Archive for the 'Food' Category

Weekly Movies, May 19-25

  1. Sixteen Candles (John Hughes, 1984): I have to confess, I kind of hated this. I wanted to like it, I love The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, so I kind of figured I’d like this. But…uh, there is some rape in it? That is not portrayed as horrible and ugly but as though it’s like somehow nice that the rich popular dude “gives” his passed out drunk girlfriend to a nerdy virgin to drive home. And then she wakes up in the morning and is nice to him, and tells him that she “enjoyed” it. Uh, ew. The morning after, or how did she keep her hair?
    Also that whole Long Duck Dong thing is also kind of racist? It could have not been, but it so, so was. The Molly Ringwald can’t catch a break bits are actually pretty funny, as are the John Cusack and that other guy geek chorus, and I get the whole Bakhtinian carnival thing1 but the whole thing, it’s kind of gross. I realize it’s supposed to be a classic for our times, but it has not aged well at all.
    Don\'t worry, Molly, things will get better!
    I still love you, Molly Ringwald!
  2. What Have I Done To Deserve This?! (Pedro Almodóvar, 1984): This holds up really really well; it’s Almodóvar’s fourth film and the cinematography and storytelling are leaps and bounds above the first three. It’s not as polished or bright as the stuff that came after and that really made him famous, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable to watch again.
  3. The Law of Desire (Pedro Almodóvar, 1987): I’ve probably said contradictory things before, but this is my favourite Almodóvar. Things I like: it is beautiful, visually daring in cinematography and fantastically overwrought in mise-en-scene, with ’80s fashion and kitsch altars; you get gay love treated as just part of life, without any kind of weird stress or hysteria, that may not seem like a big deal now, but it sure as hell was in 1987; young, crazy Antonio Banderas, in repressed gay love with Eusebio Poncela, seduced by his movies; Carmen Maura’s performance as the transsexual Tina is still one of the best things I have ever seen, she seems so aware of her body and she seems to feel everything so unabashedly. This was the movie that made me fall in love with Almodóvar. Mirrors!

  1. “Who’s he?” “He’s me.” “Then who are you?” “I’m him.” 

Wherein I have talked myself into something

So I’m kind of on a “healthy eating initiative in an attempt to effect weight loss,” which is to say I’m on what some people might call a “diet,” but I refuse to do because the whole “diet” concept is toxic and is generally linked to scary moralizing about food wherein eating more is “bad” and eating less is “good” and people’s weights somehow become indicators of their health or work ethic or moral fortitude or attractiveness or whatever, none of which I think is the case, intellectually.

Which is to say, I am on a diet, but I am somewhat ambivalent about it.

Because of my mistrust of diets, and the fact that I didn’t really eat that badly before, I am basically restricting my dietary efforts to eating less cheese, less bread and pasta, less sugar (though not much, because it’s physically impossible), and more vegetables and fish and vegetarian sources of protein (beans, nuts, tofu, etc.). Oh, and I am drinking more water. Ideally I will start doing more exercising at some point in the future, but I don’t want to be all “new regime!” about it because I am pretty sure that putting pressure on myself to make a whole bunch of lifestyle changes at once right now (while I am writing THE THESIS) is a bad idea and will result in me just giving up completely. Plus I am lazy.

My “diet” can be differentiated from a diet without quotes in that I am not actually weighing myself or counting calories and I value enjoying food more than I value getting my dress size back down to the single digits.

Basically what brought this about was talking to my mom, who’s lost a fair amount of weight in the last few years through healthy eating and running half marathons and stuff, and she talked about how she gained her weight gradually over the course of years. A little bit of weight every year doesn’t seem like a big deal, she said, but multiply it by ten. Given my family has a history of cholesterol problems and the fact that if I really just ate whatever I wanted, I would eat pizza for dinner four nights a week, guacamole on the fifth night, and butter chicken on the sixth and seventh, I decided I need to get this shit under control.

I haven’t really been on my “healthy eating initiative” long enough for there to be any effects at all, except that I am constantly thinking about food. That is for sure the worst part because I am finding it hard to gauge if I’m hungry or just thinking about what I should eat when I am.

Rhizome, etc.

I have bitched a lot about Vancouver, but I actually really love my neighbourhood. It’s not, like, super-fancy, but there are tons of great places to eat, to the point that you can just be like “Let’s go get brunch” and you will wind up eating some good food. My brother and I were going to to go this one place, but it was lined up out the door, so we walked a few more blocks and wound up at the Rhizome. I have lived ten minutes away from there for like, a year, but I’d never been in until today. They have homemade baked goods (including the biscuit my vegetarian pseudo-eggs benedict (with spinach and roasted red peppers and a squash sauce was served on) and good coffee and pay-what-you-want lentil stew (which I didn’t eat, but I love the principle) and a great looking lunch and dinner menu. (I also finally made it to local institution The Naam last night. My review: yum!)

Unrelated photos:

Also interesting: TPM cafe book club discussion of Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream. I’m really looking forward to reading this one: I read a big chunk at Chapters a couple weeks ago and it’s excellent, if depressing.

Autumnally Restorative Soup

I invented soup for dinner last night. It was kind of subtle, but it was nice and autumnal and comforting, so it was great for a sleepy evening fall evening now that we’re getting home in the dark. It comes out creamy and simple and and is this pretty pale green colour.

This time of year always makes me want to cook, it’s some weird nesting thing, I guess.

Here is what I did, mostly for my own reference.

Leek, Celery Root and Cauliflower Soup

  1. Take three leeks, clean them and chop them into hunks.
  2. Sweat them in some olive oil (or butter or other oil) (and season with salt and pepper).
  3. When the leeks are soft, add an entire celery root, cut into cubes.
  4. Let that cook while you cut up a whole cauliflower; dump the cauliflower into the pot.
  5. Add water to cover and a teaspoon of chicken-type Better Than Bouillon (or some kind of stock-water combo or veg stock or whatever, full strength stock might be too chickeny though).
  6. Cover until it comes to a boil, simmer for about half an hour (while How I Met Your Mother is on), or until the veggies are all really soft.
  7. Puree! Remember to cover the blender lid with a towel, not just with your hand, unless you want soup to spurt up from that one spot where the lid thing broke and burn you.
  8. Return to the pot, add a dollop of half and half (or milk or sour cream or creme fraiche or yogurt), a generous salting and peppering to taste, grate in a wee bit of fresh nutmeg, then add a tablespoon or so of store-bought garam masala, to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables. It should still mainly taste like vegetables though, not garam masala.
  9. Eat, feel restored.


Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

This was so me this morning. But my mood was fixed by cooking and then eating corn and sausages.

I read the body count out of the paper, and now it’s written all over my face

Three things again:

  1. When I was running today I went by this pond in the park and I came within three feet of a great blue motherfucking heron. It was just standing there, it was really cool.
  2. Last night I wound up going to bed really late because I read “Chemo World,” and then I couldn’t sleep. It’s a memoir in this month’s Harper’s written by a cancer ward nurse and holy shit it is one powerful piece of writing. She combines the scientific details about how chemo works with anecdotal evidence and perfectly-placed details, and I won’t lie, I could feel my bones freaking out. Seriously:
    Worse than the nausea for many people is a condition called mucositis. Many drugs damage the DNA of cells in the mucus membranes of the entire digestive tract, from mouth to anus, as well as mucous membranes in the vagina. The damage and the release of inflammatory chemicals destroys tiny blood vessels and connective tissue, creating ulcers. Some patients are in such severe pain from mouth sores that they can’t swallow or even speak. They require narcotics and may need days or weeks of what is called TPN, total parenteral nutrition, a metabolically balanced liquid given through the veins. (Now and then, if a patient has a certain sense of humor about his or her dark condition, the nurses will label the big, milky bag: “Steak, baked potatoes, apple pie,” changing the menu day by day.)
    It’s pretty visceral, and that’s not even the part about how the chemo drugs are so toxic that the nurses have to wear gloves when handling the plastic bags, or how one treatment essentially constitutes destroying all your bone marrow and then replacing it with pre-harvested other bone marrow. I think I found it so harrowing because chemo’s universally acknowledged to suck, but no one really talks about it, and I know people who’ve had cancer. I think probably everyone does. And those people I know, this stuff has probably happened to them, privately. But they don’t really talk about it because cancer? Not a fun conversation topic. Ugh.
  3. This delicious pineapple dessert thing I made for lunch:
    Continue Reading »

Not so resolute

Oh I totally didn’t do a 2006 best-of list! I like lists. This is for my own posterity, not because I think anyone cares about my bloggerly critical greatness. Best album: I got really lax with the new music this year, so my opinion doesn’t count for much, but The Body, The Blood, The Machine by The Thermals is my favourite new album in like, forever

Best Books I read (for fun): Oh, this is so hard! Turn, Magic Wheel by Dawn Powell, Heat by Bill, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and Atonement by Ian MacEwan all made huge impressions; I also really liked White Teeth, in the compulsive-reading way, but it didn’t blow my mind

Best movies: Again, there’s lots of stuff I haven’t seen that counts for 2006. Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, and Tristram Shandy would almost definitely be on the list, as would Brick, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and maybe Shortbus but I still have high hopes for Children of Men

Best TV: Easy. Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica, Project Runway, the end of Arrested Development, The Office. No special order.

I don’t really hold with New Year’s Resolutions as an idea, because you know, if you want to do something you will do it, and if you kind of like the idea of doing something, you will resolve to do it on New Year’s Day and then do it really regularly for a couple of months before you slowly peter out and then give up, because it turned out to be hard and/or not that fun.

In our travels this Christmas, Alex and I ate a lot of terrible food. The result is: Alex and I feel kind of terrible now. I’m pretty sure I’ve put on weight and I just generally am revolted by the idea of heavy meals involving meat and cake, which are both normally things that I like very much. Between the insane essay-writing of early December, and the eating orgy of later December, I’ve decided I need a break. I was already planning on trying out one new recipe a week (because of the bounty of cookbooks I received for Christmas), but I have now further decided that for the next little while (by which I mean like, two weeks or something), that new recipe will be meat-free. As will all my eating. I went veggie for a month in second year, and by the end I was desperately craving chicken, but I was living in res and relying on the meal hall’s definition of “meat-free alternatives” for like, half my meals. I already don’t eat much meat, so I am re-trying the experiment now that I cook for myself.

Actually, I am already ahead on my one-recipe-a-week deal: Continue Reading »

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Who would guess that the world’s most expensive chocolates (several times over) are made in a tiny kitchen shoehorned between a pair of hair salons in a half-abandoned strip mall in Plano, Texas?

Okay, maybe it’s just because I am a bit of a dork about food and about sticking it to the man, but I was totally rapt reading this 10-part investigative series on overpriced chocolate. The dude sets out to see what the fuss is about Noka Chocolate, a.k.a. “the most expensive chocolate in the world.” It manages both to totally bust them (as it turns out they misrepresent their product, which is essentially just commercially available chocolate from a reputable supplier that they temper and repour for the squares and combine with cream to make truffles as opposed to actually making the it from the “rarest cacao sourced from exclusive plantations around the world”), and also teaches the discerning consumer a bunch of stuff about the chocolate industry at the same time. (via Mefi)

I can’t wait to stop essaying and start baking.

Pleasing people is so predictible

Yesterday I didn’t go outside until after Alex got home from work at like, 5 PM. I was trying to write up this presentation I did ages ago, so that I’d have one less thing to worry about, but it was going incredibly slowly. “Let’s go somewhere,” I said.

We wound up at Capers. We didn’t need any food besides bread, but that’s never stopped us. We came out with bread, two kinds of olives (oh, it’s suddenly olives for me; I still hate green olives, but it turns out that actual good black olives are magically delicious), baba ganoush, Island Farms eggnog, Bitch magazine, and some Kettle Chips. Also, I was looking at tea, pondering my options for essay writing aids, when this lovely Capers employee started talking about how much she liked Four O’Clock teas, did I like rooibos? They have a rooibos chai, it’s really great, she has some sample packets she can give me? Do I like green tea? Does my boyfriend? She’ll give us a few of each so we can try them out and see if we like them.

She must have sensed that I’m stressed out about writing papers; free tea has been one of the main comforts throughout my university career, though it used to be bringing bags home from the meal hall. (I kind of miss Burwash at times like this. The food was just okay at the best of times, but there’s something that no amount of fancy food stores can replace in the ability to roll out of bed at 9, walk down the hall in pajamas (and maybe a sweatshirt) and enjoy some average breakfast, juice from a machine, marginally-acceptable coffee and a bowl of pineapple, melon and grape fruit salad). Those were the days.

Oh, and shut up, Richard Dawkins.

Do you consider parents forcing children to accept their religion a form of child abuse? JAMES MACDONALD, Bronte, New South Wales Yes. What would you think of parents who forced their children to accept their politics, or their taste in architecture? Have you ever heard anyone speak of a “Leninist child” or a “Postmodernist child”? Of course not. Why, then, do we all go along with “Christian child” and “Muslim child”? Such labelling of children with their parents’ religion is child abuse.

What? I mean, for one, he’s conflating teaching your children beliefs that you strongly hold, and socially labelling children as such. For another, how is calling a child “Leninist” abuse in any real sense of the word? Way to belittle the sufferings of actual victims of child abuse to come up with the most shocking way of saying that you, an atheist, don’t think kids should be taught religion.

How did a science geek like you get such an attractive wife? GARY HAMMOND, London I suggest you go to ” The Sexiest Man Living” at and eat your words. But seriously (of course you knew there had to be a “but seriously”), science has an image problem with young people, and phrases like ” science geek” don’t help. Isn’t it a bit like “kraut” or ” dago”?

No, “kraut” and “dago” are ethnic slurs. “Science geek” is…not.

I realize he basically says shit like this because it makes people mad and then they write blog entries about him. He’s like the Paris Hilton of Darwinism.

‘Tis the season, Marge!

I can’t believe it’s still snowy here. I hope school doesn’t get cancelled tomorrow, it’s the last day for me to do TA evaluations with my students. I have numerical points, they get less relevant as they go on.

1) Thanks, Stephen Harper. This is so dumb. For one, it already passed. For two, the Supreme Court already said that unequal marriage laws are unconstitutional. For three, even if it would fail in a “free vote,” the reason we have a constitution is to protect minority rights. Sigh.

2) Snow makes me totally want to bake; I still have a while (and a lot of essays) before Christmas baking season starts in earnest, but my muffins puffed up much better this time. Reasons: I bought new baking powder and also, I mixed even less thoroughly. My winter baking plans include Nigella’s savoury blue cheese cooking, maybe trying to find some kind of mint chocolate brownies, and I want to try out eggnog muffins. (I may try that well before. Also, it would give me the excuse to buy eggnog. I’m like Homer Simpson: “We only get thirty sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again.” I will totally pour eggnog on my cereal.

3) The Fame kids are snowed in. This was totally a Baby-Sitter’s Club Super Special (it hasn’t been recapped yet at BSC Headquarters. (Those were the extra-long ones with chapters narrated by alternating girls, as opposed to the normal ones, which were from the perspective of one particular sitter.) Jessi was even stuck at her dance school! I bet Ann M. Martin watched Fame, even if she cut out the teen pregnancy storyline.

UPDATE: 4) Ugh, it’s Lucille Ball day on TCM. Lucy’s not really in any movies that are considered “classic,” except maybe Stage Door, in which she’s a pretty minor character and it is awesome because of Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn and, to a lesser degree, Eve Arden. According to the website, it’s actually Lucille Ball Month. Come on TCM, you can do better than that. I could do better than that. I would be an awesome classic film network programmer.

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