Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Dinner Strudel

Christmas Dinner Vegan Strudel

Well, this meal wasn't pretty.

Tasty, sure. Delicious even. But certainly not pretty. Think I'm exaggerating? This is what it looked like before it went into the oven:

not much

Oh yeah. Shield your eyes from its lumpy, flaky, lacklustre-ness. This, my friends, is Christmas Savoury Strudel, adapted from the Vegetarian Christmas cookbook by Rose Elliot. It was, as I said, delicious. A great vegetarian addition to Christmas dinner. Though I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to make a brand new recipe for a big family dinner. Especially one involving phyllo pastry. Yikes. The phyllo phell apart a lot when I was wrapping it all up, hence the phlakey (sorry, that was the last one) texture of the strudel. It looked a lot better when it had been cooking for a while and it had browned. And at least my parents' kitchen, where I was cooking this whole mess, is awesomely well equipped. That helped.

convection

My dad suggested the perhaps it would have fallen apart less if I'd used more than just one sheet of phyllo for each layer and I think he was right. I've generally used two or three sheets for each layer when I've made other dishes like this. I'm not sure why the recipe said to use only one at a time. Good call, Dad. And, because my dad was very excited about the possibility of "making the blog", here is a picture of my cute parents. They shared the Christmas dinner cooking duties, which is why they are both wearing aprons. My Dad actually tried to steal away my Top Chef apron, but I told him to get his own.

Mom and Dad

So anyway, the moral of the story is, phollow (okay, I lied) your phyllo instincts. Otherwise, this was a delicious dinner.

Christmas Savory Strudel

(adapted from Vegetarian Christmas)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 24 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of phyllo pastry
1/4 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat and add onions. Saute until onions are tender.

Drain the liquid from the canned tomatoes and add them to the onions along with the garlic. Stir well.

Add basil and red wine.

Simmer mixture until most of the liquid has evapourated (about 20 minutes) and then add the mushrooms.

Cook until mushrooms are tender and then remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Working quickly, lay out two or three sheets of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Spread one third of the chopped cashews evenly over the surface.

Repeat this step twice, then add two or three more sheets, brush with butter, and spread out tomato mixture.

Roll entire strudel (like a jelly roll) and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Brush top with the rest of the melted butter, and place in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, until pastry is browned.

Serves 4-6 people, depending on how plentiful your side dishes are!

Some Notes:

-Placing a damp tea towel over the sheets of phyllo you aren't using will make it so they stay much more supple and don't break all over the place when you do try to use them. I recommend this highly. Otherwise you will go crazy and want to cry as the phyllo crumbles in your hands.

-Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I have traditionally avoided New Year's, finding it an unpalatable holiday at best, but this year I'm going to poke a toe out of my comfort zone and go for a fancy dinner with the Man of Science at Zen Kitchen. I will likely report back on the food which will probably be delicious.

-I have a head cold right now, likely picked up from the Man of Science who got something similar at the tail end of our Paris trip. Boo! I feel like I just got over The Cold That Would Not Leave, but when I think about it, that was actually in October. And this cold is not nearly as bad as that one. Hopefully I'll be less mouth-breathy when we go out for dinner tomorrow. I'd hate to waste good food on compromised taste buds.

J.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning Breakfast (re-run recipe)

breakfast

This vegan Spanish omelet is one of my favourite breakfast recipes, but I don't make it very often because it takes a long time to cook and I am often impatient for breakfast. However, for days like today it is perfect. I put this together this morning, threw it in the oven, and retreated upstairs to my sewing machine where I was finishing some handmade gifts. By the time one of the pairs of flannel pajama pants was completed, breakfast was ready.

This is another one of those recipes that should be made for people who are wary of tofu. It is so delicious, I would wager that it could make a convert out of someone on the tofu fence. I also appreciate that it is easy to throw in whatever embellishments you want. Today I had tomatoes and black olives on hand, so they got sprinkled over the top of the omelet. I've made it in the past with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers and it has always been good.

Highly, highly recommended.

I hope everyone's holidays were delicious. More on what we ate in the next few posts.

J.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let Nothing You Dismay

helpful

We are safely home from our trip and cosy at home tonight, waiting to eat tofu broccoli quiche and open gifts. Tomorrow we'll be celebrating with my family with more food, gifts, and minor chaos. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! Stay tuned for recipe wrap ups of holiday dinners. Except the quiche. That one's just from Vegan Brunch, which you probably already have on your shelves anyway.

May your days be merry and bright.

J.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Au Revoir, Paris!

It was our last day in Paris today, and I am sad to leave, but eager to get home to my dogs, my routine, and my morning smoothies. This eagerness didn't stop me, however, from enjoying lots of Parisian food today.

The first food I purchased today was from a small grocery store. I bought some clementines for myself and the slightly-less-sick Man of Science. For some reason that I will probably never understand, the elderly French grocer insisted that in addition to my clementines I take one free leek. One free leek that will likely go unused, since I'm pretty sure I can't bring foreign vegetables back into Canada with me tomorrow. Bummer.

Lunch was falafel yet again. I bought this round from one of the bogglingly plentiful fast food places that are just around the corner from the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

fast food alley

There are three or four streets full of fast food places, each with it's own pushy proprietor standing out front shouting, "Bonjour Mademoiselle!" and "Comment ca va, ma belle!" attempting to get you the eat at their establishments. I was looking for the famed Maoz Falafels, but unfortunately I couldn't find it and ordered some falafal sandwiches from a different place instead. They were all right. Nothing spectacular.

But dinner! Oh, dinner. I checked online to see if there was a vegetarian place that we hadn't tried yet and we selected Le Potager De Marais. Good choice! It was the best meal I've had all week. It was just the Man of Science and I because the Parents of Science left this morning. It was a cosy, romantic little restaurant, just a quick walk away from our apartment. Parfait!

suggestions

I was impressed by how many vegan (and gluten free) dishes they had on their menu. Though I did notice that dishes were only marked "vegan" and "gluten free" on the English version of the menu. Perhaps French people just don't care. At any rate, the menu was great. Small and not overwhelming, but with a good variety of choices. For our appetizers, I chose the mushroom pate and the Man of Science had the seaweed tartar. Both totally vegan and, I think, gluten free.

mushroom pate and seaweed tartar

I loved the mushroom pate. I tried a bit of the seaweed tartar and did not like it, but that is likely because I do not generally like the taste of seaweed. "It tastes like I'm eating the beach," I told the Man of Science, who happily gobbled up his beachy appetizer, clearly enjoying the seaweed more than I did.

For our main courses, I chose the seitan bouguignon, largely in deference to Julia Child. I'm not going to eat the classic beefy French version, but I was happy to order the vegan version.

seitan bourginoin

The Man of Science had something called a "tartiflette" which was made with smoked, deep fried tofu and melted cheese. He loved it a whole lot. I haven't heard him that happy with a dish the whole time we've been here. It did look pretty great, and I tried a little piece of the tofu, which was very flavourful.

There were quite a few excellent sounding vegan desserts on the menu, most of which were also gluten free, so I really couldn't resist an order of flourless vegan chocolate cake with almond cream.

flourless chocolate cake

It was supremely delicious. And made with chestnut flour. Chestnut flour!? Where does one find that? I don't know, but I was sold on this dessert from the first bite. I ate it all even though I was almost completely full by that point. It was the perfect last thing to eat in Paris. We leave for the airport at 6:45 tomorrow morning and by tomorrow evening we'll be back in cold, cold Ottawa once again. Au revoir, Paris! Je t'aime beaucoup.

J.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bonjour, Paris! (Part Five)

Oh dear.

Our trip hit a tiny bump last night when the Man of Science came down with some kind of throat-hurty cold. I don't do well with bad news in the middle of the night, so I was up from 3 AM until 4 AM worrying that he had swine flu and madly internet chatting with my friend Jess the naturopath-in-training who gave me advice for staying healthy and calmed me the hell down. Thank you, Jess. And thank you, Internet (and time differences) for allowing me access to her during my attack of worry.

In the calm light of day it became clear that the MoS is not swine fluin'. He just has a crappy cold. Perhaps the same Cold That Would Not Leave that I had in October. At any rate, I was on my own for wanderings today, which was fine. I have no trouble making my way in strange cities, it is actually something I enjoy. Though I missed the MoS and felt bad that he was stuck in the apartment all sicky while I was wandering in and out of bakeries looking for these:

the best tasting cookies on earth

Macaroons. Chocolate, pistachio, raspberry. A brilliant texture, not too sweet, magically delicious. And yes, I know they're not vegan. I ate a couple anyway. They are perhaps the best cookies I've ever tasted.

Prior to the macaroon finding, I ate at a little restaurant called Cafe Grizzli. Not to be too dramatic about it, but this place felt like stepping inside a really good novel. It was full of interesting French people and charming servers. It was cosy and relaxed with a great menu (most of it not vegetarian, though). To my left was a table of three, one Parisian woman and two Americans, who spoke in both English and French and who commented on the English novel I was reading. To my right was an older man having lunch across the table from his phenomenally adorable french bulldog, who sat on the chair opposite the man and quietly surveyed the restaurant. I wanted to take a photo so badly, but the older man seemed slightly cranky and no matter how much I practiced "Est ce que je peux prendre un photo de ton chien?" in my head, I couldn't summon the courage to actually ask.

I ate roasted baby vegetables in coconut curry cream for lunch. With fresh bread and fizzy water. It was one of the most delicious meals I've had all year. The atmosphere made it even better. But it was dark and I was feeling a little self conscious, so I have no photos, sadly.

veggie restaurant #2

Tonight for dinner the Parents of Science and I left the sick Man of Science at our apartment and went off to a second restaurant owned by the same people who own the place we went to on our first night here. It was basically the same food as the other location, which made me happy because I got to try something else off the lengthy, mostly vegan menu. The first thing I wanted, though, was one of their fresh juices. I figured it would add to my don't-get-sick defenses. The juice I chose was carrot-ginger-apple. The waiter made it right when I ordered it and the whole restaurant smelled like ginger. It was the perfect way to start my meal.

carrot apple ginger juice

I followed that with some vegetable soup which was good, but not as excellent as the lentil soup I had at the other location. But it was warm and wholesome and that was just what I was looking for. I had a small glass of wine to go along with it.

potage legume

For my second dish I chose another appetizer because I wasn't very hungry after the juice and the soup. It was called "Chickpea Mousse" which is, ah... hummous. But it was baked in two small scoops and placed on a bed of lettuce, beets, and grated carrots. The raw vegetables were very satisfying and the "mousse" was flavourful. So good in fact that I'd eaten almost all of it before I remembered that I hadn't taken a photo. Whoops. Here's a photo of the restaurant's excellent plant wall instead.

plant wall at veggie restaurant

So tomorrow is our last day in Paris, and I imagine I'll be going solo again, since the Man of Science will likely want to rest up for our long day of travel on Monday. I will try, once again, to get a photo of lunch since I seem to be failing in that regard so far. The only thing on the agenda is book shopping at Shakespeare and Company and maybe walking over to a shop we passed tonight that looked like it might have some fun gifts to bring home with me for loved ones. The Parents of Science are flying out tomorrow morning to go to Canada for Christmas. I can't say enough about how generous they've been, putting us up and taking us out for lots of meals. We are lucky people indeed.

J.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bonjour, Paris (Part Four)

Falafel again for lunch today, my friends! And, once again, no falafel photos. But I assure you, The Man of Science and I went straight from the Centre Pompidou Modern Art Gallery to a falafel shop and had some very tasty sandwiches with greasy fries. Yum. Instead of showing you a picture of that, how about I show you my favourite shot of the day, taken from the very top of the Centre Pompidou:

from the top of Centre Georges Pompidou

Oui oui! Tres bien! J'aime ca! Bravo!

Ahem.

Dinner, as I mentioned yesterday, was to be found somewhere along the Champs Elysees. I was a bit wary. But, after a bit of walking and looking, we ended up having a very good meal in a slightly odd restaurant. It was kind of Japanese, but also served things like lobster bisque and risotto. I had edamame and sushi!

sushi dinner

Sorry, the lighting was weird so the picture looks not great, but it was very tasty, especially the edamame. The Man of Science had veggie tempura and "autumn vegetable" ravioli that he said wasn't particularly autumnal. But he seemed to enjoy his meal, nonetheless.

The restaurant was dark and shiny and full of pictures of naked ladies. It kind of threw me for a loop when we first arrived.

slightly weird restaurant

naked lady pictures in slightly weird restaurant

Ah, those permissive French.

After dinner we had some cognac and then took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower which was having a light show to celebrate its 120th birthday.

Eiffel Tower Light Show

It was beautiful but freezing, so we had some more hot wine and then got back on the Metro and came back to our apartment. Now we're having potato chips and Perrier and I don't think I'll be awake for much longer. Bon soir!

J.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bonjour, Paris! (Part Three)

For lunch today, we all set out (through the SNOW!) to have lunch at L'Ebouillante, a restaurant listed on the web as being "70%" vegetarian. Since that is approximately 69% more vegetarian than most Parisien restaurants, we were excited to give it a try.

L'Ebouillante

It was a cosy little place and a good spot to settle in for some wine and food. The menu was very eggy, so I elected to have the soup, figuring correctly that it would come with some good bread and fill me up adequately. The Soupe De Jour was carrot, and it was smooth and tasty.

carrot soup for lunch

After some comic book shopping with the Man of Science, I headed off on my own to check out a giant department store nearby. I got a falafel sandwich on the way and my body rejoiced for the sudden dose of protein. I didn't get a photo of the sandwich, but I did manage to get a shot of this drool-worthy aisle at the Bazaar De L'Hotel De Ville:

drool

Good thing I have to carry my own suitcase home, or I might have come out of there with a couple of those pretty, pretty cast iron dishes under my arm.

For dinner we tried to go to another vegetarian restaurant owned by the same people who managed the place we went on our first night in the city, but alas it was closed. So we wandered through the 5th Arondissement until we found an Indian restaurant that looked promising.

dinner time

Being vegetarian in Paris means coming to terms with the fact that you're not going to be able to eat French food. I am slowly getting over this fact. I'd read a lot of travel guides saying that vegetarians are best to stick to "ethnic" restaurants and this is certainly true. Our Indian meal was the most satisfying meal I've had so far. Lots of vegetarian choices on the menu. We ended up with a variety of curries, rice, and naan.

Indian Dinner

Aside from the service being, at times, comicly slow, it was a wonderful meal.

Tomorrow will be a real challenge, finding food near the Champs D'Elysees when we go over in the evening to look at the lights. Hopefully my legume consumption from today will carry me for a bit.

J.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bonjour, Paris! (Part Two)

dinner (#2)

The important thing to remember about picking a restaurant in a city you are visiting is that if the meal is not that great, it is not the end of the world. There will be many other meals. Sometimes you pick a restaurant for its convenience, like we did tonight, and you end up with a palatable, though not fantastic meal. Our meal tonight was at an italian restaurant close to Notre Dame that likely caters primarily to tourists. Hence our palatable-though-not-fantastic meals. I had what is pictured above: a plate of "focaccia" which was basically a dry pizza crust (it wasn't bad, just drier than I expected) and a green salad topped with grilled vegetables. The grilled vegetables were nice, but the salad was over-dressed. The Man of Science has gnocchi with primavera sauce. I had some kind of memory problem when we were ordering and mixed up gnocchi and tortellini, otherwise I would have had the gnocchi too.

vin chaud

But, you know, there's always wine to save the day. Today we had hot spiced wine (or Vin Chaud as the French say) while we walked around a Christmas market. It was delicious. A perfect thing to drink while walking around in the cool temperatures. I read somewhere before we left on our trip that it is a good idea to bring along a small thermos for the plentiful hot wine, so that's what I did. It worked out well. I drank it while I looked at Christmas ornaments and sweaters and nesting dolls all up and down the Champs D'Elysees. Later we went out at drank absinthe and now I'm eating dark chocolate. Oh, Paris! Je t'aime!

J.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bonjour, Paris! (Part One)

After many, many hours of racing through airports and sitting on planes, The Man of Science and I arrived in Paris today, quite sleep deprived but otherwise happy to be here. After a long afternoon nap we ventured out to a nearby vegetarian restaurant for dinner with the Parents of Science (who are hosting us here in an apartment they've rented for the week). This restaurant, Le Grenier de Notre Dame*, promised vegetarian versions of "French Peasant Food" which is totally my kind of thing.

dinner #1

I wasn't sure what to expect vegetarian-wise here in Paris, but there seem to be quite a few places that are, if not vegetarian, vegetarian-friendly. The place we went to tonight was small and cute and cosy, and had an extensive menu with lots of delicious looking choices. For me, the vegan soups were the best part of the meal. I had lentil soup, which was flavourful and pureed and delicious, but the Father of Science had the daily special vegetable soup which also looked great.

lentil soup

For my entree, I chose the vegan cassoulet, which had white beans, tofu, seitan, tomato sauce, vegetables, and bread crumbs. It was good comfort food, not spectacular but well made and tasty. Just the kind of meal you'd want to have after subsisting on airplane food and Larabars for 14 hours.

vegan cassoulet

One of the desserts on the menu was vegan, so I couldn't resist giving it a try. It was a apple tart with almonds. The crust was whole wheat flour which made it nice and hearty, and I liked that it wasn't overly sweet.

vegan apple tart

And there was wine, of course. Lots of wine. And cognac. And chocolate. And now it is time for bed.

J.

*When the Mother of Science first mentioned the name, what I thought she'd said was "Le Grenouille de Notre Dame". Which is not at all what it is called. No wonder she was confused when I referred to it as "the frog place".

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Baking Veganized: Pinwheels

pinwheels

These cookies are my favourites of the many, many kinds of sweets that pour from my mother's kitchen over the holidays. They are a humble cookie, really. Not too sweet, not too fancy. Just pretty to look at and fun to eat. I'd never made them myself until tonight. I'd asked my mom for her recipe this weekend, figuring it was high time I tried to make a vegan version. I'm pleased to report that the veganized version is completely indistinguishable from the original. These babies are just as delicious as their eggy ancestors. If you are doing some holiday baking, I highly recommend adding these to your roster.

Two important warnings!

1. To make these, you will need either wax paper or parchment paper. YOU WILL NEED IT! Don't think you can just roll this cookie dough out on a floured counter top like it's pizza dough. This is too delicate for that. It will fall apart and you will be sad. Get the wax or parchment paper and save yourself an ocean of tears.

2. These take a looooooong time to make. For most of that time you won't be actively baking. You'll be sewing, or sleeping, or watching Battlestar Galactica. However, if you need something quick to whip up, this is not the recipe for you! The dough has to sit for an hour initially and then when it's rolled up it needs to be refrigerated overnight (6-8 hours).

egg replacer

Pinwheels

1/2 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 cup sugar
egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg (I'm holding mine in the photo, it came from Bulk Barn, but they have it everywhere)
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 square unsweetened baking chocolate

Cream butter and sugar together, then beat in egg and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and mix well. If mixture is too crumbly, add a tiny bit of water. It should be a workable blob of dough.

Melt chocolate square.

Divide dough in half, and add chocolate to one half. Mix until chocolate is completely blended in.

Form dough into 2 balls, then wrap in waxed paper and chill for 1 hour.

Pinwheels

Roll each ball of dough onto waxed paper or parchment paper. I put the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and rolled it that way, so it wouldn't stick to my rolling pin.

Stack two slabs of dough on top of one another and press them gently together.

Roll up the sheets of dough to make one long cylinder of dough.

Wrap the rolled dough in waxed paper and chill overnight.

Slice into thin slices.

Bake on greased or parchment paper lined sheet 375F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Makes just over a dozen cookies.

Some Notes:

-I have no notes. I just finished a quilt that I have to give to someone tomorrow and a small section of stitches have unravelled. I need to fix them right now and that is distracting me from anything else. So, if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with a needle and thread.

J.

Friday, December 4, 2009

an honour to be nominated

pie is done

Hey everyone! No recipe this time, just a note to say that I somehow got nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards. Awesome! If you'd like to throw a vote my way, you'll find my blog under the "Cooking, Crafts, and Other Activities" section. It would be much appreciated.

Have a delicious weekend!

J.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

muffins!

When I graduated from university in 1998, I had plans. Big, fat, dumb plans. My plans consisted of the following:

1. Get menial job at random hip establishment.
2. Make just enough money for rent, food, and record albums.
3. Write a book and get it published.
5. Repeat 1-3 indefinitely.

I'm happy (?) to tell you, dear reader, that I followed through on almost every one of those plans. I got a job at a health food store that afforded me precisely enough money for rent, food, and records. I wrote a book and got it published.

But when it was time to do the "Repeat" part of the plan, I was pretty much done with the whole menial job thing. I decided to go back to school to get my Early Childhood Education diploma. I figured that since I didn't seem to be on my way to Professional Novelist Land, I might as well have a day job that didn't involve selling organic chickpeas to yuppies and germ freaks. Unfortunately, to get that diploma meant spending two years at my local community college. Which was kind of like going back to high school. Which sucked.

Everyday, as I set off for the fluorescent lit hallways of Algonquin College, I would pack a gigantic amount of food in my bag. Bags of almonds and apricots, granola bars, thermoses of soup or tea, rice noodles with tofu, and more. I needed a lot of food to get me through the day, and healthy, vegetarian options on campus were scarce. Every once in a while, though, I would miscalculate or get lazy and end up not having enough food to sustain me. And I would panic. And buy a muffin.

The campus cafes were sponsored by the Tim Hortons donut chain, and so the muffins they sold were of the gigantic, sugar-filled variety. Basically, cupcakes without the icing. Totally bad for me and certainly not vegan. Delicious, though. Freakin' delicious. I considered them a treat that would make me feel better about my stressed out existence, much like the hours I wasted watching "Trading Spaces" on the couch with my dog.

So, once again I have drawn you in with my nonsensical tales and I will reward you with this recipe. These are the chocolate chip muffins that I made this week to eat during stressful moments during my packed work days. They make a nice mid morning snack with a cup of tea and because they are sweetened with agave, they don't give me crazy blood sugar crashes after I eat them. The only sugar in these babies comes from the chocolate chips, and you could do away with that too by making them with blueberries (like the little ones on the left in the photo). But I liked the chocolate chip ones better so that's the recipe you get. And you will like it! Because I say so.

bakey

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cook oats (none of that instant garbage!)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 tbsp oil
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a regular sized (12 muffins) muffin tin.

In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Measure out the milk and then "sour" it by adding the vanilla extract and letting it sit for a minute.

Add agave nectar and oil.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir only long enough to combine.

Add chocolate chips and stir only until they are spread evenly through the batter.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops of muffins are beginning to brown.

Makes one dozen non-gigantic muffins.

Some Notes:

-These muffins do not get all puffy and soft like the Tim Hortons muffins, but they are not university-women's-studies-potluck dense either. They sit happily in the middle of the two extremes.

-I used small chocolate chips in mine because this gives you more widely distributed chocolate. Yum.

-When I was in grade three I was in a class with a boy named Tim Horton. He sat beside me and every day at lunch he would open his thermos really slowly saying, "Is it milk? Is it milk? Is it milk?" in this very agitated way. When he saw that it was, in fact, milk, he would heave an exaggerated sigh and say, "It's milk." Many years later, when I was fifteen, his family came to a Christmas party my parents had. I was very socially awkward and was just learning how to dress like a weirdo. Despite my black clothes, hanging down suspenders, and mounds of eyeliner, Tim Horton told me that I was pretty and it made me happy for an entire week after the party. Thank you, milk-loving Tim Horton, for increasing my chronically low teenage self confidence.

J.