Good afternoon! Konn’ichiwa!

Today, I (watashi) leave for Tokyo Narita airport. I will be in Niseko for the winter (fuyu), and then travelling around towards the end of March.

I am excited to experience Japanese (Nihongo) culture, dip my toes into a new continent, try new food, eat lots of rice (gohan), work in a small business and get huge leg muscles.

I am nervous about being surrounded by 9999 gap year skiers (Sukiya),  getting sick of talking about skiing (Suki), sliding around on the snowy roads, and having not learned enough Japanese.


January Food and Recipe Musings – Southwest BC


Seasonal Recipe Repo here! (WIP – only 11 more months to go!)

Let me tell you what is in season in YVR!!

Savoy cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, mushrooms, red onions, yellow onions, parsnips and, according to my source, kiwis. Not a lot.

If you planned ahead, you may still have apples, artichokes, beans, beets, green cabbage, garlic, potatoes, rutabaga, shallots, winter squash, and turnips if you did some cold storage or your handy dandy farmers/grocery store did some cold storage.

In summary, ROOT VEGETABLES AND GOURDS. I have dreams of strawberry spinach salads….

I was only really able to find 20-30 recipes from my trusty recipe blog list that I really wanted to share. It is a sign though – it’s a lot harder to eat seasonally in the winter (hence why I started this spreadsheet).

I wonder if there’s a graph anywhere that shows how much food we import into the country in the winter vs the summer.

Notable thoughts I have had in January thus far:

  • There are still lots of apples around if you are interested in applesauce, apple leather, apple chips and apple desserts.
  • There seem to be quite a lot of good lentil soup and onion soup recipes, which I have omitted because I find them generally boring.
  • January would be a great time to pull out jars of seasonal produce you canned/froze last summer (tomatoes, pickles, pizza sauce, etc). Maybe next year?
  • Did you know you can make your own apple cider vinegar? I saved my scraps from some organic apples and will start this this month. I’ll let you know how it turns out in 2-3 months O_O
  • Rice is definitely not local. I love rice.
  • Lemons and limes are also not grown locally (I think). I am still trying to figure out my lemon and lime feelings.

Ta-ta for now!

Introducing: My Seasonal Recipe Repo!

This post is (hopefully) the first of many posts about SEASONAL EATING.

Link to my Seasonal Recipes Repo here!!

Lately, I have been doing a lot of research about FOOD. Like: how to grow food in small areas, who are the local farmers, what food sustainability even means and how we teach kids about food. I have also been volunteering with Fresh Roots over the past year.

All of the info is a bit confusing and contradictory. I am trying not to get too hung up on details, exceptions, rules and being nit picky, but overall I am trying to eat more BC vegetables and fruit, keep growing my own food (rip backyard garden), eat sustainable poultry and fish, buy food closer to farmers, waste less food and eat food predominantly food “made in Canada”.

Anyway. We are lucky to live right by a great grocery store (Donald’s Market) that has an awesome mix of local/non-local food. Also, they don’t have flyers because THE STUFF THAT IS ON SALE IS IN SEASON.

I have come to the conclusion though that eating more locally and more seasonally is:

  1. CHEAPER: Food that is in season is on sale in almost all grocery stores, including bigger box grocery stores.
  2. HEALTHIER: If it’s grown closer to home, there’s a way better chance it has less preservatives in it.
  3. TASTY: Tomatoes in February taste like styrofoam.
  4. ECONOMICALLY GOOD: I would rather support farms that are closer and preferably Canadian.
  5. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Large quantities of energy are used to bring in food from faraway places.

So back to the reason why I am blogging.

I like to cook, a lot. I think it runs in our blood.

I also like to try new recipes. BUT,

COOKING + NEW RECIPES + SEASONAL EATING = a whoooole lot of cookbook and online recipe food blog reading and a whoooole lot of browser bookmarks every time I want to cook anything. SOMANYBOOKMARKS and THISTAKESSOMUCHTIME

I tried a few tools to try to organize my recipes, but have come to the conclusion that none of them have the search dimensions I want. This is why I decided to create this sharable “Seasonal Recipe” repository. With this repo, you can/will be able to search by month, type of recipe, or whether it’s a veggie or non-veg recipe. You can also search by ingredient, so if you have carrots all up in your grill, you can ctrl-f to see which recipes use carrots even if carrots is not in the name of the recipe.

I have only done one month so far (this month!). I am hoping other people will find this useful as I do more months over the next year!

This spreadsheet is obviously still a WIP. I want to be able to find a way to attach pictures to recipes (so I can add physical recipes). I also want it to be obvious when veg/fruit are going out of season, so you know to start preserving before it goes out of season (canning, freezing, cold storage etc). I also also am not sure how useful this spreadsheet will be to people who live outside of my growing zone. Vancouver has a much nicer growing season than Ontario. Not as nice as Australia.

Please leave me a comment in the second tab or on this post if you have any suggestions to make this spreadsheet more useful (or more pretty!) You can also comment with recipes that I missed.

That’s all for now! See below (above?) for my January Food and Recipe musings.

2014, in lengthy detail

I haven’t been able to keep up semi-occasional blogging (last post was in May!), so I will attempt to sum up the last 12 months here! Luckily, I think most of my readers (hi Dad! Hi Grandma!) read Katrina’s blog, so I will attempt to be brief.

School: 2014 could be called THE YEAR OF THE SCHOOL because I spent most of my time studying/at school. I can explain the 3 semesters like this: sucked, okay, great! The first semester back was hard as I didn’t have that many friends and I had 15 different group members across 6 different projects in 5 different classes which also included a fundraising project. Luckily, over the year, I had less group members, more friends and was studying topics I was more interested in. The semester that just finished was my best semester in university so far – two A+’s and one A (and a B). I also took a Negotiations class which I liked to call Murder Mystery Fridays (as you had to play a negotiation role each class), which I think was my favourite class yet.

Work: Even though I took a billion classes, I worked a lot this year. In the winter I did a short contract at my old non-profit job where I wrote a (successful!) proposal for them. That was a good experience, but it was hard doing that and balancing school at the same time (and the 15 group members). Then in May, I started being a Teaching Assistant for the Business Communication course at school. That was pretty fun, but I am glad to be taking a break from it. I also did a short contract at school as a Research Assistant to help prepare a new Collaborative Work Environments course at school. Wahoo, dollars! (You will see what I needed it for as you read on about the infinite number of road trips)

Lauren: Lauren got to Canada at the end of April on a tourist visa. After a couple of slightly worrying months, he activated his working holiday visa at the beginning of July (thanks Katrina for driving him to the border!). Phew! It’s way more fun being with him here instead of him being in New Zealand 😉 For a while he worked for a carpentry firm, but now he is working at Valhalla Pure Outfitters (a fancy shmancy outdoor gear shop) which he loooooOOooOoooOoves, hehe. Lauren has about 735 friends and has gone on about 251 trips.. so I think he is settling in fine here.

Apartments: In September, Lauren and I moved into our own apartment! It is small, but we barely spend any time at home so it is pretty good for us! It is quiet and we can have about 3 people over at a time MAX. I think I will fully appreciate the location when I start working downtown as the commute is really short. We are a short bike ride away from the climbing gym and Main St/Commerical Drive, which is a good distance away because there is less of a chance we will spend all our money on Vancouver’s 8 billion restaurants. It was a bit of a pain in the bum bum living far away when I had to go to school 5 days a week.. whose idea was it to put a school on a giant hill?? The apartment has a backyard which will be nice in the summer. Before the move, we/I lived in a shared house just down the road with friendly people, but multiplying cats (mreow).

Skiing: I got the student Whistler pass this year and last year. I couldn’t resist such a low price for something that usually costs so much.

Rock Climbing and other Outdoor Activities: As soon as Lauren got to Canada, I said “PACK YOUR THINGS” and we went on a week long trip to Smith Rock in Oregon with a few friends. By Day 3, we were used to the extremely high first bolts but everything. hurt. all. the. time. It worked out that we also met up with our friend Natalie from New Zealand who was on a short US west coast trip which was cool! We also did a trip to Skaha (near Pentiction). We also went to Vantage, Washington over Thanksgiving with the BC Moutaineering Club. We did some hiking on the North Shore and also up near Pemberton. We also went up to Squamish a bazillion times (but not as much as I had hoped as I had to study).

Other Trips: I went to Osoyoos and Cowichan Lake with Kat and Scott. I also had a Christine-Liz-Rose Fiji reunion at Christine’s cottage on the sunshine coast. I also visited Chloe on Salt Spring. Lauren and I went to a pig roast on Galiano Island. Luckily, we are all extremely frugal so we can find a way to fund all of these road trips. Kat, Scott and I visited Ottawa (and I visited Kingston) in Feb and Kat and I visited Southern Ontario in June.

Other Notable Events: I got my wisdom teeth taking out and then got dry socket. Fun times. Melted frozen yogurt forever! I tried skeleton – the first time was a lot scarier than I anticipated. I hosted an epic BYOIngredient Sushi birthday party. Santa Day was THE BEST – I can’t wait for version 2.0 of the Christmas tree. Lauren and I had Christmas dinner this year which was our first time cooking a turkey. Turkey success! Turkey isn’t my absolute favourite meat, but our turkey only cost $12.50 for something like 6.5 kgs. We should have bought another one because it is going to feed us for WEEKS!!! MONTHS!!! We made stuffing, carrot and apple salad, greek salad, roast potatoes, and two kinds of gravy with chocolate lava cakes and ice cream and then we collapsed on the floor for 3 hours.

I just remembered I made a list of 2014 goals… here ya go: climb the chief in Squamish (nope – though I did follow up people twice on the Apron, which is like half the Chief…right?), climb once a week (probably if you even it out over the 12 months), concentrate on my studies (ok I didn’t do that well in Finance, but I did do between good and really good in my other classes), climb at Smith Rock (check!), go to the US (check, but that was part of the last goal), venture father east in BC (check), get a promotion at the climbing gym (noooope), volunteer (nooope), outdoor lead a 5.10d (yes! 5.11a!), get hired as a TA (yep), win a scholarship (yes, but they forgot to tell me and just mailed me a cheque), get a good co-op job (yes! starting next year), and eat more naturally (ummmmmmmmmmmmm.. nope.. especially not when I was in school), and make my Fiji/NZ travel journals (no.. which I do want to do).

Looking Forward: I am starting my new job on Monday at AON Hewitt as an Associate/Analyst in the Performance, Rewards and Talent department. I will be working there until the end of August. If I take an evening class both semesters, I will be able to finish my studies by the end of December if I take 5 classes in the fall term. Or I could do another co-op term, if I feel like it. In January and in April, Lauren and I will be doing a ton more visa/residency paperwork. If the rules don’t change, and Lauren is able to get a second Working Holiday visa, it should be a pretty smooth transition. Hopefully? Is that what everyone says? Not sure what will happen next January.. some ideas we have tossed around are another working holiday in Japan or Europe, moving back to New Zealand, staying in Vancouver, moving to Squamish/Pentiction/Whistler, going on a month-long trip to Europe or Mexico and pretty much every single other idea that you could have.

Goals for this year: climb even harder (5.11c?), train harder, do more cardio, go on a couple of 3+ day hikes, finish school, eat better, grow things I can eat, brew beer (I was supposed to do this by this weekend but have not yet), do well in school, rock at my new job, finish a few craft projects (including the NZ/Fiji journals), learn how to make Korean food properly, take bouldering lessons (thanks Lauren for the prezzie!), get up earlier, go to bed earlier, and read a few books that aren’t school books (yeah, right).

And that is all for now.. tomorrow I am going skiing with some friends in Whistler, and then we are camping overnight in Squamish. Lauren and his workmates are meeting us up there and we are going to attempt bouldering on New Years Day. I haven’t been bouldering outside in Canada yet, even though I go to the indoor bouldering gym all the time… my goal: 5 VO problems (as it is 201….5! FIVE!). Maybe I’ll post about how it went 😉 Now I am going to go examine the extremely pale focaccia I just took out of the oven.

whistler day 11/lauren’s first ski day

Day 11: (run of the day: Jersey Cream?)

Last Sunday, Lauren, Katrina and I headed up to Whistler for the day. Lauren has been saying that he wants to learn how to ski since I met him so for his combined Christmas/birthday present, I gave him a lesson and day on the slopes. It probably would have been more wise for us to go before we went to Smith Rock because there was probably more snow then, but it still worked out!

We paid a UBC student named Michael to give Lauren a lesson and it turned out to be a great deal and experience! It was cheaper and he seemed like a really great teacher. I can’t remember my first ski lesson.

Anyway, as you can see from the video, Lauren did really well for his first day! He zoomed by other beginners. If he turns into a pro-skier, we can use this video in an emotional TV commercial.

I am in the second week of school now. I am taking Group Dynamics & Teamwork, Finance and Recruitment & Selection and also working as a Business Communication TA. It will be a busy semester but a different kind of busy than last semester I hope.

whistler day 8-10


whis-0Day 8: (run of the day: Glissando Glades)

Rob and I skied around Symphony/Harmony the day after the Men’s Hockey Final. This ski carrying technique is inspired by:

whis-2Day 9: (run of the day: The Bite)

This was from the weekend that Kat and I went up to Whistler when she was doing lots of skeletoning. I skiied with my roommate Nathan and friend Luke. Nathan got to try his new AT skis out on the way back to the parking lot!

whis-1Day 10: (run of the day: Whistler Bowl & Grand Finale)

On the Sunday of that weekend, Katrina and I skied together. She asked for powder so I brought her down this. She was not happy. You can see her in the picture but she kind of looks like a tree (hehe). It had snowed a lot over the couple of days before and there was lots of powder!! Cue muchos falling. I also met up with Lisa and Phillip for one last run which was lots of fun!!! So good!!

Whistler is open until late May this year, but I am not sure how many days I am going to get in. It was nice getting a ski pass this year, but I found it pretty stressful trying to find rides to get up there! Even though it is a great deal, I am not sure if I will buy a student pass again. Lauren and I are hoping to get up to Whistler this weekend so he can have a ski lesson. Pizza! French fries!!

smith rock 2014

I just came back from an awesome rock climbing trip to Smith Rock in Oregon. My friend Martin mentioned the idea of going last November and I am really glad that it ended up working out perfectly!

The campsite even had a bouldering wall!

SMITHROCK-6 DSCF0044Warning: There are many pictures in this post because I couldn’t pick the best ones. There are also many pictures of silly people in tights. These pictures are a mix of all of our pictures.

Three days after Lauren got here and the day after I finished my last Spring exam, we were off! On the trip there was Lauren, my long-time friend Martin, two new friends Bengt & Andrew, and we ended up meeting up with Natalie from NZ! How this all ended up working out, with Greyhound buses and smushing everything into Bengt’s mom’s car.. I am not sure.

We were originally going to camp the first night on the Oregon coast, but the weather was incredibly rainy and windy, that we ended up forgoing that plan to drive all the way down to Smith Rock… without looking at the gas tank. FYI: All the 10 gas stations between Salem and Sisters, OR close at 7:00pm. So we ended up spending the first night in a “town” called Detroit in a teeny weeny motel room and cooked lentils on the floor on our camp stove. Haha! It was such a silly start to our trip. The motel only cost $75 including tax for us to all jam into one room…

Marty, Andrew, Lauren & Bengt

Smith Rock (once we got there) was incredibly beautiful and had lots and lots of (hard) climbing. The most memorable climbs I worked were Double Trouble (a 5.10b tricky arete), Cool Ranch Flavor (a 5.11a lead we did in a team), and Captain Xenolith (a 5.10a slab that I really enjoyed). We didn’t go on Monkey Face (a classic 4 pitch route), but guess that means we have to go back!

Lauren and me
Bengt on JT’s Route – Phoenix Buttress
Morning Glory
The boys on Bunny Face – Diehedrals
Cool Ranch Flavor – Morning Glory
Lauren and a chilly Rose
Monkey Face

SMITHROCK-4Before I go back again, I need to work on my finger strength (so many finger pockets), work out my toes (so many tiny rock knobs to stand on) and pace myself better!! I think I climbed a bit too much on the second day and was a blobular mess for the rest of the trip.

It was great spending a few days with Natalie on her short trip through California and Oregon!! It was good to see her!! The group also got along so well.. new friends! Very exciting. It was also nice to spend time doing fun outdoorsy stuff with Lauren again! (He totally told me to write that)

Me, Natalie and Lauren

We decided that colourful tights were mandatory for this trip, which a lot of other climbers there enjoyed quite a bit. One guy took an instagram picture of us: #brightandtight

Andrew, Bengt & Me
Oh dear…

SMITHROCK-0We ended up eating really well throughout the trip (lots of lentils, rice, curries, spaghetti, gnocchi, vegetables, beans, etc) and keeping the trip pretty cost efficient, though we did make mandatory junk food stops at Jack In the Box, Five Guys (so many french fries and so many toppings!!), and Salt & Straw (the ice cream place that Kat and Scott recommended). Mmm.. consuming all the calories we burned on this trip. We also stopped by REI where I bought a new insulating layer because mine is ripped and way too small. Primaloft!

SMITHROCK-8It was a lovely way to finish off the semester. Will post more about everything else in another post!