Friday, October 10, 2014

No Dog Left Behind

I'm gradually emerging from my plague ridden state.  Monday was the first day that I've actually felt well again, after a fairly intense 3 week illness.  I spent most of the week previous in a sickness induced, didn't-get-the-job-and-feeling-surprisingly-crushed-about-it mind funk, emerging from my stupor to obsessively refresh the Weather Network site and track the satellite imagery because we were hosting TWELVE (12!!!) kids for the Big Yam's dinner and a movie birthday party.

It was intense.  Some people didn't RSVP and of course I didn't chase them because quite frankly, I was hoping they forgot and I didn't want to hear "oh yes, actually we ARE coming!" I was already getting stomach knots thinking about all those f**kers in my house.  We kept it very, very simple.  We showed Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs outside on the deck on a projection screen and prefaced that with a dinner (also outside) of hot dogs and Kraft Dinner with a fruit tray and a veggie tray.  Veggie straws, a bowl of gummy bears (as a shout out to the movie), and the piece de resistance, I made these cupcakes that look like spaghetti and meatballs (round tip yellow-tinted swiss meringue buttercream with a Fererro Rocher "meatball" dipped in a strawberry sauce and plopped on top).    The weather was being a pain and it kept threatening to rain all day, interspersed with glorious moments of sunshine.  We didn't know how to call it and finally just hoped for the best.  All the parents sent their kids with winter gear and sleeping bags and in the end, the rain held off and it was a lovely (albeit a tad cold) few hours outside.  One kid plaintively asked me at one point, "When do we get to go inside?" and I was like, "You don't.  This is an outside party."  LOL!  I'm a monster.

One kid was also being a whinge and finally I just said, "Do you want to go home?" and she said yes, so I just packed her up and walked her home.  For a few seconds it looked like she was waffling but I didn't give her a chance to change her mind.  I don't have the patience for that, man (which is why I'm not a teacher).  We served popcorn and lit an inaugural fire in our outdoor fire pit (read: corner of our concrete pad that we bricked in with leftover/found bricks).  In the end, my vision of a bunch of kids all snuggled up and giggling at the antics of Flint Lockwood and co. actually measured up to the reality, but not without some fraught moments.  It looked like things were going FUBAR when the party first started and all the kids were riled up and screaming like banshees in the backyard and I was frantically blowing up balloons to keep up with demand.

The weekend prior we had both my nephews sleep over while the rest of my siblings went to the annual hospital fundraising gala my mom's organization throws.  Little Ze, the older one, balked at eating one of my test-run cupcakes because he said it "tastes like pasta" and of course, the Big Yam picked it up and refused to eat the cupcakes I made for the party.  They also got properly country mouse-city mouse'd because our charming neighbours had one of their classic blow outs that somehow seemingly inevitably ends in a quasi psychotic episode with someone screaming obscenities in the street at an ungodly hour.  The Dotytron went to the bathroom and walked by the Big Yam's room to find my two nephews, wide awake, lights on, anxious and worried and unable to sleep.  Welcome to the big city, boys!  

I met with Academic Book Club last week.  I love those women, but we have very, very different value systems and we have very, very different cultural references some times.  JJ mentioned that she was shocked about the revelation shaking up the food blogging world that the authors of the blog, "Thug Kitchen" turned out to be white.  Thug Kitchen won Saveur Magazine's best new food blog of 2013 award.  I'm not sure why.  I've linked the blog so you should read some entries.  I've read lots of pieces about the racism implicit in invoking the use of the word "thug" in the blog title and the tone of the writing (Gawker, Jezebel), but honestly, it's fascinating to me because ALL YOU HAVE TO READ IS ONE ENTRY AND YOU COULD DEDUCE THAT IT'S NOT A "THUG" (READ: BLACK) PERSON WRITING THIS VEGAN FOOD BLOG.  The whole "the authors are white!" reveal is about 15 billion degrees less surprising than the most mundane reveal on Scandal (a show the Dotytron and I both love).  Like, because the author swears (in the clunkiest, most inelegant way imaginable - you can tell it's an affectation and doesn't come from someone who drops f-bombs as part of every day speech), it's "urban"?  There's no slang, the tone is all off, and yet, the fact that people bought in says so much to me about the privileged, rarified world of food writing and foodie culture.  James Oseland as an arbiter of urban culture?  I think not.  

Anyway, those ladies are lovely but very different from I.  A few weeks ago I got to parachute in as a ringer to the Dotytron's Record Club and guys, RECORD CLUB IS SO FUN.  It's a bit of a bro-down, so I'm not sure I'd be welcome to join (they've also curated the guest list to the nth degree because the vibe is super important to them), but, as an example, the theme was jungle music and the guys came over and we played records and DJ'd and then went to a club and danced until almost 3am. By comparison, at Academic Book Club, it's shaking it up when we meet at a restaurant (this time we met at District Oven, which is a pretty terrible Middle-Eastern-ish restaurant where they don't salt the house-made pita, which is a criminal offense, in my books) instead of at someone's house where we talk about our kids and pick at a desultory spread of baby carrots and grapes and Carr's water crackers, which are my Platonian ideal of a disgusting cracker I want to get as far away from as possible.

As this post has already ventured into potpourri category, my proposed tattoo is taking shape.  A few weeks ago, while spearing the last lonely, cold, congealed hot dog off a plate, I said to the Dotytron, "No dog left behind, is what I always say," and then said, "I should get that as my tattoo!"  Imagine it, a cute, 1950s style hot dog with "No dog left behind" underneath?  That's such a good motto, isn't it?  Not only insofar as it pertains to hot dogs, but also as a motto for how you deal with friends, family, etc.?  

I'm feeling a bit low, lately.  Not getting the job, when it's an internal competition, and you've been with the organization going on eight years now, is tough, mentally.  I can tell myself that I wasn't the right fit, that it's about being the right person at the right time for the organization, and I can try to pump myself up with so many Sheryl Sandberg platitudes about how your career isn't a ladder, but a jungle gym, etc...but I still fell off the jungle gym.  On my a**, on concrete (this is an old school jungle gym - none of that recycled rubber composite padding here!  I'm having a bit of an existential crisis about it, probably exacerbated by the fact that I'm back at work after 15 months off, and this is my LIFE, ya know?  I'm (presumably) done having kids, so my career is where I'm going to be spending the majority of my time and energy and I'm feeling a bit lost and directionless.  

Other things that don't help: being sick, calorie counting so I can't even take comfort in a pile of empty carbs, getting reacquainted with rush hour TTC streetcars.  

Things that do help: visits with friends, eyelash extensions from SMckay, saying "to hell with it" and buying myself a (cheap) leather purse from ASOS anyway, fall, a long to-watch list on Netflix, slow cooker meals, moving bedtime up for all the kids so that I get an extra half hour of "me" time in front of the TV, with my knitting and quilting in hand, and more time for reading.  These guys:


OK.  Those nerdbombers are such giant nerdbombers.  Look at how clueless and overwhelmed by life they were.  For real. 

This guy's new catch phrase:

He's really trying to make it stick.

Dinners around here, lately:

Hit up Ja Bistro with our Guu crew.  This is the large lobster sashimi platter.  They also served this blowtorched sushi (aburi) which is nice - kind of smoky from the edges getting singed, which offsets the sweetness of the rice and the cool centre of the fish really well.  Overall, I really liked the blowtorched stuff and obviously, a pile of sashimi is always delicious, but I felt like the giant ice platter didn't showcase each piece.  We were so busy gabbing and eating that I didn't get the full 
O-TORO-gasm that you get when the pieces are presented individually, or slowly.  I might go back, but I'm more likely to hit Guu up again.

Shrimp burrito bowl times

Last night's dinner was a sausage, kale, and white bean gratin with crispy torn bread topping and baked delicata and buttercup squash.  I pre-soaked and parboiled some cannellini beans and set the aside.  In a pan, I took about a pound of sausage out of the casing, and browned it, breaking up the chunks with a spoon.  Then I added onions, garlic, a bit of the bean water, and a whole giant head of kale, thinly sliced.  Cooked that down, then stirred in the beans and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I added some apple cider and about 2 ounces of smoked gouda, diced small to the pan, then topped it with bread torn into big chunks and tossed with oil, salt and pepper.  Baked until hot.  It was good, but needed a bit more...maybe some herbs, maybe some lemon zest, maybe some parmesan?  

I have a backlog of a million book and movie reviews.  Stay tuned.



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