April 01, 2004

FoodNotes: Squid!

Made a seafood curry for dinner today.

When cooking squid, there's a good rule of thumb: 2 minutes or 2 hours.

Any longer than 2 minutes, and the squid is chewy. However, after 2 hours, any cartilege has relaxed and it gets tender again. My squid was already positively crunchy - I was afraid that it would be inedible! But after 2 hours of gentle simmering in the curry it was nice and tender. In the last 20 minutes I added shrimp, fish and mussels. It was yummy.

For some reason, curried fish reminds me very strongly of the Carribean.

Posted by JAY at 07:01 PM

April 02, 2004

Hellboy and Monopoly

Went to see Hellboy - it was a fun movie! There was a couple of excruciatingly bad dialogue moments... "Remember who you are!" should never, ever be used. Ever. On the whole, however, all the actors involved gave fun, charismatic performances.

After, went to Trevor's house to play Monopoly with Trev and Rucell. She'd never played it before, but that didn't stop her from beating both of us while cackling evilly. Trev and I NEVER win at Monopoly, so it wasn't much of a surprise.

Posted by JAY at 11:55 PM

April 03, 2004

Busy Busy Bee

Had a busy day today!

  • This morning, went house hunting
  • This afternoon, went car hunting
  • This evening, went to see The Producers (unplanned)

More later, when I'm not as tired.
(Back dated to the correct day.)

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM

April 04, 2004

House Hunting


In the morning, DaveB was nice enough to pick me up to go look at a house that was pretty close to where I work in Newmarket. Unfortunately, the house was in pretty poor condition. Most of the floors would need to be redone and there was water damage in the basement. The roof needed re-shingling. Quite unacceptable, especially considering the asking price of $235K.

From there, we went to see some new townhouse subdivisions that were being built.

These weren't bad, though they started at $224K rather than the $195K in the advertisement. The real estate market is really high right now, so I'm not sure that it's the right time to buy anything.

Crash, damn you! Crash!!

Posted by JAY at 02:57 PM | Comments (2)

Car Hunting

After lunch we went to look at various cars. Here's a list of what we looked at:

  • Mazda 3
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Echo
  • Ford Focus

So far, it looks like my cheapest option is the Echo hatchback, which I can get for $16K on the road without AC or power steering. The Corolla is better value, though.

Posted by JAY at 02:59 PM

Restaurant: Ackee Tree

Before the show, we went walking in the Eaton Center in Toronto, where we picked up dinner at The Ackee Tree, a Jamaican eatery with things like curry, roti, rice and peas and jerk chicken.

I got a roti and goat curry, which was tasty, but very bony. In retrospect, I should've gotten the boneless chicken. Service was pretty sullen, too, not that it really matters at a fast food place. The roti was tender and yummy, though.

Posted by JAY at 03:05 PM

Musical: The Producers

The Producers is a musical at the Canon Theater (the old Pantages) about a down-and-out Broadway producer who collaborates with his accountant in an unethical scheme to make some quick cash.

Hysterically funny and very well executed, the plot is pretty predictable. Set design and costuming was amazingly elaborate, with break-away sets using a lot of forced perspective, lighting and mirror tricks.

All of the cast gave great performances, both vocally and comedically. The lyrics were witty and the themes were very irreverant. Musically, it wasn't so memorable, though the orchestra gave a lively performance.

Definitely worth seeing, even with the slightly expensive ticket seats.
$125, whew! Won't be doing that often!

Posted by JAY at 03:50 PM

April 06, 2004

Movie: The Color Of Paradise

Southlake Cinemania showed The Colour of Paradise yesterday. It was pretty, but not very entertaining.

Filmed in Iran, the story centers around a blind child named Mohammad and his family. The film contrasts Mohammad's joy in life with his father's bitterness. I felt that I was being preached at, hardcore.

While I enjoyed the vistas, I just couldn't begin to feel for the family. Apparently, others didn't feel the same way.

Posted by JAY at 09:20 PM

Restaurant Review: Milestones

Went to Milestones on Monday. I got the 1/2 rack of ribs and a 1/2 chicken, with roasted potatoes and a low-fat (no mayo) slaw/salad. ($21+tax) Honestly, I'd have preferred Swiss Chalet for both, though dessert was yummy.

Nothing was really wrong with the chicken, it was tender and juicy, slightly blackened. The ribs were covered in a lot of sticky sauce that interfered with the taste of the meat. The potatoes were bland. The salad/slaw was actually pretty good, though vinegar-laden.

Dessert, on the other hand, was very nice. I had the Ibarra Chocolate Cake with Vanilla ice cream. The cinnamon flavored chocolate cake was richly warm and moist. It was drizzled with sublime caramelized goat milk and a generous dollop of whipped cream. For $5.99, definitely worth it.

So yeah, dessert 1, dinner 0.

Posted by JAY at 09:59 PM

April 07, 2004

Meringues


Made some quick meringues. Meringues are both simple and a bit tricky. They're not supposed to color very much. They should be a pale cream color (the white ones in the bakeries are done with chemicals) and they dry out more than they bake. I didn't really have a recipe.

I had a traumatic experience once when I was younger - my mother got tired of waiting for my meringues to finish so she turned up the heat. They flopped into a soggy mess. She only told me what she did after I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong!

Read on for the recipe.

Classic Meringues

Preheat oven to 285 degrees F.

Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Gradually beat in at higher speed until stiff peaks are formed:

  • 3/4 Cups granulated sugar

It should still be glossy and get really smooth. If it starts to get clumpy and cloud-like, then you've over-beat the egg whites.

Fold in with a spatula:

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and drop tablespoons of the meringue onto the sheet. Bake them for about 1 1/2 hours in the oven. If they're starting to brown too much (check through the window) then lower the heat by 5 degrees after 30 minutes. Mine turned out a bit too brown.

Posted by JAY at 06:08 PM

Ungh...

That bowl of cookies? Yeah, I ate two of them.

Posted by JAY at 08:03 PM

April 09, 2004

Recipe: Salmon Rose Pasta

Made more meringues last night, with this for dinner. Unfortunately, I didn't have any cream, so it wasn't as rich as it should have been. Salmon scraps are really cheap - I think these were $3, and boneless to boot.

Was just a bit peeved that this morning I was given grief for not washing the dishes that everyone ate off of last night. I mean, I did most of the pots/pans/baking dishes as I cooked, and it was 10:30 when we left the table. I even rinsed the dishes so they wouldn't harden. But apparently, despite the appreciation expressed for the meal, it wasn't sufficient.

Salmon Rose Cream Sauce

Fry in a sauce pan, stirring constantly:

  • 1/4 cup of butter/olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • fresh black pepper

until the onions are lightly browned.

Lower the heat to medium low, and stir in all at once:

  • 1/4 cup of flour

Cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Stir in a mixture of

  • 1/4 cup of butter/olive oil
  • 3 chopped/ground garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground thyme

Add and keep stirring:

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk

Raise the heat and when the mixture starts to thicken, add
  • 1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes (I used some homemade salsa)
  • about 1 1/2 cups of salmon scraps

You'll have to stir a bit more carefully to avoid breaking up the salmon.

Once it's hot again, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until the salmon is cooked (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Salt to taste and serve over pasta.

Posted by JAY at 11:22 AM

April 10, 2004

Movie: Eternal Sunshine

... of the Spotless Mind

Through the first third of this movie I was feeling that it was heavy and ponderous, though skillfully done. By the end, however, I was really enjoying the movie.

It avoided most of the cliches that it set up and though it's ending was just slightly trite, it wasn't enough to detract from the stunning middle. Inventively told with a complex narrative structure, Eternal Sunshine manages to be suspenseful, funny and emotional at the same time.

It truly begins when Joel (Jim Carrey) decides to have the memory of his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) erased. From there, the movie quickly begins to become a morality tale - with "be careful what you wish for" as it's main message. The sacredness of memory and experience is also expressed throughout.

Thankfully, by the end, it becomes more complicated than that. Told in a carefully non-linear narrative, the lives of the awkward "professionals" performing the procedure become entwined with their patients'.

I ended up enjoying this movie a lot - which was a pleasant surprise, given my reaction at the beginning.

Posted by JAY at 10:47 AM

April 11, 2004

Sick

Bleah, it figures, it's a long weekend and I'm feeling under the weather. Not in any great discomfort or anything, just a sore, phlegmy throat.

Sigh.

Oh well, if I'm not better by Tuesday, I'll probably stay home from work. Ordinarily I'd just go in, because it makes little difference if I'm sick at home or sick at work, but there's someone at work with a medical condition that makes it inconsiderate to risk infection.

Posted by JAY at 01:18 PM

Recipe: Custard

I made some custard yesterday. It was a bit rich, and didn't set perfectly (although, I didn't wait for them to cool all the way, so that might have been the problem). Next time, I think I'll substitute 3 whole eggs for 5 of the yolks. Still, it was yummy.

Update: when cool, it was a perfect consistency - just barely solid. What a lot of fat, though...

Read on for the recipe.

Classic Custard

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In the microwave, heat until dissolved, stirring every minute

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cups sugar

Meanwhile, set a large pan of water to boil on the stove.

In a smaller bowl, blend with a fork:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dollop of maple syrup (optional)

Take a few tablespoons of the heated cream mixture at a time and stir it into the egg yolks (this is so the eggs gradually rise in temperature, and don't solidify). Once you've got about 1 cup of heated cream in the eggs, you can pour the egg mix into the cream mixture, while stirring.

Strain and discard any solids.

Line a shallow large pan with a tea cloth and arrange 8 ramekins/small bowls on the tea cloth. The ramekins should hold between 2/3 and 3/4 cups.

Divide the custard mixture among the ramekins. Pour the steaming water into the shallow pan, being careful not to get any in the ramekins.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the centers are barely set and just jiggle slightly. Check every few minutes after the first 30 minutes.

Cool on a tray, refridgerate if desired (or if storing) and then enjoy!

Posted by JAY at 01:33 PM

April 13, 2004

Sick/Working/NotWorking

Yeah, about not going to work sick...

Well, I forgot there was an install that I wanted to do/told people I'd do today. Thankfully, the person with the weak immune system wasn't there today. However, about 1/2 way through the day I basically ran out of steam.

So I'm taking tomorrow off to try to shake this thing for good. (I don't know why I always don't - it always takes a miserable day at work to make me stay home the next).

Posted by JAY at 09:19 PM

April 17, 2004

Movie: The Punisher

Saw The Punisher. I like comic book movies in general, and this one was mildly entertaining. Very mildly. But I still enjoyed it.

It basically had no plot at all. Bad guy kills good guy's family, good guy returns the favor. And that's it. The implementation wasn't particularly stylish, though nothing grated badly. Some self-awareness of its limitations would've helped a lot.

Posted by JAY at 07:50 PM

April 19, 2004

Movie: Goodbye, Lenin!

There's a lot going on in Goodbye, Lenin! The German film deftly blends the personal and the political - a nice change from the intense but narrow focus of the last few movies shown by Southlake Cinemania.

Mother Christiane (Katrin Sass) falls into a coma when she sees her son Alex (Daniel Brühl) at an anti-Socialist protest. When she finally comes around, the Berlin Wall has been torn down and East/West Germany has been united.

To spare his mother a possibly life-threatening shock, Alex recreates Socialist Germany in his mother's sick room, with predictably funny results. As the scheme gets more and more elaborate, Alex drags the neighbours and friends into the act. The ease with which everyone falls into a socialist fantasy contrasts with the uncertain results of a newly capitalist state.

Humorous and poignant, the film does seem to drag a bit at times. Overall, though, it was very enjoyable. My favorite performance was by Katrin Sass, who manages to be frail, luminous, iron-willed and cowardly in natural succession.

Posted by JAY at 08:10 PM

April 21, 2004

Appreciation Day

Staff appreciation day at the office today, so we got free food :)

Vegetarian lasagna and salad were just ok, but the chicken in tomato sauce was actually awesome! Yum.

Also got a nice pen.

Posted by JAY at 07:46 PM

April 25, 2004

Portion Control

Found a good deal at the Dollar Store in the mall. $1 for 15 Reese Peanut Butter Cups. That's, like, 7 cents a piece! Compare that to 25 cents+ for normal retail in the packs of three.

So I bought 3 bags. Ate 2 of them. Let's do the math, shall we?

30 pieces x 93 calories = 2790 calories. Oy.

Posted by JAY at 08:52 PM

April 27, 2004

Nuts to You!

AC was kind enough to bring in some cashews for the lunch room. These, however, were no ordinary cashews. They're coated in a wasabi flavored shell that is one of the vilest things I've eaten in a while, but still quite an experience.

Of course, I wasn't about to suffer in solitude, so I got BA to try one. (She wanted to know why I was taking the picture.) The screams and faces she made while trying to choke it down were absolutely hilarious! KC wasn't nearly as funny - warned, perhaps, by our expressions, she sucked on it before crunching down and then promptly made a (still very funny) face and spat it out.

Before you feel too sorry for either of them, note that BA was complicit in getting KC to try them and is taking one home for her husband to try!

Posted by JAY at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)

April 28, 2004

On My Walk

On my walk today I saw a groundhog (I think it was a groundhog) chasing a squirrel across my path. The squirrel escaped up a tree. I approached the groundhog, but as I got closer he disappeared into a groundhog hole.

Also came across a stolen bike. It was a pretty expensive one - a Raleigh with Shimano gears. It was missing a seat, but after passing it I felt guilty and went back to pick it up. I figured I could ride it to the police station up the hill. Unfortunately, it wasn't in riding condition... the wheels wouldn't turn.

Posted by JAY at 08:31 PM

April 29, 2004

Pastry Puffs

Mom made some choux pastry puffs, so I did the pastry cream (a really rich custard) and chocolate glaze (semi sweet chocolate with a little butter). I had some extra of both, so I mixed it together to make a chocolate pudding.

This is one of those recipes that I don't really think is worth the trouble. Assembling the 3 things doesn't really add to the experience in any way.

Posted by JAY at 08:09 PM