Thursday, December 29, 2011
I harbor both fond and less than fond memories of running in frigid temperatures last winter, so I splurged on a 3-month membership at a local gym and kicked things off with a 45 minute run while watching Til Debt Do Us Part, which I realize is reality programming but comes off so authentic, with a happy ending (the family digs its way out of debt) and a moral message disguised as a financial one (spending money can make you a bad person and overspending will buy you a one way ticket to hell). From today's episode I learned that families can't afford stay-at-home moms in this economy, a father's blood pressure decreases as he spends time with his toddler, and even you can use your creative talents to earn dough. And the tough love over-all message stresses that one must save all pennies and not spend. Ever. It is a sobering program to view during the days following extravagant holiday present exchanges and tummy-stuffing meals in nice restaurants! But the run was fantastic, and I must say that the return to my former gym felt like a visit to an old friend's home.
I rounded out the run with some ab work from Bodyrock.com and completed a set of the uneven push ups I saw there. Bodyrock is like Sesame Street for exercise conscious adults.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Frank and Michel started on pitchers of margheritas, first lime and then strawberry-mango, moved on to pitchers of beer, and after they got tired of beer, the bartender lined up 16 shot glasses of Goldschlager on the bar and Michel and Frank stood at each end and shot them back, silk ties flipped over their shoulder. Michel's support staff team looked on, sharing a pitcher of diet pepsi, their eyes wide with anxious amazement.
"Woooo!" yelled Frank.
"Cowabunga!" shouted Michel. "Hey Frank, what would be your one regret in life?"
Frank considered this. "You mean besides not being born stupid rich? Well, I have never tasted wild blueberry pie from Cape Breton Island."
"Road trip!" screamed Michel. So they jumped into Michel's BMW and drove 12 hours from Montreal to Auld's Cove where they pulled into a diner to ask for directions to the Cabot Trail but unfortunately fell asleep in a restaurant booth before they even had a chance to order the all-day breakfast they so sorely needed.
The waitress took one look at the shadowed faces of the rumpled and unwashed gentlemen before her and called the cops. The officer on duty was the boyfriend of the waitress and also the son of the dishwasher, and he hauled the Montrealers into the drunk tank and then drove back to the diner for an order of French toast on the house.
Frank and Michel high-fived and then curled up along the bench and fell back to sleep. The local bad asses in the drunk tank from the night before stopped their card game and stared with xenophobic suspicion at the two CFAs* in cuff links and real haircuts, and when Michel let out a mumbled "Mon Dieu" in his REM sleep they interpreted that as an invitation for a beating and kicked him in the teeth and Frank in the ribs
When he came to, Michel was tucked into a hospital bed and his face hurt like hell, especially his gums, which previously had held front teeth. With a scream of agony Frank rolled over on his broken ribs, then he asked Michel where they were. A pretty nurse entered the room holding an orange plastic tray and Michel squinted at her name tag and read it out loud: "'Kelly MacDonald, Cape Breton Hospital.' Hey, we did it! We made it to Cape Breton Island!"
"Woooo!" yelled Frank.
The nurse placed two cans of Boost and two bendy straws on the table between the guys. "Dinner time, boys," she sang. "Hope you like blueberry flavour!" She winked.
Michel and Frank gave each other virtual high fives. "Do we ever!"
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
On this particular Sunday, the princess decided to tackle a Greek dish, moussaka, but a vegetarian version, because she cared about the well being of animals. She ran to the local market to buy all sorts of goodies for the meal: eggplant and portebello mushrooms for the bottom layer and milk and eggs for the top. As she was paying for her ingredients, the vendor said to her, From the looks of things, you're planning a Greek meal tonight. The princess smiled and said, You are correct, and then the vendor reached down from under the counter and brought out a small glass bottle without a label. He said, This is the finest and purest virgin olive oil from Greece, and you must use it in your recipe. I knew your dad a long time ago, and he was a good man, so please have this. The princess was a little surprised by the man's generosity, but her mama had raised her to react fluidly in awkward social situations, so she chucked the bottle into her purse with a bright thank you, and left for home with the bags of fresh food.
When she got home, she uncorked the bottle and a genie flew out. Olive oil my ass, thought the princess. The genie was tall and dressed in white with a crown, and as he floated down to the floor he grinned from ear to ear. I've been incarcerated in that dang bottle for 10 years! Just what I need, a criminal! thought the princess. But the genie was so overjoyed to be free that he promised to do all the cooking that night so that she, his benefactor, and her Prince Charming, whom he had not yet met but who sounded like an agreeable fellow, could spend some quality time together. Turning to the bags of food, he picked up a large knife and set to work slicing eggplant like a pro. That was when the princess noticed that his whites were, as luck would have it, cook's whites, and true to his word, he baked and sauteed all afternoon while she and Prince Charming played records and took goofy pictures of Manwell wrapped in blankets. The princess opened a bottle of white wine and wondered why she bothered to cook when she could eat someone else's cooking instead, and avoid all the hard work.
First, the genie served them a salad. Pretty standard, she thought, but hey, I didn't make it.
|Salad with yellow tomatoes|
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Someone was hard at work in his kitchen, and by the time I knocked hungrily on his door the aromas of wine and sauteed garlic were swirling madly about. He did something magical with cauliflower, tomatoes and garlic, and then served up a generous portion of sauce and whole wheat pasta on a grand plate painted in the Greek colours. A delicious sprinkling of feta landed on the top, and the cheese softened and blended into the bubbling sauce. There was even wine!
I saw my first snowflakes today. Winter approaches, tenderly at first....
|~ This here ain't kraft dinner Thursday. ~|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
|A Southwestern American meal: black bean chili, Pillsbury biscuit, |
sweet potato fries & cherry tomatoes
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
|Creme brule and chocolate chip cookie, massacred|
Still blessed with a childlike wonder at objects of unusual shape or size, I snapped this pic of a dessert I enjoyed last weekend. It's a dense and egg-y creme brule that I didn't order until the very last second when I heard my dining partners ordering dessert, and then I shouted out my order because I had to have one, too. I refuse to be left behind!
Anyway, this picture is posted here so that you may marvel not at the dessert but at the delightful serving platform in which it was served. Naturally the CB was served in a bowl - it's easier to blowtorch the sugar on top that way, or so I am told - but an unusual one, for it has a 10 cm wide edge and resembles a plate that was punched in the centre. But check it out - with the round yellow dessert and the white edge around it, the whole thing resembles an egg. An unorthodox egg with a hard sugar coating around the yolk and a soft-centred chocolate cookie posing unnaturally in halves beside it.
I haven't run since the Sunday long run but I have been eating like mad. Just now, before bed, I polished off 2 slices of toast crumbling beneath the weight of huge slabs of Monteray cheese and still my tummy expects another course. Yeesh! Back to the kitchen....
Monday, November 14, 2011
What's a girl to do.
|:: rices, dried tomato & dried mushroom ::|
Monday, September 26, 2011
Yes, Bessie is back with me, now with a beautiful new back wheel and cables that function smoothly. Her time at the spa was transcendant, for sure. She feels like a brand new ride.
I eased out on to the street, testing out the brakes and noticing with wonder that they too were smooth and effective. Just a tap and they sprung into action. Forget the speed today, I was falling in love with my new brakes and I wanted to be with them at all times.
And you know, it's a good thing I was riding leasurely because a black squirrel dashed from a plastic garbage can on the edge of a lawn to beneath my wheels and out the other side in the blink of one of my saucer-sized eyes! Bessie didn't topple or swerve so I was fine, but what of the innocent rodent? I slowed to a stop, expecting gore, but insead saw the creature scampering along another lawn, no doubt waiting for another cyclist to startle. Maybe he was trying to impress a romantic partner, or feeling suicidal, but either way he was lucky. The rest of the trip was lusciously placid and plain.
The day ended with some heated room yoga. I stretched and sweat out some tension and insecurity, and walked home on a cloud of ease, taking measured steps and, without meaning to, paying attention to seemingly everything from beneath half-closed eyelids. The night was dark and beautiful.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
|Pizza? I'm sure I ordered the Meow Mix.|
The winter is going to be very, very long and the isolation will be grim, given that my M-F life has only three spheres: work, commute and sleep. And from Oct-April, cold.
Speaking of which, cold pizza makes a fast and easy dinner when you've had it up to here with the capitalist world and its ridiculous insistence that we pay with our lives for the privilege of being alive. No slaving over a hot stove!
On a brighter side, the pizza was incredibly delicious.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I ran 15k this evening. It's been a long time since I hit that distance. I kept the pace steady and slow, and chose a loop to follow so that I would complete the distance even if it became difficult. I was determined.
It was much longer than I am used to but I feel great, even revived, and will attempt something longer next weekend.
I wonder if my running performance was obscured by my former 90min commute, and assisted by its discontinuation.
On a foody note, if you ever have a deep craving for good pizza and you happen to be near Finch, Ontario, you need to hit up Finch Pizzaria. OK so it's the town's sole restaurant but it is also the best eaterie in a radius of several towns around. We were gifted with a medium-size pizza that was like manna from heaven, but decorated with tomato, mushrooms, green olives and green pepper with a fantastic mozzarella top layer. I think the star of the pizza ensemble however was the tomato sauce which was clearly homemade and featuring just a hint of spice. Delicious and totally worth the gas money to drive to Finch.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
After work I signed up for a spinning class taught by sport guru Ian, which was immensely enjoyable. I wish I had his access to his playlist, too. Disco, AC/DC, funk and styles I couldn't even categorize...when you get away from pop music you can see there are universes of musical styles that appropriate for spinning.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Or a love of cod and spuds. I have to admit that my hands touched no animal, vegetable or mineral during the development of these cakes. They were a gift. I just heated the pan and warmed them up with a few slices of red cabbage for extra nightshade sparkle.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
When I was holidaying with no bike in sight and only a white Mustang convertible complete with a hot Greek chauffeur with which to whisk me away (hi Pan!), I ran on several occasions and in two provinces. A short jaunt to the red beach in Cavendish. A few beautiful morning runs in the countryside (NS). A foggy, salty-smelling run along a wooden boardwalk in Summerside. Now that I'm back to work, I'm off the running. I just can't seem to fit it in. I can't run after work because my quads are tired - pleasantly so, mind you, but tired enough to convince me to stay on the couch after locking the front door behind me. And when I bring running clothes to work, Murphy's Law dictates that work demands will rise just before lunch, and prevent me from leaving.
There have been a few times when I thought I might run after work, and in these cases the first half of the run is wobbly, and the second half tiring. During these runs, my quads feel like concrete, reminding me of my very brief tri career during which I discovered the conrete quad phenomenon, which pops up in the first few minutes of the run portion.
Sunday long runs and weight training will keep me sane until bike season is over.
How about some lobster poutine and sweet tea at the Englishtown Bus Cafe? We witnessed this doubledecker while waiting for the shortest ferry ever in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I was jonesing for some brekkie but didn't get to the order window in time.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Oh. I'm sorry.
I probably just snapped at you. How rude of me. Please allow me to explain. My kitchen is dreadfully scotfree of chocolate, and anything containing chocolate, and I'm nursing an unearthly craving for the stuff. And I have been carrying this cross for days. It's enough to drive a woman mad; mad I tell you!
|-- Lotus is not just the brand name. It also signifies that lotus leaves were added to the product for extra addictive qualities and yogic enlightenment. --|
And actually this very jar was indeed a gift, one that was appreciated and cherished, and honored with teaspoons at all hours of the day and closed eyes and immoderate serving sizes.
And now the vessel is empty.
Love you long time, Speculoos. May we meet again one day.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I haven't been away, but I also haven't been running or cooking up any unusual dishes. The beautiful, daily commute to my new job keeps me in the saddle for about 1.5 hours a day, and I'm not yet strong enough to tackle a post-work run on top of all that cycling. Protein suddenly calls to me, and my frying pan has seen nothing but vegetables and eggs for over a week now, with a dash of maple-flavoured tempeh garnish once or twice. But I'm seeing improvement. This morning I climbed some of the hills faster and with more ease (but not easy). My arrival time was the same even tho I'd left 10 minutes later. This is a good sign!
All the same, I miss the sweat and metabolism boost I get with running. After biking home in the rain tonight I had zero desire to visit the gym - or even leave the house - so I found some Bodyrock exercises and did 3 sets each of burpees (12 reps); deadlifts (15 reps each leg); a weird abdominal exercise called a crisscross hip thrust (30); and jump lunge & twist (20). I modifed every exercise since I a) can't do pushups worth squat, and b) the only equipment I own are an exercise ball, two 5lb weights and a yoga mat. I used the weights for the deadlifts and the lunge twists, and my exerise ball pressed against a sofa for the ab exercise. Even with the mods, the exercises were effective, by which I mean sweat-a-rific and metab-boost-y. I didn't time the workout - no timer, natch - but also I wanted to concentrate on form before adding a time component. I have to admit that these exercises were pretty fun and challenging, and I'd like to incorporate them more often. The deadlifts were new to me and I totally loved how they felt. I wasn't sure I was doing them right until the 2nd set. And then the effects were unmistakeable.
I think I'll look around for heavier weights and try this sequence again.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
:: Banana bread French toast ::
Monday, July 18, 2011
This was all very delicious. I was going to try to dry out after Bluesfest, camping expeditions and family visits, but a glass of white wine was wonderful with this earthy, evening-long meal.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Sometimes I contemplate the choices I made in the past and I wonder how I have changed. If I'd known I'd still be ambling along this path, would I have treated people differently or taken different risks? Would I have committed myself to this path to begin with? And now, will I ever step off?
Monday, July 4, 2011
The paths are not deserted, though. This morning I spied a woman on a bike dressed as a clown. No wig or theatrical makeup - not even a red honka-honka nose! - and I didn't notice any extra-long red shoes curled across the pedals, so I guess she was a clown from the neck down and the ankles up. A clown/human hybrid.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
It's a summer day in the city, so you grab your bike for a ride. The sun is bright in the sky but you can't feel the heat in the shade of the trees along the path. You head to the marina parking lot and choose a wooden bench by the water. When you step off the bike, the pavement burns your feet. You spend 5 minutes squishing your chocolate-mocha granola bars into bill-sized pieces for the ducks. A squirt of h2o and a stretch, and then you're back in the saddle, waving to the ducks. An old guy sitting in a parked truck waves back.
You carry on to downtown, toward the smells of steak and lilacs and exhaust, until you find a small garden packed with friends sitting under a trellis, smiling and eating chocolate chip cookies.
A glass of lemonade with clinking ice cubes and a lemon slice finds its way into your hand, and a bowl of cloud-like whipped cream and lipstick-red strawberries on biscuits appears before you. Like a desert tourist crazed with thirst, you feel compelled to reach for this mirage with both hands. Then it is in your hands. And then it is not a mirage but a miracle, a tasty miracle, and then all that is left is an empty plastic bowl and whipped cream on your fingers. You bike home through traffic with a delicious memory imprinted on your tastebuds. The straps of your backpack rest on the sunburnt areas of your shoulders. It's a summer day in the city.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
- 6 mushrooms
- minced red onion
- lots of minced garlic
- 1 tbsp of pesto
- 2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and fresh pepper
- 1 tomato, chopped
- parmesan cheese
Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Place the caps upside down on a baking sheet. Fry up the remaining ingreds (except for the cheese) and pile into the caps, then sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. One mushroom is pretty filling!
What toppings would you use? Capers? Roasted red peppers and feta? Cucumbers and marshmellow fluff?
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
...now you don't!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Then I poured me some sweet art in a martini glass. Whoever thinks this picture of the virgin sunrise (OJ and grenadine) has a religious tone, raise your wing.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Dark coloured coats and bent heads filled the bus seats this morning. I sat in my own seat and tried not to soak up the grim vibe (it wasn't hard). People in this city work to live, and on mornings like this I miss my bike and the traffic wrestling adventures even more than usual. Wah wah.
I ran last night without music and noticed the trees. The tips of the first courageous leaves are pushing through, and the air smelled of spring. The wind across the bridge felt strong but warm. A breeze of that intensity two months ago would have been bitter indeed. About 45 minutes before the end my trick knee started to feel tender, so I shortened my stride and it was alright after the run. During those two hours I met only a handful of runners and cyclists and one rollerblader, on a cell phone. Lonesome highway.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Dinner was a hodge-podge tonight: felafel, stir fried veggies and mac & cheese, eaten in courses, in exactly that direction.
I can't believe I returned from Nashville a week ago. I have yet to sleep in. I am looking forward to enjoying some Saturday morning shut-eye.
~ I'm like an omnivore, but for booze ~
Saturday, May 7, 2011
This morning, during our writing club meeting, I realized that technique is a hot topic, and it resurfaces almost every time we meet. It's such a grind: the words have to spring from somewhere and land on the page, so we often trade tips on how we get er done. There are lots of way to do it. Morning writing, and writing after work for an hour. There's writing while at work, on the sly, but it's unencouraged to the degree that we refrain from examinating that one. Sure, you want to write and the days are horribly short, but no one's saying you should go ahead and get yourself fired before you write the Great Canadian Novel.
This leads to the concept of write-life balance: exercise; coffee breaks and a good night's sleep to keep one's sanity while immersed in a project. One member is currently committed to a heavy writing project with a firm deadline, and she told us how she diligently maintains a schedule that supports the continuation of these valuable activities, the ones that are too often cancelled when we feel pinched for time. I admire her for this.
Also helpful for writers: lazy vacations down south. With cold cans of cerveza.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Ernest Hemingway rented a room at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana between 1932 and 1939. He stated that the room was "a good place to write." Quotes such as this keep writers' dreams alive, baby.
Next to the hotel, Papa Hemingway found this tiny bar a good place to drink. They say it's always as crowded as the day we stopped by.
Signatures from travellers are plastered on the smooth cement above and beside the bar. Writers who shared a bit of elbow room where the old writer used to hang his hat in the heat of the day.
He was a notorious drinker, but because of time constraints we didn't peer into any other bars he frequented, and anyway, this place emanated enough smoke rings of mythical aura for several cheap bars and tropicana clubs.
I picture him tripping over uneven cobblestones at night, lightbulbs hanging from naked wires on second floor verandas, swearing gruffly at thin dogs, chomping a cigar stump, tumbling into bed fully clothed, stinking of sailor's rum, characters yelling behind his door and inside his head.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The problem that gripped us each and every day, one which we considered thoughtfully, stepping out into the warm sunlight for all-you-can-eat breakfast that at times consisted, depending on the day, of mushroom omelettes, french toast, paper-thin crepes with chocolate sauce, and always cappuccino and fresh chunks of pineapple and papaya, was whether we should begin the day's romance with the hot, Cuban sun at the beach, where our senses could feast on the rolling turquoise surf, or poolside, just paces from the 24-hour bar.
Once the grounds were decided upon by the both of us, the day's schedule naturally fell into place, and our leisurely activities, which relied heavily on, and often comprised solely of, the consumption of that Cuban resort gift of the gods, alcohol, served either as a mild but delightfully refreshing draft beer similar in color to Keith's, or as that sugarcane firewater, rum, in its many varieties and strengths, and a key component to many a vividly-tinted and intoxicating cocktail.
Grenadine, OJ and blue curacao w/ rum.
More holiday posts to follow.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
- 3-4 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3-4 sweet potatoes, cubed (and peeled, if desired)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp Thai green curry mix
- 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
- 4 cups veggie stock
- 1 can reduced-fat coconut milk
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
3 seconds later the the nausea hit. Come on! That was a lot of pineapple juice at once.
Today's run: Plowed through 3 gels in 31k; lots of small dogs in pastel sweaters, their feet moving at the speed of light to keep up with their humans. Far too many baby strollers the size of 18-wheelers helmed by yuppie hetero couples carrying matching to-go coffee cups like bamboo torches. You guys give me the shivers and make me transfer to the road to run with the cars.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Take Sunday. Alarm shrills you from a warm bed at an hour when some people are drifting to sleep after a fun night out. You throw on your work clothes, bulky and heavy in winter, and chomp a carb-y breakfast of oatmeal and sweet caffeine. You pack gels, GPS, music player, gather hat and mitts, wish the kitty a good day and head out to meet your "colleagues" for a long morning of solo running followed by a coffee break.
Today was the same in a different way. In the important ways it looked like the above, but the feeling that ran through us as we gathered for china mugs of coffee and bottles of apple juice was that the run had gone well; it hadn't been hard. We felt okay, as though we could have gone further; as though we had expected more ice and snow and cold winds but we hadn't needed to call on our reserves because the expected hadn't happened. There had been sunshine and a blue sky, and lots of friendly unknown runners.
Once, at a cycle cafe, a skier told me a story about a long and gruelling ski race he'd completed. On the morning of the second day of the 2-day race, he'd crawled out of his tent chilled to the bone and tired from a sleepless night, waiting for breakfast. When he described the hot Tang, his eyes twinkled as he recalled the sweet, saccharine taste of that steaming hot drink. It had kept him going, that unexpected gift. That was my today. 26k.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Afterwards I tore through some leftovers, but had there been a genie present, I would have made a wish to relive this Miami meal: wasabi-covered tuna. The server cautioned me that this fish dish is served blue-rare. I'm glad I went for it: the tuna was soft and forgiving, and melted in the mouth. I polished it off before I had a chance to ask for a side of extra wasabi.
The tuna rested on a bed of plain white rice, which in turn was supported by something unexpected: a puddle of butter! It was a moat of melted better with some swimming matchstick veggies. Maybe the fat was provided as a side dish, to balance the huge hunk of lean protein....? Who knows. Oh, and the beer was incredibly delicious. I think this was our Christmas eve feast!