Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich Review.

So, Tim Horton’s (Or Tim Hotton’s, if you’re in India) has a new menu item that I was intrigued by: The Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich.

We were out and about early to pick up the granddaughter so that’s what I chose for my breakfast!

This is what it looks like on their website:

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This is what it looked like in my lap while driving (sorry, its blurry) :

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Pretty much the same, right? Not a total lie like Amarula. 

The first thing we noticed as we (Hubs and I) unwrapped them, was the smell. Solid maple. Oooooh. Then we took our first bites.

Solid sugar! Which I guess is to be expected but I was a little confused because there was no real maple flavour.

Weird, but OK.

The next thing I tasted was that pepper. I think it comes from the sausage which other than the peppery tastes was pretty much non-existent flavour wise. The egg was also there but not there and thank Goddess for the cheese because I really think its fake salty creaminess cut through some of the sugar taste. I appreciated the cheese! The waffles themselves were not entirely crisp all the way through, only so at the cross hatches. I liked that, the hubs did not. It wasn’t falling apart soft, just sort of mushy in spots and the whole thing held together well. There was an over all texture of sugary graininess. It was like eating a breakfast sandwich made between two doughnuts. It was like someone had dipped the waffles in a grainy simple syrup.

In the end, the Hubs said ,

“It’s not horrible.  I imagine its hard to keep the waffles crisp when you’re cooking for so many customers”

I liked it. I’d eat it again, if for no other reason than to see if Tim’s is consistent. I wish it was less sweet and less peppery with a more savoury profile but I thought it was good. I really liked the crisp bits at the crosshatching and the way the cheese cut through the whole thing.

I kinda wanna make my own version. Maybe watch for that here!

A Lesson in Expectations. Amarula.

Watch my very first, very short, very goofy videos.

Amarula or Bailey’s?

 

 

Yes, clearly not a real rip off. BUT I felt ripped off. I was expecting to taste marula fruit not Bailey’s! Now I NEEEEED to know what marula fruit tastes like and I can’t just pick that up at the farmer’s market and I certainly cant afford to go fly off to S. Africa to get some and now this is a whole thing!

All silliness aside, I want to say this: Amarula tastes really nice. My Hubs says it’s almost like Bailey’s only tangy with more toffee and chocolate tones. I say its tastes like lies, but whatever.

Now I Am Masaai.

Our stay at Arumeru River Lodge was pleasant enough. The grounds of the place are lovely, with the rooms being individual cottages, scattered throughout the gardens. Service was fine….capable for sure but honestly it was the only place where I felt unwelcome. Our hosts were mostly civil, mostly. Some of them were down right surly. That was a surprise and it was most unusual compared to our treatment everywhere else. The animals were sure cute though!

 

 

We only stayed the one night and then we were off in our trusty stead:

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Our first stop was The Maasai Crafts Market where we visited some women, had a wander through and of course, bought some things!

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Grace and our new friend, just AFTER they were dancing and being silly. This woman was THE BEST! She has such a fun sense of humour and we just loved her.

I bought three pairs of earings, a necklace, two bracelets and some gemstones. It was really fun to engage with the ladies and playfully bargain back and forth. Crafy, crafty business women, these gals! I usually HATE doing that but I don’t know…these women were just a pure delight. I was all TAKE MY MONEY. The lady I bought a pair of carved giraffe earings from said “Now you are Maasai!“ and my silly heart went SQUEE.

We drove on further to visit another shop-The Tanzanite Experience-and holy crap! What a capitalistic delight that was. I had planned to buy a piece of Tanzanite jewellery but the prices at this place put me right off. A total tourist trap, which is fine. People gotta live! I did enjoy a wander through and they had lots of other things. I would have liked to rent a shipping container to bring it all home.

We were supposed to be visiting somewhere else but for some reason or another-we were never told why – plans changed so we visited these places instead, chosen for us based on our interests. It was all good! I know other people have complained that they were taken to places just to shop and then their guide got kick backs, that wasn’t happening here. I wanted to clarify that! Our trip was so jam-packed that if a person didn’t plan to stay an extra day, they wouldn’t have had a chance to pick up any souvenirs. We were all willing and appreciative that we had the chance.

We ate the first of our boxed lunches under some acacia trees. These lunches are a thing of beauty. Packed full of yum, they vary depending on who made them but it was always so fun to open up our boxes and marvel at what was inside. I didn’t take photos-this was before I developed an affection for them-but I do remember we enjoyed :a chicken drumstick, a hard-boiled egg, a jam sandwich, a juice box, two pieces of fruit, a package of cookies and a chocolate bar!

After lunch, Lake Manyara National Park!

 

 

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We were excited enough seeing the damn baboons, the elephants rendered us speechless. And teary. They have special meaning to me personally, but it was more than that. I felt so lucky to be in their presence while they calmly ate leaves and moved about the forest. I felt happy they were alive and well and not in a zoo. I felt humble and small and insignificant. I felt angry at humans and how we fuck things up for other beings.

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Do you see the lion?

 

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Zebra. These things are everywhere. So cool.

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Warthogs! See them kneeling to eat?

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Eagle

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Look at its little fists!

And then this happened:

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It seemed SO deliberate and SO cheeky that we all just roared with laughter. “Ladies…“

We left Lake Manyara feeling silly, happy and content. We drove to our next new home, silent and absorbing, thinking about the day. It was good to share such things with like-minded people who appreciated it all with the same reverence.

 

Winter Weather Survival Guide

I went from this:

 

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to this:

 

to this:

cleared road near trees and light post during nighttime

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

I’m having a hard time adjusting.

BUT in my 16 years of long, hard winter hating living, I’ve learned a few things a person can do make the cold seasons, a little less shitty. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to make it ALL go away – you could move South?- but if you do a few of these things a day, you too can survive until Spring. (Spring, Spring. Not the date on the calendar. We all know Spring doesn’t really come to Edmonton until June. Ugh)

ANYWAY. Here we go!

  1. Ignore it. Seriously. Don’t look outside. Don’t watch weather reports.  Don’t complain about it. Don’t engage in conversation about it. Don’t even acknowledge the outside world. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. The weather is like a bad ex you see on the street. Avert your eyes and walk on by. You’re better than that! They don’t deserve your attention!
  2. We may be ignoring the -20c but we’re not stupid. Buy yourself some warm gear. Spend the money, if you can, on a good jacket. Buy those cute (warm) boots, buy a colourful scarf with hats and mitts to match. Hell, buy several! The dollar store is your friend here. The trick is to put as many warm things as you can between your skin and the asshole weather. I hear layering is a good thing. Do that!
  3. Remember the transition period is the hardest part. Once you acclimatize from Summer to Fall, you’ll feel better. Let yourself be grumpy. Take extra care of you during this time. Trust me, 5c is going to start feeling warm soon and then you’ll know you’ve made it! I’m only miserable for ten minutes until I warm up! Time how long it takes you to warm out and celebrate your success as week by week you acclimatize too!
  4. Drink warm liquids. Make an event out of it. Soups, teas, coffee, whatever. Add these into your day as a time just for you. Embrace the warmth of the cup, the flavours, the coziness of the break in your day. This is how we get by, sip by sip.
  5. Movies! Movies are your friend. Preferably in your own house so you don’t have to go outside. Movies are a great way to kill a few hours of yucky weather AND if you choose a documentary you’ll learn something too! You’re going to be a genius by the time this is over!
  6. Exercise. Yeah. Lame. I know. BUT exercise improves your mental health and in order to survive something challenging, we need good mental health. There are lots of things we can do indoors. Hell, sometimes on really cold days I just walk in circles in my home, like the caged animal I am. You could go to a mall or find a gym,or go online, or lift weights or do yoga or get yourself a treadmill…move that body. Your Spring self will thank you.
  7. Take advantage of the sun. No, no. I’m not asking you to go outside. All I’m saying is that IF the sun is shining, go get yourself some rays. Sit in the window. Let your body get some Vit. D. You may very well find yourself inspired to go outside. And that’s ok too! Just don’t become one of those smug assholes who does nothing but talk about how much they loooove winter while the rest of us sit there miserable. Gah.
  8. Don’t force yourself to go outside. Don’t force yourself to love Winter. You feel what you feel and that’s OK. You might even find once you stop shoulding on yourself you WANT to go out and do things. It could happen. Yesterday I chose to walk to the mall after choosing to hole up inside the day before. Balance people! Oh. And choice. You have free will. You don’t like the cold. That’s just fine. It doesn’t make you bad or negative. It’s just a preference and its yours. ignore those smug Winter lovers, I betcha they’re lying anyway.
  9. Have you heard of Hygge? It’s a whole thing about coziness and comfort and WARMTH and LIGHT and fun with an emphasis on well-being. It’s perfectly suited for the cold season. Go find out for yourself. And then hygge it up!
  10. Stay connected with the humans. It’s very tempting to isolate oneself ( I’m looking at you Lael) Resist the urge. It just makes these dark days all the darker. Get out there and be social. However that comfortably looks to you. Doing stuff with friends, even just coffee, makes the time go by faster. My friends are sometimes the ONLY reason I make it in a day and I love them for it. And hey! YOU could be the reason someone else makes it. You never know…Just get out there, at least twice a week and be social. You can be a hermit the other 5 days. Trust me, Winter will go by faster.
  11. Hang in there. Dec 21 is the Solstice AND the start of Winter. This used to depress me until I realized that on the Solstice, THE LIGHT COMES BACK! Sure, it’s still freezing ass cold but its on its way out. The light comes back and with the light comes more hours of sun. And with more hours of sun comes the heating. And with the heating comes the Spring. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Winter? Did we even have a Winter?” Back in glorious denial but hopefully a little wiser than the year before and ready to face the cold weather once more. YOU CAN DO THIS.

F*ck Up Friday * Should Have Ordered Take Out.

Happy Friday!

If you’re new here, Fuck Up Friday was born out of a need to cringe less and love myself more. Instead of being ashamed and afraid of my screw ups and mistakes, I thought it’d be fun to share them, with you. and encourage you to share with me so that we could all see that mistakes are a part of life. Sometimes they can even be funny and most likely, you, me, WE are not alone.

High on my Pickle Pizza success, I thought I’d whip up my own half-assed version of a Margherita pizza. I was SURE it was going to be amazing!

I smeared on the oil and pressed the garlic. I sliced the mozzarella and hand squished my garden fresh tomatoes. I took a photo:

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And then I popped it under the broiler and, went and did my hair.

Friends! You’re intelligent humans. You know what happens next!

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Behold. A Photographic F*ck Up!

ARG! I was so mad and yet not surprised because this is what happens when you leave stuff under the broiler. So, I cut it into slices, rolled em up and ate it anyway. It didn’t taste too bad, if you didn’t have to look it…

Have you had any cooking Oops this week? Any other mistakes? Do share, so I feel less lame! Kthanxbye!

New Wrinkles in Tanzania.

Let’s continue with our Tales of Tanzania!

The whole point of why I was in Tanzania was because I had bought and paid for a guided trip with Wild Women Expeditions. I’d done this once before, in Peru, when I hiked the Inca Trail. Wild Women Expedition is a travel company catering to women (ALL women) and it really gave me ease and comfort in travelling alone, back in the day when I was SO afraid to do so. This time, I wasn’t afraid but knew from experience that I’d meet the coolest people and have a great trip. I was not disappointed!

After leaving the great care and hospitality of Korona House, I made my way to the Arumeru River Lodge to meet the ladies. Wow! What a group! We gelled pretty much instantly and made a tight group of five. I wish I could explain how effortless it was and maybe it was just me, but it was like we’d known each other and travelled together for years. How does that even happen?! It was the first magical event of the trip.

Who are we? Myself, my roommate Veronica, Monica, Janet and Kate.  More on them later. They deserve their own post.

Our guide was an amazing woman named Grace. Now here’s the thing about guides in Tanzania. There are around 400 guides in the place. Of those 400 guides, 10 are female. 10! In a climate like that, how many of those women get a chance to be lead guides? Not very many! Pretty much never, although we couldn’t be 100% sure. The fact of the matter is, its unheard of. Our group was making history in Tanzania, with Grace as our guide! And the fuss we made…the reactions we got…well that was a WHOLE thing!

Our first event was a trip to the village of Mulala on the slopes of Mt. Meru, to visit the Agape Women group and experience one of their cultural programs.

What a hoot! We were greeted by Mama Anna and there was much dancing, singing and carrying on. My face hurt from smiling and laughing. I came home with new laugh lines and this was the day that started them off!

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I am in love with this building .That colour! It housed a small gift shop and the cheese house. They are also adding on guest rooms so one can stay in the village for a total immersive experience.

 

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Carrots

 

After tea and an introduction to the program we went on a nice walk through the village. It was carrot season and that top picture is a field full of carrots. It stretched up the slopes of Mt. Meru and there were many, many more like them. They were also planting green beans and corn!

The amount of work that goes into farming like that…I was in awe. Much respect. I know my own little garden is hard enough, I can’t imagine growing on that scale, on hills and having to lug water, tools and if you’re lucky, the harvest up and down and then on to market. WOW!

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Beans

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Corn

 

 

 

See that stuff on the left? Justin ,Mama Anna’s son-told us it was like marijuana but not actually. It only looked like it.  He said if you crushed the leaves-just a small bit!-and gave it a sniff, it could be used to treat headaches. So of course we all had to try that! It was really neat! The smell was most appealing, sorta minty…and it went straight up your nose, ha ha, it was like smelling eucalyptus or something, not skunky like actual weed.  Veronica said it did indeed cure her headache. I loved the smell so much I wanted to keep stuffing it up my nose. Justin cautioned us that too much would make us dizzy and want to lie down and sleep!

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I do aim to try to figure out WHAT that stuff was though. It smelled SO good. From photos it looks like it might be Artemisia herba-alba- White Wormwood. It sure does look like Cannabis Sativa…I don’t know. It’s a bit thin and leggy, maybe its the third kind of cannabis. ANYWAY. This is taking me down a rabbit hole and you can be sure I’ll have an answer for you at some point! If YOU have an answer for me, please share. It was neat stuff.

After our walk along a narrow dirt path-where were learned about the elders and other plants and fences and magic words and had our own little parade of cute kids amongst all that green and flowers of every imaginable kind-we found ourselves back at Mamma Anna’s for lunch. A traditional lunch!

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I am ALL about the food.

 

Oh my, what a feast! On my plate is the lovely kale and onion dish I so enjoyed at Korona House, rice with potatoes, dried and rehydrated peas cooked in pounded maize, beef stew with peppers and a rich, peppery gravy and the biggest, bestest, giantest French fries. I have no clue what they were coated in but they were delicious. Watch for them here soon as I try to recreate them.

We also enjoyed some smoked gouda, as made by the Agape Women Group, watermelon and tea and coffee. (The tea also deserves a whole other post.)

After lunch, we got to see how coffee is harvested, roasted and ground by hand!

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The grinding.

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Amazing Grace with the end result.

The amount of work that goes into this stuff!? WOW! First they have to pick the beans which are just tiny little berries. Then they dry them in the sun, then there are different layers of dried skin they have to get off, then it’s roasted over a fire, in a pot, then they pound it by hand into a powder. I have a bag I bought from their gift shop but I almost don’t want to use it! I will but still…every sip is a sip to be grateful for.

 

Grace grew up in a village not far from Mulala and she spent her days doing this very thing! No wonder she was such a natural! We all had our turns, it was hard work but so fun to give it a try!

We learned about cheese making-Sorry. I stopped taking photos because I was so immersed in the experience and visited their gift shop and then it was time to go home. It was an exhausting day! But the best kind. The kind of exhausting that tires you out and leaves you feeling happy and content. The kind of day that had I been forced to go home, right then, I would have felt happy and totally satisfied with my Tanzanian experience. Can you imagine? And we hadn’t even seen animals yet! That comes next!

 

 

 

Pickle Pizza

Have you seen that video floating around social media these days about pickle pizza?

It seems interest falls into two categories: Ew gross! Or, I’m interested…

I was most definitely curious about such a thing so I set out to reproduce my own version!

Here’s the original video:

Yum! Pickle Pizza The Original.

And here’s my end result:

What’s the verdict? It was good! Not nearly as weird as one would think. I found it to be a nice mix of salty,briney,creamy and crisp. The herbs de Provence added depth and just a hint of La Dee Da. Ha ha.

Check it out!

Pickle Pizza

Serves 1

1 clove garlic,minced

1 tsp olive oil plus more to taste for drizzling on top

1/8 tsp herbs de Provence

Scant half cup pickles, thinly sliced

1 flat bread-lavesh is what I used.

10 thin slices mozzarella

Salt and pepper to taste

Dill to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400C

Mix garlic oil and herbs de Provence together. Smear on lavesh. Layer cheese on,filling in huge empty spaces with torn up bits.

Top with pickles.

Season with salt,pepper and dill.

Bake for 10 mins or so til golden bubbly and done! Broil for quicker results.
Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil and enjoy!

Let me know what you think!