Monday, January 31, 2005

unroselike Rose City

My local tap water is not bad, really. It's nice to be home to drink it again. Windsor tap water, which I have been consuming since Thursday, smells like a swimming pool.

Windsor itself smells like something else entirely. The Hiram Walker distillery occasionally sends a whiff of sour mash into town. Then I get little blasts of an different odour that I've noticed since I started going to Windsor seven years ago - it's a bit like cinnamon cookies. It comes and goes, pops up all over town, and seems to be entirely random. I like it. I've only smelled it in Windsor, and I have no idea whatsoever what it is. Maybe the sweat of Michigan teens who cross the border to drink on weekends?

Anyway, I had a good gig there. How I love playing English horn. Expressiveness comes easily to me whan I play it, likely because the instrument shares a range with my singing voice.

The low point of the weekend came when I visited my aunt. I wasn't inside her apartment door more than five seconds when she said, "My! You've gained weight!" As she is normally the kindest lady on earth, I was stunned. I won't recount the hundred and nine reasons that that is a terrible thing to say, as I think they are obvious. I will say that if she gained a hundred pounds I wouldn't say a word. That's how I was raised.

Weight loss is on her mind. Once quite chubby - much, much more so than I have ever been - she actually lost forty pounds over the past year through the wonder that is the South Beach Diet. So I had my revenge by savouring my enormous bowl of bad-carb-loaded seafood linguine when I took her out to dinner.

Happy to be home. I have four days here before I head off to teach at a band camp. Then I have only two more days at home to work on my "This one time? at Band Camp?" stories before returning to Windsoria to play a great deal of music for accordion and orchestra. Bow in envy.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Blog or get off the pot

A poor morning for one of our cats. He is about four pounds underweight - a substantial mass for a cat - and was desperately sick all the way to the vet. A poor morning for me, who must now scrape cat diarrhea off the back seat of the car while it's -20 outside. That I couldn't get the cat into its carrier is another story. The vet had to stab the cat about twenty times simply to draw enough blood to conduct tests, so it was a poor morning for the vet as well. Poor kitty beast. Nap time for all parties.

We adopted the beast in October 2003. He and another cat had been abandoned to a kennel for six months after their owner moved to England. We have both now, and I often wonder how anyone could leave them behind to an uncertain future. I cry sometimes when I think about that while I'm cuddling with them. Their time was almost up; they would soon have been surrendered to a shelter. The cats were at the kennel for the same length of time that they would have been quarantined upon arrival in the UK, so they really could have gone over there after all. I'm glad they didn't!

I have no idea how old the sick one is. We were told he was fifteen in 2003, but his previous owner adopted him from the Humane Society, so it's hard to say. Our own vet thinks the cat may be younger. I am thoroughly glad that we could adopt a dear old cat, but have little certainty as to how much longer he would live, barring current health issues.

Ah, blogging. Awfully public, isn't it? I'm still getting used to that. Apologies to those to whom I have linked, only to delete entries later. I am gun-shy and unsure of linking protocol, so I think I shall simply bore whatever readers trip this way with my daily joys and miseries instead.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Big-flavour sauce, or, less is more

For reasons a little beyond my ken, my quick pasta sauce with sausage is much more flavourful than the beef sauce I make and let simmer for 1.5 hours. The sausage is already seasoned, of course, and downright salty. Something in the way it browns, too, helps greatly - the natural sugars are fantastic.

I should backtrack to state that it isn't really my sauce; it comes from Chatelaine Quickies, which is one of my culinary bibles. Now I need to backtrack again to talk about the book. My friend - let's call her R2D2 - is an amazing creature with an ability to get straight to what is needed at any time. Whereas I love to comparison shop, engage in countless hours of product research, and dither my life away dreaming about cookbooks, cookware and perfume, she has this sickening knack of Getting Things Right The First Time. This irks me daily, because I pride myself on the knowledge I have gained concerning all those things. But her favourite fragrance is now mine, I am jealous of her cookware, which she chose quickly for her bridal registry at The Bay, and her Holy Grail Cookbook is now also my secret weapon, despite the fact that I own over eighty cookbooks and counting.

R2's mother recommended it to her heartily, and at first R2 was skeptical. Quickies is a book that gives you ten quick ways to make a meal out of stuff you have on hand, and thus flew in the face of everything she has been raised to cherish about meal preparation. Like me, R2 is hesitant to give away the tricks up her sleeve until she's drunk. So about a year ago we we well into our cups while my husband and I had dinner at her house. I asked, she spilled. "It taught me how to cook! You have to get it!"

That was all I needed to hear. If it taught the most gifted natural cook I know how to cook, I was so there. I bought the book for a mere $14.95, and I now see what she means. The section on chicken taught me how to saute it properly, and now I'm set. The quinoa pilaf is a new staple side dish. The layout is just plain magical. It gives you ingredients and measurements in red type as it offers cooking instructions. Simple, ridiculously so. Crystal clear.

Not all the recipes are to die for. The sum is not always greater than its parts, particularly when he parts include canned or frozen peas. But most are fine, and some, like the Hearty Red Wine Sauce in the Sausage section, put some fancier and more time-consuming recipes, like my dear old meat sauce, out of business. Perish the thought that an out-of-print book is likely to fall apart in five years, but it may be time to start trolling for a backup copy..

The fruitcake that lived to die

I admit it: I like fruitcake. Our wedding cake was by far the finest fruitcake I have eaten, and I polished off the top layer this morning after having dragged it out of the freezer a few weeks ago out to be our Christmas cake. Both my husband and I had been silently making bits of it disappear since then, so I now have proof that he likes fruitcake too. We were meant for each other, evidently.

So that's it. I've plucked the last drop of fondant icing off the foil tray. There remains but one random slab of the cake in our freezer, and I think that we will wait to kill it next Christmas. Beyond that, I wouldn't chance it, if only because I think eating old cake - or consuming any aged food or drink - is a bit creepy.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

escaped!

I am a livejournal escapee, one whose life has changed but wishes to keep writing!

Since I began blogging two and a half years ago, I've gotten married, my mother has died, I've finished grad school, and I have precious little to write about by my earlier standards. No more moping about singlehood, term papers, medical updates - I have slid into a new life, for better or worse, of culinary exploits, chronic musical stagnancy, domestic bliss and living for the first time with someone I love, but is a non-blood relative. Did I mention that I love him? Do I ever.

My current livejournal audience barely responds to my current life, but I certainly can't alter it to entertain those people. This is who I am. I am no great thinker, though I should have been, and I will save that for another day. I am a professional musician, a cookbook addict, a compulsive shopper, a Christian but no theologian, a nature lover and a nostalgia buff. Here shall I wallow.

Why Abendmusik? Evening and music belong together, and give me peace and joy. The light of evening warms and hides me at once, and compels me to write about what pleases me.