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Some stats

9 cups of almond flour:
4,941 calories
432 grams of fat
180 grams of protein

Add some bananas, eggs, oil, spices and you’re up to:
7,424 calories
589 grams of fat
209 grams of protein

This made 3 dozen chewy ginger cookies, 2 containers of onion and garlic crackers, and 1 sheet of banana bread.

Now that’s what I call some damn fine passin treats!!

Yep, that’s right, I finally passed my first crazy 6 hour essay written exam!!!  There is no emoticon to fully express the extent of my happiness.  But I guess if I had to try I’ll have to go with =D

“The syllabus for this exam exposes the candidate to the preparation and analysis of life insurance company financial statements including the underlying valuation principles supporting these statements. Further, the course of reading covers methods of reinsurance, risk mitigation, determining risk based and economic capital, asset liability matching and calculating embedded value for individual life insurance and annuity products.”

If you thought that one paragraph was boring, think about the hundreds of hours I spent on these topics.  Hahahahaha… eugh.

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Burger and fries

What do burgers and bikes have to do with one another?

If you said they both start with the letter ‘B’, good answer… good answer, but I was going for ‘they are both awesome, summery, goodness’.

Wednesday after work we went and bought bikes.  I then proceeded to walk my bike home since I’m terrified of biking downtown Toronto, and bruise my leg into a wonderful shade of purple since I don’t know how to walk a bike without randomly banging my leg with the pedal.  Was it worth it?  Well, do you see the pretty bell on my bike?  The answer is yes, it was worth it.

We took Friday off and had a wonderful 4 days of summer fun.  For lunch on Thursday we went to Nathan Philip Square to listen to some jazz music.  I enjoyed the xylophone and double-bass duo best.  And not just because one was dressed as a skunk in a pink scarf and the other was a pink gorrilla.  But it did help, I’m not going to lie.

On Friday we checked out the tall ships docked at the waterfront.  They were tall.  And one looked like a pirate ship.  Arrggghhh.

Saturday morning we went to the island and biked and explored and now my bum hurts.  And yes, you really did need to know that.  Cause it hurts walking.  That’s some serious bike bum ouch.

And Sunday (which is today, if you didn’t see the date posted), we ended our wonderful summer weekend with burger and fries.  Although these burger and fries were not like what I would have eaten a year ago.  Nah-uh.  The fries were sweet potato fries of course, but the burger is what’s interesting.  First off, no condiments.  I never imagined a burger without mustard and ketchup, but I’ll pass on the liquid sugar and natural flavour, thank you.  Next is the meat.  We bought a share of a grass-fed/pasture raised meat CSA and we got our first 10 lbs of nutritious meat last weekend.  Included were some grass-fed beef burgers and we threw those bad boys on the barbecue.  To finish it off, instead of a bun, I used a big piece of iceberg lettuce to wrap the burger and veggie toppings into a burger.  And let me tell you it was delicious.  I didn’t miss the bread or condiments at all.  Even Jer agreed it was, well, delicious, as previously stated.

Oh, and I discovered I really enjoy Omaha poker.  Not summery so much as a random fact.

Oops in Chicago

This past weekend Jer and I went to Chicago!!!!  I’ve been meaning to visit Ang there for ages now so we made a plan to go, and once a seat sale went on at Porter we went for it.

We had a lot of fun with Ang, exploring the city.  It was a beautiful city and we did all the toursity stuff.  Went to the bean, saw Buckingham fountain, went to a cubs game, had a 65 year old wearing a kilt ask me if I have a personal trainer because I am looking good, etc.  I’ll post all of that on facebook shortly, but until then, I will share the ‘Oops’ stories from Chicago.

We arrived in Chicago late Friday night, and people were hungry so we went to Greek Town by Ang’s place.  We decided to get red wine, and since I’m new to drinking red, and the wines were in Greek, I asked the server for a nice dry wine.  Ang and Jer went for the one that had “-sweet” after the name.  My wine was lovely, and their wine was, well, sweet.  It must be some sort of dessert wine or something because it was chilled and incredibly sweet.  Horrifyingly sweet.  So sweet it made me shudder when I took one sip to see what the fuss was about.  Think wine flavoured koolaid, concentrated.  I will always be wary of any wine listed as sweet from now on.

Then there was the food.  Jer ordered stuffed calamari and there were 4 large pieces of calamari and it smelled so bad I wouldn’t even try it.  Apparently it was chewy and tasted as good as it smelled.  A most terrible meal.  Thankfully Ang and I’s food was delicious and Jer was able to chase his food with bites of ours.

We got home late and we were wiped.  We head to bed, and Ang was nice enough to let us have her bed while she slept on her huge, comfy couch.  I woke up in the morning, mind alert, and panic set in.  I remember last night thinking how I needed to turn off my alarm clock on my cell phone, but I couldn’t remember actually turning it off.  Then I remembered Ang putting her purse down in the living room and me putting my purse beside hers.  And worst of all, realizing the alarm was set to 6:30am.  Eastern.  *smacks head*  Sure enough, it went off at 5:30 in the morning and Ang was super confused.  Thankfully she successfully found it and turned it off, but yeah, what a horrible guest I am!!

Thankfully I’m not a completely bad guest.  I brought her cow salt and pepper shakers and we cooked breakfast and dinner.  On the Saturday we went to the grocery store and picked up some food to make.  We made chicken primivera rice pasta the first night, and bought lamb shanks for Sunday.  I thought lamb shanks were what I was used to cooking but I discovered it was not, and was actually a cut that required a long cooking time.  Oh well, I figured with some red wine, onion and garlic, it would be tasty.  Ang had a slow cooker so we decided to put it on before we left for the day.  We opened the lamb, and wow, it smelled really bad.  I’m used to cooking ontario lamb, so I thought New Zealand lamb may have a stronger smell, but this seemed a little too strong.  We decided some things start off smelling bad, like fish!, and turn out just fine when cooked, so we threw everything into the slow cooker, turned it to low, and took off.  When we get home, the smell had taken over the apartment.  It was soooo bad I had to hide in Ang’s room to get away from the smell cause it was making me nauseous.  Jer was the hero of the night and braved the smell and threw it away.  Lots of air freshener and a couple days later, the smell was mostly gone.  Note to self, if you think meat may be rotten, don’t cook it for 8 hours!!!

The good news is we went out for supper after the lamb fiasco and met up with a couple friends and had amazing Spanish tapas and wine.  It was a great evening.  And funny, when the waiter recommended a lamb dish, the three of us instantly went “NOOO!!!!”.

Oh, and Jer stepped in poo on the Saturday.  Heh.

Weekend Getaway

My exam was a couple weeks ago so I finally have some time for myself.  The exam was always on my mind so it’s great having that stress removed.  I’ve been relaxing and reading and planning.

I finally found a small dinning room table that fits into my odd-sized living room so last weekend was off to Ikea to buy a table and chairs.  I love how it fits into the room and it’s nice having the option to sit at a table.  It was worth the blister on my hand.

This weekend Jer and I decided to get away from the city.  Not even the closed Gardiner could change our minds.  On Saturday we stayed at this charming log house B&B.  We played crokinole and read a choose-your-own-adventure comic book.  In the morning they served us fruit and scrambled eggs and the owner sat with us at breakfast and we talked for a while.  She was very nice and we had a very enjoyable stay.  Before heading off I took some pictures of the place since it was so beautiful.  Then we were off to visit a few parks at Conservation Halton.

First we went to Hilton Falls and did some hiking to check out the waterfall.  It was sunny and warm and definitely the nicest day in recent memory so it was the perfect day to get out and enjoy some nature.  I’ve been mostly taking pictures of food lately so it was fun taking some scenic shots.  Have to get some practice in before our vacation in November!

Next we went to Crawford Lake, which was very calm and pretty.  At this point we were hungry from the hike so we found a bench and had a little picnic.

Finally, we were off to Mountsberg park since the B&B owner said they had baby lambs.  Baaa. The animals were so cute.  They had lambs, goats, chickens, and bunnies.  The baby goats were my favourite.  So adorable.  The lambs were funny though.  They would escape the fence and run around but would always go back to their parents.

And to end our great weekend we got to watch the finale of Survivor.  Whee.

Shepherd’s pie has lamb.  Cottage pie has beef.  What about the chicken?  Poor chicken.  Chicken is yummy too.  I call this Shepherd’s pie since I like that name better.

Jer and I love this dish.  We’ll make it for a special occasion, or when we want to pop something in the oven for an easy dinner.  Just thinking about the leftovers in the freezer is making me hungry.

It’s not just Jer and I who love it.  At Christmas we were visiting my grandma and I decided it would be easiest to bring food I could eat rather than trying to figure out something she could make me for lunch, so I made Shepherd’s pie.  I didn’t know this at the time, but my grandma was talking to my mom about it and was all worried about what food I was possibly going to bring considering my strange diet.  My mom simply said if it was gross, eat after we leave.  Pffft my grandma did not go hungry.  She loved it, and said it was really, really good.  And wasn’t just saying that.  She went on and on about how much she liked it.  And was really happy when we insisted she keep the leftovers.  Needless to say I was quite pleased by this.

I make a huge batch of this so I can freeze some for later since it is a fair amount of work.

Shepherd’s Pie

adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess
Serves 5 – 6

3 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds

2 Tbsp butter

1 lb carrots

2 1/2 cups of water, or chicken stock, or a combination

2 lb ground chicken

1 medium onion

4 cloves of garlic

3 medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 pounds

1 tsp dried marjoram (or oregano)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2 inch cubes.  Place in a large pot of water and cook until soft.  When soft, mash with 2 Tbsp of butter until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Peel and cut carrots into chunks.  Steam carrots until soft.  Place cooked carrots into a blender with 2 cups of water/chicken stock and blend until smooth.  Add another 1/2 cup of  water/chicken stock if mixture is too thick.  The carrot puree should be pourable but not watery.

While the sweet potatoes and carrots are cooking, cook ground chicken over medium-high heat until lightly brown and cooked through.

Add minced onion and garlic to chicken and cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.

Add spices and stir to incorporate.

Cut zucchini into small chunks, and add to the chicken.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.

Pour carrot puree over the chicken and stir to combine.

Layer the chicken mixture in a casserole dish (or individual gratin dishes), and top with mashed sweet potatoes.

Bake Shepherd’s pie at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.  About 25 minutes if baking immediately, or 45 – 60 minutes from out of the fridge.

Cracked Eggs

I never thought I’d be happy to see a cracked egg while inspecting the eggs at a grocery store, but it’s become a little game to me now.  I buy eggs frequently and lately, every time I go to buy eggs, there is a cracked egg in at least the first package I pick up.  At one point I had a stack of 4 reject egg cartons.  It’s kind of ridiculous.

The other day I grabbed a carton, all excited to look for a cracked egg.  I buy the ones in the plastic carton so I flip it over and check out the eggs.  They all look fine.  I get a little sad, but more panicky and distraught.  I begin looking at the sides, peeking through the top of the carton and ah-ha!!  I find one cracked egg at the top.  Success.

Although as I write this I realize I really shouldn’t be buying the ones in the plastic carton.  They aren’t recyclable and I try to avoid plastic when I can.  But those omega 3 eggs just taste better, and the texture is so much nicer than the free range/run(?) ones from the grocery store.   I’m not convinced the free range/run eggs there are any better than the omega 3 eggs since I can’t figure out what they are being fed.  I will likely continue to buy my omega 3 eggs for now, and continue on with my cracked egg game.

Oh, Cleaning

Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend.  In the mornings when I’ve exhausted my google reader and facebook news, I start to clean.  Typically I’ll wash a few dishes, make my bed and tidy a few things and then I’m out the door off to work.

The other day started innocently enough.  My kitchen was a mess from the night before since i fell asleep after dinner, so I loaded the dishwasher and washed pans and other dishes I don’t like to put in the dishwasher.  Then I finally washed my cast iron pan that I had been procrastinating washing since the seasoning had been iffy lately.   That lead to cleaning the stove top,  the counters, and sweeping the floor.  Then I made my bed, folded the blanket on my couch and fixed the pillows.  Soon I found myself dusting and cleaning the coffee table.  The next thing I know is I have the mop out and I’m washing the kitchen floor. I have to admit it involved a lot of will power not to get out the vacuum.  I probably would have if I had a bit more time before having to leave for work but it was put off until another day.

That day turned out to be the following night.  But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

The next morning I was able to enjoy a clean apartment and I just loved the shiny kitchen floor.  That is until I opened the fridge to get my lunch, only to have a bottle of oyster sauce fall and break.  My clean kitchen floor was covered in bits of glass and gloopy sauce.  How devastating.  So two mornings in a row I had the mop out and was cleaning my floor.  Some glass managed to get on the carpet, but since I was getting late for work I left it for when I got home.

I’m not sure if this is a sign I shouldn’t be cleaning so much in the morning or what, but I was not impressed.