Monday, November 21, 2011

Maybe I'm a hater, but...

...Dana cracks me up. I'm no Twihard.
You try Reasoning with Vampires and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Shepherd's Pie recipe to end 'em all...

It's been on my mind for awhile now to come up with my own Ultimate Shepherd's Pie recipe. I mean, talk about humble, hearty comfort food! Once you get that sucker baked, it freezes brilliantly, and it's actually one of those dishes that not only lasts but improves for at least of couple of days in the fridge for leftovers! Because it tastes SO MUCH BETTER the next day! (If I could leave it alone and stop scooping spoonfuls out of the dish until it's all done. Usually about four hours after I've finished making it.)

I remember a dear friend of mine comparing comfort food to sex: "When it's good, it's good; when it's's still pretty good!" And dudes, I live in Quebec, so you know the people here love themselves some Pate Chinois, and everyone has their own family recipe. From meat to vegetarian to vegan, it's always a really good call on a cold winter night.

*sigh* and since Summer is almost over... I'm ready to find my ultimate recipe.

If you've been hanging out with me lately, you know I'm a sucker for the Food Network and for cooking. There's no escaping my heritage, I'm the daughter of foodies. I love cooking. And eating. (Especially that part.)

It is really satisfying to come up with a tasty recipe. Sometimes it happens by accident (when you're broke as hell and you miraculously figure out the alchemical interactions of every single condiment and dry good in your pantry), sometimes through planning and research (I have a friend who looks up every single recipe for the same dish that she can find on the internet and makes her choices based on what she likes the most).

I generally figure things out through trial and error. If I've cooked for you, you've invariably heard me lamenting under my breath *whydidntIaddmustardpowderanditwouldhave beenbetterwithcreamorwhatwouldhappenifIcaramelizedthe...* Which is the point at which you've probably given me "the look" and then I desist. But still.

Regret is no way to live your life, and of course I'm always really happy to please my family and friends with my cooking. (Well, when it works out.) The difficulty is that I'm always the toughest one to please. I wish that my skills would allow me to come up with dishes that satisfy my palate and creativity first. I can't explain it in any other way except that I want to be able to share what's in my imagination, and to execute it well. I suppose it's because on some level, cooking really is a level of personal and creative expression. I'm telling you, sooner or later I will hit a culinary school. I don't know when exactly, but I'll figure it out.

Blah blah blah, I've done it again. The point! Here it comes!

So, I've had to work from home for the better part of a week (new day job doing web annotation, we can talk about it later) because of my sciatica rearing its ugly head again. And a friend of mine who is a massage therapist has very kindly offered to help me out! Since we are both terribly broke, we decided to barter. Normally, I'd trade personal training sessions for massage (training tends to be my bartering chip of choice) and I had in fact come to a similar arrangement with another massage therapist and reflexologist friend, except well, my back is mashed up. So I have to fall back on my other talents. (Ew, don't even go there, I introduced him to his girlfriend of six years, and did I mention that my back is jacked up? Also, I'm no stealer. Chicks before dicks, as it were.)

So I am going to make my ultimate Shepherd's Pie. The Shepherd's pie I have been longing to eat. I remember Djanet Sears said once that she had to become the change she wanted to see in the world. But I think Ghandi said it first. So what I take from that is, know what you want, and don't wait around for someone else to make it happen for you.

Anyway. What are the elements of my ultimate Shepherd's pie?

1) Flavour. Now, I'm a busy lady, and the beauty of shepherd's pie is that you can bang together a serviceable batch of it in a reasonable amount of time. But that generally implies some short cuts. Frozen veggies, sometimes flavoured sour cream in the mashed potatoes, canned gravy or bouillon cubes in the meat, that kind of thing. Not this time. I'm making everything fresh, from scratch. Simple ingredients, prepared well, with a depth of flavour. I mean the basic components are meat, vegetables, and potatoes, yeah?

2) Texture. I've come across the gamut of things I don't like in Shepherd's Pie. First of all, it can't be heavy. Potatoes don't have to be cooked so hard. I like the mashed potatoes to be light, with a bit of texture to them, not too smooth or runny or gluey. On the other hand, one can't be too stingy with the fat: I want them to be airy, not floury. And doggone it, no more dried out meat. Just...ew. If the serving falls apart when you scoop it out of the dish, it's no fun. Somehow you gotta find the way to have moist and juicy meat, tender vegetables, and light and fluffy potatoes, perfectly browned on top. That's good eating.

3) Proportion of meat to veggies. Don't be stingy. The magic of the dish is how you balance those three layers, taste-wise.

4) Careful preparation. The number one thing that always jacks me up is rushing. I never can quite figure out the timing of cooking all of the separate elements. When do I start roasting the garlic? When do I start the potatoes boiling? Stuff like that. I want to think of that kind of thing in advance instead of on the fly.

What are your favourite elements of shepherd's pie? Are you a strictly lamb kind of person, or will you go ghetto (cottage?) and do the beef thing? Have you come across a veggie ground round that would make a believer out of George Foreman?

If you're good, I just may take a photo of my next Shepherd's pie attempt. Any MAYBE even share the recipe. I might. ;-)

Wouldn't it be so awesome?

Ok seriously. Me and this lady have got to become friends. The second she comes to Montreal, I'ma buy her a drink. And possibly throw her a party. If you haven't checked out her blog, you gotta. Smart, funny, and for reals. Where the hell have you been all my life, Dianne Sylvan? Huh? Are you coming to hang out with me and my friends or what?
(Please say yes!)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Because sometimes love is complicated

Check it, Darlings: I just can't get enough of this song lately.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Le style hip hop?

A few days ago, a friend of mine encountered the all-too common practice of racial profiling here when he went to a local bar in Montreal after the screening of his film at the WFF and he and his friends (of whom six of seven out of 30 were black) were refused entry into the bar. There's been some coverage about it in the local English media here, but to get some of the eyewitness accounts and discussion about it, check out the social media links of first person accounts about it. It's pretty interesting to see the response to this incident, but not surprising. Anyway. The only reason I bring up this incident is that my friends were refused entrance into the establishment based on "le style gangster," and "gangster" that they were allegedly wearing.

Their 'semantics' aside, there is much to think about and to consider: in that case, was too much "style hip hop" just a euphemism for "too many black people?" Suffice to say, it's a debate that pushes a lot of buttons, because we live in a post-colonialist society and we all have our varying degrees of responsibility and collusion within it, based on our respective pockets of privilege within it. And nobody wants to give up their privilege. The problem of racism and the collective historical amnesia we seem to have with regard to Canada's history with it continues apace. It remains to be seen whether or not and to what extent we're able as a society to relinquish some of our privilege and to see if we can go beyond being shocked and dismayed about it to actually act.

I began to think about what hip-hop has become in terms of a product for mass consumption (which is not necessarily the same thing as the philosophy of it). Something that began as a creative and expression of political and social commentary/protest has become something entirely different.

What I am coming to realize in terms of storytelling (which thus far is proving itself out in terms of my own process and work in performance whether it's acting, singing, or dancing) as well is that the more specific one gets about characters, cultures, situations, and so on, the more one reveals the incredible paradox of the universal yet entirely personal human experience. That's in part how myths and fables are created.(Ugh. I know, I'm taking the long way around. Never fear, the point is imminent.)

Well, I submit this documentary to you for your consideration (part 1 of 6...check 'em all out if you're interested):

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

You see, I think that hip hop addresses issues that reach farther than those that beleaguer the black community specifically. I think in larger terms about socio-economic privilege and the widening gap between those who have it and those who don't.

And I wonder what are the myths that are being amplified or distorted for the purposes of marketing and selling hip hop music? I wonder about who are the largest consumers of commercial hip hop? And what is the message these consumers are being told? When those images prey on our insecurities and sense of powerlessness, what are we to conclude? Is it that we are in fact, all for sale? I don't know for sure. But I sure do wonder.

I've reading some really interesting books and watching a couple of documentaries lately. Zeitgeist, Freakonomics, The Corporation, The Colonizer and the Colonized, Women Who Run With the Wolves, The Chalice and the Blade. I've started reading about current events and I'm starting to notice things that are helping me to make connections about how I see the larger picture about what's going on in the world. And what I think about it. And what I'm going to do about it.

I think I may have a story that I want to tell.

P.S. This might be really interesting to consider as well. An oldie but a goodie: Rhyme & Reason

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's time to talk again.

It's an interesting thing...

I've been very quiet on this blog for a really long time. And yet I wouldn't necessarily say that it has been because I've been silent in my life. Social media is an interesting thing: it creates connection, but not closeness. Anyhow.

Things are shifting again. It's this phenomenon that Paulo Freire calls conscientization. More and more my worldview has been emerging, my own sense of values, my inner compass. And the more I look at the world, the more I see the same things emerging. And it's difficult to shake the sense of powerlessness that sometimes comes with being just one. The world's momentum is a forceful current, and I find that it's very easy to get caught up in it; to lose one's voice.

And so this is why I'm beginning to write again. I can't wait for the change I want to see around me anymore; I have to be the change. As an artist, I have always been a storyteller, I've always found stories to be the most accessible vehicles for learning and understanding. And I want to learn, I want to understand, I want to communicate.

Blah blah. But still.

I've told so many stories in my life, others' stories. It's my metier. It can be scary to slip into another person's skin, to adopt another's voice, but at the same time it can also be so exhilarating. Empathy is very risky and very rewarding. But what happens when the stories that you see and tell and hear are not your own? How long does it take until you lose your own voice?

I have no idea. I'm also not trying to find out.

In any case, I've begun to write again. There are so many projects that I want to explore, so many things I want to try. But I've been quiet for awhile. So my voice is rusty. But silence is not an option anymore. Not right now anyway.

You're welcome to listen if you like. But I'm not going to shut it down. Not anymore.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Everything is changing, everything in transition...

Dudes, I think I'ma start writing again. One of the ways in which I've changed over the past two years (essentially while I haven't been blogging) that I'm happy about is having a circle of friends with whom I can process, examine, and work out the issues and things that are on my mind. Something I'd like to get back to is that solitary reflection, the idea that you can listen to your own soul in order to see clearly. It's an interesting thought anyway.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The only time Westmount didn't make me INSTANTLY cranky.

Let me tell you, darlings. Sweeping generalizations are uncool, I know that. Nevertheless, walking through Westmount generally irritates the hell outta me. And it's something I end up doing two or three times a week. The "Invisible Man" syndrome seems to kick in without warning: all of a sudden, it's like I'm not even there. It's the only explanation I can come up with that accounts for the fact that the residents frequently try to walk THROUGH me. (No, really.)

RESIDENTS OF WESTMOUNT, MONTREAL: You are not X-Men. You cannot phase through solid matter, regardless of the extent of your annual income and/or holdings. Thought you oughta know.

But here's why Westmount was awesome yesterday. I ran into (not literally, which also helps) Valerie and Chris Gold! I didn't even know they were back in the country. And just like that, Westmount became a fantastic place for me again. Thanks for that.