Recently, I was tagged by Kelly at The Pink Apron and River of Wing It Vegan to share 7 random facts about myself, and Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen to do a blog-related meme.

I do enjoy memes (and love reading about others through their memes), but I must admit that I am finding it more and more difficult to come up with new facts about myself.  That, and I suspect some of you are growing a little weary of reading about me and my various eccentricities, when what you’re really here for is the food! 😉

“Um, Mum, your readers may be a bit overloaded on YOUR memes, but what about us?  There are still plenty of random facts we could tell you about the two of us. . . .”

“Yeah, right! Hey, Elsie, how about that we love to play!  And that the yellow ball is my favorite!  Oh, oh, and that we LOVE to jump up on people!  And what about that we bark at cars that drive by outside!  Or that we love Greenies!  Or how about the way I pull on your ear every 30 seconds–“

“Zip it, Chaser. I am sure they get the idea. But there will be no ear-pulling for the next ten days, at least.”

Ah, yes, that reminds me: before I get to the meme, I should also mention the “Injury” referred to in the post title.  Once again, our accident-prone Elsie Girl has had a brush with the law  mortality a metal post. While frolicking with her sister the other day, sweet Elsie ran too close to a steel goal post at the park and whacked her side against it, ripping off a chunk of her haunch.  Poor baby!  And so the HH and I (and Chaser, who, after all, couldn’t be left all alone at home) spent our Saturday evening at the Vet Emergency clinic, where Elsie was treated to a bit of a shave, a cleansing of the wound, some staples to reconnect the skin, and a lovely cone on her head, which she absolutely abhors, poor thing.

Here she is, in all her misery:

elsiecollar1

[“Help. . . . me. . . . . “]

The worst part is that Chaser is terrified of the cone and won’t go near Elsie right now.  No more ear-biting, indeed.

And now, on to the meme, and seven random facts about me.  I won’t tag anyone else (it seems many of you have already done this one), but please do feel free to participate if you’d like.  

1) I didn’t learn to drive a car until I was about 30.  Well, I first acquired my license at 16 like the rest of my friends, but then moved away to university and didn’t have the opportunity to drive again until I was married.  I’d taken lessons for about a week when my husband and I decided to separate, which meant I was driving myself to work (about an hour each way) along busy provincial highways long before I felt ready to do so.  Talk about baptism by fire! (In this case, by ice, actually, as it was mid-winter when all this transpired).  A couple of dents to the fender and more than a decade later, and I’m finally comfortable behind the wheel.

oddcupandsaucer12

2) I collect odd cups and saucers, and champagne flutes.    When I was a kid, my mom had a collection of odd cups and saucers that seemed to exist just outside our awareness in a glass cabinet in the kitchen. When I moved out on my own, however, my sisters starting giving me similar items as gifts, and I began to really appreciate them.  I love the varying patterns one finds on the older designs, the delicate structure of the cup and saucer, the nearly transparent quality of the fine china, and the elegance they exude (I always feel I should raise my pinkie when I sip out of one of them). 

oddcupandsaucer2

A few years after I began to collect the cups and saucers, I was introduced to champagne (or, at least, sparkling wine) when a friend served me a glass of Segura Viudas.  Well, I was so impressed that shortly thereafter, I began to collect champagne flutes, too.  I’ll often buy them on sale at the end of the season–who wants to buy just one flute, right?–and have amassed about 3 dozen so far. 

champflute  My favorites are a couple I received for birthdays, the voluptuous pewter-stemmed one the HH gave me the first year we were together (see left), and the Waterford crystal pair the HH and I purchased for the turn of the century. 

3) I memorized every word of Beowulf in the original Old English during my PhD.  For our final exam, we were given a random passage in Old English and had to translate it.  Not wanting to take any chances, I decided to memorize the entire poem.  How much do I remember today?  This much: “Hwat! we, Gar-dena, in yeor dayum. . .”  Yep, the first five words. Well, it got me an “A” on the exam, anyway.

4) I was asked to be Valedictorian at my high school graduation, but I was too shy and said no.  Decades later, I’m still shy, but when I was given the opportunity again for my graduation from nutrition school in 2003, I decided I couldn’t pass it up twice, and said yes.  Very happy that I did!

5) When I was a teen, some of my friends and I worked as cashiers at the local drugstore (called a “pharmacy” in Montreal, even though the actual pharmacy dispensary was a small space at the back of the store).  We used to call it “The Phunny Pharm.”  My friends Babe, Sterlin, Phil and Angel also all worked there, so on any given day, it was guaranteed that I’d be working alongside one of my best friends.  We often created code words to alert each other when a cute guy came in the store. The names were connected to various cigarette brands (which, in those days, were sold out in the open from shelves behind the cash).  The cuter the guy, the stronger the brand we chose for his nickname.  When we saw a REALLY cute guy, we’d call across the aisle to each other, “Hey, Ric, do you have any packs of Rothmans at your cash?” or, “Um, Sterlin, I think I’ve run out of Du Maurier over here. . . ” The men never twigged in to it, even though sometimes three of us would come running to the counter at the same time, all ostensibly “looking for a pack of Rothmans.”

6) I started smoking in my 20s and didn’t quit until I met the HH in 1997 (at which point I was smoking about 1/2 pack a day–though nothing as strong as Rothman’s, of course).  Now, don’t go thinking that he was such a great influence on me, or anything. . . I quit because of my various health issues, not for love (how very unromantic of me, I know).  When I revamped my diet, I figured I should give my lungs a break, too.  The only smoke I’ve inhaled since then is second-hand. 

7) I once got to meet Chris de Burgh in person (true, not very exciting to all of you out there too young to recognize the name!).  At the height of his popularity, some friends and I went to one of his concerts in Montreal.  Because my friend Angel had met him while traveling in Ireland and they’d become correspondents (in the days before email, folks), he arranged backstage passes for her and five of her friends.  Somewhere in a box in my basement is a wine-stained scrap of paper on which is scrawled something to the effect of, “For Ricki, With all best wishes, Chris de Burgh.”  (Hey–maybe I can sell it and become one of those mansion-people I wrote about in the last post?)

So there you go, seven random facts.  I know I mentioned yet another meme to post, but I think I’ll save that for another day and avert a real Meme Overload.  And on the subject of overloading, I’ve got a nice, light and not-too-filling post-Thanksgiving recipe for you next time round.

To those of you in the U.S., hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

elsiecollar21

[“I bet all those people outside are having a great holiday weekend. . . and all I can do is stare out this window. . . *sigh*.”]

The Universe is Random

October 5, 2008

I’d planned to begin posting the next Lucky Comestible (coconut) today, but as it turned out I was completely wiped out after participating in the local (and first annual) Totally Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff yesterday.  The event, sponsored by the Toronto Vegetarian Association in honor of World Vegetarian Day, hosted 30 entrants (of which I was one) to participate by presenting baked goods in four categories.  Sorry to say I didn’t win any prizes (I entered my vegan butter tarts). My entry was well received by the audience and judges, but fell far behind in the looks and presentation department (okay, maybe not the prettiest dessert, but how could they not appreciate such patriotism??).  I was truly amazed at some of the elaborately decorated baked goods!  Still, it was great fun to participate and also sample some of the other entrants’ delicious baked goodies.

Well, since I don’t have a new food post for y’all just yet (tomorrow, I promise!), I thought I’d FINALLY catch up on memes and thanks. 

As I said, I didn’t win anything at the bakeoff, but I WAS awarded this “Kick Ass Blogger” award by Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.  Thanks so much, both of you–I am honored to be a recipient (at least it was “kick” and not “big”!)

And now, the much neglected, ostensibly (but not) forgotten, fun-loving memes! Months ago (or was it longer?), I was tagged by Lisa at the lovely and delicious My Own Sweet Thyme and then Tinker from the entertaining and informative Tinker Culture for a “Six Random Things About You” tag.  (And I do apologize, ladies, for taking this long to get to it!)

Here are the rules for the meme:

Tag Rules:

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on the blog.
  • Write six random things about yourself.
  • Tag six people at the end of your post.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I’ve done a couple of similar tags before, and I always find myself to be pathetically meme-challenged.  It’s not that there aren’t many random facts about me, but just not that many of interest to anyone but the HH or The Girls. Forgive me if certain themes are repeated. . . here goes:

Dog Theme:

1) The first dog we had when I was a kid was a boxer named Princess.  I was about four at the time, and while Princess was very sweet and loving, I realize now that she had a few dominance issues.  Apparently (according to my mom), every night, I’d go to sleep with Princess draped across my feet at the foot of the bed.  In the morning, my mom said, she’d enter the room to find Princess comfortably sprawled over the entire bed while I was asleep. . . on the floor.  (Strangely, I still love dogs–but could that have anything to do with our training The Girls to stay off the furniture?).

Fashion Theme:

2) I own lots of costume earrings. Like, lots.  My mom never left the house without earrings on, and I must have inherited that tendency; I feel naked if I’m not wearing any. I love costume jewelry because that way I can own earrings to match virtually every piece of clothing.  (Another major advantage of earrings, of course, is that they always fit you, no matter how much weight you gain). 

I’ve got plastic earring in every stripe of the rainbow; multi-colored, floppy cloth earrings; feather earrings; black with silver, black with “gold,” black with any color you can imagine; dangly, stud, hoops, and even fish-shaped earrings.  The only real gold earrings I own were given to me by the men in my life (doesn’t that just make me sound so. . . promiscuous worldly? Okay, that accounts for 2 pairs of earrings. . . but still.)

3) I still possess several items of clothing from high school.  Oh, sure, that may not seem very significant to those of you in your 20s or younger, but I’m talking decades ago.  I still have the first pair of Lee overalls I ever bought, complete with my own embroidery flowers in an oh-so-Love Child sort of pattern.  I’ve got a blue woolen mini skirt that I snagged at Value Village when I was an undergrad, and though I’ll likely never wear it again, I can’t part with it because it’s such good quality and I so love it.  I’ve got a wildly printed tunic-shirt that I still wear (!!) just because I adore the crazy flowery pattern so much.  And I’ve held on to all the hand-knit and hand-sewn stuff I made over the years, as well as a few sweaters mom knit for me, for the obvious sentimental reasons.  Why keep all these clothes, you ask?  Well, anyone whose weight has ricocheted as wildly as mine has knows you never throw away good clothes–who knows when they might fit you again?

Physical Quirks Theme:

4) I’m near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other.  Apart from glasses that make one eye look slightly larger than the other, this quirk of nature allows me to grow old a little more gracefully, as I don’t require reading glasses just yet, since my near-sighted eye can actually see better these days, while the far-sighted eye allows me to continue to see everything else.

CareerTheme:

5) One summer, I worked as a telephone salesperson selling frozen sides of beef. The company was called Hunk ‘N Chunk Freezer meats, and I had to cold call (frozen call?) people and ask if they wanted to purchase a year’s worth of pre-cut cow.  The boss started me off at 5 cents commission (yes, five cents) per sale.  By the end of the week, I guess I’d exceeded his expectations, as I was raised to ten cents per sale.  I ended up quitting after 2 weeks when another job I’d applied for, secretary for an insurance company, came through. My Hunky boss (in fact, he actually was hunky) did subsequently invite me to his family’s Sunday dinner, however, which turned out to be a blind date with his son (I guess I didn’t exceed his expectations–no gifts of jewelry ever came of that meeting).

6) During my first year in Toronto as a grad student at the University of Toronto, I was lucky enough to nab a position as don in the girls’ residence (after the interview, the Dean told me she just “had to meet someone who worked at a place called Hunk N Chunk Freezer Meats” because that meant I “must have had a good sense of humor.”)  In exchange for being a sort of elder cousin on the residence floor, I was afforded the privilege of free room and board–in downtown Toronto (approximate monetary value in today’s dollars: $572,683.47 per month).  I loved the gals with whom I shared the floor that year, and always felt as if I got the best end of the deal.  I could walk to classes simply by strolling through the appropriately majestic Queen’s Park and came to know the city first-hand by living right in the midst of it.  It also gave me the unique experience of living in centuries-old historical structure (if you don’t count the haunted house my friends and I camped out in that one summer in high school).

I know the meme rules suggest that I pass this along to others, but rather than choose specific people, I’m going to leave an open invitation to anyone who wishes to participate.  We bloggers love to learn a little more about each other beyond the food–so go ahead and pick your own six things! 🙂

Tomorrow:  Coconut!

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

Sometimes, despite all good intentions, things do go awry. 

On Friday, I had a little luncheon date with two former classmates from nutrition school.  I always look forward to these meetings, since these women (besides sharing the NAG diet philosophy) are invariably funny, witty, and generally loads of fun to be with.  The meeting had been planned for several weeks–before I started the ACD–and I didn’t want to cancel because of a silly little diet.  Besides, I was fairly certain I had all the bases covered, as the restaurant we chose served vegetarian-only Chinese food, with lots of vegan options as well. 

Well, I’m sorry to say, looks like my adherence to this regimen wasn’t as assured as I’d expected.  Rather than ruffle any feathers, I decided to go along with sharing three different dishes from the menu. While the selections were all quite delicious, they were also, unfortunately, bathed in glossy, sweetened, cornstarch-thickened sauces–definitely a no-no on the ACD.  But seriously, how could I disappoint the gals and order plain ole steamed veggies (and not even steamed rice–no white stuff on this regime!) when the intention was to share dishes while we dished the dirt?

Okay, I admit it:  of course they wouldn’t have been disappointed (they could still eat whatever they wanted to); I’m the one who would have been disappointed to pass up the culinary camaraderie. In the end, I caved.  I ate some (rather amazing, actually) lemon-pepper “chicken” with veggies, Singapore noodles (at least they were rice noodles) and roasted veggies in a Portugese curry sauce.  Everything was exemplary, and I managed not to overindulge, but I did feel guilty for the remainder of the day.  I returned to my senses immediately upon returning home, and started all over again.  Now, after more than a week on the diet, I’m back to counting yesterday as “Day One.”  Bummer!

The incident got me thinking about how much I love to eat.  Giving up the singular sensory pleasure of a beloved food’s taste and texture as it inches across your tongue is one feat I find nearly impossible to achieve (and for some reason, it gets even harder to accomplish as I get older).  Compounding the problem, it seems I’ve actually expanded my culinary repertoire and the range of foods I’m willing to consume since I started focusng on a vegan diet.  It may be true that an omnivorous diet contains more potential choices, but since I found so many of those repugnant even when I did eat meat (Ham?  Gross. Chicken wings? Barf. Snails? Vomitorious. SWEETBREADS?? Somebody please get me a paper bag), I would never have tried them, anyway.  And when I ate an animal-focused diet, I tended just to eat the same foods over and over. 

Then, when my health issues reared their ugly heads, I was forced to find alternatives.  I sought out alternative grains, novel sources of protein, seaweeds, fermented foods, soy products, and a plethora of unusual fruits and vegetables, intensely flavored herbs and seasonings.  These days, in fact, I am much more willing to try something entirely unfamiliar when I know it’s vegan and am more creative in the kitchen than I ever was before I began to eat this way. 

Which brings me to the foods I do eat–or, at least, some of them.

You may have noticed the “Hundred” food memes circulating round the blogosphere (The Omnivore’s Hundred, which started the trend; The Vegetarian’s Hundred and The Vegan’s Hundred, which was created by Hannah and has prompted quite the tidal wave of responses among bloggers).  I must say, I was (pleasantly) taken aback to see how many items on this list I have already sampled. (My exact response was something like, “Wow. I sure do eat a lot.”) 

Maybe that’s the problem with the ACD this time round:  I’m painfully aware that there’s a plenitude of foods I love to eat out there, all of which I think of as “healthy.” Consequently, it becomes more and more difficult to steer clear of them (though not, on the other hand, to steer clear of actual steer).

I’m hoping some new inspiration and creativity will magically descend so I can make it through the next few weeks without falling off the ACD wagon again.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy some virtual treats through this list. Do feel free to play along. Thanks for the idea, Hannah–so much fun!

Here’s the basic premise:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto (though it is, ironically, “first” on my list of must-try’s)
2. Green Smoothie (shouldn’t everyone try one of these for breakfast at some point?)
3. Tofu Scramble (so many great varieties out there!)
4. Haggis (I ate the veg version–never have tried the “real” stuff!)
5. Mangosteen (unfortunately, wasn’t that impressive)
6. Creme brulee (a favorite of the HH) 
7. Fondue (though I’d never consider double dipping, of course)
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos (dying to try them with this cheese sauce)
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart (I think this one will require a trip out of country)
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I had cloudberry–truly an ambrosial liquid)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream (What? No chocolate on this list??)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (from my first-ever effort to grow them–and the BEST TOMATO I HAVE EVER EATEN)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche (again, veg version–the other kind c’est grosse, non?)
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper (will definitely wake you up in the morning)
27. Dulce de leche [swoon]
28. Caviar (I’ve had actual caviar in the past, but never a vegan version)
29. Baklava
30. Pate (mushroom-walnut is a favorite, but pretty much any veg kind is great)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut (even made my own)
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam (No buttery spread these days, but still a favorite breakfast)
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries (Ah, memories. . . .)
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans (these sound amazing)
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (that crazy HH!)
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi (a favorite weekly lunch)
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear (just last week! Thanks, Lucy)
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi (and have tried several times to make my own. . . )
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips (not just a substitute for chocolate–quite lovely on their own merit!)
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies (really, is there anything better?)
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can (only got one mouthful . . . )
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake (still waiting to try that recipe!)
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky (loved the vegan version–never tried the other)
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes (love these for brunch time. . . )
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79 (I’ll start saving up now and maybe get to go in 2015)
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese” (Susan’s is still my favorite recipe)
88. Flowers (though can’t say I enjoyed them)
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan (how I miss you, how I miss you, my dear old Seitan)
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon (but really, what’s the point?)
95. Chili with chocolate (my favorite way to have it)
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough (better than baked, in my opinion!)

Glancing at the list, I see that there really are advantages to living in Toronto, where all these foods are quite common.  Now, I must seek out all the others, too–well, as soon as this cleanse is over.

Ten Photo Meme

July 17, 2008

I must say, I never expected my little apple butter sauce to cause such a stir (no pun intended–oh, all right, pun intended).  It always amazes me which blog entries elicit a strong reaction while others, like Andy Garcia, might be on par with their (more popular) contemporaries, but for some reason still don’t garner the recognition I think they deserve.  I’m glad so many of you liked the idea of apple butter in a BBQ sauce on tempeh.  (And now the pressure’s on to create some other ostensibly innovative or creative recipe for my next blog entry. . . . collard cake? Turnip pasta? Eggplant cookies ?–oh, forgot, I actually did create that one).

Well, I’ve got nothing on the cutting board at the moment, so I’m afraid it will have to wait just a bit.

You see, I’ve been spending a lot of time at my computer recently, working on that pile of papers and online course work.  Mostly, I’ve been feeling frustrated because (a) the pile seems to be expanding of its own accord (sort of like my waistline); and (b) I’ve been spending less time focused on blogging as a result.  I’ve also been feeling a bit creeped out, as it happens, since our landlord is having the exterior of the house painted, and every time I glance toward the window to catch a thought or a glimpse of the sky outside, I’m confronted with a close-up of a man’s paint-splattered face, as if our window were a giant flat-screen TV right beside my desk. 

Well, a couple of days ago I was tagged for a meme by the lovely and talented Holler of Tinned Tomatoes.  As it turns out, I’ve already prepared and consumed my salad (twice!) for Holler and Lisa’s upcoming No Croutons Required Event; unfortunately, I haven’t yet had time to write the blog entry about it.  Instead, I decided to focus on some earlier blog photos to send Holler’s (and your) way.

The meme asks for your “top ten” blog photos.  As I mentioned in my comment to Holler, I had to laugh at that request.  As someone who knows nothing about photography and owns the cheapest camera possible (okay, a disposable might be cheaper), I never really focused that much on how I photograph the food; it’s only recently that I’ve begun to think, “hmmm, a better camera sure would make blogging easier.”  For now, a new camera will stay on the birthday wish-list.

I wondered how to select ten, when it was so hard to choose even one that I really liked. “Do I choose the top ten in terms of page hits? Or the top ten in terms of aesthetic appeal?  Or should I emulate Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, and choose the ten photos that meant the most to me?” I decided to go with Johanna, who always seems level headed and whose logic I like.  

And so, here goes:

10) Spiced Cauliflower Soup

I usually take photos of food close up, partly because I have an extremely small surface area of the kitchen table that attracts full sunlight, and partly because the rest of my kitchen usually looks like the post-cyclone scene in The Wizard of Oz  and I’d be mortified if it got into a photo (unless, of course, I decided to show it to you myself , as in this blog entry). The cauliflower soup photo was the first time I’d consciously attempted to “style” a shot, and the feedback about the photo was so positive, I will always have a soft spot for this one.

9) A Year, Anew

flutesnewyear.jpg

Poor quality photo from a neophyte blogger, but this pic of four of my champagne flutes on December 31, 2007 has sentimental value.  Ever since I moved into my first apartment as an adult, I’ve collected individual, unique champagne flutes, and many were received as gifts (in fact, one of the first gifts the HH ever gave me was a handcrafted pewter-stemmed flute). Each glass has its particular story or background, even if the story is, “I found this for 25 cents at a garage sale!”.  I’ve sampled champagne from each and every one of the 21 in my collection, and they are all my favorites. 

8) Butterscotch Mousse Pie

This photo is dear to my heart, both because the recipe is from the first cookbook I reviewed on this site, and also because the book itself was the prize for a contest I won. I loved the actual pie as well (hmm–should really make that one again), and I know that Nava liked the photo, so it means a lot to me.

7)  Mint Smoothie

In real life, the drink in this photo was a plain, dull, swamp-like olive green. . .not the most appetizing color for a food photo. But somehow, wrapping that napkin around the stem of the wine glass elevated the smoothie to something elegant and even romantic.  And since the taste of the drink was truly sensational, I was glad I could make it seem more appealing.

6) Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes

I love this recipe.  This was a dish I re-vamped from an old recipe, one I found in a cookbook I’ve had forever.  The HH and I feasted on this tagine many times over the winter, and I was happy to see that readers liked it, too. When I look at this photo, I can almost see the rich, sweet-and-savory sauce and the multiple layers and flavors in the casserole.  Comfort in a bowl! 

5) Old Reliables: Salads You Can Count On

Strangely, though I’m not really a salad person, I love this photo.  And the salad isn’t even dressed in it!  But I think the simplicity of the veggies and the bright colors allow the purity and beauty of the fresh food to shine through.  When I know I should eat salad and don’t feel like it, I just look at this photo.

4) Chaser Photo: If Vodka is an Elsie, then Beer is a Chaser

chaserhotgirl.jpg

This is my favorite photo of Chaser on the blog.  This photo of her as a pup was taken on a very hot day on our old deck, after the little tornado had leapt across the lawn, nipped at the water hose, chased balls, eaten some grass, growled at Elsie, shredded a rope toy, and tried to chew the plastic chair leg before her.  She finally stopped to take a break and pant a bit–and I snapped the photo. I think the impish nature is encapsulated in her lolling tongue, the mischievous glint in her eye, and the end of her collar askew.  Is she cute, or what?? 

3) Elsie Photo: This iz not a blg entree

elsietyping.jpg 

This is my favorite photo of Elsie on the blog.  The HH and I still erupt into paroxysms of hysteria when we see this.  I was taking a break from blogging at the time, but Elsie simply couldn’t resist updating all of you.  Notice that she types with a mini dog biscuit at the ready, beside her left paw.  Really, she is such a remarkable dog!

2) French Toast Soufflé with Summer Berries

This was one of my favorite recipes I’ve made so far.  Besides the intense purples and pinks being so visually appealing, the soufflé itself was easy to make and came out delicious–light, fluffy, moist, sweet (but not too sweet), fruity, and all around irresistible.  I caught this photo after the HH and I had each enjoyed a huge serving and would have liked more.  

1) Avocado Mayonnaise

I think this recent photo is my favorite so far (if you exclude the dogs’ photos), mostly because of its simplicity. I love the contrast of the green on the red, the fact that there are basically only 2 colors in the photo, and that the grounds of pepper are actually sharply visible (my cheap camera performs, for once!). I also loved the taste and texture of the mayo, and it’s become a staple recipe in our house. In fact, it makes me want to go and have some right now.

After selecting the photos and reading through this entry, it suddenly struck me:  THERE ARE NO PHOTOS OF CHOCOLATE HERE!  Astonishing, truly.  It’s not that I no longer love chocolate or that it’s slipped from Number One Food Spot in my esteem.  No; it’s just that I haven’t been able to adequately capture its magical essence in any of my amateur photos.  Gives me something to shoot for in the next 200 or so blog entries. . .

I’m not going to tag anyone specific, but I will say that it was a fun challenge to come up with the selections, so if you’re interested, please share!

I Got Meme’d!

May 2, 2008

Well, I thought I’d just pop in here for a minute (I know, poor me, nothing else to do on a Friday night–sniff, boo hoo) to add a quick post before the real weekend fun starts–watching Battlestar Gallactica with the HH and The Girls! Whoo-hoo!

One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa of Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen, has tagged me for a meme.  Here are the rules: 

Pick up the nearest book, and turn to page 123. Find the 5th sentence, then copy out the next 3 after that.

 The book I’m reading is called Consolation, by Canadian author Michael Redhill. The book relates 2 parallel storylines: one about a young apothecary in the late 1800s who emigrates to Toronto from London, England, to embark on a new life so he can transport his family to Canada; the second, a present-day story about a widow whose quest (sparked by her geologist husband’s suicide) is to validate his theory about Toronto’s history, which had been rejected before he died.  I’ve not quite finished it yet, but I’m guessing the two plotlines will intersect before I do.  I’ve been enjoying the book immensely–Redhill is a flawless writer whose use of language borders on rapturous at times –and would recommend it highly.

Okay, so here are the sentences. I think it’s fairly obvious from which plotline they’re plucked; and–bonus!–he uses long sentences, so more to read:

It felt warmer, or perhaps he was warmed still, whether by the lethal cocktail Ennis had given him or by the seeming closeness of the people he loved, and he had an urge to visit the lakefront, to stand where he’d first stood almost nine months earlier, full of arrogant wishes and simple hopes. He walked down to Front Street, where people of a more familiar class were now to be seen near the American Hotel, standing in knots of conversation.  He returned a happy wave of the hand to one of them, and inside the ground-floor windows of the hotel, frosted around the edges and fogged, he could hear the revelry of the guests in their grog, and a pianoforte playing in the background.

And now–the most difficult part–I am to tag five others.  On the one hand, I wish I could tag more than five, since there are so many great blogs I’m reading these days (reminder to self: update blogroll!).  On the other hand, I know many of you have been tagged recently and may be memed-out.  I apologize if you’ve already been asked to participate; I’ve made an effort not to include anyone who’s been tagged in the recent past–well, that I remember, anyway:

Looking forward to seeing what everyone’s reading.

Five Things

April 21, 2008

Well, the HH and I just returned yesterday from a quick weekend jaunt to Montreal to visit with family and friends (more on that next time), which means I haven’t had time to cook over the past few days.  A food post will have to wait, and so. . .  

Since I was tagged recently by the lovely A-K of Swell Vegan to tell 5 things about myself, I thought I’d share those those today instead.  Spending 6 hours in the car yesterday did afford some time to think of new things to include (which seems to be getting harder and harder, as the blog itself more or less broadcasts such info daily!).  Here goes:

1) Even though I was born and raised in Montreal, I am one of those few ex-Montrealers who prefers Toronto to my native city.  I moved here in 1983 and feel as if Toronto is where I really grew up and developed an adult identity.  I love that Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world; that it’s number three in the world (only after New York and London) for live theater; that it hosts the “premier[e] film festival in North America” as well as North America’s largest literary festival; that it’s the original home of comedic greats like Mike Myers, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short and Jim Carrey; that is has fantastic, world-class restaurants, as well as personal favorites like this and this and this. So come on, visit!  I’d be happy to show you around when you’re here. 🙂 (And no, I don’t work for the tourist bureau!)

2) I am a real sucker for sappy movies and even some television commercials: like every female character in Sleepless in Seattle who was confronted with that scene in An Affair to Remember, I turn on the waterworks if I watch anything sentimental (and especially anything with sad puppies. . .*sigh*).  When my sisters and I were kids, we’d tease my mother mercilessly about her “soft” streak.  For years, I was mortified to have inherited her mushiness; more recently, however, I’ve just come to accept it.  So, I’m a sap; what the heck.  (The first time the HH observed this trait in me, he had glanced over as we sat beside each other in a darkened movie theater; there I was, silently watching the film, my cheeks streaming with tears. At first, he found this odd behaviour a bit alarming; nowadays, he just rolls his eyes and hands me a tissue).

3) Some people are ocean people; some are woodsy-forest people.  I’m in the latter group (it’s one of my “dog-like qualities,” the HH tells me).  One of my friends was literally so drawn to the ocean that she quit her job and moved across the country to live near it.  My own dream home would be situated smack in the middle of a huge forested lot, surrounded by meadows and trees of every kind and trails along which The Girls could gambol to their hearts’ content. I love the smells of the forest–pine trees, damp mossy patches after a rainfall, maple sap, fresh grass and even the scent of dandelions.  And since walking is my favorite form of exercise, I love a good walk through the woods (though am not a huge fan of the creepy creatures who inhabit it–viz, bugs, snakes, spiders, etc.) This isn’t to say that I don’t wish to remain close to civilization, of course–just that I want enough space around my home to see trees and green in every direction. 

[“Love to gambol, Mum! Yes, please, go ahead and get that property!”]

4) I wrote my PhD thesis on a little-known American short-story writer named Katherine Anne Porter.  I read her novella, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, as an undergrad, and felt such a strong connection to it that I immediately went out and devoured the rest of her works; I decided then and there that I’d have to write about her.  While researching my thesis, I discovered that I was even more entranced by her astonishing life–much stranger than fiction–than her writing.  To learn more about her, you can go here.

5) Even though I studied English literature and psychology in university, in a game of Trivial Pursuit, I’d excel most at the category, “popular culture.”  I thoroughly enjoy most movies, television, and trashy magazines.  I am addicted to a soap opera  (thankfully, only one)–something else I inherited from my mother–and I watch faithfully while plodding along on my treadmill.  If I ever won one of those contests to have a cameo role on my soap, I’d be in New York City before you could say “Procter and Gamble.”  In fact, I once created a course at the college where I teach, called “Serialized Fictions,” which dealt with Victorian serial novels, radio serial dramas, serialized comic books, and, yup–soap operas.

Well, for this one, I think I won’t tag anyone specific, but will open up the fun anyone who’d like to play along.  Consider yourself tagged!

Meme-ories

February 20, 2008

In the past week I’ve been tagged for a meme by a few people and thought I’d be eco-minded and just combine all the answers here. 

The 123 Book Meme from Annie at Health Treks is actually the easiest–just open a book to page 123 and copy what it says.  The other meme, from Michelle at Cooking the Books and Karen at Test Drive Kitchen, is definitely more difficult for me: “Tell us 5 facts about yourself. ” Well, I feel as if I’m already spilling far too much right here on this very blog, so coming up with something beyond all this is challenging, to say the least. 

As I was reminiscing about various past events, it occurred to me that one way to approach the topic is through memory as a topic on its own.  So for this meme, I’ll talk about my memories and how memory plays a role in my life in general.

123 Book Meme: Since I’ve been focused on my chocolate detox this week, I’ve got tons of my nutrition-related books lying around.  I picked up Elson Haas’ The Detox Diet, flipped to page 123 and saw:

“To prepare juices, we want to start with the freshest and most chemical-free fruits and vegetables possible. They should be cleaned or soaked and stored properly. If not organic, they should be peeled, especially if they are waxed. With root vegetables such as carrots or beets, the above-ground ends should be trimmed. Some people drop their vegetables into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so to clean them before juicing. If there is a question of toxicity, sprays, or parasites, a chlorine bleach bath can be used.”

Well, I cheated just a little and added the sixth sentence (not to be confused with the Sixth Sense, mind you, or you’d be juicing with dead people).  Since Haas’ paragraph only HAD six sentences and I thought the last one was interesting, I figured you’d want to read it.  How perfect that he’s talking about juicing, when I just wrote about this a couple of days ago (and it WAS a true coincidence, I swear!). 

“Five Things” Meme (I’ve chosen five facts related to memory, or an actual memory in each case):

1) When I was in graduate school, I memorized the entire text of Beowulfin Old English (am I a nerd, or what??).  This was for my final translation exam, where we’d be given any random passage from the poem and would have to translate it into English.  I didn’t want to take any chances, so memorized the entire thing, all 3183 lines of it.  Today, all I remember is the opening bit, “Hwat! Wey Gar-deyna, in yea-ar-dayum . . . “  Comes in real handy at cocktail parties (if only I ever went to any).

 2) I’ve memorized the names of every single one of my students over the years, usually within the first week of classes. I feel it’s only polite to use someone’s name when you addressing her/him, don’t you? Given the number of semesters I’ve taught, the alarmingly large classes these days (sometimes up to 45 students per class) and the increasing courseload (up to 5 courses per semester), I figure I’ve now memorized the names of more than 7,000 students.  Can I start my own phone book? Unfortunately, they depart as quickly as they came. . . I tend to forget most names shortly after the semester ends, clearing out room for the next batch.  (Once, years ago during one of our marathon pub-chats, my mentor told me that, after having taught for 20-odd years, he was lucky if he could remember the name of even ONE previous student a year later.  But the important names stuck, he assured me, the ones who make an impression never leave.  So I do remember those few special students who, for whatever reason, stood apart from the rest and have left an indelible mark in my memory. Hi, guys!)

3)  I remember phone numbers.  I admit, that statement isn’t as sexy or unique as saying, “I see dead people,” but I am pretty much able to dial a number once, then remember it in perpetuity.  My first apartment? 944-3929.  The Geminis’ old house? 744-0332. My dad’s old store? 276-1601.  And just what does this bizarre talent get me?  Well, I can probably order my Chinese takeout faster than you can–I don’t have to go to the phone book to look it up. 

4) I once memorized the entire screenplay of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  When I was a sweet young thing (okay, a young thing), I saw the movie in a revue cinema in Montreal and immediately fell in love with the quirky humor, amazing scenery, witty dialogue and upbeat music (and, truth be told, Robert Redford and Paul Newman weren’t too shabby, either). I decided then and there–aged fourteen–that it was my favorite movie of all time. After which I proceeded to return to see the movie 27 more times.  No, not a typo:  twenty-seven. After which I was able to recite the dialogue, word for word (though I was never able to sing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”–not only because I don’t like the song, but more so because I can’t carry a tune. In fact, one time when we were kids, The Nurse and I were watching The Monkees on TV and I began to sing along to my favorite song.  She whipped around and suggested sweetly, “Couldn’t you just lip-synch?”).

5) One of my happiest childhood memories involves a rather mundane activity, going to the grocery store with my mother. My mother didn’t drive, and the closest grocery store was a 10-15 minute walk away. My younger sister and I would normally trudge along behind my mother on the way there, plead for Cap’n Crunch or Oreos in the store, then trudge along behind her, toting a grocery bag or two (if they weren’t too heavy) on the way home.  How did ice cream survive this trek in summer, I now wonder? How did we lug all those bags without breaking any of the fragile (then-glass) pop bottles? Yet somehow, we did. 

What we never anticipated was rain.  One day, as we made our way along the familiar route to the store, the skies darkened suddenly.  Before we knew it, it was pouring. I expected my mother to turn back, but she surprised me that day; she turned to us and whispered as if sharing the greatest of confidences, “Let’s run!”  We dashed to the closest tree, where we found shelter under the umbrella of leaves. With the rain pelting down, we’d run from tree to tree, seeking momentary refuge under the protective branches before heading back out into the downpour. 

We did this maybe ten or twelve times, inching our way toward the store and getting more and more drenched as we went, but having the times of our lives, giggling and laughing as we dove for cover, gripping the closest trunk and panting until we were ready for the next sprint. I don’t even remember if we made it to the store that day, or how we got home.  All I remember is the playful trill of my mother’s laugh as it rose above the pelting tatoo of drops on the leaves, before floating nimbly away on the breeze.

I won’t tag anyone specific for these memes–many of the names I’d choose have already been tagged, anyway.  But if you’d like to participate, please do!  Just leave a comment here and let us know you’re playing along, so we can check out your own responses.