Monday, 30 April 2012

Yoga: The Next Big Thing

So, I signed up to take a beginner’s yoga class tomorrow. 

You know how much I LOVE trying new things.

Well, it’s a necessity. I’m aging, and aching and I’m craving a good stretch, so thought trying this new fangled thing called yoga might be just the ticket.
Not very many middle aged women do yoga. And it’s hard to find people who do yoga. It’s very very rare.

That was an example of sarcasm.
This may be the first form of exercise that I am going to try that is in no way an attempt to lose weight. It’s more about not falling down and breaking my hip. Yes. It has come to that.
That and my reading glasses script probably needs to be upped. 
I’ve always sort of poo-poo’d yoga. When I was a kid, yoga was something that hippies or people who went to key parties did. 

if you remember this on TV, you are old.

How could all that bendiness be helpful? Wouldn’t jumping rope or jogging be better? I mean look at Charlene Prickett. Good on ya!

If you remember this on TV, you are old and you are also awesome.

Well, there is room for all kinds of activity in one’s exercise repertoire, apparently. 
So why am I so nervous about taking a beginner’s yoga class, you ask?
Well, I’ll probably fart.
And I will say inappropriate things because I am nervous.

I will be the least flexible person there.

There is the small chance that I’ll enjoy it, and people tell me I will get hooked. I like the idea of getting addicted to something that will require me to purchase an entire set of clothes devoted to it’s practice.  Like Lady Gaga's yoga attire. Totally appropriate.

Plus Sting does it. And looks completely natural while he does so.

I'm going to be a part of it, New York, New York!

I bought a yoga mat. It was, like, $60. It came with a carrying case and all, but after that, I’d damned well better be hooked. I suppose if I don’t like yoga I could find other uses for my yoga mat.

So, anyway, wish me luck.
Yours, in the heavenly vibrations of Om,

Friday, 27 April 2012

Foodie Friday - Le Papillon on the Park

Going out for dinner with friends is one of the best things to do. Ever. 

Secret agents. Totally.

More gorgeous than 3 speeding bullets. More sexy than a very very sexy person.

They've been drinking.

It’s even better than sitting alone in your basement watching The Biggest Loser while you scorf down a litre of ice cream. 

Last month I went out for dinner with some of my pals and then went  to hear our friend Loralee sing in a band that she occasionally works with. She’s kind of a musical butterfly - goes from singing 80’s pop to opera to 40’s jazz, depending on the gig. Amazing.
Anyway, we had such a good time, that we are trying to make it a monthly event.
I call it the Monthly - Put On Some God Damned Lipstick and Don’t Be Such a Hermit Ellen - Night.
Last week we went to the Quebecois restaurant, Le Papillion on the Park. 

I’d gone past this spot many times and wondered what it was like. It’s in kind of a weird, yet lovely location.

View Larger Map

 Apparently they recently did some big renovations and I must say the decor was lovely - very sweet and warm. Not all stuck up or anything. Like it might kiss you on the first date, but no tongue and you'd better call the next day.

photo by Jon Sufrin

I liked the art on the wall. I wanted to buy it. Even dinner out with friends can be an opportunity to shop. I love that. Because I’m shallow.
Here’s what we had:

For starters there was the trio of pate:

Duck liver and thyme, chicken liver and port wine, port a l'ancienne, fruit chutney, dijon, herbed crostini
The Betterave Salad with beets, walnuts and tangerine dressing

Arugula Salad with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes garlic confit, raisins and rye croutons

Roasted Guinea Fowl

Tourtiere (Quebecois pork, veal and beef pie) with tomato apple relish and salade verte

close up of Tortiere.

Aubergine Fourre: Baked eggplant stuffed with quinoa, corn and pumpkin, on spinach and red pepper coulis

Brouet Papillon: Shrimps, Scallops, Mussels, Calamari and Cockles in a fennel, tomato and Pernod concasse with toasted garlic bread.

Maudites Moules: Steamed mussels, tomato concasse, herbs, onions and maudites ale, with frites.

Followed by:

Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.

Chamomile Tea

We had a great time. No one was super drunk and no one started a fight. There was a heated discussion, like when I told Bettina that her religion was total crap, but other than that, it was a fabulous evening.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Alphabet of Awesome

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep followed by an excellent poop that makes you feel gratitude shimmer through your veins. 
I don’t want to go all Oprah on you, but I’d like to offer up a list of just a fraction of the things that I love and for which I am grateful. It is not exhaustive, at all!
To make it a less obvious vomit of narcissistic glee, let’s do it in alphabet form!

A: Arrested Development. Movie is in the works (they actually made a statement about it, so it’s GOT to happen for sure, right?)

B: Brian: Good looking, patient, hilarious, smartiepants, undemanding, sexy, gassy.


C: Cauliflower. I think it’s my favourite vegetable. It’s so brain-like.

D: Downton Abbey. Don’t get me started. Future entire blog posts will be devoted to this show. If you haven’t seen it yet, find it, watch both seasons (plus the Christmas bonus episode) and let’s talk.

E: E-Books. I still like regular books, but there’s something magic about wanting a book and being able to have it in seconds. There’s also something potentially financially disastrous about it, too.

F: Fiona. My cat is effing awesome

G: Geico ads. Like these:

H: My House. It keeps me from being homeless. 

I: Intellectuals. I love listening to smart people talk. I don’t usually contribute much to those conversations much, but I’m highly entertained by them.  Graham could discuss topics ranging from Keats to Buffy. And then tie them together at the end. Kevin explained to me once why old flower water smells so bad. And then he wrote a couple best sellers. My friend Lisa used to explain art to me. Her brain is so big, she has a wagon that she pulls behind her with her head on it. 

J. Jam. It’s tasty.
K: My Kitchen. It’s full of stuff.
L: Librarians. They know stuff.
M: Mornings. I like the quiet. 
N: Nina. Saves my life 5 days a week.
O:  Orangutan. Orange ones.

P:  Puppets. I’d communicate with people better if we could do it through puppets and funny voices. 

Q: Qi. Best, most convenient scrabble word ever.

R: Ryan. Because he rocks. I also like regularity.
S: Stitching. Stitching is super.
T: Television. Obviously. 
U: Underwear. It’s keeps me from being a whore.
V: Voldemort. He just needed a little love.

W: Warmness. I like being warm.

X: X-rays, I guess. I mean, not much to choose from. Xylophones are fine, but I’m not, like, grateful for them. I mean, when was the last time a xylophone found a cancerous tumor early and saved a life. Stupid xylophones. Never thinking of anyone but themselves.

Y: Yoka. I spend all of my money there. All of it. They see me coming and they immediately call their investment advisors: “She’s coming in, Dennis, what looks good today?”

Z: Zinc. You need it to live.

What do you think is awesome? Pick a letter. Any letter!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Foodie Friday - Home Made Ducle De Leche Ice Cream

Ice cream. The food that people turn to in times of trouble, times of celebration, times of skinned knees and times of cake.
Unless you are lactose intolerant, I dare you to think of ice cream and not smile.

Ice cream is, hands down, one of my favourite foods on earth. I used to order Tiger Tiger when I was a kid. Licorice ice cream! Awesome. And rainbow. Loved that, too. My mom always had maple walnut, which was baffling to me because, like, why would you want nuts on ice cream? Weird. Mom is weird. Dad usually had a chocolate dip cone. Garth usually had something that I would eventually want because he ate slower than his piggy little sister. Damn him.

There has been some attribution of the invention of ice cream to the Chinese, although it was likely a frozen rice milk concoction. Sherbets and ices are peppered throughout histories of 5th Century, stories of Marco Polo’s travels to Italy in the 13th Century, and Renaissance Europe. Cafe Procope opened in Paris in 1686, serving ices and Turkish coffee. It is still open today. 

photo by Flickr user Sergei Melki

The earliest known recipe for Ice Cream is L’art de Faires Des Glaces published in France in 1700, followed closely by England’s Mrs Mary Eales Receipts in 1718. *

So, a few years ago I got an ice cream making attachment for my Kitchenaid.
Big mistake.
Homemade ice cream is so good, so amazing. So making me fat fat fat.
I hadn’t made ice cream in about 2 years so I decided to drag it out and dust it off and see what I could come up with for your Foodie Friday delight!
I thought, at first, a lovely simple vanilla - my favourite flavour in a sea of options. But then I remebered that my brother in law’s girl friend, pastry chef Rebecca Rouen gave me some of her home made Dulce de Leche for Christmas 

as well as some home made vanilla extract.

 ZING! Rebecca weighs about 95 pounds. Cruel jokes and God and all. She works at the new fancy shmancy place Bobbette and Belle. 

Picture by these fine gals

You should go. And order 3 desserts each. I know I would. You can get, like, a $7000 cake there. Or french macarons. Are you hearing this Cheryl M? Are you? 
Anyway, so I looked online and settled on a recipe that got great reviews and seemed simple enough.

Dulce De Leche Ice cream
2 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
1 lb Dulce de Leche (about 1and 2/3 cups)*
1/8 teaspoon vanila
3/4 C chopped pecans, toasted
Bring milk and cream just to the boiling point in a 3 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat

milk in a pot

then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved.

 Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and ice water and stir occasionally until cold, about 15-20 minutes

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm and fold in pecans

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze to harden, at least an hour.

* I only had about 1 C of the dulce de leche, so my results weren't as caramelly as the recipe suggests.

So I potted the stuff up into adorable little individual containers and gave some to our nice neighbours. I did this before trying it myself.
Can you imagine my despair when I did sample it and found that it was, well, meh.
I know. Even bad ice cream is awesome. This was just meh. The texture was like eating a frozen block of milk and the dulce de leche was wasted on it. The pecans were kind an annoyance. Brian said it was “ok” and that was him being nice to his nervous little wife. For the first time in my life, I HAVE THROWN ICE CREAM AWAY.

throwing away the ice cream:Step 1.

throwing away the ice cream: Step 2

throwing away the ice crew,: The Final Goodbye.

So I’m sorry Rebecca, for wasting your beautiful homemade dulce de leche on a failed experiment. 
Luckily Rebecca gave me her recipe for dulce de leche so I can make more if I like. Thanks Rebecca.
Dulce De Leche
Empty the contents of a can (or more then 1 can) of sweetened condensed milk into an oven-proof dish; sprinkle with some kosher salt and tightly cover it with foil.
Place the covered dish in a larger roasting or casserole pan and fill it up with water until it reaches three quarters of the up the covered dish to create a water bath. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-90 minutes (increase time for more the additional cans) checking every 30minutes on the water level and adding more as needed.
Dulce de leche is ready when it takes on a brown and caramel-like appearance. Remove from the oven and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.
Hint: Some recipes call for boiling a can submerged in water. This is dangerous and can cause the can to explode. Oven method works best!
If I make this ice cream again, I would definitely not use the recipe here. I'd use a vanilla ice cream recipe that uses eggs as you need eggs to get that crazy making, I'll kill you if you get in between me and that bowl, creamy texture that ice cream must have. And I'd skip the pecans. They take up too much room that could be filled with chocolate or more dulce de leche.

Or, I'll just go to Baskin Robbins and buy some. There's that route, too.