Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My friend and colleague Nevine traveled to her motherland recently.  Her family left Egypt in 1975, rather abruptly, abandoning their lives there, and their apartment.  This is the first time they'd been back in those 35-odd years.  Here's the story straight from Nevine:

As newlyweds, my parents rented this apartment in New Cairo.  As a young engineer, my Dad received a great job opportunity in Dubai, so after only a short time, they left the apartment, planning to return after one year abroad.  Years later, after having two children, they felt it would be wise to raise us in Canada and never returned home.  They've been paying rent there since 1975, one day hoping to return and use the apartment as a summer home. This year they decided that after decades caked under dust and stale history, it was time to clean out the apartment.  

Sifting through their belongings was a very emotional experience.  It was exactly what I had expected it to be, right down to my father's scotch collection and a single chiffon housecoat hanging in the armoire.

Please visit Nevine's photo site for images of her trip and more of this history-soaked apartment.  Like some kind of alternate-reality MLS listing.  Thanks for letting me share, Nevine!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mid-January.  Aside from the sinking-realization that you ate too much over the holidays, these are the days when it's all-too-clear you over-spent, too.  Belts are loosened and budgets tightened.  Butter suddenly seems expensive and that gorgeous cut of organic beef is downright out-of-range.  But that doesn't mean you can't conjure up a decent meal.  

Last night, after a boozy-toboggan with our friends Ash and Paul, we had delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.  To off-set the high cost of goat gouda, aged cheddar and prosciutto, Ash served with good old fashioned Campbell's Tomato Soup (including a healthy crush of soda crackers).  A study in spend and save.  Not only is a can of condensed soup tasty on a cold night, it's a thorough reminder of childhood, those rare days when you'd eat lunch at home, a hot bowl of soup replacing a squashed PB&J sandwich.  

It was a perfect meal, satisfying on every level, and didn't break the bank.

So, this afternoon while wandering the St. Lawrence Market, I had my eyes on the cheap stuff: pork or chicken, perhaps a simple sausage.  No beautiful slabs of black cod, no gleaming veal or lamb.  Not tonight.   This deeply-frozen Saturday would be about a whole chicken.  Stuffed with lemon; pats of butter delicately pressed beneath the skin.  Salt and pepper.  Its little legs twined tightly and nestled in a stock pot, surrounded by two cans of butter beans.  The whole mess roasted in a 400° oven for 75 minutes, or so.  The beans, soaked in the drippings and the butter, will become a mash of sorts, lovely and salty beneath the meat. 

It's a pretty rustic (read: sloppy) meal, so forgive the lack of photographs.  Sometimes it's best to just tuck-in and eat while listening to a moody mix of songs.  Enjoy

Songs for Hunkering Down

  1. Godless Brother in Love - Iron & Wine
  2. January Hymn - The Decemberists
  3. Paris Blue - Lykke Li
  4. Moments with Oliver - Rachael Yamagata
  5. Tracy's Waters - Patrick Watson
  6. The Darkest Side - The Middle East
  7. Heavy Snow - Julie Doiron
  8. The Greatest - Cat Power
  9. Dinner at Eight - Rufus Wainwright
10. The Spirit Was Gone - Antony & the Johnsons
11. Tu es Malade - Julie Doiron
12. Godspeed - Jenny Lewis
13. Overnight - Gonzales
14. Magic View - Diane Birch
15. Video - Aimee Mann

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I realize I've been missing-in-action for a few weeks.  Your comments and emails and questions about my whereabouts have been appreciated (and hilarious).  I've so wanted to put something down, to let you know I'm alive and well, but couldn't bring myself to do it.  A necessary break, I suppose.  Not to worry, everything's been just lovely, busy with the holidays and wonderful new friends and a bit of cross-provincial gallivanting.

But I'm here now, wanting to share a little something.  

I hadn't planned on returning with something as dull as a this, but my dearest Tara (of Seven Spoons) wrote about the simplest of things recently when she described the sweet mid-winter satisfaction of a fresh, crisp salad.  Tonight, in an effort to eat something reasonably healthy, we had just that.  And it felt just right.

Frisée and mixed greens, crispy shallots and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Herbed and roasted beets, radishes sliced paper-thin.  A light douse of a Meyer lemon mustard vinaigrette.  It was perfect on a blustery night: bitter greens with the sweetness of beets against the smokiness of the seeds.  Hearty.  

And while I'm here, I feel like I should give you a little bang for your buck.  Perhaps a few songs for your trouble and patience?  Some brand new and shiny, others old and perfectly aged.  Music has a way of meaning something different when you pull it out years later, familiar, yet through new eyes ears.  Please enjoy.  And I'll try to be around a little more often.

Songs for Blustery Nights

  1. I Follow Rivers - Lykke Li
  2. I Wrote the Book - Beth Ditto
  3. Drumming Song - Florence and the Machine
  4. Prescilla - Bat for Lashes
  5. Laughing with a Mouth Full of Blood - St. Vincent
  6. Vesuvius - Sufjan Stevens
  7. On Directing - Tegan & Sara
  8. Chasing Pirates (Remix) - Norah Jones
  9. Dust and Water - Antony & the Johnsons
10. Where is my Love - Cat Power

Note: To keep the songs in this order, select all the files in the folder and then drag them into a New Playist you've created in iTunes.