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I added the following recipe to T-friendly recipes the other day. If you’d like to join T-friendly recipes, just email me!
Sure, you could open a can of Campbells and warm it up on the stove. Or you could make something that will make you salivate like a hungry dog and, once devoured, create a taste sensation in your mouth!
Here is what you will need:
Mushrooms (either oyster mushrooms or portobello are the best, I reckon)
Chop your onions, dill, parsley and throw ‘em all into a pot with some butter and sizzle for a while on medium heat. Grate or otherwise render unto tiny pieces several full cloves of garlic. Throw that into the pot, too. Don’t burn anything. Once your flavour-providers have become soft and yummy, throw in your chopped mushrooms. Continue to sizzle for a while… You want your mushrooms to become nice and soft.
Next, throw in about a tablespoon of flour — perhaps more. You want enough flour that it will absorb all of the butter and juices, so that everything dries up a little. Stir lots! Next, start to slowly add cream as well as a few squirts of lemon juice. I highly recommend tasting your soup at regular intervals — but not so much that you eat it all and leave nothing for your guests. If it’s your first time making mushroom soup, the regular tasting will ensure you achieve the delicate balance between the creamy garlicky goodness and the slight zing of the lemon.
Emphasis: You want the lemon to only provide a slight zing… This is highly important. The soup should not taste like lemon soup. That would be gross!
Anyway, keep stirring in cream and whatnot until you have something that is thick but creamy and ready to spoon into your expectant mouth along with some bread or toast. Don’t forget to drink lots of wine! And ensue your guest(s) have lots of wine as well. You want them to be happy don’t you? Maybe you even want to get them into bed.
Why do I persist in using so clunky and pretentious a term as psychogeography to describe what could simply be considered a stroll around town? I guess it is because I wish that “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” — as defined by Guy Debord years ago — was more commonly recognized as a valid field of inquiry like, say, economics. Can something as simple as the distance of a building from the curb influence how humans feel and act? I believe that answer is a resounding yes. It is remarkable to me that western civilization has permitted so much unchecked development — especially the sprawl of suburbia — without enacting any formalized study of the results of such development. Sure, we know some of the basics — that suburbs encourage more driving and a sedentary lifestyle — but how much time has spent studying how people actually feel and behave?
It is has been observed, for example, that if a street is organized such that people park on the side of the road in order to stop and frequent the businesses in the neighbourhood, the line of parked cars that develops over the course of a day encourages pedestrian activity. Pedestrians like the parked cars because they act as a buffer between them and the traffic.
Boulevard St. Laurent, south of Jean Talon, is a pedestrian-friendly zone, because of businesses and parked cars on both sides of the road. As soon as you head north of rue Jean Talon, however, the emergence of Parc Jarry — as beautiful as it is — results in a sharp drop in pedestrian traffic. Why? Because traffic starts to move differently in this area. No one stops their car and gets out and shops and comes back and drives away again — activity that slows the surge of cars in the main part of the street. No, if people park at all, it is for long periods of time. Thus the flow of traffic is mainly unimpeded and St. Laurent becomes chiefly a thoroughfare — several lanes of fast-moving traffic in both directions. When I’m walking in the area, I deliberately avoid St. Laurent, opting for a quiet residential street instead.
It is perhaps nauseating for me to repeat this, but I believe that because so much of Montreal has been organized (whether deliberately or not) in a way that creates street life, that people generally are more sociable and happier. I notice the same in New York City.
At the very least, I know that I am certainly happier. Often, all it takes to cheer me up is to leave the apartment and walk around for a while. Once the weather improves enough for me to do some of my very favourite Montreal walks, I will post some of them here…
I posted the following recipe at T-Friendly Recipes today. If you would like to become a member and read and provide recipes of your own, email me!
To make Halloumi Delight you’ll need:
A lot of sun dried tomato paste
Aubergine (a.k.a) eggplant
Sliced green olives
Salt and pepper to taste
A baking tray!
First: a disclaimer…
Quantities are not my thing when it comes to recipes. “How much of X should I use?” Well, that depends on how many people you’re feeding and how greedy they are. If you invite some very hungry hippos indeed, you would have to quadruple the standard serving portions, right? So I don’t provide quantities! Plus I don’t know how to measure anything. What is an appropriate measure for cheese? A gram? A bushel? Me, I just say slice up your cheese and slather it on. I will provide rough estimates of everything or guidelines in my Mode d’emploi.
(I only say this to sound fancy, even though it isn’t vaguely correct or culinary.)
To make halloumi delight, I suggest you save yourself time and buy some pre-made pastry from the supermarket. It isn’t expensive. I went mass market and purchased Pillsbury!
Unroll your pastry and spread it over your baking tray. If, like me, you used a baking tray that was about one-foot-and-a-bit by just under one foot, you’ll have enough to feed three to four relatively hungry people (PROVIDED you also ply them with sautéed green beans or potatoes or a nice salad or something.)
Got your pastry into the baking tray now? Good. Reward yourself with a glass of wine.
Next thing is to spread your sun dried tomato paste over the pastry. Don’t make it too thick, but don’t cheap out, either.
Oh, by the way, while all this is going on, you should be gently STEAMING your aubergines with some onions in another pot somewhere. Don’t steam them for too long. Maybe 10 minutes? YOU DON’T HAVE to steam the aubergines, but I think it’s a good idea, since it softens them up more than simply baking them.
Alright, you should now have your pastry spread with sun-dried tomatoes PLUS some steamed aubergines. Layer the aubergines over the pastry/sundried tomatoes, next add tomatoes, slice olives, then thinly-sliced layers of HALLOUMI cheese over everything. Lastly, DICE your oregano… i.e. chop it up finely, and layer it over the top. Salt and pepper a bit… Go easy on the salt!
Next, stick your Halloumi Delight into the oven and set on 400F (200C) and bake from the bottom for 20 minutes. A nice last touch, turn the oven to roast from the TOP for the final 5-10 minutes, just to brown the cheese a little.
You want a baking tray with sides… If it is flat, you will need to be very careful indeed that your ingredients stay well short of the sides of the pastry – otherwise you’ll have cheese and stuff dripping off the edge and sticking on your tray or oven, and this would not only make a mess, but be a TERRIBLE WASTE of delicious halloumi cheese.
This morning, I successfully excavated my car from the snow in about 35 minutes. I drove out of the spot practically on the first try. Boy did I ever feel good about that.
This is only my second winter in Montreal, and the first that I’ve had to drive a car. Winters take on a whole different meaning when you drive. How do you find a spot for your car on the street in the midst of a) parking restrictions everywhere on account of Montreal’s insanely efficient snowplough fleet and b) the physical obstacle of the snow itself?
Whilst removing the snow from my car, I noticed that somebody else had accidentally bumped into my neighbour’s Toyota Yaris and dislodged what passes for a fender. Hmm. An awkward social moment. I informed the driver of the car that the Yaris he’d just bashed up was my neighbour’s. I knew he felt bad. No question of hitting or running. Once the driver knew what number to buzz, he buzzed it, and Marie-Eve stepped out and received the bad news about the Yaris with a graven face.
Eight hours later, when I drove myself and three Montreal veterans from the NFB down to de Castelnau metro station. I wanted to park in the area because it’s right by my gym. Amazingly, I found a parking spot right away. It was the finest parking spot in all of Montreal. In snow this heavy, cars sit in their spaces as if in little pods. And this freshly-excavated pod was an elegant construction indeed – smooth walls on either side, ample clearance room – even a small path was dug through the snow to the pavement.
Upon the advice of the Montreal veterans, I took that spot. But I felt uneasy about it. Who “owned” this parking spot? Perhaps someone living in that elegant walk-up right there? No matter. I bid the Montreal veterans farewell and went on my merry way to shed some sweat at Kardiologik. I thought to myself, “I won’t be long, and then an actual resident of this street can have their parking spot back.”
In the gym, I thought more about the matter. I knew my own street would have parking restrictions on it for the entire night. Parking on rue Berri is seldom easy, and after a snowfall, it’s chacun pour soi, as they say. Why not just leave my car exactly where it was – the finest parking spot in all of Montreal?
I exited the gym. I crept up stealthily to my car, which was sitting majestically in its snow-throne. I noticed an old woman on the balcony of the walk-up apartment building above me. She was pacing up and down, looking at the very spot I had stolen! She even looked at me – and she seemed mighty suspicious, I swear. I walked on, trying to feign nonchalance. Moments later, I turned the corner and glanced back. The old woman was still looking at me!
I’m almost positive that I stole her spot. Or her husband’s spot. Yikes! But then I thought to myself, look, this is the game. I could have possibly driven around for half an hour or more looking for another space closer to home.
When I returned to my own street, I noticed that the very same parking space that I had cleared that very morning was taken by none other than my neighbour’s damaged Yaris.
In my defence, my hunch about parking on my own street was correct. Not a single parking spot remained at approximately seven o’clock this evening.
Let’s not beat around the bush, my cat Banchi is a savage beast who is dedicated to complicating or impeding almost every aspect of my domestic life. I take my morning shower; she falls into the bathtub and drenches herself. I turn my back on a nice bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, an instant later, Banchi’s face is in there trying to steal some for herself. (She repeated this act not once, not twice, but thrice.) I open the fridge door to procure some milk, and in a lightning-fast manoeuvre, she hurtles inside and ensconces herself at the back of the bottom shelf. That damn cat! I had to drag her out by the paw.
Banchi is indefatigable in her mischief. Maybe that’s why I love that cat so much. I envy her relentless pursuit of her own amusement.
Cat ownership is nothing without a few weekly epiphanies.
A disclaimer: this is a poorly organized and haphazard blog. When I started blogging years ago, I didn’t know much about tags or categories or building online communities or what have you. Not to mention keyword density! These things are all very important. A sensible and savvy blogger will become familiar with and use all the numerous handy tools out there to generate conversation and boost traffic.
Sometimes one yearns for being idiosyncratic and totally pointless. I know I do! Results-driven and traffic-obsessed web practices are well and good. But so is sheer self indulgence! When blogs started, I thought they were going to be a way for everyone to just confess their dirty secrets in public. A way to be embarrassingly candid. But clearly, that is not entirely the way all — or most — blogs have gone.
I very much admire this blog. Michael talks about whatever the hell he wants, and it’s always interesting. And it appears he’s getting more and more traffic!
Anyway, at this particular moment, I just want to declare that potatoes are becoming my favourite starch, and then take a totally different train of thought for a ride, such as my current poll:
And now I’d like to return to the subject of food, albeit briefly, and declare enthusiastically that the new halloumi, aubergine and cheese tart that I made yesterday for my girlfriend and I was a genuine success! Are many people writing about halloumi cheese these days? If not, they should! It’s from Cyprus (or Lebanon, so said the folks at the Jean Talon market) but you can find a very reasonably priced local version of it made right here in Quebec. Halloumi cheese is very salty, but combine it with sun dried tomatoes and aubergines and you have a taste explosion on your tongue. It is not a fatal explosion, but it is to die for!
Want the recipe?
In 2009, life will resemble an action-adventure movie more than ever. There will be lots of death, calamity, and major obstacles to overcome. If we – humanity – are the protagonists of this narrative, then we are really going to have search deep within ourselves to find a way out of our current predicament. The future will be many things, but it will not be boring!
The future does not belong to suburbia, or to any economy beholden to fossil fuels. Since that describes almost all of North America, I think we’re in for some very challenging times! The neighbourhood from which I write this – Blue Quill, Edmonton, Alberta – is imperilled. Soon, the way people live in such neighbourhoods will seem like a museum curiosity. Each family with two cars, a front and back yard, and big screen TVs?
Edmonton, like many places, is nevertheless putting on a brave face for the future. Construction workers scramble to extend the subway line down to the southern flank of the city. Will public transit supplant the massive reliance on the private automobile? Twice this week, I took a bus from Century Park to Southgate Mall, and was shocked to find myself one of only TWO people on board. This, surely, is not cost effective. Looking out of the window, I saw not a single pedestrian on the pavement.
But this is becoming a tiresome refrain and I expect 2009 to be anything but tiresome. 2009 is going to be brilliant, enthused with passion, and hours of hard but productive work.
The biggest struggle of all will be the age-old struggle of our race: the struggle for survival. Anyone not part of this vast struggle in 2009 is in hibernation! The struggle is for a new way of life: a friendlier, smaller, cheaper, more modest way of life. Will people of my generation be poorer than our parents? Let us hope so! The earth depends on it.
How much of the earth’s resources are each man, woman and child entitled to? Somehow, in our search for a new way of life, we must find an answer to that question. And it can’t just suit us prosperous and pampered westerners; it must accommodate every one of the seven billion people on this teeming but fragile planet.
One thing is for sure: the rich will always feel entitled to have more of everything than anyone else. Unless our civilization summons the courage to confront the rich and their disproportionate consumption of everything, we will almost surely find our way of life coming to a lurching halt faster than we ever imagined.
In 2009, it’s time to rise up against CEOs of companies like Exxon and Shell, who think salaries of $460 million are fair and just. It’s time for the bankers who suck at the taxpayers’ teat to get out of their air-conditioned boardrooms and do something useful for a change. It’s time to lock away war criminals like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, because a real democracy lets no person get away with murder and torture. In 2009, it’s time to tax pollution and reward energy efficiency. In 2009, it’s time to do work that improves the human spirit and the fortunes of our planet. In 2009, it’s time to melt down all the Hummers and the SUVs of the world and turn them into beautiful and bizarre sculptures.
I begin this year with more optimism and appetite for what is to come than ever before. I want to work harder than ever before, love deeper than ever before, create more than ever before, live more meaningfully than ever before, and find myself a year from now saying, “2009 – that was one hell of a year!”