Monday, October 30, 2006

A thing of beauty

Sometimes all one needs on a cold autumn night is a big steaming pot of chili. Too bad Dad made said chili way back in May, and put in too much seasoning. It still looks pretty and comforting.

Now go put on a few more layers of clothing and bundle up under some nice fluffy blankets with a warm cuppa something and a good book!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Midspring Night's Feast

I love my neighbourhood. More specifically, I love my neighbours. They host these really great dinner parties and we all pig out and I usually get booze (or yummy sparkling fake booze).

On one Saturday afternoon in late May, we finally had one of the dinner parties that I’d missed so desperately during the school year. With my hair freshly dyed, wearing a new outfit, and with ambitions of a super-duper food blog rattling inside my skull, I set forth to make a pasta salad unlike any other pasta salad seen before by mankind (actually, that’s a lie; I was trying to copy the fantabulous pasta salad my aunt Debbie made for us the previous summer). So I spent a late morning/early afternoon chopping veggies, cooking pasta, stirring in fried onions and pesto, chopping fresh herbs, and finally placing my masterpiece in the fridge so the flavours could mature. Several hours later, I was rewarded with a pasta salad that smelled fantastic, but was practically flavourless. I was quite dismayed at this, but thought, “What the hey, it looks pretty and the veggies taste good”. I would have put in more pesto but the salad was already drowning in it. So I brought it over anyway.

My mom, being surprisingly supportive of my food blogging efforts (even though it was another thing to help me spend time on the computer), took loads of pictures. She even got artsy (see picture of biscotti dough in her Kitchenaid) and insisted on getting pictures of me actually cooking. There’s one she took of me looking over my shoulder, which she calls “The Sexy Chef”. I took pictures of her hands rolling biscotti dough.

Mom made some lovely cookies for the party as well. Not only did she try out a new recipe for almond biscotti that I think we found on the internet, she made double-chocolate cookies with marshmallows in them. I think she's really Martha Stewart in hiding...

Music for this post: "Come on! Feel the Illinoise!" by Sufjan Stevens

Oh, so painfully artsy! Mom took this. I take it as evidence that my love for all things artsy is genetic and totally not my fault.

"The Sexy Chef" redux, courtesy my sweet self. That dough smelled fantastic...

I know it's hard to tell, but mumsy used multicoloured marshmallows. There are very few things in this world more satisfying in this world than chocolate and rainbows mixed together.

This is why you do not leave cookies unattended in my house... kidding, kidding! This is my attempt at being artsy, before I started chewing on the smaller one.

This was Mom's idea. I took photos of the salad with vines of ripe red tomatoes, but the contrast here is much better. You win, Mom.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Restaurant food = hilarity

This isn't funny until you realize that those pieces of chicken are each larger than my FISTS. I kid you not here, people. My FISTS. I was eating this gul-danged chicken for almost a week afterwards. It's well worth the price, of course, but goodness. It's chicken cacciatore, by the way. On the side are a twice-baked potato that's so good I always order it instead of fries (and this is an achievement since I love fries and generally not a fan of baked potatoes), and honeyed carrots wth parsley. This is from dinner at The Austrian Inn in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, which I highly recommend if you want a big, hearty, inexpensive ethnic meal whose origins are European. There's also an amazing Lebanese place that's easy on the wallet, a charming tearoom with very good sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and an incredible tea selaction, and a Chinese restaurant that will get you full and has cheesy decor, but the food quality's debatable.

Next, we have a very foolhardy young man trying some sushi that's quite liberally coated with wasabi. Oh, for the follies of youth! Will they never learn?

In which Meg attempts Thai food... and turns it into sandwiches.

One weekend, my family was graced by the presence of a nine-year-old girl cousin of mine. Given the extremely finicky palates of children, it was an ill-advised time for me to try to assuage my craving for Thai food by cooking it. Did this stop me? Of course not! When Meg wants Thai food, she wants Thai food, and you can't buy it in my hometown anyway, since we have no Thai restaurants.

Being one of those people who sometimes has multiple cravings at one time, I also wanted bread. So after rummaging up some Thai recipes on the intarwebs and a trip to the grocery store, we were ready to begin our foray into making Thai chicken sandwiches.

Firstly, there was peanut sauce. I took a recipe I found online, and took out and added in flavours as I saw fit. Of course (hindisght is 20/20), I forgot to write it down somwhere findable. There was all-natural peanut butter, honey, coconut milk, and spices, but the rest is anybody's guess.

As you can probably tell from the picture of the peanut sauce, we made our sandwiches custom-ly at the dinner table. There was fried onions, fried cabbage, chicken, and peanut sauce to be had. And, obviously, the bread, which the little cousin and I argued over at first, but then I was nice and conceded.

I'm not complaining, though, since we all got a good meal out of it. And when we ran out of bread and chicken, there was plenty of rice to mix the peanut sauce and veggies with.

Music for this post: "Superhot Lady Cop"by Beau Hall & the magnificent 7 (go here for a listen:

Weird things to do to a poor defenseless piece of chicken parmesan...

In the beginning, everything was peachy-keen. Mom's chicken parmesan came into this world on a sun-dappled May night, unaware of what lay in store...

That night, my fmaily sat around the table salivating and after a few seconds of shock, we dove in; savouring the fresh, fresh tomatoes, commending Mom's choice of expensive cheese, and chewing a lot (and a bit protectively, but can you blame us?).

However, not all the chicken parmesan was gone by the end of the night. We were pretty cheerful to be having leftovers the next day. The chicken parmesan thought all would be well; it would be consumed the next day with a bit of fanfare. Little did it know...

Lunchtime approacheth. Dad and I clambered home for lunch from our respective places of employ (I miss my cushy government job). The chicken parmesan peeked out from the fridge. We set it on the table and began to assail it.

Dad decided he wanted a salad with the chicken parmesan as a centrepiece. It hadn't planned on spending its final moments on a bed of lettuce, but it could deal with. And then Dad brought out some sliced tomato, which makes sense, but then... mango?! Had he gone mad?! Tropical fruit with an Italian main course? It makes sense if it was gelato for afterwards, but...

This is Mom holding up her and dad's creation in front of some flowers so it looks pretty.

And it got worse...

Poor, poor chicken parmesan had no clue it would find itself between two uncannily shaped pieces of bread. We had a whole-wheat baguette whose slices were the same size as my piece of chicken parmesan. We'd eaten this same baguette with the meal last night, but Dad had refrained from turning the meal into a sandwich like he usually does when there's bread on the table. There fore I considered it my duty as my father's daughter to take the baguette, chicken parmesan, some lettuce, and the fresh tomato sauce from the chicken paremsan to make a sandwich.

YUM. Sorry, chicken parmesan, but it had to be done. I hope you forgive us, wherever you are...