Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In which a beloved magazine hurts my brain.

Bah. Why must my favourite magazines mess with perfection? I remember being traumatized as a teen when Sassy started becoming less, well, Sassy. Now Canadian Living has once again tweaked the layout I love with their 30th anniversary issue.

It was the August 2005 issue that made me subscribe. I just loved it, and recent tweakings had made it hit all the right spots for me. Now the friendly section titles in the Table of Contents - "Your Style", "Family Life", "Good Food", and "Family Health" have been boiled down to "Style", "Life", "Food" and "Health", just as I'm getting broody and thinking squishy-happy thoughts about family!

The "On Our Cover" list has been replaced with a picture of the cover and lines connecting its images and titles with page numbers. Further to the dumbing-down of my favourite magazine, the editors are using a yellow highlighter effect of bits of text, as though they are assuming we won't read the article and need the quick bite of information. If you're a silly person who likes to read an entire paragraph, page or article, the highlighting is just bloody distracting.

They seem to have left the recipe pages' layout alone, for which I am grateful.


I have loved CL cookbooks for years. In keeping with their "Bigger! Bolder! Better" attitude, the folks at CL have put out a new cookbook, which I received yesterday, called Everyday Favourites. Only the cover reads


and the Table of Contents is


You get the picture.

CL's previous hardcover cookbooks - and I have about 8 of them - are slimmer, easier to flip through, and a pleasing balance of all-black text and good food photography.

The inside flaps of Everyday Favourites are a horrifying bright yellow with red text. The eyeball-crushing title page is in the same horrifying yellow, but with white text. Argh!

Elizabeth Baird's introduction is a nice, gentle piece on the importance of food in allowing families to bond and anchor their days in the sharing of something comforting. Too bad the editors put it in BIG RED LETTERS. The rest of the book is awash in more capital letters, more annoying yellow highlighter, and I can't help but feel as though the entire book is yelling at me.

As usual, the recipes are good, affordable and doable. I hope I can make use of them without feeling my blood pressure soar.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A favourite fair

The Thornhill Village Festival has been a part of my life since childhood, and has hardly changed. My father's Scottish Country Dance group used to dance a few sets there each year, but I think that tradition has ceased, and my father quit dancing years ago. I still went today, alone, to relive some happy memories.

My favourite part lives on, that being perogies! and sausages! and sauerkraut! and borscht! at the Ukrainian church. They have stopped offering cabbage rolls, but everything else just rocked. I normally skip sauerkraut, but this stuff was mild and sweetly nutty, and I would eat sauerkraut all the time if I knew how to make it like this. God bless Ukrainian church ladies who can cook.

The rest of the festival includes craft booths, corn stands, beer gardens, a petting zoo, and historic battle reenactments, and lots of folks of all ages running around in period costume.

Historic battle reenactments? are hot, and so are the men in them, regardless of their age.

I was very good, buying only one community cookbook, much-needed new oven mitts, and a $2 raffle ticket for a gorgeous quilt. And, of course, the Ukrainian lunch.

My broody self stopped at a booth with nice-looking books on parenting. Before I knew it, I was bombarded - asked if I had children, if I worked with them, and if I would like to enter a draw for a lovely hardcover Narnia series. I was handed a bag full of magazines, and saw that the group running the booth was this one, a group with views too conservative even for me. As soon as I saw that entering the draw would put me on their mailing list, I excused myself, then shoved their bag into my purse, lest I provide them with any free advertising.

Once upon a time, I would have wanted candy floss! and funnel cakes! and ice cream! before leaving, but now my stomach clenches at the thought of so much sugar. Why chase away that glorious sauerkraut aftertaste?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We met on the train.

It was a hot, sultry day in August. I was on my way to Ottawa, where I would be put up in a swank hotel and paid lots of money to do very little. The train trip was also paid for, and I was feeling pretty damn decadent. As soon as the refreshment cart came around, I knew that the cheese platter and some white wine could only add to this glorious feeling, so I ordered both. The cheese platter was plain, and a bit overpriced (this was the train, after all, duh) but tasty enough to satisfy me.

But the wine! Oh, the wine. They brought me a wee bottle of Chateau des Charmes 2002 Chardonnay, and I first thought, “Oh. Plonk.” I then noticed the bottle’s VQA label, and decided not to condemn it before trying it.


Oaked, but balanced with a pleasant fruity lightness that gives a slight impression of sweetness. The perfect wine to sock back on a train when you’re pretending you’re something else. Needless to say, I have bought it since – at $10.95 a bottle, why resist?

The 2002 vintage is still readily available at the LCBO, for now, i.e. until I buy it out. When we visited the winery at the end of August, they were already offering the 2003 for tasting, and I’m not sure I fancied it as much.



Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In which I say yes to crack.

After years of skepticism, I have seen a chiropractor, thanks to a gift certificate from a friend and chiro convert, and it is good. I have seen the crack, and the light. I fear no evil, only the ungodly sound of my bones crunching when next I get cracked.

Now I can turn my head farther to the left than I can ever remember being able to do, and that is following just one adjustment. I have twenty-four to go, and then I have a feeling that my lower back troubles and constant "head-forward" position will be a thing of the past. Soon I will be taller, gracefuller, less pained, and less constipated (it's all connected, dontcha know!), and you will wish you were me.

In other news, my beloved choir resumed tonight, and we are preparing Josquin, Lassus, Wert, Sweelnick, and other very pretty things. Thanks to my crack daddy, I will be able to sing them without looking like a Neanderthal or stifling excessive farts. Joy! Joy!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Whither my blog?

I'm pleased to see that one of my favourite food blogs is actually authored by a violinist I've worked with many times before. I won't link to it, though, because she might find me!

This begs the question: Why am I here?

Food blogs comprise the majority of my internet reading list. If I were to create a food blog, I would first have to learn how to cook rather well, and that has not happened in my three-plus decades on the planet. My mother - God rest her soul - never did teach me a thing about cooking. I have really only learned to cook since I got married, and am still learning on a pretty steep curve. My food blog, therefore, would be a study in how a fifth-generation Canadian, raised on a mix of ultra-basic meat-and-potato dishes and convenience foods, such as canned soups, fish sticks and frozen peas, cooks for herself and others in an increasingly multicultural culinary world.

Though I am nostalgic for many things, my dear mother's cooking just ain't one of them. I have acquired tastes for exotic foods that were utterly unknown to my late mother, and would sooner whip up a curry dish from scratch than heat up a can of Campbell's anything. My cookbook collection, of course, is monstrous, compared to the five or so cookbooks and binder of clippings possessed by Mom.

With no hardcore kitchen skillz, then, and a decided lack of interest in debate and fear of committing my political or cultural opinions to internet immortality, I'm not sure what direction to lead this blog. Maybe it doesn't matter. I just hate linking to food and music blogs, only to have the authors trace me via Technorati and discover that my blog is lame, overly personal, uncategorizeable, and not worth putting on their blogroll.

I have an idea or two. We'll see.