chavvah: (Default)
I made a pan of this tonight and it was awesome. The original recipe, courtesy of Nigella Lawson, feeds 16, so as you can imagine I scaled it back a bit. This is roughly a third of the original version, which still fills a 9 x 13 pan.

450 g rigatoni
50 g parmesan

meat sauce:
1 onion
1 carrot
2 slices bacon (unsmoked if possible)
1 stick celery (I subbed another carrot for this as I didn't have it)
1 glove garlic
50g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g ground beef
5 chopped roma tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
a few glugs of red wine
1 bay leaf
about 1 cup water, swilled in the tomato paste can

You can imagine how it all comes together: dice the veggies, garlic, and bacon, fry gently in olive oil and butter, add the beef and brown, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about an hour. It should be noted that this is a slightly tomatoey meat sauce and not a tomato sauce. The tomato paste I added is actually far more than Nigella calls for (because I like tomato), and it still wasn't super tomatoey.

Bechamel sauce. I actually didn't follow Nigella's recipe but just used my usual one: equal parts butter and flour to make a roux, then slowly whisk in milk until the sauce is the consistency you want. Then salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Cook until it doesn't taste floury.

Preheat oven to 400 and cook the pasta until al dente.

Drain pasta, then put it in a casserole dish. Add the bechamel, then the meat sauce, then throw some grated parmesan cheese over that puppy. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

I have enough of this to feed me for a week. I'm going to pack it up for lunches, but hopefully a couple of my friends get to enjoy it as well! :)
chavvah: (Default)
Here is how I have been envisioning the morning of my 31st birthday taking place:

9:15-10:30 - Get hair cut in cool new style.

10:30 - Enjoy delicious slice of cake and cup of Earl Grey from local cake shop.

11:00 - Go for bike ride on lovely spring day.

Here is how it has played out:

9:00 - walk to hairstylists in the snow. That's right, SNOW.

9:15-10:00 - Wait for stylist, who has overbooked himself.

10:05 - Stylist puts in what is clearly not enough colour. I ask for more but he says this should be fine. I defer to his experienced opinion.

10:15 - Once stylist has put hair colour in, he informs me that he has to go to his daughter's dance recital and so only has time for a colour, no cut.

10:16 - I tell him this is not on.

10:17 - He reluctantly agrees.

11:30 - I have terrible hair. It is very 90s and doesn't cover my large ugly head scar. Also it is still grey. Bollocks.

11:45 - I forgo the cake in favour of a sandwich. All morning I have been imagining sinking my teeth into soft white bread. This is quite unusual, as ever since I was a child I have always preferred brown bread. So white bread it is.

11:49 - I ask for white bread. Sandwich maker starts to make me a sandwich on brown. I say "Can I have white please?" she says yes. Keeps making sandwich on brown.

11:51 - I say, "Please don't put lettuce on that." She says okay. Adds lettuce.

11:52 - Sandwich maker hands me the sandwich. With lettuce. On brown. I say, "I asked for white. Can you make it on white, please?" She says, "It is white." I give up and leave.

11:54 - I march back in, push my way up to the counter and demand that they make me the sandwich I asked for. Same sandwich artist tells me I am mistaken. I point to the order screen behind her, still blinking my exact order, which belies her assertion.

11:55 - I get my sandwich. Finally. It isn't that great. I should have had the cake.

11:57 - Awful hair looks slightly better once I manage to comb some of the awful perfumed mousse out of it. Still not what I asked for though. And grey.

11:59 - It is still snowing.

Hopefully the afternoon will be better.
chavvah: (hug)
I am having kind of a shit day. If you know of anywhere where things are awesome on the internet, I would appreciate a link. Thanks.

For Corie

Apr. 26th, 2009 10:13 am
chavvah: (hug)

neti pot

Apr. 25th, 2009 07:29 pm
chavvah: (Default)
Following the advice of friend and fellow allergy sufferer [ profile] onceupon, and after consulting my mum, I decided to try this neti pot thing. I was hesitant to try neti because my deviated septum would make it difficult--ironically, the septum deviation is also the cause of a lot of my sinus problems in the first place. :P I have missed a fair amount of work this winter due to my worsening sinus headaches, and there are really no medications I can take that won't cause me to have nosebleeds.

Surprisingly, my local Shopper's Drug Mart had several in stock! For $20, I got the neti pot and 100 packets of the salt/baking soda mix that creates the solution.

My first experience with neti has been... well, fairly unpleasant. Attempt #1 had the water ending up in my ears; attempt #2 had it coming out of my eyes (I can now tell you that the claim of "no burning" stenciled on the solution powder packets really only applies to the nose).

I finally got it right on the third try, although a fair amount of the solution did end up going down my throat no matter which way I tried it. This was pretty much what I expected. The best way I can describe the sensation is that it is similar to what happens if I put my face in the water while swimming--which I guess explains why I was always able to breathe better after Aquacize. I have been inadvertently doing nasal irrigation for years. :P

I have to say that so far the effects have been not bad. I don't know if I could do it every day, as it has taken me a while to "recover" from the procedure. I still have a bit of pressure in my ears, and I feel a bit dehydrated (as I imagine is normal for having swallowed such a quantity of salt water!). But I am able to breathe a bit more easily.

If I can avoid taking antihistamines or anti-inflammatories, I'm willing to put up with a little discomfort.
chavvah: (threesome?)
I'm having a long boring day at work, so I thought I would break things up a little by making a very important post about Stuff I Like. Around this time of year, people always get very interested to know what kind of Stuff I Like, possibly because I have a birthday coming up.

Here is a list of some Stuff I Like, although it is by no means exhaustive. It is also in no particular order.

Gardening. I haven't planted anything yet, though, because the weather has been shit. I would like to concentrate primarily on herbs this year as my balcony is too mercurial an environment for vegetables.

Television: I like House, Flight of the Conchords, Futurama, X-Files, Star Trek, Forever Knight, and more.

Webcomics: Dinosaur Comics, Questionable Content, Achewood, XKCD, Married to the Sea.

Cooking and cookbooks. Kitchen gadgets. Celebrity chefs: I like Anthony Sedlak, Nigella Lawson, and Dave Lieberman. I also enjoy the antics of Gordon Ramsay but I don't really care for a lot of his recipes.

Man-man-lady threesomes.*

Playing guitar.



Novels. I am a Victorianist so anything in that vein is great, although obviously I have quite a bit already. My preferred modern genre is mysteries, but I enjoy just about anything that is thoughtfully written. Currently, I am interested to read The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books because I really like the TV show.

Crafty stuff: knitting, sewing, DIY.

Gift certificates are totally cool with me.

*Not really. For the love of God, NOBODY GET ME THIS. Thanks.

Beet salad

Apr. 19th, 2009 11:17 pm
chavvah: (lick me)
I'm still hard at work on my "using up the contents of my cupboard" plan, although I did buy a couple of cans of soup this weekend because the brand I liked was on sale. I have already drastically reduced the amount of money I am spending on groceries, which is pretty awesome, since most staples have gone up in price.

Recently I went to a friend's sister's restaurant, where I was served a delicious raw beet salad. I have never much cared for cooked or pickled beets, but I really enjoyed this salad and I was hoping to recreate it with some beets I got in my Freshbox.

I have found a recipe that I think is pretty close, and am recording it here for posterity.

Grated Beet Salad With Citrus Herb Dressing

1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh orange juice
3 tbsp (50 mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) each of grated orange zest and fresh lemon juice
liquid honey and Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
3 peeled and finely grated raw beets
1 tbsp (15 mL) mixed chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives)

Whisk together orange juice, olive oil, grated orange zest, fresh lemon juice, liquid honey and Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir into beets to coat evenly. Add chopped fresh herbs.

This will be perfect because I have an ass ton of Valencia oranges and I find them too pithy/seedy for eating, but great for juicing and zesting.

Things I will probably change: I think I will julienne the beets rather than grating them, and possibly also throw in some julienned carrots as I have several carrots to use up. The salad I had also incorporated a soft goat cheese, which was super awesome, and I would like to include that. If I can find a herby cheese, so much the better. I will have to see what I can find at Fenton's after work tomorrow. Failing that, I know I can get a really nice herb and goat cheese spread at Tall Grass that will probably work.

I will let you guys know how this works out!
chavvah: (Default)
In honour of my upcoming birthday, which will be celebrated by going to see the new Star Trek movie, here are some Basic Instructions:

chavvah: (Default)
Am spending a lovely lazy Saturday watching Food Network and cleaning my kitchen (mostly on the commercials). I love doing this because I get great ideas for recipes and then my kitchen is ready for the making of them!

I am still challenging myself to cook mostly with things I already have in the cupboard. Every weekend I shop only for the essentials (milk, juice, bread) and work mostly from my Freshbox veggies.

A few things I am thinking about making:

Whole-wheat spaghetti and prawns with a coconut cream and curry sauce. I kind of made this up in my head but I believe it will work: basically coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce or maybe a few drops of Thai fish sauce, and some curry powder. Perhaps some red pepper flakes--I haven't decided yet. It will be a lovely yellow colour. I think I can use the leftover sauce to make pizza with some julienned carrots (I always get carrots in my Freshbox) and green onion. I can also use it to make stir-fried udon noodles (one of my preferred weekday evening meals--I usually make it with a sweet chili sauce). I would have to buy some jumbo prawns for this, but I think that would be okay, as I have everything else. I can use the leftover prawns for Tom Yum soup (from a packet--I am not a superstar).

Tortellini. I was watching Gordon Ramsay make some on The F Word and it really made me want to get my hands dirty with some pasta dough. I have some zucchini that I was going to use to make zucchini pie but I bet it would be equally good roasted for a primavera sauce.

Zucchini bread. Plainly I just have way too many uses for this zucchini! I haven't baked anything in a little while and I think it is time.

In the meantime, I am eating fresh apples spread with peanut butter and watching TV with my feet up while the pots are soaking in the kitchen sink. Life is pretty sweet, you guys.

Yay food!


Apr. 4th, 2009 02:46 pm
chavvah: (Default)
I have a great little Thai cookbook that I've been getting a lot of use out of lately. It's a wonderful book because the recipes are all super basic, and yet create the most amazing results. Many of you will be familiar with my traditional offering of spicy shrimp wontons--that comes from this book.

Thursday I made an old favourite from this book: carrot-mango salad.

4 carrots, shredded
1 small, ripe mango, thinly sliced
7 oz firm tofu (about half a packet), 1/2 inch dice
1 Tbsp chopped chives or scallions

2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
(the recipe also calls for 1/2 tsp orange-flower water, which I have never been able to find but because I have no idea what it's like I don't really miss its contribution)

Toss the salad ingredients, then mix the dressing and pour it over the salad and toss to coat. I have had this for three days' worth of lunches and one late-night snack and it was awesome!

Sometime this week I will probably throw together some Pad Thai, provided I have time to pick up some shrimp. If you are like me and love Pad Thai, here is the sauce recipe from the same book:

3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 Tbsp tomato ketchup
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice

To make Pad Thai, just stir-fry the meat of your choice in a bit of peanut oil and some finely chopped garlic, throw the above ingredients in, then add well-drained rice noodles and a couple of beaten eggs. Beansprouts too, if you dig that (my mum quite likes them but I am ambivalent). Finish with hot pepper flakes and green onion.

So simple, yet so delicious.
chavvah: (Default)
You comment here. I pay you a compliment.

The first rule is that you accept the compliment. No trying to wiggle out of it.

The second rule is really more of a suggestion: If you see someone you know in the comments, it'd be awfully nice if you paid them a compliment, too. This is optional, of course. But it would be nice.

Aaaaaaaand... go.
chavvah: (Default)
I was trying to figure out a way to use up these Valencia oranges I got in my Freshbox, and there we go.

1.5 c flour
5 Tbsp cocoa
2 c sugar
2 sticks butter (1 c)
4 eggs
zest & juice from 1 orange
splash of orange liqueur

Cream the sugar and cocoa with the butter, then add the eggs, one at a time, then orange juice and zest, and orange liqueur.

Add wet ingredient mix to flour. Add more liqueur to smooth out batter as needed.

Bake in a 9 x 13 pan for 30-40 minutes.

chavvah: (last turnoff before Canada)
Courtesy of [ profile] archaica: some photos of Flood '09.

My flood plan? Dude, I am on the 7th floor of a high-rise. That IS my flood plan. This would have to be a flood of biblical proportions for me to get my feet splashed.

In all seriousness though, I am going to pick up a case of bottled water this weekend and put it in the pantry, just in case we do have a brief interruption in that essential service. I am also going to try and scale the dizzying peaks of Mount St. Laundry. I didn't like that news of potential of flooding came on the radio IMMEDIATELY after the CBC's report on the fact that the city is several years behind in maintenance of its water-wastewater systems, especially since I was brushing my teeth at the time. If I had read that scene in a novel I would have called it overuse of the Foreshadowing Hammer.

Life isn't always like a bad novel, of course, but once in a while the stars just seem to align that way.
chavvah: (from history)
I sat in bed for a while this morning and listened to the CBC talking about the river. Which is what a lot of us do every spring, I think.

This river rules our lives. Seeing the ice start to break up on the river means spring is coming; the first tell-tale signs of freezing mean winter is not far away. It advances and retreats in fairly predictable cycles; it giveth, and it taketh away. It is the reason we, a city, are here, and it is also the reason that I, an individual, am here, doing the work I do.

Both the historic site I was working at and the one where I work currently owe their existence to the river. The river, as I told people daily when I gave tours, was the highway of its time. The fastest way from point A to point B. It was the main thoroughfare for transport and for trade, and remained so until the railroad arrived. And [new site] is situated right at the point where the two rivers meet. The heart of the city.

There is a reason that no one had built at the juncture of the Red and Assiniboine rivers before the Europeans came. It had been a gathering place for centuries, but the people of this area knew better than to try and build their house upon the sand, as the saying goes. Because the same river that could provide you with supplies and food and income could rob you of everything you owned.

[old site] is situated on the very highest bank along the river. It was built because a flood of near-biblical proportions had destroyed just about everything at [new site] in a single day.

[old site] has never flooded, which is the very reason it was built in its particular location. Until settlement was re-established at [new site], it served as the main centre of transport and administration in what is now Manitoba. It is one of the reasons [old site] is in such remarkable condition, with so many buildings looking just as they did almost 200 years ago.

The snow from this past winter had almost melted, until the other day, when a snowstorm swept down on us. The ice, which had been breaking up naturally, froze up and jammed, threatening to crush anything in its way. And the river started to swell.

The ice jam at [old site] is unlike anything they've ever seen--to the point where it's being covered by the CBC as part of their in-depth "flood watch". Emergency crews are sandbagging the area now.

I think things will work out at [old site]. I don't think their reputation as The Place The River Never Touched will be sullied. But I am wondering what is going to happen here at [new site] in the spring, when all of this ice is converted back to water, and the floodwater from the south begins to arrive. I have people and programs to look after. I've basically come straight from the highest, safest point, down to the place where it all began. And I have no idea what I am supposed to do when the river starts to lap at my heels.

I wonder what manner of general I will be when my battlefield is underwater?
chavvah: (lick me)
Pretty basic stuff. Many years ago, I took this recipe from a cookbook and sized it down, just enough for dinner and a lunch--or to share with a friend.

I normally only make this in the fall, but I had carrots on hand and there are only so many carrot sticks a kid like me can take. I also don't generally care for the texture of cooked carrots (although I occasionally don't mind them roasted).

1 tablespoon cooking oil, your choice
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 oz carrots, chopped
3 cups stock, your choice (although you will probably only need two cups and a bit)
palmful of curry powder (keeping in mind that I have very small hands)
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

You can add various other herbs and spices as desired (nutmeg works well) but this is the basic format. You can also substitute or add in cubed squash for/with the carrots, and perhaps other veggies too. It's a pretty flexible recipe. And if you don't have curry powder, you can use curry paste but remember to adjust the measurement appropriately.

Heat olive oil and butter until butter melts. Add onion and carrot and saute, approx. 5 mins. Add 2 cups stock and seasonings, bring to boil, cover, simmer 15 mins. Take all the veggies out with a slotted spoon and puree via hand blender or regular type blender, slowly adding liquid back in, until you get a velvety smooth liquid. Return puree to the pot and adjust seasonings, thickness, etc (this is why you may need extra stock).

If I have it, I sometimes like to pipe sour cream onto the surface of the soup--this helps cool the spice a little if I have been a little over-the-top with the cayenne.

If you omit the butter and use veggie oil/stock, you can even entertain your vegan friends with this!
chavvah: (Default)
...but really, where would one start? :P

Well, Canadians might start here, for one.

Don't get me wrong. I am completely opposed to Canada being involved in Afghanistan at all. However, we are involved, for good or ill, and I think that belittling that contribution is kind of disgusting, especially in a week when we've had several losses of life.

Suggesting that soldiers who need a break after a long and intense mission are wimps/homosexuals (leaving aside the homophobia for a moment) demonstrates that some people in the U.S. didn't learn a damn thing from Vietnam (despite being able to reference Canada's role in sheltering conscientious objectors).

If you are supposed to be giving an expert opinion on these matters, saying "I didn't know Canada was even in this war" doesn't make us look weak. It makes you look like a fucking idiot.

I know it's "just" Fox News and that they are representative of some of the country's most ridiculous opinions, but still. Kind of an awareness fail.
chavvah: (Default)
I was going to do mini-quiches but didn't feel particularly eggy, so I came up with these instead. I am making them for lunches for next week.

Saute some onions in a pan with a bit of oil. Add broccoli and saute for a bit, then add water and steam until broccoli is tender.

Make a basic bechamel (butter, flour, milk), then add a handful of shredded cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Put veggies in tart shells, then spoon cheese sauce over veggies. Top with more shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for 10 or so minutes.

I can work out measurements if interested, but this is the basic technique.
chavvah: (Default)
Is LJ borked for anyone else, or is it just me?

Could a new computer be responsible? I just got one at my work station.
chavvah: (Default)
Do any of you guys have recipes that use kiwi?

I'm asking because I'm about to get 3 kiwis delivered in my Freshbox. While I have nothing against the taste of kiwi, I don't really enjoy hairy fruit. (I know, it's a neurosis, we're all allowed at least one, shut up.)
chavvah: (Default)
A new bus shelter ad that weight-shames you to get you to go to the gym.

Basically, the bench has a scale connected to a display built into the ad, so that your weight is displayed in big red numbers for everyone to see.

All discussion of how deeply offensive this is aside for the moment, this ad is fairly flawed, considering how much gear the average bus user hauls around with them each and every day. You non-car-owning types know what I'm talking about--we all carry these big ol' survival kits full of junk. And I don't know about you, but I certainly do not put my bag on the floor of the bus shelter. So if anyone wants to know the combined weight of me + the Riverside Chaucer + my baseball gear*, have at it. I'm pretty sure that during my university days I could have easily topped 300 lbs on that fucker.

Now, back to how offensive this is.

I kind of wish that one of these had been installed near me, just so I could screw with it in various amusing ways. Although obviously I realize that having it in my area would be horrible.

A few commenters have mentioned that this forces people with disabilities to exchange privacy and dignity for basic comfort. I also think that this ad could be profoundly dangerous for people dealing with or recovering from ED by literally forcing them to weigh themselves if they want to sit down.

How could anyone think this was at all appropriate?

*Okay, I don't carry that stuff around now, but I did at one time, so it's conceivable that someone must.


chavvah: (Default)

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