bitesforjoy

magic mixture

this weird mixture is a staple in my fridge… and my diet.  

it’s equal parts:

  • shelled hemp hearts
  • raw pepitas
  • chia seeds
  • walnuts

i put it on salads, it’s in every bowl of yogurt that i eat.  today, i made a potato salad and threw a handful of the mixture in there.  it’s what you can throw into a dish to make it more substantial and healthy when you don’t have the energy to cook.  

i’m a third culture kid. this is apparent in many aspects of my life, but evidence that i am a tck runs especially rampant in the way that i cook and my affinity for strange flavour combinations.

it’s sad to admit, but i’ve always been a little embarrassed about the weird food combinations that i’m drawn to. today i found myself throwing together a really easy lunch and thinking, “i could never do a post about this dish, it would gross/freak people out!” but then i realised that this dish sums me up pretty well. the mixing of flavours, the happy marriage of ingredients from all corners of the world, these are the things that make me happy, these are the things that feed my soul. so here is my lunch, in all its strange but delicious glory: quinoa, watercress, avocado, poached egg, scallions, garlic chili oil, sesame-miso dressing, and feta cheese. i know it sounds crazy, but these flavours are all friends - really, really good friends. this is SUCH an easy dish, i don’t even think i can say that there’s a proper recipe for it. it’s more about combining all these ingredients in a big bowl.

third culture kid quinoa bowl.

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 3 cups of watercress (i really love watercress)
  • ½ an avocado, sliced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, poached (if you need help figuring out how to poach an egg, this video is wonderful)
  • sesame-miso dressing (recipe below)
  • a handful of crumbled feta
  • black sesame seeds (optional)
  • sesame chili oil - i get this one from my local japanese grocery store (optional - it has a little kick to it)

remove the thick, tough stems from your watercress. clean the leaves and mix with the dressing.

while the watercress is marinating, poach your egg. i like to give the watercress about 10 minutes in the dressing so that it wilts a little bit.

put half of the watercress in the bottom of a big bowl, add quinoa, and put the rest of the watercress on top of the quinoa - i usually add just-cooked quinoa and i find that if i put the quinoa in between the watercress piles, half of it gets more wilted and the other half remains salad-like, and i like the difference in textures. add the avocado slices and poached egg. drizzle with any leftover dressing. garnish with scallions, feta, and chili oil.

sesame-miso dressing

  • ½ tsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of mirin
  • ½ tbsp of ground white sesame seeds
  • ½ tbsp of black sesame seeds
  • ½ tbsp of miso
  • 1 tbsp of japanese mayo
  • water to thin it out

mix all ingredients together. if the dressing seems a little thick, add a little water to thin out.

i woke up to an amazing surprise this morning!  farm fresh eggs from one of my favourite farms!  if there was one food that i couldn’t live without, it might be eggs.  i used to eat so many eggs growing up, my mother used to call me her “little egg” - amongst other things…  i know for sure that if i had my choice, my last meal would be 卵掛けご飯 - a bowl of rice topped with raw egg and soy sauce… with a splash of garlic chili oil.  it sounds gross to those who are not the raw egg eating kind, but trust me when i say that nothing tastes more like comfort than a fresh egg on top of hot rice.  my mother told me once that when i was a little kid i had managed to eat 4 bowls (that’s 4 raw eggs) and was well on my way to having my 5th one before she caught me.  

this morning wasn’t a raw egg on rice kind of morning.  it was, however, a delicious morning and i wound up cooking the eggs with gorgeous tomatoes from the farmer’s market, canadian bacon, and cheese, served with a side of deliciously chewy grilled bread.  

saturday morning eggs

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of canadian bacon, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • cheese - i used a shredded cheese blend that i had in my fridge
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 2 pieces of crusty bread

heat up some olive oil in a small pan over medium high heat.  when oil is hot, add bacon and cook until it has some colour.  add tomatoes and cook until not watery.  add garlic, salt, and pepper and stir until garlic is cooked through.  even out the mixture and crack the eggs in the pan.  from here, you can go one of two ways: cook as is or turn it into a scramble.  to scramble… just scramble.  to cook as is, slightly agitate the egg white surrounding the yolk with a fork (don’t break the yolk) on each egg, drop a tablespoon of water into the side of the pan and place cover with a lid and let cook for a couple of minutes.  it will all depend on how runny you like your eggs.  i like mine a little runny because i like to be able to dip the bread.

for the bread, take the slices, brush each side with olive oil, and place in a HOT cast iron skillet.  cook each side.  don’t take your eye off of the bread, there is practically no time in between cooked and charred when it comes to grilled bread.  

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a change of plans.

earlier today i was so sure that i’d be making clam chowder. somewhere throughout the day, it dawned on me that a) i don’t have nearly enough patience today to make chowder and b) i ended up craving something else. something way different: sautéed mushrooms and cheesy, creamy polenta topped with a poached egg and basil.

it’s earthy, filling, creamy, and super affordable. is there a better combination? also, to be completely honest, i found all the ingredients i needed in my fridge/pantry. for some reason, anytime a meal comes together this easily i walk away feeling a little bit badass. it doesn’t take much, i know.

@nhayase this easy fennel and pistachio #vegan #salad is for you. so excited to cheer you on, girl! 💗💗💗
slice one fennel thinly (save the fronds). dress with pomegranate vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. mix. add sumac, and the fronds you saved earlier and mix again. garnish with #sumac and roasted pistachios (walnuts are yummy, too). #foodthings #sharefood #bitesforjoy

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love when a crazy hectic monday ends with an easy at home dinner date. marinated salmon avocado bowl / tofu with sesame, scallions, and chili oil / farmers markets greens sautéed with garlic and lemon. #bitesforjoy

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puppy pal hash: a story of love and friendship

puppy pal hash: a story of love and friendship

this past week, while full of wonderful moments, was also a week full of moments of doubt, uncertainty, and an all around sense of feeling terribly ungrounded and disconnected from many things.  

it’s a vicious cycle: the less grounded i feel, the harder i work to rationalize the solution.  but here’s the thing… doubt, uncertainty, confusion: these are first and foremost, matters of the heart.  these are matters that lie beyond logic and pragmatics.  these are matters best left to love, friendship, and a puppy pal brunch.

one of my dearest pals, sarah, came over for brunch today.  she is not only a friend of my heart and soul, but also a friend of my mind and stomach.  she is my puppy pal.  it’s the silliest and most fabulous of nicknames, but that’s us: puppy pals.  much to the dismay of everyone around us, we happily and proudly refer to each other as “puppy” / “puppy pal” in public.  since we first met over ten years ago, we have shared many, many, many adventures, but one of the things at the core of our connection is our love to share meals with each other.  

brunch is our thing; i mean, so are dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks, but brunch is where it goes down.  from at home brunches, to diner brunches, to that one time where we had brunch at an irish pub, and the waitress told me that if i could eat the whole plate, she’d bring me a bloody mary on the house.  sarah immediately looked up at the waitress and said: “you better go prepare that bloody mary.”  she gets me, my puppy pal.  

over the years both of us have developed some food allergies, and as a result, i knew that today’s brunch was going to be vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. while thinking about what i was going to make for us, i felt myself exploring the things in my life that matter, the things that i hold most important.  cooking for people and feeding people have always been my way of letting them know that i love them.  but over the years, i have also learned of the gift that lies within feeding those you love: the opportunity to create something for someone that you love has a magical way of (re)connecting you to yourself.  

this super easy to make sweet potato hash is an ode to my one and only puppy pal.  for all the brunches past and all the brunches to come!

puppy pal hash 

feeds two hungry puppy pals

1 large sweet potato or yam

half a large green pepper (any coloured pepper is fine, really)

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 tsp of nutritional yeast

1 tbsp of chopped dill (cilantro, parsley, or thyme would be delicious as well)

preheat oven to 400F.  peel the sweet potato and cut into one inch pieces.  toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  bake for 20 minutes.  while the sweet potatoes are baking, cut half a large green pepper into ¾ inch pieces.  once the sweet potatoes are done, heat a pan to medium high.  warm some olive oil in the pan and give the pepper a quick saute.  season with a little salt and pepper.  add the sweet potatoes and saute for another minute or two.  add a tsp of nutritional yeast and quickly stir again.  mix in dill. adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if you need to.  EAT.

i added some baby spinach sautéed in garlic and white wine on top of the hash and finished off the whole thing with a poached egg.  all served with a side of arugula in a lemon and sumac vinaigrette.  

also, if you can eat dairy, feel free to substitute your favourite cheese for the nutritional yeast.

soup story: this week has been a crazy week so far, the craziest of things being a fire in my building last night. we are all so grateful that there were no fatalities, and that most of the apartments are a little bit on the smokey side, but otherwise seem okay. i made a quick visit to my mother this morning, and she just so happened to have this soup on the stove. i grew up on this soup. it’s seen me through good times, sad times, and all the other times in between. it’s a simple soup made with humble ingredients, but it takes a long time to prep everything that goes into it. making this soup takes time and patience. even though i’ve had hundreds of bowls of this soup, it wasn’t until this morning that i realised how truly wonderful it is. with every bite and sip, i learned that nothing alleviates the feelings of fear and sadness like #homemade #けんちん汁 does. it truly replenishes the soul. i’ve always had a deep respect and love for food, but i’m truly grateful for this bowl of soup and the way it showed me just how powerful and healing foods and food memories can be. #grateful #foodthings #foodmemories #bitesforjoy

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