February 2009

General28 Feb 2009 08:57 pm

It’s hard working in an industry that may or may not be dying; it can’t quite make its mind up. Things were not great around the newsroom this week. Our parent company continues to struggle, and 15 people in the building received pink slips this week. This has not happened in previous cutbacks. Everything has been voluntary up to this point.

This week the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado failed to sell and was shut down. So close to the 150th anniversary. They put together an amazing video documenting the death of the paper. It is something I hope is not echoed where I work, but there are so many similarities, it is frightening for me to watch at times.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

General27 Feb 2009 10:03 pm

Vegas tales to come in installments shortly…

Jump around

Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels21 Feb 2009 09:01 pm

The neat thing about having a Flickr account is that you get requests occasionally from blogs or online media wanting to use your photos. I had one of my creepy abandoned Wal*Mart photos get used on a site a few months ago. Then, earlier in the month, Schmap wanted to use a photo I took during one of our visits to Bouchon in Vegas.

About Schmap, from their site:

Schmap is a leading publisher of digital travel guides for 200 destinations throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More than 90 million Schmap Guides have been downloaded since first release in March 2006: this phenomenally popular series can also be browsed online, with versions optimized for iPhone and Nokia users

It got published this week! Not earth shaking, but still kind of cool. Sounds like an app I might actually try using, if I had a crazy advanced phone.

But, speaking of Las Vegas, I’m headed back there for a few days. See you with a full trip report when I return!

General21 Feb 2009 10:01 am

Perhaps a few more of you have seen Coraline this week, so you may be looking for all the stop motion animation you can get, like I am. However, you don’t have to have seen Coraline to enjoy this short clip.

It’s Coraline‘s art director, Bo Henry, in a quicky about his “dancing mustache.” Nothing over the top, but cute and a nice treat for mustache lovers.

Food and Food: Edmonton20 Feb 2009 07:04 pm

I have certainly mentioned before how much Mike and I enjoy Habesha (9515 118 Avenue, Edmonton). It has quickly become our favourite Ethiopian restaurant in town, and is a restaurant of choice when we can eat on our “own time” (i.e.: Mike is not doing a review dinner.)

Recently they started up a weekly vegetarian buffet. The owner, Samir, tells us that it is actually vegan as they do not use butter in any of the dishes. For vegans in town who find it hard to eat out, it is always nice to add a place to the roster.

The buffet features 7-8 dishes, and runs from 6-9 every Wednesday. Cost: $14.99

We have gone to two of the first three buffets, and there were several dishes that do not appear on the menu. Samir said they often just cook up something special to their liking.

For Valentine’s Day, I kept it simple: a cool “secret code” card from Etsy’s crankbunny , some simple decorations and homemade heart shaped brownies and chocolate dipped strawberries presented in professional looking packaging. Mike made me a washi paper pseudo-origami box from Japan.

Said decoder card.

Not very heart shaped. The rest were square, since the hearts were pretty hard to make.

Finally, on the way home from work tonight, I stopped at Sobeys. There, I got a mini cherry pie ($3.29, available in other flavours).

Three reasons: their cherry pie isn’t too bad, I’m a sucker for tiny pies, and today is “National Cherry Pie day“. (note: Who knows who dictates these things, but  Sunday is National Margarita day…I know I will have a few in honour of my dad’s birthday!)

Not that you should ever need a reason to eat more pie. Or drink more margaritas, for that matter.

Crafts etc19 Feb 2009 01:58 pm

Maybe you know someone with one of these World War II era poster reproductions; they are quite popular these days, showing up in all sorts of different colours.

Available at Etsy through sfgirlbybay for $30.50 US, incl shipping.

However, since I’m Albertan, I tend to favour my own nostalgic PSA posters. Behold:

No more rats

I am in love with so many things about this poster. It is an image from the Provincial Archives of Alberta, and available for sale as reprints.

Alberta, if you did not know, is one of the only rat-free areas of the world and has been so for over 50 years. The other areas include the Arctic, the Antarctic and some islands. Under Alberta’s Agricultural Pest Act, anyone found to be raising or harbouring rats could face a maximum $5,000 fine or 60 days in jail.

Think of the fines if you had a rat king under your care. *Shudder.*

Available at Vivid Print for $38/$68.

General18 Feb 2009 04:56 pm

I’m not one to get overly personal on my blog, but I just wanted to note that today would have been my grandmother’s 90th birthday. She passed away this summer, relatively suddenly.

Although I had not initially wanted to speak at her memorial service, I decided to after penning something in the early hours during the days between learning of her death and the service. I don’t know if you are like me, but I do not find myself taking pen to paper very often these days, and it was extremely cathartic to let loose. The thoughts came and went quickly, and I’m glad I made the effort to record them that morning at 4am.

At the service, I read my writing almost verbatim. It was hard, but easy at the same time.

So please excuse this brief lapse into the personal realm.

eulogy for anne

my summers belonged to granny. i used to look forward to the months we would spend at her place, a respite from the crazy places we were living. a time of normalcy, having bacon and eggs, drinking milk from bags, riding bikes, swinging on swings, eating raspberries, watching ‘the stories’ and jeopardy. tory and i would scrounge in her freezer for cookies meant for christmas. she’d always pretend not to notice.

my mornings belonged to granny. i used to be up at the crack of dawn, eyes open, laying in bed. i would never dare step on the creaky stairs downstairs (which were above her head), afraid I might wake her before she was ready to get up. i used to listen for her accordion door to clatter open, then the toilet flush, the coffee machine burp and percolate, and at one point, her cigarette lighter click. then i would go down, and sit with her a while.

on the trip we took to hawaii in 2007, gran and kristy shared the bedroom with two twin beds, and i slept in the main room of the house we rented. midway on our first night, kristy moved out and slept on one of the benchstyle beds beside me. we didn’t talk about it right away, but the next night, when gran’s thunderous snoring woke me, i realized, both mine and kristy’s nights belonged to granny.

i have so many sweet memories of her. chasing those “god damned cats” out of her garden. packing egg salad sandwiches early in the morning before fishing trips. Listening to the clicking of the dice in the Yahtzee cup late into the night.

at the end of every summer came the hardest part, saying goodbye. Granny would stand at the back door, waving, waving, waving. Following our car down the alley, as we turned onto Lillian Street, then down the hill, until she was a dot at the crest of the hill getting smaller and smaller. but still waving.

and now, my memories (these and others) will live on. Every time I make her recipe for perogies or cabbage rolls I will think of her.

Even my non food entries have a food slant to them! Very fitting since my Grandmother was an amazing cook and baker and always had something on the go for visitors. She continued gardening up until her 88th year as well.

Only recently I came to know that my Gran’s moose and wild mushroom stew was famous (she and my grandfather both hunted in northern Ontario). It gave me great satisfaction to carry on the tradition, and think of Gran when I made a batch in January, using moose Mike had harvested in this fall’s hunt.


I shot this on our trip to Hawaii in 2007. She lived out her lifelong dreams of touching the ocean and seeing wild turtles: dozens of them feeds on the rocks, steps from our beachfront house. She was enthralled, and refused to come back to the house to eat one morning. So we bundled her in a blanket, sat her in a chair and brought her oatmeal so she could watch the huge turtles bob, eating their breakfast.

General14 Feb 2009 11:57 am

Coraline in the tunnel

I don’t see a lot of movies, but last night, since I work tonight for Valentine’s Day, Mike and I went on a movie date.

We first had dinner at the Laotian/Thai restaurant called Boualouang. I haven’t Southeast Asian cuisine in over a year, and Boualouang was a great place to break the fast. We had a green curry and lahp (a Laos style meat salad) with sticky rice. I can’t wait to go back to this tiny treasure and try their pad thai. It’s extremely authentic and the food is delicious and spicy.

Dinner took a lot less time than we thought. With only six tables, we were prepared to wait, but were seated and served in short order. With time to burn before the 10:15 movie, we decided to have drinks at Vintage Lounge on 124 Street.

My “French Momo” martini was good, but it is overall kind of a forgettable place. They are having some sort of insane all-you-can-drink speed dating night for singles tonight which sounded interesting, if messy on a number of levels.

Then we saw Coraline…IN 3-D. It is a simple, short-ish film with amazing rich visuals only enhanced further by the 3-Dness. Go, see it now and make sure it’s the 3-D version. I’ll be here when you get back.

Food11 Feb 2009 08:23 am

This does not bode well for Mike or I, since I’m pretty sure we would order one of these if it was on a menu:

corn dog pizza

Corndog pizza!

This is an image from a site currently doing the rounds on the ol’ interweb: This is why you’re fat. I’m sure if I submitted Mike’s “WORKS” dog it might qualify. Maybe the sprouts would disqualify it though…

I’m sure I’d also get the nacho burger featured on “This is why…” Basically, any type of frankenfood which combines two totally unhealthy fast food items would be in my belly faster than you can say “That is why you’re fat.”

Food and Food: Home Cookin'10 Feb 2009 09:51 am

I’m officially obsessed with Mexican cuisine, in case you couldn’t tell. After having promising Mike’s parents a homecooked Mexican meal earlier in the week, we decided to follow through.

Features included:

  • fresh salsa verde and guacamole to start
  • tortilla soup with all the fixin’s
  • red-chile dipped enchiladas

Tortilla soup, with fresh corn tortilla strips, flash fried ancho peppers, farmer’s cheese and chicken chunks. This recipe was amazing.

The main: red-chile dipped enchiladas on a bed of cabbage ‘relish’, covered with red-chile coated potatoes and carrots. It came together well, but was hard to handle.

Since I sustained an oil burn (it’s a long story and mostly involves my own kitchen stupidity) and my hand still kind of hurts when I type, I will save sharing long recipes. (You can find my guacamole recipe here)

The recipes all came from Rick Bayless (of course! I can’t say enough about his book: Authentic Mexican), and I would make them all again, except for the main: the red-chile sauce dipped enchiladas. They are a bit different than the Americanized version of enchiladas we all know and love, and are essentially deep fried flavoured corn tortillas, with no fillings really. I’m not sure if we did something wrong, because although they tasted great, they were hell to get good presentation out of and kept falling apart.

Salsa Verde

  • 10 to 12 tomatillos (1 pound)
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno chiles (or to your tastes)
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups broth (beef or chicken, I suppose you could try vegetable as well)
  • salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

Boil the tomatillos until soft in salted water, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well.

Blend tomatillos, garlic, chiles, cilantro and onion together. Just until it is almost smooth; there should still be some texture.

Heat a frying pan with vegetable oil on medium high. When hot enough that a drop of the tomatillo puree sizzles when you drop it in, add all the puree, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the mix is thicker.

Add the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season.

This recipe is a bit different than ones I have done in the past, and I far preferred it. It’s not as sharp as roasted tomatillo salsa verde can be; it’s sweeter and smoother. I think I’ll crank up the heat factor next time and add more chiles.

Tomatillo mix before the blending…

Almost done!

Frying up the chile for the tortilla soup. Hand-meets-oil accident happened soon after this photo was taken. No cameras were harmed in the making of these chiles.

Dried ancho and guajillo peppers.

Toasting the peppers.

The soaking peppers (closest) and the cabbage/vinegar/red onion mix, farthest.

Grinding peppercorns and cumin seed for the red-chile sauce.

Straining the pepper pods and seeds out of the sauce.

These were the main steps on the road to our Mexican meal. It kind of looks time consuming as I review the photos, but it really wasn’t. Highly delicious and rewarding. I think Mike’s parents liked it, too.

Julio’s Barrio: take note! If I can make fresh delicious authentic Mexican food, so can you. But I would even settle for cooked chicken in my nachos. Thanks.

Food and Food: Edmonton and work (kinda)09 Feb 2009 08:51 pm

Out for a review dinner, Mike wanted to visit Grandma D’s. It’s a BBQ joint in the west end of Edmonton that serves up great big burgers and pretty tender ribs. It’s the place I go to when my dad is not in town to provide for my BBQ cravings.

Well, it used to be the place I went to.

Sadly, Grandma D’s closed a week into 2009. Without a backup plan, we drove down Mayfield Road with Mike’s parents and stopped in at Vic’s Steakhouse. It’s a relatively new outfit at the Mayfield Inn, of all places. I had noticed it a few weeks previous for the first time while driving past, and thought we could check it out.

While I am not the reviewer, but only a chef in our house, I will post some photos. I will also say the appetizers were amazing.

The bison short ribs buried in berry sauce convinced me to order them as an entree when we go back, and the crab, lobster and cheese dip was outstanding. We were even served an amuse bouche: pan seared scallop with boar bacon. I think the only place in Edmonton I have ever received an amuse was the Blue Pear. Impressive and unexpected.

It’s not as stuffy at Sage can be (although the food is amazing), and they really emphasize good ingredients. It’s not as mechanical as the Keg, and more consistent than Von’s. I think it might be my mid-priced steakhouse of choice in Edmonton.

Innisfail lamb with mushroom risotto

The simple modern decor of Vic’s. These photos are deceiving as we were one of the last tables to leave. It was surprisingly busy in there for a Monday evening.

I love the look Mike’s mom is giving his dad.

Pumpkin panna cotta. No replacement for the heaven on a spoon the now defunct Il Portico used to serve, but still nice.

Save room for the complimentary cheesecake pops on a stick they give out in lieu of mints. Dinner, with appetizer and dessert came to about $50 a person.

(for my vegetarian readers, they do serve many different salads and a pasta dish as a main)

Vic’s Steakhouse
(part of a small chain also in Canmore, AB and Victoria, BC)
16615 – 109th Avenue, in the Mayfield Inn
Only open for dinner, 5:30-10pm Monday through Saturday

Crafts etc07 Feb 2009 12:44 pm

I used to always admire the paint chip samples at Home Depot when I worked there: especially the vibrant Ralph Lauren ones. I wanted to use them for something cool…but what?

Inspired by unused frames and posts on blogs like CRAFT magazine, I made my own paint chip art.


I got the laser cut Tokyo postcard at the Mori Arts Center in Roppongi and set it over paintchips. I still have a bag of stuff from our trip to Japan last year that I have yet to go through. I’m hoping there are more gems like this in there.

So, not perfect, but cheap, and it fills a hole.

Other paint chip projects:

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