Be patient! just updated things to real WordPress; in the process, my blog turned into vanilla. I’m searching for a new WordPress Theme right now, and when I apply it, photographs will return to their proper aspect ratios!

Planet Creations at the Delicious Food Show

Products made of wood, when they’re well made, make you want to touch them, caress them, feel the warmth of the material. I certainly felt that way at the Planet Creations booth. The first thing I saw was this beautiful table with storage space.

Janet Howarth invited me to touch it.

Wood table

It was beautiful, warm, smooth, rounded edges, couldn’t feel any of the wood joins. It felt like it was all of a piece.

They do a beautiful job creating furnishings and cutting boards (Janet’s daughter is in charge of sanding). All of the boards and cutting surfaces are made of end-grain wood, which lasts much longer than other cuts, and they have book-matched the cuts, creating beautiful patterns. The woods used are walnut and maple.

Chopping blocks

They’re finished with food-friendly oils, and should last for a long long time. Yep, I bought one!

They come for lots of shows in Toronto, so you’ll probably see them around. Their workshop is in Rigaud, Quebec.

Oh — and that beautiful table in the first picture? It had been sold when I went back to the booth 3 hours later!



Thoughts on Remembrance Day

They all sort of jumble out. I guess I was lucky that no members of my immediate family were in either WWI or WWII… all either too old or too young for service.

But on Remembrance Day, I meditate on the following:

– on Don Kemsley, who was there, and was aboard the landing craft on D-day. And in Italy. Don passed away a little over a year ago, now.

– on Corporal Brent Poland, who I worked with at Alias Research Inc., who died because of an IED in Afghanistan on April 8, 2007.

And I remember stories.

I was in two productions of Waiting for the Parade; once, I played the wife of an MIA soldier who comes back at the end of the war. The other time, I played a mother of two young men: one in battle, one in jail for protesting the war. Before I was in the play the first time, I talked with my Mom. Her family rented an upstairs room to a young bride whose husband was off fighting WWII. Alas, one day, two men were at the door for her. Her husband had died. My mother remembered, as a young child, hearing the grief of the woman upstairs, pacing the floor, sobbing, sobbing, for the husband who would never come home again.

My grandfather, during WWII, was on a ship laying transatlantic cables. He wasn’t part of the war effort (too old for battle), but the work he was doing helped ensure communications. His ship was never hit. They figured the Germans thought it was a decoy, and so didn’t attack it. That didn’t stop the Germans from hitting ships all around them, though. And there was little they could do from their cable ship, hearing the sounds of whistling bombs, seeing the fires, hearing the screams of men dying.  Those memories haunted my grandfather.

Let us remember, and not forget.

Agnes of God

Wondering why my blog posts have been so few and far between?

I’ve been rehearsing for Agnes of God. I’m playing Mother Superior. Tijuana Layne is Agnes, and Cathy Young is Dr. Livingstone, the psychiatrist.

The show runs tonight (Aug. 15) and next weekend (Aug. 21 and 22), at Nobody Writes to the Colonel, 460 College St. at 8pm. Tickets are $20 at the door.

Hope to see you there!

First post native to the new blog

I’ve managed to collate all three blogs and move them over here, and find a WordPress theme that seems to work.Am still trying to figure out (I’ve emailed my provider) why the creation of this blog has meant the loss of my other webpages to the sight of anyone but me. I can see them through FTP in DreamWeaver, so I know they’re still there, but seem to have lost the domain to the blog.Spent yesterday at RBG taking photos for another item at BlogTO.  Am now choosing which 10-12 of the over 200 images will accompany the article.

Current state of gardens

Here we go. I spent the afternoon clearing the back yard of goutweed… it was all through the bed on the right side of the image. Required a lot of care to try to pull all the stolons without killing the daffodils (so few of them are in bloom that I’d like to enjoy them this one last time before I yank them in a couple of weeks).

When I get the astilbes, ferns, and hostas from Vesey’s, I’ll be filling things in. I’m also going to get a few plants from East End Gardens.There are three roses in this yard, and I’m not sure if they’ve really survived winter. I’ll give them a couple of weeks to prove themselves. If they’ve survived, I’ll move them to the front garden. If not… well, compost time.It looks like some of the roses in the front garden are also a bit slow or haven’t made it. I’ll have to give them some time to see how they do:

There’s a clump of grass growing in the lavender bed that I have to get rid of, and some perennials that materialized from nowhere in the raised bed that I’m not fond of and am thinking of destroying. Going to get rid of the pots of sedum (plant the sedum in the back yard). Might ditch the two half-barrels: after 14 years, they’re looking more than a little tired. The alliums should be flowering within a few weeks, by the looks of it.  What an early spring!

Simple dinner: grilled meat, greens.

Last Friday I bought a fair amount of meat from Witteveen’s in the St. Lawrence Market. I still had the three lamb loin chops in the refrigerator tonight, so I had to use them for dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was simple: lamb chops grilled on a cast iron grill pan, with some steak spice rubbed into them, and kale and asparagus.

For the meat, I brought it up to room temperature, seasoned it, and then tossed it onto a cast iron grill pan that I had lightly oiled and brought up to about a 4 (out of 10) in temperature. The oil was smoking, I put the exhaust fans on, and cooked the chops for 10 minutes a side — which is about double what I give them in a flat cast iron pan. The raised grill lines impart a lovely pattern on the meat, but it does mean that most of the meat is not in contact with the heat source, so it takes about twice as long to cook.

For the veggies, I cleaned and prepped, and only cooked them while the chops were resting. Kale, torn to bits and microwaved for 2 minutes; asparagus microwaved for 45 seconds. (I wish I could remember where I bought the asparagus because it’s the grittiest asparagus I’ve had in at least 10 years. I spent 5 minutes washing 5 measly stalks, and it was still gritty.)

I had some heliodoro rosemary cheese from Alex Farms in the fridge that I knew would pair well with the lamb and would be very tasty on the greens. It had been there a while, and had gotten quite hard. The vegetable peeler, my first choice of tool, wasn’t up to the task. Absolutely no go. I might as well have tried to peel the bricks on my house. Forget about picturesque white curls sitting on the greens!

Next, I tried ye olde box grater. Hah. Even more useless than the vegetable peeler. The cheese just rode down the outside of the grater like it was on ball bearings. Pressure on the cheese caused it to break into some pieces, but no grating happened.

Then, Lee Valley to the rescue. Pulled out the microplane, which used to be sold for woodworking purposes, until the Lee family discovered that chefs were using them. Man, does that thing bite into things! I can imagine what it would do with wood, because it certainly did the job with my (almost) petrified heliodoro. It turned it into lovely light little gratings, as you can see.



I’m seriously considering this “piece of news” about why people choose to drink white wine with fish (although it is my preference, I could really make an argument for specific reds with black cod, mackerel, fresh sardines, etc.)

One thing that keeps ringing in my mind is all those years of watching the original Iron Chef series, done in Japan.

The chefs would do so many things to fish to guarantee they didn’t taste at all “fishy.”

Now, we’re not talking about old, funky fish that they’ve cut the heads off and reduced to fillets so people can’t tell how long the fish has been in the monger’s ice-filled case. We’re talking about extremely fresh, top of the line, wallet-breaking fresh fish.

Yet still, they took actions to prevent the fish from tasting “fishy.”

When I eat Portuguese sardines roasted on the grill (or raw) I am celebrating the fishiness of what I am eating. Same for a beautiful slice of raw mackerel with ginger for sashimi.

This test was also done with Japanese people, so I admit, I am attributing some of the biases of the Japanese judges and chefs to the rest of the populace. What, exactly, was the criterion of “fishiness” that the testers found so off-putting? Especially since it was scallops they were eating! These aren’t even fish: they’re bivalves.

It couldn’t have been that the scallops tasted like fish at all (as seemed to be the base line on Iron Chef): was it that the red wine made it taste like old, rancid-oil, fish? Or was it something else? Was it all in the minds of the testers, and not their tastebuds?

Need. More. Data.