Monday, November 30, 2009

While We're Talking Turkey, We Should Probably Also Discuss the Cranberry Sauce

So, as we were waiting for the guests to arrive, I decided to pull out a couple of games for any non-lovers of football. And that happened to be most of the women in the room. (Not that I'm trying to be exclusive here! There were 2 women who were TOTALLY into the football.... or let me amend that and say: one woman was totally into the Canadian football. Another was a bit skeptical because of our strange northern ways and rules. Though she WAS overheard yelling at the television set when it got super exciting in the final seconds of the game!)

My brother Paully, and sis-in-law Michele, gave me this Origami Christmas Ornament craft kit a few years ago, and as I was tidying up, I was suddenly swept up in a beautifully romantic image of sitting around making origami Christmas ornaments. In my mind, we were all sipping wine, having witty repartee and pumpin' out gorgeous little whimsical things. So I opened the box, put some lovely music on and started reading the instructions.

At which point, it became apparent that the making of origami actually requires a PHD in geometry, with a minor in physics.

"But wait", I thought, before throwing the whole works across the living room, "You're (sorta) smart. You can figure this out." So I struggled and swore and mastered BASIC SHAPE 1.

The problem with BASIC SHAPE 1 is that it's nothing. It's a blob of paper with creases in it. It doesn't resemble a swan or a bunny or ANYTHING.

And the only thing that prevented me from putting the kit away, was the fact that they kindly INCLUDED a fully formed origami ornament in the box. Here's a shot of me holding the fully formed paper ornament (on the left) with my paper blob on the right. I'm fairly certain that my sadness is emanating from the screen right now...

Enter our friend, Diyan, who grew up in Asia, where apparently, they take origami class in school! Also, she is a most talented print maker, so is pretty well versed in all things paper. So she scanned the page, and immediately sprang into a folding frenzy.

Look what she made! With her own two hands! It's a reindeer!!!!!

And then we pulled out the Boggle game.

And that same friend (Diyan) proceeded to KICK THE ASSES of both Tamara and myself. It was frightening the way she smacked those little lettered dice into submission. I know I was scared of her!

There was another game that was started - but more about that later. Suffice it to say that it wasn't long before Mister Man rang the dinner bell! (Okay - there was no dinner bell - there was a last minute flurry that precluded me getting the "high art portraits of chefs and their dishes" that had been in my dreams. Rather, I had only moments to get slap dash snaps of folks holding their food.)

Tamara and Andrew brought 2 kinds of cranberry sauce for the turkey. (And while the positioning of the two bowls of sauce may look like it's from a Benny Hill re-run, I can assure you there was nothing intentional about the placement of these bowls!! We were all fixated with the feast!)

Cranberry-Orange Sauce (a la Rachel Ray)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar, plus more if desired
Pinch salt
One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water with the orange zest, orange juice, sugar and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Sweeten with more sugar, if desired. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Cranberry-Mustard Relish (a la Bon Appetit) (very fancy!)
1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
Combine cranberries and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in both mustards. Can be made a week ahead of the big event. Cover and chill.

They were both delicious (and I'm not a lover of cranberry sauce!) I particularly loved the Cranberry-orange one. It was zippy and fresh.

Let's Talk Turkey

This is where the day began (well - AFTER the cleaning, and the baking of the cake, and the preparing of the turkey and such). Mister Man and I sat down to play our new and most fun game "Rummy-O" while awaiting the arrival of our guests.

The pre-party/dinner party phenomenon is a strange one. It's like you're all puffed and buffed and ready for the ball, and then after the hustle and the bustle, you're sitting there in limbo! So we played this game which is fun, and makes a nifty tile clacking sound, so I can pretend I'm playing Mah Jong.....

This is how it looked when I won (the object of the game is to get rid of all your tiles). Not that I'd do anything so unsightly as to GLOAT or anything.

Here's the first recipe (after a glimpse of Mister Man in his element - being the turkey whisperer and such...)

Mister Man's Spectacular and Happy Turkey

1/2 cup finely chopped sage
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 oz kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 12 lb free range happy turkey
2 large carrots, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
2 celery stalks cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups lower salt chicken broth
1 1/8 oz all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, mix the sage, zest, salt and 1 Tbsp pepper. Remove all the spare bits from the bird (neck, gizzard and such). You can make a broth from this if you like. Or not....

Rinse and pat the turkey dry. Rub the spice mixture under the turkey's skin, over the entire breast, legs, thighs as well as in the cavity and over the wings. Set on a platter large enough to hold the turkey and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

Position a rack on the bottom of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the carrot, celery and onion with the oil. Put half the vegetables under the bird, and the other half in the cavity. After roasting, save the veggies for the stock pot. Tuck the wings behind the turkey's neck and truss the legs with twine. Set a V rack in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Roast at 400 degrees, 15 minutes per pound, covered until the last hour. Pull it out when it's cooked and let it rest for 45 minutes before you carve it.

This bird was seriously delicious and tender. Yum.

The only thing that made this better, was GRAVY!

Unfortunately, the recipe for the turkey was one of those "a little of this - a little of that" scenarios, so I'm not able to reprint the deets here for you now.

I can suggest that you stay tuned for cranberry sauce! Word games! Crafty Corner! (I mean the latter sort of ironically...) PLUS sweet potato pie, broccoli with cheese sauce, uptown green bean casserole, triple chocolate fudge cake and so much more...!

Oh - and one last thing: today marks the final day of NaBloPoMo, and I am one of those who happily dashed across the finish line having completed her mission! So now I can proudly wear this badge (and we know how much I loves me a badge!!!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kickin' it American Style

We have a lot of American friends, and many of them actually live right here in Canada. So Mister Man was thinking "Wouldn't it be nice to host an American Thanksgiving dinner for our U.S. friends?" And that's exactly what we're doing today.

Originally, we were going to host the Grey Cup Snack Food Smack Down, and then that sort of blended in with the part where you get to eat a turkey dinner (BEST. MEAL. OF. THE. YEAR.)

So here's what's going to happen. In moments, our American friends are going to descend on our home with casserole dishes a pipin', seven swans a swimmin' - oh wait a minute - that's a different occasion! Some friends will sit with Mister Man and watch the game (the strange one with Canadian rules and one less down). Some of us will sit at the table and play Scrabble, and make origami Christmas ornaments and drink red wine and such...

And all of this is going to lead somewhere excellent. I have told each casserole bearing guest to bring (or email me) their recipe, and explained that I'm gonna need to take a smart snap of them proudly holding their Thanksgiving dish which I will then publish rights here on this blog!

So far, we have Teri's Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake (with a white chocolate mousse filling). Mister Man is working magic on a turkey, and the most deadly brown butter mashed taters you've ever tasted. He also made a killer mac and cheese (cuz if it's good enough for the Obama family, it's good enough for us!). I also made a traditional stuffing with Newfoundland savoury.

We're looking forward to a bunch of really delicious dishes, and I promise that this blog will be overflowing with flavour and festivities. Stay tuned! And happy (second) Thanksgiving everyone!

P.S. Go Roughriders GO!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On Being Invisible

Today I wanna talk about something that I've thought a lot about as I creep through my 40's. Hmmm. Perhaps "creep" is the wrong verb. Maybe I'd feel better if I were strutting through my 40's. Not to get sidetracked and turn this into a semantic issue or anything.... but aging.. when it's not driving us all bananas (what with the creaks and the sagging and all the other stuff that comes with it), well there are some shiny bits to consider along with the cruddy ones. The topic of aging has come up a couple of times recently in conversation and I thought I'd expound a bit on an earlier post I wrote about the vilification of aging.

I was never one who banked on her looks. I just never had that kind of cachet. I was plump and a bit geeky looking. So I sort of spent my youth developing my brain and a sense of humour. And working up the courage to wear cocktail dresses with Doc Martens. And trying to duck the kind of all consuming paranoia that comes with being young and insecure.

Do you remember the paranoia that comes with being 15 or 16? You know the scene: you're walking down the street and suddenly you notice a group of teenagers. They are very cool. You recognize this particular flavour of cool because you are not like them. Not. One. Bit. Nope - YOU are awkward and have a bad hair cut, a terrible body image and tinted aviator glasses. The group laughs. You blush and pop into a sweat because you are PRETTY CERTAIN they are laughing at you. You become uncomfortable and want to cross the street, but wouldn't that make your fear and insecurity even more obvious THAN IT ALREADY IS? So you white knuckle it and attempt to breeze on by them. It is hard. Breezing is not something you do well (unless it's in a revenge fantasy.....) You would give ANYTHING to have this moment be over.

And then, you're in your 40's. You are still plump and geeky. But you have come to understand that there are SO MANY THINGS IN LIFE that are more important than not looking like a super model! And about 75% of the time, you are so comfortable in your skin. You don't really GIVE a rat's ass about all that other stuff (except for 25% of the time when, despite all efforts, you succumb to the GRAND NARRATIVE served up by the media and realize that you do not resemble the heroine of this narrative in any way, shape or form.)

Something else happens when you hit your 40's - suddenly, you are vested with a super power!!! Yes!! You become INVISIBLE to most of the world. Maybe this sounds negative, but I have to tell you that it is KIND OF LIBERATING!!! Maybe it's harder for women who WERE able to leverage their looks, but for most of us, the invisibility thing is a breath of fresh air. At least it is for me. I know that I could SERIOUSLY go out wearing my pj bottoms (the ones with the teddy bear astronauts on them), and no one would give me a second look. And I gotta say. I like it! Violet Parr from The Incredibles: you never knew how good you had it!

So now when I see young women struggling in public spaces, I just wanna go over and give them a hug and tell them "there there - this will all end soon. And THEN you can look forward to the aging... and even though you'll get creaky and sprout chin whiskers, YOU TOO WILL BE INVISIBLE. You will finally have that secret super power you've always longed for. And let me tell you little sister - it is so very liberating."

Friday, November 27, 2009

True Confession (Please Don't Judge Me.....)

Okay. It's been on heck of a week. On Wed, I was still doing work that should have been done LAST FRIDAY! My brain feels like it's been vacuumed out of my right ear and is now sitting upon my desk staring up at me, vacant and blinking....

So this morning, I showered, guzzled the java that Mister Man delivered to my bedside (yes, you did read that correctly), and poured my one cup of RIDICULOUSLY healthy cereal. This is NOT delicious like Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops or anything silly and containing colours or flavours not found in nature. No sirree. THIS cereal has 13 grams of fibre per serving and very little sugar. It sort of tastes like the box (though perhaps I was just being crabby this morning). But it's a good way to start the day.

Anyway, I did as I always do, and poured my 1/2 cup of 1 % milk on the Fibre 1 Cereal (note the distinct lack of sexiness in the name of said cereal). And THEN, as I was about to close the door of the fridge, something caught my eye.

Oh yes. Oh yes I did. I added about 1 tablespoon of eggnog to my cereal. And you know what? IT. WAS. DIVINE. DIVINE I TELL YOU!!!

The only question that remains is this: how in hell's name am I supposed to resist temptation over the next 5 weeks? I know - I know - I could just not BUY the eggnog in the first place. But doesn't that fly in the face of holiday tradition? I dunno. That just seems so DRASTIC. And down right UN-festive! On the other hand, how bad could ONE TEENY TABLESPOON of eggnog truly be? I mean, isn't that a source of protein?

On the sunny side, it is now November 27th. As the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has now come and gone, legally, I can deck the halls, read festive magazines, plan baking-paloozas and spell-sing Christmas carols to my heart's content. And I truly plan to take advantage of this. I'm breakin' out the ticky-tacky Santa tea pot with the matching cream & sugar set, and having myself a big ol' festive tea party! Ho, ho and HO!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today our American friends and family are celebrating Thanksgiving. Yesterday was the birthday of my beautiful and wise friend, Mariette. The same Mariette who is going to be my Best Maid when Brian and I jump the broom in September. (Okay we're actually not going to jump the broom - but we will swap our titanium rings from our right hand to our left hand...)

In any event, I just wanted to say how thankful I am to have a Mariette in my life! Since we first met in a sound studio all those years ago, we've gone through so much. Mariette taught me how to camp, and how to arrange food on a platter so that it doesn't look like it was simply thrown there! She taught me how move beyond fear around financial issues, and that fruit is really great in salsa! Together we have shared tales of heartbreak and tales of love. We've lost weight and gained weight and tried to work through all the body image crap that's been served up to all of us on a silver platter. We've cried at trashy movies, and great books and even the odd commercial. We've gossiped and solved world problems and so much more.

And now as Mister Man and I move towards getting hitched, my beautiful friend Mariette is standing right there beside me - one helping hand extended and another hand ready to give me a push when I feel overwhelmed.

I am so thankful for having a Mariette in my life. Happy birthday my friend, happy birthday....

One Last Thing

Before I bid the DOXA fundraiser adieu, I did want to share a wee mitt full of photos, because I LOVE watching people have fun. And that's just what these fine folks are doing. In front of me, the big guy and everyone.... they are just havin' a hoot.

See what I mean? Fun!

Fun! Okay, maybe it's true that JUST as I snapped this, M loudly shouted "NO"! (as if THAT would ever stop me! Ha!)

And at the end of the night, we were STILL playing games. This one is the "Pull a Lollipop With a Red Tip From the Box and You Can Win a Scratch 'n Play Lottery Ticket". It was the first time all night this crowd got serious. I guess the prospect of winning 10,000 dollars is some serious bidness!

P.S. None of us won a cent! But on another level, we were all winners, weren't we?

Aww shucks....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Could Have Golfed All Night Part II

One of the things that's offered up every year at the DOXA fundraiser are works of art by local artists. This year was no exception. There was a print by the brilliant Diyan Achjadi, a painting by the amazing Suzo Hickey, a Wee Feltie by Bunklelife herself, jewelry by Zuka Artful Accessories and 2 drawings by the ever talented Sarah Leavitt. (Didn't I tell you I had incredible and talented friends?)

Well you may remember that Mister Man and I channeled Martha Stewart for Halloween and made some cupcakes that were ghoulishly grand. Well Wee Sarah Leavitt made 2 drawings inspired by and based on our adventures in cupcake land! And she PUT THEM IN THE AUCTION! This meant that I held vigil all night next to the bid sheet so that NO ONE ELSE could get their stinkin' hands on what was rightfully OUR artwork!! Of course I did have to leave the table a few times to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and to throw rattlesnakes (albeit like a drunken mad woman!!), and golf *ACK*. I also had to bid on the amazing works of art by all of the above.

But here's where I spent a good chunk of my evening - hovering over the bid sheet for the cupcake inspired art works and giving anyone who dared scratch their name on the piece of paper a good ol' slice of my best STINK EYE!!!

When we arrived at the venue, we discovered that Wee Sarah had brought her sketchbook. She proceeded to give us a walking tour of her creative process. Check it out!

Oh look! A sketchbook photo with a peek-a-boo view! (Well, Sarah was looking very glam on Saturday!)

And HERE, gentle reader, is what the pieces look like. I did win the bid. While some might argue that I was wielding my pen like a weapon, I was simply doing due diligence for two lovely pieces of art that were, after all, rightfully ours.....

And then Wee Sarah seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke, leaving nothing behind but her great shoes!!!

Oh. And her elegantly stockinged foot!

I guess that's the way it is when you've poured your heart and soul out on paper.... Um. Did I mention that paper is now on our walls?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Could Have Golfed All Night (or how I laughed my face off at the annual DOXA fall fundraiser) PART I

For two years, I've been on the Board of Directors of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, a Vancouver based film festival that celebrates documentary film. And last week, I stepped down because of the pending wedding and all of the stuff that needs doin' between now and September 4th. But I wanted to write something here about DOXA and the amazing folks who are associated with the festival. For starters, I can tell you that I LOVED my time on the board, because:

  1. I love documentaries. Where else could I be transfixed by a true life story about ARM WRESTLING or a gripping Swedish film about a group of men building a treehouse?

  2. For any of you out there who haven't ever volunteered for an arts organization, let me tell you how much fun it can be. Sure, it's lots of work, but there is hardly anything more satisfying than to help see an organization through a period of growth, or than being part of a festival, or helping to organize a fundraiser. Because the thing is that volunteering CAN make a difference.

  3. I got to work with some amazing people, many of whom I might never have met had it not been for our time together.
So on Saturday, we had the annual fall fundraiser. This event has happened for a bunch of years, and this year we changed it up and got a new venue, a new look and a new theme. (CONFESSION: we MAY have been under the influence of sugar when we dreamed this up.....)

Oh sure, the fabulous silent auction was still the main event, but this year, instead of screening retro documentary footage with a live musical score, we decided to have a bit of a carnival instead.

And even though we had no idea of the outcome, the committee (Lauren, our fearless leader and the Director of Development at Doxa) my fellow coordinator, Jan (AKA Bunklelife) and other committee members, had a blast.

And by the looks of it, so did everyone else.

I mean come ON! You could buy DOXA dollars in exchange for game play!

Like Rattlesnake Round Up, or Velcro Aerial Golf!

Mister Man channels Tiger Woods....

And Dorothy sports a stylish frock AND a whole bunch of style with that killer swing. (and um - it WAS a bit of a killer swing because I believe she sent the astro turf into the next room!)

I got over my fear of snakes...

And proved that, despite the coaching from the sidelines, I shouldn't give up my day job for a career playing ball (or any sport that requires throwing for that matter.)

We were all just so darned pleased that it was going well. Here's Lauren and Ali.

And Nancy and Carri.

Some folks insisted on fighting the scrutinizing lens of my camera by duking it out camera to camera! (Kenji may shoot me - again - for posting this snap...)

While others just gave in and puckered up. That's Jan with Mister Man.

And part of the fundraising committee decided to chill, and hung out at Pin the Tail on the Donkey (please hold the ass jokes...!)

Tune in tomorrow for the hair-raising results of the silent auction and the truth about Sarah Leavitt's dreams!!!