Friday, June 28, 2013

Chillin' in the Kitchen: Vietnamese Fresh Rolls

When the weather turns warm and summery, all I crave is fresh fruits and vegetables, which can be a bit of a challenge living in the arctic! It's even better when I don't have to cook them, but that means finding the freshest produce possible - again, it can be challenging when all of our food gets flown in. Warmer months aren't as sparse as the winter months for freshness, but you still need to keep an eye out on the things you buy...I swear, certain things like strawberries, look perfectly fine in the store and 10 minutes after I get them home they start to go bad. It's a strange phenomenon that's part of the northern charm.

Vietnamese fresh rolls are the perfect meal because they're interactive, quick to make and customized however you like them. I usually explain them as the Vietnamese version of fajitas since I put out all the "toppings" on the table and we just make our own rolls however we like. Just use whatever ingredients are in the fridge at the time - the more vegetables, the better! I didn't have a lot of produce in our fridge because I hadn't gone shopping for the week yet, but I pulled out what we had and we still had a lovely meal. Paired with a white wine spritzer and it was so light, fresh and crisp you wouldn't have guessed we were in an arctic tundra.

On this particular night I had some steak strips and surimi shrimp - an imitation shrimp made primarily from fish. (it was a new item at the Northern and they were cheap so I thought I'd give them a try. They weren't bad for $5 for a big bag, but I started calling them "scrimps" because we were "scrimping and saving" by eating them...come on, that's funny!!). They were okay, but real shrimp would be much better in these. Paired with the steak, they sort of turned our meal into surf and turf rolls. Any protein will work for these rolls; we've also had chicken, fish, tofu, pork...or just make them vegetarian rolls and don't even worry about the protein. Lots of fresh vegetables are the key to the texture and flavour, though, so don't be afraid to load them up with whatever produce you've got laying around. They're that versatile! It's all delicious after you wrap them up and dip them into the amazing sauce!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Girly Things: Julep Monthly Subscription

Sometimes, when the days are dreary and you feel like you've been wearing nothing but thick sweaters, over sized parkas and heavy boots, you just need a good pick-me-up and to make yourself pretty. Being as there aren't any drug stores or makeup counters around, it's hard to just run out and pick up a little something to cheer yourself up, you know?

I stumbled across a solution that not only caters to my need for pretty things in my life, but it also couples it with a surprise in the mailbox every few weeks...all at a fairly low cost. It makes me happy and it doesn't break the bank. Win-win, I'd say!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Northern Living Tip: How to "Say" Yes and No

One of the things that we've needed to get used to here in Baker are the non-verbal ways the locals express "yes" and "no", which are very subtle! In fact, after being here almost a year, I'm still not sure that we're fully attuned to the cues and we have found ourselves repeating questions because we think they're not being answered - when in fact they are.

I thought it'd be helpful (and fun) to show you using pictures how to do it. Look really carefully, because it's very subtle!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Iqaluit: Astro Hill Movie Theater

My final Iqaluit food post isn't really a restaurant, but it's one of the least expensive places to go in town! Shockingly, the movie theater is one of the more reasonably priced theaters I've been in. It's not the biggest, and the lobby's a little dingy, but they have 2 screens and it's really no different than the cheap-y theaters we used to go to for $4 movies on Tuesdays...and besides, it's a theater that shows current movies. Can't complain about that luxury!

Movies aren't horribly priced either - I believe they're $12 for a regular movie and $15 for a 3D movie. Yes, they even have 3D movies! When I was there, they were showing Iron Man 3 and Epic, both in 2D and 3D. I haven't seen any of the Iron Man movies, and was going to go see Epic one evening but the reviews seemed mixed and I didn't have $12 cash on me (they only take cash). Oh well, next time! The day I left they were starting Star Trek and I was sad because I've got a crush on Spock and wouldn't have minded seeing it. ;) They do have a website that lists movies and showtimes, but I'm not sure it's entirely accurate since it listed different movies for the week I was there than what was actually, show up and take a chance I guess?

Boy, do I wish that we had a movie theater here in's the popcorn smell. Gets me every time!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Iqaluit Menu: The Discovery (Granite Room)

Next up in our Iqaluit restaurant tour, we're going to up the fancy-quotient a bit and take you to the Discovery Lodge, a hotel that's close to the Iqaluit airport. In Baker Lake, the town's two main restaurants are the dining rooms in the hotels, and Iqaluit's hotels (of which there are a handful), all have dining rooms that are open to the public as well.

The Discovery (or the Disco, as I've heard it referred to) is supposed to be one of the nicest places you can go in Iqaluit. The menu is said to be more up-scale, the service is supposed to be top-notch, and it's a place where you want to take your time and absorb the atmosphere. That being said, I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about the place - some people think it's the best place in Iqaluit and where you want to be when you want a really special dinner, whereas some people say that it's over-rated, really expensive and you get better food/service at other restaurants in town. Colour me intrigued!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Iqaluit Menu: Grind & Brew

This week is going to be dedicated to more Iqaluit food. We've got a couple more places to write about thanks to a co-worker who visited a few restaurants on her recent trip. (I've got good connections when people remember to take pictures of their food and bring me takeout menus, or even take pictures of actual menus at the table!)

As much as I enjoy talking about food (and I really, really enjoy it!) I think it's important to show these menus because it again emphasizes how expensive it is to eat in Nunavut. I know, I know, you should eat at home instead of going out - but that's not really the point I'm trying to make. I'm just saying that the cost of food everywhere in town, whether it's at a fast food place, or a fancy restaurant, or the grocery store, is still significantly higher than anywhere else in Canada.

I'll split them up over the week so the posts don't get too long and you're not bogged down with too many pictures!

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's Here! It's Here!

Summer is here!! The past couple of days have been beautiful here in Baker Lake - warm (15 degrees), sunny and no wind. I've been going for walks with Pepper and neither of us have had to wear jackets! We've certainly been keeping the sun busy since we get about 21 hours of daylight these days, so our blackout curtains have been well utilized each evening. It's not uncommon to be sitting on the couch and not realizing that it's almost midnight because it's still so bright outside and you can still hear the kids playing in the street. We have to consciously mind the time or it's much too easy to stay up way past our bedtime.

One night in particular, the colour of the sky caught my eye as I was pulling the drapes closed and I threw on my robe and slippers and grabbed the camera to run downstairs and out the door. It was a gorgeous pink sky and a double rainbow (it had been raining all afternoon/evening) that was a perfect half circle across the horizon. I had to go from the front of the house to the back to take the pictures, but it was a beautiful, beautiful sight that took my breath away. My camera doesn't do it justice, but it was probably the prettiest sky I've seen since we moved. Where else can you get such an amazing view at 11:45pm?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Iqaluit Menus: The Snack & Yummy Shawarma

Sometimes, nothing hits the spot better than a visit to a greasy diner or a pizza place. If you're in the mood for fast food in Iqaluit, there are a couple of options - and they'll deliver too! I had heard of these places, but couldn't find an online menu for the life of me - so I popped in and grabbed their take-out menus so I could show you here.

I'm so nice to my readers, I know. ;)

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Iqaluit - Sort of like Home?

It's funny how the simple task of running errands, something that is so normal and mundane while in the south, becomes such an enjoyable treat when it's not something you can do everyday. While in Iqaluit, I found myself smiling on a few occasions while I was doing the simplest of tasks - going to the bank, the restaurant, the grocery store...each trip felt like a mini-vacation. Maybe I'm just really easy to please, or maybe it's a sign that Baker Lake needs to grow some more! :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Northern Living Tip: How to pronounce "Nunavut"

Sitting in our training session this week, our facilitators, who flew up from the south, naturally mentioned the word Nunavut quite a few times. They were quickly corrected in their pronunciation of the territory name, and it made me realize that many southerners probably don't know how to pronounce it correctly.

So! I'm going to help you and you can wow all the northerners with how correct you are when you say it! :)

Ready? I'll sound it out for you:

Many (and I fell into this category before I moved here too) southerners pronounce it as: None-a-vut (rhymes with "rut"), which is incorrect.

The correct way? New-na-voot (rhymes with "boot"), or alternatively, Noon-na-voot (the first and second syllable share the "n" sound so it runs into each other).

Now, I don't think anyone's going to be offended you pronounced the name of the territory incorrectly - unlike some words where if you have one syllable wrong it turns into a whole different word - but now you know!

How about you? Were you saying it correctly? :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hello from Iqaluit!

This post is being posted pretty late in the evening, I'm sorry! My only excuse is that I've been in Iqaluit since Monday for work and the days have been long, so I'm pretty tired by the evening. I'm actually writing this from the hotel bed (1st overtime of the Pittsburgh/Boston game is on in the background and I'm so stressed! Playoffs make me so nervous!)

When we left Baker on Monday morning, it was a sunny day with a beautiful forecast in store for the week (12 degrees tomorrow, I hear!). Unfortunately, Iqaluit was having an unexpected freak snowfall on Monday and we were prepped in Rankin that if the weather was bad, we would overshoot Iqaluit and fly to a community in Quebec to refuel, and then return to Rankin where we would have to spend the evening. Needless to say, there were probably a dozen people from my work alone, and we were very anxious to land in Iqaluit on Monday if there was any possibility. Our collective fingers were crossed!

Monday, June 3, 2013

That's Pretty Neato!

Having lived in homes with carpet and without, we can speak to the advantages and detraction of both. Hardwood looks more attractive, and since it's the more recent trend, it's more likely to add to the resale value of your home. Carpet is soft, warmer on bare feet, and traps dirt and dust, making it easy to suck up with a vacuum. It's much easier to re-enact the scene in Risky Business with Tom Cruise on hardwood, and perform classic dance moves like the electric slide. Also, if you spill wine on hardwood, it's easy to clean up - less true with carpet. The biggest problem we have with our wood floors here is that dust and dirt are more visible, and seem to regenerate at an alarming rate, such that we have to sweep and swiffer and mop more often than is reasonable.

We tried putting an area rug down, but Pepper assumed this was simply a giant pee pad, and our rug suffered accordingly. We brought a lot of swiffer pads with us, but we can swiffer every day and not keep up with the dust. Part of the problem lies with the roadwork in Baker Lake, or lack thereof. The roads are basically rocky red clay, and in the summer months, a fine red talc covers everything in town. At the Northern, we sprinkle a chemical on the floor to prevent dust from being kicked up. Unfortunately, this is not a practical solution for us, and we left our (read: Lily's) pink Dyson vacuum in storage, so we began looking on-line for ideas. Lily found the solution (on sale!), as usual - the Neato.