Archive / December, 2010

Embracing my bookworm-iness

As year-end round ups are popping up all over the place, I thought it would be fun to do one of my own. And, since I spend a LOT of time with my face stuck in books, I figured my 2010 reading list might translate into a fun end-of-year list. If nothing else it would provide an interesting, if not scary, glimpse into my psyche. Did I mention I’ll read almost anything? (Almost: heaving bosoms or sparkly vampires on a book cover will get it tossed into the Oh, Hell No! pile pretty quickly; not to discount bosoms or vampires… simply the heaving & sparkly varieties, respectively.)

But I realized one small flaw in my plan to expound brilliantly upon all of the books I’d read in 2010: I didn’t keep track of any of them. So I started going through my book cases in an attempt to remember what I’d read this year (wait – did I read the The Book of Negroes this year or last year?) and was accomplishing nothing more than giving myself a pounding headache. Part of the problem is sheer volume. Having said that, I should clarify that not every title is of the mind-expanding or literary classic variety. Heh. I did say I’d read almost anything, remember.

So I’ve decided to start a fun wee project for 2011: Weezie’s Book Nook. I’ll keep track and will check in from time to time with my thoughts on a few current reads. I bet you’re all a-twitter in anticipation, aren’t you? Yep. Thought so.

And to make things easier, my fantabulously wonderful husband gifted me with a Kobo (PS: loving that it came pre-loaded with 100 classics!) this year for Christmas. Hooray!

I still kick it old school (there’s a certain visceral, tactile rush that comes from low-tech… and always will) with books and will never give them up. In fact I spent some quality hardcover time with one Miss Jen Lancaster (My Fair Lazy, to be precise) over the holidays. But seriously: being able to carrying around hundreds of books in your purse? RULES.

Anyone else have any fun projects for 2011?

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Andrew Mackenzie Hull: a name to the face

About a week and a half ago, I threw my hands up (figuratively speaking) and put it to the world to fill me in on the pseudo-cryptic posters that blanketed downtown with the face of a handsome young man known only as Andrew.

Well, yesterday, it would seem that the world answered. OK, not really. Not a direct response solely to me, anyway. But, thanks to the Torontoist, I have an answer.

Andrew Mackenzie Hull is the ubiquitous sketched face seen across town. He died in London in May of this year. And in November, his long-time partner, Shaan Syed, brought him back to Toronto.

Hull was originally from Oshawa (a wee town outside of Toronto) and the two were living in London, England working on a film when a tragic bike accident took his life.

So, in tribute, Syed began putting up the posters of Andrew’s face: The Andrew Project. Unfortunately, as is the life-span of street art, each poster’s existence is limited. But, as each one weathered or began to come down, Syed collected them “as they aged—either they were ripped down, graffitied, or postered over.” A book to document them is his intent for each one collected.

“The Andrew Project only ends when people forget about the image,” said Syed.

(Go here; read the original story)

http://torontoist.com/2010/12/andrew_mackenzie_hull_posters.php
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’tis the Season, Part 4: Les Yums!

For the longest time, I lived in apartments with limited kitchen space and a severe absence of dishwasher technology. So, when it came to holiday baking, I tended to shy away for the most part.

The thing is – I’m a bit of a superstar in the kitchen.  No, seriously. At the same time, I’m really quite lazy. So the prospect of having to hand wash all those extra dishes was unappealing enough to keep all my Martha Stewart-esque leanings at bay.

This year, however, things have changed. I have a kitchen that has enough counter space to let me and all my naturally clumsy tendencies manoeuvre about freely & unscathed. And, best of all, it has a dishwasher: a shiny, spankin’-new stainless steel, wonder-of-technology and slayer-of-dishpan-hands dishwasher. Truly, it is a thing of beauty.

Our first Christmas in our Rockstar House, however, we’d only just moved in (I’m talking: got the keys and hauled our stuff in 2 short weeks before Santa and his helpers set out on their big journey) so I did well to find knickers to wear, never mind muffin tins.

Last year, I was still convinced that every calorie was out to get me.  I’m pretty sure they are. But I’ve since learned to run long distances and they aren’t as good at catching me anymore.

Christmas 2010 is the year I’ve decided to regale my loved ones with my culinary prowess once again. But, instead of the super-rich, stick-to-your-thighs, shrink-your-pants recipes I’d mastered lo those many years ago, I decided to go another route.  This year, I trolled around the web and found some tasty treasures that I was able to adapt into healthier renditions or, at the very least, versions with fewer calories than found in their original form.

My big weakness, when it comes to delighting my palate, is peanut butter. Truth be told, I’m perfectly happy to eat it straight from the jar. I know. Pretty civilized, right? I didn’t say I was proud.

Cals: 108 | Fat: 5.8 g | Sodium: 62 mg | Carbs: 9.4 g | Fibre: 1.1 g | Protein: 3 g

My first adaptation came in the form of these über-tasty (if I do say so, myself) Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies. My husband doesn’t have a particularly pronounced sweet tooth, so I wanted to be sure that whatever I made with peanut butter would be something he’d help to eat (because – let’s face it – left to my own devices, I’d just end up inhaling the entire batch on my own.) Thankfully, he’s a sucker for cookies of both the oatmeal & peanut butter persuasions. So combining the two seemed like a win-win. As it happens, I was right. I’ve already made two batches of these bad boys.

Ingredients
1C margarine (2 sticks), softened
1 C natural peanut butter
1 C Brown Sugar Splenda
½ C Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2½ C rolled oats
1½ C whole wheat flour

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • Combine softened margarine and peanut butter in a large bowl
  • Add Splenda & egg beaters and mix until smooth, fluffy and glossy
  • Stir in vanilla
  • Add salt, baking soda, oatmeal and flour
  • Stir well
  • Spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet & flatten with the back of a spoon or a fork
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes

Makes 45 medium/large cookies.
(warning: I’m pretty sure these are habit forming)

Cals: 66 | Fat: 1.4 g | Sodium: 3.7 mg | Carbs: 11.8 g | Fibre: 1.5 g | Protein: 1.8 g

Don’t think peanut butter or oatmeal are quite festive enough on their own?  How about Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Cookies (made with pumpkin purée & whole wheat flour, instead of butter & the processed-beyond-the-telling-of-it white stuff) that are moist, chewy and full of seasonal spice!

Thanks to SparkRecipes (and if you don’t already know about this site, you need to go to there – immediately!) I didn’t have to make any alterations to this yum-tastic concoction and simply followed the recipe as found.

Ingredients
1 C canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pie filling)
½ C cup brown sugar Splenda
½ C Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
3 C rolled oats
1 C dried cranberries
½ C slivered or sliced almonds

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°C
  • Beat together pumpkin and sugar
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beat well
  • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon salt ; mix
  • Stir in rolled oats, cranberries & almonds
  • Drop rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake 10-12 minutes

Makes 45 cookies.

Cals: 36.3 | Fat: 1.2 g | Sodium: 75.8 mg | Carbs: 5.7 g | Fibre: 0.2 g | Protein: 0.6 g

I realize that not everyone has the time, nor the inclination to go all Battle of the Food Network Stars simply because it’s the holidays. So for those of you who can’t be arsed with baking… but don’t want to bring a bag of oreos to your company pot luck: get ready to start falling in love with me. Weezie’s Easy Peasy Chocolate Bites are bound to change your life!

I found a recipe that needed a tiny bit of tweaking. But it still only involves 3 main ingredients . And you’ll look like a rock star when you show up with these in tow.

Here’s what you need!

Ingredients
1 package (250g) Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
1 Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food)
1/4 C Margarine
to sprinkle on top:

1 tbsp. (approx.) cocoa powder
1 tbsp. (approx.) icing sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • Soften cream cheese & margarine in microwave & mix together in large bowl
  • Add cake mix & combine well
  • Roll into balls (approximately 1″)
  • Place on ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake 12 minutes
  • Dust lightly with cocoa powder & icing sugar while still warm

Be sure to store these guys in the refrigerator (they do have cream cheese in them, after all!)

This recipe makes 72 to 75 chocolate bites – enough to share with the whole class!

And when you’ve got a plate of yummy, tasty Christmas cookies is there anything that washes ’em down better than egg nog?

Nope.

Assuming, of course, you don’t have any spiced rum on hand. If you do, then I’m afraid your plain ol’ eggnog has just been trumped. You’ve already saved yourself a whole buttload of calories with these recipes. Go ahead and treat yourslf: add a few back in with some bottled holiday spirits. I mean, with what’s already in the eggnog, what’s an extra 60 or 70 calories? Exactly. I’m sure as hell not judging.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me why the marketing geniuses in Canada never stopped to think, “hey, that’s pretty gross,” when they signed off on Lait de Poule (literally: chicken milk) for their packaging, I’d be curious to hear about it.

I have to wonder if francophones actually drink eggnog.  You have to admit, that has to be one of THE worst product translations ever. It’s almost enough to turn me completely off the ‘nog. Almost. But then I remember the spiced rum.

1 package (250g) Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
1 Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil's Food)
1/4 C Margarine
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350

Soften cream cheese & margarine in microwave & mix together in large bowl
Combine cake mix
Roll into balls (approximately 1")
Place on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake 12 minutes
Dust lightly with cocoa powder & icing sugar while still warm

Store in refrigerator

Yield 72 to 75
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Hey Toronto: who the EFF is Andrew?

Seriously. My interest has now, officially, been piqued. So if this is, as I’d originally thought, the first part of a viral campaign… well done. Well done, indeed. But it’s been weeks. I’d have expected some sort of follow up by now. But there’s been nothing.

And I really want to know: who is this Andrew person? Is he somebody’s loved one who’s gone missing or passed away? Is this some sort of tribute? Is he the artist? The subject? The posterer (if so, nice work… dude, your posters are EVERYWHERE)?

Or is Andrew the name of some new product we’re all going to be expected to love & spend oodles of cash to attain? My curiosity is in overdrive.

Anyone? Bueller?

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