Vegetable overload.

Lately, we've been somewhat lazy in the kitchen. Last week, I made a batch of my favorite lentil soup and really, that was it for my kitchen time. Kurt wasn't much better. I've noticed that my attitude towards food comes and goes in waves. The one constant is that I always feel as though I need to be eating more vegetables. Last year, lacking in creative ideas for what to do with vegetables once I've obtained them, I stocked up on some really awesome vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, figuring that they must be doing something right if they are really that happy without meat. And guess what? They're freakin' geniuses. I love vegan recipes. They are so creative and, most importantly, delicious. At least, all of the ones I've tried so far have been delicious...that certainly does not mean that there aren't some recipe duds in my books. I just haven't gotten to that page yet.

Tonight I was feeling a bit inspired (or bored with the current situation in the fridge) and so we got to work. On the menu: Samosa-stuffed Baked Potatoes (from Veganomicon...everyone should own this cookbook), Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing (fom Vegan with a Venegeance...same author as Veganomicon) and two types of muffins for our weekday breakfasts. Ambitious, right? Well perhaps...for a Sunday. But it was worth it.


First batch of muffins - pineapple/orange/carrot (from Vegan with a Venegeance). I added in some hemp seeds and some extra ground flax seed to give them a bit more oomph.

The second batch of muffins, lemon cranberry cornmeal.

Kurt made this AWESOME tahini dressing for the kale. The recipe was in VWAV and it was the closest match yet to the tahini dressing served at Pluto's in Victoria, which is by far the best salad dressing on the planet.

While Kurt was making the tahini, I got to work with the baked potatoes. The potatoes were baked and then cooled and hollowed out and then we made this mixture of mustard and coriander seeds, onion and diced carrots.

After the potato was added back in, we threw in some frozen green peas, re-stuffed the potato jackets and put them back in the oven. The kitchen was smelling pretty good by this point.

Once the potatoes were back in the oven, I got to work washing and chopping up a beautiful bunch of local kale. I've never cooked with fresh kale before (though I've thrown a lot of frozen kale into soups). We cooked it in some olive oil with lots of sliced garlic (again, a recipe from VWAV).

And voila...the finished meal. All in all, it took about 1.5 hours, start to finish, but that included the time necessary to make and bake the muffins. Without those, the meal itself was easy and relatively quick. And did I mention that it was delicious? The vegans strike again.


It is very hard to blog once each day when there are days when you don't have access to your laptop. I hadn't thought of that when I challenged myself, unfortunately. On Friday, for instance, I walked off the ferry after work and went straight to a friend's house and didn't get home until late. Yesterday....well...I got lazy.

I'm freezing. Uggs and scarves, freezing. Inside. However, I'm hoping to not have to turn on the heat because the Rock is still using up the gas that they bought when gas was at an all-time high. So, we're trying to operate under the "put on a sweater" rule instead. We'll see how long this can go on for. Apparently, it's supposed to get really warm again - back to beach weather, almost - so I'm hoping we can hold out for that. COME ON. I did not sign up for this. If I'd wanted crap weather I would have moved to Vancouver.

Today we're going grocery shopping for the first time in what feels like months, but is probably more like weeks. We haven't been doing the greatest with the cooking lately so I'm off to scour my cookbooks and magazines for some kind of inspiration, hopefully of the somewhat healthy variety. We had an amazing meal out with some friends last night to celebrate the last night on the island for one of our friends who is leaving. We went to a restaurant that Kurt and I have been to a couple of times and never been disappointed and last night was no exception. While it's best known for its steak, I chose the mahi mahi last night, grilled and served with spinach risotto and apricot-lime chutney. It was delish. Kurt had a pork shank (?) which just reaffirmed all of the reasons I go nowhere near pork but which he thoroughly enjoyed, and the other two had steak. And after dinner, Kurt and I shared a dish of their homemade ice cream, which is to die for. And THEN we all made the mistake of ordering mojitos because we saw another table drinking them, only to find out when we got the bill that they were $14.75 each. Awesome! Note to self: check menu for trendy drink prices.

Off to find recipes now. I'm thinking a soup would be appropriate today, so I may turn to my trusted Rebar cookbook. Mmmm.....

I know, I know.

I missed a post. But I had a really good excuse. Seriously. Wait for it...


I was bowling.

And guess what? I'm just as terrible at it as I was when we used to hit up Mayfair Lanes on a sad Friday evening back in the late 90's. Which, incidentally, is now impossible in Victoria (no bowling alleys), making me wonder what the hell teenagers are finding to do with themselves. I highly doubt all of them are sitting at home reading vampire books.

In the past few days, the Rock has gotten COLD. I've even given some serious thought to digging out my mittens (that pair that only made it to the Rock because I'd forgotten them in an inside pocket of my suitcase long ago). Last night, our apartment was so cold that we had to add a fleece blanket to the bed, on top of the feather comforter. True, we don't have any heat on at all, but I don't think that 68 degrees is super comfortable, no matter where you are.'s cold. And yes, I realize that I've completely adjusted to the Rock's climate and that it is highly possible that I greeted this kind of weather with t-shirts and trips to the beach last year.

We have a busy weekend ahead of us, which is kind of weird. We usually have zilch to do besides a standing breakfast date and an obligatory trip to the grocery store, so it's exciting to have Real Actual Plans to enter into my calendar and refer back to when asked about what I'm doing on the weekend. On Friday, we're spending some time with our Ferry Friends. They are a lovely couple who we have taken the ferry with every day, to and from work, for over a year and never spoken a word to until just a few weeks ago. It's funny...there are a whole bunch of other young people on our ferry that we've spent at least 40 minutes with each workday since last November and never introduced ourselves to and then, just in the past few weeks, the flood gates opened and now we spend our ferry rides chatting to new friends. The only difficult part is remembering to call them by their actual names and not the nicknames we gave them over the past year: Canadian Girl, Lululemon Lunch Bag Girl, Guy Who Looks European But Isn't, Christina Ricci and Awkward British Couple. Who aren't actually awkward at all, as it turns out. Anyways, Lululemon Lunch Bag Girl (LLBG) and her husband, Guy Who Looks European But Isn't (GWLEBI) are having us over for wine after work. I'm looking forward to it. They're great. They're also Vancouver Islanders, making them even more endearing (to me).

New friends are fun.

Joyful Reunion.

At least on my part it was. I'm not totally sure that he was 100% on board with the whole "I saved you from certain death" story I fed him once or twice, but he played along.

Actually, on second thought I think his expression more accurately conveys his fear that I would remove him from his kingdom of organic cat food and filtered water and reinstall him in his former life of (gasp!) President's Choice and the plain old tap.
He is playing them for fools.

Some untimely goodbyes.

As much as it would like to believe that it's immune to the current economic "slowdown" (meltdown?), the Rock is finally feeling the effects.

We'll be saying goodbye to two good friends in the next little while. Once was 'downsized' and the other was just plain laid off. NOT the time to be making a career in hedge funds, I guess. It sucks, because once that job is gone, so is the work permit, and so is your right to stay here for any period of time above and beyond what they deem necessary to shut down your life and get out.

When we first started talking about moving here, it was initially going to be a one-year plan. One year. That's it. And then we would move on to bigger (obviously) and better (questionably) things. Now that we've just squeaked by that one year mark, I can't believe that we would have considered going through all of that, just to turn around and sell everything...AGAIN...and leave. One year? It took me eight months to stop thinking that we were going to crash every time Kurt turned a corner onto what I was perceiving to be the wrong side of the road.

One of our friends who is leaving, Hedge Fund Girl, has been here for awhile. She's gotten quite comfortable and built herself a whole life here, which she is now dismantling under extreme pressure because she needs to be off the Rock ASAP. It's brutal. You aren't allowed to look for another job until you apply for a special permit to be able to do so and, with a hiring freeze nearly everywhere, her chances aren't exactly fantastic. The alternatives she is considering are a return to her homeland, the U. S. of A. (where things are not exactly fantastic either), or moving on to another rock of the tropical and tax-sheltered variety, where things are marginally better. I don't know what she's going to do. It's just hard to imagine having to pick up and go and plan a whole new life in such a short period of time. We're going to miss her. We had New Year's plans. It sucks.

These are interesting times.

On a brighter note, some of her potential destinations are very attractive vacation spots.

I challenge...

...myself. I will blog every day for a week.

Lately, as you may have noticed (to the approximately 4 of you who read this blog or even still stop by occasionally to see what I have NOT written), this blog has lost some steam. The zip is gone. The pizazz is dead. For a little while, I thought about deleting it in its entirety and returning to a world where I wasn't constantly thinking of my poor little neglected blog, outdated, sad and alone, waiting for my inspiration to return. But in the end, OTR won another shot and so, to kickstart myself, I'm challenging my fingers to blog each day for one whole week. Including the weekend. AS WELL AS continuing to post a daily photo on my new and awesome joint project, photopography, my photo-blog with co-blogger Shan (of Banane).

I'm a little out of practice, but I'm up to the challenge.

At the end of the week, if my inspiration and motivation have regurgitated themselves, OTR will continue. If not, well, it will continue on as it has been. Lost and alone, and out there for bored web-surfers to cruise by on their way to more interesting corners of the web.

In the meantime...let's begin.

What have I been doing? Where have I been?

For once, the answer is not going to be "parked on my ass on the couch, watching re-runs of The Office". Last week held one of the highlights of my year, because I snuck back to the Great White North for a teeny little occasion that I like to call my Dad's birthday. The big 6-0. Could I really have missed that? No, I could not.

Back in September, I visited my very favorite webpage ( and sent them yet another sum of money for yet another plane ticket (I should probably just have my employer direct deposit a portion of my paycheque directly with good old AC), going totally against our intense and worthwhile budgeting project and screwing Mother Nature by dumping just a bit more carbon into the atmosphere. I figured she'd forgive me when she realized that I wasn't just going because I miss decent coffee, or because I am BORED OUT OF MY MIND, but because I wanted to give my Dad a hug on his birthday, his real birthday, on a landmark birthday, for once. And really, I didn't check any luggage so the plane was at least 50 lbs. lighter thanks to me. You are welcome, ozone layer.

No one knew I was going except for my Mom, my sister, my Kurt and a few other select individuals who were on a need-to-know basis. In that, I needed to share my excitement with them. Last Friday night, after a day of shopping (yay, 0.85 cent Canadian dollar!) and a decent haircut, I snuck out of the kitchen at my cousin's restaurant and nearly gave my Dad a heart attack. Happy birthday! He was totally stunned. And totally delighted. Which totally delighted me, because obviously all parties had kept their traps shut. We had a great dinner and a great weekend together with the whole family, which was the first time the four of us had been in the same place at the same time for quite awhile. It was the perfect present for my Dad. I'm so glad I went.

And then I decided that a redeye that got me back to the Rock at noon last Wednesday meant that I could totally work for the afternoon! Sometimes my unbrilliance astounds me. By the time I got to the office I had been awake for 28 hours and I was, in a word, unimpressive. At least I looked nice, but let me tell you...there was absolutely nothing going on behind my vacant expression. Just dumb, glazed nothingness. I don't think anyone noticed though, because I just focused my eyes on my computer screen, positioned my fingers over the keyboard, and thought about things that would leave a concerned look on my face. Like, why I still don't have my tax return, which I filed in Canada in July. WTF.

So...I'm back. It was a lovely trip and, as usual, reaffirmed all of my fond thoughts about my hometown. It was mostly family time, and unfortunately I didn't think to book the rest of the week off (another glowing showing of unbrilliance...and yes, I am aware that unbrilliance is probably not a word), which meant that I didn't get to visit with all of my lovelies and associates. But, I did go to the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Oak Bay, which I used to do every year with my Dad until I left home and guess what? Just like much of the rest of Victoria, it was exactly the same as I left it. I'm fairly certain that people were even standing in the same spots as they were circa November 2001. Awesome. I love that about Victoria. I wouldn't change it for anything. Which is good, because it never changes.

On that note, that's part of the latest. There's more to come.

Just one week ago...

I love it.