Life in Montreal/ Slurpy Noodles (aka The Best Dish Ever)

I don't know why Elvis has a bandaid on his crotch. Probably tore his pants moving fridges.

Native Montrealers flock to run-down, old-timey second-hand stores for all their home appliance needs. The stale cigarette stench and glitter-plastered interiors are just a bonus. http://wikimapia.org/1695232/Ameublement-Elvis

First, you should know that Montreal apartments don’t come with fridges or stoves. Fucked if I know why. It’s not like 19 year-olds rolling out of college have savings lined up for the purchase of household appliances. They’re lucky if they’ve got beer money for the party next weekend. To make matters worse, we have had some of the weirdest architectural rules on the continent due to a sordid mix of terrible policy making, the mob, the church, the police, and the real estate board. That story requires a whole new post, but the gist is that you can’t get an apartment in the Plateau of Montreal without at least a flight or two of sketchy, half-broken, ice-covered external stairs that you have to move appliances up and down every time you bail on your lease in search of a noncorrupt landlord (good luck).  As a result of all this there is a thriving circulation of used appliances working its way through craigslist, second-hand stores, and the sidewalks of the student ghetto on the first of each month. None of which have ever made it into my home.

After careful consideration of the broken-ass stairs up to my third-story flat, my roomate and I decided that perhaps it would be best if we just got a mini fridge and hot plate rather than doing the traditional neck-breaking rite of passage that the locals endure to make it into their apartments.

This actually works surprisingly well for us, by and large. She mostly lives off my leftovers, I walk by three grocers on my way home from work, cold beer is available right across the street til 11pm. We have a system. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.

But right at this moment, only the second burner on my ancient hotplate is working, and the fridge is turning everything into inedible blocks of ice. Except the PBR. It’s actually making the PBR drinkable. So after feeding ice carrots and shards of crystalized arugula to Lady Rattington (the local cute fuzzy thing), my guy and I sauntered off to the store in search of nosh. An hour later, we were home with fixings for the Best Dish Ever.

My friends, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to, literally, the best dish ever. What makes it so good? Let me count the ways!

  • It comes together in maybe 30 minutes.
  • It’s cheap.
  • You can get all the ingredients anywhere at any time of year.
  • There are a million substitutions you can make.
  • The most important ingredients are ones you can keep on hand in the pantry
  • It makes a ton or a little with about the same amount of effort
  • It is delicious. It’s literally stuff to write home about. People taste this shit and facebook it before they get to the second bite.

This is not so much a recipe as a serving suggestion, but I’ll do the best I can to make it clear enough for you to reproduce with reasonable success after a few tries.

Slurpy Noodles

Ingredients:

1 block Extra firm tofu, cubed
1 cup Dried shiitakes, soaked and sliced, or use fresh, or criminis, or whatever.
2 cups Greens- baby bok choy, soaked seaweed, kale, etc. I usually just go with one.
2 packs Noodles- the thick, vacuum-packed wheat noodles that stay inexplicably fresh outside of the fridge. They look like worms. Moreso when covered in saucy goodness.

Sauce:

1 tbsp Garlic chili sauce– careful, some brands have fish, etc. The measurement is a guide, adjust to taste
1 tbsp Tamari, or more at the end if things need more salt
1 tbsp Fermented tasty salty things- I usually use umeboshi, but fermented black beans work well
2 tbsp Mirin- preferably the real kind, can omit
1 tbsp Toasted sesame oil, plus more to drizzle over
2 tbsp Rice vinegar (use this to taste, be careful if using the seasoned variety cause it’ll throw off the balance of everything else)
Black pepper- I don’t know why, it just makes it for me.

Optional:

Peppers, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro and lime, hot peppers, sesame seeds, etc.

For this recipe to work, all you need to do is brown your mushrooms in a hot oiled pan, then add the tofu to brown lightly, then add the greens. Mix the sauce ingredients together and add with the greens, toss on a lid to steam it all for a minute or two, and then mix in a big bowl with your noodles (boil them first to loosen them up, or nuke them in a bowl of water). Easy peasy.

Slurpy noodles

Seriously. You’ve got to try them. The tastiest worms ever.

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Summer Raw Cleanse and BodyRock

Hello! I’m back after quite a hiatus. In fairness, it was a hiatus that involved a new job, moving across the country and a vacation with the fam. So here I am in sunny Montreal, surrounded by beautiful, tiny, young French girls and I’m feeling the residual effects of Edmonton in my bones. I always become a hermit for the harsh winter, but living where we were, in a basement in suburban Edmonton… I barely left the house if I could avoid it. It was depressing.

I’ve been in Montreal for just over a month now, and if a day goes by without a walk down these old crooked streets I feel like I’m wasting my life away and turn to drink. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But if you knew how good it feels to just exist in this tiny corner of Canada, you’d hate to be trapped indoors by yourself too.

The other great thing about this place is the ample supply of delicious fresh produce everywhere, for totally reasonable prices. The bio (organic) market a block away from my apartment sells produce for better prices than the non-bio produce at the regular grocery store. That, plus the heat and humidity that feel so foreign to my body, are motivating me to eat light. You don’t need to cook tomatoes to death when they taste so good, and the fresh, tender kale is perfect just massaged with a bit of lemon and salt. So, I’m thinking it’s time for a bit of a summer cleanse.

How it works: One week, 80% raw, 95% whole foods, 100%  plant-based diet. 80% raw, because that’s a really reasonable balance of raw to cooked foods to maintain in the summer when produce is abundant, cheap, and tasty. 95% whole foods, cause I’ll use coconut milk occasionally, and oil and salt very moderately- you need fat to absorb nutrients from plants anyway and I don’t have fancy non-stick cookware for my cooked foods. Plus, salt makes food delicious. Also, I’ll throw in a glass of wine or two for good measure. 100% plant-based, because I only eat plants anyways, there’s simply no need to eat anything else! Feel free to join me or try out some of the recipes, and leave a comment if you do- it would be great to hear! I’ll post what I’ve been eating, maybe it will give you some ideas.

In addition I will be doing BodyRock exercises daily. BodyRock offers a free, high intensity, short, daily video workout that’s different from day to day, and can be done in your home with whatever you have on hand. I won’t be doing them in the order they are released, I’ll pick and choose from past workouts, and I will be supplementing them with my usual 20 mins of cardio, stretching and belly dance isolation drills. If you are getting bored with your exercise routine, want a challenge or even if you don’t work out at all and you want to start, try it out! Just do what you can, don’t worry about not being able to make it more than halfway through a set, or doing only half the cardio time. You need to start somewhere, so just listen to your body and work within your limits.

Day 1

Workout- 12 mins BodyRock, 20 mins cardio, 10 mins stretching, 15 flights of stairs, 30 mins drills (do the cardio right after the BodyRock. Trust me, it’s a good idea ;))

Breakfast smoothie with a small banana, frozen blueberries, ground hemp seeds and soy milk.
Post-workout hemp protein shake and some fresh berries.
Mexican salad with romaine, black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin and hot sauce.
Raw kale salad with sauteed criminis, tomatoes, red onion
Raw veggies with salsa
Half an orange

Yum yum 🙂