Monthly Archives: August 2011

Breakfast of (Tennis) Champions, Plus Blueberry Cake

This morning, while making coffee in the kitchen.

Beast: Did I tell you that I saw the funniest thing ever yesterday?  I wish you could have seen it.  It was a guy who looked EXACTLY like a cave man driving a Porsche.

Foodie: That is pretty funny. Can you get the papers?

Beast: It was so funny that I desperately looked around for somebody to share it with and almost grabbed a complete stranger and said, “Look! It’s Encino man driving a fucking boxster!”

Foodie: Hey, do you want to play tennis and then we’ll come home and I’ll make some breakfast?

Beast: (Pause) Yes.

Foodie: Really? This is great!

Upstairs waiting for the Beast to get dressed for the tennis game.

Foodie: Are you almost ready?

Beast: Silence

Foodie: Come on man! Look at you! You’re being a spaz!

Beast: What are you talking about?

Foodie: You’re downloading music, listening to a record, looking for another record and playing the guitar all at the same time while you’re in your underwear and supposed to be getting dressed!

Beast: Do you you really think I have a problem?

Foodie: YES.

Beast: Do you think that I have a beautiful mind or a terrible mind?

Foodie: It’s a beautiful mind. (Pause)  But I think you suffer from too much beauty up there, like a model.

The Beast puts on the Miles Davis’s 80s jazzy instrumental rendition of Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time.

Beast: Who’s suffering now?

Walking to play tennis.

Beast: I’m a little sad.

Foodie: About Jack Layton?

Beast: No, about how being a jazz musician is totally irrelevant. It’s like an Olympic athlete who’s training for a sport that’s no longer sanctioned by the Olympics.

Walking back after playing tennis.

Foodie: Well that was fun!

Beast: I can’t believe how out of shape I am though.

Foodie: You’ll get back into it.  And you were good.

Beast: I know I was good–I won the first four sets. But you always start out slow and then improve.

Foodie: That’s true.  And you always start out like a spaz and use up all of your energy.

Beast: Actually, I start out not caring about winning and I play well and then I like how it feels to win and then it’s all I fucking care about and I stop winning.

Foodie: You know something? I love winning, but I never feel good when I beat you.

Beast: Then why were you cheering and laughing like a maniac when you won the last two sets?

Breakfast was some heated up left-over roasted potatoes, rye toast, scrambled eggs with chives in them and delicious little breakfast sausages (that I took out of the freezer after getting home late from a dinner with my friend Laura at Enoteca Sociale. The idea to cook them for breakfast struck me on my bike ride home.)

Foodie: God, these are good scrambled eggs.

Beast: Did you make them Gordon-Ramsay style? (That’s when you put the eggs and a generous pat of butter into a sauce pan and stir them constantly with a spatula over medium-low heat until they’re done. It might, for all I know, be just the normal way to make scrambled eggs but I saw him do it first.)

Foodie: Sure did. They’re overcooked by his standards but I don’t like them too runny. Hey, did I tell you that some website linked to FATB and they said the funniest thing about us.  They said, “The foodie in this duo doesn’t care about food. That doesn’t make sense but we don’t mind because her interest in food history makes up for it. The beast? He makes up for her lack of all other foodie interests.”

Beast: That is so true! You don’t care about food! And I do make up for it!

Foodie: I want to make either Susie’s mom’s blueberry cake today or an apple cake from a recipe I found on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Which one do you want?

Beast: Well, since apples have no place being in cakes, I’ll take the blueberry cake. It’s the one with the crumble on top, right?

That’s the one.  I’ve actually made the cake a few times but it’s never turned out the way it did when my friend Susie made it.  Hers was so light and fluffy and it was studded with bursting blueberries. I don’t know if I transcribed the recipe correctly. Maybe if she reads this, she can check.

Just about to take the cake out of the oven.

Beast: I’m going to band practice now.

Foodie: Well, will you look at you! What a lovely outfit! I think I read that contrasting patterns on top and bottom are going to be trendy this autumn.

Beast: What, this? It’s Joe on top, Dior in the middle and Joe on the bottom.

Foodie: Joe Fresh?

Beast: Uh, yeah?! Is that cake done? It smells amazing!

Foodie: It’s done but it needs to cool so you’ll have to wait to have a piece.

And so too will I, because now I get to go meet Erinn for dinner at Terroni. I’m certain we’ll have a grand evening.

Foodie: **

Beast: **

Stay tuned for feedback on the blueberry cake!

….it turned out fine but not as good as I remember Susie’s being.  Maybe I shouldn’t have made it in the tube pan but I don’t have a 9 x 9 in. pan so I improvised.

Taking Care of Business: Monday Night Pork Loin Dinner

The Foodie and the Beast arrive home after work nearly at the same time.

Foodie: What in the hell is in that bag?

Beast: Just some stuff that I picked up from work.

Foodie: Like what?

Beast: Ah, like these amazing plates!

Beast: Here’s one with George Washington crossing the Delaware and another of him at Valley Forge.

Foodie: These are nice! We can eat dinner off of them tonight!  I picked up some little pork loins, zucchini and potatoes.

Beast: We will not eat off of these ever! They are for display purposes only.  I am going to hang them up in my music room.

Foodie (seeing something else in the goodie bag): What in the hell is that?

Beast: It’s a clock.

Foodie (Seeing the back of the clock): Oh god, I think I hate it–it looks like it’s going to be too psychedellic.

Beast (Turning it around): It’s mid-century modern, dummy.  And this would sell for about $500. Let me plug it in.

Foodie: Oh it’s pretty! What else is in there?

Beast: It’s a bottle of prosecco that a woman gave to me for helping her move a piece of furniture.

Foodie: How nice! It’s not prosecco though–it’s Martini Asti, which is basically sparkling wine made in Asti, in Piemonte. And blah blah blah blah one of Italy’s biggest exports blah blah.

Beast: Can we make cocktails with it?

Foodie: You bet your ass we can!

Beast (opening the cork):  Let’s fucking party!

We didn’t actually party that night but I must say, it was still a sensational evening because of all the teamwork that transpired. I prepped dinner while the Beast made us cocktails.

And while the Beast cooked dinner on the barbecue I did some work on a little book review that was due the next day.

Foodie: What do you call it when you’re like, really aware of yourself and like you say stuff about yourself?

Beast: Don’t use words that you don’t know the meaning of.  What are you trying to say?

Foodie: You know, like. Um.

Beast: Self-aware?

Foodie: I have no attention span tonight.  My brain feels so unfocused. I’m hungry. Do you want another cocktail?

Beast: Yes.

After a second cocktail of Aperol, Martini d’Asti and a dash of bitters, dinner was ready. There were no new Mad Men DVDs rented so we agreed to watch a movie that neither of us had seen in a while: Manhattan.

Foodie: This is really, really good.

Beast: What did you do to the pork?

Foodie: Well, I used that mortar and pestle I bought in Montreal and I took some lemon rind and bashed it up with rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil and lots of salt and pepper and then I just smeared the little pork loins with it and let them sit for about an hour.  You cooked them perfectly, so that helps, too.

There’s a scene early on in Manhattan where Diane Keaton and her lover are walking down the street with Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway after they all just met at the MOMA. And Keaton goes on about how people like Norman Mailer, Sol Lewitt, Gustav Mahler, Carl Jung, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Issac Denison are all overrated and Woody is outraged and says, “Those people are all terrific. Next you’re going to tell me that you don’t like Mozart.”

Beast: You know what I love about this? That I react the exact same way when people are negative like that–even when I don’t necessarily disagree with them.  I would praise people emphatically who I wouldn’t normally praise: I’d praise Nelly Furtado.

Foodie: That is your personality, isn’t it?  I’m still starving. You want a coconut frozen fruit bar thing?

Beast: Not yet.

Foodie: Well I’m still hungry.  So I’m getting mine.  You’re going to want one when you see me eating mine so I’ll just bring you yours now, too.

While I was in the kitchen getting the frozen fruit bars, I heard the Beast playing one note over and over again on the piano.  It was very annoying.

Foodie (yelling from kitchen): What are you doing?

Beast: This is my musical rendition of living with you.

Foodie: ***

Beast: **

Chocolate Cake Two Ways & Potato Salad (But Not All Together)

The Beast has been sick–more sick than I’ve ever seen him.  He’s afflicted with a terribly painful ear infection that’s left his face swollen, plus a case of Impetigo (which my mom thought only babies could get.)  We had to cancel our annual weekend getaway to the cottage with the American family, which left me very disappointed. It did mean that I could go to a little pool party that my friend was having on Saturday, and it also gave me an excuse to bake that friend a long-overdue birthday cake.

On the phone Friday before leaving work for home.

Beast: Will you rent a TV series on your way home?

Foodie: Of course! Which one?

Beast: The Wire, Mad Men…I don’t care.

Foodie:  Are you serious? This is amazing!  I’ll get Mad Men I think.

Beast: Fine. I can’t believe how much pain I’m in. When are you coming home?

Foodie: Well I have to bake my friend a cake tonight but I need to get special ingredients.

Beast: What do you mean?

Foodie: She can’t eat dairy or gluten so I have to get some things we don’t normally have in the house.  But I’ll hurry home after that.

Beast: Will you get me fruit pops?

Foodie: Yes, of course.

Beast: I want canned soup, too.  And I want a chocolate cake.  Can you make me a chocolate cake but the kind from the box?

Foodie: Are you serious?

Beast: I FEEL LIKE I’M DYING!!!!!!!!

When I got home the first thing I did was make the instant chocolate cake.

Then I made some dairy-free pesto and a few other things to bring to Saturday’s pool party.  And then I whipped up a German-style potato salad with some grilled sausages for dinner: it’s a meal that the Beast has been requesting for a while so on account of him being sick, I delivered.

By about 8:30 pm, we finally started watching Mad Men, a series that the Beast has always resisted.  But with his immune system down, he gave into it.

Foodie: Is the potato salad too vinegary for you?

Beast: Surprisingly, no.  It’s very good.

Foodie: Hahahaha.

Beast: What’s so funny?

Foodie: You’re like this lefty Hippie character who’s reciting poetry and talking about Miles Davis.

Beast: I AM NOT.  TAKE THAT BACK!  I’m like Don Draper.

Foodie: Yeah, right! You’re the hippy guy and I’m Don Draper.

Beast: You can’t be Don Draper–you’re a girl!

Foodie: Well, I am more like Don Draper than you are.

We polished off three episodes that night and the next morning I had a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate cake to make!  The recipe called for spelt flour (which still has gluten in it), so I substituted rice flour, which I’ve never baked with.  It proved to be…challenging.

Texturally, you could tell this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill white flour cake.  But taste-wise, it was pretty darn good.

The pool party was lovely, and it made up for me missing out on cottage time. In fact, I had so much fun that I lost track of time and was an hour and a half late getting home.

The Beast calls me on my cell phone.

Beast: WHERE ARE YOU?

Foodie: We decided to play tennis after the pool party and I’m just getting on my bike now.

Beast: Can you bring me home KFC?

Foodie: No.

Beast: Popeye’s Chicken then?

Foodie (yelling into phone but also trying to whisper): NO!

Beast: A cheeseburger?

Foodie: Silence

Beast: What’s wrong?

Foodie: Well, I just had a lovely day and I made sure to stock the house with food for you, including a chocolate cake, and now you’re getting on my nerves!

Beast : I AM SOOOO SICK!!!! WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!?!

Foodie: I am hanging up now.

Beast: I’m hungry!

By the time I got home, I had a rage brewing inside of me.  And I’m not entirely sure why.  I mean, I would want to be taken care of too if I were as sick as the Beast was, but I was filled with resentment. I found him on the couch in his underwear watching TV.

Beast: Silence

Foodie: Silence

Beast: I’m the one who should be mad at your for being late! Why are you acting like you’re mad at me? And why are you wearing all my clothes?  You shrunk that Lacoste shirt on purpose so you could wear it.  And those are my shorts!

Foodie: They’re Eddie Bauer women’s shorts that are too small for you! What did you eat for your lunch?

Beast: I fried up two wieners and had the left-over potato salad.

Foodie: Did you think about what you’d like for dinner?

Beast: I told you! FRIED CHICKEN!  Do you know how many commercials I watched today for KFC? Why didn’t you pick it up like I asked you to?

Foodie: Because I didn’t want that for dinner.

Beast: I’m starving!

Foodie: I’M STARVING!

Beast: Well, you’re always telling me to come up with ideas and I did and you shot it down!

Foodie: KFC is not a dinner idea. You should make me dinner.

Beast: You make ME dinner.

Foodie: Silence

Beast: You look adorable in my tennis whites.

Foodie: Thank you.

Beast: What about this: I’ll walk to that Stampede Grill place and get us burgers, fries and onion rings and bring it home. It should only take me about three hours since I can barely stand up.

Foodie: (Pause) I’ll go on my bike and get it.

Beast: Grab my debit card out of my purse.  I insist on paying.

It was a total Don Draper move, minus the purse bit.

Foodie: **

Beast: ***

Dinner Gone Wrong

I lost my marbles the other night.  It was the eve before our company (from Italy!) came to stay with us.  I don’t know what happened. One minute I was downstairs getting ready for bed and being pretty cheerful and the next minute, nearly as soon as I crawled into bed with an unsuspecting Beast, I just lost it.

Foodie: That’s nice music playing. What is it?

Beast: John Williams; an Australian guitarist.

Foodie: It’s so pretty! Perfect sleep-time music. (Pause) Not like the crazy music you normally play. That music is stu-pid.  I hate it.  I hate all your stuff. Look at this room. There are CDs, LPs and books EVERYWHERE!  It’s absurd! YOU’RE F–KING CRAZY.  I can’t believe you have all this shit.  You’re a maniac. Why do you have some much stuff? You can’t listen to it all or read it all, you know.  And you spend all your money on this bullshit.  YOU-ARE-NUTS.  YOU’RE NUTS!!!!

Beast (getting out of bed and motioning towards his CDs): You know what? I guess you’re right.  I guess it must be really hard for you to be surrounded by operas, symphonies and string quartets.  It must just be terrible!!! And yes, my bedside table has gotten out of control.

Beast:  It must be just awful for you to be in a relationship with somebody who…well let’s just see what we have here (picking up each book): an anthology of poetry selected by the late Ted Hughes and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney; a book on experimental music; a complete rhyming dictionary for when I write poems or lyrics; a history of warfare by John Keegan and his monograph of World War II; a history of American Musicians; a book on Inuit art–Oh, I forgot how much you hate art and how you hate Inuits.  What else…a translation of The Aeneid–maybe you’ve heard of it; a history of Disco; a book about Shackleton; poems by Buckminster Fuller…

Foodie: He wrote poetry?

Beast:…The Great Gatsby; an Artie Shaw memoir; a classic journalistic account of the boxing world in the 1950s as told by A.J. Liebling.

Foodie (laughing uncontrollably): OKAY, OKAY!  I’m sorry. I don’t know why I turned so mean. What happened to me? I hated you just there. I mean, you read about this sort of shit happening but–

Beast: I know why: because you’re a mean person!

Foodie: I think I’m just mad because remember when we had company last week? And I asked you to do a couple of things before they came, like taking your instruments upstairs and cleaning the washroom? Well, you didn’t do any of it.  Right before they arrived, you were on the phone for like 30 minutes with your brother talking about your next rehearsal and then the doorbell rang and there I was in the f–king washroom wiping down the sink while you sat around TALKING ON THE PHONE LIKE AN OLD LADY.  I think I’m just lashing out over the same stuff. (Pause) I’m just so tired of feeling self-righteous about doing everything around here.  I’m so tired of complaining to you all the time about the same things–about laundry, about buying groceries, about turning those groceries into dinners, about doing dishes, about instruments everywhere, about mess.  I just need more help from you.

Beast: I’M SORRY I DIDN’T DO THE DISHES TONIGHT BUT I’M DYING!

Foodie: What do you mean, dying?

Beast: I have a cavity and I think I have an ear infection.  I’m in pain!

Foodie: I’m not mad that you didn’t do the dishes tonight–I know you’re not feeling well.

Beast: We’re breaking up, aren’t we. You deserve better.

Foodie: No, I just want help.  You know all this stuff–all your books and stuff–well, they’re part of the reason why I fell in love with you.  I loved that you were interested in so many things. But that was in my 20s.  I’m almost 40 now.

Beast: Pretending to throw up.

Foodie: And I think when women get into their 40s, that stuff–like you knowing when the Etruscans flourished as a civilization, or being able to spot a Sidney Bechet song in under three notes–is, well, less important. (Pause) What are you doing?

Beast: I’m making a list of things to do this weekend.

Foodie: What does it say.

Beast: SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Foodie: Wow.  This is like poetry.  A lite dinner on Sunday?

Beast: Silence

Foodie: I’m sorry I turned crazy tonight.

Beast: I’m sorry that I’m interested in so many things and don’t want to just watch TV and blockbuster movies all the time.

Foodie: I see your point.

By morning, the Beast was still a little sore with me but he did help me prepare dinner for my good friend Michelle, her husband and their beautiful baby boy.

Because I had to work during the day, I decided on a meal that I knew the Beast and I could throw together with little stress: crostini with assorted toppings–like bruschetta-style tomatoes and assorted cheeses–to start, followed by grilled vegetables and sausages.  I do all the chopping and mixing and he does the grilling. I even had a rhubarb crisp, that I’d made in May and froze, for dessert.

It was a gorgeous summer night so once our guests arrived we quickly settled ourselves on the deck with cocktails and snacks in hand. In an attempt to bond with one of my best friend’s baby, I held him in my arms and let him touch the terracotta sculptures that look like faces and line the deck’s wooden wall.  He settled on one and squealed with delight.  And then he flipped it off the nail with his little baby hand. Do you know what happened then? The stuff of nightmares happened: there was a wasp’s nest, unbeknownst to us, under the terracotta sculpture and they swarmed the baby, stinging him twice in the face.

Fearing an allergic reaction, we spent the next few hours in the emergency room.

The baby was just fine. I, on the other hand, was devastated. I had failed to protect an innocent child. Had I scarred him for life? Will he hate me? Time will tell.  I do know that when Michelle, her husband, the baby and I returned–all of us exhausted and hungry–the Beast had cooked dinner, set the dining room table and poured us all drinks. I don’t have photo documentation of the delightful meal that followed, or the dessert that Michelle, the Beast and I ate in the sun room (after the Italian boys went to bed), while chatting and drinking until nearly 2 in the morning.

But it took real teamwork to make it happen. And it was lovely.

Foodie: **1/2

Beast: ***

Grand Slam Summer Fun

Inside the Rogers Centre last Thursday, about to watch the Blue Jays play the Orioles.

Foodie: Should we get a treat before we go to our seats?

Beast: I want to find those Tiny Tim donuts.

Foodie (reading food kiosk signs): Look, there’s hotdogs over there.  Sausages too. And French fries, poutine…and chicken tenders! Look!

Beast: You hate chicken.

Foodie: Chicken tenders are not chicken! Look how crispy the coating looks!

Beast: I’m going to ask where the donut place is.  I remember it so clearly from my youth.

There is no donut place.

Foodie: I saw you looking at those boobs over there. And I don’t blame you for looking.  They’re extraordinary.

Beast: They should take a brain scan of a baby breastfeesing and see if it’s the same part of the brain that’s active when a grown man looks at boobs.

Foodie: Okay, clearly these donuts do not exist.  Let’s just get another treat and then take our seats and then we’ll come back for hot dogs.

Beast: Okay. We’ll get hot dogs at the top of the fifth inning.

Foodie: What do you want now as an appetizer?

Beast: Nothing.

Foodie: What?! You have to get something! I can’t get junk on my own!

Beast: I’m not hungry right now.

Foodie: What do you mean?  We’re at a baseball game! We have to eat as much junk as possible!

Beast: You go ahead and get something.

Foodie: This is bullshit.

Beast: Fine, I’ll get a $10 beer.

We took our seats (Actually, my boss’s seats, which are nicely situated behind third base. I was the last minute lucky recipient of the tickets when he couldn’t attend); the Beast armed with a warm beer and me with French fries.

Beast: Look at how much better dressed the Orioles are than the Jays.

Foodie: What do you mean?

Beast: The Jays just look sloppy–everything is too baggy and the uniforms look cheap. Look at that font! The Orioles just look better–more classic.

Foodie: Yeah, I see what you mean. They look like hip hoppers. Why don’t they tuck their pants into their socks anymore? I really like that.

Beast: Me too.

Foodie: I can’t believe how close we are. This is amazing that we got to come here tonight on FATB’s three year anniversary, don’t you think? I was just going to pick up some take-out.

Beast: Yes it is great.

Foodie: I’m going to get a photo of José running into the dughouse.  My mom just loves him.

Beast: What did you just say?

Foodie: José Baustista?  He’s a ball player–

Beast: –No, what did you just call that thing right there?

Foodie: The…what? What is it? The outhouse? The benchhouse? What’s it called?

Beast: The DUGOUT!

Foodie: This zoom function is amazing! I can’t believe I don’t use it more often!

Beast: If you stop taking pictures you can actually see a baseball game unfolding–and a pretty good one at that, too.

Fifth Inning

Foodie: Can you go get the hotdogs please?

Beast: Sure thing. Which place should I get them from?

Foodie: I don’t care, but just look for the ones that look the most ball-parky, you know? And don’t get me a fat wiener.  I don’t like them too fat.  I prefer a skinny wiener.

Beast: What do you want on it.

Foodie: Mustard. (Pause) And ketchup!

Foodie: That’s a good hot dog.  You know those guys standing there and telling the players when to run to the next base? They should be illegal.

Beast: You mean the first base and third base coaches?

Foodie: Yeah. The runner should have to go on instinct.

Beast: WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT?

Foodie: Well, think about it: they have some guy looking over their shoulder for them and telling them when to run and when to steal.  That should be up to them to know. What are they even doing if somebody else is telling them what to do?

Beast: Everything is strategy in baseball.  It’s not just a bunch of assholes running around a giant field trying to kick a ball into a giant net.

Foodie: Well I think those coaches are stupid.

Beast: I think you need to quiet down a bit.

Foodie: Fine. (Taking more close-up photos) My mom is going to flip when she sees all these awesome pics of Baptista I’m getting.

Beast: It’s BAUTISTA.

Foodie: OOH! Look at that lady’s chicken tenders!

Beast: You are acting like a f–king psycho! Stop it!

Foodie:  I’m full and I don’t feel well in my stomach.  Why did you let me eat so much junk?

Beast: Silence

Foodie: Are we staying for the entire game?

Beast: Silence

Foodie:  That dancing Blue Jay guy is funny.  That would be a funny job for Nick Edwards, don’t you think? He’s such a funny dancer. (Pause) You’d be good at it, too.

Foodie: You sure love baseball.  Look how serious you are.

Beast: Silence

We stayed until the eighth inning.  The Blue Jays won something like 8 to 4, which I think is a pretty high scoring game, for baseball.  It was so much fun.  It felt like there were a gazillion home runs and as a result, my face hurt from smiling and cheering so much.  Although, once we got home, I felt like I didn’t really capitalize on my junk food quota on account of being full and funny in the stomach. So as a remedy, I made myself a root beer float.

I love baseball games!

Foodie: * 1/2

Beast: **