lettuce wraps (with butter lettuce)


is it weird that i had a craving for butter lettuce today? i decided to make lettuce wraps for dinner tonight to satisfy that craving. 

ingredients: ground beef, mushrooms, onions, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and (butter) lettuce. 

mince garlic, onions, and mushrooms. sauté onions and garlic in a pan with sesame oil; add beef, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. once the beef is browned, add mushrooms and more oyster sauce and sesame oil. stir around on medium heat until the beef is fully cooked and serve with washed lettuce. 

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where does my money go? – a week in my vancouver life

spoiler alert: most of it goes to food. big surprise, huh?

i was inspired by this post to keep track of my spending for a week, and document it in a similar format.

day one:

6:40 am – greek yogurt and coffee for breakfast at home: pre-paid groceries and nespresso pods.

9:20 am – got hungry again and had to have a second breakfast – scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach and a side of sourdough toast ftw: $4.50.

12:30 pm – i meant to bring my lunch, but accidentally left it at home, so had to buy lunch – bagel with bacon, egg, and cheese (breakfast for lunch is the besttttt): $4.25.

5:10 pm – leave to meet a supplier downtown. contemplate driving for a split second, but then i remember what a hassle parking downtown is (and how expensive it is). i actually have a parking spot downtown through work, but it’s not that close to where we’re going for dinner. decide to take the skytrain: pre-loaded transit pass.

greygoose.jpgfreeappytrufflelobster

5:30 pm – reso at five sails. order my first greygoose dirty martini of the night (maybe $20? not sure because i didn’t pay, or even look at the price on the menu). get a free appetizer, compliments of the chef. order the lobster for dinner – they had me at “truffle” ($55). order another martini (another $20? who knows). chat with supplier about how old guys have no energy (completely business related, obviously): supplier picks up the bill because she can expense it.

7 pm – deep tissue massage at spa utopia ($139): also did not pay for this.

9:15 pm – after chatting with my supplier over a complementary glass of wine (it comes with every massage at spa utopia), it’s time to fight the temptation to take a cab home, and take the skytrain instead: pre-loaded transit pass.

total spent in the day: $8.75 (would have been more than $250 if dinner and the massage weren’t taken care of).

day two:

leftoverbreakfast

8:20 am – heat up leftovers, put a fried egg on top of it, and call it breakfast – breakfast at home: pre-paid groceries.

11 am – decide to go work at the coffee shop across the street. buy a coffee for the ability to use their patio: $3.

lunch

1 pm – lunch with a friend at the edge cafe. order the chorizo hash ($15) and had breakfast for lunch for the second day in a row: friend paid for lunch.

1:45 pm – back to the coffee shop; grabbed a chai latte for myself, and a mocha for my friend (the least i could do, since he grabbed the tab at lunch): $9.50.

5:45 pm – finally finish working for the day! meeting an old high-school friend who’s in town for dinner tonight out in burnaby. gas prices are pretty cheap right now (it’s sad how 1.32 has become “cheap” here in vancouver), should i leave early and stop for gas…?

6:30 pm – fuck it, no time for gas. this traffic is brutal.

7:30 pm – finally a table opens up at ramen jinya. ordered tempura brussel sprouts to share ($6.80) and ordered the jinya tonkotsu black ramen for myself ($14.80): friend says dinner is his treat.

9:15 pm – drive my friend back to his hotel, and drive myself back home – i’m in a food-coma and way too tired to stop for gas.

total spent in the day: $12.50 (would have been around $55 if i didn’t have such generous friends).

day three:

9:15 am – i really should learn how to eat breakfast first, before doing anything else. but, after an hour and a half of emails, it’s finally time to have yogurt and coffee for breakfast: pre-paid groceries and nespresso coffee pods.

10:50 am – reassessed tax rebate finally came in – repay lawyer money he lent me before i forget and just spend it all on other shit: $2,000.

12:30 pm – return from a quick run, resist the urge to get tacofino from the food truck on the walk home, and heat up leftovers for lunch instead: pre-paid groceries.

1:30 pm – time for more coffee: pre-paid nespresso pods.

5:45 pm – take skytrain downtown to meet friends that are in town from whistler for drinks – compass card auto-uploads more money onto it: $10.

6 pm – meet friends for drinks at steamworks. order the mushroom caps because we’re starving. the bill comes and i grab it, because they always pay for my drinks: $46.89.

7 pm – dinner at nuba with my friends and their friends – order a bunch of stuff to share between us all. food is split evenly between us, but my friends put the bottle of wine we shared ($49) on their bill: $27.01.

8 pm – meet a date for drinks at chill winston. order a cocktail ($10.50) and a dirty vodka martini (i didn’t even ask the price, but maybe $14?): he pays.

10 pm – grab wine from the liquor store ($18) and go chill on the awesome playground with a zipline: he pays again.

total spent in the day: $2,083.90 (should have been over $2,140).

day four:

12:40 pm – SO hungover. finally decide to get out of bed and order chinese food.

1 pm – stop at the bcl to pick up a bottle of rosé for a friend’s wine tasting party tonight – i know nothing about rosé, but this one’s from france and the bottle is pretty: $17.34.

dandan

1:05 pm – pick up chinese food from peaceful (xiao long bao and dan dan noodles): $18.80.

1:25 pm – see the msp bill on my table, as i’m digging into my dan dan noodles. i should probably pay that: $75.

7 pm – a friend picks me up in her car to go to the wine tasting party – she’s pregnant, so will be sober later and can drive.

7:30 pm – pizza, charcuterie, grapes, shrimp cocktail, and 12 bottles of rosé: a friend that was hosting the wine party provided the snacks, and everyone brought a bottle of wine to share.

11:30 pm – pregnant friend drives me home safely.

total spent in the day: $111.14.

day five:

11 am – how am i this hungover again? get asked out on a coffee date and decline, because i don’t feel like looking human today.

12:30 pm – heat up leftover chinese food and make a cup of green tea: prepaid.

6:15 pm – netflix. order thai food using foodora and get $10 off because of a voucher: $16.67.

total spent in the day (without even leaving the house once): $16.67.

day six:

7:45 am – yogurt and coffee for breakfast: pre-paid groceries and nespresso pods.

9:45 am – is it too early for lunch? fuck it, i’m an adult and can do what i want. heat up leftover spring rolls from last night before my 10 am conference call: paid for the meal yesterday.

11:20 am – time for lunch #2; heat up leftover pad see ew: paid for it last night.

2 pm – i’m hungry again. heat up more leftover pad see ew and have my second coffee of the day: pre-paid.

ramen

5:30 pm – drive downtown and park for free at work (probably saved $6 by not parking at a meter downtown). check out a ramen place (men-no kura) with a friend, that neither of us have been to before: $12.62.

7 pm – drive back home in a food-coma.

total spent in the day: $12.62 (should have been more like $18, yay parking pass).

day seven:

7:15 am – coffee at home while doing my make-up: pre-paid nespresso pods.

7:30 am – drive downtown and park at work for free – think about how expensive it usually is to park downtown during weekdays ($28 a day at bentall): parking pass ftw.

8:30 am – i should probably get something to eat. and another coffee: $5.25.

1 pm – indian food (samosas, naan, beef rogan josh, and a veggie curry), cake for dessert, and coffee from starbucks for the meeting at work (maybe $20?): paid for by the company.

lamb

5 pm – seawall run and then stop for groceries at the save-on on the way home, that’ll last me the next few days. making lamb for dinner tonight, because that’s what’s on sale this evening: $21.18.

total spent in the day: $26.43 (should have been $74.43, but work paid).

…and there you have it, like i said in the beginning, i spend most of my money on food and booze. apparently, the first step to becoming more “financially responsible” is by tracking what you spend, and keeping a budget, which i have been doing for the first time in my life lately (because, pay-cut). over the last few months, i’ve found the areas i spend my money are food and booze, my car, my friends (birthdays, etc.), and vacations. so like… essentially on things that make me happy in life. i’ve read a bunch of articles online about “how i retired at 34” and “i retired at 29 and you can too” and it seems like everyone does it by living frugally and not eating out. frankly, i have no interest in that because i love eating out and trying new restaurants and can’t even imagine compromising my lifestyle to hoard money. i mean granted, there are probably a few opportunities here and there to not drink as much or to cook instead of order take-out, but… fuck it. i say, as long as you can afford your lifestyle (aka aren’t in mounds of debt and have an emergency fund) and you enjoy the things you spend your money on, keep doing you.

disclaimer: i am not a financial adviser, and will probably never retire in my life, but i will always eat well…

a simple summer salad and the shuswap

ingredients: cucumber, sweet onion, red peppers, spinach, feta cheese, olives, olive oil, lemons, sea-salt, black pepper, and oregano. 

cut all the veggies into cubes (except for the spinach) and throw into a bowl. add feta cheese and olives to it. mix the olive oil, juice from the lemon, salt, pepper and oregano together for the dressing; throw it over the salad and toss. 

enjoy by the shuswap lake. even when it’s hazy out, life is still significantly better by a lake. 

baked salmon with a lemon-dill-garlic mayo coating


ingredients: fresh sockeye salmon, mayonnaise, dill, lemon, and garlic (or garlic powder if you’re feeling lazy). 

in a bowl, mix the mayonnaise in with some lemon juice, garlic or garlic powder, and fresh or dried dill (i used the latter of both because i was feeling lazy). coat the salmon with the mixture, sprinkle a little more dill on top, and stick it in the oven at around 400 degrees until the salmon is cooked. serve with cooked quinoa (i make mine with chicken broth to give it more flavour) and veggies. 

mushroom-spinach risotto with salmon


ingredients: salmon, arborio rice, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, parmesan cheese, white wine, chicken broth, black pepper, fresh thyme, butter, and a pinch of sea-salt. 

chop up garlic and sauté in a pot with butter. add the arborio rice, stir around for a minute, and then start adding the wine slowly. consistently stir while adding wine and chicken broth to the pot at a slow pace (i did this all on medium to low heat). 

while that’s going on, season the salmon with salt and pepper, and fry it in butter in another pan on the stove. don’t neglect the risotto though while doing this, and keep stirring/adding liquid to the pot. 

set the salmon aside once it’s cooked (i like it when the skin gets super crispy), and add more butter to the same pan to fry up the mushrooms and spinach. once done, add all that into the risotto pot (keep stirring/adding liquid!!), add the cheese, fresh thyme, and freshly ground black pepper. 

i find that knowing when the risotto is done and has the right consistency just takes a lot of trial and error (i’ve made my fair share of gooey risotto in the past). a good tip is to taste it for texture along the way. luckily, mine turned out just the way i wanted it to tonight!

this dish pairs nicely with a chilled white wine that’s light and crisp. 

making dinner with leftover white wine


i had some leftover white wine in my fridge that i didn’t feel like drinking, so my options were to either make risotto that required a moderate amount of effort, or make chicken with a white wine sauce, that required no effort at all. 

guess which weeknight dinner option i decided to go with?

ingredients: garlic, white wine, chicken, olive oil, fresh thyme, sea-salt, and black pepper. 

season the chicken with salt and pepper, and peel the garlic (i used about two and a half bulbs). heat up some olive oil in a pan and brown the chicken (a few minutes each side on high heat). remove the chicken from the pan, and place the garlic in there with more olive oil. once the garlic pieces are a golden-brown colour, add the wine and rhyme in there, and bring to a boil. add the chicken pieces, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let the chicken cook. once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and serve over rice. 

the best steak in vegas (and possibly in the world)

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cut by wolfgang puck knows how to make the perfect steak. they bring the raw meat out to your table, so you can pick exactly which cut of meat you want; they make the steak in a 1,500 degree broiler oven, so its charred perfectly on the outside, and i ask for it medium-rare (but more on the rare side), so it’s juicy and tender on the inside.

all the sides i’ve ever ordered were all awesome as well. even the bread and butter they serve at the beginning is phenomenal – it tastes like they churn their own butter at the back of the restaurant!

food quality: 10/10

presentation: 10/10

taste: 12/10

service: 10/10

overall experience: perfection.