Arm & Hammer to the rescue …

The other day I tried a new recipe, one from a friend. I cooked it in an enamel cast iron dutch oven. To my horror, when it was done cooking and I started to dish it out, I could see that the entire bottom of the pot was pretty thickly-coated with black, burnt, caked-on food. And I do mean the entire bottom.

A kitchen disaster. I could have cried. The pot is new and was expensive.

Gulping, I consulted the booklet that came with the pot. Following the instructions, first I let the pot cool. Plunging a hot pan into cold water can result in cracking or loss of enamel. I then filled it with warm water Continue reading

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Giving myself an A in suck-it-up-and-go-anyway …

Some background: Late last year, I subscribed to a five-film series of documentaries (Doc Soup Sundays) followed by a discussion. The screenings are once a month at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

Some more background: Last Saturday night I went out for dinner with friends. I made the mistake of having a cup of coffee after dinner. It’s never been a problem before, so I didn’t know it was a mistake until I was up all night.

This brings us to last Sunday morning, after a mostly sleepless night. It was after 2 am when I finally dozed off and I was up again before 5. The little sleep I did get was, sadly, not the glorious, deep, coma-like, dream-inducing sleep from which one awakes somewhat dazed, confused and refreshed. Instead, I Continue reading

You learn something every day, even when it comes to cooking

I grew up surrounded by excellent cooks, I’ve always enjoyed cooking and I know my way around a kitchen. I’m not a chef, by any means, but I haven’t had many complaints. I love cookbooks and probably have many more than I need. I love going through them for ideas but tend not to follow the recipes exactly. I’m not a measurer by nature (which is why I don’t bake), and I like to improvise.

Recently, though, that changed. It started when I bought a Le Creuset dutch oven. You may recall I blogged about that not too long ago. Of course, one thing led to another, and the new pot required a new Continue reading

What an absolute crock …

I’ve spent my entire career in advertising, as a writer and creative director. So if anyone can’t stand ads that are all bumpf and advertisers who talk to themselves it’s me. But in the case of this particular ad, which appeared on the back page of the Business Section in last Sunday’s New York Times (following lyft’s IPO last Friday), it’s even worse than that.

This time it’s personal.

After resisting ride-hailing companies, which is what lyft, Uber and some others are, I finally caved in. My Continue reading

Blame the tax man …

I’ve been naughty. I had a whole week to think about what I would write today. But no, I procrastinated. “Don’t worry,” I said to myself. “You’ve got all week.” And I let myself get distracted. With books, recipes, chores, client work (okay, that’s not a distraction), daydreaming, etc. etc. etc.

Then, when it finally hit me yesterday that I hadn’t written today’s blog post, I was already up to my whats-it in organizing bills and invoices and receipts for taxis and couriers and restaurants and donations and Continue reading

Some things never change, and they shouldn’t …

When my mom decided she wanted to move from Montreal to Toronto, she came and stayed with me for a month, while she looked for an apartment.

The area where I lived at the time, Av & Dav as the locals call it (Avenue Road and Davenport), was and still is known for a one-block-long strip of shops selling flowers and plants and a diner, the Avenue Diner. They’re landmarks, and not just in that specific ‘hood. Cars are double and triple parked outside the flower shops on weekends, people come from all over the city. And the diner, which has always been owned by the Continue reading

Remembering Gaga …

Not Lady Gaga. My paternal grandmother. Long before I made my entrance into this world, an older cousin of mine struggled with saying “grandmother” when she was first learning to talk. The best she could manage was “Gaga” — and Gaga she remained for all generations to come until she died at 98.

I’m taking this little trip down memory lane because of a pot. No, not the kind you smoke or ingest.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook. All the women on both sides of my family were, but she was kind of unique because she eschewed any and all modern conveniences. As far as she was concerned, good Continue reading

A first time for everything …

I don’t have a sweet tooth, never have had, even as a child. Apparently, as far back as when I was two or three instead of reaching for the platter of brownies, I’d be reaching for the olives and pickles. Odd, because both my parents liked sweets.

My father was discriminating. Way back when there was what would now be described as an artisanal chocolatier in Montreal — Andrée Chocolate. They had a small store on Park Avenue, in an area of the city called The Plateau. I can still see their boxes. White, with “Andrée Chocolate” written in script, in black.

They only used dark chocolate and my father loved their almond bark, chocolate-covered ginger and Continue reading

Accentuate the positive …

Today marks 12 years since my mom passed and I’m dedicating this post to her. She was an eternal optimist who always looked for and found, the good in people and in life. 

There was a time I did a lot of blogging, here and for Huff Post, on US politics. I finally gave it up because it was making me tense and angry and I decided I wanted to change the channel.

I didn’t only stop blogging about it, I stopped watching the news — primarily CNN, where’s there’s an endless loop of misery 24/7. I haven’t stopped watching completely but I have cut back dramatically. There are days now when I don’t watch at all, weeks when I only tune in once or twice, and only for the briefest Continue reading

A happy mistake …

I love documentaries. Through them, I learn about all sorts of things, places and people I might otherwise never know anything about — perfect for someone who’s curious, like me.

So needless to say I’m thrilled to live in a city with a theatre (Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema) devoted to screening nothing but documentaries — seven days a week, 365 days a year. I’m even more thrilled to live a 15-minute walk away from said theatre — or a 5-minute subway ride if I’m pressed for time, lazy or the weather’s very bad.

Although you can buy single tickets, I have an incredibly inexpensive annual membership, which entitles me to advance ordering and discounts on regular film screenings and special events, invitations to free Continue reading