Dec 27, 2009

Sunday Suppers: Pasta with Brie, Mushrooms, Pancetta, & Arugula

I've noticed how some bloggers designate topics for each day of the week. I'm going to copy them and bring some order to my erratic blog. Let's start with Sunday Suppers (ahh, alliteration! how nice). On such days, I'll post on my attempt at new recipes.
I'm a novice cook and a fetus baker. No, that came out wrong. I only wanted to voice just how much of a newbie I am at baking! Like, practically still in the womb if we were to discuss what level I'm at. Let's just move on. 
Before my Dogre Days, my diet mainly consisted of cut-up hotdog bits and rice, frozen dinners, 2-minute instant curry packets, and fast food. When someone introduced steamed and buttered frozen vegetables in my university years, I instantly thought "wow, gourmet-style!" 
Enter the dogre. Enter the nagging voice of guilt - first, coming out of his mouth and then later seeped into my conscience. And so began the Era of Chef Dogre, including the sprout of resentment for doing almost all of the cooking, as well as adapting an "unhealthy" diet, thanks to me, which led to weight gain, so he claims. I said: Funny, I haven't gained so you can't blame me for your belly. He said (retorted): You've lived on this diet for years, you're a veteran. I'm not! Enter food blogs. Blog after blog after blog of scrumptious looking stuff (Bakerella, Noble Pig, and Everybody Likes Sandwiches to name a few) inspiring me to gingerly step into this new world where I actually stand in the kitchen for more than 10 minutes. Enter Chef Dogress! For the first time, I have been looking to recipes to create real meals and goodies. Sure, in the past I "made" pasta dishes (pre-made sauce, heavy on the cheese, frozen vegetables), heated up those frozen chicken fingers and pizzas, but they were all very unsophisticated. But now? Now I'm baking apple crumble, cookies from scratch, trifles, and cooking "authentic" Korean food (okay, it was one time) and mature (pronounced "mah-tour") adult food! Fine, this happens very infrequently and I still rely on the dogre or dine out so I can't call it the Era of Chef Dogress...just yet!

Tonight: The recipe from Noble Pig, with slight variations. Added: pancetta and chili flakes. Omitted: salt. The truth: Added more salt than called for, threw in the pancetta too early, and forgot to add the flakes. I didn't even know what arugula was! I wandered around the supermarket without a clue as to what it looked like and we finally had to ask someone. The results: salty, even for my salt + spicy loving tongue. Nonetheless, tasty. Former Chef Dogre said bravo on presentation and good job on taste. 

In any case, let's welcome Sunday Suppers into my blogging schedule! Please join me as I attempt to domesticate myself, so that I can be an equal partner in the kitchen and whatnot. Maybe I'll garner some praise from the dogre's parents...maybe someday I'll out-cook the dogre and berate him! Revenge!?  Also, feel free to sponsor me on my journey by mailing out a red KitchenAid stand mixer. While you're at it, buy me a house with a walk-in closet that leads into my own private washroom, like Carrie Bradshaw's. Oh, and one of those apron-front kitchen (double) sinks.

Now that that's done, I'm going to drag this post on even longer by sharing recent, pointless, and random thoughts/experiences since, really, it wouldn't be my kind of post without them. First, and still relevant, on the topic of food:
New Christmas Tradition: Grand Raspberry Trifle for dessert. Quick and easy (albeit messy). Yummy too (maybe too sweet). I've selected a deceptive photo, as I often do, to enhance the appearance of the trifle and make it look like it was actually presentable (it was very sloppy and this was the only angle that showed any semblance of layers). On the topic of deceptive photos, my place of less than 500 sq. ft. is cramped and unkempt. So, I like to play make-belief and put up photos to imply otherwise. I've also discovered that I can hide blemishes using the iPhoto retouch tool! Soon, after completing my Graphic Design courses, I intend on revealing myself, the real model for the CGI version of the younger Daisy in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Is that not how adobe photoshop works? What? On the topic of traditions, I didn't have the pleasure of following a single tradition while growing up so I'm eager to create ones for my "new" family. I want to be all disgustingly cutesy with all sorts of traditions. And I plan on bragging about them here on my blog. So sorry!
The quick and dirty restaurant review: Biff's Bistro (on Front Street)
Extremely slow service, awesome decor and ambiance, cold, terribly slow service, forgettable food, turtle-like service. What was consumed: Shrimp Pate, Hearts of Boston Bibb salad, Beef Bourguignon, and the Basquez Chicken. Comments: simple salad, too much parsley in the pate, very boring chicken with rubbery eggs and lemony couscous, stringy beef not at all tender or succulent. Memorable points: Mentioning to the waiter that we felt an uncomfortable and cold draft and not receiving a follow-up; the waiter clearing away my friend's fork and not returning with a replacement or coming by for us to even ask for a new one, resulting in us sharing mine to eat the complimentary cornichons, which we devoured because it took so long for our plates to arrive; the waiter removing the shrimp pate despite clear evidence that we were still working on it (friend had knife mid-air above the plate as she was spreading pate on her bread).

An informal request for a Toronto Line-up Patrol Task Force:
I like my lines neat and obvious. If a friend is already waiting in line and invites me to join, I'm stricken with guilt and need to wait in the back of the line rather than butting. I feel distressed even if someone has lined up on my behalf, specifically holding my place, for fear of the potential dirty looks I may receive from fellow customers. I fume when someone sneaks in/tries to cut others off, and nearly suffer a heart attack because I'm so pissed off and yet too timid to initiate a confrontation. I absolutely hate when I wait for the bus at a station and some jerk tries to form a new line nearby (are you stupid? are you?! i'm talking to you! said loudly in my head). I also hate this: I was in line this week at a Zara, when the woman in front of me stepped out of line and went elsewhere and sauntered back many minutes later, assuming her old spot. If you realize you need to exchange or forgot an item and you turn around to ask me to save your spot for a quick second, I'll politely agree. Even if you don't address me, run off, and return, I'll be okay. But if you walk off and take your sweet time, perusing other things and then meander back, I will give you the death-glare! In conclusion, fellow reader, I'm pleading for kind volunteers who will monitor line-ups. I'd be extremely grateful! To tell you the truth, when some brave soul calls someone out for breaking a line-up "rule", I choke up just a little, fighting back tears of gratitude.

The Courtesy Mock-Runs:
I'm talking about when you're crossing the street at the lights and there's a car waiting to make a turn and so you do a pretend-run. You know you do it! It's the "I'm going to make these physical gestures of bending my legs more, lifting my legs higher, and swooshing my arms even though I'm still moving at the same speed, just so you think I'm considerate" run. It isn't a run, it's a mock-run! I love watching those. I do it all the time. And as I do it, I'm thinking about how good I feel for showing my consideration and thoughtfulness to my fellow Torontonians.

My Cat is Better Educated Than Yours:
To my pleasure, I've realized that Mia watches the BBC Planet Earth episodes with me! She particularly lights up when the male birds are flittering about, trying to seduce the females with their colourful feathers and dance moves. They've got better dance moves than me, that's really sad. But who cares because my cat is clearly smarter, more refined, and sophistimacated than yours.

Can I just say that I had every intention of minimizing my word content today and giving you a break? I swear it's one of my many afflictions. Put me in a room with unfamiliar people and I'll be shy and quiet; put me in a room with my friends and I'll still filter my words; put me in a room, drunk, with my friends, and even then I'll screen my conversation pieces; BUT put me in front of a computer and I'll type until my eyes are strained, I've got a migraine, and my back is so hunched that my nose is practically touching my belly button! Hopefully, some of you will humour me, or at the very least glaze over my photos...I'd offer weekly contests/freebies/gifts to entice you but I'm too poor for that. I'd offer advert space but I'm clueless. I once had this little fantasy that I'd become a full-time blogger, making tons and tons of money sitting in my jammies (specifically a stretched out top that the dogre affectionately - not really - calls my muumuu), while eating without a care in the world, getting sauce in my hair, nose, and eyeballs...But alas, 'tis not my fate. "Then dogress, why even bother?" you ask. Well, my partner encourages me to continue, inflating my head by telling me he had giggled at this and smiled at that. He tells me I have a gift - a gift of gabbing (he never actually said that. You should know that I sometimes exaggerate and will make things up if I feel like it. Nothing big, just inconsequential things that won't hurt a soul but unintentionally comes out and I don't bother deleting. I 'fess up immediately though! But to tell you another truth, I have had moments where I confuse reality with my dreams and will wake up actually believing I have a big rustic house, 7 dogs, and 20/20 vision. I'll also be talking to a friend and say "Remember when..." only to be frankly told that such an incident never happened...). So there you go! 

I've decided on my Wednesday posts: Wednesday Loves. On this day, I'll egotistically (describes all my posts, really) post about an item or two (or three) that I love and - hopefully - own. Let's start a couple tonight: 
Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics mittens. Very warm, chockfull of Canadian pride, and very cute. Find it at The Bay ($10).
Bond No. 9 New York perfume token in Andy Warhol Union Square. Smells delicious - sweet and subtle. Purchase at Holt Renfrew (need to ask the dogre for price).

Happy Monday! And HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Dec 20, 2009

The hills are alive with the smell of cheese curds~

The dogre surprised me tonight with a trip to the Princess of Wales Theatre for a viewing of The Sound of Music (my first musical). It was great!
Loved: the set design, "So Long, Farewell" and little Gretl.
Despised: my chatty neighbour who, at one point, started to sing along (until I gave her a death-glare) and vocalized (through "awws" and clucking) how gosh-darn-cute the von Trapp kids were. I couldn't hear Maria because of her! Listen lady, we didn't shell out lots of money and don my fancy (and only) blue dress to listen to you sing.
Also? I occasionally felt that the singing of some of the cast members was weaksauce. I'm no expert but, you're on my blog and in my blog, I reign and rule all. That is all. No wait, one other thing: Why did I put on my fancy lady dress if some people were going to attend in crusty jeans, uggs, and jerseys? Why?! Couldn't you have made a little bit of effort and made my evening experience all the more elegant?

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to some potato goodness at Poutini's in the Queen West area. It was amazingly cheesy:
YUM! a closeup of the delicious curds:
Read all about their delicious environmentally friendly baked potato poutines here. Taste, ambiance, and decor were comparable to Craft Burger.

By the by, the dogre has been very creative and mischievous with my holiday gifts. He's even taken on the role of the Panty Fairy, leaving me ridiculously goofy boy briefs under my pillow. Get your mind out of the gutter - I said they were goofy! For example, one looks like lined paper with graffiti on it!

By the by the by, my blue dress is now on sale (50% off..ouch for me). Find it here on the BCBG website. The fit is so flattering and can be dressed up and down...I love it! I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it~

Dec 16, 2009

Hi Pal,

Can you be my hero and complete the following tasks? Easy-peasy stuff, please and thank you:

1. Public washrooms and stink that ain't mine. I've encountered this many times. I come out of a smelly stall, after a harmless pee session, and there is someone waiting to use it after moi. As I exit the stall, I'm blushing and flustered because this person will falsely believe that I'm the culprit! I HATE THAT! Can you please deal with this? Come up with a sign to indicate that I didn't do it!
Maybe you could print me some customized business cards to store in my purse and distribute when necessary. Something like,
Hi. You'll be happy to note that I've left the toilet seat nice and clean, ensuring proper flushage. Please note, however, that I am not the master of this icky smell. No, it wasn't me. In fact, you and I are forever bound together, in this very moment, where we both had to battle the stink that is clobbering up our nosies*. So, in conclusion, friend, I'm innocent. I too suffered this assault. I too had thoughts of switching stalls but stayed put and endured it so as to avoid hurting the feelings of the stranger before me. That's how great I am. Okay, no I don't really want to be friends but I get it, you're swooning over my big heart. If you insist, send your cover letter and resume to xxx@xxx.com and I will have my assistant (the dogre) take a looksies. I thank you for your interest but only successful candidates will be contacted. Sincerely, The Dogress."
*That's 'noses' to you. Friends make fun of me because I like to call horses 'horsies' and noses 'nosies' ... et cetera. I don't see what's wrong with this! Isn't it just endearing, really?

I hope you don't charge per character...If you can't get it done I'll have to continue with my shrugs and slight shake of the head to say "Yeah, I know, right? Totally gross. Ugh, whoever did it had some major tummy ache..." and hope they believe me. Actually, when I was in elementary school I had a terrible bowel movement at a McDonald's and it made the whole washroom smelly. It was that bad. So, I got out of the stall to find these super cool and catty looking girls I'd want to be friends with hanging out by the mirror. I pulled out my shrug and head shake routine, expressing with my body and facial expression that, agreed, it smells in here and no it wasn't me, and yeah, we're totally bonding over this moment, here is my cover letter and resume, I look forward to your call...They never did...Plus, they actually laughed at me because it was so obvious that I was the one...Wow, that was a traumatic experience! In fact, forget caring about strangers. The next time I dip my nose in a stall and it stinks I'm going to switch to another one!
Washroom talk is so much fun! So much to talk about...Like, when you're in there and someone else is next door and you both have to poop but are shy so it's a waiting game until one person gives up and leaves, dissatisfied. Or, when you try to mask the sound by timing your cough or rattling the toilet roll just so...But at least you're making an effort. I'm floored by some women who will just let loose. No consideration! Just baaang, buuunng, pfffft, sfftttppppp. I've also had moments where I'd be mid-pee and my nose is suddenly karate-chopped by my neighbour and since I'm stuck there, I have to accept the realization that I'm smelling her anus. It's as if I've slipped into her bunghole and she's baking me a fresh batch of poop! Speaking of baking and batches. I attempted to bake cookies last night. Here's a picture. Click for recipe. Came out too crispy. I don't care. I was like Martha Stewart's cousin for the night!
2. Cars and honks. Why haven't they figured it out yet that we need at least two sets of car honks! We need to supplement what we've got with a friendlier toot. Okay, so each car needs a honk and a toot! These toots would be fantastic for when you want to send a polite message to the other car but a regular honk would be inappropriately aggressive. Wouldn't that be nice? You know what? I have so much to say on this topic but I'm exhausted from all that washroom talk that I'm done for the night. I'll just end it with a few more Christmas adornments (including a little tree! YES! We got one! It comes already dressed in lights, has an adorable ceramic-like and footed red pot, and was on sale for $10). As for the felt stuff, Anthropologie gave them out for free to accessorize gifts with but I thought, screw it, they're so cute I want them! So I did.

Good day.
(tree - Canadian Tire; owl ornament - UO; snowflake - Teatro Verde)

Dec 10, 2009

Photoburst: Farewell fall, hello hwinter

Welcome, Winter! I don't think I'll ever get used to your brisk arrival. 
Here are some pictures of what we've been up to in the past couple weeks (pigging out).  
- Click on the image to be directed to the source -
D.T. Bistro Patisserie: chocolate symphony + flourless chocolate cake (decadent!)
{top} recipe from finn: apple crumble
{bottom} marthastewart.com: chewy molasses-spice cookies (yum, yum yum!)
Dad's Own Cookbook, Bob Sloan: blueberry + banana pancakes (very doughy...)
Rocky joined in on the eating festivities!
And Mia? She flirted with the camera.

&

Holiday decorations! Well, to be honest,that's all we've got up...Oh, and a paper mistletoe that the dogre sneakily taped up. He said our place is too small for a tree this year :(  We've also finally started on our Christmas shopping. My enthusiasm is still low but I'm hoping it will pick up now that I've downloaded the super neat Gift Guru app! It's going to help me plan, budget, and organize all present and future gifts!  I've been toying with the idea of donation gifts like this one to WSPA but fear that the recipients will be unhappy. Maybe I'll make one out to rocky + mia instead...
  Gap trapper hat: Keeps my head warm. I am 1000% dork in this hat but it's so soft and warm that I just don't care. Besides, goofy is the new sexy, is it not? Huh? It's not? Hmm.. then I don't think I'll post a particularly graceless photo of me learning and retiring from the guitar world, all in one night (last night).

I'm a little shy about posting face-revealing pictures up in the blog world. Hopefully I'll get over this timidness, as it's preventing me from presenting a more accurate depiction of the going-ons of our wee lives.

Dec 5, 2009

My favourite colour is fluorescent beige.

I've been thinking of taking up yoga for quite some time. I've been out of sorts and thought that some inner calm would do me good. Maybe yoga - the gentle restorative/meditative kind - will get me out of my funk and hush-up my busy brain (seriously, I'm a never-ending-ruminating-thinking-thinking-fretting-thinking-machine with the consequence of sleepless nights and foggy mornings).

After discussing the potential benefits of yoga with the dogre, we purchased a couple of passports to prana. They allow us access to a free yoga session at all participating studios in our city so that we can sample different styles and environments. For thirty buckaroos, we can take many classes and determine which studio best fits our needs. The options will come in handy as we are expecting to move in June and I'd prefer a studio close to home. What's that, you ask? Come again? Yes, we have a move-in date! I know it's a tentative occupancy date but we're just so excited! We ogle at the progress whenever we get the chance.
By the way, the dogre is not particularly interested in yoga himself but we got him a passport anyways since he wants to support me and will likely join here and there. What a good guy! Here is a picture of my dogre in all his glory:
Wow, look at me, writing a whole post about my fancy new hobby and the progress of our first home purchase... What else can I obnoxiously blog about? How about this: that first photo up there with the soft sunlight and billowing flowers and the Portrait of the Dogre just above were taken during, oh-you-know, our honeymoon in PARIS! Hehe!

For the few readers who do not personally know me (and even for those who do), it may appear that my posts and brain are full of fluff and material things, but I just want to put it out there that, and I introduced this earlier, I am diseased with chronic and persistent over-thinking. Since I exhaust myself daily by my own torments, this blog is really a therapeutic outlet for my creativity and jumbled thoughts/emotions. It's a place where I can afford to appear frivolous, light and airy! I don't plan on using this blog to post rants or expose my deepest fears/worries (unless I think I can make a funny out of it!). Besides, if I permitted myself to write about the serious thoughts that bounce about my brain, my posts would be lengthy essays (not that I won't successfully write lengthy posts about nothingness, like this post). I hope to keep this blog light + airy, freckled with beautiful words (of others smarter and wiser than myself) and snapshots of the journey of a dogre and his dogress (and their fat cat that runs like a raccoon and obnoxious llama/rat/fox/piglet/stitch-like chihuahua).

So, I'm looking forward to the upcoming experiences as an inflexible, impatient yogi. I'm seriously challenged at keeping my focus and worry that I'll have fits of panic and run out of the room screeching and flailing my long monkey arms. I may be the (self-appointed) queen of fixating and obsessing over the most insignificant details in life, but have lately been struggling to get through a single sentence in a novel or listen to someone talk. For example, the dogre gets nervous and shifty-eyed whenever he tries to tell me a story in fear that my eyes will gloss over and he'll lose his audience. While typing out this paragraph my mind has already moved on to other thoughts, such as why my Christmas spirit has been so low this year, my love for cola and lemon wedges, and a brain giggle over this week's episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon stands in front of the HD camera...

...I have to go now...I need a fix of cola and mind-numbing episode of Community or Parks and Recreation! I don't feel like typing anymore. Wait, don't judge me! I'm not a potato-brain! To prove it, let me inform you that I've recently finished What is the What by Dave Eggers, a very serious and depressing (but surprisingly funny and uplifting) story. I swear my eyes only glazed over a few times.

I just realized that my post title (taken from Precious) has nothing to do with the contents of this post. Or does it?! Hmm, think about it! (no, it doesn't...I just think the line is funny and wanted to use it)