Friday, August 27, 2010


When I was 17, I went up to my then best friend's cottage with her dad. As he was driving (and he was a pretty good driver, especially in a K Car), he said to us that the secret of driving was to think that everyone else on the road is an asshole and are just about to do assholish things.

Now if everyone drove like that, our roads would be much safer, there would be less anger and horn-blowing, and less tractor-trailer topple over disasters. Don't believe me?

You honestly think that guy driving in the white van (because they always drive a white van) thinks you're an asshole? No - he just thinks you can't drive. He thinks you're a bitch, or an idiot, but not an asshole.

These are the people who leave accidents in their wakes. The ones who cut in front of you with 1/2" to spare from your fender, and then cut the person in the next lane off, causing them to swerve into you. The same people who absolutely have to cut over sixteen lanes in .000329 of a second in order to get to their turnoff. But to them, you're not an asshole. You're merely an inconvenience, in their way as they hurry home to sit their ass(hole) on a couch and drink beer after a long, hard day.

These are also the people who probably stand too close to you in an elevator. They certainly drive too close to your bumper. As the saying goes, "could you buy me dinner and a movie first?" When I see someone racing to rear end me, I usually whisper a little wish to ask that they please have a very  expensive car. I love my car, but if someone rear ends me and takes it out, I could always use a Ferrari.

Now, if you come across a driver who is keeping his requisite two chevrons (or more) back, checking her blind spots, signalling lane changes, and slowing down as they approach stopped traffic, chances are they probably think you're an asshole. But that's OK, because I'm thinking they are too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not as easy but not as difficult, either

Cannoli Siciliani by way of Suburban Trini Canuck

Well, I finally did it, after all the hunting, and searching, and eating. I made these darling little cannoli above, from scratch. Not an easy feat when you have a child, dog, and spouse running around the house at 9:30 at night, and you're trying to keep them all away from hot fry oil.

Again, in my Masterchef-obsessed mind, they are not perfect. And they're not. But considering that it was the first time I have ever attempted to make this and the first time I have ever used a pasta maker (yes), I think they came out not too badly.

However, I did end up making a list of the dangers of making deep-fried goodies:

1. When heating oil on the stove, make sure you underguesstimate, and not overguesstimate. I saw the fry temp at 340 and said, "Oh I've got a few min." and took a nap standing up in the kitchen. When I woke up 35 seconds later, the temperature had miraculously reached 400 degrees. A little too hot. Murphy's Law dictates that it takes longer for oil to heat up and cool down when you're standing over the pot yelling at it.

2. When binding shells together, do not, and I mean do not let the magical industrial glue that is egg white touch the cannoli form. At all. That must be how they discovered crazy glue. If I ever need to glue two pieces of metal together, sod the soldering iron - I'll bind them with egg white and deep fry 'em. Five good shells sacrificed their lives for me to learn this lesson.

3. Metal heats up in oil to the point that you shouldn't really touch it with your fingers unless you are trying to burn off your nerve endings. However, that same metal will cool down in hot water and soap, and really quickly too!

4. Mise-en-place is the most important thing you can ever do when cooking/baking/deep-frying/piping. That includes kitchen equipment in the mise-en-place. Things like tongs, spoons, oh, and the piping bag coupler and tube that never did make it from my old place to my new one. As I found out at 5:45 AM when I was about to pipe the filling into the shells.

5. Ziploc bags are the greatest invention of mankind. They make great piping bags in a pinch. And the filling never comes out the back!

6. Never wear black work clothes when dusting pastries with powdered sugar, especially if you're dusting pastries before your morning caffeine fix. Before you go to work.

7. When recipes say they make "28", they always make somewhere between 17-23. It's that magic culinary touch I have.

8. No matter what, there is always too much filling. Always. Even if the child and the dog eat half the bowl the night before. Al. Ways.

9. A 280 lb man is a good substitute for a C-clamp when it comes to holding a pasta maker on the counter. A 44 lb boy is not.

10. When a recipe is not working in the stand alone mixer, call upon all of the experience that cooks from the past, especially your mother, who never used a stand alone mixer until she took serious professional cake decorating, and that was after her wrist injury, tried to pound into your brain for the 20 years you lived with her. This tip is also known as "all pastry is pretty well different kinds of roti at the end of the day".

11. Whenever a recipe calls for booze, make sure to always measure out an extra 2 oz, in case the recipe is too dry, and for the shot at the end of the night to say, "Thank God that's over. Now who's cleaning up this mess?"

I am really proud of myself for finally making these. I learned a lot about myself, which, in the end, is the sign of true art, no matter what the end result turns out to be.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Working in Antarctica

I am convinced that offices waste enough electricity via overpowerful air conditioning to power the entire continent of Africa.

My office is currently a freezer. It is 18 degrees Celcius outside. Most homes have a device that shuts off the central air once it reaches a comfortable temperature both indoors and out. Apparently office buildings are not up on this modern piece of technology called a thermostat. As frion is jettisoned out into the ozone, we inside are turned into penguins - we cannot bend our arms to type, we cannot bend our legs to walk, and the only way to escape is to sit outside. However, we aren't all equipped with BlackBerrys, iPads, or even laptops to allow us the comfort of defrosting ourselves in the tepid sunlight.

My fingers are turning blue as I type this, and the only reason I'm typing this now during work hours is so that my fingers don't develop severe frostbite burns and become immobile.

How insane is it to have to have a sweater in your office in August in the Northern Hemisphere? I'm not talking a light knit; I'm talking Fisherman's Cable Knit here.

Apparently, heat rises, so the people above don't have this freezing problem, according to the maintenance staff. That's a lie - I see people upstairs at their desks with giant goosebumps on their forearms.

The hydro company has this free programme where they install a thermostat in your house and control the temperature during peak times. Maybe someone should tell my office about it - of course, this could be the work of the hydro company trying to get more cash out of our business.

When it gets frigid, the conspiracy theories increase. Don't believe me? Find yourself in a cave in the Arctic with people you don't know, and watch what happens. Something to do with brain freeze, and not the good kind involving ice cream...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cocottes pour les cocottes

Once again, in the vein of Masterchef, I decided to try something different with the usual eggs and bacon. 

For the very first time in my life, I made eggs en cocotte. Don't they look pretty? 

I made two batches - one in the oven and one on the stove. The ones on the stove got overcooked and were horrendous, overcooked, and rubbery. The ones from the oven are shown above - gorgeous! 

Did I mention my son hates eggs? He will only eat eggs if they don't look like eggs, and if accompanied by bacon, though only if the bacon is withheld as a reward/bribe for finishing the eggs. But, silly Masterchef-minded mommy thought that an egg that looked like an egg would be appetizing to a child who hates eggs. Must've been right after I burned my hand by holding the panhandle in the oven without a mitt...injuries seem to destroy brain cells as well as nerve endings!

I think any kid would love to have a plate fashioned for him like this:

That is, if they liked eggs...

Needless to say, there was much opposition at the table, with the familiar "I DON'T LIKE EGGS" rallying battle cry heard several times during the meal. 

I really should just make bacon sandwiches for breakfast on the weekends. Without bread.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why does the kitchen hate me?

So I made some cookies this morning. Breakfast cookies. In the recipe picture they look gorgeous, perfectly round, a little lumpy. I know they have food stylists for these things, but I found the picture on a blog with a recipe underneath. I also realise that people copy and paste photos that look better than the actual product.

Still, this doesn't lessen any of my culinary inferiority complex.

My cookies came out like big bumpy things (see above). Somewhere between a cookie and a muffin. "Cuffins" or "Mookies" or "Muffkies"...well maybe not that one. Point is, whenever I bake a banana cookie it comes out like a big hump and not a soft, round, perfectly marketable cookie.

I've been watching Masterchef USA lately too. I thought I was a pretty good cook until I saw these people. I have never been able to cut an onion to save my life. Even my late husband showed me the chef technique for onion chopping. I still can't do it. It would take me a warehouse of onions to practice and I still wouldn't get it right.

My food isn't inedible. I'm actually pretty proud of what I can accomplish in the kitchen. But when it doesn't plate up in food styling perfect form, I get dejected.

In any case, my kitchen does smell awesome from the banana peanut butter cuffins. I just have to get people to eat them now. If they ever wake up...

Friday, August 20, 2010

I need to write

Somewhere along the way, I told myself I would write a blog every day.

And I did. For a few months back in 2005. Then another few months back in 2006. Then another few months in 2007. Then for a couple of weeks in 2008.

Then I took 2 years off and got fat and caused millions of brain cells to die a slow, painful death while the others remained in a meaningless existence.

So I'm going to start again. And I'm going to bitch daily about things. Because if there's one thing in this world that we can all do, it's find at least one thing to gripe about every day.

Today's gripe is my sheer laziness, as griped above.

Feel free to kick my ass if I don't come back tomorrow.