Thursday, 27 March 2014

Thrifty Finds- All that Glitters is not Gold

I may have a bit of a problem- I love thrift shopping! (the best problem to have!) From finding a brand new thrift store to the hunt for that PERFECT new piece, I don't think I'll ever be able to stop! It's also something my boyfriend enjoys-not as much as I do-but he will often come with me, usually to Value Village or Goodwill in Newmarket

A couple of the thrift stores I frequent are the Salvation Army and the Care and Share, just because they're the ones closest to my home. I've found so many amazing  items such as a red BCBG blazer for $5, and Banana Republic and Jacob sweaters under $8! There's also a higher-end consignment store near me that always have fantastic items...just never in my size (spiky Sam Edelman shoes, I'm talking about you).

This year living away from home, I've gotten to explore my town a bit, and have visited the Talize and Bibles for Missions thrift store near me, as well as  a higher-end consignment store that I got my beautiful tan knee-high leather authentic Doc Marten boots for $50!

I won't mention the number of children's books (living the student teacher life) and novels I pick up whenever I go to a thrift store-how can you say no to a $1, barely-used hardcover copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or The Cat in the Hat?!

One of my favourite purchases recently was this beautiful silvery sweater. It was originally from Jones New York, which is a brand I rarely purchase from. The sweater was $5, but Talize had a half-price sweater special going on when I bought it.
The bun on my head is all my sock bun needed!

It is so comfy, and the glittery thread makes me feel fancy and makes even basic denim jeans look nicer
Jeans may look fancier, but my facial expressions never will

I may get it tailored a bit because it is a little loose, and short people like me don't need to wear bigger sweaters or we get lost in fabric !

What's your favourite thrift store buy so far?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Creamy Creme Brulee and an Avocado Milkshake

One of the perks of teacher's college is that I had a March Break! I relaxed a bit, socialized a bit, and ate a LOT! I also tested out a few recipes, like ricotta pancakes, different homemade juices (I miss having my juicer around) and creme brulee, my absolute a time favourite dessert

I don't know where my obsession with creme brulee came from, but it started when I was young. Maybe it's the subtle elegance of the dessert itself- creamy custard hidden underneath that crackling sugar shell, or the taste of broiled sugar juust a hint more sophisticated than toasted marshmallows. Or maybe it was the fact that I thought of it as a "fancy dessert", one you could only get at a fancy restaurant (read: one that didn't given children toys or colouring books with their meals). In either case, I always thought of it as beyond my reach, something difficult to make with a million steps. I also figured that if it was only served in fancy restaurants, that it had to be unhealthy and therefore not enjoyed at every given moment.

I was wrong. Oh so completely wrong.

It's not hard at all-the only tricky parts were getting a cake pan with four almost-overflowing ramekins of uncooked custard into the oven. It also can be made health-conscious with a few swaps- almond milk, instead of cream, xyitol instead of sugar and using a few less eggs.

I also made an avocado milkshake. I've always loved taking weird food items and making them sweet, and a milkshake is the perfect vehicle. Cool and creamy, with a hint of sweet!

Was this creme brulee perfect? Pretty much!

Cookbooks and milkshakes and brulee, oh my! 

Creamy Almond Creme Brulee(serves 4) 
(adapted from Providence Farms)

3 eggs
2 cups almond milk
13 cup sugar, plus extra for garnishing ramekins- I used brown, and it wasn't as sweet as I would have liked
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract (vanilla bean paste looks lovely in plain creme brulee)
1 tsp instant coffee granules

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for garnishing sugar
  • Pour mixture evenly into 4 ramekins (the little baking dishes)
  • Slowly put ramekins into a 13x9 baking dish, and fill baking dish with hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful to not get into into the ramekins
What the pre-baked ramekins will look like

  • Bake for 50-55 min or until knife inserted into a ramekin comes out clean
  • Take ramekins out of the baking dish and place on a cooling rack. When cool enough, place ramekins in fridge.
  • Whenever you are ready, take ramekins out of fridge and cover with a thin, even layer of sugar. 
  • This is the fun part- if you have a blowtorch, torch the ramekins just until the sugar begins to brown. Alternatively, place ramekins 4 inches under a broiler and broil for a minute.

Avocado Milkshake (serves one)

1/2 ripe avocado
1 cup milk (substitute almond or coconut milk)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
  • Blend everything together!


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tandoori Tilapia

Here's something you wouldn't normally expect: I'm an Indian who doesn't enjoy most Indian foods. I'm not a huge curry fan, and sometimes I just can't handle the heat and pungency of most spices used. It also could be that I don't enjoy how long some of my favourite dishes take to make because I have no patience. I have a few select dishes that I enjoy (Butter chicken, butter chicken,, wherefore art thou butter chicken?) but I can never replicate mom's recipe quite perfectly.

There is one dish that I can do perfectly, according to my mom, and that dish is tandoori chicken. Marinated in a tangy yogurt-tandoori masala and cooked at a high heat, the chicken becomes moist, an incredibly flavourful. The only thing I don't have at my disposal is a tandoor (an oven that exposes whatever is being cooked inside to a wood fire, which results in smoky, delicious meat), but I make do with an oven and a broiler. Lately though, I've been wanting to experiment with different tandoori-styled meats.

Tonight was the night that I tried something new. Tonight I substituted my beloved standby chicken for...tilapia.

I love fish and shellfish because they're very easy to prepare, and chock full of flavour. A lovely piece of salmon in a creamy dill sauce? A dozen fresh raw oysters, lemon wedges and some mignonette sauce? Shrimp tempura? Tuna sashimi? I eat it all.

Tilapia is a firm white-fleshed fish, and perfect for this recipe. Whip up the quick yogurt marinade and baked for 25 minutes, it turns into a mouth-watering dish.

Easy, delicious and doesn't take forever? I'll take it!
Tilapia covered in marinade, before baking

Tandoori Tilapia (serves 4)

3/4 cup plain yogurt (2% yogurt works best)
2 tbsp tandoori masala (found at any Indian store, or Bulk Barn)
1 tsp garam masala (found at any Indian store, or Bulk Barn)
1 tbsp turmeric powder (found in any spice aisle, or Bulk Barn)
1 lb tilapia fillets, cut into large chunks
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees if wanting to bake right away
  • Mix together everything but the fish in a square baking dish
  • Add the fish to the baking dish, mixing to evenly coat the fish in marinade
  • If not baking right away, marinate in fridge for at least a half hour, but no longer than two hours
  • Bake fish for 25 minutes
  • After baking, broil fish for 5 minutes
  • Serve with basmati rice or roti 

Tilapia, after baking and broiling

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Thrift Store Finds-The time I went to Black Market

Whenever I'm downtown Toronto, I always make a point to go to two stores-Black Market and Tribal Rhythms on Queen West. For some reason, I've always had really good luck at both of these stores, and Tribal Rhythms was the first store I ever bought a thrifted item at, so it holds a special place in my heart.

But today's post is about a time I went to Black Market and walked out with a the middle of summer.

I swear I'm not crazy, I just like thinking ahead!

Black Market is a great store, but it's located underground. To get there you go down a set of really cool steps and you're in the store. The store also leases some property to a CD/record place, and to a barber shop. Excluding those two places, everything in the store is $10 or less.
I was browsing the racks of Black Market when I came upon this beautiful jacket. It was plain black, and made of a heavier material, which I knew would be perfect for fall. It also fit perfectly, which I wasn't expecting at all! Most times when I go thrifting, I have to take stuff in, or shorten something. This fit like a dream. However, it was a bit too basic, even for me and my all-black wardrobe (okay, there's stripes in there too) . I wasn't going to pass up that jacket though, especially not for $10! You can't get a good quality jacket at those prices anyone. I decided that I was going to jazz up the jacket, just to add a touch of 'me' to it.

I continued down Queen West until I got to a craft store. This store sells the most amazing buttons! I've gotten so many good ones from there before to update other jackets as well. My eyes settled on some beautiful black buttons with a gold rim. I decided that I was going to buy those buttons and add them to my jacket.

Going home, I realized that there was only one buttonhole on my jacket, so I made my own. I didn't worry too much about the stitching because I knew it would end up being covered by the buttons. It took me about an hour of patiently cutting and sewing, but my jacket ended up looking beautiful!

The jacket in all its glory!

The total cost of this project- $10 for the jacket, $12 for buttons= $22 in total for a brand new jacket that no one else will have!

It still is a bit basic, but it's a basic that I can wear with anything and that will last in my wardrobe for a long time.