Social media is a funny thing. It’s a superficial entity filled with soundbites and pictures of the perfect moments of our lives. (Lets not even talk about all the pouty lipped “selfies” out there) Arguments could be made that it both brings societies and people closer together and yet somehow manages to isolate us even further. After all, we’ve all seen the table filled with people using their smart phones rather than having an actual conversation. I like to think though that used the right way social media is a great way to make new friends and keep up with old ones.
And that’s just what happened. A couple of weeks ago I had the great fortune of meeting an online twitter and blog friend Jeanette Ordas from the delicious website Everybody Likes Sandwiches. In our brief (in person!) chat we, not surprisingly, talked about blogging and cookbooks. It got me thinking that it had been awhile since I had written a Cook(those)books post about the recipes I’ve been trying from my cookbook collection. So, with thanks to Jeanette, a blog post was born. Continue reading →
I think I can, without jinxing myself, say spring has officially arrived in Vancouver. The morning air is still a bit cool, and there will still be monsoon rains to come, but the sun has a warmth to it that we have been missing for a long, long while. Trees and flowers are blooming, the birds are devouring the seed from the feeder daily and neighbours are stopping to say hello as I dig in the dirt. Yes. Hooray for spring.
Confession time. I hate leftovers. They make me a bit crazy. I’m impressed by people who can eat the identical thing for lunch that they ate the night before. But seriously? Don’t they get bored? To each their own, but when I sit down to a meal I want the food on my plate to look (and taste) differently than the last time I saw that same food. The challenge is that it makes life a whole lot easier (and usually healthier) if once or twice a week you prep and cook large batches of food for future eating. So what is a leftover snob supposed to do? For me, the answer (aside from keeping a well stocked pantry) is to prep and cook individual items rather than meals. Cut the vegetables, but don’t make the salad; cook and rinse the beans, but just store them for easy portioning; and cook the protein with just enough seasoning to keep it tender. Cook extra ingredients, not meals. That way there is always something to grab and go. Or, if you have time, lets you create something a bit more involved. Continue reading →
It seems hard to believe but it has been two months since I last wrote about one of my favourite things – the Foodie Pen Pal program. I came home one horrible rainy day to discover the hiatus was over. Because there, like a bit of sunshine, was a package from my new Pen Pal, Mo. Happy day! As you all know, to me one of the most exciting things about being a foodie pen pal is the opportunity to meet other like minded people. Mo is no exception. I’ve been having a great time reading through her blog, Not a Coupon Queen, and I’m sure you will too. Make sure you check it out.
But I grew up with all things Scottish so I think that through osmosis I have absorbed some Scottish blood. I must have. Otherwise why would the sound of the bagpipes make me happy and the sight of men in kilts make me swoon? There is no other explanation. I don’t listen to the pipes often (or hang out with men in kilts for that matter) but to keep a little Scottish in my life I have adopted the annual tradition of a Burns dinner.
I spent most of my formative years thinking Robbie Burns day was just another night as my friends and I, performed the requisite highland dances at events and watched our parents drink, laugh and let loose. But as I grow older I have been able to look back and realize what great moments those were. I now realize that traditional or not, what a Robbie Burns day dinner has to offer is poetry, food, music and friends. Like all great meals it is a chance to gather and share. Last year I hosted my first annual Robbie Burns dinner. Just a small group of people but with lots of laughs, music, and good food. By purists standards probably not traditionally acceptable, but for my gang, just what the scotsman ordered.
It is said that friends are the family you choose. If that is the case I have a wonderful family indeed. In my everyday life I have amazing friends, many of whom I have written about and alluded to on my blog. But every couple of years I have the good fortune to usher in the New Year with another group of friends. A crazy, talented, beautiful gang of people affectionately know as my Paddy Family.
As with most things in life, I met that group of people through a funny, serendipitious chain of events. Over 10 years ago I was working at an arts organization and met a man who introduced me to The Paddy Crean workshop. The Paddy Crean is a week long international workshop that celebrates sword fighting, stage combat, historical martial arts, stunt performers, actors and educators and is held at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Since I was living in Calgary at the time I thought “why not?”, and I went. And from that very first moment so many years ago when I stood in a dance studio surrounded by sword fighters and questioned my sanity (and which end of the sword to hold) I began meeting people who would forever change my life.
November has been a pretty dark and grim month here in Vancouver. One of the brightest spots in my month was participating in the Foodie Penpal program. Receiving mail is always a good thing. Getting a parcel from your FPP is a great thing. It’s like getting a bouquet of flowers for no reason or seeing a a shaft of sun through the raindrops.
When I’m in the kitchen I almost always have music on. Usually it is CBC Radio, but often, especially if I have the house to myself, it is showtunes. I love musical theatre. I love being in it and I love listening to it. I have so many great memories attached to different shows and the reminders they bring of friends and different times in my life. Now, I’m sure many of you have had the experience where you press that funny little genius button on your computer and you get a playlist of songs, some of which you don’t even remember owning. So the other day it was no surprise when, in the midst of cooking, a showtune started playing on my computer. As I was slicing up a pumpkin on came songs from the Broadway musical The Lion King (yes, the stage version not the movie). Singing along at the top of my voice about life and the circles it has I looked down at the pumpkin and thought yes it’s true. Life is a circle. So let me tell you a little bit about the circle of one pumpkins life.
When I was a kid we had great neighbours. They had a fun basement (a color tv!), let me play with their foster racoons, and often invited us to dinner. I should also add there was always really good pie. Truly. Mrs. L. won ribbons for her pie.
So when in the midst of play the question was asked “do you want to stay for dinner Meg?”. It was an easy answer. ”Let me check with my mom”. Continue reading →
You know how it is when you throw a party and you have to decide who to invite? Do you invite every person you’ve ever known, only those who all know each other or a random mix? It’s always interesting when people from different spheres of your life meet. Sometimes it works (“wow – how come I’ve never met them before? They’re awesome!) and sometimes, it doesn’t (“umm I’m glad you like them, but I don’t get it…”). But whatever happens it is always interesting. The Foodie Penpal program is a bit like that. You meet someone online, learn a bit about them, and you mail them a parcel based on what you have discovered in that brief encounter. Awesome.