Monday, October 04, 2010


i've got a few problems right now. not like, REAL problems, more like 1st world problems (and relatively trivial ones at that).

1) i jacked up my hip doing a bunch of stupid things on the weekend, including but not limited to spending 2 hours on sunday squatted over the garden pulling weeds, raking, and bending over to put handfuls of said weeds and leaves into yard waste bags. so now whenever i put pressure on my right hip i get intense pain. which means that i couldn't go into work today

2) i don't have any casual clothes that fit over my belly. i basically have one white top and one black long sleeve top that are long enough to stretch over, otherwise, everything else becomes a mid-80s, bill s. preston style cut-off crop top that stops just under my boobs

3) i'm insanely behind on the readings for my constitutional law course.

that's about it, i guess. okay, fine...i guess i don't really have problems. the jacked up hip is kind of the worst of it.

this weekend was a nice mix of friends, eating out, eating in, and getting shiz done.

on friday night at joy bistro i forgot to take any photos, but we had a lovely time partaking in their 3 course, $30 prix fixe. to start i had a beef cheek poutine with lovely crisp fries, tender chunks of beef cheek, real cheese curds, and a lightly curried gravy. then i had a GIANT seared scallop with some kind of ravioli on top of a bed of pureed butternut squash with roasted peppers. the dotytron got the beet salad to start which had tender greens, roasted golden beets, shavings of parm, and some anise flavouring. then for his main he got the seared muscovy duck breast which came with grapes in a wine reduction. for dessert i had the cardamom apple cake with dulce de leche sauce and he had a bittersweet chocolate terrine. all for $30! the service and execution were on par with say, the harbord room, but for a fraction of the cost...which is what i mean when i say that i need a restaurant to have an angle before i go there - this whole farm-driven cuisine isn't cutting it for me anymore - especially when there's nothing to distinguish the chefs.

saturday was a bit of a gong show. lots of driving around doing errands. we picked up our cloth diapers and all the accoutrements from diaper-eez in bloor west village. we got this deal they had, where you get 30 diapers of your choosing, 6 covers, a diaper pail, 2 carbon filters, these 2 odor reducers, 2 diaper pail bags, and 2 packs of herbal wipes and they knock 10% off the entire price. it was pretty solid. it depends on what kind of cloth diaper you're going with. because we weren't doing the all-in-ones, which cost upwards of $25/piece, our entire bill worked out to $240 all in...pretty good, considering that disposables cost roughly $40/month, on average, not to mention the landfill costs. we got suckered into buying the organic, unbleached cotton pre-folds, because the ones that are bleached, which are ever-so-charmingly called "CHINESE pre-folds" (emphasis mine) weren't in stock. the idealogues at the store were like, "nobody buys them. they're BLEACHED, you know" and i was like, "i don't care if my kid is crapping in organic or bleached cotton" the price differential per dozen is $6 more for the dumb. i was a little pissed about being strong armed into the organic decision. also, lady, you've got to know that like, all the baby clothes are made from bleached cotton in CHINA, right? sheesh

then it was off to canadian tire to pick up random sundries, including my brand new beloved CHEST FREEZER! we got a pretty small one - this model:

it's quite modest - not like those 6 foot behemoths that's a mainstay in every suburban basement. i didn't know if i wanted to go there, but it's already made a huge difference. what tipped the scales in favour of going down that road was the knowledge that already, with my double-cooking meals in preparation for the ol' labour daybour we're running out of freezer room and the fact that now our friends R & R at the farm can give us exotica like goose offal and venison and we'll have room to store it. plus all my cookie doughs and other randomness. and we won't have to ration ice anymore. bonus all around.

poor dotytron had to get it into the house all by himself as none of our neighbours were around to give us a hand. thank goodness his wingspan is so mighty. it was like watching him dance with a bear.

on the way to canadian tire i idly suggested that we stop at T&T to see if they had any bbq meat to supplement our planned dinner that night and the dotytron (who loves T&T more than anything) pulled a formula 1, 180 degree tailspin in his eagerness to go. he played it really cool once we got there, though, i gotta hand it to him. my suggestions to pick up chinese bakery goods were met with, "sure...whatever you want" in a forced casual tone that belied the dancing eagerness in his eyes. he seriously, seriously, loves that place more than anything. which is good, because they're doing a promotion right now called "i *heart* T&T" where you're supposed to write a short paragraph and submit it for a draw for an ipad. if they actually read the submissions and it's not a random draw, i'm pretty sure the dotytron has it in the bag.

for dinner i made us okonomiyaki (japanese cabbage pancake thing) which turned out pretty good, but could use some minor tweaking to put it over the top. i should have separated it into two pans - mine turned out kind of thick. and it could have used a touch more salt, but overall, it was pretty delicious. you make 2 sauces to go with it - one is ketchup mixed with worcestire, and the other sauce is mayo (preferably the japanese kewpie mayo) mixed with a bit of cider vinegar. the dotytron over cider vinegared the mayo sauce though, so it was a little thin. we ate this with roasted pork and bbq pork from the T&T bbq counter.

then we headed out for our "date night" - everyone is telling us to go out while we can while it's just the two of us, because you'll never eat in a non-family restaurant again, blah blah blah. i think that's kind of bogus. i mean, we have ready and willing child care available AND i mean, of course we can't bring a baby to canoe, but we can certainly bring a baby to most of the places we like going to nowadays, like the burger's priest or the afghani kebab house or chinese restaurants.

anyway, we started off our night at xococava, which is the dessert place right next to chris macdonald's spanish tapas bar, cava, which we've eaten at before. it's great. xococava is really nice - kind of reminiscent of ferran adria's brother's place in barcelona, cacao sampaka in their adventurous truffles - some mix savoury and sweet, like birch syrup truffles or chorizo truffles. we had the 70% sipping chocolate, which came in a tiny mug and was served body-temperature warm - thick and rich and flavourful, without the astringency and acidity that can accompany really bitter 80% plus chocolate. i had mine with whipped cream - it was delicious and soothing. then we lucked out and got some fresh churros - the dotytron also had a hazelnut biscotti and i picked up a panna cotta to go. it's a small place - just a few seats at a long counter and some tables outside (not suitably for chilly fall evenings) - it's mostly a takeaway place. they're known for their ice creams but it was too cold for that. i'll come back and try them some other time - they do the sicilian thing of serving ice cream scoops in fresh brioche - which i've always wanted to check out.

we followed that up with a screening of "waiting for superman" at the varsity - i'll post a full review tomorrow.

we caught a bit of nuit blanche stuff but it seemed to suck overall and just drew out people who wanted to drink in the streets. i'm actually pro certain elements of nuit blanche: extended bar hours, extended TTC hours, public art, but the art exhibits were by and large pretty lame (the ones we happened to see anyway) and there were too many bro-dawgs just looking for an excuse to carouse and it wasn't my scene.

sunday morning i woke up obscenely early considering we were home at like, 1am and then i stayed up reading until 2:30am - i made 2 pumpkin pies for thanksgiving and a quiche for post-fatburger arrival and some items for dinner at J & S's house. we had brunch with lolls and her bf T at school bakery and cafe in liberty village and then checked out their new digs.

i was exhausted and napped all afternoon, after the aforementioned regrettable decisions to go to town on the garden. then we packed up and went to dinner at J & S's house. it was good! J made us a mexican soup and i made the main course - pork shoulder carnitas (the pork had been braised in orange, milk, oregano, and garlic until it fell apart and then i crisped it up with lard in a cast iron skillet). i brought corn tortillas for serving it with and a roasted tomatillo salsa and chunky lime avocado. J made us a jicama and carrot salad. and for dessert! dessert was an absolutely divine apple fritter that they served with ice cream and caramel sauce. soooo good.

we had an early dinner on account of it being a sunday night, which meant that we had more face time with their kids, who are usually in the process of going to bed by the time we come over for dinner. the result was fun with playdough:

that's the dotytron's mermaid scene (their daughter is really into mermaids) and that's our buddy L's mermaid with the giant bio-engineered hand.

i'm home all day so i'm going to lie down and take it easy with a heating pad and try to get mobile again. i'm also going to do my very level best to get a crapload of constitutional law reading done - wish me luck.

for dinner i made us a cabbage, kolbassa, and chickpea soup with toasted avocado-cheddar melts.

which brings me to my latest obsession -

roll call of awesome:

pita break "one bun" (which we pronounce with a jamaican accent - WHAAAN BHAAAN) multigrain pitas. so freakin' good! i was first exposed to this thin pita bun thing this past summer at the kdubsguelph cottage experience. apparently, it's the newest thing to replace the standard soft bun for burgers or sausages. i'm not exactly sold on that preparation, but i can tell you that i love eating these things for breakfast - they're so thin they get nice and crispy and i could honestly eat this spread with butter and peanut butter and washed down with a cold glass of milk every day. love these things.


tacos of carnitas roasted with orange and milk
adapted from epicurious, serves 6-8 as a main course with sides

3-4 lbs pork shoulder, cut into big pieces
lard (you could also use oil, but lard is better)
2 t. salt
2 heaping T. minced garlic
1 heaping T. oregano (preferably mexican)
1 orange, washed well
1 c. whole milk
2 c. (approx) water
freshly ground black pepper to taste

- take your pork pieces and brown them on all sides in the hot lard - in a casserole dish (i used my le creuset knock off)
- sprinkle with salt, and add the garlic and oregano to the pan
- cut the orange in half, squeeze the juice over and add the orange halves to the dish
- pour the milk over and enough water to almost cover the pork
- sprinkle in the black pepper
- cover the dish tightly with foil and roast in a 375F oven for about 2-2.5 hours or until the pork is tender and falling apart.
- put the casserole on the stove and put on high heat until all the liquid has evaporated. in a cast-iron skillet or something nonstick, fry batches of the shredded pork in the lard or fat until crispy.
- season again to taste and then serve with warm corn tortillas, salsas, chopped lettuce, diced avocado with lime, pickled onion, etc.

notes: the dish can be made ahead up until the final browning. you could also probably make this in a slow cooker up until that point. the original recipe recommended crisping the pork in the enameled cast iron (le creuset) type of pot, but i found that it wasn't crisping and was just sticking o the bottom. i had much better results frying it in small batches in my well seasoned cast iron skillet.

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