Monday, September 22, 2014

this is not Winnie-the-pooh



I arrived home at lunch to find this black bear (some black bears are brown - that's just the way it is in the bear world) literally 10 feet away from me (I was in the house at this point, and looking out my kitchen window - bears scare the shit out of me because they are HUGE and I am a little person. I'm always astounded at tourists who GET OUT OF THEIR VEHICLES for an up close and personal photograph of one of these beasts.) anywho, the bear had just demolished the garbage of the downstairs tenants (see September 21st post for my thoughts on that couple) and had moved on to the plum tree. In a flash he had skeedaddled to the top of the tree for a few sweet morsels of fruit. Despite his size (about 300 bulky pounds of fur and head and teeth and claws) he was remarkably agile, which is why one never climbs a tree to escape a black bear. he'll get there first and have his bib on, waiting for you...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

my wild imagination...and curried lentils

i have an overactive imagination, a situation which is both good and bad. for instance, it's great when i need to write a blogpost, but bad when i let my imagination run amok. take my thoughts on the downstairs tenants: i live in a former guest-house; my digs are on the expansive second floor, with huge rooms, great views and a deck large enough to host a dance-party; the tenants, a young couple, and a single woman, live downstairs in tiny, one-room flats, with a crappy hot-plate and a toaster oven each. i don't know how the couple does it - in such close quarters, with absolutely nowhere to escape for a little breathing room, i would get all stabby if i were her. the single woman, works as a border-crossing guard, and uses the flat as a bolt-hole after night shift, because she lives in another town 45 minutes away, and doesn't want to die in a fiery car-wreck when she falls asleep at the wheel. besides, it's easier to crash here after a few beers, which i'm sure she must need after dealing with carloads of crazy canadian girls returning from boozy shopping weekends in spokane (omigod, everything's SOOOO CHEAP in spokane, but NO we don't have anything to declare, officer...) and endlessly explaining to rv-loads of american tourists why they can't bring their glocks across the border .

so where does the overactive part come in? well, my imagination has convinced me that the guy downstairs is a drug-dealer: a) he doesn't have a job b) he's off on frequent short trips in his truck (this is a small town folks, he could walk everywhere in 10 minutes TOPS, but it's easier to make a lot of drug deals when you drive, non? besides, passing off an eight-ball is more discreet in a truck than standing on main street) c) he rented the flat through kijiji d) and he spends afternoons strumming his guitar and croaking out horrible renditions of red hot chili peppers songs. further mind exaggeration: i also thought that he murdered his girlfriend shortly after they moved in, because who buggers off at 11:30 at night after yelling and banging and crashing around, and leaves their flat looking like a hurricane blew through it, and with a light on, and the bed stripped of its sheets? (yeah, i peeked in their window, because i figured if she was dead down there i ought to notify the cops before her body started decomposing in the summer heat - stop judging). anywho, turns out they just went off on a weekend camping trip.

my latest theory is that they're heroin addicts, going cold turkey...every morning, for about an hour, they both cough and cough and cough, and then retch endlessly, and then there is silence. until they drag themselves to consciousness about 2 in the afternoon, and then cough and retch again. (the sound-proofing in this place is NON-EXISTANT, if you get my drift...)

but maybe they just both have a bad cold...and are malnourished from a hot-plate diet of toast, and mac and cheese, and spahetti o's.

so, this is a recipe for those crazy kids downstairs - nourishing red curried lentils, made entirely in a crock-pot. perhaps the neighbourly thing to do would be to make them a batch, and include the recipe. because i'm sure, in their spare time, they don't read blogs written by crazy women...

vegan red curry puy de lentilles made entirely in a crockpot
(adapted from a pinch of yum)

i used organic...use when you can. makes enough for 4.

what you need
2 c french lentils (these keep their shape and don't go mushy after 6 hours of cooking)
2 large shallots, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 T earth's balance
2 T maple syrup or honey
1 24 oz. jar of passata (italian tomato purée)
2 T red thai curry paste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 T garam masala
1 T tumeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1  organic veggie bouillon cube 
1/2 - 3/4 c coconut milk
cilantro for garnish
water

how to do it 
put everything except the coconut milk and cilantro in the crockpot.  add 1 passata jar of water and stir to combine. cover and cook on high heat for 4-5 hours, until lentils are tender, but still be firm to the bite. check periodically to make sure the lentils are not drying out - add some more water if they are. (this curry fills your house with an absolutely divine aroma...i had to close my kitchen door at hour 3, so's not to attract the bears. a woman in a nearby town recently had a black bear in her kitchen, devouring a batch of chocolate chip cookies. true story.) stir in coconut milk and serve in individual bowls with cilantro, and garlic naan bread (or brown basmati rice if you prefer). add an ice-cold beer to temper the heat, and bob's your uncle...

 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

time for a change...

my life has changed a LOT in the past 6 months. i have left a job in a big city, and become self-employed in a small town. i have traded prairies for mountains, and high heels for hiking boots. in my old job, i spent 100% of the day inside, in an office with sealed windows: now, i spend 90% of my working day outdoors. i no longer wear my business wardrobe (understandably), which now sits on hangers and in storage containers in the third bedroom of my new house. my everday attire is jeans (ripped, skinny, boyfriend), and combat pants; t-shirts, tank tops, and fairly soon, chunky sweaters and great jackets to layer overtop (i do still have style, although it's more tomboy-chic these days.) all of my boots and shoes have tread of some kind, as walking the hilly streets is impossible, and at times dangerous, without proper footwear. flat-soled gladiator sandals are a thing of my sartorial past. all my kickass flats and boots are still in operation - but my gorgeous city heels are packed away for posterity. while i still love fashion, the fashion world seems light years away from my current life, and at times downright silly. my 'it bag' is a weathered, 16 year old, leather backpack.
i now carry bear spray and a bell with me in case i chance upon a wandering black bear (which have been scarce over the summer due to an abundant huckleberry crop, but will soon be coming back into town looking for food to gorge themselves on before winter's snowy arrival). at night when i sit outside looking at the millions of beautiful stars that i can now see (not a lot of ambient light here), i can, upon occasion, hear the coyotes calling to one another in the wooded parts of town.
i used to be welded to my desk, working on a computer for most of my day...now i check pinterest on my iPad before i turn out the lights. the last time i wore a full face of makeup was at the end of May. i still make my own organic skin care, and i love lipstick and nail polish, but i have enough of those to open my own beauty counter. new fall colours? who cares?
i have started painting again, and am planning a series of mixed media works on russian icons (saints, not hockey players): i hope to show them in the beautiful local gallery (which used to be the bank), and maybe beyond. i have been taking some photos and posting on my instagram account (see collage, above), but i want to start using my canon again, before i forget how it works. i'd like to open a 'frenchified' cafe/flower shop, and serve fabulous food and pâtisserie, amidst beautiful flowers, plants, bijoux, and my own photographs. i want to travel to distant lands at least several times a year. barcelona next spring, is the plan. and maybe a quick trip to café friendly portland, oregon this fall.
i want to share it all with you, to continue to write this blog, and post beautiful photos that inspire, and recipes that are truly outstanding and delicious. but here's the thing; quelquechose is going to be different and look different, and i will only post once a week. but i can assure you, it will be worth it. i hope you'll come along for the ride.

xo
parisgirl

Friday, August 15, 2014

not your average latte...

i love to start each morning with a large bowl of latte. first, i make a pot of organic, fairtrade (decaf) espresso, using my stovetop bialetti espresso machine. while the espresso is noisily brewing, i combine warm almond and coconut milks and foam them to a rich, creamy abundance; then i spoon the foamed milk onto the steaming hot coffee in my special coffee bowl, purchased in paris. (sometimes, i'll sweeten my coffee with maple syrup or honey). i love the ritual.
however, over the past few months, the latte gods have been conspiring against me. first of all, my beloved delonghi espresso machine/milk foamer exraordinaire stopped working; then my replacement bodum hand-whizzer thingamajig also gave up the ghost. in desperation, i purchased an overpriced, fancy-schmancy stovetop milk frother that did sweet f.a. to a pot of milk (i tried both warm and cold milk. it worked with neither.) what to do???

inspired by a member of the fam, who told me he threw coffee, coconut oil and milk into the blender, i adapted to my own taste and came up with 'not your average latte'.


not your average latte

what you need
1 pot of strong, freshly-brewed espresso
1 c almond milk/coconut milk combination, warmed slightly
2 T maple syrup or honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1  and 1/2 T liquid coconut oil

how to do it
put milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and coconut oil into blender jar. slowly pour in coffee. cover with lid and zap on low speed until incorporated (about 45 seconds). carefully remove lid (place a clean, wet dishcloth on lid in case the mixture spits at you). pour into large bowl or mug - there will be a lovely layer of creamy, foamy coffee-milk that rises to the top. yum!

enjoy the weekend, y'all!

p.s. this is my 900th post!  incroyable!
  


Thursday, August 14, 2014

what i've been reading...part 2

five quarters of the orange, joanne harris, perrenial
~i love joanne harris. i always want to bake bread or make jam after i read her books...

the oriental wife, evelyn toyton, other press
~ the saga of 3 german jewish friends and their lives in america

the eye of jade, diane wei liang, simon and schuster
~a whodunit set in modern-day beijing, featuring female private eye mei wang

unbearable lightness, portia de rossi, atria
~a brave book about anorexia, bulimia, hollywood, triumph and acceptance

  the little stranger, sarah waters, mcclelland and stewart
~a supernatural tale of love, rejection, loss, and madness