I grew up in White Rock, BC. Our family always had two cars in the driveway. When my brother and I learned to drive, it became three and later four, as each of us needed our own car to get to work and school, respectively. When everyone was home, it looked like we were having a party at our house. Living in the suburbs means a lot of driving, because nothing is within walking distance and public transit basically sucks. We in the suburbs think nothing of a daily hour long commute. That's just the way it is.
This past year in Montreal is the first time I have ever really lived in a city. It's been a great experience, and there are things about it I absolutely love. I love that there's a 24 hour bagel place down the street from us where we can also buy milk and eggs. I love that we can decide to go out to dinner after 8 'o clock at night and have a choice between a dozen different restaurants on our street. I love walking around downtown and suddenly running smack dab into the middle of a festival that I didn't even know was happening. There is always something interesting going on here.
One of the things I really miss about living in BC though, is the openness - looking out over the ocean and not being able to see the other side; going an hour in any direction and hitting farmland or wilderness; that feeling of wanting to head out on the highway and drive off into the great unknown. I miss being able to get away from it all. I miss nature. So when a new friend asked my husband and I if we wanted to go hiking with her last weekend, we were all over the idea. Although the weather was not what we hoped it would be (read: it poured with rain), the chance to leave the confinement of city buildings and spend some time in the great wide open was irresistible, and something I think we both needed. I myself took great pleasure in packing us an energizing and delicious lunch, and we ate it with relish on a forest path by the water, the wind blowing in our faces.
Quinoa Tomato Salad
This salad had a fresh, crisp taste and was completely satisfying after a good day's walk. I made this the night before and so to keep it from getting soggy I left it dressing free. I think it would do well, however, with a little lemon juice and nice quality olive oil. In terms of ingredients, you can play around (ex: use parsley instead of mint, add some chopped almonds, etc.) and put in more of what you like and less of what you don't. I put in lots of tomatoes, even though I'm not usually a tomato fan, because the markets are absolutely exploding with tomatoes right now and they look like little balls of summer. I couldn't resist.
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup bulgar wheat
about 12 cherry tomatoes
1/2 an English cucumber
crumbled feta cheese
Cook the quinoa according to package directions (basically the same as rice - put it in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork). Meanwhile, put the bulgar wheat in a bowl and cover it with boiling water by a couple of inches. Let sit for 30 minutes, then drain. Mix the quinoa and bulgar together and set aside to cool while you prep your other ingredients.
Halve the tomatoes (you can put them in whole if you want). Chop the cucumber. Lay the mint leaves on top of each other and cut into strips (or if your knife skills are not great, just tear them up). Add to the quinoa/bulgar bowl and mix. Crumble some feta cheese on top. Perfect.