Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Dog!

Happy New Year of the Bitch!

Let's get this party started.

So, I had myself a nice little Chinese New Year dinner this past weekend. For the first time in who knows how long, I actually made Chinese food for it. I was considering doing a Moroccan Chinese New Year. Since Chinese food has taken over the globe I always feel it's only ironically fitting to serve the cuisine of other cultures on this most festive of Chinese holidays.

Check out "Chinese Restaurants", a 13 part documentary by Cheuk Kwan about the Chinese food diaspora if you ever have a chance. There's a freaking Chinese restaurant where ever you are, from Trinidad to the most remote northern corner of Norway. For a hilarious look behind the scenes, check out cinematographer Kwoi Gin's Rice Bowl Diaries. It is proof that the line, 'Well, I'm making a movie.' is a great way to pick up chicks no matter what country you're in.

However, I've been hankering for some beef in black bean sauce and since most of the Chinese restaurants in this rusty town is known more for their neon red sweet & sour sauce on deep fried anything, I figured I'd do Chinese this year for the lunar new year.

I actually followed some of the food traditions. I even put out a traditional plate of sweets , aka the Tray of Togetherness, for our guests to munch on as I finished dinner. White Rabbit candies are a traditional sweet, aren't they?

Anyways, here's the menu:
-Beef & lychee in black bean sauce
-Lettuce wrap with pork and walnut & szechuan peppercorns
-Pan-fried Lo Bak Go (Chinese turnip cakes. Tastes so much better than it sounds)
-Braised Chinese mushrooms (shitake, straw, enoki, black fungus, white fungus) and bean curd
-Ginger Prawn Chow Mein
-Asian fruit salad (star fruit, pomelo, mandarin orange, chinese apple pear, lychee) with lime-honey dressing
-Lychee chocolate truffles

I probably made more Chinese food for this feast than for all of last year put together. I must have been cooking from genetic memory since I can't remember making half these dishes before and I would risk losing my Chinese certification if I used recipes. Who uses recipes for Chinese cooking anyways? It's pretty much just chop up your crap, throw in your crap into a hot wok, season it with some more crap and toss your crap onto a plate and serve!

Anyways, happy year of the bitch.

Eat, Drink and Be Chinese!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Harper Ate My Country

Am I blue?
Am I blue?
Ain’t these tears in these eyes telling you,
How can you ask me,
Am I blue?

That's what Canadaland was singing this morning in the shower, trying to get Bush's dried-up jizz out of its mullet.

Prime Minister Harper.

Wow, tastes like moose ass when I say that.

I'd drown my sorrows in a 40 pack of Timbits but Timmy Ho's is American now, so I'll just lay here with my toque and my Care Card pressed ever so gently against my cheek and dream of simpler times....sigh

Here's a recipe for a Coffee Crisp cocktail to get that nasty moose sphincter taste out of your mouth:

In an old-fashion glass pour in:
1/2 oz Amaretto Almond Liqueur
1/2 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz Irish Cream
Fill with Milk

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Nothing to Love

(Photo taken of ice formation on rock on Arrowsmith Mountain last year. So beautiful it kinda hurts. Don't know if it hurts because it's so beautiful or because it's so temporary.)

I love nothing.

That came out wrong.

I'm in love with...ACK...damn this bloody, bastardized language. This is why Buddhism could not have been born in the west. Maybe that's how Russia gave birth to Nihilism. It was all just a big misunderstanding.

Heck, I shouldn't be loving nothing anyways. I'll just become too attached to it and then I'll drive it away. Nah, nothing wouldn't leave me? Would it?

Most likely I'll just forget it somewhere like on the edge a gas station bathroom sink, where it'll grow into a brilliant fuschia gas station bathroom algae bloom and take over the world.

Maybe it'll wander off one night and end up hitching a ride with a bunch of tree planters. Homesickness will get to it and it'll walk back home only to be shot in the leg by a drunken target hunter. The hunter brings nothing home to heal and nothing returns the favor by boffing the hunter's wife. Then the hunter offs himself to frame...wait, how the hell did nothing end up on the set of Clay Pigeon? Which, BTW, is one of the most under-rated movies of the last decade. Love the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix. Loved that Joaquin did Brother Bear. Great animated movie about rights of passage and examination of self and who we deem as our enemies. Also, SCTV's McKenzie brothers show up in this movie disguised as a pair of moose, making this Disney film about a hunter that becomes a bear more Canadian than anything Cronenberg every made.

I would presume than the writers of this film based the story on the Dancing Bear mythology. The Dancing Bear is the ubiquitous stone carvings of a happy bear balanced on one foot that, along with the Inukshuk, represent 98.5% of the Inuit art being sold in Canadaland. In Inuit mythology, humans are reincarnated as animals and since the bear is the king of the land up in the Great White North, one would be so thrilled to come back as this gorgeous creature that they would bust a move. Reincarnation is not just a process between lives but also within one's life. Our stages from birth to death is linked by reincarnations as we leave our old selves and enter the realm of our new selves. Sometimes these shifts are ritualized into graduations, weddings, christenings, debutante balls etc. All are rites of passage and involve some form of ritualized death and rebirth.

Words, simple shifts of words, can sometimes be all that is needed to close one door and open another . "I now pronounce you blah blah blah."

Words often mark milestones in a relationship. Walls are breached from the first 'hello'.

How many hours have I sat with pencil and paper untangling words from my brain until that one word comes and it all just spills out.

But words are nothing.



I love nothing.

I also love freshly ground coffee. I spent a good 5 mins sniffing freshly ground Mexican Chiapas coffee and watching the storm come in.

I also love Manchego cheese. Can't find any Manchego cheese in this town this week. Might have to find a way into the underground Manchego cheese cartel.

I'm such a slut. Yep, a rambling, coffee-sniffing, cheese hunting, knitting-freak, nothing of a slut. And you all love me for that!

Kisses and smackings to you all.

P.S. - Pat your scarf is ready. I might send it over via flying marmots. Be on the watch for flying marmot poop. That shit stains. Maybe I'll just wait & give it to you the next time I see ya.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr. Never Got Any Swag

What is that bright disc in the sky? Ack, my eyes are burning!

After another day of bruising storms, the rusty coast is enjoying a brief siesta. Enjoy!

Yesterday, our southern neighbours celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day with a pageant of blindingly white smiles, frocks that exceed the GNP of most African countries, over-primped tresses, collagen plumped lips and silicon enhanced everything else known as the Golden Globe Awards. Actually, I'm just assuming that's what was showcased at the awards since I opted to spend the evening knitting a scarf for my sis and reading 'Ender's Game'. But I'm sure it was a great fashionable feast of Hollywood backpatting.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy, re-reading Ender's Game and watching the mudfest that is Canadaland's federal election has me thinking about what makes a good leader, or in the case of the federal election, what doesn't make a good leader. At best, the party leaders look and sound like a bunch of cranky toddlers throwing poop and blame at each other. Watching the debates, I actually wished that the Parti Québécois ran in my riding. But they don't and I'm stuck trying to figure out which of the evils is the least malignant.

Not voting is not an option.

Men like Roy Mah and Douglas Jung and other men from the Chinese community went off to fight in WWII so brats like me could mark my 'X' like other Canadians. They gambled with their lives with no guarantee that their efforts would lead to the Chinese community's enfranchisement. They did it because they saw that they only way to change things was if they stepped up and made the changes within. Instead of sitting around and waiting for enfranchisement and equality, they took it upon themselves to act like Canadian citizens, to accept the responsibility of being an Canadian citizen despite the 'Alien' designation stamped on their birth certificates.

They weren't heroes. They were leaders.

And I would be a bugger if I didn't vote.

I'll leave you with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
- 'But I know somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.'

P.S. - Just found out that a trip to the Antartica was part of the Golden Globe swag bag. Along with cold weather gear!!! If some generous swag recipient wants to pass on this trip and gear to little ole me, I'd be forever grateful. I'll even knit you a sweater.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Knitting Rain and Pizza R n' D

Hey, look out the window. Surprise! Here comes the rain again. I've had that Eurythmic's song running through my head all day yesterday (...talk to me...like lovers dooooo.) At least it replaced that stupid hippo song. Scratch that, stupid hippo song just came back.

Well, this last spell of rain is proving why this is the rusty coast of Canada. We're in the last stretch of days before we break a record for the most consecutive days of rain. Go rain go!

So, according to the Grand Poobah of Weatherametrics of Canadaland, you could actually count the number of hours of sunlight that we've had since Dec. 19, 2005 on your fingers, even if you had one stuck up your nose.

So Rusty Coasters (or is that Coasterinias, or maybe it's Coasterites, how about Coasterese?) have to find ways to combat the soggy winter blahs. Some try light therapy, some run off to somewhere else where it doesn't feel like the sky is a leaky faucet and others just bitch and moan and count the number of hours of sunlight on their snot-covered fingers.

I like to embrace the fact that there is a season where I can listen to old Eurythmics songs and new Radiohead songs and lots and lots Chet Baker in between and read a bushel of Dylan Thomas' poetry and re-read the LOTR for the 50th time and knit a sweat factory full of sweaters and scarves and other cozies and drink pots and pots of tea and be glad that I don't have to wash the car for months. As Neil Young sings it, be the rain. Yes, my darlings, sometimes it's fun just to drown in clichés.

Speaking of knitting, I just picked up a skein of the most gorgeous mohair yarn. The yarn is made by Fleece Artist and is from their HandMaiden line. Fleece Artist is based in Halifax and make the most delicious hand-dyed yarns. They are my favorite yarn producer and are quite affordable. I picked up the Baby Kid (http://www.fleeceartist.com/yarn_babykid.html) in Blue Lagoon. Some of it is going into a short scarf I'm making for my my sister. The rest I think I'm going to fashion into a shawl of rain.

Last night we got to do some research and development with our backcountry oven. We had some friends over for dinner and I had made a couple of homemade pizzas. Just when I was about to pop them into the oven, I realized that the oven wasn't working. So out comes the backcountry oven. A backcountry oven is basically a non-stick pan with a lid that has a built-in thermometer for baking stuff on camping trips. There's a 'pot cozy' that fits over the whole thing that helps keep the heat in. The whole thing sits ontop of your camping stove. Ours is made by Backpacker's Pantry.

So we heated it up, popped in the pizza, had another glass of red wine and chatted. We were drinking Cono Sur's organic Cab Sav which was had a nice earthiness to it. Luckily, I had also made a pot of chorizo sausage and black bean soup, so I wasn't too worried about not having anything for dinner.

Since the backcountry oven works best when the temp hovers around 350F and I usually bake pizza at around 500F, I was curious to see how the temp difference would affect the end product. Obviously, it would take longer but would it affect the taste and texture of the pizza? Hmmm, enquiring bellies wanted to know.

Halfway through the baking, the kitchen oven decided to work again and so I popped the second pizza into that at 500F for 12 mins. I was excited to be able to do a taste comparison of the two pizzas (I know, I'm such a geek).

Well, the pizza baked in the kitchen oven turned out great. I had made a whole wheat pizza dough and topped it with pesto, artichoke hearts, olives, cooked chorizo sausages, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers and mozzarella cheese. The crust was perfect with a nice crunch and a tender inside and the cheese was nicely golden.

The backcountry oven pizza turned out pretty good too with only a few minor issues. One was that it took a bit longer, about 30 mins. to bake. We didn't have the stove fully pumped and weren't exactly keeping close watch on the fuel output. We also had it cooking outside on the porch where the winds were probably pulling a bit of heat away.

Obviously, you can only make one pizza at a time. There's enough pizza to feed 2 bellies for dinner (or one very hungry belly.) So if you have more bellies, you either have to make more pizza or supplement it with a hearty soup.
Another thing is that the crust didn't really get crusty. It was baked fine and was soft and tender but there was no crunch to the crust. Maybe we should have let it baked for another 10 mins but my belly was grumbling. Also, the cheese didn't get golden but I didn't expect for it to. Since all the toppings just needed to get warmed through, they worked well.

In the past I have found that wetter ingredients (fresh tomatoes and other veggies) and a too thin of a sauce don't fair well in a backcountry oven pizza. The moisture pools ontop of the pizza. I'd suggest using a basil or parsley pesto or a tapenade instead of tomato sauce and stick with toppings that don't need cooking so they won't release much moisture. That said, if I was on a kayaking trip or car camping, this pizza would be a pretty deluxe way to end the day.

That's it for now. I'm off to be the rain.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dance with a dirty old man

Canadian poet, Irving Layton, died yesterday in Montreal after a battle with Alzheimer's . (Note to self: Never do battle with Alzheimer's, it always wins. Pick on a something my own size like a canker sore.) Whether you thought of Layton as a prince of words or a dirty old man is moot since all Canadian poets are dirty old men, even the women. Especially the women. Yes, even Maggie Atwood. Do you think anyone could possess a wit that sharp and not be a dirty old man?
Of all Canada's Pantheon of Poets (who, by the way, gather at a Tim Horton's every spring in Sudbury for their annual general meetings. I hear George Bowering is fond of the Dutchie) Layton was the best at being a dirty old man, IMHO. Yeah, I know, Lenny does a pretty good job at it too but he's a freaking Buddhist now.

Layton embodied the anti-Puritan zeal and throb of dirty-old-manliness on and off the page. He lived singing of thighs, breasts and shoulders. He died with his 'loins wrinkled like the forehead of a sage.'

So, on this day I will remember Irving Layton as one of Canada's greatest dirty old men. They certainly don't make them like they used to.