Monthly Archives: October 2011

Chili Two-Ways

On the weekend I made a big pot of chili. Usually I keep it vegetarian but this time, maybe on account of this chilly weather, I needed a little meat in there.

It turned out wonderfully. In fact, I think it’s the best batch of chili I’ve ever made. The first night we enjoyed it with toasted and buttered English muffins. Like you, the Beast finds the pairing of chili with English muffins peculiar. But that’s how I ate it growing up.  Try it.

The second night, I decided to enjoy my bowl of chili with more English muffins. The Beast, however, had another plan. He picked up hot dog buns, jumbo-sized wieners (gross!) and cheddar cheese so that he could make chili and cheddar cheese dogs.

Before we rendezvoused at home for chili two-ways, the Beast called me at work to tell me that he had to pick up some frames at an art supply store for stretching canvas. He was going to start a couple of painting projects. Do you want to know how I reacted to this? Well, for starters, I didn’t say, “A painting? How wonderful! Tell me more about it.”  I said something like, “A painting?  Hehehe. Must be nice to have time to paint. And where, pray tell, do you plan on making your little paintings? You’re sure going to have hard time getting those canvases stretched in your music room because it’s packed with shit. And I certainly hope you’re not planning on starting this project in the dining room.”

I think the Beast is immune to my nasty, party-pooper attitude, my pessimism and to my crazy manic-mother fits. What are those? Because every mother goes crazy a few times a year, I’m certain you know what that means. Here are a couple of examples: let’s say a mother just did eight loads of laundry for her family and she feels really great about it.  The hampers are all empty, until her two teenage kids come home with gym bags full of dirty laundry and her baby shits itself so now that hamper is filled up again. Another example: a mother has just finished cleaning up the kitchen after a lavish Sunday meal she spent all day preparing for her family.  Her husband is on the couch watching fucking hockey or some bullshit thing and the kids are, I don’t know, texting their friends on cell phones that their mother pays for.  And one of this kids comes in and starts making a grilled cheese sandwich and dirtying up the just-tidied kitchen.  What happens? Ballistic shit happens.

That’s how I feel a lot of the time. Like a crazy mother. Not just at home, but at work, too. It’s not a good headspace to be in, especially considering I’m not actually a mother. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I’d turn out like this.

I got home that night.  The house was quiet.  The wind was blowing something fierce outside. I went upstairs and opened up my filing cabinet and pulled out a pile of old notebooks and journals.

And under the glow of a 40 watt lightbulb, I sat in my chair and looked through them. I’m not sure what I was looking for, exactly. I think I was envious of the Beast and I needed to remind myself, in a childish sort of way, that I used to make stuff too. Or remind myself that I, oh I don’t know, wasn’t always such a fucking manic mother fucker.

I saw glimpses of genius in my early childhood diary pages.

And a disturbing peak into the psyche of my future possessive, overly confident adult self.

I saw that I had written poetry in high school that presently causes me to cringe with humiliation. And I saw that I spent a lot of time in grad school watching movies.

I saw that I had big plans! I was going to make movies, write movies, write novels, design book covers and some CD covers, too, and I was going to travel and just be, you know, like so awesomely creative. I feel embarrassed reading this now.

I saw that I’d discovered the art of drinking while writing over ten years ago (I’m not drunk now.) And that I was pretentious.  So terribly pretentious. And so full of ego (which I tried to pawn off as humble self-doubt.)

Despite the cringing, I guess I felt a bit happy there in my chair; pleased knowing that I used to dream of doing so much. Because it was genuine back then.  Now though, every time I think about making a painting or writing a poem (this happens perhaps three times a year), I start making fun of myself before I start. I’m lucky that my job involves some creativity. But there’s still something I miss–maybe just the spontaneity of deciding to make something.  Anything. Without feeling silly about it.

Anyway, the Beast got home and I didn’t tell him that I’d gone through my old crap. I just said that I wanted him to use the dining room for his art project. My only suggestion was that maybe he could finish it by the holidays, when I might want to do some entertaining in there.

And I was so happy to come home last night to see this.

I want to be the type of person who doesn’t get mad when somebody wants to make something, just because there might be a little mess involved. And, hopefully, maybe I’ll want to make a little mess myself someday soon.

(Wait, does that ending sound dirty? Like make a mess in my pants? Because it was supposed to sound really serious and sentimental, like, hopefully I’ll want to make art again someday. That’s how I wanted to end this. On a serious note. But I had to go and ruin it all by making a joke. So typical.)

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***

Roasted Tomato Soup, Beef Stew, Plus Mother India.

Last week I did my best to prepare for the storm of work ahead by cooking up a couple pots of sustenance and a little treat. First, a roasted tomato soup from this blog , an apple cake from that same blog, and finally, my mom’s beef stew.

The soup was dead simple to make–and cheap! All of our green grocers had four quart baskets of perfectly ripened Roma tomatoes marked down to $3.

I modified the recipe, that called for bread topped with cheese, ala onion soup, to be broiled on top of the soup, in order not to have to wash caked-on cheese off of our bowls and made separate little mozzarella cheese toasties for dunking instead.

And plain baguette with butter was served with the stew, which isn’t a red wine-version: it’s more of a Campbell’s beef stock-Worchestire sauce-and a little tomato paste for zip version.  And the more hunks of celery, carrots and potatoes I can squeeze in the pot, the better.  Oh gosh, I just remembered something: my mother used to have to boil a separate pot of potatoes on account of her family’s ferocious appetite for that starch–the best starch, if you ask me.

It was a doozy of a week so my organizational skills really paid off. This week, however, I crumbled.  There have been many Dr. Oetker pizzas, plus roti from Mother India. Last night, I brought home our standing order from said Queen St. joint: one saag paneer roti with medium spice for me and a muter paneer roti with mild spice for the Beast.

Foodie: I’m home! But before we eat, I need to take a shower. It’ll be the fastest shower ever but I can not relax until I wash the filth from my body.

Beast: That’s fine but you have to come see my vintage purchases that I picked up from the dry cleaners.

By now, you know that the Beast has peculiar style but lately his fashion fixation has become a bit shocking. It hasn’t helped matters that his friend David recently handed down at least a thousand dollars worth of dress shirts, pants and jackets to him. His closet literally overflows, everywhere.

Beast: What do you think? This one is Dior!

Foodie: Which one? The plaid one?

Beast: (Trying it on) Isn’t it just fabulous?

Foodie: Yes, it’s nice but promise not to wear it with sneakers or you’ll look like a clown. Can I show you the email I got today from an editor at work?

Beast: (Trying it on) Do you like my new winter coat? Isn’t it fabulous?

Foodie: Yeah. Um, let me just find this email.  When I read it, it was like feeling the sun shining on my face after being locked in a dark basement for days on end. Oh here it is.  Look.

Beast: That’s great. What do you think of the grey blazer?

Foodie: I think that you have about 15 blazers now and I don’t know where you plan on putting them all.  You need to get rid of some. Look at this part where she says, “it’s just delightful.”  Did you read that part?

Beast: Yeah. But look at how well it fits! And I just love how this striped Ralph Lauren looks underneath it.

Foodie: Whoa. Hold up. What’s that ring?

Beast: Oh, this ring?

Beast: I bought it to wear while I play the clarinet.

Foodie: You’re telling me that ring is not for me?

Beast: You can wear it too, I guess.

After my shower, we curled up in front of the television with our roti, some white wine and two episodes of The Wire, season three, to finish.  It was heavenly.

Beast: Did I tell you that Stringer F–king Bell is British?

Foodie: Twice yesterday and again just now.

Beast: Isn’t it amazing? His accent? And McNulty is British, too.  Apparently it’s a perfectly studied Baltimore accent.

Foodie: Yes, I know. Wow. Look at your hair right now.

Beast: What?

Foodie: Nothing.

Beast: What, you want me to cut it, don’t you.

Foodie: I’m just saying that if your hair is like that–

Beast: Receding?

Foodie: If your hair is receding, and you leave it long it just sort of draws attention to the fact, you know?

Beast: I love my hair. And remember when you compared it to Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining the other day? Well, I take that as a compliment.  That’s a great fucking look.

Foodie: I’m just saying, you don’t like showering too often so if you had short hair you could shower less.  Long hair needs a lot of maintenance. Plus, I was looking at pictures the other day of you with short hair and you just looked so handsome.

Beast: You know what? I don’t criticize you when you’re body changes! I always think you’re beautiful.

Foodie: Well, I don’t go around wearing cut off t-shirts exposing my fat belly! If I did, I would hope you’d say something to me.

Beast: That you’re fat?

Foodie: No, that maybe I shouldn’t draw attention to the fat by not covering it up with clothing.

Beast: You’re full of hate.

Foodie: I know. I know.

I never thought I’d be that girl–the girl who nags her boy to cut his hair or begs him to trim his bushy beard or yells at him all the time to clean up his mess. But that’s who I am these days.  And do you know what happened today? The Beast emailed me a photo of himself that he’d taken just moments before.  He’d cut his hair.

I’ve never felt worse about myself. (It looks really good though.)

Roasted Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Cheesy Bread: Foodie **1/2 Beast **

Beef Stew: Foodie ** Beast ***

Mother India: Foodie *** Beast ***

Zocalo: Great Dinner, Plus the Decline and Fall of FATB

Inside Zocalo, a tiny restaurant on Bloor Street, just east of Dundas St. W. on a recent Thursday night after work.

Beast: Who told you about this place?

Foodie: Anne from work. Her boyfriend is a big time sommelier and they had a great meal here. Look! Every bottle of wine on the list is $33! I love that.

Beast: I love that units of alcohol are all $4. I’m starting with a gin.

Foodie: Holy bleep. Will you get a look at our waiter?

Beast: Wow. He’s bleeping good-looking. He’s so good-looking that even my bleep is starting to bleeping bleep.

Foodie: Me too! Who do you think he’d want to bleep more? You, or me?

Beast: It’s hard to tell just yet.

Foodie: Oh my: canned fish with blueberries? That sounds bleeping disgusting. We’re ordering it.

Beast: Bleep?

Foodie: Because I want to be proven wrong. Should I just order for the two of us?

Beast: Yes. Do you know that I don’t feel capable of ordering food for myself any more? I just rely on you to do it.

Foodie: Holy bleep. What if the waiter comes over and I try to touch his bleep?

Beast: I’ll hold down his bleep so that you can bleep it.

Foodie: That’s team work!

The server takes our order.

Foodie: And he’s bleeping charming to boot! Can you believe it? He’s got it all. My bleep feels bleep.

Beast: Your bleep? You should see the bleep of my bleep!

Foodie: Okay. I was wrong. This fish thing is amazing! I love it. And the deviled eggs are such a nice touch. Have you tried the roasted corn hummus yet?

Beast: It’s amazing. And you’re right about the fish. This is really, really good.

Foodie: Oh god, here comes the server with the wine. What if I grab his bleep by accident when I reach for my glass?

Beast: Yeah, like, “Oh I’m so sorry! I thought you wanted me to just bleep on your bleep! How embarrassing!”

Foodie: Yeah and I’d like grab hold of that bleep like it was a wine glass and try to swirl it all around.

Beast: And then I’d be like, “Oh I want some too mister! And I’d put his bleep in my bleep and be all like, this wine tastes like bleep!”

Foodie: Yeah and then I’d be like, “Sir! Your bleeping wine all over my bleep and my bleep! It’s getting everywhere!” Shut up. Here he comes.

Foodie: Okay, that is like the cutest wine chiller EVER! What a great idea.

Beast: Yeah, and if my bleeps get too bleep I can just cool them off in here.

Foodie: Totally man.  Hey, you know what I like about this place? There’s a sincerity to it. I mean, sure, it’s gritty. But it’s not, “Oh look how gritty we are.” There are so many charming details but none of them feel contrived.

Beast: I completely agree. Okay. Here’s a question for you. If Oliver Platt’s body is a one and Alcide’s body on True Blood–

Foodie: Who’s that? The hot werewolf?

Beast: Yes. If Alcide’s body is a 10, then what number do you think my body is?

Foodie: Ummmmm. Four. No wait. A three.

Beast: Okay. If Vampire Eric’s body is a one and Alcide’s is 10, what’s my body?

Foodie: Minus 20.

Beast: Okay.

Foodie: How many more questions are there?

Beast: If Nicolas Cage’s hair line is a one and Alcide’s hair line is 10, what number is my hair line?

Foodie: Uh, a five?

Beast: Ouch. You really hate my hair, don’t you?

Foodie: I don’t hate it, I just think it looks so nice when it’s a touch shorter.

Beast: You’re wrong.

Foodie: You’re obsessed with Alcide, aren’t you?

Beast: I just think he has an amazing body. Do you think that if I worked really hard my body could look like that after one year?

Foodie: Ahhhhhh—

The main course arrives.

Foodie: Look how they put it all on one platter! It’s kind of like Ethiopian in style, but different.

Beast: These lamb and barley meatballs are wonderful.

Foodie: Wait until you try the jerk-flavoured sausage.

Beast: Wait until I try the server’s bleep and bleeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Foodie: Humdinga! You’re on fire! Who does the server look like to you?

Beast: Like a young, hip, more muscular, more handsome Yul Brynner.

Foodie: Who in the bleep is that?

Beast: From The King and I. He was the king.

Foodie: Oh. I think he kind of looks like an Ottoman prince, or a more muscular version of Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl. Do you think he knows that I want to bleep him?

Beast: Do you think he knows that I want to bleep him?

Foodie: This is a really adorable place. I can’t wait to tell Liz about it because there are so many gluten and dairy-free options. Did you hear how the server described the soup with that voice and those hands–oh bleep.

Beast: Liz, Liz, Liz.

Foodie: I just said I’d bleep the bleep out of that guy’s bleep and you’re jealous because I want to tell Liz about this place?

Beast: I really like the wine you ordered.

Foodie: Thanks. It feels like it’s the never-ending bottle.

Beast: I like how you stare at the server whenever he comes over to fill our glasses. It’s not working you know. He’s not pouring you more.

Foodie: As long as he bleeps my bleep before the check comes then I don’t really give a bleep.

Beast: Oh, boom! You have gone off the deep-end!

Foodie: What’s wrong with us tonight? We are being more inappropriate and crass than ever before.

Beast: I just think we’re having a romantic night out.

Foodie: Are we not able to have a descent conversation over dinner? Is this the end of us?

Beast: If you’re breaking up with me, you should have given me more time to call my mom and dad so they could come pick me up.

Foodie: Do you think Erinn would want to go out on a date with our server? Let’s make that bleep happen!

Beast: Oh, that is a good idea. Hey, and try not laughing so hard whenever the server speaks. Some of the stuff he’s saying isn’t even supposed to be funny but you’re roaring and snorting like a maniac over there.

Foodie (snorting): I can’t bleeping help it!

Dessert arrives.

Foodie: Not bad at all for a spelt crust! I do prefer a flakier crust for a butter tart, though.

Beast: Me too.

Foodie: Did you hear him describe their oatmeal cookies and how they come out all hot and steaming from the oven and you can get them for breakfast?

Beast: Weren’t they chocolate chip?

Foodie: Who the bleep cares? I’m changing my morning bike ride route so that I can bleep by here!

Beast: Should we just get the check?

Foodie: Sounds good. I’m just going to use the washroom.

As I descended the stairs, the server dropped off the check to our table and, while looking at the Beast and nodding towards me, said “Good timing.” I threw back my head in laughter and snorted and cackled like a starved hyena. I may have even slapped my knee. The Beast stared at me, with a look that bordered between sympathy and embarrassment.

We will definitely be coming back to Zocalo. Both the service and the food were wonderful–and far more tasteful than our deplorable behaviour.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***