that time of the… ahem, of December

Q:  What do you get when you combine “that time of the month” with PayDay, and factor in a recent $$$-hemorrhaging move plus the holiday season fast approaching?

A:  A food spending orgy.  At least if you’re Brouhaha!

I blame this man, really.

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I picked up his book last week while on a pre-PayDay mini-bender.   If you don’t have a general resource cookbook that you find useful, buy this one.  He has EVERYTHING in this book.  
“Everything” includes a recipe for no-knead bread (which I first learned about from Chef Michael Smith).  I started it last night, and by this morning when I went to work it looked like this:

 
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However, it turns out that to make this bread in the best possible way, one requires covered pans (something like a Dutch oven).  Now, even though I have a Dutch over, I decided that today I needed some fancy yuppie-style ones, so headed over to Winners on the morning smoke break. 

And I scored!!!!

Le Creuset and all… for a third of the price.  Man, I’ve achieved true yuppiedom now (even though I’m not really all that “y” anymore.  Sigh.) 

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Not just one… but two!!!

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I thought photographing it on this table with the matching can of Pledge was a nice touch.  Plus, it might make you think that we’re actually doing some cleaning around here.  Heh heh. 

And, just in case you doubted the real credentials of this pot:

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And – I bought some (almost) matching silicone oven gloves!

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But even all this bread-baking orgy was not enough for me on this Day of the Month Days, as I decided when I had to run over to the grocery store for tampons and milk.  And only tampons and milk, mind you. 

Until I saw some other baking ingredients, of course, and then decided that I just had to try to make a yeasted coffee cake from Mr. Bittman’s magnus opus.    Here it is in progress:

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I must warn that I’m sure this is doomed to fail.  Why?

(a) I can’t bake.  I’ve never had any luck working with yeast. 

(b) I think I broke my food processor mixing the dough for this.  Smoke coming out the back of it is not a guid sign, right?  

(c) I’m fooling around with the recipe, which probably isn’t the swiftest idea given that I haven’t the slightest idea about how to deal with yeast. 

Oh well. If I don’t post here tomorrow, you know the whole thing went over the balcony.  

In the meantime, I did have some baking success already this evening with dinner: chicken pot pie!

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Looks lovely, no?  

Alas, I can’t tell a lie.  I did not make the pastry. However, I did an over-the-top thing – combining pie crust and puff pastry in the same recipe!

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And it was GUID. 

For dessert?  Did I mention that I now live about 100 metres away from a Dairy Queen?  And that they have a 1/2 price cake sale for the month of December?

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Well, I think that’s enough of a food orgy for the time being.  Time to go grab a beer. 

Happy 15th of December!

kb

PS.  Oh, let’s not mention my other food acquisitions today… 

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get your House in order…

WARNING/ATTENTION: there will be some political content in this post. I know, I know… it’s been a long time. However, the media here in Canada keep telling us there is a political crisis…and if you stick around you might find something of interest in the post…)

An open letter to all Canadian federal non-Conservative politicians: that is, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and most especially the Liberals:

Get it together, people.

First of all, you try to overthrow the government that was elected not even two months ago. And believe me, I’m not a big fan of that situation.
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So, you come up with this coalition thing. The Liberals and the New Democrats got together, got the support of the BQ, and were making a guid effort to overthrow a government just recently re-elected. Hats off to you.

Until, that is, it came time for the Prime Minister to address the nation on this the other night. He showed up on time. He spoke. He didn’t say much, but it wasn’t contested.

Why not??? Because this guy, the Leader of the Opposition, didn’t make his appointment for the media address:
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Wow, Stephane… the one place you had to show up on time, and you didn’t!!

But why was that? My thoughts… because these two guys, who are fighting for Mr. Dion’s job…
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…oh, I’m not allowed probably to say what I think. Suffice it to say they made sure Mr. Dion didn’t show to address the nation.

So now our Prime Minister has had Parliament suspended until January 2009. This in a time of supposed economic crisis, mind you.

Meanwhile, the two guys above, (right) Mr. Michael “I lived outside Canada for 28 years and am a publically known intellectual” Ignatieff and Mr. Bob “I was the socialist Premier of the Province of Ontario who opened the door to the arch-conservatives, and then became a Liberal because NDP wasn’t where it was at” Rae have found some big long knives and are using them to vie for the next Prime Minesterial position, without an election.

Confused? So am I. I actually like the idea of a coalition overthrowing the Harper Conservatives, and it could work… if the Liberals could actually figure out who is supposed to be in charge.

So, Coalition people, just know: THE DUCKIES ARE WATCHING!!!!
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And, by the way, this situation has taken its toll on the Matriarch of my wee duckie family. Remember Daisy?
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She was the silver one to the left of the yellow vase. The silver variety of duck, I should let you know, is among the most rare and prized.

Well, in the stress of all of this, she has clearly turned yellow, as you can see when you look at her sitting next to the yellow vase in the photo above.  Here is a new photo of her…

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She appears to have lost some weight as well.

She is faring OK health-wise, just in case you were worried… but only through some serious nurturing and caregiving from her silver-haired colleague and mentor:
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So, all this to say, fair politicians: you guys are hurting real live Canadians with all of this nonsense.  Get your house in order.  I have, although I’m not willing to show you any photos yet. 

Yours very truly, 

Kristina

Barrister, Solicitor, Big Mouth, etc. and so on and so forth, B.A., LL.B , B.la B.la B.la

whither JJ?

I went looking for JJ this afternoon, but he had disappeared.  I guess he was stressed out from the move, which lasted 10 plus hours.  And which, more importantly, cost… ahem… well, slightly less than one month’s rent at the last place).

Actually, JJ hadn’t really disappeared, but this is what he looked like when I found him:

img_30611Puir wee JJ.

And who could blame him for retreating?  This is what the second bedroom (a.k.a the stash room) looked like just after the move:

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And, I should clarify that these are not all stash.  I wish.  Instead, quite a bit of our furniture was buried under the pile, including JJ’s favourite side table on which he likes to station his whiskey glass.

JJ also had to put up with my very bad mood last night.  You see, I had to deal with the following crises in addition to the rest of the moving grief:

(a) in an extreme moment of weakness, allowing myself to get conned by hearing the (Rogers) cable guy tell me that he couldn’t hook up the cable, then telephoning three different people, all of whom had a different response (and Daphne from Rogers, if you’re reading this, you were by far the most helpful);

(b) deciding not to smoke in my new home – and then wanting nothing more than several cigarettes in front of the television which was not #(@*&#($*!&@#(!* working.  So, instead, I got to traipse out to the balcony in sub-zero weather… and here was the view:

img_3058The highway!

And actually, that’s not being honest.  It’s actually quite a lovely view during the daytime, and probably more so if you’re not sitting there saying “Why, oh why, don’t I just smoke inside?  I can’t smoke inside anywhere anymore! The last place I could smoke inside was in my house, and now I can’t even do that… wah wah wah and bla bla bla”.

But back to the main story.  I was very worried that JJ had turned into a gargoyle, so I invoked the powers of Marina:

img_3063You can’t see it in this lame photo, but she is actually gazing upon the gargoyle.

While this was happening, I went up to the Sobeys grocery store – less than a five minute walk! how exciting – and when I came back, this is what I found:

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Hey!  Is this what we crossed the river for?!?!?!

Anyway, I was glad to have my JJ back… and he has spent the day washing the 1,234 dishes, glasses, etc that we didn’t quite realise we had until we moved.

When I locate my stash and my current project, I’ll be back with more information.  And maybe even some daytime photos of my new place… and maybe even, in a week or two, my brand new log cabin!

I hope all is well with you and yours.

Regards,

kb

I found my camera cord…!

… but please don’t think this means that you get any wonderful photos. In fact, what it means is that you get to see some bizarre photos from the past month or so.

This is JJ’s new computer which I bought him about a month ago

img_3049This photo is the computer surronder by the detritus of moving.  However, here is an action photo taken about a month ago:

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Now – JJ still says he can’t use the computer.  But he looks OK there, no??? Any takers as to how to how to teach him to use the computer?

And here is a duckie photo.. just before the duckie in question was packed!

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This is the cold callous mother of the duckie modelling JJ’s stetson from his work as a Commissionaire:

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(In actual fact, since I located this hat, I haven’t really taken it off.  I like the way it fits me.  I asked JJ to model for a photo with it, but he refused.  I’ll have to dig one up and post it!)

I should note that I did locate the Hallowe’en photos as well, but they are all sideways – I also have a disc at work with some of me so I will have to do a belated Hallowe’en post. 🙂

And finally, a photo taken this evening just before I sat down to write this.  I’d like to think of this photo as the end of an era at the Valleyview… but I suspect that it won’t look too different to other photos I’ve taken inside my place.  Just realise that I have taken this photo just before the movers arrive tomorrow…

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…and below is the stash room…

 

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The stash is there… but well hidden.

And I know I said “Finally…” but here is one last photo of JJ in our old place:

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I would have taunted you all with a photo of my log cabin, but it too is packed.  Plus, WordPress just screwed me when I tried to post a new photo.  So, hey.  Stay tuned… 🙂 

kb

 

moving hell

I know, I know, I know… I’ve been very remiss about posting. My apologies.

My further apologies for what will be a very boring post indeed, as I have either packed or thrown out the little connector cord for my digital camera. SIGH.

Anyway, I have several explanations (NOT excuses) for my blogging delinquency:

(a) I’m stressing about becoming an ex-tenant as at 2 December. I know that this is weird, given that I spend my work life fighting landlords. But being a “tenant” has become an identity for me which is actually hard to give up for some reason. Hmm.

(b) Because of all the #%$*(@(#*$&(#@*$&@#* landlords out there trying to screw tenants, my work life has erupted. It’s good, but it’s busy busy busy.

(c) Did I mention that we’re moving? The decluttering effort alone has taken weeks. Now we’re into the packing bit. Mind you, despite JJs strong hints (“D’ye really NEED all that yarn, lassie”), my most prized collection is more or less intact and packed.

(d) The duckie family is really stressed about the upcoming move, and I don’t have the parental skills to console them.  In fact, I’m sure I’ve made it worse by separating them during a binge packing session last weekend.  I could show you some startling photos of forlorn and bereft baby duckies, but guess what – I lost my camera cord!  Coincidence…???

(e) I’ve been busy trying to finish my log cabin blankie because my mother expects us to set up the second bedroom in the new place as what she calls a “pethara suite” (“pethara” meaning “mother-in-law” in Greek).  I reckon that when she comes to visit us at Christmas and is faced with the same old cheapo blow-up bed and a cheapo cotton knitted bedspread, she’ll decide that it’s not a good idea to come live with us after all.

Anyway, the blankie is almost finished, and at present measures 4 1/2″ by 5 1/2″.  I look forward to posting photos when I manage to locate my $#*&($#*($&#($&@# camera cord.  And at that point, you can also look forward to Hallowe’en photos and so forth.  Yes, I’ve been delinquent.

If anyone is still checking into this blog, kindly send some good vibes for the condo closing (which takes place officially tomorrow.)  Today we had to go and hand over a ridiculous amount of $$$ to a lawyer, who had us sign about a million pieces of paper and then told us “oh, I’ve got the keys here [dangle dangle], but you can’t get them until tomorrow when the bank has sent over the rest of the money”.   $&#*($&@(*#$* lawyers!!!!!

Anyway, thanks – and I will be back with more pictures than you will care to look at once I’m settled in and locate my camera cord.

knitting for social justice, etc.

The subject line is a bit high-falutin’, really.

All I really wanted to say is that I did a bit of public knitting for the first time in a long time.  I was at a Toronto legal clinic conference for a couple of days, and it was a cool bunch of people so I thought they wouldn’t be thrown off too much by the knitting.

Au contraire.  In fact, I met a whole group of conference knitters (from one clinic in particular… in fact, I was asked why I didn’t work at their clinic!)

And, I made a lot of progress on my log cabin blankie project:

What I managed to do over the two days: finish the green, add the dark brown on the right side, and start the blue.

I managed also to make everyone jealous at the conference, because the meeting rooms were (very) cold but I was knitting and covering myself with a blanket while knitting.  I assure you all that this wasn’t planned… but it did work out very well.

I also managed (inadvertently) to inspire some envy regarding my very cool Ecco boots (a gift from my mother, who works at Ecco Shoes in Kingston, Ontario).

I got to wear both boots at the conference today, which to be honest felt more like wearing slippers – that’s how comfortable they are:

Wish me luck with the log cabin: I’m not quite sure about the colour choices yet.  I do hope that they meld a bit better.  It has been suggested to me that the brown/orange combo was a tad too reminiscent of the A&W Root Beer Bear:

…which is quite funny as I can’t remember the last time I ate at A&W.  To give you a tip, it was when they still had drive-in restaurants (and now I’m dating myself).

However, I’m hopeful that this blankie will still work out.  And I managed a good chunk of it during this conference, for which I am grateful.

Happy Friday and a fabulous weekend to you all!

the See You Jimmy sandwich

Well, JJ got very perturbed at the fact that I have started foodie content on the blog without consulting him.

And JJ, when he gets perturbed, is a fearful character indeed…

So, I’m forced to reproduce his brand new sandwich recipe here.  However, despite my telling him that he needs a catchy sandwich title in order to capture the interest of the Food Network, he didn’t want to play.  I warned him that if he left me to my own naming devices, he might be in some trouble, but – more fool him – he trusts me.

So, here is the bored Scottish pensioner See You Jimmy Sandwich (drumroll and bagpipe whine, please).

1.  Take a fresh Scottish bap and cut it in half.

(No, we don’t usually store them on the oven burners.  And for those who have never seen a bap, it is simply a soft roll with flour brushed on top.  Use any bun or bread, but don’t tell JJ I said so, eh?).

I’m also not including instructions for cutting the bap/bun/other bread in half.  I reckon you’ve got that covered already.

2.  Slice some old cheddar cheese.

You know what the lovely part of this is?  Don’t bother buying the expensive cheese, especially if you live near a Loblaws. Try your no-name old cheddar instead.  I’m a bit of a cheese snob, but this one is better than that other Ag-ed brand that starts with “B” and costs twice as much.  Really.

3.  Slice some leftover ham.

Yeah, yeah, I know – that photo doesn’t look so fabulous on the burner.  But it was guid, really.  This was the rest of the Thanksgiving ham that my mommy made us.  JJ says that in a stretch, you can go with Black Forest ham or even that plain old cooked ham.

4.  Spread some of this liberally on the bap, on both sides.

What is this, exactly?  It is Greek sour cherry preserve.  I came back from the Greek deli with this last week all excited, and told JJ “what you do is put a spoonful of this in ice water, let it sit, eat it and then drink the water which is then flavoured with the sour cherry”.  He looked at me and said “Lassie, why wuid ah dew that if ah have whisky in the hoose???”.

But apparently he got all excited about it today and decided to use it as a sandwich spread.

5.  Layer the sliced cheese and ham on top, and eat.

That’s it.  Now, luckily this delicacy was made and consumed while I was still at work.  I must confess that I’m not in a hurry to try it.  However, it is imaginative and perhaps we can actually sell the concept.

And if we do, we’ll be millionaires, I suppose.  Goddess alone knows I’m not getting all that far with my endeavours!

So, where did the name come from for the sandwich?  From this guy:

Who is he?? A marker of the guy in Glasgow who was told “See you Jimmy…” (but not in a guid way… something like “See you Jimmy… yer gettin a kick up the arse”.  “Jimmy” is used as a generic name in Scotland, much like “buddy” in the US or “guy” here in Canada – or so ah’m telt.

In this regard, they sell “Jimmy bonnets” as joke gifts both in Scotland and here.

Hmm… now I’m hungry… mebbe ah’ll jest try one a them Jimmy sandwiches now!

Ahem… well, mebbe not.  But if you do try one, let me know how you found it!

Cheers,

Kristina

a true thirty minute recipe…


This is my plate of makarOnia me kaftO vOUtiro that I made last night.  Well, I must confess… I didn’t eat the entire plate.  And, I had to make a separate version for JJ, but more about that later. 

All this to say – this is, in my estimation, the best “less than 30 minute” recipe that one can have in their arsenal.  So, I’d like to share it with you.  I don’t want to turn you off, but the Greek literal translation is “macaroni with burnt butter”.  However, read on… if you like butter and cheese, you’ll love this.   And it’s quick and cheap. 

Instructions

1.  Get out your favourite Greek cooking beverage before you start, as you might get thirsty.  Here are my recommendations: 

Lux orangeade and/or Lux sour cherry pop.  However, you can divert from this instruction and pick your own beverage, such as this one:

2.  Put on a large pot to boil water for pasta, then find your pasta:

(Note: you don’t need this yuppified pasta to make the recipe with success.  However, as much as I rail against consumerism, I do love my Italian pasta.  This one is called “spaghetti alla chitarra”, meaning “spaghetti guitar-style” – meaning that it was double length spaghetti and was bent in the bottom of the package.  I, of course, broke it in half.  Go figure.)

For this purpose, use 250g (just under 8 oz) for two people or 500 g (just over a pound) for four. 

3.  When you have put your pasta in the boiling water (with lots of salt, and without any oil – you don’t need oil in the boiling water as long as you give the pasta a good stir while it is still boiling), get out 1/2 pound of butter (or 1/4 pound if you are making the recipe for two people). 

You can use either salted or unsalted butter – but if you’re not a salt addict like me, think about buying the unsalted.

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan as you see above, on low.   

4.  Grate some cheese to put on the pasta. 

You can use any grating cheese for this, to your taste – parmesan, romano, etc.  However, if you want to be authentically Greek, try to get your hands on some dry mizithra.

You can find this at most Greek stores, and I imagine you could find something similar at any Middle Eastern shop.  It is a dry version of ricotta cheese made with sheep’s milk.  The closest easily available equivalent is romano cheese, but romano is a bit more tangy tasting.  Still guid, though. 

Anyway, grate up a bunch of your cheese – this is about the right amount:

Let’s say 120 g/4 oz worth. 

5.  By the time you’ve grated your cheese, the butter should be getting along.  It takes about 10 minutes over low heat to get to the “burnt” stage.  First, it will start foaming and look like this:

Then, it will start even more foam and look something like this.

Don’t get scared – let it foam.  It needs to start looking something like this in order to be ready:

When you see the browned bits start to appear at the top with heavy foam, take it off the heat. 

6.  Drain your pasta (which, by now, has cooked).  Put a bunch of the cheese on the bottom of a big serving plate.  Grate some nutmeg over it:

…not very much, four or five gratings worth will do.  Put some of your hot pasta over all of that. Repeat cheese/nutmeg/pasta until you’ve run out. 

7.  Pour over all of the brown butter, mix a bit and serve.  Make sure you have some of this on the side, though:

Easy as pie!!!

Except, of course, that JJ had to complicate my recipe because today one of his girlfriends on the Food Network did spaghetti with burnt butter and a twist:

That recipe also included this:

… and this was the end result:

Not too bad either, if you can ignore the baguette buttered with margarine on the side (this being a very odd household, I bring in butter as needed and typically only for burnt butter spaghetti!)

The recipe for the variation: 

– 4 T burned butter, as above. 

– 1 heaping T balsamic vinegar. 

– parmesan cheese to taste. 

It was also quite lovely, I must admit.  However, being Greek, only the original spaghetti with burnt butter recipe will do. 

Anyway, try either of the recipes.  You won’t regret it.  I’ve put many people here onto the Greek burnt butter one and they have cursed me afterward because they are now eating too much.  Always a good sign for a little Greek Canajan like me!

Happy weekend!


PayDay… a day late and… er… never mind.

Yes, yes – I know, I know.  The last time I was here, I said that I was in the midst of stashbusting.

However, this morning the gloom of the grey sky and the fallen dead leaves…

… plus the completely foreseen (but no less crippling) bad mood engendered by Tuesday’s election results…

…led me and my iron will (HA!) regarding PayDay purchases astray.

It all started off rather innocently.  In light of my stashbusting goal – which involves the winding of approximately 5 kilometres of Super 10 cotton yarn – and a recalcitrant JJ (“Who do ah sue if ah get that carpal tunnel thingy from doing all these yarn balls??? Eh??? Eh???”), I decided to break down and buy a ball winder and swift.

A very economical purchase, really, considering all of the labour costs (which, at present Legal Aid lawyer rates, comes out to approximately… er, never mind.  And which, at JJ rates, led to too many whisky empties!) I will save.

Or would have saved, had I not come across this at Romni, where I bought the ball winder, at the same time:

This is brand new laceweight stuff!  It’s called One of a Kind (indeed!) and made right here in Canada.  The price, at $7.95 for a 600 yard skein, was actually quite reasonable (it’s a wool/angora/nylon blend).

Plus, the colourway is called Kaleidoscope.  How could I resist, really?

When I got back to the office after this little lunchtime foray, imagine my surprise to find this waiting for me!

This is the latest instalment in the Year of Lace 2008 club series which – horrors! – I had forgotten was on its way.  And Handmaiden cashmere to boot!  I must say the colourway is not one that falls within my preferred range, but I’m sure I’ll find someone who would like a shawl made with it.

I also rediscovered this lovely yarn that fellow blogger extraordinaire Clarabelle had winged my way from the UK back in the summer… (please do not think me ungrateful, C. – I had left it in my office to show everyone and it ended up as a decoration in my new office):

Now, one would think that all this largesse would have kept my @$$ in the tram seat on the way home instead of popping off to hit Lettuce Knit (notionally, in search of a swift).  But no.

Why, oh why, Handmaiden, did you have to come out with silver Sea Silk yarn?!?!?

Sigh.

After all of this, of course, my former past true love Super10 looks…er, rather dull.  But here is an in-progress shot of the Election 2008 Log Cabin quilt:

My goal: to finish it off before the US elections.  Given that the finished size should be 60″ x 50″ or so, I may well have bitten off more than I can chew.  Nothing changes, eh?

Well, off to make dinner… the easiest Greek pasta recipe ever.  Stay tuned!

election day!

For some reason, as the 15th election day in the last two years (just kidding – but it feels as though we’re going to vote once a month up here) dawned, I started getting anxiety attacks about ignoring my Super 10 stash.

Don’t let the cheery colours fool you – the yarn itself looks very forlorn.

All my fault, I know – especially since I haven’t had it living in the best of conditions:

Too busy to knit?!?  you frown, questioning my sanity.  In fact, I haven’t even been out shopping for yarn in the past… um… since the early summer!

To be fair to myself, I’ve been busy with a number of things, including trying to start up an award-winning foodie company.

Actually, I’m just kidding about that.  But don’t you love this lovely flavoured olive oil I made this weekend while at my mother’s?  She gave me some fresh rosemary, and I just couldn’t resist:

It tastes as good as it looks, too – I couldn’t wait the two or three weeks for it to infuse, so I did a quickie hot infusion instead.

I’ve also been clearing out the deep freezer and the (rather appalling) vegetable (hah!) crisper by making chicken/pork/chorizo stock:

… and even more stock – duck this time.  Fancy sounding, I know – but the duck, an impulse buy while doing some “shopping while hungry” at Loblaws (an ill-advised move):

And, of course, some more infused oil – using dried mint, which had, until recently, been growing until recently in my mother’s garden:

But the fear dread abject stupidity inevitability of another Conservative government…

(led by our Fearmongeringless Dictator Prime Minister, pictured here with yet another of his hapless – and choiceless – victims – and since when do you read to cats anyway?!?!?!)

…has caused me to break out into a perpetual cold sweat.  Which, in turn, has caused me to start knitting again!

For now, no lacy fripperies for me, though.  My goal is to get through all of the Super 10 stash pictured at the top of this post by 28 November, our moving date – making log-cabin blankies.

(Originally, I had thought about trying my hand at a fabulous mitered-square blanket, as inspired by Amy’s fantastic work-in-progress.  But hell.  I’m just too lazy.)

Think I’ll manage?

At the very least, it will give me something simple to do during the five or so hours tonight while we’re crying in our beers hurling the vegetables which were too rotten to put into the stockpot at the television watching the election returns.

Now, off to exercise my patriotic duty at the polls (and, in case you’re wondering why I’m posting at 1 in the afternoon, I always feel that election day is worth a day off and a few pints – in memory of the days when they still closed the bars on Election Day, if for no other reason.)

Happy Tuesday!