roots and culture...

i love procrastination as it provides the best motivation to do all those important little tasks i keep neglecting... like organizing the beading supplies, making sure the socks are all in matched pairs, and pruning the houseplants.  what...?  i know i am not alone in this.  somewhere in the middle of the third activity, i noticed that my mini terrarium was looking a little rough after a long winter on a chilly windowsill.  some of the plants had grown too tall for the jar, and i even found a rogue fern that i don't recall ever planting. certainly there was nothing in the universe more pressing than getting this situation under control!

my first instinct was to remove and toss out the overgrown coffee plants. i've given up on trying to grow coffee outside of closed-containers, as they do not survive well with my water-when-the-leaves-start-to-wither approach, so it would have been more merciful to just put them out of their misery as soon as possible. luckily, i remembered the slightly taller glass vase rescued from a centerpiece at someone's wedding.  all that was missing was a cover that would keep in the moisture but still allow light to get to the plants.  one quick trip to the neighborhood Salvation Army store--i take my procrastination very seriously--and a glass saucer was found to perfectly fit the top of the vase.  

so, for a grand investment of 69¢, i rescued the overgrown plants and saved the day. but all of that only filled about an hour of time, so i had to find some other way to distract myself.

i tend to take for granted having grown up with cultural influences that are not the norm.  so, while something as all-American as tuna casserole would send me scouring cookbooks and food blogs for days, i can whip up a mid-week garlic-jerk roasted pork loin with rice and beans with nary an effort.

there are few products i would recommend with zero hesitation, and Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning easily gets my stamp of approval. the blend of scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, and spices is far better than any i've come across thus far.  sure, i could make my own, but that would just be absurd.

toss in a few cloves of crushed garlic, olive oil, ground cloves, salt and pepper, and you have a combo somewhere near perfection.  i added a couple long peppers to my signature blend of peppercorns and coriander seeds.  these were obtained from my favorite spice shop at the Marché Jean Talon, one of the most awesome places to hang out in Montreal.  they look a bit like unsuccessful pine cones, and taste like a cross between the more familiar black pepper and allspice.  they are rather pricey, so i only use them for special things.

the roast was rubbed with that combo and left to marinate for a few hours.  because of the scotch bonnet peppers, jerk seasoning ranks incredibly high on the spicy scale, and the longer you allow the meat to sit, the hotter it becomes.  i used about one tablespoon here, which resulted in something decently spicy, but not unbearable to the point of needing to place the fire department on standby.  if you want a truly intense experience, try using jerk seasoning on smaller, thinner cuts of meat where you can get better all-around penetration of the spiciness.  i tossed the roast into a 375°F oven oven and cooked uncovered, basting occasionally, until the meat thermometer said it was done.

this is one of those occasions where the inspiration for a meal came from a single ingredient.  in this case, the half can of coconut milk lingering in the fridge, left over from some recent experimental baking.  

saute onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, then toss in the rice and (drained) beans, add coconut milk, water, salt, and pepper, then bring to a boil and simmer covered till done.  

there was a random butternut squash in the vegetable bin, so that managed to make its way into the meal, plus a salad to cool the tongue in between spicy bites.

and... after all that effort... after salivating for more than an hour while the most delicious smells poured out of my kitchen... i ended up eating just a few mouthfuls before i started to feel full, so i abandoned the meal to save room for coffee and dessert.  not only does the Iranian restaurant up the street make a-maz-ing kebab sandwiches, they also sell a fantastic assortment of baklava.  my favorite are the cigar-shaped ones.  who knew procrastination could be so satisfying!  


chicken wings and happiness...

about once every 6 months or so, i am overcome by a longing for fried chicken wings.  the craving haunts me for days or even weeks, rendering me incapable of maintaining even the simplest train of thought.  i am especially fond of my wings drizzled with honey.  the residual heat softens the honey, resulting in a shiny, sticky glaze that encourages much finger licking and happiness.

thus afflicted, everything reminds of sitting occasionally in one of my favorite eateries back home in NYC, splitting a pile of wings with two of my favorite people in the universe.  we would go there just for that and, in between messy mouthfuls and over-sized mixed drinks, laugh about only being able to enjoy them in the presence of people with whom you feel true comfort.

my wing formula is a topic for another day.  just start with a batch of sizzling hot chicken wings, drain to remove excess grease (i use multiple layers of clean newsprint from the never-ending stash of art supplies as i find it absorbs better than paper towels), and lightly drizzle on whatever honey you happen to have available.  this time around, i used the buckwheat honey recently discovered at my local produce market.  the flavor reminds me of a really good nutty brown beer, malted and not overly sweet.  toss a few times to spread the honey goodness.

throw in a simple salad  of romaine lettuce with a handful of toasted pine nuts.

add a soy-sesame dressing and some chopped scallions, and you have a meal that just begs to be shared with the people who bring true comfort to your life.  


notes on Canada: the milk conspiracy...

for some reason that completely escapes me, the subject of milk takes on a new level of absurdity when translated into Canadian--it's not a language... it's an experience.  whether it's a nationalist aversion to waxed paper cartons or that they are collectively under the thumb of 'big plastic',  much (but not all) of the milk here is sold in plastic bags.  i have never managed to describe this to my American friends without breaking out in side-splitting laughter, but it short...

the outer plastic bag...

contains multiple plastic pouches of milk.  the milk is normal "milk" color, only the pouch is blue.

i'm pretty certain it's a federal law that every household must maintain at least one plastic milk jug at all times, which seem to come in one standard "pouch" size.

all that's left to do is snip off the corner opposite the jug handle...

and pour over the nearest bowl of cereal.

a quick rinse later, and all those plastic bags takes up very little room in the (plastic) recycling bin, so it's earth-friendly absurdity.  i'm just happy i drink 2%, cause i still giggle like a little kid every time someone asks for homo.  o Canada!

image borrowed from here.  


bits and bobs...

in the process of emptying the contents of my camera onto the computer, i came across a few noteworthy glimpses into my recent bouts of absurdity.

first, there were those kielbasas in the back of the freezer that somehow escaped the sarma pot.  a couple weeks ago, i steamed one up for lunch for 15 mins in about 1/2 an inch... pardonne moi... 1 cm (forget where i am sometimes)... of  water, and had it alongside a tasting sampler of mustards.  come on... i know i'm not the only one with (from right to left) whole grain, chardonnay dijon, and good-ole French's® "yellow" mustard in their fridge right now!

 i've been knitting again.  it's winter in Canada.  not much else to do if you don't hunt moose or play hockey (i will regret that if any Canadians ever see this).  someone super-special has a birthday approaching, so i've been working on this really cool curved shawl, Annis, as a secret gift.  okay... so it's for my mom.  here it is being wet-blocked.

 i can't take credit for the design, but i can semi-claim the yarn as my own hand-spun.  i have a cone of some cobweb-weight wool-silk blend i purchased from an outfit in Cali more than 2 years ago now.  i believe the yarn is originally from Italy, but i've lost part of the label inside the cone, so all i know at present is that it is a 90/10 wool/silk blend.  i luuuv this shade of blue, which is not done justice in these images, but the yarn was too thin to do anything with that would not result in my being hauled away in a straight jacket... so i pulled out ye-olde-wheel, and chain-plied (tripled) the thread, then chain-plied it again (3x3), resulting in something that knitted up pretty quickly.  i've barely made a dent on the cone, so i will be returning to this yarn in the future.  

and finally, what to do when you have 500ml of cheap wine hanging about?  mull it, baby!!!

nothing fancy here.  i poured the wine into a small saucepan, added some cinnamon, whole cloves, a few cardamon pods, and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, brought it nearly to a boil, and tossed in a strip of orange peel and let it all get happy together for a few minutes.  many mulled wine recipes include additional alcohol, brandy being a favorite, but i was not aiming to end up flat on my face here, so i skipped that part.  naturally, it gets more flavorful the longer it... well... mulls, but that requires a level of patience that i could never be accused of approaching.  yes... i am drinking from a McDonald's® cup that was a promo for a Batman® movie more than a decade ago.  don't judge me!!!