Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trouty Mouth

I can't explain my attachment to this anymore than I can the one to the two fellas on the cello's...but it is damn good. And better put a smile on your face or else!

Friday, April 22, 2011

False Idols

The only Coco Chanel thing I have ever owned was a pair of sunglasses. They now rest on the bottom of Lake Ontario after leaning over the railing of a boat trying to find a cell phone signal (another reason I loath those damn mobiles). I was always indifferent about the brand until I saw Coco Avant Chanel and because of my affection for Audrey Tautou took up the Chanel banner.

Kitkat put an end to that by blogging about her, Coco not Audrey, sketchy business dealings during the war and attempts to get her business back from her partners.

Then he set his sights on Julia Child, another celebrity I took a liking too. Even as a child, I enjoyed her cooking show although by today’s standards I suppose it wasn’t as glitzy nor glamorous. To summarize though, she didn’t like the gays (despite her husband – I mean really, come on now) and even had the habit of firing anyone she found out had those tendencies.

I like to think it was her generation or things were different back then; who knows? Either way, her star may be slightly duller due to Kitkat’s expose, however she still shines bright in my eyes. The woman had fantastic recipes and I love food, what can I say?

And now, through no fault of my friend’s, I have found out my dear Mrs. Beeton may not have been all she was cracked up to be. Again, good food, so she still gets a pass, but in my eye she has been striped of her domestic goddess status.

As the English middle class found itself awash in spices it could afford, after being the domain of the upper classes for so terribly long, she steered her readers away from them all with the possible exception of salt. And that was for the purposes of preserving mainly. Even pepper, according to her, was not good for you.

Garlic was ‘offensive’, potatoes were ‘suspect’ and cheese was to be consumed only in ‘very small quantities’.

On the SAME page in her Household Management book, she complains about the dangerous failings of the tomato and then provides a recipe for stewed tomatoes labeled a “delicious accompaniment”.

What she didn’t do in carelessness and haste, she plagiarized and took credit for recipes sent in by readers. And for all her talk about servants she only had four and she thought ‘when a lady of fashion chooses her footman without any other consideration than his height, shape and tournure of his calf’ they shouldn’t be surprised to find they didn’t have attachment to the family. Yeah, but at least they were handsome!

Still, anyone who thinks a ‘small dinner party for six’ should include mock turtle soup; fillets of turbots in cream; fried sole with anchovy sauce; rabbits; veal; stewed rump of beef; roasted fowls; boiled ham; a platter of roasted pigeons or larks; and, to finish, rhubarb tartlets, meringues, clear jelly, cream, rice pudding and soufflé, can’t be all bad in my book.

While finding all this out, thanks to a suggested reading from Auntie Karen and trip to the library, I also learn the following interesting facts:

· The term room and board comes from the fact that in pre-dining room days, a board that hung on a wall at all other hours, was laid across the laps of diners at meal time.

· Many original bathrooms were communal in nature and toilets had multiple seats for ease of conversation. I love my family, but really, sitting next to my brother while he flips through the sports section? I think I’ll pass.

· And speaking of food, I refer to Julia and Mrs. B. here not the multi seat commode. Various reports from the 1600s indicate dodgy retailers stretching their foodstuffs in interesting ways. Sugar was cut with everything from plaster of paris, gypsum and sand. Butter was pumped up with tallow and lard while a cup of tea, cutting right quick to my heart, might find a person taking in anything from sawdust to powdered sheep’s dung.

· As the Victorian era progressed, the distance between master and servant grew massively. It was in this time a rear staircase became fashionable so that, for example, ‘the gentry walking upstairs no longer met their last night’s faeces coming down’.

· That the first telephones did not have a ringer. Thomas Watson, who worked for Bell, added it long after phone was already in wide spread use. Before that, the only way to know if someone trying to get through to you was pick the phone up from time to time and check.

· Brass beds did not become fashionable because they were suddenly thought stylish, but rather that they gave no harbor to bedbugs.

While Julia and Mrs. Beeton have taken a bit of a beating on the ol’ idol scale, I did learn a few interesting things along the way. And, I also found two possible replacements.

First, George Eastman, of the Kodak family, had gobs of money and had more servants than he could shake a stick at. He kept a second, private kitchen on the second floor of his house where ‘he liked to go and put on an apron and bake pies’.

Then there is Mrs. E. T. Stotesbury, aka Queen Eva, who once spent half a million dollars ‘taking a party of friends on a hunting trip simply to kill enough alligators to make a set of suitcases and hatboxes’. How devine.

I will now turn things over to Kitkat to investigate and validate my new found favourites before I set up more alters.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Well, we made it.....

Not sure how, but after this:

1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
1 oz dark rum
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1 oz creme de banana
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz grenadine
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 oz 151 proof demerara rum
pineapple wedge
lime wheel
fresh mint sprig
green orchid
maraschino cherry

Kitkat and I still managed to watch the last two episodes of our new favourite show. To be honest, I did not have the edible orchid or the 151 proof rum (where does one get such things?) so I put in a splash of blue curacao. While it did not negatively impact the taste, it did make the drink look like the inside of an abandoned fish tank.

Still, it went down so smoothly we soon found ourselves whipping up a second batch for the last episode and THEN became well aware of why they call it a zombie and the importance of that brown sugar. My goodness.

At some point during the evening I believe I proposed a Julie and Julia-esque endeavor where rather than work through a cookbook in one year, I would work through the 1000 cocktails in the ultimate bar book.

I did the math and that works out to alternating between 3 drinks and 2 drinks per day for a year. Kitkat thinks it a smashing idea but even my liver is all a quiver. I will have to peruse the entries first and if I can count those already consumed over the course of my life, I might give it a go.

Mind you, it would be a rather short list.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Zombie vs. Zombie

I need to write this now as I fear I will not be able to tomorrow or will, in hindsight, not think the following idea as brilliant as I do now.

For my birthday, Kitkat, via the gift of a DVD box set, introduced me to the most delicious new show called “The Walking Dead”. In case the title isn’t explicit enough, it is about zombies, so you will likely be into or not. I don’t think there is an ‘on the fence’ option when it comes to such genres.

But, if you like cliffhangers par excellance, non-stop action, witty one liners and the odd beau hunk thrown in for good measure, it should appeal to you; if you can get over the ever so slightly gory bits. Emphasis on the bits. And the gory for that matter.

Tragically, season 1 only has 6 episodes and I have amazingly been able to resist watching them back-to-back. One, two and three were viewed in one sitting and actually, but not surprisingly, kept me up at night. Not due to the fear factor, although I did barricade my door that night, but one nagging question would not let me sleep.

I won’t spoil it for you, but my question, which will make sense if you watch, is this ~ why didn’t he checked to see if there was gas in the tank? And I mean tank in the army, big gun, bang bang sense not as in the gas tank of your motorcar.

Episodes five and six are all that remain (don’t even get me started on four, absolute delectable carnage) so Kitkat suggested we watch them while indulging in zombie cocktails. My contribution will be risotto shaped to look like brains. What could possibly go wrong?

I had heard of the Zombie cocktail but did not know it was made of fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums, so named for its perceived effects upon the drinker.

Invented by Donn Beach who concocted it one afternoon for a friend who had dropped by his restaurant before flying to San Francisco (I want to know if he was the pilot). The friend left after having consumed three of them. He returned several days later to complain that he had been turned into a zombie for his entire trip. Its smooth, fruity taste works to conceal its extremely high alcoholic content and that restaurants limit their customers to two Zombies apiece. Concealed or not, that sucker is going down.

According to the original recipe, there is the equivalent of 7.5 ounces of alcohol (my kind of drink) in a single Zombie; this is the same as drinking three and a half cocktails made with a fairly generous 2 ounces of alcohol per drink. The restaurant limit of two Zombies, therefore, would be the equivalent of 7 regular cocktails such as a Manhattan or Scotch on the rocks (mmmmm, maybe not my kind of drink).

Walking dead or no, Kitkat’s payment for this little endeavor is to go and see Scream 4 with me since IronMan, along with everyone else, doesn’t have the guts. Hee hee. See what I did there?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

DING! Round 7

Many entries ago, I don’t know when, and I can’t remember where I first heard it, but I recall learning from a sound and solid source, that every 7 years you get a new body. Not literally of course you silly things, but that is how long it takes for every cell and molecule thingy to turn itself over.

Yesterday I found myself slipping into body number 7. Given the punishment inflicted on body #4 and the slightly more restrained excesses I subjected #5 too, I think the old girl looks rather fine.

Of course a little spackle here and fresh coat of paint there never hurt anyone. But the bones, as it were, are solid and the curb appeal is, if I may, given that it is MY birthday, above average.

I did get a little staged today thanks to IronMan who, after taking me to my new favourite French restaurant, Batifole (getting me wickedly intoxicated on Ricard) pampered this princess a little.

First, we went off to Truefitt and Hill for a haircut and hot shave. Now, I like to think I am little fussy when it comes to shaving. I have my badger brush and shaving soap and like to soften the skin a little with a hot towel. But this was amazing! I need to get one of the Truefitt chairs (and Peter to come over every 3 days) so I can lie flat while my man servant repeatedly applies hot towels, ointments, creams and lotions to my face before shaving me not twice, but thrice. Even now I can’t find a rough patch and my man Peter says it should be good for at least 2 days! Snap. I am definitely doing that again for CJs wedding next summer.

Post shave, and with post haste, we booted over to the King Edward hotel for a massage. For all the good my cycling has done my thighs and buttocks, it has left them riddled with knots. My shoulders were not much better for being hunched over handle bars and a desk for the majority of the day. Mark worked away at them for 90 minutes though, and aside from the odd squeak from me, I left feeling much better.

My concern with this new body, keeping with the home theme, is the shingles. I fear the genes of MB and Graham Cosby are starting to take root. Or is it lose their roots? I noticed a few thin spots on top in a couple of pictures from our Kilimanjaro trip. I would like to think that is doesn’t bother me, but there is a little streak of vanity in all of us and my streak is just a stitch larger than most I suppose.

It just isn’t far that I have more hair growing on my back now that I do my head. I exaggerate of course, but why can’t these new growths get together and move north? Whenever I ask myself that, all I hear is my grade 9 business teacher, Mr. Boron saying “life isn’t fair” when you said “but that isn’t fair” when he gave you a bad grade.

Kitkat threatens that he is going to get restylane injections when the time comes and although I have not yet been driven to a hair replacement therapy place, but I do take notice when their ads are on the radio.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Up From The Depth, 20 Stories High....

In case you’re wondering what that is a picture of, it is Mothra, the one of Godzilla fame and fortune.

Long ago I noticed a tiny hole in my A&F Happy Camper t-shirt. Without question, and with ample evidence in photos going back a few years, one of my favourites. As it was just about the belt buckle area, I thought it had just had its day and chalked it up to wear and tear.

Over the course of the last year, I have found similar holes in two other t-shirts. One as old as Happy Camper (now a painting shirt) but the other’s relatively new. I suspected moths, but as the shirts are cotton and none of my wool sweaters were harmed, I thought nothing more of it.

Finding yet another hole just last week, I showed it to Fauntleroy and Kitkat who both pointed the finger of blame at tithraustes noctiluces. Suspicions ‘confirmed’ I swung into action. It must be said that I wasn’t in panic mode. I thought, in over a year I have found 3 holes so I didn’t think there was on infestation. And as all the shirts came from the same shelf, I figured it (or they) were quite lazy moths as they didn’t even move one shelf up to the wool.

Turning to my good friend Google, I researched how one gets rid of these little pests (even if you don’t have them but merely suspect) without chemicals. There were several ‘non-mothball’ options.

Most frequent were cedar blocks/oil and lavender sachets and/or oil. These seemed targeted at ‘how to keep them away’ and not so much about getting rid of them. I didn’t see the point in having them move house and perhaps onto greener pastures. I would save these for post extermination.

To get rid of them, there were suggestions of vinegar, sealing everything in plastic bags and freezing for 3 days, washing and drying everything with hot water and high heat, vacuuming every nook and cranny in your closet and steam cleaning the carpet.

Not being able to decide on the ‘best’ method, I did them all. First, everything went in the dryer for a tumble and then right into a jumbo Ziploc bag. Not having a chest freezer and not wanting to take a month for this little project, the bags then went into the garage. I for one was happy with winter’s reluctance to release its grasp this year.

Most options suggested freezing for 3 or 4 days so I settled on a week. My closet in the meantime was thoroughly vacuumed and the walls washed down with vinegar. And I didn’t dilute it with water either. Go hard or go home I say.

I then filled several small ramekins with vinegar and set one on each shelf. And just to be safe, I also spread some mothballs around. Okay, an entire box. A little overboard perhaps but cheaper than replacing an entire closet full of clothing. The door was shut, packing tape sealed.

A week later I Howard Cartered my way in and quickly had to retreat due to the fumes. Mothballs not such a good idea. Surgical mask on, I went back in with the central vac for one more sweep and then set a fan in the closet to let it air out.

Everything then came out of the Ziploc, went back in the dryer for one more tumble before being ironed and folded using my GAP folding board. Once sorted and stacked according to colour, shirts and sweaters were set back in place.

Moths or not, this little exercise set me in spring cleaning mode and soon all my dressers were emptied of their contents, vacuumed and polished. I also managed to enforce my “if I haven’t worn it in a year, out it goes” rule. I usually circumvent this by wearing it once before putting it back promising myself, “next year, for sure”.

Two sweaters, a pair of pants, 3 t-shirts, 2 ties and a jacket are now washed, folded and ready for the Goodwill. I hope I no longer have moths, but I sure do have one of the cleanest closets. If a little on the pungent side.