Saskatoon Berry Cobbler

Waaay back at the end of July I went to a tiny little berry farm outside of Edmonton and spent hours picking a gigantic bucket full of fresh, juicy Saskatoon berries. These berries grow wild basically everywhere in Western Canada in the summer, so I have fond memories of picking them from bushes on my dads acreage as a child, but I didn’t have time to hunt out a good spot and a got this whole bucket + a ton of rhubarb for $10 from a lovely older couple, so no complaints.

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I ate the majority of the berries by the handful/with yogurt/over cereal, but I made this cobbler at my dad’s house, and even though there were only a few people there at the time, it was gone very quickly. I’m not going to lie, my sister and I may have shared the last little bit for breakfast the morning after we ate it for dessert.

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I’d never made cobbler before, but I knew exactly what I wanted it to be like. It was important to me that the filling was not overwhelmingly sweet, like so many pies and cobblers are – berries have so much natural sugar that I think it’s a bit unnecessary to add a whole bunch more. Second, I wanted the topping to be biscuit-like, as opposed to cake-like, and I wanted it to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I couldn’t find a recipe that fit my needs, so I basically used a few different ones and changed a bunch and miraculously it worked out PERFECTLY. I’m still not super comfortable with creating my own recipes, especially when it comes to baking, but this one is a winner.

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It would also be really good with blueberries, and you could use the biscuit topping with other fruit fillings, such as peaches or apples. Or, since you’re most likely not able to go and pick fresh berries at this time of year, you could try using frozen berries in their place.

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Saskatoon Berry Cobbler

Adapted from Allrecipes and The Kitchen Magpie

Makes one cobbler

6 cups Saskatoon Berries

1/3 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Water

2 tbsp Cornstarch

2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/3 cup White Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Butter, chilled

1/3 cup Boiled Water

For topping:

3 tbsp White Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine the berries, water, and 1/3 cup of sugar in a large pot, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine the corn starch with the lemon juice, then add into sauce. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the saskatoon berries are soft and mixture is beginning to thicken. Pour the berry mixture into a medium baking dish.

3. For the biscuit topping, combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces, then add to dry ingredients, using your hands or a pastry blender to combine until mixture is crumbly. Add in boiled water, using a fork to combine well.

4. Using your hands, take pieces of the batter and flatten to about an inch thick, and then place over the berries in the baking dish, trying to cover most of the berries. This part doesn’t have to be perfect, because you want the berries to bubble up a little through the cracks. Combine the white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl or ramekin and sprinkle over cobbler.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Serve warm, preferably with some vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

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Zucchini Noodles with Homemade Pesto & Tomatoes

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My newest obsession: this World Cuisine Vegetable Spiral Slicer. AKA zucchini (and other vegetable) noodle maker. I had been looking for a good one for a little while, and after seeing it mentioned in a few different places, I knew it was the one. It’s decently compact, only $35, and works like a charm. There are plenty of fancier makes out there, but this one definitely does the trick (it makes noodles that are soooo long) and I am SO EXCITED about it and I can’t wait to experiment more with it!

I decided to try Danielle’s (Against All Grain) method of making the zucchini noodles (or zoodles!) and I’m pretty pleased with it. I might play around with it a little just to see exactly how I like mine best, but I think this is a really good way to start.

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I’d also been wanting to make my own pesto for forever and ever, and I did it this weekend! The recipe came from one of my best friend’s mom’s and it’s my favourite pesto, possibly in the world. Pesto + Pasta is one of my go-to meal’s, but usually I use jarred pesto – it’s not even close to as good, but I think it might be cheaper since basil, pine nuts, and olive oil are all quite expensive. However, homemade pesto is definitely worth it, at least every now and then! I like to freeze pesto into ice cube trays to use later on – just pour into the trays and freeze, removing them and storing in a container or plastic bag until you need to use them. It portions the pesto well, and keeps it fresh. If you double this recipe, it’ll make a full ice cube tray.

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I realize that this is a pretty summery recipe and that maybe I should be starting to use fall squashes and pumpkin and such, and I promise that’ll happen soon, but it is still really warm out here and I’m not quite ready to let go of summer! Soo pesto and zucchini and tomatoes it is.

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Zucchini Noodles 

Adapted from Against All Grain 

1 large Zucchini Squash per person

Sea Salt

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Peel zucchini. Using a vegetable spiralizer (or alternatively, a julienne slicer), place 1 squash on the prongs and line up the de-seeding hole in the middle of the end of the squash. Turn the crank until you’ve reached the end and have long, beautiful noodles.

3. Put the noodles on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the noodles in the oven, cooking for 30 minutes. The idea here is that you want to get most of the water out of the zucchini. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and use the paper towels to squeeze out any remaining liquid.

4. Add the zucchini noodles to any kind of sauce that you like, cooking for an additional 10 or 15 minutes on the stove, over low heat. *Today, I placed the noodles in a large frying pan and spooned a few tablespoons of pesto over, cooking for about 10 minutes and then added in some sliced cherry tomatoes, about 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese, and some black pepper. After 5 more minutes, a transferred the noodles to a bowl and topped with a little more parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.

Homemade Pesto

Makes roughly 4-6 servings, depending on how much you use 

1/4 cup Pine Nuts

4 – 6 cloves Garlic, peeled*

2 packed cups Fresh Basil

1/2 tsp Salt

1/3 – 1/2 cup Olive Oil (depending on how thick you like it)

1. Using a blender or food processor, puree the pine nuts and garlic until chunky. Add in the basil, one cup at a time. Process until the mixture is finely minced and just beginning to turn into a paste. Scrape down the sides of the machine. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil. Process until the mixture is quite fine, but still a little bit chunky (if that makes sense at all?!)

2. Either use fresh, place in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to use over the next week or two, or pour into ice cube trays to freeze for later use.

* I just got this garlic peeler, and I’m loving it (peeling garlic is the worst!)

My Dutch Side (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, + More)

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I was very, very excited for the Netherlands. I spent quite a lot of time in the country as a child, because my mom grew up there (she immigrated to Canada with her immediate family at 14) and still has quite a lot of family and friends in various cities. I hadn’t been for almost 10 years, so I was interested to see how much I would remember, and I knew it would be a very different experience to see everything and get to know my mom’s family and friend’s as an adult. Holland is a beautiful country with really friendly people, and almost everyone speaks English, making travelling there really simple. They have a really good (and reasonably priced) intercity transit system, so it’s not very difficult to travel outside of the major cities to get to experience more of the country. I know I’ll be back many more times throughout my life! Also – I just noticed that basically every single picture I’m posting has water in it… that’s not a coincidence; the country really is covered in water and it is so lovely.

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Rotterdam

After a very long bus ride from Paris, we arrived in Rotterdam fairly late at night. My cousin (or rather, my mom’s cousin’s son) and a couple of his friends were waiting at the station to meet us. The football game was about to start, and we were pretty into it at this point, since the World Cup match had been on basically the entire time that we had been in Europe and it’s kind of a huge deal over there (soccer/football is not a big thing in Canada – most people play for a couple of years as kids, but I’ve rarely heard of people going to professional games). We headed to a pub and had a couple pints and watched the game, and then headed back to my cousin’s place and ordered pizza. The night – as well as the week that followed, was pretty relaxed, which we were grateful for.

The following day we got to do a bit of sightseeing in Rotterdam. We went on a boat tour of the massive harbour, which took a couple of hours and it was really quite cool to see one of the biggest ports in the world. Then we did a bit of shopping and ate poffertjes (delicious, coin-sized pancakes with powdered sugar) at a small place on pannenkoekstraat – literally, pancake street (best place ever, obviously). We stayed in that night, and then in the morning, my Oma and Opa (actually my mom’s childhood best friend’s parents who we have always stayed with in Holland) came and picked us up to head out to their farm near a smaller city called Brielle.

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I came back to Rotterdam for two more nights after Amsterdam to spend a little more time with family before heading to Germany. My first night back I went with my cousin and his friends to Bazar – a really good Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant, and then to an Irish pub called Paddy Murphy’s to watch the game and play bingo (I won!!) I spent the next day with my mom’s cousins from her dad’s side. We drove out to Hoek Van Holland, a town at the very edge of Western Holland on the North Sea and saw the new (and apparently famous) DeltaWorks dam and then drove into Vlaardingen to have a seriously amazing seafood lunch at the Delta Nautique Hotel and to see some more family.

Overall, Rotterdam is a really cool city and is totally different than Amsterdam. Since everything was completely destroyed in the World Wars, the architecture is very modern, and the harbour is huge and very interesting. It’s not overly touristy, and there is great shopping and food if you know where to go. There are also tons of options of smaller towns that are easy to get to if you want to do day trips. Rotterdam is a very multicultural city, so the people and the food options are unique and interesting.

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Brielle/Vierpolders/Rockanje

After getting settled at my Oma and Opa’s, we tried to make a plan for the next couple of days. This was much easier said than done, considering that they speak very minimal English and I speak virtually no Dutch. We eventually figured it out, with help from a translator app on my phone (so smart!) and then Shelby and I went out on a bike ride to explore the area that I had spent so much time in throughout my childhood. I managed not to get us too lost, which I was quite proud of. We biked into Brielle and spent a little bit of time going up and down the tiny streets and stopping when we saw anything interesting, such as the lovely old church in the centre of the town, the windmill surrounded by sheep at the edge of town, or the drawbridges over the small canal that goes through the city. We kept going until we found Vierpolders, the town where my mom grew up (the towns are all very close together), and then headed back for a typically dutch, very hearty dinner.

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Afterwards, we went to another family friend’s house, and my friend Dayenne and her boyfriend showed us around Brielle a little more. The city actually has really interesting history – there are still walls around the city and it is surrounded by a canal, plus there are many memorial structures and other interesting remains from many past wars. We also went for ice cream in another nearby town at De IJssalon, which is apparently one of the best places in the country (there are also locations in Rotterdam and other smaller towns.)

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The following day we went to the beach at Rockanje, which is a very small resort town with a quiet, but beautiful and clean beach. The view from here is awesome, and the beach is completely full of beautiful shells that I spent hours collecting as a child. We spent the evening visiting more family friends near Delft, another city, and then returned home pretty late that night.

If you have some time in Holland and want to see more than just Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I would definitely recommend Brielle. It’s super easy to get to by car or bus from Rotterdam, and it’s adorable and picturesque and very typically dutch. There is a good market (which we didn’t have time to see) and some cute stores in town, so it would be nice to spend a day or two in even if you don’t have family in the area.

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Amsterdam 

 Shelby and I arrived in Amsterdam on a Friday afternoon, and we spent a couple of hours walking around the city and got dinner (pannenkoeken – Dutch pancakes) before heading back to our hostel to meet up with Carley and her friend Evelyn. We were staying at a lovely little hostel on the outskirts of Amsterdam that was set up like a hippie village – the rooms were either colourful mini trailers or cabins – and it was next to a huge lake surrounded by adorable cottages. We were pretty excited to have a decent sized group of girls to head out with, so we went to a bunch of bars around Leidseplein and had a very fun night. I didn’t realize that Amsterdam is like the Las Vegas of Europe – there were SO many Bachelor parties around.

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On Saturday we walked around the city and checked out cool vintage flea market in Waterlooplein before going to the Heineken museum for a tour. It was actually really fun, and such good value for the price – around 20 euros I believe, and we got 4 decent sized beer samples, the museum tour, a canal boat ride, and a souvenir beer glass from their gift shop. Afterwards we went to the Anne Frank House, where we waited for an apparently very short 45 minutes, and then went to Vapiano for dinner. Vapiano was basically the best restaurant ever – it’s a pizza/pasta take out place that serves giant portions with tons of options, all made right in front of you with fresh ingredients by beautiful men (not sure if this was a coincidence or not…) We opted to have a night in on Saturday, since we were pretty exhausted from the day of walking around (and probably from the night before).

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Shelby had to fly home to Canada really early on Sunday morning. I was very, very sad to say goodbye to my travelling partner, but also really excited to explore more cities on my own. Carley and Evelyn still had a few hours until they had to leave, so we did some shopping and saw a little more of the beautiful city. We found some really awesome stores/restaurants, including: Anna + Nina, Latei, and countless others, mainly around Utrechtstraat. After leaving Carley and Evelyn at the train station, I walked around by myself for a couple more hours – just seeing/experiencing the city. It was actually pretty cool because the football game was on, so EVERYONE was inside or on a patio watching the game and the streets were literally silent, but every once in a while I would hear chorus of cheers, and then madness at the end of the match (they won!)

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On my last day, before heading back to Rotterdam, I was really excited to grab a coffee and some treats, and then go read my book in Vondelpark. I took a tram to the area, stopped at a bakery and an amazing coffee spot (Brandmeesters), and then found myself a nice place to sit. Since I was leaving that day and our hostel was a bit out of the way, I had all of my luggage with me – 1 huge backpack, 1 smaller backpack, and my purse. At this point, I finally noticed that I no longer had my small backpack. I attempted not to panic, because the bag thankfully didn’t have anything too important in it – my passport and my wallet were in my purse – just my camera (which I had hardly used because I always use my iPhone), my moms iPad, my makeup, and tons of other things that would be a pain in the ass to repurchase. I retraced my steps, and eventually ended up (many tears and many hours later) at the main office for the tram company. I reported it lost, gave them my info, and headed back to Rotterdam. A couple days later, I called the company, and the backpack had been found and returned (!!!) I got my  cousins step mom to ship it to Carley’s place in Germany, where I was heading next, and everything worked out SO nicely. There are SUCH good people in this world.

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I adored Amsterdam, so much more than I thought that I would. It was among my favourite cities on the trip. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous city with so many friendly people, adorable cafes, dozens of markets, and good shopping. It was reasonably walkable, there were so many things to do, the night life was great, and as soon as you left the very central/touristy areas, it wasn’t all that busy despite it being the end of June.

Rutabaga, Bacon, and Sage Breakfast Scramble

This is going to be a quick post. Partly because I feel like I’ve done a lot of rambling/talking about myself lately, but mainly because I actually made this recipe about a month ago. Although I could have made it again now, I usually like making new recipes instead of re-making old ones. I try not to leave recipes as drafts for too long, but sometimes life happens (sometimes it happens a lot) and I can’t get around to posting as much as I would like.

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This was actually my first time using rutabaga in a recipe. It was when I was house sitting for my friend Erin and her family, and there was a rutabaga sitting in the fridge, so naturally I needed to think of something to do with it. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought about them before, because they are actually delicious (kind of like potatoes, only sweeter? but not quite sweet potato?) Rutabaga also happened to go very well with sage (and rosemary) both of which my friend’s mom had growing fresh in her garden. And then of course there needed to be bacon.

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You might notice that the light is a little off in these photos. It may or may not be because I was not eating this for breakfast at all, but rather a very late dinner. Which honestly, tend to happen quite frequently around here.

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Rutabaga, Bacon & Sage Breakfast Scramble 

Serves two. 

4 strips Bacon

1 Rutabaga, chopped into 1 inch cubes

2 stalks Celery, sliced thinly

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

1/4 tsp Paprika, plus extra for dusting

5 medium-large Sage Leaves, sliced thinly

2 small sprigs Rosemary, minced

2 or 3 Eggs

Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon until crisp (5 min)

2. Leaving bacon fat in pan, add diced rutabagas and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 min. medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover pan, letting steam for 10 min, stopping two or three times to stir.

3. Add celery and onions and sauté, stirring constantly for 2 min. Cover and let steam for 5 min, stopping twice to stir. Add in paprika and season with salt and pepper to taste, sautéing for another 2 minutes. Add in diced bacon and fresh herbs, stirring to combine.

4. Crack 2 or 3 eggs over entire combination, increase heat to medium high, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until white part of egg is cooked. Serve.

Raspberry Oatmeal Scones with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Walnuts

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Like all proper English folks (of which I am technically one), I love a good scone. I also enjoy drinking tea from pretty cups, Harry Potter, obsessing over the royal family, One Direction, and going for pints – so there you go.

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I’d actually been wanting to make scones for quite a while now, but somehow never got around to it until today. I had a hard time deciding what kind I wanted to make, so naturally I just threw everything into one batter. Thankfully, raspberries, oatmeal, dark chocolate, and toasted walnuts are kind of perfect matches for each other.

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Confession – I didn’t mean for the batter to be this pink. I forgot to toast my walnuts until after I had already added my frozen raspberries to the batter so then they kind of thawed and when I mixed the walnuts in, well… you know. Everything got pink. Buuut they’re kind of pretty so I decided to embrace it. I cut half of them into squares and half into triangles, just to see which I liked better. I think I like the triangles a bit more, purely for looks.

This recipe makes quite a lot, so I might cut it in half next time, but it is good if you want to freeze some of them. Just get to the step where you cut them, then place them on parchment paper and throw in the freezer until they’re solid, then transfer into containers. Then, next time you want fresh scones for breakfast, turn the oven on and pop ’em in while you’re showering/making coffee.

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These scones are a bit crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside, and have a delicious nutty flavour. And those bits of dark chocolate are the happiest of surprises. They contain fruit, oatmeal, nuts, and whole wheat flour which I’m pretty sure means that you can have them for breakfast (never mind all that butter!)

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Raspberry Oatmeal Scones with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Walnuts 

Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

Makes 24 – 30, depending on size

2 cups All-Purpose Flour

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup Rolled Oats

2 tbsp Baking Powder

3 tbsp White Sugar

2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, chilled and diced

1/2 cup Buttermilk, chilled

4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp Vanilla

2 cups Frozen Raspberries

1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips (or Chunks)

1 cup Chopped Walnuts, toasted lightly and cooled*

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, sift together together the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Then, add the cold, diced butter and knead with your hands (or use a pastry blender, but you’re working with a lot here!) until the mixture begins to resemble coarse crumbs.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine, trying not to over mix. Add the frozen raspberries, chocolate chips, and cooled toasted walnuts, and combine (you might have to use your hands).

4. In batches (or not, depending on how you want to cut the scones), dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and use your hands to shape the dough – probably into either a circle or a square – and pat down to be about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, and this will most likely get a little messy. Cut the dough into segments (it’s helpful to wet your knife so it doesn’t stick) and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. At this point, you can either pop them in the oven, or put them in the freezer to use later. If you’re baking them now, make sure to brush the tops with egg wash right before you put them in the oven.

5. If you’re using frozen dough at this point, it might take an extra 10 minutes or so, but that’s why I will typically place frozen dough in the oven as it’s heating up instead of waiting for it to preheat (just keep an eye on them). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to cooling racks. Serve warm, if possible.

* I toasted my walnuts for about 5-6 minutes in the preheated oven

Wanted: Pretty Home Things

Wanted: Pretty Home Things
I’ve been wanting to start posting more “lifestyle” type things, and since I just moved into my first “big girl” apartment, I figured now is a good time to start. I think that I’ll still always post more food/recipe posts than anything else, because that is my true passion, but I’m looking forward to seeing where some new, different types of posts (including travel, home, and maybe fashion) will take Sweet Mayberry. If you’ve been following along for a while, I hope that you’ll stick around!
I had this idea in my head that when I got my first apartment after University, I would be able to decorate it like some of the coolest places on Apartment Therapy – you know, trendy, New York apartments and such. I’m quickly realizing that this is not necessarily the case. First of all, moving is expensive enough with just buying the necessities, let alone more pricey furniture and home accessories. Plus, my new roommate has a bunch of furniture already, and even though our taste does tend to be a little different (and our furniture doesn’t all go together that well) it means that there is no reason for me to buy everything new. And then there is the fact that I’m not even 22 yet and I have a lot of years and probably many more apartments/condos/houses to be able to develop my specific tastes and find items that I love.
So when I do buy new things to have around the apartment, I’m trying to focus on choosing high quality items that make our place look more grown up and that I’ll be able to use for a long time. Like luxurious towels and classy accessories and kitchen tools that I’ll use forever and ever.
ONE / TWO / THREE / FOUR / FIVE / SIX / SEVEN / EIGHT / NINE 

Paris, Je T’aime

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Paris is another one of those cities that I was in twice during the same trip. Shelby and I went from London to Paris on a Friday afternoon, and were joined for the weekend by my other bestie, Carley, who is currently working in Germany. Then, at the veryyy end of my trip, I came back alone.

When I initially started planning my trip, I didn’t exactly even have a plan. I knew the time when I could leave, and when I needed to be back, and a general idea of where I wanted to go, but that was it. So when I booked my flight home, I had no idea where to book it from. I ended up deciding on Paris based on the fact that it’s fairly central and I thought it would be easy to get to, even if I wasn’t in the area. It ended up working quite well, because I spent the last few days of my trip in the South of France visiting family (which you’ll hear about later!), and then just stayed overnight in Paris before my flight. Soo anyway, the reason why I am explaining all of this to you is to give you a bit of a background as to why I technically spent four nights in Paris, but they don’t really flow together very well.

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Paris 

Our first night in Paris was not particularly adventurous, but it was exciting – for us. Shelby and I hadn’t seen Carley in a few months since she left Canada, so we were ridiculously happy to be a trio again. We literally bought a bottle of wine and a couple bags of chips and sat on a random bench somewhere in the middle of Paris and talked for hours. And that was it and it was perfect.

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The following day was also a bit… well, not typically Parisian. One of the first plans we made for our trip to Europe was that we needed (yes, needed) to see One Direction on their World Tour. We literally bought our tickets a few days after we had paid for our flights. And no, we are not 16. My love for that beautiful, beautiful boy band only continues to grow with time and there is nothing that you can say to make me love them any less. And if you think you are not a fan, I dare say you are kidding yourself. But anyway; we walked around a bit in the morning – saw the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and strolled along the Champs-Élysées, and got crepes. And that was all lovely. But in reality, that day was dedicated to 1D. The concert was seriously amazing (obviously) and despite some slight issues (dehydration, sunburn, forgetting to bring food – to name a few) this was definitely one of my favourites from the trip.

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For our last full day (at the time) in Paris, we had a very long day of walking – my favourite way to see a city, if you hadn’t noticed – and saw the Louvre, Notre Dame, the “love lock” bridge (don’t get me going on how I feel about love and locks and bridges and anything else you can put a lock on in Europe), and the Luxembourg Gardens. I adore the St. Germain district that is between the River Seine and the Luxembourg Gardens. It is full of quaint, narrow alleys, with restaurants that have been there for 100’s of years (or at least look like they have), vintage book shops, and gritty bars. Everything that I want to see in Paris in one little area. We stopped at a small restaurant called La Jacobine, and were treated to a massive salad (there was a full slice of quiche, on top of the salad) and the best french onion soup I probably will ever eat.

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When I was coming back to Paris, I knew I wanted to go and see the Montmartre district, so I booked a hostel a little closer to that area. I felt like I was really able to enjoy myself this time, because I had less of an agenda, even though I only had an evening. I grabbed a quick dinner at Boco, a takeout restaurant with dishes created by Michelin Star chefs. Their food is 100% organic, 100% creative, and 100% delightful. It’s served in adorable little jars, and if necessary, they will heat it up for you. I had the hardest time deciding what to eat, but ended up getting a savoury take on tiramiso – think tomato sauce, mascarpone, some sort of savoury cake thing, salted caramel ice cream, and some yummy kombucha.

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From the Saint Lazare location, I walked up Rue Blanche towards the Moulin Rouge (which I was really happy that I got to see, despite the area being crazily busy), and then began the trek up the hill to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. On the way, I caught a few glimpses of the Montmartre Cemetery, and even though cemeteries are not normally my thing, this place looked very impressive, and I was sad that it’s gates were closed. I also got a crepe from a street vendor for my “evening snack” (it was my last night!!)

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The Sacré-Cœur itself was impressive, but what I was really wowed by were the views. You can see basically the entire city from the view points here, and it is crazily beautiful. There were also some incredible street performers in the area, including a (10?) person jazz band that I wish I could remember the name of. After hearing that the district was basically taken over by tourists, I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and Parisian the area still felt, if you can look past the gift shops and people selling Eiffel Tower keychains. In the area just south of the Moulin Rouge, there were even some cool looking bars with what looked to be locals spilling out onto the streets with after work drinks.

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Although Paris may not have been my favourite city on the trip – I didn’t always feel entirely safe, especially at night, but most of the areas were cleaner than I expected, and the people were actually really, really friendly in contrast to what I had been lead to believe. I don’t have to tell you that the things to do in Paris are endless, but the city was surprisingly walkable, and of course, really beautiful. I will be back.

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Citrus Shrimp & Prosciutto Nectarine Skewers

As I’m sure you all know, I love gluten and dairy and basically everything that is not paleo. Because I don’t really have any serious sensitivities to different food groups, I think that everything in moderation is okay. However, I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier lately – two months in Europe combined with the stress/busyness that comes with moving and starting a new job has not done wonders for my figure – so I’ve been finding myself drawn towards paleo recipes lately.

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Danielle Walker is the author of the blog Against All Grain, and two paleo cookbooks (I have the first, and I am dying to get my hands on the second). I initially starting following her on instagram a few months back, and have been slightly obsessing over her and her recipes since. She has so many unique ideas and fresh takes on the paleo diet that it seems ridiculously easy to follow all the time, plus she has great writing skills and seems extremely personable.

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Danielle shared this recipe a few weeks ago on her blog, and I love that it was easy to throw together, has some of my favourite summer-y flavours, and was pretty healthy. Definitely one of those recipes that seems super fancy, but was really not difficult at all to make. I especially loved the citrus marinade on the shrimp, and will definitely be using it for other recipes in the future. I threw these skewers over a quick spinach/arugula salad with some chèvre and a simple citrus dressing, Danielle put them on cauli-rice, and I could see them working really well at any end-of-summer barbecue.

This was the first meal that I cooked in my new place! I am so, so excited to have my own kitchen again. This first meal was very appropriately eaten while sitting on the kitchen floor – my roommate hadn’t moved in, so there was no couch, and we have yet to buy a kitchen table.

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Citrus Shrimp & Prosciutto Nectarine Skewers

Adapted from Against All Grain

Serves 4

1/4 cup Fresh Orange Juice

2 cloves Garlic, peeled

1/2 inch knob of Fresh Ginger

2 tsp Tamari or other soy sauce

1 tsp Honey

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 lb Medium Wild Shrimp, deveined with tails on

3 Yellow Nectarines, pitted and cut into wedges

2 oz Prosciutto, thinly sliced

1. Soak skewers in water for at least 1 hour, or use metal skewers.

2. Place the juice, garlic, ginger, tamari, honey, and sea salt in a blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour the marinade over the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

4. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.

5. Wrap thin strips of prosciutto around each nectarine wedge and set aside.

6. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and shake off excess liquid. Alternate threading the shrimp and the nectarines onto skewers.

7. Grill the skewers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until the shrimp is pink throughout and the prosciutto is crispy. Serve hot.

London Calling ( + Cambridge and Saffron Walden)

It snowed this week. Enormous tree branches blocked streets and sidewalks all around Calgary as they broke off due to the weight of the wet snow. It’ll get better soon – our forecast for the rest of the month is quite good, but I’m already starting to miss the warmth of summer. Not that London was particularly warm, actually. But alas, it’s next on my list, so that is what I’ll be reminiscing on today.

This is the part of the trip where I’m going to confuse you with the order of cities. See, first we went to London, and then we went to visit my family in a small town near Cambridge, and then we went back to London. Logical, I know. This was the first but certainly not the last time that I found myself travelling back the way I came on this trip, as you will continue to realize as I find time to write more of these posts. To make it slightly less confusing (I think?) I’m going to compile all of one cities information in one place. Anyway…

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 London 

We ended up getting into London pretty late, because we took a cheap RyanAir flight to Stansted, which is a little North of London. Side note – We didn’t find RyanAir to be that bad. We knew in advance that we would have to pay extra to check our bags. It was slightly irritating that we had to wait in at least 4 or 5 different (very long) lines in order to check in and get to our gate, making us very near to being late. I almost fainted/puked while we were waiting on the runway (for at least 45 minutes) due to the insane heat and my dehydration (and possibly my hangover). The landing was… well, hard (i.e. we practically crashed). But, you know, as long as you are aware/okay with the possibility of all of these scenarios, RyanAir was not so bad.

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When we finally found our hostel, which was on a lovely street of gorgeous houses in Kensington, half a block from Hyde Park, we decided to find a place to eat. And then we saw a Whole Foods. Shelby and I had never been to a Whole Foods. We nearly passed out from excitement and then spent an hour browsing salad bars and interesting produce and gluten-free everything. I believe that my purchases included a passionfruit, green juice, a mango chia seed pudding bowl, and a meat pie, which I proceeded to eat while sitting on a bench right next to Kensington Palace (no, I very sadly did not see Harry or anyone else worthy of attention). And no, I do not regret the fact that my first activity in London was technically grocery shopping. There are few things that get me more excited than a good grocery store – and we certainly needed a little nutrition/detox after a week in Spain.

We ended the night by drinking a couple of ciders in front of a large screen playing the Football game – England vs. Italy (we did a lot of very typically British things while in England, I am very happy to say).

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The following day, we explored Hyde Park, High Street Kensington, and South Kensington, with very necessary stops at Harrod’s, Topshop, and at a cute little place for some afternoon tea. We also walked around Notting Hill (no Hugh Grant, or even any lookalikes – mostly some cute rainbow hued houses with pretty flowers and lame tourist shops) and Portobello Road (since it was a little later in the day, we didn’t get to check out the market at all, sadly!) We had fish and chips for dinner at an adorable pub called Finch’s – although, we realized later, that we should have gone earlier and had Sunday Roast, if we wanted to be proper. We were super exhausted by the end of the day – I can’t even begin to guess how far we must have walked.

The next morning, before we headed North to visit my family, we checked out Camden Town and Camden Lock/Market and I was ridiculously impressed. It was busy, but the food stalls were amazing and the culture/vibes were interesting despite being a little touristy. I had a perfect, freshly roasted cup of coffee from an Ethiopian stall, and Shelby and I shared pyrogies, sausage, and cabbage rolls from a Polish stall and a fresh naan chicken masala wrap from an Indian stall – all were so, so good, and we had SO many choices it was practically impossible to decide.

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So then we spent two days visiting my family (see below!) and also went on the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour – AKA the official HARRY POTTER STUDIO where many scenes in the movies were actually filmed. It was one of the best things we did on the trip, and it was SO cool to see the sets, props, and learn more about how the films were made. I DEFINITELY recommend doing this if you are in England and even slightly interested in Harry Potter (and if you are not, I am judging you – sorry).

When we got back to London, we stayed in a different hostel which was very near to the London Museum – kind of close to Oxford Circus, Soho, and Covent Garden. We got sushi at a local chain restaurant and then decided to go out, and ended up finding a few pretty fun bars – I believe near Leicester Square. The following day, we saw all of the “big” sites – Big Ben (there was some sort of security threat at the parliament next door, so the entire area was blocked off), Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, etc. It was very busy, as expected, but if you haven’t seen them, you definitely have to check them out at least once! We also went to the Borough Market, which was huge and pretty cool – I got scotch eggs on arugula, and I was surprised how much I loved it. That night, we saw The Lion King on Broadway. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t at the top of my list of shows to see, but it worked out well. We got same day tickets at a box office near many of the theatres, and were surprised to learn (we had asked around a bit) that we should have lined up at the actual theatre that we wanted to see a show at, early in the morning, in order to have the best chance at getting the cheapest tickets. I’ll definitely keep that in mind for next time, because we ended up paying a fair amount and had to sit in the second last row of the massive theatre, which was not entirely ideal.

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Before catching a train to Paris the next day, we went and saw Buckingham Palace (like the other main sites, I think it’s one of those things everyone should see at least once!)

I loved my time in London despite the weather not being overly great, and the hostels we stayed being sub-par at best. There was tons of things to do, so much to see, and lots of yummy things to eat. I wished that I had time to check out the East End of London, as I had heard from multiple sources that it was the new “place to be” if you will, but we totally ran out of time, despite having almost four whole days! Next time…

Saffron Walden 

I doubt that you have heard of the charming, quaint English town that is Saffron Walden (most people I met who actually lived in England hadn’t either), and I would never have known about it or gone to visit if I didn’t have close family in the area. My dad’s family is from England, and while he moved to Canada with his parents and siblings when he was 8 and stayed in Canada, both my Uncle and Aunt moved back to England, eventually settling in Saffron Walden, when they were older. So this trip was actually my second (or maybe third?) time in Saffron Walden, but it was the first that I clearly remember.

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Shelby and I stayed at my uncles place – an adorable townhouse style home from the 1600’s that is a few blocks from the centre of town. On our first evening there, my uncle gave us a quick tour of town – it is quite small, so this maybe took only an hour or so. Next, we stopped at a very typical English pub for a pint, and then went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I knew that England was well known for having good Indian – but this place was even better than I expected. My uncle insisted on ordering about 6 or 8 dishes for 3 people, so I got to try things that I’ve never even heard of and left very, very satisfied/you could have rolled me home. There was way more variety than anywhere I’ve been in Canada, and everything was cooked absolutely perfectly. I also (believe it or not) tried lamb for my very first time here. I guess I was just a little squeamish about it previously, but decided to go for it and omg, I am very glad that I did – in fact, I think I ate it 2 or 3 more times while I was in Europe.

The next morning, we checked out the town market and a few shops in the town centre. Saffron Walden is one of those perfect European towns where people still buy all of their produce from the market, meat from the butchers, etc., etc. and there are a ton of cute little antique and gift shops. According to my uncle, the market was far smaller and the town was less busy than usual, but we were totally okay with that. After spending the day in Cambridge, we had a lovely dinner at my aunt’s house, which is in a suburb-type area just outside of Saffron Walden. Although I imagine that there are many similar, equally picturesque towns plotted around the English countryside, if you happen to be in the area, definitely take an afternoon to stroll around Saffron Walden.

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Cambridge 

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Cambridge. Of course I knew it would be a university town, but besides that, I hadn’t really heard anything – which I guess probably made me easy to impress. Cambridge is about an hour drive from Saffron Walden, so we decided to head up for the day with my uncle and one of his friends. First, we grabbed lunch at Pret A Manger (the best to-go coffee/sandwich place ever – there are also MANY in London), and then we walked over to the canal and found a boat and a guide to take us punting. If you have never heard of such a thing, you are not alone. A punt is basically the Cambridge equivalent of a gondola in Venice. It is a flat bottomed boat that is propelled by someone standing at the end of it with a long pole that pushes against the riverbed. There might be other places where you can go punting, but it is a popular tourist (and local, on special occasions) activity in Cambridge. Anyway – we spent an hour or two punting and basking in the rare English sun while eating our sandwiches and drinking Pimm’s. I challenge you to find a better way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.

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Afterwards, we walked around the campus a bit and quickly browsed the Cambridge market, and then headed home. If you are in England, I would definitely recommend taking a trip up to Cambridge. It’s only maybe an hour long trip by train, and the whole town was bustling and there seemed to be plenty of interesting stores and places to eat. Plus, it’s really interesting to see one of England’s oldest and most well known Universities.