Sunday, January 10, 2010

food fight.

This year, I considered making my New Year's Resolution to become a vegetarian. Recently, I've been really struggling over the issue of meat- and animal product-eating. Could I be a vegetarian? Could I be a vegan? Should I care whether I "can"; should I just take the plunge?

Ultimately, I decided no. I can (and do, without even thinking about it) eat largely vegetarian, even largely vegan if I put a bit of effort in. But I know there'd be moments when I'd fail - A's family's seafood Christmas Eve feast, sushi, enjoying another bistecca alla fiorentina, my family's juicy homemade hamburgers...stuffing.  And I'd have a really terrible time living without canned tuna, as silly as that sounds.

However, I would like to be more informed about where my food is coming from. I'm fortunate enough to live near a farmer's market, though even there you have to be careful. There are a few family farms I am confident in, and a few others that have been recommended to me by people I trust. I hope to learn a lot about food this year. Maybe at the end I'll decide vegetarianism or even veganism is the path for me. But for now, I'm a meat-eating foodie who enjoys and respects her food.

The thing is, if I were to be a vegetarian, I'd have to be confident I would be doing it 100%. It doesn't seem too difficult on the surface - no meat, to leather, no gelatin. Got it. But then I found this...

PIG 05049. Christien Meindertsma's book follows the afterlife of a single pig. Each product you see there used something from this pig. 185 different products.

This frightens me. I am certain there are many vegetarians who have no idea how much pig they are using in their daily lives, even if they read the ingredients of everything they purchase (plus, I'm not sure ballet flats come with ingredients!)

Yikes. Let the research begin...happy 2010! :S

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

juan francisco casas

I have little to say about Juan Francisco Casas except: these are not manipulated photos. They are sketched with ballpoint pens.

I doodle very often in class. It helps me relax and concentrate. I always thought pens were a neat medium for art. Because, I thought, they gave the work a very different effect. For example, this (by me) or this (also by me). Something a bit Edward Gorey-esque.

But Casas' art demonstrates possibilities of the ball point pen I never imagined. Of course, I suspect these results can only be brought about by a BIC in the hand of a great talent. Check out that girl's hands! They look so real!

Check out his website for more of his illustrations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

excuse my french.

Seriously, it's probably really bad. So I apologize ahead of time.

Last year A and I spent a month in Italy. As a souvenir for my parents, I brought them back some dried porcini, some hand made pasta and some black truffle. This evolved into a full-course Italian meal, which then became designated as their birthday present. They enjoyed having me cook for them for once, and thus the birthday dinner is now a tradition.

It having been a busy summer followed by a busy term, the Christmas break seemed a logical time to do their dinner this year. It turned out to also be a busy break, but we fit it in and I am glad we did because we re-inspired the food side of my life. I really want to focus on cooking more this term, and inspired by the theme of this menu, I plan to explore more French food (while still trying to slim my waistline, which might prove difficult).

As you may have already guessed, this year's theme was French. Simple French. Honestly, these dishes were so easy and though I steered away from souffles and macarons, I really was surprised at the simplicity of such decadent food.

And so I menu du soir!


In case you can't read French, or in case you can and my French doesn't make any sense:
*salmon tartare on a baguette toast
*Pate de Perigord with a truffled balsamic glaze served on a pear caramelized with honey, butter and cognac
*champagne, of course!


*French Onion Soup

Le Plat Principal

*sirloin with blue cheese cream sauce
*sauteed asparagus topped with slivered almonds
*boiled parslied fingerling potatoes
*red wine, of course!

La Salade

There is no picture of the salad, but it was just a green salad with an almond oil and raspberry wine syrup vinaigrette sprinkled with almonds and walnuts.

Le Fromage

*blue cheese
*goat cheese

Le Dessert

*a parfait of lemon mousse and white chocolate mousse layered with strawberries and a raspberry and Grand Marnier sauce

C'est le fin.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a belated gingerbread house.

I went home for the holidays. I meant to take the time to do some reading, relax and blog. But, of course, I forgot my USB cable for my camera. I just got back to Hamilton today. So, a little late, here is a gingerbread house ...

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I chose the recipe from Good Housekeeping, and it worked out well for me. My only problem was that the house was a bit wonky, but that was the result of my forgetting to bring a template up to the cottage, and not having internet or a printer to get one!

We decided to go traditional, but added a couple of our friends to the scene...

Leonard the monkey is a new addition to the family, and we christened his arrival by immortalising him in gingerbread. Until my family demolished the house, of course.

Christoph and Leonard with their cookie selves.

Of course, I had visions of the perfect little house. Symmetrical, beautifully decorated with meticulous details that could only be produced by the most delicate hand. This looks like it probably was made by Christoph and Leonard.

But, my only regrets are the wonky roof, messing up Cookie Leonard's face, and not painting on the wreath before assembling the house.

I like its home-made look. Now that I'm older, Christmas isn't the same. But it doesn't mean it has to be serious or boring. A and I put this together, and we think it will become our Christmas tradition, while watching It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. It was a nice, cozy evening up at the cottage in the snow and I wouldn't have traded it for a gingerbread mansion.

I loved seeing the results of this challenge - so much fun! Onto the next!

Hope everyone had a Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.