Category Archives: At Home

Springtime gnocchi, birthday dreams and road trips

The Beast and I drove to London, Ont. recently to visit with my mom. The two-hour drive there was eventful.

Foodie: We should really do a weekend trip to Buffalo, don’t you think? We could stay at a fancy hotel, which would be like super-cheap because it’s Buffalo, and we could go to the Albright Knox and eat chicken wings at the Anchor Bar and look at Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and that Louis Sullivan building, too. What’s that called again? And that would be just on Friday night and Saturday morning. And then we could stay in Niagara-on-the Lake on Saturday night at some enchanting little inn and just be enchanted and stuff. We could drive back Sunday morning in time to get you to work. What do you think?

Beast: The Guaranty Building.

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Bouillabaisse, followed by bedside banter

On the weekend I decided to make bouillabaisse. The Beast, not being a fan of seafood, was unenthusiastic. I looked at a couple of recipes–one from Julia Child, a good place to start, and another from The New Basics Cookbook, which called for green peppers, which made me ignore that version.

In the end, I just made it up as I went. And it turned out wonderfully.

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Tuna salad sandwiches, chips and rosé

The Beast offered to make dinner the other night. On the menu? Tuna salad on white Wonder bread with a side of Miss Vicky potato chips.

How could I say no?

In the kitchen:

Foodie: What the fuck do you have on your feet?

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The Great Beauty. And steak.

The Beast got hit hard with a cold recently. So on Saturday, I decided he could pick a movie and we’d go see it. It came down to either the new Alan Partridge flick, or an Italian film, The Great Beauty.

He chose the latter. And I’m glad he did.

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The Rose of Parma

“I know we’ve  been fighting a lot and it’s Valentine’s Day,” the Beast said to me, “but let me tell you something.”

“Okay,” I answered. He pulled me close and whispered into my ear, “I bet Beethoven never had to put up with this bull shit.”

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Christmas obsessions

I first had the idea to make Christmas cake over a year ago. The Beast and I had visited  George Washington’s Mount Vernon in November, 2012. There was a special food exhibit detailing what the Washingtons would’ve eaten in the late 18th century. There were even recipe cards. One was for Martha Washington’s Great Cake, which was likely served as part of their grand Christmas dinner.

I had this in the back of my mind when we visited the duty free shop in Las Vegas a year later. I decided to buy a giant bottle of rum to facilitate my Christmas cake making, but not without quite a bit of deliberation.

Beast: Come on. We have to go.

Foodie: What kind of alcohol are you getting?

Beast: Scotch.

Foodie: Should I get this eight-year-old Bacardi rum? It’s such a good deal! And it’s “reserve”!

Beast: How much rum have we gone through in the last 10 years?

Foodie: Not much, I suppose. But I could sure use it to make Christmas cakes come Christmas time!

Beast: Do you even like Christmas cake?

Foodie: [Pause] I don’t think so. Do you?

Beast: No.

Despite neither of us liking Christmas cake, I bought the rum and then several weeks later I began Googling and going through my cookbooks to look for recipes for a cake that I do not like. I found a recipe for Joey Smallwood’s wife’s 100-year-old Christmas cake. I found another in my Canadian Living cookbook. And another one from popular British cook Delia Smith.

I decided to take the best elements of them all, including Martha Washington’s, to create a perfect Christmas cake.

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Making lists, curry and a cassoulet

Every Sunday I make a list of all the things that I hope to accomplish on my day off–without any distraction from the Beast, who doesn’t get home from work until 8:00 p.m.

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The items on these lists range from the typical, like “do laundry, run, make dinner” to the absurd, like “read the paper, remove underwear from bathroom door knob, sweep crumbs under the coffee table.”

A recent list included this line: “Make a curry?”

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Recharging with meatloaf and Barolo

I visited my mom this weekend. We had a family gathering with her brothers and sister, plus my cousin Erin and her family. Everybody brought something to eat: Uncle Ron brought two roast chickens and a ham; Aunt Sandy brought her cabbage salad; Aunt Pat and Uncle Jim brought bean salad, butter tarts and lemon squares; Erin brought pasta salad, vegetables and homemade hummus; I brought scalloped potatoes and a selection of kielbasas from Benna’s on Roncesvalles; and my mom provided some sliced meats and cheeses plus a giant white cake from Costco and three coconut cream pies.

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I love hearing my mom and siblings talk about growing up in Strathroy. They told a story about how my grandpa Gus tried to get car insurance in his 70s but the broker told him he was too old. Grandpa Gus grabbed the young man by the collar of his shirt and lifted him off the ground. In the end, he got his insurance.

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Sometimes you just need a summer sausage sammy

The other day after work,  I had no idea what to make for dinner. Neither did the Beast. So we agreed to meet up at the end of our street to brainstorm and grocery shop. When I saw the Beast get off the streetcar, he had two filled-to-the-brim Value Village bags.

Foodie: Oh good! You really needed some more clothes!

Beast: You’ll feel bad for mocking me when you see what I got.

Foodie: Go on.

Beast: Well, let’s just say, Club Monaco, J Crew–

Foodie: BORING!

Beast: Wait for it: Hugo Boss, and the ultimate–remember how I bought myself a plaid tweed jacket last week? Actually, it’s the one that I’m wearing now. Well, I found another one, but this one is Burberry’s signature tweed! And it was only $14.99!

Foodie: That’s incredible. Truly. I am so happy for you. Now you can get rid of the one you’re wearing because who really needs two tweed jackets?

Beast: Do you know what else I got?

Foodie: Don’t tell me it’s another pair of loafers. You DO NOT need more penny loafers or tassel loafers or just loafers in general.

Beast: No, I got burgundy oxfords!

Foodie: [Silence]

Beast: For our photo shoots? So we can wear the same shoes!

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Cheap laughs, post-TIFF and post-Polish fest

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I covered the Toronto International Film Festival for the third year in a row. It was a lighter work load for me this time around because I didn’t really have to see any movies. That also left me feeling terrible inside because all I had to do was cover a few red carpets (three this year, compared to 12 in 2012) and five parties rather than reporting on the films themselves.  That meant just acting like a spaz with a microphone and afterwards bumping elbows with everyone from Harvey Weinstein and friends (including Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor) to Ralph Fiennes, Michael Fassbender and Zac Efron. You don’t pay for food or drinks, which temporarily does something to the size of your head. You definitely don’t belong. And when you come out on the other end, you feel rotten about the world, yourself included.

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