half-marathon this morning. The Pacific Road Runner's "First Half" half marathon, so called because it pretty much marks the start of race season in these parts. During the race registration in October the race sold out in 5 hours and 19 minutes, so I feel very lucky I managed to get a spot. I actually registered that morning while in a meeting. Thankfully since most people keep their laptops open during meetings, no one saw me logging in, and I think no one noticed my stealthy extraction of my Visa from my wallet and the subsequent registration. It's cut throat, I tell ya.

The race went well. We yet again found a nice window of weather even though the forecast was for crazy rain. A friend in my school program scored an entry as well and we were fairly evenly matched for pace so we ran the whole thing together until he sprinted the last 300 metres. I'm definitely happy with a time of 1:52 and wouldn't have made that without his slightly faster pace pulling me along. Rocco kindly came down to meet me at the finish and, after a brief de-stinking, de-salting shower, we celebrated with brunch at The Tomato. Mom, some disappointing news. Your random act of subversive interior decorating is no longer evident at the new location. Boo hiss!

Another phenomenal physical feat? Wait, not to say that my race was phenomenal, but this next thing certainly is. January 23rd my dad had surgery to replace his left hip. That was a Wednesday and by Saturday they sent him home from the hospital on a pair of crutches. By Monday, we were webcamming and he very casually stood up, walked over to the counter and made a cup of tea - no crutches or any aid! His recovery is every patient's and doctor's dream so far. He's in very little pain, only enough for a regular tylenol once in a while, and is already itching to get back to the gym to further repair the damage inflicted by the surgery. Yay!

For decades, mom and dad have taken very good care of themselves. Before the surgery they routinely went to the gym three or four or more times a week, and have always had quite healthy diets, thanks in great part to my mom's fabulous cooking. They are very concerned about getting a good amount of nutrients, minerals, fiber, and red grape tannins (haha!) and generally live life to the fullest because they are physically fit enough to do so. All of this has definitely been a strong foundation from which to get an invasive surgery like a hip replacement and explains dad's healthy recovery. His hip had deteriorated due to advanced osteoarthritis - what can you do? Arthritis has sometimes been tied to overuse of the joint, but I'm with dad on this one where I'd much rather be active and have a healthy heart and body composition than sit around feeling smug that I won't be giving myself arthritis.

All in all, we're all delighted with how the surgery went (only 1.5 hours!) and how his recovery appears to be going. Now if this continues, we may even get him back on skis next season...!

Take care of yourselves,


Can somebody open this damn pickle jar while I run to the store?

The health assessment did happen a couple weeks ago, I just haven't got around to blogging about it yet. Without giving you many specific numbers (hows about a little privacy, eh? Sheesh.), here are my results.

Cardiac health: frickin awesome! My resting heart rate was measured at 56 bpm, and that was after being up and moving around for about an hour and a half that morning. Doing five minutes of cardio took my pulse up to 116 and two minutes of recovery saw the rate return to 66, which apparently is excellent. My blood pressure is just fine, too.

Strength: not so much. I'm a runner*. I run. I do very little else, so the strength test she gave me returned a "fair" result. I also bombed out on push ups and curl ups - she was almost laughing at me! I know, I could throw in 20 or 30 of each every day or even after every run, which would be easy enough to do and probably make a big difference pretty quickly. Anyway, the point is that I don't do that yet and I'm a weakling because of neglecting strength training.

Flexibility: excellent, she says. Well, take enough yoga and you learn how to release your lower back to stretch at the waist. Since this is the only flexibility test she gave me, the assessment didn't record my lack of flexibility in my neck or upper back.

Measurements: Apparently I should try to build an inch or more on my upper arms to better balance out my top and bottom halves. I have what they call "healthy leg syndrome" that disables me from buying trendy boots. Let me just say that I am not concerned. See the * above.

Body composition: right around what I was guessing it would be. They use the most inaccurate measurement for body comp, a scale-like machine that measures conductance and probably density then calculates those things against weight, age, and activity level. One thing I learned is that our home scale is pretty accurate, or at least is in line with the gym scale. The machine also measures "total body water" and the trainer expressed some concern that my level (~50%) should be higher (~60-70%). Seriously? I drink like 2 or 3L of water every day, often more, and my sodium and nutrient levels are fine so there really is no reason that my TBW should be low. She asked "are you a sweater?" Well, yes. I am a fervent sweater. So, on hot days or long run days she advises drinking something like Gatorade to keep everything in balance. Blah. I hate those drinks. I sometimes make my own after a run with water, lemon juice and salt, so maybe I'll drink that after every run now instead of just the long runs. I actually think there is no way I could be drinking more water in a day.

On the whole, I'm glad I signed up for this. It was a pain in the tuckus to actually arrange, but it's nice to have some numbers and some external validation that I'm doing ok on the active health front. I'm still very interested in doing the more accurate tests at the Buchannan lab that Katie mentioned in the comments section. One of these days I'll go sign up there for a hydrostatic body composition analysis and the VO2max tests done on the treadmill with electrodes and all. I'm not aiming to be any kind of super athlete - I hear they don't allow lazy people who like large portions of food and drink to sign up for that career - but it's cool to learn about my body and my abilities.

Alrighty, I'm off to school for a meeting even though there's another "unspecified threat" today and Bio Science is again in lock down. I'll avoid the main part of campus but the police and school authorities seem to be taking the threat pretty casually this time. Anyway, my test results show that I can out run any threat, just don't ask me to open the pickle jar!


Somebody tell this cat that cats hate water.

From the Globe and Mail online, captioned:
Peruvian surfer Domingo Pianezzi rides a wave accompanied by his cat, Nicolasa, at the San Bartolo beach in Lima.