Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recipe: Bean Salad with Fennel and Quinoa

Bean Salad

1 Can of Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained (or cooked dry beans)
1 Can of Kidney Beans (or other bean of choice), Rinsed and Drained
2 Cobs of Corn
1/3 Cup Fennel, Chopped or Sliced
1/4 Cup Red Onion, Chopped or Sliced
1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, Cooked and Cooled
1/2 Large Red Pepper (or whole small one), Chopped

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
About 3 tbsp Wine Vinegar (add to your own taste)
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 Cloves Garlic
Dash of Pepper
Dash of Sugar/Honey
Dried Chilies (optional)

Grill the corn over medium heat on the BBQ, turning occasionally to prevent burning. When it has a nice light brown roasting, it's done. Cook Quinoa according to directions (1 1/4 cup water : 1 cup quinoa), set both aside in the fridge to cool.

Prepare beans and vegetables, combine in a bowl. When quinoa and Corn are cool, cut the kernels off the cobs and combine everything with dressing in the bowl and stir before serving!

I would've added tomatoes, myself, but our son hates them, so it made much more sense to forgo them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Creamy Strawberry/Rapsberry Oatmeal w/ Chocolate Coconut Topping

I'll admit, this might be a bit rich for breakfast or brunch, but you can skip the topping if you'd not into the morning sweet.

Creamy Berry Oatmeal

Oatmeal Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Water (about 3 tbsp less than 1/2 cup, the berry juice will make up for the rest)
4-5 Chopped Strawberries
7 or 8 Raspberries

Topping Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
4 tbsp Chopped Walnuts
3-4 tbsp Vegan Chocolate Chunks or Chips

Combine oats, soy milk and water in a pot and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and add the berries, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler (or use a small pot filled with an inch of water boiling over medium heat and a bowl that sits well on the top of the pot). In a pan, dry roast the chopped nuts and coconut until the coconut is a light brown. Remove from heat and stir into the melted chocolate.

Put the oatmeal in a bowl and top with chocolate mixture!

If you are omitting the topping, but still want a taste of coconut, leave out 3 tbsp of soy milk and replace with coconut milk instead.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Record a Week: Mose Allison - Back Country Suite/Local Color

Wow, I'm starting writing this at 10:45 and it's a double record, so I am going to have to listen and write at the same time to get this under my self-imposed Saturday Deadline!

This album is a re-release of his Debut Album "Back Country Suite" and his second effort, "Local Color".

Mose Allison

SIDE 1. (Originally released on the album Back Country Suite)

SIDE 2. (Originally released on the album Back Country Suite)

SIDE 3. (Originally released on the album Local Color)

SIDE 4. (Originally released on the album Local Color)

An incredible piano player, Mose Allison's Jazz styles range from the smooth piano lounge to the snap-your-fingers jazz dance club. It's easy to see how he influenced and is covered by the Clash, The Who, The Stones, Hendrix, Elvis Costello, and the Yardbirds; Van Morrison even did an entire Album's worth. The Pixies song "Allison" is a tribute to him. The songs on these albums, a mixture of his own work and variations on others', are a foundation for his 40+ albums and have a sound that wove through Jazz and Rock for years to follow.

In this reissue, Pete Townshend and Ira Gitler fill the gatefold with tales of his life and his influence on them.

Years before Elvis brought was a white man doing black music, a teenage Mose Allison was playing jazz with an also teenage B.B. King in Memphis.

The first side of the record sounds like something you would hear on Itunes when you double-click a song. The songs start and play for about a minute before fading out, sounding more like a snippet than a complete works. The songs focus on the instrumentation (mainly his piano, but including solos on other instruments), with vocals used sparingly. The sparse use of vocals really pulls you into focus after you lose yourself in the groove of the instrumental tracks. Once you flip the record over, the other three sides have a more traditional length to them and a more complete feel as well. He even plays trumpet on the opening track of the final side.

I love the sounds on old records and I wish sometimes that things had never gone digital. The effect of the old microphones and the recording on to tape has such a warm, comfortable feel to it. Drums were recorded with two microphones and sound better than many of today's ten plus microphone setups.

This record is a terrific example of why I started this project in the first place. I have a whole host of records that I've never listened to and I just knew that I would be exposed to a bunch of new areas of music that I hadn't been previously. This record is a real gem and here's to hoping that I uncover more treasures along the way.

(writing finished at 11:51, record played until 11:59)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recipe: Pizza Sauce with Sweet Potato

1 can of Whole Tomatoes (drained, or be prepared to add tomato paste to thicken if you'd rather)
2 tsp Fresh or 1 tbsp Dried Basil (Oregano would also work, or both)
1 tbsp (or one second pour) of Balsamic
1 tbsp (or one second pour again) of Olive Oil
2 cloves Minced Garlic
Chili Pepper Flakes (depending how spicy you like it - 1/2 tsp at the least, I used about 1/2 tbsp)
1 Yam or Sweet Potato, peeled and chopped

Stew the tomatoes in a pot over medium heat until they break up a bit. Add the garlic, basil and balsamic and simmer until tomatoes break up quite a bit. In a separate pot, boil up yam/sweet potato until well cooked and drain. Add olive oil and chili pepper flakes to tomato blend and simmer for about 5 minutes. Use a hand blender to puree the tomato mixture, then add the yam and mash it in, stirring to get a smooth mixture.

It makes enough for a few pizzas. It has a nice mixture of sweet and spicy, which is a change of pace from regular tomato sauce.

For toppings, I use veggie ground, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted red pepper and broccoli as my most frequent toppings, but it is always fun to experiment with different things.

I usually use a home-made crust, but you can grab them pre-made at the grocery store for pretty cheap, and it cuts down on prep time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Ode to London

Dear London,

There are many things to like about you. Your plentiful forests; your bounty of wildlife (that runs right over the roads and through residential areas); your local farms that provide a summer full of wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables; your downtown festivals that have a great assortment of foods, music and crafts; your off leash dog parks; and your ultra cheap real estate (although there are ultra high property taxes to match).

Then there are the things that I would consider 'middle ground'; the things that I don't love, but I can tolerate. They may even be things that I was 100% against, but have learned to put up with, or at least let roll off. Your lack of vegan food options (though this is steadily increasing, to the point I would even consider sliding it into the first paragraph); your lack of entertainment/music scene (big bands at the JLC, not as much in the way of smaller bands, or getting interest in them...venues closing, etc.); and your 100 trains that cross roads and often make me arrive late to my destination (more on these trains in the next section).

There are two things about you, though, London that really get my blood boiling.

One is your matter-of-fact racism. I try to let roll off sometimes because London is ultra-white and I could spend a loooot of time stressing out and being upset over it, but many times I end up having to say something.

Plenty of instances I have had interactions with a customer who will use a mock accent or sliding in a racial slur while commenting on things being made in China or India or anywhere else not in Canada or USA.

Once in a while we have what is called a 'lunch and learn' where a company will send in their salesman to come in and teach us about new products or certification standards or whatever, and they'll buy us lunch since we are using our lunch hour to be there. On one particular occasion, this one salesman came in and gave his report on new products (not being able to answer a single one of my questions along the way, saying things like 'I should look into that') and then right near the end he was talking about his products being made here in Canada, while competitors were made in China. Then he proceeded to pull the sides of his eyes out and talk in broken English with a Chinese accent, saying something about making poor quality products. Now, behaviour like this is intolerable at any time, but it was even worse, as he was representing an entire company as he was doing it. I was so appalled that I wrote a note to the company he was representing. I never heard back from them, and I still see the salesman come around so I guess it didn't make a difference. It's also worth noting that he is pretty useless and I have always ended up having to call the company for support because he can't answer my questions.

Actually, I've definitely heard sexist and homophobic comments as well, so the whole category could just be filed under bigotry. I suppose when it comes down to it, these lovely qualities are often found together.

The one issue that I face every day and invariably drives me right up the wall and gets my blood boiling is driving.

Driving in the city of London makes no sense. There was no foresight to the planning of the roads in the city and no attempt has been made to rectify any of the several issues. In addition to (or possibly as a result of) this, nobody knows how to drive.

The main issue is the lack of roads that lead anywhere. Here is a rough road map of the town of London:
Very Accurate City of London Roadmap

The city was built on the river, presumably as an access point/industrial location. As you can see, there are only four roads that span the city from top to bottom. Every other street stops at the river (nice and pretty - note the colour) or some random park or building or something else they did not plan around. As a result, the four roads are always all busy and because they are so frequently travelled, they need to be repaired come spring every year. Then you have additional delays caused by half of the road being torn up from the first day the frost clears until the snow starts staying on the ground.

Also, it is as if the road planners decided that they didn't want the east-west roads to be left out or feel inferior, so they would only make a handful of roads that span the city that direction as well. There is certainly not many things that keep a road from spanning the city that way (other than the one change of direction of the river that is seemingly impossible to bridge), so I can't see any other reason why they wouldn't provide more routes that way.

In most other cities I've been in, when you hit some traffic, you can dodge down a side street in the direction you are heading and keep up a left-right-left or right-left-right pattern up until you get to another major street or your destination. When you do that here, you get run through a series of subdivisions filled with crescents and courts (except downtown where you can mostly go in a straight line for at least a couple blocks). Therefore you are left either turning around and going back to where you came from, or getting spit out at a completely different road than you would figure to end up on.

Then there are the trains. There are numerous trains for cargo and passengers that travel in and out of London. While I applaud this method of transportation, I do not like how every trip you take can be interrupted by a train. They cross most roads at one point or another and seem to always come when you are just a minute or two behind already, completely blowing up your chance of making it on time. Then you leave fifteen minutes earlier the next time and end up with all green lights and no trains.
Damn Trains

Also, there are the ill-positioned lane reductions. This is partly on the designers of the road and partly on the drivers. Every city has roads with lane reductions. They happen when areas become less populated, leave town, or they can be as a result of construction. The permanent ones usually create a tiny amount of traffic as people merge in, while the construction ones always cause more as people are flying along a road normally 4 lanes wide and remember last minute that they've reduced the lanes before their turn when they thought it was after. That is to be expected. There is one here in London where a road reduces a lane about 20 metres after a set of lights (only to open up again about a kilometre up the road for some reason). This one irks me to no end. Everybody in London knows that this happens. Yet, when you try to be a good driver and park 16th in line in the lane that stays, a whole pile of cars drive up beside you and pretend as if they didn't know the lane ended after the light. I can buy one or two cars in there that simply forget or want to gun it ahead of the busier line, but there is consistently a large amount of cars there. How can they fix this oversight? Get rid of the right turn lane, paint some arrows on the right lane for the last 15 metres or so and stick a sign in the ground that says this lane must turn right.
Urge to Kill: Rising

Now that I've mentioned the drivers, I will move over to my concerns about them. There are all the regular problems of idiot drivers like speeding 50km/h over the limit and dodging into your lane with no signal or darting into a space that leaves one inch or so in front of them before the next car and another inch or so between the back of their car and yours. But in addition to these commonly faced issues, London has its own specialties.

Whenever you are at an intersection, the drivers treat the yellow as part of the green and the first five seconds of the red as a yellow. I think this started at one intersection where the east-west street gets a full green with left turns going west and then a full green with lefts going east before the green light going north and south. This 3-step lighting can be a bit of a nuisance if you arrive just as the light is changing, as you have to wait an extra set of lights before you can go again. Perhaps some people saw the practice happening at this intersection and decided it was perfectly fine, and that they would apply it at every intersection they encounter.
Too Many Cars Turning Left

Sometimes, though, one of these 'where I have to be is more important than the law of traffic' drivers gets behind a responsible driver in the left turn lane and this happens:
No Left Turn For You, Jerk

That situation kind of makes me laugh, and I am very happy when I see another driver doing the responsible thing and not going way after they should.

All in all, these issues are certainly not applicable to every resident you have, London, but I thought you might like to know so you can keep an eye on them. And thank you for all of the good things that you provide.

J. Tobias Milton

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Peaches and More Cobbler

6 Peaches
1 or 2 Pears
Small Container of Raspberries
1/3 cup Sugar
4 tbsp flour

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Oats
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
Margarine (just enough to make the mixture crumbly..about 1/4 cup or so)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Slice peaches and pears into thin slices (no pits or seeds obviously) and add with the raspberries in a bowl. Coats with the 1/3 cup sugar and 4 tbsp flour and stir. Lay out in a 9x13 pan and set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oats and brown sugar. Knead in margarine in small amounts until the mixture sticks together in a way you can crumble it over the fruit.

Top the fruit mixture with the crumble and heat until the fruit sizzles, then broil until the top is browned.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Record a Week: The All American Pop Collection Box Set (Volumes 1-5)

So I had thought of doing this in 5 segments...but it is one box set and I am writing this over the course of a couple weeks.

All American Pop Collection Vol.1-5

DA DOO RON RON - Crystals
BOTTLE OF WINE - Jimmy Gilmer
NEW ORLEANS - Gary "US" Bonds

LET'S TWIST AGAIN - Chubby Checker
TELL HIM - Exciters
LIMBO ROCK - Chubby Checker

LOUIE LOUIE - Kingsmen
SURF CITY - Jan and Dean
RUN AWAY - Del Shannon
HE'S SO FINE - The Cliftons

LETS DANCE - Chris Montez
I FOUGHT THE LAW - Bobby Fuller Four
DONNA - Richie Valens

ONE TIN SOLDIER - Original Caste

COUNT ME IN - Gary Lewis And The Playboys
KEEP SEARCHIN' - Del Shannon
GOIN' OUT OF MY HEAD - Little Anthony And The Imperials

PEPPERMINT TWIST - Joey Dee and the Starliters
SEA CRUISE - Frankie Ford
THE TWIST - Chubby Checker

ONE FINE DAY - The Chiffons
PIPELINE - Chantays
QUARTER TO THREE - Gary 'U.S.' Bonds

IT'S MY PARTY - Leslie Gore
LAST KISS - J. Frank Wilson
SOLDIER BOY - The Shirelles
CHARLIE BROWN - The Coasters

HONEYCOMB - Jimmy Rodgers
MY GUY - Mary Wells
SUGAR SHACK - Jimmy Gilmer
WIPE OUT - The Surfaris
DO YOU WANNA DANCE - Bobby Freeman

Oh, the era of the soda pop shop and the jukebox. Well, I suppose this collection came out in the 60's, which is technically a decade later than that, and some of the songs with a protest feel to them do reflect that. For the most part, however, the sweet soda pop rock sounds are all there. I love the fashion, the hair and the dancing from that era. Before Beatlemania and the hippie movement settled in, songs found on this record encouraged people to dance the swing and the jive (and helped form the beginning of dances like the twist).

I found myself taking my daughter's hand in mine and holding her against my neck as I danced around the basement. This was great because I love dancing (terribly) and the movements rocked her to a soft sleep on my shoulder. As this is a hits album, there aren't particularly 'off' songs. However, I grew up listening to about half of these on various records at the cottage, so I certainly enjoyed hearing those songs and sang along, as I tend to do with anything even remotely familiar. I really liked hearing Sea Cruise, because I have an aunt that I rarely get to see that plays that song. As a kid I always loved hearing her belt out 'OOOOOO-EEE, OOOOOO-EEE BABY, won't you let me take you on a sea cruise'.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Would You Rather...

You know that game you play when you are younger 'would you rather'? It's where you pose the question of which thing another person would rather do between two (usually increasingly absurd) situations. For instance, at the beginning of the game, it might be something like 'would you rather run a mile in the rain or eat a grasshopper'; whereas later in the game it might be more like 'would you rather ride a bucking bronco naked, backwards and blindfolded after drinking a litre of vodka or fight a bear armed only with rocks while riding a unicycle?' Well, maybe that one isn't an example you would use when you are younger, but you get the idea.

Well it came up the other night. I was sitting in bed the other night and some obvious choice scenario came up and I said 'that's like asking would you rather have a million dollars or a bucket of sand?' My wife replied 'well, that depends on the situation, I guess.'

And that lead to a bizarre series of thoughts involving a baby on fire and being stranded in a pit of sand with no container to hold enough sand to put out the fire.

It went a little like this:

Would you Rather?
Which would you rather have?

Easy Choice!
That's easy!

Rich, Happy Mom
Money is good!


Throwing Money

Throwing Sand

In retrospect:
Choose the Sand
This will Prevent Potential Baby Fires!

So, the moral of the story is this. When you play that game, think very carefully about the consequences of your choice or you might not be able to put out your baby if it sets on fire.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Brunch: A Week Off

We're away at the cottage this weekend, so I probably won't be making brunch and I definitely won't be on a computer to post anything if I do.

So, I thought I'd leave this link to waffles. These are the waffles I make the msot, and I loooove them.


I tend to blend the flax a little bit less because I like having the flax pieces big in the waffles. Also, I like adding fruit and sometimes to replace some of that oil with overripe bananas.

Anyhow, I'll be back at it next weekendm but enjoy these in the meantime! A good reason to go out and get a waffle iron if you don't yet have one.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Record a Week: The Alberts/The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, The Temperance Seven

Released in 1971, this is a compilation of singles by the three bands listed in the title.

YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY - The Temperance Seven
CHARLEY MY BOY - The Temperance Seven
THANKS FOR THE MELODY - The Temperance Seven
P.C.Q. (Please Charleston Quietly) - The Temperance Seven
BUTTON UP YOUR OVERCOAT - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

PASADENA - The Temperance Seven
SUGAR - The Temperance Seven
EASY MONEY - The Temperance Seven
THE SHAKE - The Temperance Seven
ALLEY OOP - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
SLEEP VALLEY - The Alberts

Despite being released in 1971 and the songs being mostly from the 1960s, this album is straight up 1920's flapper music. It sounds mostly like a soundtrack to an early Chaplin comedy film, which I think is sort of what they're going for. Each of the bands model themselves after that bopping dance style with stacatto horns and plenty of trombone slides.

The Alberts were a comedy/jazz fusion that only released songs on two albums including this one.

The Temperance Seven were formed in 1955 and played in that lineup through the early 1960s. They have played in various formations over the years and still play shows from time to time.

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band has had several different names and different lineups. They made a slide towards rock music in the later 60s. They performed weekly on the hit children's show 'Do Not Adjust Your Set'. In the film 'Magical Mystery Tour', they performed their song Death Cab For Cutie (where the band that bears no resemblance to this band goot their name).

This music is WAY before my time. The music itself is way before the time in which it was written, but I suppose every other music style has recycled itself in time. I couldn't really get into it, but I enjoy the fashion style from that era, so I can live with it.

Plus, Nickleback is famous now and anything is better than that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Confuse my Dog (Part I?)

This is my lovely dog Dexter. He is a good dog; he doesn't lick, he doesn't jump up unless prompted and he follows basic commands.


The other day I was lying on the couch with the fam and he was sleeping in his usual spot on the chair. Suddenly he sparked awake and started growling. This usually happens in one of very few ways: there are other dogs or teenagers in the park behind the backyard (THAT'S MY PARK!); someone encroaches on him eating a special food (leftover foods or a special dog treat) or a dog tries to get his stick at the dog park. Now, apparently, you can add to the list the sound that happens when you lock the van.

I was typing something up on the laptop and everyone else was watching tv. I must have changed positions a little bit and rustled the contents of my pocket. This caused one of my other keys to press up against the van key (with remote locking controls). The lock-up function is accompanied by a 'beep beep' as an auditory assurance that your vehicle is locked as you're walking away.

Well, this did not sit well with Dexter. We couldn't hear the van repeatedly beeping and at first we thought maybe it was something in the park making him mad, but he walked towards the garage. He started growling and then barking. Eventually I figured it out and took my keys out and he calmed down. But then I thought I would try to see if he would get upset by the sound, or if he'd get used to it.

This lead to a cycle that went something like this:

Don't Let Sleeping Dogs Lie









...and so on. I tried not too carry it on too long, because it was hurting his poor head, but it was pretty amusing while it lasted.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Brunch - French Toast With Peaches and more

Vegan French Toast

French Toast Ingredients:
6-8 Pieces of Bread
3/4 Cup Soy Milk
1-2 Ripe Bananas
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla (or the scraping of 1 vanilla bean)
1 Tbsp Vegan Margarine (optional)

Blend the milk, banana, cinnamon and vanilla and transfer to a large plate or roasting pan. Dip the bread in the banana mixture and fry over medium heat in a large pan. If the bread is still too soft after browning both sides, put on a oil-sprayed cookie sheet in the oven at 350F until it reaches desired consistency. If you want to avoid the margarine, you can put it directly into the oven at 350F and flip halfway through.

3 Ripe Peaches
2 tbsp Chopped Walnuts
2 tbsp Oats
1 1/2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Shredded Coconut OR 1 tbsp Icing Sugar
Splash Maple Syrup
Dab of Vegan Margarine

In a medium pan, heat margarine over medium heat. Slice peaches into small slices and put into pan, heat for a few minutes. Add other ingredients (don't add the icing sugar if you are using it instead of coconut) and stir together. Heat until peaches are soft. Serve over the french toast! If you are using icing sugar, dust it over the french toast when the peach mixture is over top of it. Enjoy!

Pain dorĂ© avec des pĂȘches

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Record a Week: Cannonball Adderley - Phenix

Recorded in 1975 only 4 months before his death, Phenix was Adderley's second-last studio recording.

High Fly
Work Song
Sack O' Woe

Jive Samba
This Here
The Sidewalk of New York

Hambi Nami
74 Miles Away

Country Preacher
Stars Fell on Alabama
Walk Tall
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

When I turned on the first side, this sounded entirely like a lounge-style record. I wondered what I had gotten myself into, because it was at this point I noticed it was a double record. However, after the soft jazz/lounge feel establishes itself, Adderley lets loose.

Picture yourself in a smokey jazz club past midnight and the headliner comes on. The backup band starts playing and as they get into it, the spotlight lights up the centre of the stage. You had not previously noticed an unlit portion of the stage, but now that the main performer's presence is filling it up, you wonder how you never saw it. Then the music starts really going. As my dad would say: "the band was cooking". That's where this record takes you.

Using a host of guest performers, Adderley covers a lot of ground on this double LP. It flows through the various styles he covered in his 20+ years of making music and fits as a perfect retrospect, even though it wasn't intended as such.

Posthumous, his music lives on through Dr. Dre's "Bar One" and numerous other samples in hip-hop music.

It took me a while to get into it, but I really got into Country Preacher and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. I think a second listen would let me appreciate some of the songs I maybe didn't give the best chance the first time around.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Like Benjamin Button, But in Reverse

Young Toby
I have noticed lately that as I age in years, I am aging inversely in maturity. It would seem that in many ways I am more a kid now (and in others the same amount of kid-ness...luckily, in some areas I've grown up).

As a child I always wanted to grow up much faster than nature intended. I had no interest in being a kid, I was ready to be an adult. I partially attribute this to the fact that my parents were always having fun. They had people over all the time for visits or parties and my dad was always travelling for work, which I am sure was much less interesting than I imagined. The other part is just who I am, everything goes directly from 0-100. My dad says that when I was a kid, when I stood up, I started running immediately; that I wanted to go from breast milk right to foie gras. It's not like I wasn't interested in kids things; I loved Lego and puzzles and collecting cards and playing with friends and water balloon fights. I just wanted to be a grown up. I often related to them better and I looked forward to all of the joys I thought adulthood would bring.

One day when I was about 3 years old, my parents were painting a room and I very much wanted to help. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hey can I help you paint?"
Mom: "I think we're okay sweetheart."
Me: "But I really want to help!"
Dad: "Not this time around, son."

(Five or so minutes later)

Me: "Can I help paint?"
Mom: "We talked about this already."
Dad(irritated by this point): "WE SAID NO!"
Me: "LET ME PAINT!!!!!!!"
Both Parents: "NOOOO!!!"

(I go into the hall and put some serious thought into it before putting my hand in my pockets and strolling back in)

Me: "Say, wasn't I going to paint that wall?"

My parents wanted to be really angry with me, but apparently they were laughing too hard. I still didn't get to paint the wall, though.

When I was younger, I never really had that sense of invincibility that kids seem to have. Possibly because of this:

Broken Skull
(I love how it says 'Toby is the son of Steve Milton, writer for the Blue Jays' like that would make people pay more attention or something)

I was always a little timid about the bigger, faster rides, the higher diving board and other such things. I would still do them, but I certainly was not the first one in line, nor was I running into them full steam like you see some kids do. Then one day, like a lightswitch, I realized that I was in fact indestructible! "Hey I didn't die when I hit my skull, Nothing can kill me!" This lead to a streak of trampoline jumping from the roof, the biggest rides, cliff diving from whatever rocks I could find, tattoos, para-sailing and eventually, skydiving. I thought it would maybe wear off, but skydiving was only a couple years ago and I was cliff jumping this weekend. Also, I am still aching to go bungee jumping. Perhaps one day I will break my leg, or hopefully, just realize I am too old for such things. With some luck,
that realization will happen before the being too old and therefore leg-breaking does.

Skydiving Some ruin of a building
(I didn't have health insurance coverage on either of these jumps....though it wouldn't have helped if something went wrong skydiving)

Some things never change, though.

I was eating a toasted bagel with peanut butter and banana the other day and as I went to wipe all the peanut butter off my face afterward, I was reminded of a trip I took to an apple picking place when I was a kid.

We used to go as a family to pick apples in the fall, usually on Thanksgiving Monday. On this one particular time, one of my friends was with us, and one of my parents had offered to buy us something from the bakery. We asked if we could have something cake-y and the thing they had was a brownie. But this was no ordinary brownie, it was a super-size brownie.

Doomed to Fail

I looked at the brownie trying to figure out how I could possibly attack it without getting it everywhere. I thought maybe from the corner, but no. I tried breaking off a piece, but it just got my hands all messy.

Child-Head-Sized Brownie

Eventually I just forged ahead and chowed it down the way that any child would. Why would they make a brownie that large? Kids are the only ones who would possibly buy such an item and they'll only ever end up looking like this:

Brownie Face

This is not a huge issue for kids, as I am sure you have seen many kids walking around with crap on their face from similar endeavours. However, every day as a 27 year old, I eat a Toasted bagel with peanut butter and banana and it leads to a similar situation.

How do I eat this?

I look at the bagel, looking for the point with the least amount of peanut butter and then I try out a bite. Sometimes I get a few bites in before it happens, but I always end up with it on my face. On a good day, it'll be only on the corners of my mouth, but on a bad day, when those bananas really push that melty peanut butter into globs, it's more like this:

Messy Adult Face

You'll notice the lack of smile in this one, because I'm an adult now, so I should be sad about making such a mess. It happens with other foods, too, but nothing as bad or as often as this.

Luckily I have the presence of mind to get quickly to the washroom and wash off the mess, but sometimes there's a customer at the counter that needs help and I can't quite bring myself to say "Hold on one second I have peanut butter all over my face like a little kid."

P.S. I know that Benjamin Button in reverse is just regular time, it's something I read on lamebook.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Scrambled Tofu with Hashbrowns

Scramble Ingredients:
1/2 Brick Firm Tofu (or more if you are making it for company)
1/4 Sweet Onion, finely diced
1 tsp Turmeric (app. use judgement as to colour saturation)
1/2-3/4 tsp Cumin (more if whole brick)
Vegetable oil (start with just a bit, but you may need to add more to lubricate)
Salt and Pepper
Chili Flakes (optional, if you like spicy)

Take the tofu out of packaging/water and squeeze out the water, wrap in a paper towel to draw out the rest of the excess water.

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Crumble in the tofu (grab it in your hands and rub between fingers to crumble) and stir in with onions. This is where you can judge if you need to add more oil. Add the turmeric and cumin, stir thoroughly to coat mixture (should be all yellow, but not goopy with oil and too much of the spice), salt and pepper and chilies (if using). Reduce heat and stir frequently to avoid browning.

You can also add coloured peppers or other vegetables if you'd like. If you do, add after it is mostly cooked, to avoid them being covered in the spice mixture.

*NOTE: Omit onions and cook ahead to use as 'eggs' in Pad Thai or Fried Rice.

I used hashbrowns from the freezer, but to make your own hashbrowns (not patties), just blanch and dice up a couple of potatoes into small pieces and cook with a bit of oil and onions in a pan until it browns up and the potatoes stick together. Done when you can pierce with a fork.

Tofu Scramble

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Record a Week: Bryan Adams - Reckless

Bryan Adams - Reckless

Released in 1984, a year after his breakout Cuts Like a Knife, Reckless vaulted Adams into superstar status.



Oh, the 80's. The hair, the denim, the stadium rock. It may not be quite as hard-hitting as AC/DC, but if you strip away the screechy vocals and replace them with raspy serenading and tone down the guitars a touch, the formula is the same. Big sounding drums, lots of guitar solos, group singing or chanting parts. This album was his identity for years and contains a mix of harder and softer hits. Mixing and mastering must have been a treat in the 80's. I don't think they had to add reverb on the individual tracks, they probably just added it to the entire mix at once. "Would you rather sound like you're playing in an arena, a stadium or a large hall?"

I don't really listen to Bryan Adams, but was surprised to see how many songs I knew the words to. I suppose it's not too shocking, considering I was only a year old when it came out and most of the songs make frequent appearances on every radio station that play in malls, stores and most places I've ever worked. When I first looked at the song list, I thought it might have been a 'Greatest Hits' album, because 90% of the songs I know by him are on here. I wouldn't reach to listen to this record, but I don't think I would change the station if One Night Love Affair or Heaven came on the radio. I most likely would also sing along if it was Summer of '69 or Run to You.