November 2008

General30 Nov 2008 07:42 pm

Just thought it might be nice to drum up some extra support for Mark, who owns and maintains my URL.

In the beginning this was because I wasn’t as tech savvy and he was kind enough to offer up some webspace. Now that I know more, I’m just too comfy in the little nest I’ve built here and don’t feel like moving. Kind of like the slow rise from bed on a -25 winter day from under a fluffy duvet.

Also, I’m just kinda sorta a procrastinator and haven’t gotten around to moving yet.

For now, all I can do is tell you that he runs an exceedingly well done GLBT newsblog, with daily drawings. Slap Upside the Head has been nominated for a series of Canadian blog awards, so you should all go vote for him.

If anything, he should win an award for his blog tag line: Combatting bigotry the gayest way I know how.

And in case you were wondering, here’s the proper way to administer a slap upside the head:

Credit: Mark M., S.U.T.H.
Food and Food: Edmonton30 Nov 2008 11:47 am

For those of you in Edmonton who are also fans of Dream Tea House bubble teas, I’ve put their extensive menu online. This is mostly because of my own failing memory and indecisiveness, but it may be of use to you as well. I always end up going with the same old standby flavours when I panic at the cafe, unable to decide on something new to try and a line begins to form behind me. Hopefully this will remedy that a bit.

Anyhow: Dream Tea House bubble tea menu

Food29 Nov 2008 08:00 am

A few drinks I’ve tried lately.

Dry Soda in lavender flavour

$3.99 at Sobeys (in Calgary). Now available at Sobeys on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.

This was a very light tasting soda, infused with the flavour and scent of lavender. Calming! It was indeed dry. Apparently it was created by a woman who wanted to drink something when she was pregnant. A new idea was born! ahahahahahah…ahem.

Not overly bubbly, it makes me wonder how hard it would be to use some lavender I have to make simple syrup and make my own. Would be delicious with some sort of flavourless liquor, perhaps vodka.

Also available in kumquat, rhubarb, lemongrass, and now, vanilla bean and juniper berry. I may incorporate this into my beer tasting (when I finally have it) as a side soda tasting for people who do not drink.

Bulmers cider (original)

(this may also be found under the name Magners, although that is the export brand. Same stuff in the bottle apparently, though)

A visit to Chateau Louis liquor store netted some interesting beers, and also this cider. The counter clerk said it was “the best” and I do agree; highly quaffable. Not overly carbonated or as sharp as the most common cider here; Strongbow. It had a lighter less bitter flavour, more watered down apple and not very dry. Very crisp.

Oddly, it was suggested as serving over ice, which we did. My first instinct was to let it warm on the counter, though, I must admit. May do that in the future. This was very drinkable, although it was quite different than most ciders I normally drink.

Food28 Nov 2008 03:56 pm

Not sure what to have for dinner tonight? Noodles are quick, easy and available in numerous combinations. I don’t think I have to say this, but I’m a fan!

Give the Noodlr a whirl and it will help you determine what new noodle combo to try for dinner tonight…way more fun than flipping through a recipe book or even searching online.

(more info on the fun genesis of this project available here: Fine Furious Life)

General and work (kinda)28 Nov 2008 09:31 am

FINALLY, the remainder of the newsroom tour. You can see part one here.

This is down on the library floor. They archive every story we run and keep back copies of not only our paper, but most of the ones in Alberta for a year or more.

I think this is the first 6 months of the year, set into piles by date.

The proof reader whiteboard. For ease of work and quick reference, they keep common acronyms, phrases, terms and names on the board.

R.I.P. ed magazine. These are the covers of the section. It was an insert that ran in the paper for a number of years, slanted towards younger readers. A few faces in the newsroom got their start writing in the section as well. I got a piece published in the final print run of ed.

The last few weeks worth of major Albertan papers, as well as national ones. We maintain a separate reading room for the less frequent papers like those from Vancouver, Montreal and New York City. Reporters and photographers often reference these to see if their stories or photos ran in other papers.

From the sports section. I think the “O word” reference is to not wanting a game to go into O.T. Sports deskers usually work the latest, because they have to get the last minute stats into the paper from the west coast. Overtime can really mess with their sleep schedules.

The book section editor pod. All of these books are here for a reason by the way; they suck. The good ones are snapped up quickly.

This is where our editorial cartoonist works. He has a few TVs in the room, which he is always watching to catch last minute stories or something to draw inspiration from, I think.

Photo files in the library. They have all our archive photos, from visiting royalty to file photos of John Lennon. Good for use in a pinch when photo researching.

Reporter pods.

TVs to watch the noon, 6’oclock and 11’oclock newscasts on. Just in case we missed something.

Sometimes, I sharpen just for the hell of it.

General27 Nov 2008 11:14 am

Anyone else find it weird the INTERNET CROSSROADS has a post office?

Crafts etc26 Nov 2008 12:01 pm

In the days following my grandmother’s death, family members converged upon Thunder Bay. There was the funeral, the get-togethers…and the choosing of the items.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had to do this, God forbid you have. This is one of the rituals that you can never really know what it will feel like until it happens. It’s when you decide what you want to keep from the deceased person’s belongings. Books, coffee mugs, blankets, photos. To me, sentimental items meant the most.

One of my cousins asked for some vintage guns my grandparents hunted with. Another wanted an old moose ashtray that held coins for many years after my gran stopped smoking. I got an old Kodak Brownie camera. My brother asked for the old dry goods tins my Gran had for many years sitting on her counter. She was an avid baker and kept them topped up with sugar, flour and the ever-essential coffee.

I realized that I, too, would have liked to have them, so it’s probably for the best that they had been gotten rid of years earlier, as there may have been a tussle over them.

Much to my pleasure, I was at a estate sale when I spied the exact same tins my Gran had. They weren’t in as good of shape as hers, and the paint colour was not my favourite, but I figured I could take care of that.

The tins, as purchased.

The tins, as purchased.

After applying some primer and then some red spray paint that got all over and almost froze my finger to the spray tip (“Krylon touch,” my ass) on the porch-atio, they were looking okay.

After a coat of paint and a re-Sharpieing of the names

Candy apple red paint and a re-Sharpieing of the names

Coffee? Not in this house. Probably brown sugar instead.

I also used the opportunity to clean off our dumping zone, a.k.a. the top of the fridge so the tins would have a new home. Everything in the house seems to visit this zone from time to time. You can see that I camouflaged all the crap at the back with stuff at the front:

However, the after product pleases me much more, and has the bonus of reminding me of my Gran.

Cleaner and neater!

Cleaner and neater!

Overall, the project went well. Doing it in warmer weather probably would have helped with spray-paint finger-freeze. There are some patches and drips, so I might redo one of the tins, but overall, they look alright.

Tory; I’ll keep an eye open for a set for you!

Project cost:

  • $5 for tins at sale
  • $11.18 for spray primer and paint
Food and Food: Edmonton25 Nov 2008 07:50 am

King Noodle Pho Hoang: 10615 97 Street, open 10-9 everyday but Tuesday, CASH ONLY

As Mike reminded me last night over our steaming bowls of phở , I have always been nuts for Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a true shame we never got to Vietnam on our tour of Asia last year, as I really wanted to go and eat. And eat. And eat some more.

Anyhow, he reminded me that we mostly ate Vietnamese when we hung out as ‘friends’ in that awkward pre-dating stage. I’m not sure why; probably because it was cheap, fresh, and healthy…plus I liked it. We’ve now moved on to mostly consuming Ethiopian as our ethnic food of choice when not scouting places to review, but King Noodle / Pho Hoang is still a frequent dining location.

The reasons? It’s inexpensive (2 can dine for well under $20) and the food is just amazing. Skip the vermicelli bowls and spring rolls and go right in for the huge bowls of soup. They are the only reason to come.

The decor leaves a little to be desired, but you aren’t really there for that. Turnover at the tables is quick, so if you are waiting for one, do not despair. Most people eat and then get out.

Why yes, that IS a model ship!

There are a number of combinations, but all soups feature rich delicious beef broth, a lot of meat and rice noodles with a healthy handful of cilantro and onions. The broth is what makes it better than any other pho place in town.

The meat comes in all varieties; beef balls, brisket, flank, steak, tripe, tendon – the list goes on. Extra meat for a buck if you’re feeling it, and most bowls can be had in two sizes, small and large. This is good since Mike has a much larger stomach than I do.

The soup comes out quickly, and the tender beef is often still rare and pink, waiting for you to dip it into the broth to cook it. Load up with chilis, bean sprouts, basil, lime or a number of other condiments and you’re set.

I got the number 10 (brisket and flank steak) small and Mike got a large 26 – beef balls, flank and tendon. He said he’d get all beef balls if he could.

Sometimes I’ll even get a lemon condensed milk soda to accompany my hot soup and green tea.

Quick, delicious and inexpensive, King Noodle truly is the king of noodles in Edmonton.

…unless they happen to have no mo’ pho

Food24 Nov 2008 10:17 pm

Amongst other things, my friend Matt and I share an affinity for weird pop flavours. I don’t know how or why this developed, it just did. Last week I brought over some other DRY Soda flavours for us to enjoy; kumquat and lemongrass, to follow up with my sampling of lavender.

Delicious…but not quite weird enough.

I saw that Jones Soda released their limited edition pops for 2008 this week. The flavours include candy cane, pear tree (sounds great for sipping with vanilla vodka mixed in) and the long-named mele kalikimaka…which is a Hawai’ian blend of pineapple and coconut (and named for a Hawai’ian Christmas song.)

Unfortunately, we rarely get to see these unusual flavours north of the border, since they are sold exclusively at Target stores in the States. Jones is probably a bit better known for their even more oddly flavoured drinks like gravy, christmas ham and latke (potato pancake) soda. They also do cute Hallowe’en packs which include candy corn and “buried pomegrante.”

Judging from comments on their website, it seems that Jones has angered its fans by deciding not to produce the horrifyingly disgusting flavours this year. Probably for the best, people probably only like to ogle them in stores or buy them as jokes. No real staying or selling power.

So how about it, Matty? Let’s hit up a Target as soon as we touch down in Vegas. Yum.

Crafts etc and General23 Nov 2008 09:57 pm

Okay this is actually kind of a cop out because these images are from my old blog, but I love them so much I must post them again. Both were done when I was 5 years old.

Self portrait, age 5

“Martian with glasses”

Self portait. Also done at age 5.

“Self portrait”

Food and Food: Edmonton21 Nov 2008 02:11 pm

Last night Mike and I attended our second champagne tasting. Last year (for my birthday) we attended a holiday tasting at Liquor Select in the west end of Edmonton, and I loved it. I discovered that I really love champagne and was eager to learn more about this high class (but not necessarily high priced) beverage.

My not so bubbly bubbly.

Last years tasting featured a huge range of champagnes, 12 in total, ranging in price from $30 to $365 a bottle. The $365 bottle was a Krug Grand Cuvee and was one of the favourites at the tasting. (Thankfully I also enjoyed the lower priced 2002 Veuve Cliquot and Taittinger nocturne.)

There was a selection of cheeses, fruits and snacks to try with the different champagnes…it was a really wonderful event. This experience actually helped me get a steal of a deal later in the year on a bottle of Krug at a Whole Foods market in Austin, Texas. I felt more educated about what to look for and what price points I could search in after attending the class.

The tasting last night was at deVine Wines in my favourite haunt in town these days; the corner of Jasper Avenue and 104 Street. Although the City Center market has closed down, I still love the shops in this area and there is a lot to be done here.

deVine Wines


The class gets an introduction to the bottling of champagne

The bottles we sampled.

Our instructors

The deVine tasting was $65, and we sampled a “mere” 7 champagnes. We were educated on the techniques used in making champagnes, and what creates the price differences. There were potato chips and pate to sample with our glasses…and also shortbread. Apparently it’s a great accompaniment to champagne as the yeasty tones of the drink pair well with the Scottish snacks. As I’ve mentioned before, champagne is also a great drink for Japanese cuisine, especially light soba noodles and fresh sushi.

The neatest thing about this tasting was that they taught us how to saber a bottle. Put frankly, this is when you “behead” a bottle of champagne. Not something you’d do everyday, but maybe for a special event. Or if you are Napoleon, I suppose.

Stroking the seam of the bottle getting ready to...

... pop the top!

Freshly sabered bottle

All that remains...

Although it seems like Liquor Select is not running their very popular champagne tasting this year, it would be my preferred class. It was a bit more structured than the deVine wines seminar, and there was a wider range of champagnes to taste. Both complemented each other however.

I know little to nothing about wines, but champagnes, I’m starting to get a handle on.

Food and Food: Home Cookin'19 Nov 2008 12:00 pm

Last week, at Costco of all places, I saw that chanterelle mushrooms are making their annual autumn appearance in the supermarkets.

Chanterelles are a fabulous ‘shroom. Chewy, fragrant and extremely woodsy flavoured and scented. For $10 or so, I got a large pack from Costco, probably around a pound of mushrooms. I thought at first I might make mushroom soup, but that seemed too predictable. I wasn’t quite up to doing a pasta or risotto with them, so I put a twist on a classic Martha Stewart recipe. It’s one I’ve made before to great success: asparagus gruyere tart.

Chanterelle Onion tart with goat cheese


  • mushrooms. I used a mix of chanterelles, oysters and dehydrated porcinis, just for variety, about 1 pound
  • one onion
  • one clove garlic
  • goat cheese (amount to your liking)
  • gruyere cheese (grated, about 1 1/2 cup)
  • one sheet of frozen puff pastry dough (thawed as per box instructions)

Sautee and carmelize the onion, then set aside. In the same pan, sautee garlic, then add mushrooms. Cook until soft, over medium heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with gruyere. Layer onions, then mushroom mix. Bake an additional 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with goat cheese, pop back in oven until that has melted.

This was an excellent way to use the chanterelles. It highlighted their flavour and showcased them on a light crispy dough. Sort of a poor man’s pizza.

A better look at the chanterelles. I should really get a mushroom brush; there was a lot of dirt and small bits of fern on them! Straight from the woods to the oven.

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