Sunday, June 28, 2009

In other news...

...on September 30, 2009, Matt and I will officially be home-owners! The deal closed on Thursday evening. We're still pretty close to "home", and have already started figuring out what reno work we're going to want to get around to.


The triumphant return of
Every week, the same again
  1. The Birthday Paradox

  2. Don’t interrupt Barney Frank

  3. Marco Brambilla: Civilization

  4. New Yorkers Near a Saturation Point

  5. A guide to sexual misery

  6. Conspicuous, but not Consuming

  7. What If This is as Good as it Gets?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yet another bastardized cassoulet

Is this ever a go-to dish for me, or what? This iteration uses sea salt, cracked black pepper, canned, crushed organic Ontario tomatoes (in juice), organic black turtle beans (all the better to anti-oxidize you with, my dear), one half of an organic yellow onion, a head of organic garlic, a bunch of organic carrots, 3 debrecener sausages from the local farmer's market, and the non-leg meat (which was reserved for confit) of a whole duck.

So — as is usually the case when I shop for ingredients in Toronto — I took a dish from one style of regional cooking (French, in this case), and ended up adding a variety of international ingredients (Hungarian sausage, Latin-American black beans) to create something unique.

The texture of this dish is spot-on, everything is so tender that it all just kind of melts in one's mouth. That said, I definitely prefer the kick that chorizo sausage adds. I'm going to have to remember to add it and the Debrecener sausage to my next batch.

Update: it turns out that the reason I found the sausage's contribution to the dish wasn't substantial is because I forgot to add the sausage! Likely, I will add it to warmed-up preparations.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day prep

Update: now in vivid colour!

A bit of a primer on my dad's taste in food: he has a healthy respect for savoury items of all sorts, which means he is very willing to try new foods. He can't handle spiciness, and disapproves of anything which is too-insert taste here (e.g., salty, sweet, sour, bitter or — presumably — umami). So his tastes in desserts can be fairly complicated, as many are overly sweet for his liking.

The not-Key lime pie I made for Father's Day last year turned out to be near-impossible to cut through. Lesson learned: brownie pie crusts end up being too tough to be usable. That said, the filling was about as perfect a "dad food" as could be. It was sweet without being too sweet and bitter enough to make things interesting (too bitter for mom and Caty). Dad and I both agreed that the bitterness contrasted nicely with the chocolate-flavour of the otherwise impractical crust.

I effectively began making this year's pie some time around January, when I made a point of juicing two(!) bags of the damn things by hand while they were in season. My hands were cursing my existence for weeks. Still, this year's pie will be authentically-Key. I also decided to make chocolate sandwich cookies, to crush as the pie crust. Last night was devoted to baking a double-batch for that purpose.

In the two-birds-with-one-stone category, I'm going to a house-cooling (think about it) party on Saturday night, and thought I'd give about a dozen of these cookies (with filling) to the host as a gift.

The remainder of the cookies (I hope there are some!) will be for me and Matt to nibble away at while they last. The few we sampled last night, sans crème, were fantastic!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Since homemade pea soup looks strikingly similar to vomit, I'm just going to share the ingredients list!So, for those who need me to "do the math", brown the onions in the oil in your stock pot and set aside. Toss the ham into the pan and brown lightly, set aside with the onions. Pour the peas and water into the pot and bring to a boil. Toss the onions and ham back in and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the peas have softened and are mushy. Allow to cool before eating — this stuff gets hot!


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kinda new hobby

I must have discovered amigurumi some time after my interest in Pinky:St started to wane (too many special edition figures with limited swapping-capability!). I had always been interested in knitted/crocheted toys, but it hadn't occurred to me to look for free patterns online. Once it did, that evolved into me Googling the word and seeing what I came up with.

So I took my first foray into the artform this week, when I completed the Marisol mouse pattern found during a recent search. I used some leftover 8/8 Camilla Valley Farm cotton I had lying around. CVF, by the way, produce some of the best yarn I've ever worked with. I stuffed him with said yarn's cuttings which makes him an all-cotton toy.

Sadly, I think my version of the toy isn't anywhere near as cute as the original. I suspect that's because the yarn I used isn't fuzzy and is a bit thicker than it ought to be. Its thickness also meant that it kept slipping off the coated aluminum double-pointed needles I was using, a frustration to be sure.

I wanted to use a non-fuzzy, thick yarn because the toy is intended for a new addition to the Sinclair family (congrats again, guys!).

It didn't occur to me until I was braiding a tail for him (ugh, I-cords are hard UPDATE: poop! not as hard as I thought!) that maybe giving a baby a toy with a long, fabric extension wasn't the brightest of ideas. I made sure to point that out as I was leaving, and give the proud parents the verbal go-ahead to snip that clean off (à la three blind mice!) if they thought it'd be a problem.


No buildings will fall down
...why don't you walk away?

Well, readers, we had to walk away from the deal. Thursday's home inspection went incredibly well. At every turn, we were excited to hear that the inspector found only the most minor of issues. He suggested we replace the A/C unit within a few years, switch to a tankless water heater, keep an eye on the spot where the plastic-coated wiring ran just under the heating duct, caulk the kitchen countertop edge and replace the rear, basement window. The worst problem, he said, could be addressed within about 8 years without causing any real issues. I think it's fair to say that both Matt and I were already figuring out paint colours and where our furniture would go, despite our attempts to remain objective.

We got home to find a voicemail from the lawyer saying that, yes, there did seem to be a problem with the reserve fund. A review of the documentation on Friday resulted in our discovery that the reserve fund had been poorly managed since at least 2001, when the majority of the repairs and replacements to common elements were to have begun taking place. It seems that when the development was built in the early '70s, most common elements (windows, front steps, cedar shingles, roofing, walkways, roadways, parking lots, etc.) had life expectancies of about 30 years. During those 30 years, the reserve fund was continually being used to address issues such as landscaping. While the landscaping dollars were obviously being put to good use, the reserve fund was not being built in anticipation of the inevitable deterioration of the exterior structural elements of the property. So, it came to be that in 2003, the roofs of most, if not all, townhouses needed to be replaced and — while there was enough money to do that &mash; there wasn't enough money to be able to address all of the repairs which were already overdue.

So, according to the consultation which was completed in 2003, the reserve fund for the development will reach it's all-time low in 2016, when it's at a little over $4,000. It will not be fully replenished until 2035, when all the repairs (which were expected to have been completed for 2001) will finally be finished.

So, I'm glad that we were objective enough to be able to make that decision despite our excitement. I'm glad that we found a home inspector we know we can rely on. I'm glad that we've got a lawyer who keeps his eyes peeled, even under tight deadlines, for real problems with the properties we're thisclose to finalizing. I'm a little sad, 'though, that my new couch isn't going to be sitting on the East wall of that beautiful, hardwood floor on the main level.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Today's lunch

We had the home inspection today, so I had the rare opportunity to have lunch at home. It had to be quick, nutritious and filling enough to keep me from getting hungry during the estimated 3 hours that the inspection would take. Hence, cold soba noodle and unagi soup in a dashi, fish sauce and sriracha stock, with nori strips and nanami tōgarashi.


Monday, June 01, 2009

We've listened more to life's end going

Than the sound of life's sweet bells