Sunday, November 27, 2011


It was another Friday evening after work for Frank and Michel, but this time they were not drinking just because they were young, hot douche bags; Frank was about to start his dream job at RiM on Monday morning, and since it was only 4 PM, the entire weekend was theirs to piss away. The bar was hopping with execs, temps and admin staff who were relieved to put a long week of disorganized meetings and back-stabbing office politics behind them.

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!"

* Come From Away. As in, "You're not from around here, are ya? Since you're alone and a long way from home, you'll need a witness, a doctor and a lawyer, quite possibly in that order."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fairy tale

Once upon a time there was a princess who liked to cook on Sunday afternoons, and after she stacked the pots and pans in the sink for the kitchen staff to wash, she would sit at her dining room table and enjoy the fruits of her labour with her adorable Prince Charming and her beloved cat, Manwell.

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
The next course was moussaka served with couscous.

They feasted like royalty, and after the last bite of moussaka had been savoured and the last couscous grain washed down with the final drop of wine, the princess walked into the kitchen to thank the genie. But he wasn't there - the kitchen was empty. Now that's odd, he was here a minute ago, she said aloud. Just then, the royal cat, Manwell, strutted around the corner, then lay down on the hardwood floor and lazily licked a paw. Hanging from one whisker was a piece of white thread. Manwell! cried the princess. Did you eat the genie? 

Manwell smiled his cat smile and thought, you"ll never know for sure! Then he went back to his warm bed for a restorative catnap.

The end.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Death of a Garmin

My GPS watch died today, about 6km into a long run. I glanced down at the screen and instead of numbers there was only a neon green square. It was kind of exciting because my watch had never tried to communicate like that with me before, but sad because I knew it was in the middle of some heavy death throes. The end was at hand, and afterwards the watch would no longer be useful to me. I was selfish, I admit it.

Numbness and irritation soon gave way to a giant feeling of freedom. On this run I would be totally unencumbered by measured time or distance! I had no idea what time it was and I didn't care. I had a full water bottle, tons of gels in my pocket and sunglasses against the strong winds. I had everything I needed.

The sun appeared and I ran on the sunny side of the street. I ran past slow walkers and pushed up hills. I let it all go on the downhills. On and on I ran with only my music robot to inspire me. I thought about my life and those of everyone I know. A dull pain appeared on my left hip which I took to mean that I was at about the 20k mark. Still so far to go.

When I got home, I saw that I had run for about 3 hours and I felt great. I chalk that up to a low exercise effort last week: just 2 zumba classes at work and a spin class. I totally get why we taper for races.    

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Takeout salad

You know what I'm doing right now? Waiting to go to dinner with a friend while blogging about a recent meal. This is happiness for a food blogger. I will photograph our dinner and blog about it tomorrow if it's good.

Yesterday's lunch was a bowl of quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash and feta from Bridgehead. I carted it back to my office for lunch and found that it was as delicious as it looks. Although the salad did not contain as much feta as advertised on the label - just one large chunk that I fished out of the grains with my fork like digging up treasure buried in sand - someone thought to compensate for the lack of cheese by adding dried cranberries by the handfuls. There were so many cranberries! Oodles of them! But they were good because they made the salad sweeter and less salty. The squash was soft and heavenly. 

The last few posts have been set more often in the kitchen than on the road, and not exactly running through the kitchen but more like lingering in front of an open fridge. I didn't exercise again today. I feel slothy, having not run since last Sunday. Tomorrow I will aim to run 26k!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Feta and flakes

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

Occupy Highway Movement

A Southwestern American meal: black bean chili, Pillsbury biscuit,
sweet potato fries & cherry tomatoes  
You dearly crave a trip, a journey, a getaway. So you hit the road. 

But you don't have a car, or free time, or money. Only an open mind.

So you cook up a massive meal with friends and exchange travel tales on a given theme. Most memorable country - for any reason. Most breathtaking sunset. Weirdest food ingested/witnessed. Cheapest fleabag motel. Happiest moment away from home. Craziest death-defying experience. Longest period of time alone.

Almost as cathartic as the real thing.

"Did I ever tell you about the time...."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still life with egg bowl

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

Balance the good

This, my friends, is a dangerous time of year. Bags of leftover Halloween candy linger in the stores while sales staff rush to fill shelves with human-sized chocolate Santas and boxes of Toffifay. Yes, it's sugar, sugar everywhere, primed to win control of your tummies and will power. Plus, thanks to bygone Valentine's Days, it's now November and just about everyone's birthday, which can only mean chocolate cake and assorted confectioneries so beautiful it would be a crying shame to turn your nose up at them.

What's a girl to do.

 :: rices, dried tomato & dried mushroom ::

Well, she might cook up a batch of mixed rice - black, brown, japonica, whatever - to match those evil forces of glucose and balance out the good. (And her blood sugar.)