Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trees, birthdays, hurricanes, and pills (or lack thereof!)

So hurricane Kyle was a complete non event here on Sunday night - thank goodness. Just some rain and warm temps, not even any wind. Today has been a very nice fall day. The leaves are approaching their height of colour and are very pretty.

Not much new to report. It's my mother's birthday next week. She will be 88! I have no idea what to get her. She certainly doesn't need any more clothes - she couldn't cram any more into her closet. I may take the day off and take her somewhere for lunch. Get her a nice bouquet of flowers, too, perhaps.

In other news, I've kicked the sleeping pill habit! No little blue pills (zopiclone, that is, not Viagra!) or Ativan for over two weeks now. I have been taking something called Sleep MD, which is an over the counter, all natural product. It seems to help. I have been sleeping so-so. Usually waking up around 3:00 a.m. and sometime going back to sleep, sometimes not.

Hmmmm... Perhaps time for a Robert Frost poem. Seems to fit:

Tree at my Window

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues aloud
Could be profound.

But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.

The day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imaginatiomn about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Skinny Saturday 27

It's a warm but rainy day here in the east of Canada. There's a rainfall warning in effect, in fact, as we are supposed to be impacted by tropical storm Kyle as he makes his way north. We're in for up to 100 mm of rain. I don't mind, we need the rain actually, but I'd prefer if it arrived through the week.

It's a perfect weekend though for staying in and reading and doing a lot of cooking, which is exactly what I plan to do. I am currently reding The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski, which was recommended highly by Seth over at Maine Cliff Dweller. I haven't gotten very far into it yet, but I am enjoying it a lot. I am also planning to make a Swiss chard dal, a lentil-feta-sundried tomato salad, a tofu/chickpea stew, and a peanut sauce to have later in the week with udon noodles. I shouldn't have to cook at all next week. And that's a good thing, as I hope to ramp up my biking and swimming schedule and drop at least 10 pounds very soon.

Anybody watch the Obama/McCain debate last night? I watched most of it. McCain did better than I thought he would (god-damn him), but hopefully it wasn't good enough. The Biden/Palin debate next week should be a riot.

In any case, onward and upward to the men of Saturday:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I don't wanna work today!

I really, really don't. It's gonna be sunny and 23 C here. Just heard this on trusty Radio Bruno out of Bologna. For some reason, embedding on all the vids has been disabled. But just click here to watch. Great song and great beat. Ooops. I spoke too soon. I found and embedable vid. Check it out!

Also, the new Survivor series starts tonight. Survivor Gabon Twenty-nine year-old lawyer from NYC, Charlie Herschel, is the gay guy this time round.

And a new Amazing Race starts on Sunday. Yay! No gay team this time, though, so that kinda sux.

Have a good day all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bits and Bites

Well, THAT was stuipd. I just prepared tomorrow morning's coffee in the machine and instead of hitting "Auto" (to start the machine at 5:30 a.m.), I hit "Start," which started the machine right away. Grrr... I hate when I do dumb things like that. Had to throw out the coffee, which had just started to be dripped through, rinse the pot, and start all over again. Oh well, not the end of the world, but definitely worth an "Oh, for fuck's sake!"

I want to do something special for our anniversary this year - Brad and I will have been together for 18 years this November. There's a place in Nova Scotia I'd kind of like to go to, but it is very out of the way - a 7-hour drive from here - and kind of expensive, not that I'm worried about the money, but Brad probably would be and I'd like this to be a NO WORRY mini-get-away. Perhaps we'll just sneak away to Halifax or maybe Bar Harbor in Maine. I definitely want to do something though to mark the occasion and to allow just the two of us to get away for just a few days.

Lately, there's been this girl who keeps taking my usual seat on the bus I take to work in the mornings. Pisses me off. I've been taking the bus for decades now and it's MY seat. Some mornings I beat her to it. Most times, though, she's there before me and is ensconced in MY seat. I think she knows now that she's pissing me off. I've shot daggers at her on several occasions. Now, I think we both inwardly smirk in the comfort of MY seat when we see the other get on the bus.

Gotta run. It's almost nine and therefore almost my bedtime. What?? You didn't see where coffee machine starts at 5:30 a.m.?? Week nights I try to be in bed before 10:00, though I sometimes stay up and watch a bit of the 10 o'clock news.

Pleasant dreams, amichi.

Monday, September 22, 2008


So in case you haven't heard it already, Michael Phelps is joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going Back to Philly

Just came aross this cool vid. It's from the TV show "It's always sunny in Philidelphia," which I have to admit, I've never seen. I think I will look for it now though. Hopefully we get it on one of our stations here. Check it out:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Skinny Saturday 26

Hey, what up? Yet another Saturday. It's a beautiful, bright, sunny fall day here. As planned, Brad and his dad and sister went off to the coast on a day trip. They got away around 9:00. I stayed in bed this morning and didn't go to the market as usual. I stayed up too late last night surfing YouTube. But I did my 21 km on the bike this morning and I was going to mow the back lawn, but when I went to do it the lawnmower (the reel one) was broken. I have to admit I didn't try very long to fix it. I think I may borrow our neighbour's real mower tomorrow and and do it then.

Time to get cooking! I'm making a sweet potato and peanut stew for supper. Here's da boyz:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Run for your life, little person!

What it is with me and these 1990s-sounding groups? I've heard this song many times, but never seen the video. It's funny. Check it out for yourself if you dare:

Bloodhound Gang sings Aint Nothing but Mammals

Open the Window!

Oy. It's been a very busy week with an even busier weekend looming. Brad has been working out at his dad's place on his laptop during the afternoons this week. He's lucky in that he can basically work anyplace where he can crank up his laptop. His father is finding it difficult and very quiet to be home by himself. Brad is going to take him on a daytrip to the coast on Saturday and Brad's sister may go, too. This is also a weekend that I go to my mother's and stock her up on supplies. Brad is out getting that stuff right now. I don't know when we'll get our groceries. Enh... It will all fall into place. It always does.

And freaking Sarah Palin, eh. Unbelievable. Her appeal. As I read somewhere this week online, she's like an adolescent girl, a popular one, but also a mean one. I was watching the news the other night and they showed McCain and that Stepford wife of his (ha, almost typed Crawford wife there) and I thought to myself, how on earth could ANYONE in their right mind vote for this person (and that awful Sarah Palin). Ewww.

And the stock market's crashing, eh. Well, things were up a bit today, but generally it's doom and gloom. The TSX has has lost close to 3,000 points in the last 2 or 3 months. Again, unbelievable. Thankfully I saw this coming and moved my meager investments into a safe GIC back in April. George Bush has run every company he's ever been in charge of into the ground, so I figured he and his cronies would do the same to the American economy. And when the USA sneezes, as they say, Canada catches a cold.

And speaking of cold...there is a FROST warning out for tonight! The temperature is supposed to fall to minus 1 C (about 30 F). Can you imagine!? It's a little early, but what can you do? That said, fall is my favourite season of the year. Soon we'll be lighting a fire in the fireplace and toasting chestnuts in the embers (totally kidding about that last bit). I DO love fall, though, just not what follows.

Here's Kate Bush with Wuthering Heights

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Another cool and overcast day here in Eastern Canada with rain predicted for this afternoon. The leaves on some of the trees have started to turn. Hard to believe that it was less than two weeks ago that we were swimming in the ocean. Seems like a lifetime of things have happened since then. Here are a couple of pics from the beach:

I figured it was time for me to post a couple of recipes. The mango-peach chutney, which I made the evening of the day we went to the beach, goes with just about anything. Serve it on crackers or on sliced baguette as an appetizer or add a dollop beside any type of fish or seafood. It would also be yummy with a roast chicken or ham and it's equally good in a sandwich. Here's the recipe (from "Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites," especially for Fernando in Mexico City:

Mango-Peach Chutney


1 large mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
1 small fresh green chile, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the chutney ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent. Cool or chill before serving. The chutney will keep for several weeks stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Here's a pic of the finished product:

And now for the Boston Cream Pie that I served the other night for Brad's family. It's an old standby and one of the classics from the American dessert repertoire. My recipe comes from the April 1993 issue of Gourmet Magazine:

Boston Cream Pie

For the cake:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk

For the custard:

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the glaze:

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch springform pan. (I use a 9" pan and that works fine, too.) In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, the sugar, and the vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and the salt and beat the mixture into the butter mixture in batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (Generally, in my oven, it takes about an hour.) Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack.

Make the custard: In a saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, the sugar, and the milk. Add the eggs, the cream, and the salt, and whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream mixture. Bring the custard to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Boil the custard, whisking, for 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the butter. Let the custard cool completely, whisking occasionally.

Make the glaze: In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate with the water, the butter, the corn syrup, and the salt, stirring until the glaze is smooth. (I use a double boiler, aka a bain de Marie. This time, as I mentioned before, I also used two squares of Baker's bittersweet chocolate and a 100 g Green and Black's Maya Gold chocolate bar - this totalled about 5.5 ounces of chocolate in, which was plenty. The Maya Gold has a hint of orange and spice in it and worked perfectly for the glaze. Brad's sister asked if I had put Cointreau in the glaze, but it was just the flavour from the bar shining through. It was very, very yummy!)

Remove the cake from the pan, halve it horizontally with a long serrated knife, and arrange the bottoom half, cut side up, on a plate. Top the bottom half with the custard, spreading the custard to the edge, and put the remaining cake half, cut side down, on top of the custard. Pour the glaze on top, spreading the glaze to the edge and letting it drip down the side.

Here's how mine looked (and please forgive the mess on the counter!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Skinny Saturday 25

Well this has been a long week full of activities, punctuated by tears, but also by laughter. We have gotten together with Brad's family a lot, which has been great, as we are able to gather strength and support from each other. That's what, I guess, family is all about, and Brad's family sets a very high standard.

Brad's sister and brother-in-law from Ontario fly back today. We'll all miss them, especially Brad's dad, as they have been staying with him all this week. They all enjoyed their meal at our place the other night, and I'll post a couple of recipes later this weekend. I also took a pic of the Boston cream pie I made for dessert, so I'll post that, too. It turned out great, partly because I used a Green and Black's Maya Gold chocolate bar for the glaze. Mmm, mmm, good!

To get back to regular programming, here's da boyz of Saturday:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Checking In


Not much to write about. The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity... family gatherings, visitations, the funeral, the burial... So much. So much to all take in. It's still very hard to believe that Charlotte is gone. For a 100 lb. woman with mobility problems, she had a very big presence in all our lives. Brad and one of his sisters did the eulogy yesterday and they both did a terrific job. Much better than I could ever have done under similar circumstances. It rained the day before and it's raining again today, but yesterday was sunny and nice.

Brad's dad and his sister and brother-in-law from Ontario are coming for dinner tomorrow night. I'm planning to start with some crackers and breads to go with some mango-peach chutney, my trusty tapenade with kalamata olives and dried tomatoes, some baba gannouj, and probably some smoked salmon. I'm then going to serve just a simple stir fry of scallops and shrimp with basmanti rice and and avocado/beet salad with a red miso dressing. I'll probably finish off each plate with a dollop of lentil/sun-dried tomato and feta salad. Homemade Boston cream pie is on the menu for dessert. It's been good to have today off - I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. Tomorrow I'll just have to make the custard and glaze for the Boston cream pie and do the rice and the stir fry. I have tomorrow off as well. I could take Thursday, too, but I will probably go back to work on Thursday as there is a meeting that I don't want to miss that day. I get five days bereavement leave for the death of a close family member.

In other news, we're getting a new fence along one of the sides of our backyard - the old was was falling down. And we also bought about a half cord of wood from our next-door neighbours - they had extra and we could only find sellers who wanted to deliver 3 cord and up. It worked out well - especially with the fence down between us - it made for an easy exchange.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Very Sad News

Brad came home from the hospital about 4:00 a.m. with the very sad news that his mother had passed away. She was very peaceful in the end, and simply stopped breathing. This whole ordeal over the past 7 weeks just proved too much for her body, I think. It looks like she probably had an ischemic stroke of some sort. I am glad I went up to the hospital earlier in the evening. Though she was unable to talk, we made eye contact, and she knew I was there. At the end, she was surrounded by her devoted husband and 3 of her 4 children. Brad's sister in Ontario did not make it down, since his mom's conditon deterioriated so quickly.

She was a great, funny, courageous, kind, and loving lady. Despite the limitations imposed on her physical body (she had muscular distrophy), she had a broad, generous, and cheerful spirit. We will all miss her terribly.

Rest in peace, dear Charlotte.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The Trailer for Gus Van Sant's Milk starring Sean Penn is out. Looking forward to seeing it in November.

Brad and I had a great day on Tuesday over on the east coast. We pigged out on scallops and clams and spent some time on the mostly deserted beach, even went in for a dip, though the water was cool as it had rained the previous two days over there (here it was nice both days).

Brad's back at the hospital. His mom has taken a turn for the worse. Her temperature had dropped and her condition deterioriated today. We hope and pray that she will pull through.

Over and out.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mug Shots

I have been mulling this one over in my mind for a while now... I bond with my mugs and I have a lot of them! I try to pick one up wherever our travels take us. To wit:

This is my very favourite mug of all time. I bought it at Harrods' in Knightsbridge in 2000 on a trip that Brad surprised me with for our 10th anniversary. I dropped it on the ceramic kitchen floor in our former house and it has been cracked ever since, but it keeps on ticking. I actually take this one out of circulation when we have guests or when we have a housesitter.

This one was purchased on the same 2000 anniversary trip. FSUK it reads - short for French and Saunders United Kingdom. We saw them live while we were there and I picked up this mug as a souvenir. A GREAT show, by the way!

This is from Stockholm 2007

Brad picked this one up for me on his 5-hour layover in Manhatten when returning from Nepal last fall. Dean & Delucca, of course, is a famous foodie shop in NYC.

This one I picked up on our recent trip to Italy at a trendy shop in Rome.

From our recent trip to Tuscany, of course!

This was my mother's favourite mug. I took it when we cleaned out her place last fall. She uses it anytime she is here for a meal.

And this is one of my all time faves also. I bought it in 1999 at an Oslo pastery shop that bore the same name as our beloved Golden Retriever, Samson. Sam died in October 2004.

And once again - in case you missed it the first time, Regina Spektor sings Samson: