Monday, 26 November 2012

Toasting Chestnuts-Manner(Men)

“I wonder what your disguise is?  The jeans or the suit?"


Took a second espresso after dinner and, well, you know how these things go.  Bug eyed into the wee hours. What’s on the shelf? 

Heiner Lauterbach(Daniel/Julius), Uwe Ochsenknecht(Stefan) and Ulrike Kriener (Paula) in the 1986 Manner by Doris Dorrie.  A movie I never tire of watching.  Funny; full of great conversation and situations.
The Armbrusts are a comfortable, middle class family.  Anniversary morning and the discovery of an infidelity;  Julius’ wife, Paula, is having an affair.   In an attempt to come to terms with this, Julius moves out and begins an autopsy of the marriage.  More like spying on his wife and her new boyfriend.   Great scene where Julius, after skulking around the property, rides through town after the boyfriend on his son’s bike. 
A chance encounter and Julius (now under the guise of Daniel) takes up residence with the boyfriend (Stefan)to try and understand what his wife sees in this guy.  Stefan covets Daniel’s middle class lifestyle.  Despite the odds, a friendship forms between the two and Daniel, seeing the potential in Stefan, goes out of his way to help him with his career(torturing himself in the process).

Scenes to look for:

~Paula visiting for breakfast-great fun
~Stefan going for a joy ride in Daniel’s car
~watching the football game with bandaged hands
~the haircut (facing middle age)
~discussing the merits of marriage and materialism
~trying on the new suit
~celebrating the new job
~the elevator

Some favourite lines:

Stefan: Everything about her is wrong.
Daniel: Which makes her the right women for you? (talking about Paula)

Stefan: And because I wasn’t here, you go bullshit?” (to Daniel, after Daniel destroys the apartment)

Stefan: It’s pretentious, decadent, disgusting. It’s absolutely fantastic. (on the new car.)

Roommate #2: Do you have children?
Daniel: Can you tell by my ass?

 A light hearted comedy that could only be written with men as the leads.  
 Yes, the German sense of humour is alive and well.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

What's On The Bedside Table? The Fry Chronicles.

Week three of conjunctivitis and colds and with a day off to recharge the system, tucked in to Stephen Fry's Chronicles.  This is the second in a series of autobiography.  We pick up from Moab Is My Washpot's conclusion with Fry entering Cambridge University after a colourful few years of boarding schools, thievery and prison. 

Enjoyed the candy/sweet obsession. Fry recounts the selection available at the forbidden corner shop of his boarding school years. I was reminded of my local shop and the times I took a handful of half pennies to get a mix bag of the very same sweets.  Memory lane.

If you have any appreciation for comedy, personal history or intelligent writing then Chronicles is for you.  Name dropping to great effect as Fry recounts his Cambridge years, early days at the BBC, radio, Broadway and beyond.   Side splitting moments at his and other people's expense. I do not think you'll find a more honest writer out there.  Lots of tangents and that adds to the charm.  It is not merely a time line regurgitation.  With the BBC under scrutiny at the moment, it is interesting to get Fry's perspective of the institution in the early eighties. 

I was initially disappointed that the book ended when it did as you're left chomping at the bit.  I wait patiently for Volume III- the start of A Bit of Fry and Laurie and another of Fry's dalliances, cocaine.  

After the read,  I hauled out Blackadder, The Young Ones (fortunate to have Bambi in the collection), Emma Thompson's films (including The Tall Guy) and polished off the week with Wilde, starring the man himself.

For more on Fry, do visit his website
You do not have to be a Fry fan to appreciate the novels, travelogues or collections. 
Try Fry.  Worth the splurge.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Not Caker Cooking-Scallops From Away

After experimenting in Caker Land, it is time to get back to meals that require a little more effort and that produce much tastier results.  I think more nutritious, also.  Ah, the complicated recipe.  Yes, there was a head of broccoli in that casserole, but it just felt wrong to be prepping for, making and eating it.  The empty jar of Cheez Whiz was carefully placed into the recycling bin this week leaving space in the fridge for fresh cheese.  Perhaps we'll crack open the Caker book on the post's anniversary.  I do enjoy the CakerCooking blog, though. I like the tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek style.

I was in the grocery store beginning of the month and someone reminded their partner to go and get the Cheez Whiz.  "Don't do it!" the brain screamed.  "Go to the cheese counter and see what you can do with that!"  Great line from Mother with Albert Brooks.  Mom has a hunk of fossilized cheese she's keeping in the freezer.  "I can tell from the gross weight I'm not going to like it," John says to her as she slices off a piece with the electric knife.

Try this for a month.  Break out of the cheese rut and buy a different cheese each week. Just a few ounces, that's all I ask.  A blue, a brie, a goat, a cheddar.  Go Canadian.  I'm trying to do the 100 mile thing but it is challenging.  Obviously I'm buying bananas that have travelled great distances.  Short of staging a raid on the Gage Park tropical greenhouse, I have to let the guilt go on the banana front.  Likewise with the avocado.  I was mortified to find last week's blackberries came from Mexico.  I didn't realize.  Remember years ago when we debated about South African oranges and Chilean wine?  Politics went deep. See what democracy has done?  Now it's just a matter of how far it's travelled to your doorstep. (Side note on wine-if you think it's Canadian, check again.  Is it 100% local grape or a mix bag of imported grape that is merely cellered locally? Yes, by all means buy the Italian, French or Australian but make sure the local stuff is local.)

This is Frederick.  As you can see, Frederick likes his food. He also likes a drop of wine. Frederick is never without his tasting spoon, but he broke it recently in a fit of kitchen pique. Someone put chicken nuggets in his oven and he wasn't best pleased.  Frederick is a coq au vin kind of guy.  He likes his game bird-pheasant, partridge and quail. 

Frederick has connections.  The scallops in this recipe came hand delivered from Nova Scotia waters.  When I was presented with them, I had about four cents on hand.  I have not forgotten about the IOU. 

A complicated recipe this is not.  This is very simple but very satisfying dish and if you don't have Frederick's connections, some chicken or shrimp will work very well.

1 TBSP butter
2 leeks, sliced
sprinkle of nutmeg
1/3 C chicken stock
1/4 C 35% cream
sea salt
12 scallops or to taste depending on size
curry powder~either the "yellow" stuff, Tandoori, your own blend or try Patak's paste; the choice is yours

Saute leeks in butter; add stock; sweat for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Add cream.
Simmer 'til thickened.

Pat scallops dry.
Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Give the scallops a massage with the powder or paste.
Pan fry in butter, 5 minutes a side.

Serve on leeks with a side of rice.
Serves 2; just.  Increase portions accordingly.
Great smell in the kitchen and very tasty. Putting it into steady rotation.

Friday, 9 November 2012

In Remembrance

Set aside some time on Sunday morning to take in the Remembrance Day Services.  At the very least, stop for two minutes at 11:00


Monday, 5 November 2012

The Ballet Comes to Town~Culture & Recreation II

“Oh, so you’re going to Toronto?”  No, the Ballet comes to Hamiltonians, we do not have to go to it. 

Five people in class Saturday morning. The numbers are waning and I see there is no Winter class scheduled as a result. Teen Zumba has replaced it. For those who declined to grace the class with their presence, you missed a fantastic workout. We had a one time replacement instructor and she was good. Very good. The lactic acid built up earlier than usual and at one point I felt I may have to abandon ship. Everyone walked away with the equivalent of a runner’s high.

Off to town to get the tickets. Yes, years after talking about Swan Lake, tickets were finally purchased. Ballet Jorgen were in town this past weekend. There are those who believe ballet is dead, but Jorgen celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Jorgen believe in dance for the masses and set out to prove that it’s not an elitist event.

Haven’t walked around town for ages. Delighted to find free parking a stone’s throw away. Three hours worth.  Lots of people getting tickets to William Shatner. Not sure what kind of performance he’s giving. Heard Leonard Nimoy on the radio this week. What was I listening to?  Nimoy was in fine voice-a cult classic. Off to the market which just celebrated 175 years.  Man playing bongos outside one of the exit doors.  He was wearing the most enormous white rimmed sunglasses.

Haven’t been to the market or library since the renovations. Big controversy over stall space and size. It did seem smaller than the old market. More eclectic, though, and very busy.  What is the difference between Ontario leeks at $2 versus $3? I couldn't tell the difference.  The Charging Horsemen clock has been fully restored and can now be found in the market. Looks great.

Not one but two Indian pastry stalls. Stopped at Sensational Samosa.   Realized I hadn’t drunk anything after the workout and so it was probably a good time to stop and rehydrate. The library was equally packed. Both buildings are situated at the back of Jackson Square mall and one wonders how people navigate to York Blvd. The mall has always been a bit of a maze. The location takes people from the “core” (King St) to almost a back road. The Salvation Army has a huge facility across the street and there were some interesting characters(see Bongo-Man). It would be great if the market could spill out onto James North to join the shops, restaurants and cafes.  Picked up The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry, a continuation of Moab is My Washpot-excellent autobiography.  Fry is culture in a nutshell.
Fated to not fully shake off the cold, things turned nasty mid-afternoon and took myself to bed where, with furnace blasting and electric blanket cranked, I lay shivering for two hours.  Done in by the samosa?  The Mexican beverage? The self checkout at the library? (there was something nasty on the screen) Took three hours to rally ‘round and doped myself sufficiently to the point where I felt human again.

Back to town and it dawns on me that I haven’t eaten since 1PM.  What to do?  McDonald's for a muffin.  There are not enough bytes for me to describe the urban McDonald’s night time experience.  Don’t think I’d do it justice.  I was owed change and there was a great debate to open the second till.  I think it’s safe to say management won’t mind.

(Editor's note.  Maybe a serialization of the Mcdonald's experience?)

Long line to get in to Hamilton Place.  The doors were replaced with sliding doors a few years back.  Only problem is, operating on a sensor as they do, when the line forms to get in the building or when the smokers take their break, the doors stay open and the cold and smoke are sucked back into the building.  Thus, we all become smokers for the intermission.  There does seem to be some money floating around.  Hamilton Place is undergoing a bit of a face lift.  Confusion, though, as those that wanted the Studio Theatre lined up for Hamilton Place and vice versa.  I think a couple of light bulbs would go a long way to help get people in the right building.  Lots of men in the audience!  Was curious what the mix would be.  A young  man dropped off five women and then got quickly out of Dodge. 
I thought Swan Lake was  beautifully done and admired the dexterity of all the performers. If your knowledge of ballet extends to The Black Swan with Natalie Portman, do yourselves a favour and check out the Swan Lake touring schedule for this company and book some tickets.

Ballet Jorgen
Very personable dance group and they signed autographs after the show.  I watched the twelve swans and marvelled how anyone can stand still for ten minutes with one foot behind them, the other at ninety degrees to its leg, back somewhat arched and with both arms outstretched. 

Home to chicken soup.  Naturally forgot about the time change and took an extra few hours in bed next morning.  Breakfast in bed was the order of the day.  Three hours of pre US election coverage on CBC. Realize I’ve spent an enormous amount of time on this election.  Barely spent five minutes on the Canadian Liberal debacle.  It’s just that since Grade seven, I’ve always been tremendously bored by Canadian history.  In grade seven I wanted kings and queens of Europe and was handed Quebec in the 13th century.  Dave surprised Morley with Mexican mint and that coupled with a story on Leacock’s pond, felt inspired to tackle the last of my gardening.  Only problem is that the garden is alive and kicking.
Spied a nasturtium in bloom on a plant that had been ripped out of its pot two weeks ago.  A blue jay swooped in to munch on the sunflower seeds.  Hollyhocks, Phlox, Gallardia, Livingstone Daisy, Sedum still in flower.
Took a coffee break in the patio chair and surveyed the “Property”.  Planted bulbs and noticed some of the existing bulbs had already sprouted by an inch. Long wait ‘til March.
Thinking that it was an hour later than it was, made haste to call it a day.  Wachtel in mid interview so after the brain worked out what the real time was (I blame the drugs) reset the clocks(why do we have to change the clocks in the first place?)and paid a visit to the Stoney Creek Battlefield House-battle ground, in part,  of the War of 1812. The grounds have recently undergone landscaping.  Stoney Creek hosts an annual reenactment in June. 

The back of the house...

The front door... 
The Battlefield Monument...
A couple were having Engagement photos taken at the top of the stairs.  The new trend-engagement pics.  I feel the photos need to be taken when you’re in the moment, not weeks or months later and you have to recreate the feeling just so you’ll have a book for guests to sign at the wedding.  If you’re going the picture route, have the photographer on site, hiding in the bushes somewhere with a suitable lens.  Wedding business has gotten way out of hand. 

Thought for the day:  If you took as much time planning your marriage as you did planning the one day party that is your wedding, chances of a successful marriage increase a thousand fold. 

Took the Pater’s advice-single malt to finish the day.  No need for the furnace. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Tour of the Neighbourhood-Miles & Chippawa

"...and wet flurries for Friday..."
Respite from the rain as the sun graced us with its presence. I was getting a little tired of the weather talk.  Miles Road and Chippawa Road is about as far as I can get on the noon hour without getting fired.   

Took White Church Road and found Case Church.  The Church would welcome anyone with a green thumb as most of the building is covered with overgrown shrubbery and trees.

It has a rather idyllic cemetery overlooking a neighbouring farm. 
Not too keen on what they've done with the more delicate stones.  They're secured to the back of the church but it seems a bit "11th hour".
Continue on White Church and over the bridge to Miles Road.  Miles Road is where you pick up the next portion of the Chippawa Trail.  The train used to run under the bridge. Much more open trail here and a portion of it runs quite close to the road.
Across the road is the "creepy" barn I wrote about.  It sits isolated at the back of a big farmyard.  Something that has to be seen in person and a little later in the day to get the 'soulless black eyes' effect.  Maybe it's just me. 
Spied a lone hawk in the trees.
Down Miles and cross Chippawa.
A hill on the landscape.  Think it's the only one I've seen up here.  The fields had been freshly ploughed.

Looped around the block and came North via Tyneside.  This is a reasonably quiet road for walking/biking/whatever.
Waiting for the little outhouse on the right to crumble.
Heard the Widget Maker's bell calling me in. Down Miles again and cross English Church Road. Don't get confused between this one and White Church or as I keep calling it, White Chapel Road. English Church comes to a dead end heading East and is very picturesque.

Support The Troops

A friend of mine is set to return from an eight month tour in Kabul.

Reminder to everyone to support the troops and write or send care packages to those in the field.  Christmas is approaching and letters and emails are gratefully received.