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Local wildlife in the city: it’s a beaver!

How amazing is this? A few steps from our building, a beaver has moved in to the little man-made wetland. We have yet to catch sight of him ourselves, but we will persevere! Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk. Whilst we’re usually awake at dawn (thanks Elliot), I am in no state to traipse over to the park. Ecologists the CBC quoted say our little park isn’t big enough for a beaver, so we’ll see how long he stays.

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Shirataki noodles make lovely ramen

Shirataki noodles make lovely ramen

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I know soup is good for you. I know it’s great if you’re trying to eat better. But I just don’t like it much.

There, I said it. Soup is boring.

There is one exception I make in the soup department, and that’s ramen. I mean proper ramen, not squiggly dried noodles in a brick. A huge, steaming bowl of fresh noodles and pork broth that’s been simmering for two days. Oh, there is nothing like it.

I am, like most of the old country, trying out this 5:2 eating plan. Essentially it means eating normally for five days a week, and then for two (non-consecutive) days you fast. Well, eat 500 calories a day.

In a happy coincidence, House Foods, the people who make tofu shirataki noodles contacted me to try  out their noodles right around the same time. I had been eyeing these in the refrigerator case, and have actually tried them once or twice in the past. But now I had a plan.

An entire package of shirataki noodles is only 40 calories, as well as being full of protein as they are made of tofu. I approached them as I do spaghetti squash, namely anything dieting people crow about tasting ‘just like pasta’ generally doesn’t taste anything like it. Shirataki noodles are Japanese in origin, so clearly they would be better in ramen-like incarnation than trying to make them into bolognese.

When you take them out of the package and drain them, there’s a distinct, er, fishy smell. Rinsing and then microwaving for a minute decreases it. They are definitely a bit slippery in texture. Eating the noodles in soup means this isn’t an issue. Finally, I topped my soup with pan-fried trout, any residual fishiness only benefited the final taste.

Miso sort-of ramen with shirataki noodles and steelhead trout
serves one

1 package of tofu shirataki noodles
1 heaping tablespoon of miso paste
Boiling water
Half fillet of pan-fried steelhead trout, or salmon
Fresh baby spinach leaves
Dash of togarashi

1. Drain shirataki noodles in a sieve in the sink, rinse thoroughly with water. Put shirataki noodles in a medium bowl with tap water and microwave for one minute. Drain and rinse again. Set aside.

2. Mix miso paste with enough boiling water to fill a large soup bowl, leaving room for the noodles.

3. Add noodles to bowl, top with fresh spinach leaves and trout, sprinkle with togarashi. Serve immediately.

 

Disclosure: I was given coupons to buy my shirataki noodles with, however I managed to leave them at home, so I bought the noodles myself! The opinions and recipe in this post are my own. 

 

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Chicken and pasta bento

Chicken and pasta bento

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I love it when leftovers come together to make a good bento. I try to plan ahead, but somehow, all the critical bits get eaten up before I have a chance to put them in a lunchbox.

Elliot’s lunchbox bento today: leftover pan-fried chicken, ketchup, strawberry cherry tomatoes, spinach leaves (used as baran, or separators), leftover linguine coated with a small amount of olive oil. Freeze-dried raspberries and chocolate covered dried blueberries. Steamed baby carrots surrounding a strawberry cherry tomato.

Box: Yubo lunchbox

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Our new {old} reclaimed wood table by Vancouver Reclaimed

Our new {old} reclaimed wood table by Vancouver Reclaimed

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When we moved into our new apartment, we had the chance to get a proper dining table. I was beyond excited, because I am a dining table kind of worker. I have fond memories of setting out my books to plan out things at my parents’ table, and in the few places I’ve lived since that had space for one. I love feeding others, and it just doesn’t work with little cramped gateleg things.

I’ve wanted a reclaimed wood table for ages. I started doing research, and got it into my head I could make my own if I just got the wood. I was downloading schematics of legs built with plumber’s pipe and everything. Sense made its way slowly into my brain, pushing past pages of Pinterest boards filled with homemade tables. Right, I don’t own any tools of any kind. And have no space to work on the wood. And, well, we’re moving.

So! I changed tack and started getting some quotes in for someone else making a table for us. A few were a bit crazy, but then I happened upon the Vancouver Reclaimed site. I don’t know, I just liked the look of his work. All the pieces were simple, but well-proportioned. It’s hard to describe, but have a look through Etsy at the furniture and you’ll see what I mean. Anyone can stick four legs on a piece of wood, but it takes someone with an eye to make it look lovely.

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Brooke Wingrove, the man behind Vancouver Reclaimed, made us a table and a bench out of wood rescued from a Steveston marine netting warehouse. The wood is around 75 years old. If you’re keen on pristine tabletops, reclaimed wood is not for you. Our table features knots and whorls, marks and gouges, nicks and scrapes. It’s finished and sealed, of course, but it has character. Brooke makes these beautiful metal hairpin legs for his tables and benches (if you like, he makes others as well), and it makes our table float. None of that chunky heaviness you sometimes see.

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When Brooke drove our table and bench round for delivery, we got to talking and of course, he is an ex-Londoner as well. He moved back a year after we moved over there, and we had a good chat about missing pubs, Saturday supplements and Muji. He turned his hand to furniture making when he returned from the UK, after being dissatisfied with what he could find to furnish his own place. Friends saw his work and started asking him to make pieces for themselves, and so it went.

I’m not sure what else we can get Brooke to make for our house, but we’re having a good think about it, because I love his work.

Disclosure: None. I found Brooke through the oracle of Google, and we paid for our furniture. It’s too good not to share.

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Moving with Frogboxes

Moving with Frogboxes

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It’s been nearly two weeks to the day since our big move. It was every bit as horrid as you think it would have been. The thing with staying home with your child and doing a bit of freelancing, is you have no stamina for boring crap anymore. You may think staying at home with a small child is nothing but boring crap, but actually it’s more like random chaos programmed by someone trying to appeal to teenagers, because nothing lasts more than 10 minutes. Punctuated by shots of adrenaline when your little person disappears around a corner in the grocery store, or nearly falls off a slide backwards, or makes strange gurgling sounds from another room. So boring isn’t really the word for it.

Needing to stay focused for an entire day on packing every piece of kitchen kit I own is boring, and I was like a three year old myself. Wandering off, wanting a snack, wanting a drink.

Normally, packing is preceded by you convincing yourself you just need to collect old produce boxes from behind a shop, photocopier paper boxes from work, or wine boxes from the liquor store. Three days before you actually move, the panic sets in and you buy a carload of boxes from a self-storage place. The night before the truck comes sees you buying massively overpriced packing tape from a gas station at 11pm.

To skip this whole experience, I booked Frogboxes. These are reusable packing crates that are delivered to your door, and then picked up from your new place. The crate themselves are about twice as big as your average packing box, flap shut and require no tape. We stacked them securely five high. The lovely delivery man arrived with a role of labels for the boxes and the instructions to NEVER DRAG THEM ACROSS THE FLOOR. They tear any flooring to bits apparently.

I followed the Frogbox website’s advice and went with 35 crates. If we were two adults in a two bedroom, then yes, I think it would have been fine. Add a child into the mix, and all their toys, clothes that they’ve grown out of, clothes that are that bit too big, craft supplies and assorted bits, and you need an extra ten crates I’d say. We ended up buying some boxes from a storage place a few days before our move.

The pressure to unload your Frogboxes before pick-up is a blessing and a curse. I’m sitting here with ten boxes still to unpack, but they are all of our cardboard ones. The Frogboxes were picked up a week ago. You’re also not faced with a mountain of cardboard to recycle after the move, either. If you’re really not ready, you can extend your rental for a nominal fee for another week. We scrambled to empty those last five crates just to get the stacks out of our apartment.

In total, our Frogboxes cost us just over $200 for a two week rental. When we bought new boxes, they came to nearly $80. I reckon we would have come close to $200 had we bought all our boxes new, as well as had to deal with the hassle of recycling them afterwards. And the tape. There’s never enough tape. I think I like the Frogboxes the best for freeing me from the difficulty of packing tape.

 

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