How to Turn 30

This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while, but gosh darn it, I just haven’t had the time! But lucky for you, today I do. So pack your bags and hop in the time machine bitches, we’re headed back to April 2017 for this one. (I know it’s not that far of a flashback, so you can pack light, definitely won’t need your jammies, but maybe a light snack?)

Getting older, huh? That’s a thing, I guess. I’ve never felt old a day in my life. I’ve never fretted about age much. I’m not vain, I don’t give a shit about all that superficial wrinkles and bemoaning the loss of one’s youth, it’s not for me. Take care of yourself, sure. But you’re gunna get old and your tits are gunna hit the floor one day, that’s a fact. You can’t fight city hall, amiright?

I believe that life is a weird and wonderful gift from who knows where and it’s best to just take the biggest, most slobbery bite out of every day you get, because you never know when the buffet will close down for good. Chow down and drink up every last drop of life you’re served. That’s why I love the fucking SHIT out of my birthday. I’m just so happy to be here at all. Getting older means that you add on another year, but also that you’ve hopefully filed away a ton of amazing new memories from that past year to the story of you. And the year ahead is rife with limitless possibilities for more!

Thursday April 20, 2017:
I wake up, and I am officially 30 years old. No more fancy-free, footloose 20’s for me.

I took the day off of work because I wanted the whole day all to myself. So I could do whatever the hell I wanted and spend time thinking about the decade past and the decade ahead. Who have I become? Who will I become in another 10 years? What did I learn? What did I do that will forever make me smile and say, “Godammit, I knew how to live!”

It was kind of sad at first though because I went into it initially feeling disappointed with myself. I was upset about the loss of something very dear to me. Years ago I’d written a letter to myself, only to be opened on my 30th birthday. I thought I knew exactly where I stashed it, but apparently not. A few days prior to my birthday, I went to my assumed secure hiding spot and discovered my letter wasn’t there. I searched all over the place, practically tearing my hair out, so desperate to find that one direct link to a 20-year old me. I couldn’t remember a single word I’d written to myself and I wanted so badly to see that girl again, to see how hopeful she was and compare notes with the woman I am now. But it never did show up. One too many moves over the years I suppose, c’est la vie…

So that was a sucky thing, but only for a moment. I simply refuse to allow any disappointment big or small to hold me back, not today, not ever.

First thing on my agenda for a full day of birthday me time? To the spa of course! I booked myself an exorbitantly priced deluxe facial treatment at Pure and Simple. I love myself, so I’m going to treat myself like the queen that I am. And oh my sweet god in heaven, it was gooood! What was even better? Unbeknownst to me, D called a few days prior and paid for my spa day upfront because he is gentleman and a scholar. Thank you, darling for giving me the gift of flawless skin on my special day.

After the spa, I was looking good and feeling fresh. I snapped a no makeup selfie for instagram to commemorate this feeling. And so I could look back through the cobwebs in however many years and say “yeah, that was me and I loved that badass chick.”

I was feeling hella hungry afterwards, and I needed to refuel. I knew exactly what I wanted next:

Blueberry pancakes smothered in brown sugar butter served with a side of butcher’s crack bacon. Oh honey, yaaasssss! Got this stack of hotcakes at a cool ass diner called Old School at Dundas and Palmerston Ave. I walked in, it was pretty chill for a Thursday mid-morning, and grabbed a seat. There was a super adorable punky couple at the table beside me and I overheard the dude tell the server it was his 23rd birthday. Yay, I love meeting a fellow 4/20 birthday twin! I went “Holy shit dude, me too! Happy frigging birthday man!” And he was so jazzed about it. We birthday high-fived and then his girl paid the check and they went their merry way. It was a good omen.

Oh right, back to the pancakes. They were unreal! Literally the only thing I thought about for a month straight afterwards. And I’ll tell you this people, I ate every single bite in that skillet. Hell, I almost licked that skillet clean but then reminded myself that I’m 30 now, so I should control myself from doing desperate shit like that, at least when I’m in public anyways.

As I was about ready to settle the bill, my server came up to the table and handed me a GIANT COOKIE! My pal The Magpie had called the diner up because she knew I was there and bought me a birthday cookie as a post-breakfast treat. At that point, I honestly starting feeling like a real baller. Everywhere I went people were like “oh, blah blah paid your bill, or bought you stuff.” It was fucking fantastic.

I didn’t know if I was going to be able to walk after that, but walk I did. I strolled around the city and found myself at TOT Cat Cafe near College and Spadina. I wasn’t hungry at all, so I just donated $10.00 to the cafe to play with the cats.

I was at the Cat Cafe for almost two hours! Usually when I go in there with D he’s all “yeah great, they’re so cute but I don’t want to be here all day” and then herds me out after like twenty minutes. Not today though! Not on my birthday. I took my time playing with, petting, and fawning all over every special little kitty in there. They were all so frigging cute.

I wanted to stay there all day, but two hours seemed like it was plenty. I brushed all the fur off my shirt and headed out. I went to Kensington Market after that, and I took my sweet ass time. Walking around, checking out the shops, enjoying the day. I tried on some hats and wondered if I should start becoming a brooch person now that I’m 30. I could be dripping in brooches and elegance!

Ultimately, I decided I’m still to young for that, but maybe for 40?

I started thinking about 40 a lot on the walk home. How far away it was, how I had a brand new decade ahead of me to do whatever I wanted with. I got home and then I brewed myself a spot o tea. Inspiration was flowing and dreams were percolating so I sat down and I started writing a new letter. Even though I really wanted my letter for 30 to reference, it was okay without it. I wrote out all the stuff I hoped and dreamed that a 40-year old Smash would do and be proud of when she looked back.

I hid it in a spot that I absolutely 100% will not lose track of it. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

It was pretty much workday done by the time I finished, then D got home and we ordered an absurd amount of Chinese food. We feasted and I told him all about my day. Then I told him it’s not even close to over yet because we are going out partying and we’re gunna burn the motherfucking house down! He was more than agreeable.

We hopped in a cab and barreled our way towards fun at one of my all-time favourite places, The Office Pub, for Thursday night Karaoke madness. Two of my most cherished pals, The Magpie and DJ Gibbs met us there with their pipes all warmed up and ready to sing. It was the best night, we went apeshit on the mic and on the d-floor. I loved every second of it and I don’t ever want to forget that night.

We closed the place down that night, singing and dancing until the lights came on. Then we hugged the karaoke host because he was the coolest guy on the planet and told him how thankful we were for his service that night. He did a hell of a job allowing us to make merry all over the place.

We worked up a real drunk and crazy appetite and went to get some burgers at the A&W down the street. My face hurt from laughing so much. The Magpie, D, and DJ Gibbs were at an all-time hilarity peak and they were killing me with their jokes and zaniness!

I put that A&W bag on my head and it was game over. This might be one of my most favourite pictures of all time because it STILL makes me laugh to the point of tears when I see it.

D and I hopped in a cab and I smiled the whole way home. I’ve been blessed by the love of so many wonderful friends. The Magpie and DJ Gibbs are two very special people and I appreciate the hell of them for making April 20th, 2017 one of the highest highs of my life so far.

Harv greeted us at the door when we got home and shared some special birthday kitty kisses with me.

I love D and Harv so much. This is our family and we’ve got our own amazing thing going on. I don’t know how the fuck I lucked out so much, but I’m thankful for the both of them every single day. They make my heart whole.

The birthday fun didn’t stop that night either, that was just the day of! D threw me a huge surprise partaaaay on the Saturday night that followed and it was a killer time too. But that’s a whole other story in itself…

So there you have it, folks. I turned 30, and that’s how I did it. I took the fucking bull by the horns and made 30 my bitch. I very much recommend that everyone else does the same. For any birthday, any age! Love your birthday, embrace it, be thankful when the universe bestows a birthday upon you because you never know how many it will give. And you need to make the most of every single one.

Every day is an opportunity to live the life you want to live.

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More Than I Could Chew

D and I decided to grab a bite out for dinner tonight. Nothing special, we just went to a little pub in our neighbourhood. We like going out for dinner. We get to sit down and talk, just the two of us. It’s nice.

When I was younger I wasn’t a very adventurous eater. I liked to stick with what was working, like a big juicy cheeseburger or a comforting piece of shepherd’s pie. But I’ve grown up a lot since then. I try things now, you know. We went out to a fancy dinner earlier this week to celebrate D’s birthday and I had this amazingly creamy lobster and crab soup followed by a coronary inducing strip loin and duck fat frites. It was the meal that launched a thousand puddles of drool. I wouldn’t have eaten any of that stuff when I was a kid. I would have turned up my nose immediately, and I would have stuck by my guns no matter how delicious the morsel in question turned out to be. “Duck fat frites? What the fuck are you even talking about? Oh, so they’re just fancy french fries? Yeah, I still hate that”, would have been my take on it back then. But I’ve since learned that trying new things won’t actually kill you dead on the spot. And it’s been great. I fucking love trying new shit all the time now.

An extension of that growth, that newly discovered joy of trying, is that I also try not to order the same old familiar stuff at places. If we’re going somewhere that we’ve been before I try to bounce around the menu, ordering something I haven’t had at that particular place before. I’ve seen people get stuck in that rut of ordering the same damn thing from the same damn place all the time. It’s tiresome. I don’t want to be tiresome, I want to live every moment like it’s a fantastic new adventure. Especially when it comes to my culinary exploits. I’ve already wasted so much of my precious time turning my nose up, and I don’t want to waste a minute more.

So D and I met up after work and made our way over to Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub for dinner. I scanned the menu, trying to avoid the delicious looking same old same old land-mines on every page. Chicken Pot Pie, yummy but been there done that girlfriend. Fish ‘n’ Chips, another favourite of mine but it’s always the same no matter where you are. Club Sandwich, pffft more like Club Boring Sandwich. Then something wonderful caught my eye under the Burgers ‘n’ Sandwiches heading: Fish Taco. I like fish tacos, I’ve had them at other places a time or two before. But they’re not something I order all the time. Maybe on a hot, sticky summer afternoon when I feel like an ice-cold beer and a nibble. Fish tacos can really hit the spot under the right circumstances. It was just another blah January night, dark and cold. But a couple of fish tacos might be just the ticket to fight the blahness of this January night.

There was just one thing, though. It was listed on the menu as Fish Taco, no lowercase “s” neatly tacked onto the end. I wondered aloud to D if maybe that meant it would be one enormous piece of fish in a tortilla. He assured me that it was probably just a typo, a huge piece of fish in a tortilla would be ridiculous. Nobody would ever order it, he said. It’s not logical, he added for good measure. I thought about double-checking with the server first, just to be sure, but then D’s reasoning won me over in the end. Surely he was right. One huge piece of fish all bundled into a tortilla would be madness. It’s definitely going to be a tidy little plate with two, maybe three, fish tacos all in a row.

And then this happened:

fish taco

One enormous fucking fish taco was placed in front of me.

D and I were floored. I sat there looking at him, mouth agape and momentarily stunned. How could this be? It was supposed to be illogical and ridiculous, and now it’s somehow become a terrifying reality. I really didn’t even know where to begin. When I turned it around to peek at the formidable fishy foe within it was like looking into a chasm.

fish taco again

That wasn’t a typo on the menu at all. It was a completely accurate description of the meal that I received. I got exactly what I’d ordered alright, Fish Taco.

So I did the best I could, I really did. But I hadn’t been planning on stuffing my face, I wasn’t overly hungry to begin with. I’d just wanted something easily manageable that I could nibble. And don’t get me wrong, it was a goddamned delicious fish taco. The crispy filet of haddock was packed into the tortilla with generous helpings of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and tangy chipotle mayo sauce to join it on its journey down my gullet.

But I just couldn’t make it all disappear.

eating fish taco

I had to concede defeat to the mighty Fish Taco, for I had been bested.

It had the upper hand on my appetite and the element of surprise tucked into its roomy back pocket, but I’d like to think I gave it some hell on the way down. Maybe someday I’ll go back, order it again, and prove myself a worthy adversary. But for now, I’m going to shoot some Pepto to soothe my aching, overstuffed tummy and keep my distance while I lick my wounds.

We’ll meet again Fish Taco, I’m sure of it. And next time I’ll be ready for you.

The Best Innovation Ever

I’m always coming up with ideas for inventions, gadgets, and all sorts of what-have-yous that would make life better. I get these visions of how one day I’ll have an idea so revolutionary that it will have me firmly ensconced in the history books forever. Or it could just as easily make me the face of the next great infomercial on the home shopping network. Either way, however it goes down is fine with me. I see all of my ideas resulting in greatness.

The only hitch is that I’m not one for the logistical side of things. What I need is an epic partnership with some sort of tinkerer or crafter. Someone who can take my zany ideas and translate them into actual real life things. I’m still searching for my equally brilliant other half, that elusive craftsman. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we stumble upon each other one fateful day.

Maybe it’ll happen one morning when I’m waiting in line for a bagel. I’ll see some tool struggling with some sort of hindrance and I’ll mutter under my breath about how there really should be a blah blah for that. An eccentric fellow sitting nearby overhears me, feeling instantaneous inspiration. I feel a prickle on the back of my neck, and sense that I should turn around. Destiny is animating my body now, making me glance over my shoulder in the direction of my life’s true purpose. I do glance, and lock eyes with that curious chap, a knowing look rife with meaning passes between us. This is meant to be. And from that humble chance meeting the course for our sure to be illustrious partnership is charted.

But obviously that’s not going to happen overnight. I’ll have to wait a bit longer I think. But maybe soon, you never know. Until that glorious chance meeting of the minds does happen, I’ll keep the cogs turning on my hamster wheel by spending my time appreciating the innovations all around me. That’s how you keep your skills sharp. If you want to be a good writer, you should be reading a shit-ton of books, all the time. If you want to be a dancer, then you have to dance. You can’t stand there on the sidelines eating bologna. You have to fully immerse yourself in that burning passion of yours to understand how you can be great with it.

Innovation is one of my greatest pleasures in life. I like how innovation feels. Innovation feels like you’ve just conquered the fuck out of everything. Whenever we rent a fancy car for the weekend, sometimes we’ll spring for a fancy one and it has leather seats with ass warmers, it makes me feel exultant. That’s the kind of innovation that makes you feel like a bad motherfucker. That’s right, this car is warming my ass up right now while you wait for the bus, sucka! It just feels good to stop and marvel at the progress sometimes. Especially unexpected progress.

The Snuggie, for instance. Someone probably sewed a fucked up sweater one time that was five sizes too big in a dreadfully unfashionable fleece fabric and they saw an opportunity instead of a disappointment. They turned that shit into an ingenious innovation. They’re probably making residual fat stacks hand-over-fist as I type this sentence. And now, thanks to that wonderful addition of sleeves on a blanket, we as a people have a much better method for sitting on the couch and being cozy while we cram delicious junk food down our gullets. You say you want a revolution, well you know.

I didn’t think life could get any better than The Snuggie. Until recently.

Friday night: D was out with his cronies and I’d been out shopping all friggin’ day trying to find the perfect dress for his upcoming work holiday party. I finally get home and I am FAMISHED. I need some goddamned dinner, stat. Right fucking now, man. I opt for the fastest, most satisfying option. Pizza.

But it’s Friday night and all the pizza joints are going to be super busy because nobody cooks on Friday night, really. Guuuuh, so it’s going to take forever. And all I want is a piping hot ooey gooey slice right fucking now, man. But it’s my shitballs luck that a pizza teleportation device hasn’t been invented yet. (I’ll just pop that one on my ongoing list of fantastic ideas while I’m thinking about it.) So I’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way: order it and pace around impatiently for the next forty-five minutes.

I place my order online. Dominos, medium pan pizza with double pepperoni and extra cheese. But something different happens after the order is entered. Instead of some boring old confirmation page a new, special page loads in its place.

pizza tracking bar

It’s some sort of order tracking visual. It’s beautiful. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. I simply cannot take my eyes off of it. I stare at it for a while, waiting for it to change. When Stage 2 “Prep” starts flashing, I’m euphoric. Gopi, you magnificent bastard, I think I love you.

I open a bottle of wine, and come back to sit in front of the computer for a little while, marvelling at this tremendous advancement in the field of fast food delivery. They took all the anxiety out of waiting for my pizza. Instead of pacing around like a raving lunatic wondering where the hell my food is, worrying that there was some inexplicable glitch that prevented the order from actually being placed, which will surely send me into a murderous rampage when I discover it too late and too hungry to be stopped, I find myself actually enjoying the wait. I can trust again. My food is on it’s way. Why, Gopi just put it in the oven. What a revelation. I believe in Gopi. He knows I’m waiting, and he’s doing the best damn job he can. Because Gopi cares. He cares about pizza and he cares about me.

And then, an even more beautiful sight than when I first discovered the tracker, Stage 5 “Out For Delivery” happened.

pizza tracker 2

Elation! Jubilation! Adulation!

I feel all of these things and so much more. I have never been happier in my whole entire life. Not even when I got engaged in Hawaii this past year. My pizza is on it’s way and I KNOW THAT FOR A FACT! Yong just left the store and I can’t wait to greet him when he gets here. Whoa, if I don’t calm down I might just wind up frenching Yong’s face right off when he does get here with the pizza. My pizza. My precious pizza.

The Domino’s Tracker is hands down the greatest innovation I have ever encountered and I can honestly say that it has changed my life. I can’t even order pizza from anywhere else now. If they don’t have the tracker, I’m not going down that road, it’s just too difficult for me. I have to have the tracker. It has become an absolute necessity. It’s essential. And more importantly, it’s accurate. Yong was knocking on my door within ten minutes of the status changing to Stage 5 “Our For Delivery”.

That’s what makes me love invention and innovation. If I could invent something that would illicit an emotional response this insane… that’s the dream.

And for those of you wondering, yes, the pizza was fucking delicious.

More Adventures in Pizza

If you’ve been here for a while now then you know about my insatiable hunkering for pizza. I just love it so fucking much.

And I will also mention that since that post about my Top 5 Pizzaiolo slices, I have gotten free pizza there twice. TWICE! Once because the delivery boy recognized me (not for blogging, just for excessive pizza eating) and said that I could be the “Customer of the Day” therefore, my slice was free. I don’t even know if they have a customer of the day program. I suspect maybe he was just liking what he saw. I did actually wash my hair that day, so it’s plausible. One time I got a bunch of extra pickles for free at Harvey’s because the dork behind the counter was digging my sweet Star Wars t-shirt. Well, and maybe the rack underneath it too. But whatever, free pickles right? The other time I got a free slice from ‘aiolo was just last week when the manager was trying out some new cheeses on the pizza and asked if I wanted to try it out. Heck yeah I do. I’ll never say no to pizza, especially not when it’s free. So, that little piece of artistry has paid out handsomely in pizza karma.

free pizza

FREE PIZZA!

D and I used to buy shitty frozen pizzas from the grocery store all the time. Mostly when we lived in the ‘burbs and mostly so that there was pizza on-hand for when I got drunk late at night and all the pizza shops were closed. Doing that probably saved us a couple of break-ups. But with great pizza right around the corner, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. We haven’t had to resort to shitty frozen pizzas in a long time, and our life together is all the better for it. That also makes the little pizza monster that lives in my belly pretty goddamn happy. Now whenever we want to make pizza at home we just buy the dough and do it ourselves. It can be an ambitious undertaking, but it’s usually always worth it.

DIY Pizza

DIY Pizza

Homemade pizza is always that much more satisfying because you did it yourself. We went to a most delicious homemade pizza party at my cousin’s place a couple of weeks ago. It was more of a gourmet pizza experience. We used chorizo instead of pepperoni and I actually put some frigging vegetables on my pizza for a change. Something I’m normally opposed to, but I thought in the interest of acting a mature adult for a change I’d give it a try. I’m delighted to report that I’m hooked on sun-dried tomatoes now. I didn’t take any pictures though, because I didn’t want to seem weird or impolite. What’s the photo/food etiquette these days anyway? As long as it’s not “see-food” it’s okay? I’m not sure on this. Plus, I was enjoying the food too much to stop and take pictures of it. But trust me when I say that it was some of the best I’ve had in a long time. Crunchy, thin crust. Oo baby, that’s the stuff.

Frig, I just love it so much! Sometimes I try to make other things be pizza too. Like those delicious pizza grilled cheese sandwiches that I learned how to make because of my nana. Or like my latest and greatest pizza concoction: pizza bagels. And not those runty little bullshits that you buy in the freezer section at the grocery store, un uh.

I’m talking delicious honey ‘n’ oat bagels toasted an immaculate golden brown. With a generous slathering of garlic butter and assorted pizza toppings for the sake of the taste buds.

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

Oh bagel, you came and you saved me

And these are great because you can do as many as you want, however you want them. Which is perfect for me and D because we never want the same toppings, as evidenced by the green pepper/mushroom segregation above.

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

Mushrooms lurking under all that cheese!

The pizza bagels were a smashing success. We’ll probably stick with them for a while before I move on to discover bold new pizza frontiers. Maybe it’ll be pizza croissantwiches. Or pizza baguette. Mmmm, pizza waffles! Yeah, there’s potential there…

I suppose that’s all the recent pizza news I have for you today. I have to go change my shirt now as an unsightly drool stain is forming. Until next time my demented darlings.

Something Different

D and I both come from suburban backgrounds. Quaint places.

The kind of places where people leave their doors unlocked. Where modest homes with lovingly manicured lawns line the streets. Where the two and three kid families reign supreme. Where hot dogs, birthday cake, chicken pox, bicycles, inflatable pools filled with icy cold water in the summertime, swing sets in the backyard, friendly neighbours, and sidewalk chalk are absolute certainties in your life.

Our meals were square. At least, that’s what the parents always said. “Mmm, now that’s a good square meal,” they’d say as they plopped an overflowing plate in front of you. It was always heaping. A heaping plate of pot roast with mashed potatoes, and carrots/peas/green beans/corn/broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower. That was how it worked. You got a meat, some sort of potato side, and a vegetable side. Usually some bread ‘n’ butter too. Gotta make sure you’ve got the four food groups all present and accounted for. Then maybe you’d have dessert. Something mom had baked that day, possibly.

It’s the classic suburban formula for a good square meal.

Our parents didn’t deviate from it often. If they did, a pizza was delivered. Or if you wanted something really different, you’d order Chinese food. Sushi was something that wealthy weirdoes in movies ate. Nobody had ever heard of tapas before. There was no differentiation between Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, or Japanese. That stuff fell under the all-encompasing “Chinese” umbrella. Mexican consisted of Old El Paso taco kits. And Indian? What are you even talking about?

2% milk, red meat, white bread, and potatoes. Those were the staples in every suburban grocery cart. Terms like “organic”, “gluten free”, “locally sourced”, and “free range” weren’t part of the vocabulary back then. We weren’t so aware of our food or conscious of our consumption. We just ate. And we ate what we knew.

In my school days eating was hedonistic. The four food groups had been reduced to a mere two: pizza and beer. We were 18, we didn’t care. We thought we were invincible. Immune to the pitfalls of a predominately carb based diet. The summer sojourn at home eating my ma’s square meals was like a stint in rehab. Shocking myself back to health with proteins and vegetables.

When it came time to grow up, move out, and start cooking for ourselves we were awakened unto a world of possibilities beyond pot roast and mashed potatoes. It was daunting at first. The landscape had changed. Suddenly, there was a lot more choice at the grocery store. We didn’t have to stick to the square meal blueprint of our childhood. And we wouldn’t program the number for the local pizza joint into the speed dial. We were gonna have to learn to feed ourselves. Honest to goodness adult meals.

D does most of the cooking. He’s good at it, and he likes it. I like dreaming up cool things for us to eat. But when it comes to the kitchen I’d much rather draft the plans and watch someone else bring my ideas to fruition. And then of course, savour the success.

Some of our recent successes include:

Butter Chicken

Indian is the shit. Straight up, I dare you to eat some butter chicken and not fall madly in love. A creamy, dreamy tomato based sauce and some spicy basmati rice. We’ll usually make some samosas to go with as well. It’s a killer combination, and it’s easy to make. Or so D says. Sweet + Heat = Greatness. Indian food is very fragrant though. Not only in taste, but in ambience. Your apartment will have a distinctly Indian smell for the remainder of the night. Of spices and curry galore!

Butter Chicken and Basmati Rice

Butter Chicken and Basmati Rice

Pierogi & Calabrese Salami

Credit for this meal goes directly to my girl Joce-Force. We feasted like kings on these one night at her place, and I’ve been hooked ever since. You see, most people serve them with bacon. But Joce had a stroke of pure brilliance when she paired them with the Calabrese salami. The pierogies have a nice crisp outside and a tender potato center. That Calabrese gets so crispy. Just a few minutes in the frying pan and it is perfection. It’s got some kick to it though. Again, it’s that magical combination of subtlety and heat. And if you really want get nuts with flavour all up in your tastebuds, dip a bite of it in tzatziki. I insist, you simply haven’t lived until you’ve tried it!

Pierogi!

Pierogi!

Asian Five Spice Stir Fry

This is something we’ve had to experiment with a lot. I’m very picky when it comes to rice. Unless it has that exact right flavour I’m looking for, then I don’t feel compelled to eat a lot of it. But, after many trials and tribulations, I think D has nailed it. I don’t know what goes into it, but I sure as hell dig it. The only thing I know for certain is that D started putting Worcestershire sauce into the rice. And it seems to have been the crucial ingredient when it comes to pleasing my palate. We’ll also cheat a bit and make some frozen spring rolls, for the crunch. But I decree frozen spring rolls perfectly acceptable in my kitchen. Also, please note that my portion is entirely devoid of broccoli. That’s very important. No Broccoli, you shall not pass!

Stir Fridays

Stir Fridays

I have one specialty in our kitchen. One thing that I can make that will knock D’s socks off. But we don’t eat it very often. That’s because it is a major indulgence. When you just want to carb the fuck out, come see me. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

Smash’s Gut-Busting Calzones & Cheesy Breadsticks

You can’t even get through the title of that dish without clutching your stomach can you? Well, just wait ’til you see the pictures!

Calzone, Smash's way

Calzone, Smash’s way

Carb overloading

Carb overloading

And, I’ll even share my secrets with you lucky readers. One time only!

I get some dough, and let it rise. Then I roll it out to an acceptable thickness for pizza. I generously sauce one side of the dough, and then load it up. With pepperonis and cheeeeeeese! And usually some mushrooms and green peppers for D. We use turkey pepperonis, and they are delicious. They’re nice and thin, so they warm through quickly in the oven. Once it’s been stuffed, you fold over the other side of the dough and pinch it shut with your fingertips. Pinch, pinch, pinch! You’ve gotta pinch it firmly shut so it doesn’t bust and gush all over the tray when it’s baking.

Right before they go in the oven, I brush them with garlic butter. The butter is heated to a fluid consistency. It absorbs nicely into the dough and spreads easier that way. Set the oven to 400 and bake for as longs you like. If you like them crispy, keep them in for a solid 20-25 minutes. If you like them a little more soft like we do, 10-15 minutes should suffice.

And while the calzones are baking, I take the leftover dough and twist it into breadsticks. I twist out the dough, then douse the pieces lovingly in the leftover garlic butter. Shredded cheese is then sprinkled on top. These bad boys only take about 5 minutes or so. And they are worth it.

Better than crazy bread

Better than crazy bread

Cheesy heaven

Cheesy heaven

And the trick is, to save some of the sauce you used inside the calzones. Dipping these breadsticks in the savoury tomato sauce is a rare delight.

I’ve successfully weened myself off of pizza pops, but when I’m feeling just a touch nostalgic I’ll make my grown-up version of them instead. My supernova-sized, overstuffed calzones. That hits the fucking spot, man.

We’ve come a long way from our little sheltered homes in the suburbs. Grown up some. From square meals and ramen noodles in the dorm to delectable dinners crafted by our very own hands. There’s no Pot Roast Tuesdays at our place. Our meal planning hinges on my many whims and our passion for experimentation. Not to disparage our backgrounds, or our respective parents’ cooking. I do still love me some meat and potatoes with a tall glass of 2% milk. But more often than not, I’m seduced by variety. Enchanted by change. That’s always the way isn’t it? After much monotony people like to get them some strange. Do something different.

And trust me, strange has never tasted so good.

Gym Rats

I got suckered in again.

Yeah, to that whole “gym” thing. The pants are too snug, and I’d like to cut the winter laziness off at the pass. I’ve been super busy this summer with tons of stuff on the social calendar, but I need something more. Something to do during the blah days of winter to keep me from flinging myself off the balcony in a fit of despair. So… the gym it is. Plus, D got us a sweet deal through his work, and you just can’t say no to savings like that!

Our membership officially began on Saturday. So this past week I decided to make the most of my last days of freedom. In other words, I ate like a heathen. One morning I ate skittles for breakfast. Not any ordinary skittles either. Skittles Riddles!

The next bite is more confusing than the last!

The riddle behind these skittles? The colours don’t match the flavours. Mmm, and I had a fantastic Vanilla Coke to further muddle the riddles. So that was a fine culinary adventure indeed.

Also, I rocked a motherfucking Big Smoke Burger for lunch on Thursday (if you haven’t had it yet, you MUST), KFC for staff lunch Friday, and then Friday night I ate about 12 Rice Krispie squares during the Breaking Bad marathon I had with D, Joss, and Harry.

My undergrad years taught me that all high people like Rice Krispie squares

And there was some chocolate milk and dill pickle chips in the mix too because my boss had it for a work snack one day and it piqued my curiosity. You know, I needed to see if that was still my favourite snack too. Mystery solved! No surprise twist ending here, I still love me some DP chips and chocolate milk.

Hmmm, re-reading those last two paragraphs I guess I can’t really say I got suckered into a gym membership. I’m starting to see it as a necessity now…

We had gym memberships back in the RHill, but we decided to forego them this summer because we wanted time to settle into our new lives. And now that the dust has settled, quite nicely on the pudge mind you, it’s time to get back to kicking the treadmill’s ass 4 times a week.

There’s a GoodLife Fitness literally 2 minutes away from our apartment, which is ideal because we had to drive to the last gym we were members at. And since I don’t drive, I could really only go whenever D felt like going too. This gym being right at my fingertips is what I need. Partly because it’s accessible, and partly because I can sprint home to my shower. I’m a little bit neurotic about showers, so this is a very big plus point for me. Ooo and towel service too! (P.S. I just had a really hard time writing that last sentence because the auto-correct kept turning “Ooo” into “Poo”. I had to correct it five times before it would stick!)

Annnnnnd I got a free gym bag too!

FREE!

I fucking love free shit! I prioritize what kind of 6-pack I’m going to buy at the LCBO based on freebies. Sorry Carlsberg, but Grolsch is giving away half pint glasses this week!

Although, I may not get to use this free bag at all because Harvey thinks it belongs to him now…

He’s gotta get to his aerobics class!

So after a week of bingeing like a maniac, I was ready for Saturday to absolve me of all my foodie sins. Laced up the sneaks, loaded the iPod with my favourite workout jams, and then reassured myself in the bathroom mirror that I’m too young to die suddenly on a treadmill no matter how out of shape I am.

Ahhhh! The smell of spandex and bros on a hungover Saturday afternoon. Is there any other smell on the planet that can make me feel both self-conscious and embraced at the same time?

The gym wasn’t overly busy, I was able to get a machine right away. I debated starting off gently with an easygoing pace vs. pushing myself to see how much stamina I still had. Then I figured, fuck it, I’ve got a lot of guilt on my hips this week so it’s better to be brave and fail as opposed to wussing out completely. I programmed the machine for 40 minutes at 7 mph and held on for dear life.

At first I huffed and puffed like I was going to blow the whole gym down, and then eventually I slipped back into that familiar rhythm. My muscles responded like crispy, neglected houseplants. They soaked up every ounce of exertion that I doled out. I bobbed along to the music, checked out some of the tight butts on the machines in front of me for motivation, and let myself get lost in sweaty progression.

Before I knew it, 40 minutes was up. Oh the ecstasy! I had fucking crushed my first workout. Boo-yaaa, take that fellow gym rats. Smash is back with a vengeance! It was by far the most glorious moment of my week. And that’s no easy feat considering how many delicious moments I had this week.

I think the best strategy for me is to keep up with the gym while I slowly ween myself off the junky foods that make me swoon. I mean, I’m not going to cut things out entirely. I’ll still rock the occasional skittle breakfast when needed, let’s not be insane here people.

Working out feels so good. Not as good as eating whatever the fuck I want will ever feel, more of a distant second to that. “Being healthy” is a totally foreign concept to me. There’s nothing I despise more on this planet than a fucking salad. Why don’t I just save the 8 bucks and munch on the front lawn for free?

I may not adapt well to these changes initially, but for now I’m gonna get me some strange and see how I like it. And I will count every workout that I survive as a tremendous victory for that day.

Treadmill, you’re my bitch now! And don’t you ever forget it.