Sunday, February 21, 2010

No more excuses!

For all of you out there who do not cook because you don’t have time and/or think it is cheaper to eat microwave/processed meals, listen up! I would like to introduce you to Donna Hay and her “fast five” section in Style at Home. In particular, her Lemon Chicken ~ I swear, no more than 5 minutes prep and you are done. Right from the magazine, this is it:

“Flatten (butterfly) a 2 lb chicken and place in a baking dish with four lemon halves and 6 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Cook in a 400 F oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until cook through.”

Now, if you are saying chicken is not cheap, I call balls! Get yourself to Loblaw (not sure what happened to the ‘S’ but that’s what they call it now) as they have TWO chickens on for $10 all week. Stock up and freeze!

I have made this twice and it takes every ounce of strength I have not to eat the entire bird in one go but if you restrict yourself to just the nice brown parts of skin you won’t go overboard too much.

If you want to get ‘fancy’ slice your garlic cloves in half and use a sharp knife to cut slits in the chicken skin and slide them inside. Add some extra cloves to the pan if you like roasted garlic, and who doesn't?

For more brown skin, after you drizzle the oil, rub it in with your hands (or use a brush if you are squeamish about touching chicken). Give the lemons a half squeeze as well and if you want a real tangy flavour give them another squeeze post-roasting.

If you have Fleur De Sel, like I do since I was in France last year (did I mention that?) it is a fabulous addition as well. For easy clean up, line the roasting pan with parchment paper and simply bin it when you're done.

A green salad or, even easier, mashed potatoes (or both) and presto, dinner is ready. So good and so affordable.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've still got it

Tuesday evening, at the community centre where I teach yoga, I was signing my hours in at the front desk when I hear this little mousey voice say “now there is a handsome man”.

Excitedly, I looked around to see said handsomeness. My eyes came to rest on an elderly woman who, despite being indoors, had her large faux fur hooded jacket done up to the neck.

Realizing she was referring to moi, I blushed and said ‘thank you’.

“Do you have a young family?” she asked. Ummmm, excuse me, but do I know you? My doctor makes more idle chit-chat before the turn-your-head-and-cough test.

Caught off guard, I told her no, I did not have a “young family”. Saying I was divorced did dance through my mind but telling her that might have burst her little bubble.

“Well my granddaughter is in her first year university and she is such a lovely girl…..”

I couldn’t help but smile. That is so sweet, your gaydar is about as clear as your vision. First year, that’s what? Like 19, 20 years of age? Why would you want to set her up with a, ummm, 29 year old?

The wheels were starting to whirl in that little noggin of hers and it was time to make haste before she asked for my number. I bid her a fond farewell and headed to class with, truth be told, a little smile on my face.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Politically Incorrect Murder, She Wrote

One New Year’s Eve, long ago, I made a resolution that I have actually managed to keep. It was to read all those ‘classic’ novels I had heard about but never had any desire to read. To date, I have read from Austen, Jane (Pride and Prejudice) to Wilde, Oscar (The Picture of Dorian Gray) and some 52 others in between.

Dickens took some getting used to (Our Mutual Friend was tough sledding) but now I can’t seem to get enough. Nicholas Nickleby is next on my list. Hands down, Robinson Crusoe was my favourite and I have gone back to it two more times (once after reading The Moonstone as it is referred to so often). Of course, Sherlock Holmes is the top of the heap but as I had read and enjoyed many of those pre-resolution, the ‘favourite’ title can go to Daniel Defoe. Silver medal to Jules Verne ~ Around the World in Eighty Days!

Admittedly I have not loved (or even liked) them all. Thomas Hardy and Jude the Obscure depressed me to no end. I kept thinking it, like the majority of others I had read would surely have a happy ending, but no. It did not. Not wanting to face another of his works on my own, I started our now defunct book club with Tess of the D’Ubervilles. While not the happiest of endings, I at least enjoyed it.

The realization that Friends is not a trustworthy source for the plot of classic works also dawned on me. Do you remember the episode where Rachel agreed to read The Shining if Joey read Little Women? And then she ruined the end for Joey by saying “Beth dies”. Know what? She doesn’t die. But after Jude the Obscure I have to say it wouldn't have been a shock.

Stories aside, I have also learned several useful tidbits about the evolution of words. Slut, for instance, used to (and I suppose still does) mean a poor house keeper. And slut’s wool is a dust bunny. Thank you Emily Bronte for putting me in the know.

I try to keep in mind that ‘such words’ worked their way into everyday language “way back when” but I have to say the use certain words makes my jaw drop. Smattered throughout some of the plots and storylines are phrases and descriptors used to characterize certain religious and ethnic groups. I have to say however, that G. K. Chesterton takes the cake when it comes to this.
Having read and re-read all of Holmes’ cases, I was looking for another set of murder mystery classics. ‘The Woman in White’ and ‘The Moonstone’ we both fantastic, but not as compact as one of Mr. Doyle’s adventures. I then stumbled across Mr. Chesterton and Father Brown.

Each story stands on its own and is a great way to spend 15 minutes before heading off to bed. Three or four back-to-back are the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon pot of tea. I can almost imagine the cook substituting some flour in my scone with rat poison or the butler slipping some arsenic in with the tea. Not that I have either of these domestics, but if I did……

None are not too taxing on the brain and remind me of episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Much like Jessica Fletcher, Chesterton’s parish sleuth has a “face round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling”.

Every once in a while though, he makes me drop my clotted cream and look around the room for the PC police. He seems to have been the Andrew Dice Clay of his generation – no one is safe. A certain religious figure is referred to as “that dirty old humbug that lived in the desert”. Another group that has stereotypically been referred to as, shall we say, tight, always seems to be in season.

But most cringe worthy is the use of the now strictly taboo ‘n’ word. Several of the stories take place in the United States as the little parish priest and his brown parcels set out on a North American crime solving spree. Between 1910 and 1935 I don’t think the etiquette police were quite as entrenched as they are now but he seems to be more than generous with his use of the word.

I don’t want to get into a big debate about whether or not we have gone too PC these days. I guess I understand why parents don’t want their kids thinking that a lumberjack will cut you out of a wolf’s stomach after you go visit Grandma. Although, really, pretty good lesson for staying away from wolves isn’t it? Serves ‘em right really. “Oh boo hoo, a wolf ate Red Riding Hood”. Well maybe you should have thought of that BEFORE you sent her into the woods with a basket of freshly baked goods. But I digress…..

I have to admit I am surprised that no one has ‘cleaned up’ some of the language but I guess Father Brown is not main stream enough to attract the attention of the censors. And on the plus side, after such offensive language I find myself having to indulge in a little snort of port, apres tea as it were, to take the edge off.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Budget Mariah

I don’t even know where to begin….. all I can say is that the best part of tonight’s Mariah Carey concert was the gin martini I had with dinner before the show. Four of us met at BIFF’s before the show and partook of the Winterlicious menu. We rushed through our meal for no apparent reason. Showtime on the tickets was 7:30 but BK said there was no need to hurry ourselves based on her past experience with Mariah shows. Lord was she right.

Arriving at 7:35 we found our seats and were pleasantly surprised to have the lights go down just as we arrange our coats and tucked into our Smirnoff Ice. By 7:36 I realised why Mariah married Nick Cannon; she has access to a ready supply of C rated America’s Got Talent reject dancers. Seriously, I had better choreography to “I’ll Tumble For Ya” back in 1983.

7:51 rolled around and the pre-show got somewhat interesting as a rather buff boy peeled off his shirt. 5 seconds after that, he scurried off stage. Then the lights came back up and TWO HOURS later her majesty decided to grace us with her presence. The ‘intermission’ soundtrack was Michael Jackson and on the third play of the same album people started to boo while others gave up and left.

Her ‘show’ was less than 90 minutes and, how shall I put this, was crap. First, I think she picked up her set from a sale of the Wedding Singer movie. Second, her dancers, as mentioned, were B-A-D. Has this woman ever seen a Madonna, Kylie or Spice Girls show? Mariah, I know you like the spotlight, but your backup singers should frame you, not shame you. And what is with your FlashDance fascination?

Oh, and that 90 minutes included a Michael Jackson tribute by Big Nasty. And trust me, it was nasty. Your delay was longer than your concert lady – SING YOURSELF! I think I have a bad rep for being tardy but compared to Mariah, even my gay time is early.

I have now lost count, but my next point is this, it is NOT cute that you have your make-up artist and hair stylist come on stage to make you ready for your close-up. When did you sweat exactly? You were reclined on a chaise lounge half the time. Also, that does not make you a diva, it makes you obnoxious. If you want to be a diva, you need more feathers in your costume. I’ve had more on a pride costume than that boa.

And as for constantly returning to your drinks table for “tea”, Liza with a ‘Z’ beat you to that gag a long time ago Mariah with no ‘stage presence’.

I cannot even believe I waited to unveil my new Pull and Bear t-shirt for that. So mad!