Saturday, August 30, 2008

NOLA residents (and too many others)

To all those traveling:

To all those who are part of the emergency teams who are staying behind:

To all those who may be out of contact with loved ones:

To all those who are from the surrounding coastal areas that may be hit:

To all those who already have been hit in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman and other areas:

To all those who experienced the horrendous flooding in India:

Godspeed.

I have you in my heart and prayers.

If there is need for it (and I pray there isn't), I will be doing what I can to help, and I will post here ways to help. (And, obviously, post how to help the areas that have already been hit, because that help is already needed).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: All The World's a Cake...



Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

...and all the men and women merely eaters (apologies to Willy)


Here's my favorite Shakespeare mug:




Here's my favorite Shakespeare mug with gooey, rich, made-from-scratch chocolate cake that was put together and baked in less than five minutes:




WARNING - this recipe is DANGEROUS. Go no further if temptation is your weakness.

Now, on the other hand, if you see the world like Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock's role in Miss Congeniality), and when a bartender asks you if you're sure you want the whole pint, and you say, "Yeah," and he pulls out a pint of Ben and Jerry's Super Fudge Chunk, then this one's for you.

This is not my recipe. I found this recipe on Mae's Food Blog. Apparently, it's not Mae's recipe, either. Her friend Roberta sent it to her, and it's been making the e-mail, etc., rounds.

I tweaked Mae's recipe because 3 TBS of oil was way too much. So was 4 TBS of sugar, because I like my chocolate bittersweet. So if you want the regular, full fat version, please visit Mae.

Here's mine:

Grease or spray a large, microwaveable mug.

Add:
4 TBS flour (not self-rising)
3 TBS sugar
2 TBS good quality cocoa powder

Stir together.

Stir in one egg and mix well. (It will seem like this won't mix, but persevere - it will get better shortly).

Stir in 1 TBS oil and 3 TBS lowfat buttermilk. Mix well.

Stir in 2 TBS bittersweet chocolate chips.

Microwave for 3 minutes. Cake will rise over the mug in the microwave. It might look like it will explode. It won't. It will settle back down after cooking.

Let cool for a couple of minutes.

Serves 3 - 4 adults, or 1 teenage boy, or 1 woman with PMS.

Nutrition Info (with this recipe serving 4):

Fat: 6.9g
Carbohydrates: 20.9g
Calories:150.2
Protein: 3.5g

Nutrition information provided by sparkrecipes.com

Monday, August 25, 2008

Firelight's fine - on to the next!

Thanks SO much for all the support, virtual hugs, etc.

Firelight's surgery had pretty much the best possible outcome, so now if we can get her to eat, she'll probably make it.

I know, I know... we're all insane around here for loving our guinea pigs so much, but I've ALWAYS been a pet person, and when I found out we could have pets after living with D for almost 20 years of his allergies, I was beside myself. The joy we've found in our piggies has been incredible.

Things are still stable with my mother-in-law, and given her quality of life, it will, in many ways, be a blessing if she passes.

So many people have issues with their in-laws. I can only say, over and over, that my in-laws have been the BEST ever. I wish I could make their lives much, much easier, and I hope we can reschedule my FIL's long-awaited trip to see us.

The light at the end of the tunnel can be such a joy.

Truly.

And for anyone who reads this in the Ann Arbor area, click here for the best vets in the UNIVERSE.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bling Fling Thing Part II

It's been a complex week. A week during which long-awaited visits were canceled, and where tough decisions have been made. As Anno said to me, it's been a week of dark times.

There's nothing drastic here; it's just life. Death is part of life, and while it's part of nature and in some cases a release, it's still hard on those who are left behind.

So, I need some cheer, and what is more cheerful than to be able to give some accolades to deserving friends? Especially when I got those accolades in the first place?

Here, therefore, is the Bling Fling Thing Part II:

First off, I received this lovely award from Goofball of Goofball's World:



There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rules attached to this one, so I am delighted to pass it on to several other brilliant blogs. I love each of these blogs for their writing style:

1. Greg of Scribble in the Margins - whether Greg is writing one of his gorgeous memoir-based pieces, political commentary, or simply a description of a vacation escape, his deft touch with words and his ability to get to the heart of the matter always astonishes me.

2. Jane of Confessions of a Middle-Aged Suburban Diva - Citizen Jane both cracks me up with her humorous observations of the world around her and touches me with her ongoing journey with Will. She also serves a mean bowl of cereal.

3. Meg of Prefers Her Fantasy Life - and you know, I think I prefer Meg's Fantasy Life, too. She turns motherhood on its ear, which is all the funnier since you know that in real life (shhhhh....) she's actually a super-responsible, education-reform type.

4. Anno of Anno's Place - if you've never experienced Anno's lovely prose, run over there now! I mean it.

5. Chani of Finding My Way Home - okay, so I think Chani has made a stand to ignore bling, but I just can't help it. She gives me food for thought with every post.

6. April of It's All About Balance - I've spoken about April before, and I can't help coming back to her for her strength, her clear writing and her willingness to take a stand for what she believes in.

7. Jami of Not THAT Different - Jami is the finest kind of educator - she lets us know what's going on, what should outrage us or surprise us or how to support people in a more loving manner, but she does this with humor and a touch of impishness.

8. Blogger's AnneX - even though we don't exactly know who's the mystery person/group behind Blogger's AnneX, it's a relatively new site dedicated to posting the very best of blog writing each day.


Speaking earlier of April, she awarded me this lovely award:



Despite my getting this from one of my "writing" friends, I'd love to pass this award on to some of my fave food bloggers, as they certainly produce some wonderful art in the kitchen:

1. Ben of What's Cooking. Ben is not only a superb cook, he's also been leading a fight to produce healthier chefs, more bakers, and to let the world know about the fresh, healthy ingredients that make up true Mexican food. Ben is also a networker extraordinaire, and has launched numerous challenges as well as a new forum.

2. Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy - Susan's Tuesdays with Dorie series, using the Dorie Greenspan cookbook is a total delight, as are all of the recipes she serves up with beauty and taste! She also just might have the best blog name in history.

3. Nuria of Spanish Recipes - Nuria has educated the blog world on the true art of Spanish cooking, and never ceases to amaze me with her creations. She's on a technical hiatus now, but I hope she'll return soon!

4. Heather of Gild the Voodoo Lily - Heather does, indeed, gild the (Voodoo)lily on so many of her amazing combinations. Her restaurant and store reviews are not to be missed, either. I think she does for the cooking world what Meg does for the mommy world.

5. Jenn of The Leftover Queen - Jenni is one of the original grand networkers for foodblogging, and her Food Jousting Challenges, forums and Friday Foodie Round-ups are all wonderful forays into meeting many, many talented foodbloggers. Aside from all that, Jenn ROCKS as a cook and is very generous in sharing both her cooking talents and glimpses into her wonderful life with her new hubby.

6. Courtney of Coco Cooks - Even though Courtney's taking a semi-break right now, her talent for trying new combinations and ideas is extraordinary. Courtney is a true original and a generous and loving commentor, as well.

7. Marye for both Baking Delights
and Simply Home Remedies. Marye has absolutely taught me to be a better baker. Additionally, she is a home remedy queen and knows more about herbal remedies, uses for other objects, and taking control of your life in a more holistic manner than anyone I know. Her talents have finally been noticed by a publisher, and she is madly working on her first cookbook now. I think she could easily sell her ideas on home remedies, also. She has two other blogs, too, Kettle and Cup about all things tea and coffee.

I really could pass all of these on to all of my blogroll, but I loved the chance to be able to highlight a few of you. Maybe I have to start doing round-ups of my own...

Happy Bling Fling!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Cucumbers in Sour Cream



Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

A couple of weeks ago, I gave some Toronto restaurant reviews, and while I didn't give out any recipes, I talked about some of the things I had been making recently and then asked which recipes you wanted. The most popular request was Cucumbers in Sour Cream.

I first had this dish while living in Krasnodar, Russia. Some variation of this is available in all parts of Russia, I believe and it is a wonderfully refreshing summer treat. I was delighted to find an official recipe for it in Dara Goldstein's A La Russe cookbook (now known as A Taste of Russia. I could literally live on this and baguette and fruit all summer and not feel deprived.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream



Ingredients

2 cucumbers
1 cup reduced fat sour cream (I prefer Breakstone)
2 TBS cider vinegar (white balsamic works well, too)
4 TBS snipped fresh chives (or equivalent number of dried teaspoons)
2 TBS snipped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)
pepper to taste
2 tsp salt


1. If the cucumbers have been waxed, peel them; otherwise, wash them well but leave the peel on.

2. Slice the cucumbers very thin and pat them dry with paper towels:

3. Mix together the remaining ingredients, adding vinegar to taste.

4. Stir in cucumbers.

5. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before refrigerating. NOTE: This is a VERY important step.

6. Serve well-chilled.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Info


Fat: 2.6g
Carbohydrates: 4.5g
Calories:45.6
Protein: 1.7g

Nutrition information provided by sparkrecipes.com

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Man has Class with a Capital "C"

Tyson Gay is my new hero.


Photo by Danny Moloshok of Reuters The original can be found here.


In these days of "me, me, me," narcissism, and arrogance, Tyson Gay is a breath of fresh air.

Did anyone see the heats for the 100 yard dash last night? Anyone?

There's no doubt that watching Usain Bolt is absolute poetry in motion. There were many talented runners on the field last night. Nevertheless, there was Gay losing his chance to final, which he could have blamed on his July 5th hamstring injury.

It would have been easy to give the injury credit for the loss.

But when the NBC commentator asked him if the injury had affected his performance, Gay's basic response (I wish I had the exact words, but I couldn't find them) was:

"No excuses. I just couldn't get it together today. It just wasn't my day."

Bravo.

Bravo.

Bravo.

Amazing talent, brains and looks, and the man is a TRUE sportsmen. And humble.

Apparently, the New York Times agrees.

We need more role models like Mr. Gay.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bling Fling Thing Part I

I've been a bad bloggy friend.

I've recently racked up some marvelous bloggy bling from some marvelous bloggy buddies, and I'm just now getting to collecting it and passing it on.

It's not that I'm not grateful.

I'm truly grateful. On every level.

It is that I'm terribly chaotic and disorganized this summer. Actually, I'm probably that way every summer. I think that might be one of the joys of summer.

In fact, some of those lovely souls who gave me the bling won't even see this because they're off right now being chaotic and disorganized and lounging by some exotic beach or mountain.

And that's how it should be.

Anyway, I am a lucky, lucky blog girl, and I am so grateful for the following awards:

First from

Nuria (whom I believe is one of those lounging somewhere lovely right now):

This great bear hug:



I LOVE this award. What could be better than getting a hug from a sweetheart like Nuria? Absolutely nothing finer. For those who don't know her, Nuria educates all of us on life and food in Catalan Spain. Nuria imbues all her posts with warmth, humor, knowledge and a good bit of music for spice. I have never ONCE been bored or disappointed with Nuria's lovely blog.

Here are the rules of this award:

I can only pass this bear hug onto five writers and their blogs, so here goes:

Sister Sassy of Sisters of a Different Order for a rockin' time in Northern Michigan and the hopes that our paths will cross again soon - despite our age gap she is definitely a soul sistah!

Lilac Specs of Lilac Colored Glasses - she's bravely moved half a world away to find true love and she's got a heart as big as Pittsburgh.

Goofball - she gives me virtual hugs almost every day and is the most persistent person I know in trying to reach my inconsistent self. Her Facebook and other messages make my day!

Jenn in Holland - writer extraordinaire in every sense of that word, and she knows what I mean, I think. ;-)

Teacher Patti from Teacher in the Hood - she and I are A2 and teacher sisters and life is always fun around her!

I have to say, I'd also *have* to pass this on to Courtney of Coco Cooks, but Nuria agreed with me, so she's already got one!

Okay, so ANOTHER award from the generous and lovely Nuria:



Again, I have to choose five bloggers... ack! Here goes again:

Flower Child of Blooming Idiot - she makes my day every single time she posts whether it's on music, her travels, her baking, or her huge heart in terms of fixing the world.

Dingo of As I Was Saying - because I need to fall off my chair laughing on a regular basis.

Leslie of My Mommy's Place Blog - because if I ever need to remember what family love is, all I have to do is peek into her blog. Plus she's the Haiku Buckaroo Hostess with the mostest!

Cathouse Teri of The Road Lester Traveled - because somebody has to say the things she does. ;-) She also teaches me the meaning of family. Plus, she just plain ROCKS.

Sandy of Momisodes - for her eye for photos, her ear for dialogue, her ability to make us all laugh, and her clear thinking.

Okay, this is turning into a long, long post.... more of these next week.

I really think I've met the best folks through my reading and my readers and you all deserve multiple awards. And Nuria, thanks so much! These could both go back at you, but I guess that's against the "rules".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Scallops Wrapped in Proscuitto with Balsamic Peaches in Mango Sauce



Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

So, this week we have the lovely M visiting us. M is our Swedish daughter - the fourth of our five, former exchange students.


C and M at Dairy Queen

It's always a delight to see M in so many ways, but one thing she and I definitely share is a love of cooking and a love of using fresh ingredients (um, despite her love of DQ).

M also loves to wander our gourmet markets and get to do some "sampling". She arrived on Saturday, our prime local sample day, and we wandered through Whole Foods. It was a pretty funny wander, because I was telling her that Whole Foods makes awesome guacamole (one of her favorite foods), and voila, there was a sample! Then we rounded the corner to the meat/fish area, and there were scallops on sample (scallops are her absolute favorites). When we went to the baking area, the sample was carrot cake, one of her favorite desserts. Certainly, someone had tipped Whole Foods off that M was coming to town!

We both went ga-ga over the scallops. They were huge sea scallops, wrapped in proscuitto, and served with slices of peaches. We decided we wanted to make these for Monday night's dinner - the night before M would have to return to Sweden.

Monday afternoon we went back to Whole Foods to buy the sea scallops. We asked the fish monger for the recipe of the sample that was showcased the previous Saturday. Well, it turns out there was no recipe - these were special marinated skewers. Since the skewers were an outrageous price per pound, and since we like to cook together anyway, we bought the plain scallops, and the fish monger kindly printed out the ingredients label for the skewers so we could reconstruct the dish.

Except we had a long, busy day, forgot marinades, didn't read the label properly, etc., etc., and the end result turned out to be even better. Love it when that happens.


So here's M and my version of:

Scallops Wrapped in Proscuitto with Balsamic Peaches in Mango Sauce




Ingredients:

12 large dry sea scallops (you have to ask for dry because otherwise the scallops might be brined and won't taste as good)
1 package of proscuitto (we used Citterio)
3 fresh pieces
6 sprigs of rosemary
1 small handful of fresh basil, cut into strips (chiffonade)
2 TBS good balsamic vinegar
1 - 2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of mango juice blend (odwalla or equiv - we used Trader Joe's Mango Juice)

Directions:

1. Peel and slice peaches and toss with basil and balsamic vinegar. Let marinate while you do everything else.
2. Rinse, dry and pepper scallops (I didn't use salt due to the proscuitto).
3. Tear each slice of proscuitto into two strips as best you can (this won't be perfect). Wrap each scallop in the proscuitto.
4. Heat 1 - 2 TBS of olive oil over medium high heat (on the lower end of medium high) in a large nonstick pan.
5. When oil is heated, use tongs to place all the scallops in the pan to brown. Spread the sprigs of rosemary on top, like this:



6. Brown for 2 - 3 minutes depending on the thickness of the scallops, then remove the sprigs of rosemary, turn the scallops over with the tongs, and brown the other side. When you've flipped the scallops, add in the peaches and vinegar, like this:



7. After browning for another couple of minutes, remove the scallops to a plate, and continue cooking the peaches, vinegar, basil and rosemary, until the peaches are caramelized.
8. Scrape peaches from the bottom of the pan, add scallops back in, and pour the mango juice over all. Cover and cook for another 2 - 4 minutes, depending on thickness of the scallops.
9. Remove scallops from pan to a serving platter, pour peaches and sauce over all, and remove the rosemary sprigs.

Serves 4.

We served our scallops with Scaletta Green Bean Salad and corn on the cob.

Smaklig Måltid! ("Bon Appetit" in Swedish)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Fun with Detroit Edison

WARNING: Whining post ahead:

Sometime when it's dark, very, very early Sunday morning: We wake up to a beeping sound from our carbon monoxide alarm. I mumble to D that he should check that out. As he stumbles down the hall, I notice that M has been very thorough in turning out the lights when she'd returned home from seeing friends on Saturday night. Then I realize that she couldn't be thorough enough to shut off all our clocks, too.

Power outage number four for this summer.

We've already lost the contents of our refrigerator twice this summer.

I trip into the living room, find my cell phone, find out it's 4:58 a.m. and call Detroit Edison (known from now on as DTE).

I go through the automated system, hear the estimate is 8 hours. Call back again, because usually the first estimate is bogus. During the second call, DTE is terribly sorry and realizes we have a problem but there are NO estimates at this time.

Uh oh. Not good.

However, I've just reported it, so I try to go back to sleep.

6:36: Call back DTE for a real estimate. Find out there's no estimates. Stay on the line for six minutes to talk to a customer service representative (known as CSR):

CSR (answering the phone in an angry voice before I have a chance to say anything): We're not giving estimates. Yes?!!!

Jen: Hi, I just wanted to know what you know about the problem. How widespread it is? We have animals that have medical issues and this might interfere with their medicines, etc.

CSR: You're in a pocket of 90, there's another pocket of 85. There are 3100 customers out of power altogether.

Jen: Have the crews said anything? It's been an hour and a half already. (I am counting down, too, whether I'm going to have restock my fridge for the THIRD time this summer).

CSR: There are no crews out. We don't know anything yet. As I told you the first time, there are no estimates.

Jen: Why are there no crews out?

CSR: We are a BUSINESS. We follow all the regulations we need to and we sure don't have crews working 24/7. They'll come in at 8:00 and we'll start assigning them then.

Jen: But according to the FDA and the Red Cross, our fridge will not be good any more by 5:00 a.m. Do you mean to tell me that NOTHING is done until regular business hours, even with 3100 people out of power?

CSR: Yes, yes, yes. We are a BUSINESS. We don't send crews out at night on the weekends. Why would we do that?

Jen: But your recording says you're doing everything you can to get the power back on. Are you doing anything to get the power back on?

CSR: Look, what about this don't you understand? Do you understand how hard our jobs are? Do you get it that we just don't know, and no, we're not going to even start fixing this until 8:00 a.m. I've been fielding calls like yours all night, and it's not going to change. We are a business, we follow federal guidelines and we don't have to send out crews until 8:00 a.m.

Jen: I'm sorry your job is so hard. I'm sorry I have medical issues that I have to look into every time DTE screws up. I'm sorry we're going to lose the more expensive contents of our fridge for the THIRD time this summer. Maybe if you hate your job so much, since we have the highest unemployment rate in the country, you could move to another job and give your job to someone who would be ever so grateful to have any job ? (I say this thinking of my many friends who have looked for something, anything, to hold onto their houses. I think of friends who've been foreclosed this year. I think of friends who've had to move from Michigan, even though their family is all there and they've lived here for generations because there's just. no. work.)

CSR: I hear your frustration, but you have to understand how hard my job is.

Jen: No, at the moment, I don't. I'd like to speak to a supervisor, please.

CSR: Give me your name and number and I'll have one call you back. They've been getting calls like this all night.

Jen: Yes, I'm sure they have. The problem is that whenever someone has "taken my number" from DTE the other five times our power has been out since the first of the year (yes, folks the three times were just over the summer), no one has ever called me back.

CSR: So?

I hang up. I'm getting way too po'd to handle this even as appropriately as I've handled it so far.

I wake D up and grouch at him. We go to Kroger's and get some supplies that the piggies will need to have first thing in the morning. We don't want to open the fridge in case by some miracle the power comes back on.

9:30 - We decided to wait to call DTE until they've had a chance to send out crews, etc. Still no estimate. D calls CSR this time.

CSR has no information. Crews have been assigned. Not sure what cities they'll get to. Not sure when they'll get to which jobs. Not sure whether it will be today or not. D asks for a supervisor to call back. Leaves his name and number. CSR assures D that supervisor will call back shortly.

11:30 - still no estimate. Still no call back from supervisor. I call vet, find out what to do if power is out for several days. We all feel better. (Due to temperature fluctuations, this can actually be life or death for our piggies, given medical conditions).

1:30 - still no estimate. D calls back again. New information: no information. Apparently the crews haven't called in at all; they have no idea what's going on anywhere. D brings up supervisor call, says it's been four hours. CSR says she'll "look into it."

4:30 - still no estimate. D calls again. Apparently, no crews have called in yet (they were sent out at 8 am). Nice CSR this time. She's going to try to connect D directly to the supervisor. D waits.

and waits.


and waits.

CSR comes back on, says supervisor is trying to contact crews to give us information. While talking to CSR, power comes back on. D says that obviously, he'd called the right CSR this time because now, look, the power is back on!

CSR is confused - the power shouldn't be back on.

But it is.

Whatever.

D and I clean out the fridge for the third time this summer and count our blessings that our freezers haven't been affected. I remind myself that I really, really, really need to learn canning.

DTE is a monopoly for this area. Can you tell?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just for Fun: Coping Diet

It seems a lot of my buddies in bloggyland have been stressed lately.

I wish I could send you quick fixes, but maybe this will just give you a laugh, instead:

THE COPING DIET

Only girlfriends can understand this one (Someone else wrote this... I think guys can get this, too). This is specially formulated diet designed to help women (or the right man) cope with the stress that builds during the day. (Guys, your are free to try this, too. I know some male readers who would probably love it!)

Breakfast
1 grapefruit
1 slice whole wheat toast
1 cup skim milk

Lunch
1 small portion lean, steamed chicken
1 cup spinach
1 cup herbal tea
1 Hershey's kiss

Afternoon Snack
The rest of the Hershey kisses in the bag
1 tub of Hagen-Daaz ice cream with chocolate chips

Dinner
4 glasses of wine (red or white)
2 loaves garlic bread
1 family size supreme pizza
3 Snickers Bars

Late Night Snack
1 whole Sarah Lee cheesecake (eaten directly from the freezer)

Remember: Stressed spelled backward is desserts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Toronto Week: Toronto Restaurant Reviews



Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

This just in: I did no cooking last week.

From Sunday morning through Saturday afternoon we were on the road. Since then, I've been lazy.

This morning was farm share day, and today I've blanched and frozen kale, made a blueberry-peach cobbler, a batch of borscht, a Russian cucumber-sour cream salad and prepped a summer squash gratin.

But I'm not going to write about any of those.

If you want any of the recipes, leave a comment and I'll post one for next week. ;-)

This week I'm going to talk about all the wonderful food that D and I ate in Toronto.

Now, here's the thing that stinks: our camera wasn't working. So I'm going to have to post links, etc. You'll just have to take my word for it that the food rocked.

Favorite restaurants:

King's Noodle House



Image from: Houston Daily Photo

We had this very dish - a flavorful broth with unbelievably tasty barbecued duck and wontons filled with shrimp, along side bok choy and perfectly cooked Chinese egg noodles. We also had the best shrimp we've ever tasted - it was steamed together with garlic and served over rice noodles. The dinner was cheap and probably the best Chinese food D and I have ever had (and that includes food in NYC, San Francisco and Vancouver). This is not the place for a relaxing dinner - there's virtually no ambiance, and you're usually seated with others at huge tables, but the food is.... amazing.

Terroni

This was a suggestion from NYC/Caribbean Ragazza, and I am so grateful to her! D and I shared a fabulous pizza, suggested by the server, that included mozzarella, gorgonzola, speck, basil and mushrooms. It was truly out of this world. To give you an idea of what the pizzas at Terroni are like, here's a picture from
alau2:



We also had very good meals at
La Bruschetta (a wonderful pear and gorgonzola salad with a pear-infused vinaigrette, and chicken breasts stuffed with roasted vegetables over a bed of pesto cappelini)

Avli:



Image from www.dine.to


At Avli, in the Greektown secion of the Danforth, we had magnificent Greek food - a mezze plate with the best taramosalata I've ever tasted and a perfect lamb pie, with huge chunks of succulent, grilled lamb.


and Little India



Image from Food TV/Canada

We had the buffet lunch depicted here. The butter chicken was out of this world, as was the rasmalai.

And, at the risk of boring you (or starving you) to tears, I have to mention Dufflet Pastries, where we had this:



"Passion Fruit Mousse Mini
Delicate layers of polka dot chocolate sponge surround dark chocolate mousse and passion fruit mousse; garnished with a mirror glaze and a swirl of chocolate."


Image and text from Dufflet Pastries

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Music Monday/Toronto Week: Avenue Q




For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

D and I spent a blissful five days in Toronto last week. This week, I'll share some of the highlights.

By far, the greatest highlight was staying at A Seaton Dream Bed and Breakfast , and meeting wonderful Jamie and Alan Read-Chua, our hosts. Soon after we had reserved our room, I got an e-mail from Alan asking if we'd like to join a group of their friends to see Avenue Q.

Would we?

Heck, yeah!

I've loved the score ever since my Swedish daughter, M, introduced me to the score on a road trip last year.

After a nice dinner with Jamie, Alan and a group of their friends, we crossed the street and slipped into our seats at the Elgin Theatre moments before the lights dimmed, and Avenue Q did not disappoint.

I loved the score because although most of the songs are comedic, they also hold important grains of truth. The stage show, however, brought new dimensions to the songs. For those who are completely unfamiliar with this unusual show, it's a modern story of young people (and Gary Coleman) living and struggling on Avenue Q, an NYC avenue so far to the Lower East Side, that it's "Q" in the alphabet (avenues in that area get less desirable the farther east you go, so you can do the math - or alphabetization - here). The show begins with a number asking "What do you do with a BA in English?", and goes on with such reality crashers as "It Sucks to be Me", "The Internet is for Porn", "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", "There's a Fine Line between Love and Nothing", and well, you get the idea. Despite what sounds like a downer, all of these songs are upbeat and set within a Sesame Street-like setting. The action is done by a mix of live actors and muppet-like puppets, including some dead ringers for Bert and Ernie who are truly hysterical. In addition, giant monitors drop down and give word explanations, just like the show, but in quite inappropriate (and hysterical) ways.

This is not a show for kids.

Let me repeat that. This is not a show for kids.

It's the only Broadway show I've been to that carries an age "warning". (I was too young for Oh Calcutta). Trust me, the warning is appropriate.

And yeah, if you've ever wondered what it looks like for muppets to go at it in a variety of sexual positions, this show's for you. 'Nuff said.

Despite that, the show is brilliant and hysterical, and I may have to see it as many times as my budget will allow.

As usual, youtube is not speaking to my blog (and if anyone can help me with this, I'd be EVER so grateful!!!), so I'm posting links to some of my favorite versions of Avenue Q songs. The Disney Princesses singing "The Internet is for Porn" is over-the-top.

Enjoy! And buy tickets, if this comes your way.

an overview - promo for the show

It Sucks to be Me

If U Were Gay

The Internet is For Porn

Everyone's a Little Bit Racist