Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cheese School 101

Una fetta della Buona Vita

When I grow up I want to be a cheese monger. For real. I love cheese. I love anything associated with cheese. I could live on a well dressed cheese plates alone... cheese, wine, fruits, preserves, meats and little bits of bread or crackers. Oh and of course... a little chocolate. No meal is complete without something sweet.

That would be the life (mental note, must move to Europe). The good life.

I've had bad platters and I've had amazing platters... the bad ones are not worth mentioning mostly because I've blocked them out but there are simple steps that can be made to ensure that your cheese plate is up to par.

Rules of Cheese:

*When you invite friends over, buy one ounce per person per cheese; and stick to five to six cheeses total.

* Choose a fun variety of cheeses: different textures, countries, and all three milk types (goat, sheep, cow).

* Serve all the cheeses on one big board. You want your guests to start with the mildest and work up to the strongest (ie: Don't start with the Monks Head), so place the cheeses in "clock order"--12 o'clock being the mildest and 11 o'clock being the strongest.

* Take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before serving. Cheese should be eaten at room temperature, when it's at its full flavor and texture.

* Put out a few different knives. Goat and blue cheeses crumble if you use a regular knife, so cheese wires are the best thing to use--if you don't have one, you can use dental floss (not the flavored kind boys and girls)! Softer cheeses work best with a butter knife. Harder cheeses, like Parmesan, are good with a triangle-shaped knife. Cut circular cheeses in wedges, like a pizza.

* If you have leftovers, don't store the cheese in Saran Wrap, which will make the cheese sweat and leave a plastic-y taste. Cheese is living and needs to breathe, so wrap it in parchment or wax paper, and keep it in the most humid part of the fridge (usually the vegetable drawer).

 
Joanna from A Cup of Jo  recommends the following choices which are shown in the picture above (she was the inspiration for this post)
 
Six cheeses for the perfect basic cheese plate:
(pictured clockwise from top)

1. Cremont is a bloomy, rindy, mild cheese, which debuted last year in Vermont. (The name "cremont" is a mix of "cream" and "Vermont"!) The cheese has both cow and goat milk. Luscious, coats your tongue, fudge-y, cake-y.

2. La Tur is the little black dress of cheeses! Everyone loves it. It's a mix of goat, sheep and cow--which is is pretty unusual. Flavorwise, you get a hint of all three animals--tang from the goat, lingering buttery fat from the sheep, milky sweetness from the cow. The texture feels almost whipped, like savory ice cream! At a party, this insanely popular Italian cheese will disappear first.

3. Pyrenees Brebis. Every single person I've has ever met loves this sheep's milk cheese. It's a huge crowd-pleaser. A lot of flavor, but very harmonious. Nutty, salty, floral, semi-soft. From the southwest region of France, where there are huge herds of sheep.

4. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. Cabot makes lots of cheddars, but this is their artisanal (read: fancy!) line. What's cool about this cheese is that it's a partnership between Cabot and the Cellars at Jasper Hill--Cabot makes the cheese, which is then aged in the Cellars at Jasper Hill. There's actually a staff of guys (football-player size!) who flip these cheeses everyday, so they'll age evenly. The cheese is wrapped in cloth, which is a more English style of making cheese. Super strong cheddar; you get little crystals. You'll taste peanuts, caramel, earthy flavors. Eat from the inside out; then take the cloth off and then eat the rind--it almost takes like dirt, but it works so well with the other flavors. (P.S. It would make the best grilled cheese you'd ever have in your life.)

5. Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Made with raw Jersey cow's milk in Wisconsin. Very fruity and smooth. The American Cheese Society just named it "Best in Show" for the third time (it's the only cheese to have been awarded Best in Show more than once!). You've gotta try it.

6. Cambozola Black Label is a very, very delicate blue cheese. Just a tinge of that mineral flavor; very buttery with a bit of a cashew flavor. A great beginning cheese for people who think they might not like blue cheeses. (Once you put it on bread and add a grape, it will mellow out, if you’re feeling timid!) Blue cheeses and chocolate also go together really well--a great balance of salty and sweet. It's also epic with pineapple of all things and something a little salty.


And then obviously, the pairing... you can get creative with this... nuts, home made crackers, good dark chocolate, french bread, preserves (sweet and savory), dried and fresh fruits,  curred meats (that is a whole other post!) and of course keep the wine flowing.

Delicious...

So, what is your favorite cheese? Do you prefer a soft, mild cheese or something with some bite?




Post and Pictures borrowed from: Cup of Jo

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Being Human: Part III- The tragedy of first position

With the theme of my previous post, here is a little video of a little girl who is trying so very hard to get things right. She keeps trying and doesn't give up.

It was good for a giggle this morning:


If on Facebook and can't see the video, please follow this link:
The tragedy of first position

Being Human: Part II


being not perfect is often perfect.

last year in August I wrote a little post about being human. I was reminded of it on Monday when I was sitting having "late night" soup with JP and we were talking about stuff. We danced a bit around the subject of perfectionism (which is something I have been working on not having for the last few years) and how it effects out lives. Some people embrace it and try their hardest to show the world how good they are and others (like myself) retract from it, scared to even try for fear that I won't even live up to my own expectations.

That hasn't been my life story for a while, I left that when I left school and learned how to get messy in life.. but every once in a while I see it and I am reminded that it is a part of my default belief system. Like when I am learning to play guitar, it's bad... awkward and just not pleasant to the ears as my chords hiss against the action and my fingers ache to press even harder. Without witnesses I am free to be ugly and unattractive and bad at what I am learning but as soon as I know there is an ear tuned in on me I freeze-up and stop.

When I was taking dance classes in the summer (and maybe that was the motivation behind that post along with some work I was doing with a woman) I remember letting go and being bad at what I was learning. I was pretty sure I was the worst person in the class.. all awkward arms and legs jutting out at all the wrong times (I don't follow direction very well, I'm better at moving to the beat of my own drum- in case you haven't noticed already) but I was also pretty sure I was the one person who was having the most fun in the class. I was bad and I was celebrating my badness as I moved across the room in a solo performance; too jazz for funk.

In my job, I have been given the task of numbers. I am not a numbers girl... sure, I can make them grown and do things for me. I know how to manipulate them but to account for them in a precise matter- not my slice of cake. I can sooth the irate people, I can comfort the soul of the surviving dependants, I can create a bond of trust and tell people what they need to do to get the best results... but I can not make all the numbers make sense. I'm bad at it but I have to do it and I am making more errors then I have ever made in a job. My instinct is to leave it and pretend that it doesn't exist but that is not the responsible thing to do. Or the smart thing to do, I'll have to do it eventually. So, I've been messy with my boss. And stupid and just totally unaware of anything. We have had to start with the basics- which she laughed at when I looked at her puzzled when she said "It's just like balancing your cheque book Blanche".  "I just look online to see how much money I have." I replied ignorantly...

What I've noticed though, in her assistance in trying to get me to understand this new part of my job, we have become closer. We have developed a relationship which was something we never had before. I guess what I am saying is once again, I am made aware that being imperfect in things, even pertaining to my job, is okay. Mistakes happen, they can always be fixed and getting upset (raking myself over the red hot coals while beating myself up with a board with a rusty nail sticking out of it) over it doesn't do any good. And people like people who are human... who aren't perfect and can be a little messy.

Anyway, that's the thought of the moment. I'm sure I've written something similar before but I don't care. It's time for me to get some breakfast and get started with my day. I have reconciliations to do...


by the way, that mussy messy bun pic can be found here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dreams

easy like Sunday morning...

I have these dreams. Not ones that happen at night when I'm sleeping but during the day when I'm working, or walking or just sitting looking out the window. These day dreams have been the same since I was little...

Sunday morning, sunny kitchen, sitting with my partner in the sun spot pouring over the paper after having made and devoured a homemade Sunday brunch. No where to go, nothing to do except sit there in the sun and read the paper together. It's not a perfect kitchen but a simple kitchen with a window over the sink and curtains. Comfortably small and perfect as the heart of the home.

Front porch, later afternoons and early morning. Sitting and watching the day settle into it's self. I'm old and satisfied, again with my partner by my side. Getting up only to tend to the garden a little, or perhaps go inside for things to eat but always ending up back outside, enjoying life at it's plainest.

Traveling to interesting places. Not on a cruise, not to an all inclusive resort but to little interesting places where you get swallowed up by the culture. Not being scared to drink the water or eat the food, just being free to enjoy. Not worrying about worry.

My dreams are fragmented and just little glimpses of what I want. It's unfair to expect that any of these will come true to being what I see in my mind but it's something I am working towards. The longest dream I've ever had was one of companionship. As a little girl I never imagined my wedding or who I would marry or any of that stuff that most little girls play around with inside their mind. I wanted to be a witch or maybe a gypsy and move to the ocean and just exist. I figured I'd have a companion and there would be love. I dream about the adventures we'd have and eventually it all ending as two pruney senior walking hand in hand in the rain with our rain gear on. 98 and still living together in our house which is of course is situated by the ocean and a rainforest. Still able to do things for ourselves and still happy, healthy and living.

Is it normal to want this? Or should I have my sight set on owning a Mercedes mall assault vehicle, a big gnarly vacation house in Beverly Hills and being married in a $60,000 dress at my $500,000 wedding celebration.

Does this make me unmotivated? Does this make me a low achiever?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Troll Food


Pocky is now called Troll Food. I was stuck in the parking lot at Chinook on Saturday.. yes, all the way down in the elusive section of new P2 and I was in a traffic jam. JP (thankfully) had a package of baby cookies in the car and a box of Pocky. I ate the cookies and drew on the box of Pocky. It was awesome.

You know what else was awesome, people were honking like they do on TV when everyone is stuck in traffic. Calgary isn't a honking city really... and when there is a traffic jam or some other kind of traffic cluster, no one really honks. I'm happy to say that because the random honking that occurs when no one is moving doesn't make any sense... but, when you are stuck in a hot ungrounded parking unit at a really busy mall on a Saturday afternoon and all you can see are tail lights coming from every which direction, honking becomes entertainment.

Someone had to start it and I hope it was out of joy and not out of anger because as soon as someone started honking EVERYONE else waiting joined in, for fun. It became an awesome game of honking together. I was so delighted by this. So much that it was a Facebook status changer.

When things finally started moving everyone was distracted enough to give up on the honking game and just try to get the hell out of there. There are unspoken rules of the road when it comes to traffic cluster-ups. If you are in the big daddy line that is on the way out and everyone else is trying to get in, you let a car in. Just one. If everyone in the big daddy lane lets one car in, we can all be happy, well... there was this one car that didn't get that. It was red and the people were trolls. How did we know that they were trolls, well... they had their whole house packed into the back of their steamy car. I think they might have been living in their car and were basically the trolls of the parking lot. So, I drew on the box of Pocky that I was decorating that it was Troll Food and showed it to them, but they weren't looking because they knew they were being rude by not allowing us to come into the big daddy lane. Then, they cheated and totally skipped the line.. those Trolls were on a mission to get the hell out of that parking lot. Jerks.

So anyway, the next day I went for Sushi and got my own box of Troll Food which I forgot about in my purse. I've been eating it all day and kind of feel like a troll. It's awesome. Awesome Sauce.

I also have a headache. Totally unrelated.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hanna: The Movie



I got an email today from "the man", apparently I have advance screening passes to Hanna which is pretty exciting to me. I saw the preview a few weeks ago when I went to the screening of Unlimited (word of warning, don't waster your dollar dollar bills on that one- unless it's on the book) and thought to myself "That looks like the story of Heidi, on crack".

It has a Kill Bill meets X-Files feel to it without the yellow jump suit, Scully, and the Tarantino influence (that could be a good or a bad thing).

"The title character (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenage girl with the strength, stamina, and smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland. Her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding several agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative (Cate Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces even more startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity."

Yes, Eric Bana- that threw me off too... isn't he exclusively into Chick Flicks? Well, I guess this kind of could be one as well, just not in the same way as The Time Travelers Wife would be. Hey, at least he's kind of pretty...

The director waffles a bit about how to describe the film because it's not exclusively one genre. It's a little action, it's a little thriller, it's a little dark and a little fairy tail. It also has the moody, dark tones of the Chemical Brothers setting the tone with their soundtrack made specifically for the film.

HANNA: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Joe Wright, Hanna (film)

Moral of the story, can't beat a free movie so I'm going regardless and hopefully, if it's a good action movie... I'll want to wrestle after.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Strongest Tree

If I really were a tree I would be a stunted one that grows in the bog in Tofino


Pine.
That is what I am.. I am Pine. Pining away.
This is so out of character for me I am border line annoying myself.
I am such a sap.

...at least I'm on the home stretch.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What the Hell Pancake Day

just call me captain space cadet pancake head


Did I seriously get Pancake Day screwed up??? I did. I really did... it kind of dawned on me yesterday when I was thinking about Mardi Gras but then... yes, it doesn't matter...

Happy Pancake Day everyone! Again...

Here is the post I should have written today but instead I was too drunk of sugar and other things...


So, go make some pancakes for dinner.

(Geez... I am so mad at myself! What the heck?!!)

Super Trampy? Super Lucky!

From now on...

I totally screamed when I went through my emails after lunch. Click, click, click- delete... read, sort Live Nation: Presale Code for Supertramp in Calgary and Edmonton...

wait a second...

Live Nation?
Supertramp?
Calgary? Presale Code?

OH MY GOD!

Supertramp... one of the last bands I have left on my bucket list of "greats" that I am able to see (no dead, not crazy and totally still playing music). The last time they were in town no one would go with me- this year, things are different. I have someone wonderful in my life who LOVES to do the same kind of things I love to do. It's magical, but that isn't what this post is about- this post is about SUPERTRAMP! In Calgary.

I've been called an old soul for much of my young life, though talking to me you wouldn't think so. I'm silly, playful and naive at times. But, I guess a lot of my thoughts and ways of seeing things were beyond my years and along with that also came a taste for music from before I was born. Good, gritty, classic rock- I love it. I should have been born in the 60's but I wasn't, I was born in the 80's.

I'm not really sure when I started to fall for Supertramp. I am pretty sure it was just after my ABBA phase, I had bought Crime of the Century and moved into Even in the Quietest Moments  and then into Breakfast in America. I was in love.

The song that I can play the best on the guitar is the simple little tune Surly from Supertramps self titled debut album. It's the first track and I've always loved it's simplicity.

Downstream comes from the album Even in the Quietest Moments which is by far, one of the most recognized Supertramp albums ever (in my opinion)- it's a small album with some heavy tracks. The song is just beautiful with it's moody piano and poetic words. It is one of my favorite all time songs ever.

Another favorite is of course Even in the Quiestet Moments- this song proves that any song that starts off with birds is a good song.

and of course, there are so many high energy songs that.. well, I just can't wait. I have my calander set and my presale code ready and I am determinded to see them live! Even though Rodger Hodgson has since moved on (well, a long time ago to be honest but whatever). I don't care. So many songs... so many.


Downstream by Supertramp

Tickets go on sale for Calgary March 11th, there is a presale as well on Thursday- if you want the code let me know.

Show Info

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beignets

Oh I wish I were a chunck of deep fried dough! That is what I'd always want to be!


Yes, I would go to New Orleans for the Crawfish and Beignets alone. Oh and maybe at the end of April to see Edward Sharpe playing with Mumford and Sons (can you imagine- good concert!). So instead of going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras by my lonesome (that would be some trouble if you asked me!) I have decided to make Beignets myself...

check it:

1 c. whole milk
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. table salt
3 1/2-4 c. all-purpose flour
1 scant tablespoon dry active yeast
1/2 c. warm (about 105 degrees) water
1 egg
Peanut oil for frying

Method:
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 c. sugar, vegetable oil, and salt.  Heat over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan.  Remove from heat.

While the milk is heating, combine the yeast and 1 Tbsp. of sugar with 1/2 c. water.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes or until it’s very bubbly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heated milk and 2 c. flour.  Mix, scraping the bowl occasionally, until smooth (about 2-3 minutes).  Add the egg and mix until well-combined.  Add the yeast mixture.  Add enough flour to make a soft dough that slightly sticks to your finger.

At this point, you can either place the dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and cover with a piece of sprayed plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough up to 1 day or you can roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Either way, when you roll it out, roll it into a large rectangle about 1/4″ thick.  Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into about 3″x4″ rectangles (accuracy doesn't matter, we are talking about fried pieces of dough with powdered sugar here).  Slightly separate the dough pieces and cover with a clean cloth.  Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

When the dough has about 15 minutes left to go, heat 2-3 inches of peanut oil in a large skillet or saucepan to 325 degrees (just use a candy thermometer).  When the oil is heated, fry the dough pieces for about 90 seconds-2 minutes per side or until they are golden.  Carefully remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

Place some powdered sugar in a fine-mesh strainer and sprinkle the powdered sugar generously over the beignets.  Serve immediately (though, like pancakes, they are totally okay to eat when cold)

Makes about 24-30 beignets.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Candy Finnigan and Dagblog

It was either this or Chuck Norris. I'm so over Chuck- actually I don't think I ever started.
Natalie Dee on the other hand... fantastic!

It's 3:30pm, my boss went home about a half hour ago and I just finished a project I was working on. It's prime Internet time! I first Googled the name Candy Finnigan who is an Interventionist on A&E's reality TV show Intervention. I wanted to check the spelling of her name ( was writing something to my friend Laura) and I was also curious about her histry. A hit showed up for Wikipedia so I followed it. It sent me to Mike Finnigan's page where I learnt that Candy is married to a very well respect musician who has toured with the likes of Etta James, Lenoard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Taj Mahal, etc... and somehow I ended up from there on this other blog called dagblog, actually...now that I think hard about it I think they had written a story about Candy on there which I found interesting.

So anyway, I just wanted to mention that I really like this blog called dagblog, I find that it resonates well with my own thoughts and opinions (which more often than not I keep to myself. I find my school of thought to be somewhat unpopular and there is always a time and place for challenging conversation- just often "right now" isn't the right time) as well as my sense of humor.

I was in a sharing mood and thought I would pass the link along to you. If you follow my own blog of hodgepodge and nonsense this may or may not interest you. But if it does, this is my Happy Friday gift to you. If not, then you can enjoy my previous post on how Honey is Bee vomit and if that doesn't do anything for you then well, let me know what you want to talk about and I will talk about it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Hell Week is almost done (it actually got a lot better Wednesday and things have been looking up ever since!) so I might be more regular is my posts next week.

PS: I have no idea what image to put with this post so I might just Google "random image" and see what I come up with.  

Honey is Bee Vomit


I'm cute, pet my furry head.

True Story. If you think honey is made from flower nectar you are only partially correct. An important part of the process is what happens inside the bee. Bees use their digestive systems to process the nectar by swallowing and regurgitating it several times before finally depositing it into the honeycomb for evaporation and storage.

While this sounds gross, it helps remove some of the water and natural yeasts present in the nectar, which could otherwise cause the sugars to ferment. Ripe honey is shelf stable and never spoils. Honey comes in various tastes and colours, depending on the type of flower nectar the bees collected. For example, clover honey is mild tasting and light in colour whereas buckwheat honey is bolder tasting and darker. Honey may also darken or become a bit stronger tasting with age, but will keep indefinitely in a sealed container at room temperature. If older honey crystallizes, simply warm it up until it turns clear.

And that is all that you needed to know about Honey.




 Honey-Honey by Feist

Honey honey up in the trees
Fields of flowers deep in his dreams
Lead them out to sea by the east
Honey honey food for the bees

Honey honey out on the sea
In the doldrums thinking of me
Me on dry land thinking of he
Honey honey not next to me

Even if he wanted to
Even if he wanted to
Even if he wanted to
Do you think he'd come back
Would he come back

Oh no..

Honey honey out on the sea
In the doldrums waiting for me
Me in my boat searching for he
Honey honey food for the bees

It Will Be Okay, Just Laugh

Someone sent this to me at work today:
(if you can't see the video just follow the link)

Baby Laugh A-Lot commercial from Fail Blog



Scary. Actually, the doll isn't as horrible as the little girls whipping their heads around. *shudders

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome To Hell Week


Hell Day is when you show up to work in nothing but a ratty old slip when it's -30°C outside

Hell Week/ Day/ Month: A period in time when everything just goes through the shitter. Seriously. Gong Show meets Jersey Shore meets WCF meets The Office. Usually happens at work, at least it does for me. My life outside of work is magical and seems to be immune to Hell Week/Day/Month.

This week (today is Wednesday) I have so far cried twice at work; once on Monday and once on Tuesday (I blame that on sleep deprivation and a sinus cold). Today I have seen 4 out of the 6 people in my department break down in tears, 3 of which I was talking to at the time and consoled them with a bony hug and hair pat. Computer break downs, corrupt files, lost information, unbalanced reconciliations, Excel meltdown, lost connections, mystery spiders walking across my desk, broken thermostats, spontaneous popping balloons- it all happens now. During Hell Week.

The pants I'm wearing today are too big and my hair is staticy against my face. My eyes are heavy and tired and I want to pick at the calluses on my guitar playing hands

But even with all these frazzled nerves and mood swings, I still manage to make up songs as I work. I sing the numbers that I am balancing, the different divisions and the places where the Expats are working. I sing about how the employees should be on the health plan and how they are missing out on free money by not partaking in the RRSP plan and how some of the field employees have really really annoying wives. I sing about Hong's clicky fake nails on her keyboard and Lonnie's smoke breaks. I sing about how the one printer is a little bitch and only seems to work for me. I sing about my phone ringings and not answering it. I sing about the food I am eating and what I'm drinking. I also make up songs about how the VP of HR has girl sneezes and he's a boy.

How annoying of me! I mean seriously, I find the yogurt cup eater and the plastic bag wrestler annoying, someone is bound to find my simple little off tune songs annoying. Not to mention my constant self talk banter (Today I caught myself in the storage room saying "What am I doing here? Why do I feel drunk? Oooo Post-it Notes!"). Especially during Hell Week. I better watch my back!

Anyway, I really don't have time to write this, I just got an email that some stuff came in for me at reception so more work awaits for me. I love my job, I really do. But this week I don't like it. Maybe, I'm starting to out grow it or maybe I just need to hanker down and get the last 3 months of mess cleared off my desk. My mind has been a whirl of dreams so we will see where I am in 4 -6 months.

*deep breath* that was a good vent.