You dissin my costume Pussycat?

You dissin my costume Pussycat?

Not much to celebrate now that New Year’s has passed…you’re waiting for Valentine’s Day. But let’s be honest, in the dead of winter, you are just looking for an excuse to host an awesome party. Theme parties are pretty awesome if you’ve got the right hosts and fun people that buy into your theme. Last year, we hosted a pirate party and it was awesome. This summer, my friend hosted a make your own powerpoint party and he said that was awesome. The other day, we hosted a chichi party and it was awesome. Tomorrow, I’m hosting a NASCAR hillbilly party and that’s gonna be awesome too.

Just look at your friends or your friends friends pictures on Facebook and you’ll find awesome themes for your own party.Party hard and send us your theme ideas….and your photos!

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HOT Wine Buy at the LCBO

January 18, 2009

yellow-jerseyOften times folks scoff at how much wine costs us here at the LCBO – when south of the border you are paying about half for exactly the same product. This week however, the LCBO is offering a crazy deal on what I think is a decent wine.

Yellow Jersey wines, a Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are all going for a crazy low $5.95.

I recently bought out the supply at one LCBO, but judging from their website there are still a few bottles scattered across the city. I drank (not alone…) a couple bottles of the Pinot Noir on Friday while playing a rousing game of Puerto Rico and found that at the price point the wine was simple, easy-to-drink and matched well with the House of Georgie’s Pizza we also ordered.

Last night I had a bottle of the Chardonnay with a dinner of scallops and risotto and found it to be a bit tangy, but perfectly drinkable. It was nice and crisp and would go well with a variety of take-out options and I imagine would nicely cut the spice of a curry.

If you find some buy it.

I<3 Legumes

January 6, 2009

Chickpeas

I love beans. The chickpea, sometimes called a garbanzo bean, is my favourite. Black beans, kidney beans and black-eyed peas are classics. Mung (or Moong) beans and Adzuki beans are becoming regulars. My cupboards are overflowing with beans (don’t even get me started on lentils). And unlike the case in one of my favourite films, Delicatessen, beans are dead cheap.
Until a year ago or so I was a fan of canned beans. I bought them without thinking, lugging the heavy cans back from the grocery store. Once the BPA reports started coming in and with it long distance phone calls with my sister, also a voracious bean eater, as we discussed the validity and concerns of all our canned-bean eating. It was time to change our habits.

Not taking anymore chances I started eating dried beans but I had no idea what I was doing.

Buying dried beans is easy. The basics will be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. Better dried bean selections are at Grace on Bank St. and any Bulk Barn.

I tried several different methods of cooking the beans and looked to food blogs trying to sort out the best. After a year this is my standard for any type of bean.

1 part bean: 3 parts water
Soak overnight, or during the day (minimum 10 hours)
Rinse the beans and put them in a pot with water to boil, and then simmer. After the beans have started boiling a foam will appear that should be skimmed off.
The length of time the beans need to simmer depends on the age of the beans. Anywhere from thirty-five minutes to an hour (for very old beans). I usually nibble on a bean to see how soft it is after forty minutes.
I like to do several cups of beans at one time and freeze or refrigerate the extra beans (they’re good for a week). Typically I put them in baggies of the same size as a can of beans so I can simply follow my favourite recipes.
19oz can = 2 cups of cooked beans
14oz can = 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans

As a bean lover, there are two great and immediate rewards for eating beans this way: they taste better and they are supposedly less gaseous. I asked my cat if he thought this was true and wisely he had no comment.

What?? Larry isnt a Winterlude mascot?

What?? Larry isn't a Winterlude mascot?

Idea #2 – Trivia night

When was the first Winterlude held? Who are the official mascots of the festival? And what’s the chorus of the Winterlude song?

Even the most seasoned trivia champs probably don’t know the answers to these questions. And instead of waiting until Winterlude starts to discover the answers, head on down to a trivia night at one of several local pubs to see if these queries arise.

Sundays and Wednesdays, various Royal Oaks hold their weekly trivia quiz nights. The Barley Mow down at Bank and Summerside hosts one Monday night – apparently throngs of young trivia upstarts make their way to this one on a regular basis.

And who knows – if you get good enough, your team could enter World Trivia Night and become true Trivia Champions!

(If you need to know the answers to the questions above right now, do a bit of research on the Winterlude site.)

Fruit_FINAL_COVERI just spent a good deal of my travel time this Christmas reading the first of five CBC Radio Canada reads novels – “Fruit” by Brian Francis. The novel is piercingly hilarious, making for several embarrassing real-life LOL moments on the flight. Basically the novel is the universal story of a gay teenage cross-dressing boy named Peter, with body image issues, talking nipples and various awkward obsessions with his gym teachers, neighbors and classmates.

Underlying the humour of the novel is the striking intimacy we are able to achieve with Peter. As we get to know his quirky over-reactions and subtle personal coping mechanisms (he tapes his nipples down to both hide them and keep them quiet), we are dragged into Peter’s awkwardness. There are several moments of cringe and a few of pity as we come to understand the complexities that Peter must come to terms with.

Here are couple of quotes to motivate you to read more…

“I was getting so dizzy that it felt like I was on a Tilt-a-Whil. If what Daniela said was true, then maybe the Virgin [Mary] had come to heal my nipples.”

“Nancy and I were sitting there and I dropped a Cheezie. So I bent down to pick it up and as I grabbed the Cheezie, I looked up and caught Nancy looking down my top. She did it really quickly, but I’m pretty sure of it. It takes a lot to pull the wool over my eyes. I was wearing one of my old sweatshirts with a loose neck so she could’ve seen my nipples very easily. I sat back up and pressed on of the couch pillows against my chest. Nancy coughed, looked at the living room clock, and started working on a new row of Fudgee-Os. She wasn’t going to admit seeing my nipples, so I sent her a mental telepathy message.”

“I’m looking forward to winning the food basket,” Daniela said, picking a scab off her knee. “Nutella for days.”

You can get more information on the novel from ecw press.

For more info about Canada reads visit the CBC website.

spam

In some odd irony, the Times Online has reported that Spam factories are working overtime to create enough product to feed the hungry Americans looking for ways to cut back on their food budgets. It’s not secret that in times of economic downturn that a greater percentage of our ever shrinking food budgets go towards “staples,” but is raises some concern to me that our society counts spam in this category.

I know that in many ways we have lost the art of cooking. When we all had high-paying jobs as investment brokers we got all the calories we needed from martinis and frozen burritos. When things get rough we just don’t know where to turn – hence oil crashes and we see a run on Spam

Not to fear! You can get one can of low sodium or hickory smoke spam for $2.75 (according to the spam.com store). Here are some *better* menu ideas that won’t cost you more than that…

1. Spaghetti – one can of tomatoes costs less than a dollar. You can make sauce by just cooking it for a few minutes with garlic and blending it. Seriously – anyone can do this.

2. Legumes – chick peas, beans, lentils all last a really long time and cost nearly nothing.

3. Eggs – omlettes or fried egg sandwiches are cheap easy and not just for breakfast.

4. Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes or other root vegetables are good for tones of things, last a while and are dirt cheap.

5. Sandwiches – cucumber, slices of cheese, part of a tomato, whatever you like.

6. Soup – broth plus anything is soup, you can get a can of it for a dollar and add scraps from the fridge. If it’s still not good, blend it up and call it “bisque.”

7. Rice, Cous Cous or other grains – you can buy them in bulk and really put anything on them. Great for make-ahead lunch time meals too.

8. Tofu – it’s like the vegan spam without the salt, just season and serve!

9. Salad – even in the winter lettuce doesn’t get that pricey. It’s the classic health food.

10. Any of the above the second day – it’s probably cheaper to eat leftovers than anything else. You’re already cooking, make twice as much and eat for two days.

In this economic climate we all need our strength… eat well!