30 May 2006

Can woman live on ice cream alone?

06 05 30 ice cream

I'm finding out this week.

My word it's been hot. The weather people are promising saner temperatures in a few days.

Until then, I'm intent on draining my town of all ice creams and frozen yoghurts.

The glass of ice? Oh yeah...that's for my G&T...except I don't have any G...nor any T.



27 May 2006

Please, Mister Postie

I'm back in the "real world" -- well almost. Need those few days to detatch and decompress.

06 05 27 Mailbox

Well...apart from bills and offers for free gym memberships (as if!) and a lottery win (as long as I provide my passport and bank account numbers), my mailbox is empty. Not even a note from the Postie to let me know there was something at the post office for me (and yes, we checked the post office, just in case...nothing there).


No Canadian Blogging By Post giftie for me .
I think I may be the last one waiting for my CBBP package.


I've received overseas packages in less time than I've waited for this box a few provinces away...and Canada Post wonders why many people have switched to email and private courier companies?

I mean, it *could* be late, stuck in a van between here and Alberta; it could have been delivered to the wrong address; it could have been be on its way back, returned as undeliverable, but without a tracking number we can only guess where that box is.

So, what's a gal to do?

Well, parody another classic and hope that this magic will work and I'll get the box soon. Cross your fingers...

With apologies to W. Garrett, B. Holland, F. Gorman, G. Dobbins, R. Bateman and The Carpenters:

Oh yes, wait a minute Mister Postie
Wait Mister Postie

Please Mister Postie, look and see
(Oh yeah)
If there's a parcel in your truck for me
(Please, Please Mister Postie)
Why's it takin' such a long time
(Oh yeah)
For my C B B P box so fine?

There must be some treats today
From a blogpal so far away
Please Mister Postie, look and see
If there's a parcel, a parcel for me

I've been bloggin' here waitin' Mister Postie
So patiently
For a box, or padded envelope
With some yummy goodies just for me

(Mister Postie)
Mister Postie, look and see
(Oh yeah)
If there's a parcel in your truck for me
(Please, Please Mister Postie)
Why's it takin' such a long time
(Oh yeah)
For me to get a present that’s mine

So many days you passed me by
See the hope fade from my eyes
She wouldn’t have skipped out on her promise
And leave me without a package so nice

(Mister Postie)
Mister Postie, look and see
(Oh yeah)
If there's a parcel in your truck for me
(Please, Please Mister Postie)
Why's it takin' such a long time

(Why don't you check it and see one more time for me, you gotta)
Wait a minute
Wait a minute
Wait a minute
Wait a minute
(Mister Postie)
Mister Postie, look and see

(C'mon deliver the letter, the sooner the better)
Mister Postie


21 May 2006

WCB: Beanie and the box

Okay...these are piccies from last weekend (I think), but I was too busy to post them.

Now that I'm on vacation (hahaha), I thought I'd put them up for the world to see. And yes, the exbf posted them on his site several days ago, but you know...Beanie *is* my cat.

So...for those of you who wonder if a 22-lb (25-lb?) cat can fit into a large-sized FedEx Box, here's the answer...of sorts :



19 May 2006

Sometimes all you need is a bowl of pudding

You have no idea how happy I am today has arrived.

No, my Canadian Blogging By Post parcel has not arrived yet (soon? please?).

Today, at about 4:30pm my vacation began--I packed up, set my voicemail and out-of-office messages and left. I won't return to the office for another 10 days.

I have very few *real* plans--Toronto on Sunday with The Fussy Eater to see Wingfield's Inferno and dinner afterwards. Victoria Day (aka "May Two-Four") looks as if it will start off with dim sum and then my darling dearest and I will drive off to The Stratford Festival and see a preview of London Assurance...and hopefully get to Chocolate Barr's. The rest of my week will be spent tidying, cooking, baking, doing homework, sleeping, watching TV...you know...

So, how do I start my time off? Well...doing homework, if truth be told...but lurking in my fridge are two tubs of kheer pudding (I'll explain why later).


Those tubs of milky-noodley-raisiny-cashewy sweet goodness are now shy one serving. A sweeter way of beginning my downtime I do not know.


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

17 May 2006

A Day Without Foodblogs: Help save the Internet

Save the Internet: Click here

I'm a day late in posting this...

Large American ISPs are lobbying US Congress for permission to dictate internet accessability. These companies could be given the ability to decide which websites get downloaded quickly and which ones will be given second, third or fourth-tier status.

How will download speeds be determined? My guess...and the guesses of many others...is that it will devolve to a pay-for-play system: the more you pay, the more you can play.

Sounds like a legalized form of extortion to me.

If legislation passes, these same ISPs can censor content so only their worldview is portrayed:

  • Imagine looking for real, verifiable information on the Earth's rotation and only being able to get information based on writings by The Flat Earth Society.
  • Imagine a woman trying to find information on her legal rights when dealing with sexual harassment but only finding information about women being chattle.
  • Imagine looking for information on living with or comforting someone with a horrendous disease and only being given access to web pages announcing sufferers of that disease are little more than "animals" being punished "by a "higher being."
  • Imagine a child looking for information on nutrition and healthy eating, but only getting info from an arm of a hypermegaglobal chemical company, touting the nutritional virtues of only their products.
If you are an American, and don't want your internet access governed by sites who pay the highest dollar or to be force-fed views you don't agree with, please visit savetheinternet.com.

Here are two great links:



edits: links to Kalyn's Kitchen and Chez Pim

Cooking by Proxy: Veggie Pasta

I really am a lucky person.

When I truly couldn't cook for myself, the exbf took it upon himself to make sure that the cats and I didn't go hungry.

He was (and still is) gung-ho for taking on the "Cooking By Proxy" adventures but I try not to impose upon his kindness too much...I just feel weird about having someone cook for me.

When shopping, I make sure there's enough easy-to-prepare stuff for him to use.

When cooking from scratch (and he is a good cook), he gets nervous when it's for me (WHY?).

Plus there's really no guarantee what time I'll be home--it can be 4:30 or it can be 6:30--it all depends on what's going on at work.

What this means is I've been eating a lot more meat and store-bought frozen food. Not every day (thank goodness), but it's there.

This means more preservatives, more salt, more sugar and more fats.

My body rebelled.

My tummy hurt, my skin was bad, and my digestion was...well...Let's just say that I totally understand what Dr. Gillian McKeith goes on about.

I know it is ultimately *my* doing...and my undoing.

The other week I couldn't take it anymore. I needed to go veg for a while...and it needed to be home-made.

Spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and garlic...lightly cooked and served over pasta.

Much better : )


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

14 May 2006

TSIR #2: Vanilla Kurma

A few weeks ago Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries posted Sweet or Savoury, the next Spice is Right theme. Basically, take a spice and use it in a (new) way to you.

It wasn't that long ago when anything around here beyond the standard s&p with a few token herbs and spices was considered "exotic." Being raised on South Indian food, most of what I ate fell into that strange and extremely satisfying category. My mum did her best to figure out Canadian food: sometimes dinner was successful, sometimes it wasn't. All of this is to say, between Canadian and Indian traditions, I've grown used to meals where ginger, cardamom, cloves and other spices appeared in both main and sweet dishes.

So what to do?

Well...with all the reading I've been doing for the
2006: Not So Vanilla series, I've come across a few savoury vanilla dishes. I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever (knowingly) eaten a savoury food that used vanilla.

At first I looked for vanilla chicken recipes. Unfortunately, most of what I found reminded me of Marge Simpson's butterscotch chicken (the treat she mentioned she’d make for Bart after he came back from the dentist)--they could be interesting or they could be...well...gross.

So I decided to get creative...sort of.

I also decided to try and do this one sans assistance. Since my ankle didn't bother me until the very end when the time came to serve, I thought I did very well. I let the exbf take care of the serving ceremonies. It felt so good to be back in the kitchen again. Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived as later that week
I re-injured myself.


I took a look at my standard Chicken Kurma recipe and decided to play with it a little. I made it milder, switched out the cashews for almonds and, of course threw in a vanilla bean.

I think I'll call this a recipe-in-training: far from perfect, but there's potential. Since I was rather tentative as to exactly how much standing I could do, my shortcuts—pre-ground almonds and store-bought grated coconut—leave me wonting a revisit, but doing it properly (fresh coconut and whole nuts) and allowing me to play with the coconut-nut ratio. If anyone decides to try this and finds ways to improve upon it, please let me know. I think this kurma would do well with pork or prawns as well.
The result wasn't too bad-- a mild, chicken curry with a lovely vanilla scent, served over steaming basmati rice.

Vanilla Chicken Kurma
50g grated coconut
50g ground almonds
1 dsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2cm ginger, grated
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
300g tomatoes, chopped
1 handful coriander leaf, finely chopped
1 18cm/7” green chilli, minced
1 pinch vanilla salt
1 25cm vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2T sour cream
900g boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cubed

Ground masala:
1t garam masala*
2dsp coriander seeds, ground
1t cumin seeds, ground
0.5t ground black pepper
0.25t tumeric

Putting it together
1. Combine the coconut, nuts, oil and enough water to form a medium-thick paste; set aside. If you are using whole nuts, put the coconut and nuts into a grinder and blitz until thick, then enough add water until it reaches a tapenade or pesto-like looseness--you shouldn't need any oil.

2. Fry the shallots until light brown in about three tablespoons of oil over med-high heat. Then stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for about a minute. Tip in the tomato, coriander leaf, ground masala and garam masala, vanilla pod and seeds, vanilla salt and about a half-cup of water. Fry until the tomato melts, turning everything into a paste.

3. Add the sour cream and stir until it dissolves. Tip in the chicken and coat thoroughly in the sauce; let the pot come to a boil. Turn down the hob to about med-low, cover the pot and let simmer until the chicken is fully cooked—this will take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. Taste for salt

4. Add the coconut past to the mixture and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

To serve, garnish with some toasted almond slivers, golden-fried shallots and a few leaves of fresh coriander leaf.

* Ideally you’d make your own blend, but if you have to buy it, try and go to an Indian grocer as they may have different blends available.



Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

09 May 2006

But I regress...

Ankle update...

I was doing really well...or at least I thought I was. I was pretty much off-cane last week. Then, well....I overdid it. Pokey is now by my side more often than I care to mention...sigh...

Oh well, when life gives you lemons, make

Here I present to you, gentle reader, Empress Jasmine's* Guide for Surviving a Sprained Ankle.

The first 24-1008 hours will be the most traumatic: Make sure the staff have lots of pillows (goose down, plush, satin, embroidered, bejewelled--whatever you think of as appropriate) ready anywhere from four to 12 should be enough...and rotate them...so double the original number.

Ice packs are also key--have a number at the ready. I like wrapping them in a nice, soft fabric that coordinates with the interior design. Cashmere pashminas work well--get your seamstress to sew up some icepack cozies...they don't take that long to make. Besides, pashminas are *so* last season...if not older...it's a good opportunity to recycle those old fabrics...unless you've already donated them to the charity bin...then just buy some more and use them.

Decide *where* you want to spend most of your recovery time...it's not enough to decide "the bedroom" or "the entertainment room;" you must decide which of your bedrooms, entertainment rooms, east wing or west wing... And since you'll be spending hours and hours in that room, your little oopsie is the absolutely most perfect reason to redecorate...it'll keep your spirits up...

Postponing your social engagements: You may find yourself unable to keep your social commitments. You can opt to have your PA call and explain, but unless you are totally incapacitated by pain or painkillers, you should call them yourself and explain, *without* melodramatics your incapacity. Your PA will be busy with the following area:

Receiving gifts and well-wishers: As soon as your adoring public hears that you've hobbled yourself, they will want to rush to your side. Make sure your PA has vases of varying volumes at the ready for your flowers. Should your abode begin to look like a florist's show room, have your PA run the extra blooms to a local retirement home or hospital...same with any books or magazines (after you've read them). Whatever you receive--flowers, stuffed animals, diamond chokers--remember to accept these tributes graciously...even if you already have received four more of the same that day.

One thing you will realize is pain is tiring...after so many hours (or even minutes) of extra people and you will be fatigued...some people realize this and will discretely excuse themselves...others may not: falling asleep during a visit is not recommended.

Re-emerging into society: As much as I hate to type it, flats will be your friends. Get yourself the cutest little pair of embroidered ballet slipper Rocketdogs and start padding around with the help of your walking stick or crutches. Be sure to take the appropriate amount of time to mourn your inability to slip into your beautiful Blahniks and charming Choos. It's not worth causing even more damage to yourself by slipping into your stilettos too soon. But look on the bright side--by the time you've recovered you'll *have* to re-vamp your well-heeled wardrobe...last year's styles and all that.

By the way, if you were looking for a good reason to get a new palanquin (and those lovely, well-muscled bearers), this is it.

The last bit of advice I can impart is to keep a chocolate supply on hand...chocolate will make you happy. But then you always need to keep a chocolate supply on hand.

*Come on...you had an inkling that I was more than a mere princess..admit it...and yes, that is my tiara.

Empress J

Timmys count:
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut

Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

07 May 2006

Food Trip: Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

Here's something I learned last month. The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is recognized by the good people at Guinness World Records as the world's largest maple syrup festival. How's that for eye-opening?

Okay... a little background. If you drive a little farther than 100km west of Toronto, you'll be in a small community named
Elmira, Ontario. It is the largest community in Woolich Township in Waterloo County. Like the rest of Waterloo Region, its roots are firmly planted in Mennonite traditions. The festival itself is more than 40 years old and attracts approximately 60,000 people each year.

Although I don't attend each year, I usually head in once every two or three years and load up on syrup. Once you get into greenspace and away from concrete, the drive is lovely and you can usually see Mennonites lined on either side of the road, sitting by their buggies or at folding tables selling their mapley wares: maple syrup (of course) maple butter, maple sugar, maple candies and butter tarts (maple optional).

While at the festival you can take a sugar bush tour where you go into the bush, learn how trees are tapped and the sap is boiled down to make syrup. There are also candy-making distributions. One of the biggest draws is the pancake breakfast. Like any community festival or fair, there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. The breakfast is, I'm told, primarily staffed by volunteers from local churches. I think they make some of the best pancakes I've ever had--yes, I know the pancakes aren't made from scratch, but I don't care...there's something about the expertise, the griddles and the open air (plus the fresh syrup) that makes it all so good. And the price is insanely low.

The main street is blocked off and vendors of all sorts set up tents and tables. You can find the usual crafts and jewellery there, but also a range of foods. You can buy all sorts of sweets (cotton candy, candied apples, maple candies), but also roasted chicken and pork, gyros, felafels, a chocolate fountain all this along with roast corn and sweet potatoes. I think my favourites are the cheese breads, bacon sandwiches (made with grilled back bacon and onions) and, of course, apple fritters.

This year I brought my camera and took some pictures...and I don't know if that character is the Festival mascot, but the little boy who was greeting everyone was so cute...:



Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees

02 May 2006

Spring is in the air...

...and changes abound.

All good.

The most immediate is that I'm now Editor of Foodieblogs.net, a relatively new food-centric metablog. Aaron and I have been emailing about it for a while and we'll see how well I balance everything out. He's got a load on his plate (and he said a few magic words--which I won't mention here, otherwise I'll have even less time for myself than I do now) and I offered to help out for a little bit. Membership is growing--right now we have 88 blogs on our lists and are always looking for more--so if you are looking for a way to find more readers for your own foodblog, please take a look at foodieblogs and sign up. I'll even send you a nice welcome letter.

The other bit of news will have to wait a little longer...tee hee!

Yup...Spring is in the air and new adventures are just around the corner...


Timmys count:

Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 43 cups, 7 free coffees