Holy moly, Toronto is expensive. Who knew that and didn’t tell me before I moved here? I’m just kidding, I knew it was going to cost me some serious cash to live + work + breathe in this city. Maybe you are like me and have student loans + a deep fondness for oysters, or maybe you just want to save because that’s the reasonable and mature thing to do if you have the means. Toronto is expensive, but here are my tips for when you’re inevitably here and aren’t leaving and want to avoid overdraft fees.
This is part 1 – eating in Toronto on a budget.
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Distinct and reliable signs of fall:
- trees changing colours
- people bringing out their long sleeves and sweaters
- the insane lengths of the bookstore/Tims/Dollarama lines
After being gone from campus for yet another 8-month stint for my last two co-op terms, coming back to KW was a weird experience. Why is it so crowded on campus? Why is it impossible to find a cutlery tray? Why did I briefly think that I could survive 3 seminar courses? All excellent questions with no real answers.
In the two days it took me to finish writing and editing this post we have found a cutlery tray (a new unsullied Dollarama opened up on Erb) and I made the decision to save my sanity and switched out of one of the seminars.
What really helped me transition back to campus life was the fact that while I was gone, a new ice cream place opened up in Kitchener and I have been waiting months to try it out. Now I could go on and on about how “for someone who is lactose intolerant I shouldn’t love ice cream as much as I do” but that’s old and tired – unlike the products at Four All.
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The Internet is honestly such a weird and fascinating place and sometimes I find things that (I think) are pretty cool and also I think everyone else should look at the things as well. Hopefully, you find them just as interesting/useful as I do or you know someone else who would!
For when you’re a busy on-the-go millennial who also wants to stay on top of news in case it comes up at the water cooler or, y’know, you just want to be aware of what goes on in the world. The Skimm sends daily emails to your inbox that tells you the news and also relevant context so you have a better understanding of what’s going on. The link above is indeed my referral link – I don’t even think I get anything more than some swag (but I love swag so it’s fine) but I will feel a little less shame when I see the number of referrals in my inbox every morning.
I love food and I love film + television, but not nearly as much as this guy. He makes videos about the foods in pop culture and it’s all very high-quality content with a healthy splash of alcohol and sarcasm. It does kind of require you to have knowledge of the show/movie being featured for maximum enjoyment, but if you’re not familiar with the context of the food you can still watch and appreciate the recipe (and sass) component. He’s really blown up over the last few months so he’s posting content pretty frequently (bless). I love him and would pay a lot of money to be his roommate who gets to eat all this food.
My favourite one is the turkey sandwich from Friends, 1) because I have watched this episode probably 20 times in my life, and 2) because he makes a whole goddamn turkey for this sandwich.
Do you love hearing about people’s weird bosses/coworkers/other work stories? Or probably a more likely scenario – do you want decent career advice while hearing about weird bosses and coworkers? I recommend you clear a couple hours and start clicking away on this blog. Alison Green answers all your work-related questions on AAM and it’s so easy to lose most of your day because you got sucked into her blog.
I’ve read a lot of crazy stuff on this site but this one is probably the most hilariously ridiculous by far. I’m just giving you this one post to start with – it’s entitled “a coworker stole my spicy food, got sick, and is blaming me”. Right?
I stumbled upon this site this term while I was job hunting (and as of this moment of writing, I’m still job hunting) and it’s actually pretty solid in terms of not-just-pyramid-scheme-postings. (Other career pages that I like include Indeed, Techvibes Job Board, StartupNorth, and LinkedIn of course. TalentEgg is okay but I personally never see anything that I am interested in on there.)
Flappy Bird but with puppers. That’s all.
// food //
Now that your closet is a little leaner (check out my post on cleaning out your closet if you haven’t read it yet!) let’s chat about food! I know that spring tends to be when everyone starts trying out new diets and cutting back. We may all have differing opinions on the necessity of a diet but I think we can all agree we can at least assess the things we’re eating to be a bit more mindful. My personal weakness is processed meats – salami is just too delicious for its own good. But I also like trying out new foods and eating cleaner at least helps balance my overall diet so I feel a bit less bad about the number of Oreos I can consume in one sitting.
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This is a pretty summery dish but screw it, there was a cucumber in our fridge that needed to be used before it started getting gross. Smashed cucumber salad is one of my favourite ways to eat cukes, other than chilled and slightly salted (for when I’m really lazy) after I do a workout. I follow basically this recipe that I found here.
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How much do you love natural light and coffee shops that make you feel like you’re in the living room of your dreams? I’m going to go ahead and assume that you answered like any other human because who wouldn’t love that? You need to get your butt to Smile Tiger.
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The good thing about the KW area is that there’s a surprising number of cute cafes and I’ve been trying to go to all of them. Generally, the cafes in Uptown Waterloo are all on King St. but there’s construction going on right now (surprise surprise) so a lot of buses have to divert their route to Regina. So construction is really how I discovered this very lovely cafe called Seven Shores Community Cafe! They’re all about community, ethical/local sourcing, and delicious foods.
I may or may not have gone there three days in a row this week already but I have minimal regrets about it.
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Fun fact about me – I love almost every kind of seafood. Even sea cucumbers and those things are pretty weird. Tuna and salmon are definitely two of my favourite fish to eat, especially raw because I love to live dangerously. Also because I much prefer that texture – baked salmon makes me want to cry. Okay not that drastic, but I don’t love it.
Unfortunately, my seafood addiction is very expensive to sustain so I don’t indulge that often. Alright, that might be a lie. I have no self-control when it comes to feeding myself, which is exactly how I ended up buying myself a $25 tuna steak yesterday because I was craving tuna poke.
I visited Jill in Toronto last weekend and there was a poke bar that we tried out. It was a decent place but kind of warm and didn’t have nearly as much tuna as I would’ve liked (but that’s not saying much as you’re going to find out later in this post – I spoil myself). Coming back to Waterloo I decided I really wanted tuna poke again so I set off to make my own.
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I love congee and I love seafood. My parents should not have fed me as much seafood as they did while I was growing up because now I’m super obsessed and it’s not cheap to satisfy seafood cravings, guys. Please don’t get me started on how much I love sashimi (ugh, momentary pause in writing to cry over how beautiful sashimi is and how mean my friend in Vancouver is for sending me picture of his sushi).
But also congee! I love it, it’s just such a comforting rainy day meal. Not that that limits me to only eating it during rainy days, but I like to think of it as an Asian version of chicken noodle soup. I also just think that ever since I start university and had to learn how to cook my own meals, I’ve been craving Chinese food because it reminds of home and a better time when my mom did all my cooking for me.
There aren’t many places in Waterloo that have congee and even the few places that do, don’t serve up bowls up to my standards (Mississauga and Toronto have spoiled me). Apparently Grace and Healthy Premium Dumplings does a pretty cheap bowl but sometimes you just want to make your own at home! In large batches! That you’ll eat all on your own and pretend that you’re normal!
Okay enough about how weird I am, and onto the deliciousness of fish congee!
This recipe should make approximately enough for 4 bowls of congee. Sorry if that’s not that accurate.
You will need:
- 1 ¼ cup of white rice (Some recipes call for jasmine, others want basmati. We’re students, you grab whatever rice is on sale. But not brown because that’s a different texture altogether that I don’t have the capacity to deal with.)
- 6 cups of water (This depends on how thick you like your congee, always better to start with less water and pour more in until you get to the perfect consistency.)
- White fish filet (It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh or frozen, I personally stock up on frozen because it’s cheaper and more convenient. I also have a preference for basa, but you can use any white fish.)
- Spices and seasoning:
- Salt pepper (Which is different from both salt and pepper because it tends to use white pepper and has more of a kick to it.)
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Green onion (If the cilantro isn’t enough for you.)
- Chili oil
- Fish sauce
- Soak the rice overnight if you can, it helps absorb the water so it can be broken down more. I like my congee this way but you don’t have to! Especially if you forgot to soak it overnight try to get it in water for an hour or so before you start cooking it. I’ve been told other methods of breaking the grains are to put it in the freezer, or if you’re lazy like me, stick it into a blender for 15 seconds.
- Put the rice and water into your pot to start to boil. All the starches are probably going to float to the top and look unappetizing. I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now, testing what happens if you skim off the layer of starch and if you don’t. Really, there’s no difference. When the congee gets to be thicker it’ll all get absorbed in and it’ll be fine.
- While your rice is boiled cut up your fish into really thin pieces so that it cooks easily. Marinate it in a bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger pieces, salt, pepper, and the salt pepper. Add just a splash of fish sauce if you have it on hand. I like adding some cilantro at this stage because I’m a fiend for it. Leave the fish in the marinade until the rice is thickened and ready for it to be tossed in, should be around 20 minutes.
- Add in your fish when the rice in your pot looks thick and porridgey, as opposed to just rice in water. If you’re like me, you maybe freak out when your rice doesn’t immediately turn into congee-consistency for like, 15 minutes, and then it does and you thank god that there’s no one else in your kitchen to witness this.
Rice looks like this when it’s about ready for the fish!
- Give it like, 7 minutes for the fish to cook through. It probably takes less time because it’s so thin but I’m not about to tempt fate.
- Ladle your yummy goodness into a bowl and top it off with more cilantro if you’re like me, or even green onion if you want!
That’s all there is to fish congee, yay! Go use cooking as a procrastination method now!