Monday, January 29, 2007

Thirty-five years, port and cigars, and the harlequin's disturbing package

I am now thirty-five years old, and wondering exactly when that happened. I certainly don't feel thirty-five; every time I think of my age, I have a little anxiety attack in which I think to myself that I haven't been doing anything with my life ... at which point I have to remind myself about the whole PhD thing and the tenure-track job. That doesn't seem entirely real yet though; I've come to the conclusion that grad school functions as a sort of extended adolescence, and when you finally get gainful employment -- which, society has been telling on a not-so-subliminal level should be happening in your mid-twenties -- the fact of that employment seems out of whack with your actual age.

Thanks to everyone who offered me birthday wishes in my previous post, and for everyone who called or emailed yesterday ... and let me wish a belated happy birthday to Rebecca, and an early happy birthday to my old friend Susan, who joins me in the 35-club on Friday.

One of the annoying things about turning 35? I can no longer refer to myself as being in my "early 30s," which of course I was doing up until Saturday ... I will now be mid-thirties until January 27th, 2012 ...

I celebrated making it halfway to 70 (seven-twentieths of a century!) by going out on Saturday with friends to the Duke of Duckworth, and drinking rather a lot. And in spite of my prohibition against the bringing of gifts, Danine and Jamie gave me a lovely bottle of port, and Nancy and Marco a rather splendid Cohiba. Port and cigars! A rather serendipitous pair of gifts, which I enjoyed yesterday evening. My gift to myself yesterday was a day of doing no work, of watching DVDs, and cooking myself a nice meal. I had settled on doing a prime rib roast, but the grocery store, annoyingly, did not have any ... so I had to resort to plan B, which was beef tenderloin. Beef tenderloin, roasted potatoes and asparagus, and grilled radicchio. Not bad, if I do say so.

And after dinner I treated myself to a few rounds of my current favourite computer game, a Risk-like nineteenth-century warfare game in which, yesterday, I was playing as the British Empire. I felt very British indeed, sipping port, smoking the cigar and kicking Napoleonic ass the hell out of Spain and Portugal. Good times.

Speaking of good times, Saturday night certainly was ... I love getting somewhat drunk with my friends here, not least because the conversations invariably take the most bizarre turns. Those of my in-town readers familiar with the Duke of Duckworth will also be familiar with the creepy-ass lamp they have in the back corner, where we'd plunked ourselves on Saturday night. The lamp is a very disturbing statue of a commedia del'arte-style harlequin with his arms folded over his chest and his hips thrust forward such that whoever sits in that corner, should he or she glance back over their shoulder, is presented with the harlequin's crotch (garbed of course in skin-tight tights) at eye level.

It takes one's fear of clowns to an entirely new level.

Anyway, much of the evening was spent laughing about the harlequin's disturbing package, and I kept thinking to myself "I have to replicate this conversation on my blog." Alas, age and alcohol intervened and, while I remember having the conversation, the details escape me. Except for the bit when we speculated on what superhero or supervillain the harlequin with the lamp in his head might be. Or would he be a sidekick? And would his disturbing package be the source of his super-powers? And would he sound like Hugh Grant, or more like Peter Lorre?

For those who wonder what kind of genteel intellectual discussions English professors have over drinks ...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wanted: one quantum shower

So sunday is my birthday, and I've decided what gift I most want: I want a shower that stops time. I made this decision this morning when, running late, I had one of those luxurious hot rejuvenating showers, the pleasure of which was denuded because I was painfully aware the entire time that I was running late.

Thus, I need a shower that stops time when I step into it. A shower that will let me take as much time as I want letting the hot water wake me up. And when I step out of the shower, it will be exactly the same time it was when I got in.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snow Day #1

I have learned my lesson well, and I will under no circumstances be venturing outside today. Last year, a newbie to Newfoundland snow, I managed to get my car stuck in every single major snowstorm we had.

Not this year. I've learned: keep a cache of comfort food and comfort booze, DVDs you like, and blankets that might not necessarily be needed (because you've hiked the heating up in response to the storm), but which still provide a sense of smug satisfaction as you wrap yourself in them and look out at the snow.

This does put a bit of a crimp in my already-behind-the-eight-ball working schedule, as only about one-third of the things I was planning to get done today actually came home in my bag with me. On the other hand, today is an ideal day to get reading done: since getting up, I have read through the first third or so of Frankenstein, which we start next week in my second-year class. Having gone through two weeks so far of the nuts and bolts of reading poetry -- scansion, prosody, metrics, and all that rip-roaring fun stuff -- hopefully a good old-fashioned gothic novel will be a welcome break for my students.

My two classes are going well so far this semester, I think. Lestways, I'm having fun. However dry it might be, there is something deeply satisfying about teaching the basics of poetry. It's refreshingly concrete, and it lets you enjoy the poetry at the level of the language itself. And I've had enough students express enthusiasm for it to make me feel that I'm on the right track here.

The grad class is also going well -- I think. I say "I think" because we're really sort of early days here yet: we haven't started student seminars, and I'm front-loading a pretty broad range of theory and criticism on my students in order to establish the course's various meta-debates. The students are a good group, though (and I'm not entirely saying that because a know some of them read this blog) and the discussions we've had so far on the material have been promising. The first unit has been a little inchoate (partially by design, partially not) because of its topic (Sept. 11) and the principal text (Zizek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real! -- alas, one of those things that is currently sitting in my office, so I'll be doing some fast reading tomorrow morning!). But next week we start on Philip Roth's The Human Stain, and really get into some of the more focused issues at work in this course.

This semester so far has been an odd experience of going to extremes: introduction to scansion on one hand, and Slavoj Zizek's neo-Lacanianism on the other. I need to pass through a decompression chamber between wednesday afternoon and thursday morning.

Well ... the wind is howling outside and a fresh pot of coffee is ready, so I retire to my couch and read. I do so love my job.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

This just in: Stephen Colbert owns Bill O'Reilly

Just when you thought Stephen Colbert couldn't be more brilliant, you see this:

That's right ... Stephen Colbert being interviewed by Bill-O on the O'Reilly Factor. And the most brilliant part of this is that Stephen does it in character. That is to say: he puts on the persona he plays on The Colbert Report of the irrational right-wingnut modelled explicitly on -- and who pays slavish devotion to -- Bill O'Reilly himself.

Talk about holding a mirror up to nature.

I think what I love most about this is that O'Reilly so obviously wants to nail Colbert as an effete liberal elite, but runs up against his own "interview" tactics at every turn -- and you can see that he's conflicted because Stephen's persona keeps heaping lavish praise on him, and though he knows it's an act, his ego just can't help responding.

I love the fact that both times O'Reilly has taken on Colbert and Jon Stewart on his show, he's run up against a wall. Stewart's interview wasn't funny like Colbert's, but in a lot of ways it was more telling. He played it so cool that O'Reilly had nowhere to go. He kept trying to bait Stewart (try counting just how many times he calls The Daily Show's audience "stoned slackers"), but Stewart never rose to it. O'Reilly kept prodding and prodding, saying ever more ridiculous and absurd things, and Stewart basically gave him just enough rope to hang himself.

And I reiterate:

Get Lewis Black as the press secretary, Rob Cordry as Secretary of Defense and Samantha Bee as Chief of Staff and we're off to the races.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The blogging prof

So I was interviewed this week for a feature in the student newpaper The Muse. The subject? Professors who blog. The news editor Sheena Goodyear (whose own blog is linked to the right here) contacted me last semester and asked if I'd be willing to be interviewed ... then postponed it when she had difficulty finding other blogging professors.

But find some she did, and the interview went forward this week. It's a nice piece (click here), though the picture of me is pretty horrible. I'm not sure how I'm sitting, but I seem to have managed to retract my chin into my neck. Ick.

I was afraid that too much would be made about the Untitled Newfoundland Zombie Project, and at first glance that seemed to be the case (my quotable quote under my picture, in much bigger font in the paper than online, is zombie-centric), but that didn't prove the be the case -- a well-written, balanced bit of work, especially impressive considering that Sheena's tape recorder turned out not to have worked, and I didn't get my emailed comments to her in time, so she was essentially writing from memory. Nicely done.

Two things though, a correction and an attribution. First, here's a section of the article:

He first realized he had student readers after he posted a proposal that all TV shows exist in the same universe, using specific references. “This student came up to me and said, ‘You watch the Gilmore Girls?’” he said, laughing. “At first I wondered how he knew that, then I realized he must have read it on the blog.”

The student in question was actually a she, a student named Elsa from my English 2000 class last year. Just so she knows I wasn't referring to her in the interview with the masculine pronoun.

Secondly, "His friend summed up the secret to his success when he told Lockett, 'You only post when you have something to say.'" I don't entirely know that that's necessarily the case, but it was a nice compliment, and it was courtesy of Jeremy Worth, aka the Duke of Clarence. Thanks for that one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Word of the day

My word of the day, which I just now encountered while reading Fredric Jameson, is "obnubilate." It means, apparently, to "obscure," to "make unlcear or less visible."

Question: we know that onomatopoeia refers to words that mimic the sounds they describe (like "bang" or "quack"). Is there a term for words that embody the quality or action they describe? Because, really, coming across "obnubilate" was a truly obnubilating (obnubilatory?) experience.

Observation: theory-speak does delight in those kind of words, doesn't it? One of my favourite theory-speak words before now was "obfuscate," which of course means the exact same thing. Well! Out with the old, in with the new. I will from here on in always refer to "obnubilating discourse."

And to show Fredric Jameson at his obnubilating best, here's the locution in which I found the word embedded: "obnubilated with a spurious apotheosis."


Monday, January 15, 2007

Finally: we've reached a point when saying "Jack" doesn't automatically connote Nicholson ...

Some thoughts apropos of last night's two-hour season premiere of 24 ...

1) Is is just me, or is the show managing to polarize the torture=necessary evil / civil rights=danger debate even further than it already has? I wouldn't have thought that possible, but here we are. Evan Handler's star turn in season 4 as the querulous ACLU lawyer was bad enough -- now we have the president's sister presented as an hysterical evidence-shredder. Also, I liked the president's qualification that most historians see the internment of Japanese in WWII as an blot on America's history. Most? That's kind of like saying most historians agree that the Holocaust happened. Is seriously there anyone besides Anne Coulter or Michelle Malkin who still attempts to defend internment?

(2) The stab wound Jack received to the shoulder healed pretty quickly, seeing as he was neat and trim in a snug gray shirt soon after with no sign of blood seeping.

(3) It's nice to see Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine getting work. I was never exactly a loyal viewer of DS9, but I always liked his character. He has to find it slightly ironic however, that having anglicized his name from "Siddig El-Fadil" to "Alexander Siddig" midway through his Star Trek tenure that he now seems to be typecast into the role of the enigmatic Arab.

(4) Speaking of typecasting: it's a pretty breathtaking display of Hollywood's Middle Eastern & Arab bench strength when you see Kal Penn (Kumar of Harold and Kumar fame) and Newfoundland's own Shaun Majumder from This Hour Has 22 Minutes being cast as sinister terrorists. It must be a rather ambivalent comfort to actors of Middle Eastern or subcontinental descent to know that, whatever else happens, they can always get roles playing terrorists.

(5) Yet more typecasting: the big dumb blond redneck guy who beats up Kumar (sorry, I really can't think of him as anything else) and gets shot for his trouble looked really familiar ... then I recognized him from the Vietnam drama Tour of Duty in which he played -- wait for it! -- a big dumb blond redneck guy. 24: where creative casting goes to die.

(6) And yet, I can't wait for more ...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Science v. Religion: Round One

So one of my students from last semester made a spirited argument the other day that the main character of the Untitled Newfoundland Zombie Project should not be a scientist but a religious studies student, on the ground that mystically animated zombies are more interesting than the dead who walk because of a viral thing.

I don't know that I grant this premise, especially with news every day (it seems) of new outbreaks of norwalk.* But that's another anxiety for another day.

Arguing the aesthetics, however, my student made a rather good point, which is that with a mystical underpinning, the climactic fight could take place in a library rather than a lab, which would make for a much creepier sequence.

Fair point.

Though I'm pretty set on having the living dead in this story being the result of an infection, I'm also pretty inclusive ... and though I keep referring to the "main character," as I've stated before, this is conceived of as an ensemble piece. So a religious-studies student gets added to the roster: I'm thinking it'll be someone who gets increasingly unhinged as the story unfolds, convinced that the zombies are the result of God's wrath and ultimately becomes a danger to the other survivors when he attempts to sabotage the epidemiology student's possible solution.

So for those keeping track, the list of established characters now includes: Meg, our science grad student, a bunch of Hanson-brothers-esque varsity hockey players, and a religious-studies student resistant to the scientific explanation for the zombies. I think I'll call him Johnny.


*When I googled "norwalk" to make sure I was getting the spelling correct, the virus was not the first hit -- the first was "Norwalk Furniture Corporation Manufacturing." Time for a business name change, perhaps ... unless their target demographic happens to be people panicking about a virus but also in need of a tasteful-yet-understated set of end tables.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New blogs!

Well, my little brother -- you remember, He What Is King -- has jumped on the blogging bandwagon. He has for some time desired to build a cedar-strip canoe, and this past Christmas Santa provided him with the means to get started ... and our father, handyman and carpenter extraordinaire, is along for the ride. And, ostensibly to document their progress on the vessel (but really because he wants to be more like me), Matt has started a blog to do just that: the "Lockett & Son Canoe Project." Follow their progress as they build the steam box for the bending of cedar strips! Gasp in awe as they lay the keel! Marvel at how you only ever seem to see my dad at the power tools! Truly, it promises to be an edge-of-your-seat roller coaster a la 24 ...

Speaking of nail-biting blogs, the Untitled Newfoundland Zombie Project has been erected (resurrected? conjured?) here. I have posted the prologue, in which our intrepid heroine and her short-lived boyfriend get waylaid while jogging around Quidi Vidi Lake. I will post further instalments as the procrastinatory need strikes me, but realistically this thing will wax and wane in direct proportion to my busy-ness this term (i.e. don't look for the next instalment any time soon). Comments and suggestions are desired, and soon I might ask for contributions -- perhaps making this a truly collaborative effort.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me how I can change my profile picture (or remove it entirely) on the zombie blog, without similarly changing or deleting it from this one?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Getting the ducks in a row

Classes start tomorrow.

I was working on the prep for my grad course this morning. Some of you will have heard this spiel from me before ... but it's fun to share.

Did you know that a person who studies cave formations is called a speleologist?

Which means that if he studied the ends of caves, he'd be a teleological speleologist.

If he studied the ends of caves and had a specific political agenda, he'd be an ideological teleological speleologist.

If he studied the ends of caves at the end of the world and had a specific political agenda, he'd be an eschatological ideological teleogical speleologist.

Yeah. Classes begin tomorrow.

Anyone want to continue ...?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Potholes and zombies

Sometimes you regret your little whims -- such as today, when I was driving along Military Road, heading down toward Torbay Road in the pursuit of errands. For no particular reason, I turned left on a street whose name I don't know up to Circular Road. Why? I don't know. Variety, perhaps. It was taking me in the direction I needed to go anyway, so what the hell.

Halfway between Military and Circular I hit the Mother of All Potholes, sending a shock through my car that, while painful, didn't seem much worse than other pothole strikes I've had since moving here (for the uninitiated, St. John's is the Pothole Captital of Canada -- the frequent oscilations of temperature a few degrees above and below zero all winter long make our streets a veritable slalom of divots come spring). A few seconds after turning onto Circular however, my front passenger-side wheel started making that tell-tale lugubrious wobble.

There's nothing quite like the sinking feeling of getting a flat.

Still, I shouldn't complain -- if there was a time and place to blow out a tire, this was it: on a beautiful mild sunny afternoon just around the corner from the Kingsmill Service Center. Leaving my poor stricken Corolla, I walked down and returned with one of their cheerful and helpful mechanics. Then ensued a fun little bit of travel, where he'd pump my tire, I would drive for about a hundred feet and stop, and he'd pump it again. All the way to the garage.

Would you believe this is the first time I've ever been struck with a flat tire? I'm pretty blessed when it comes to car trouble ... what crises I've had have always been a little like this one: close to home or otherwise situated conveniently, as opposed to on a lonely stretch of highway miles from anywhere. I'm touching wood on that one.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that little escapade, if for no other reason than I'm seriously considering returning to the scene of the crime, taking a picture of the offending pothole and trying to get my money back from the city. A long shot perhaps, but at least then I'll be able to post pictures of a hole on my blog.

Which brings us of course to the Untitled Newfoundland Zombie Project (actually, the segue's not quite that abrupt -- as I walked from my car to the garage, I mentally cursed Danny Boyle for having used the must-change-flat-tire-before-zombies-get-here sequence in 28 Days Later, which means of course that I can't now use it myself). I was oddly heartened to hear that my idea's not entirely original, and quite taken with the university-dorm setting titled Residence Evil ... not exactly the same kind of narrative I was thinking of, but it occurred to me: of course we have to have a few scenes take place in rez! Why our heroes would need to make a foray into those buildings I don't know. A reason must be found! Obviously, this means that one of our besieged ensemble will have to be a first-year student, and he/she will have something in his/her residence room of vital necessity for the fighting of the zombie hordes. But what is it? Suggestions solicited.

The other plot point that has occurred to me is that our putative heroine, Meg, isn't a biochem grad student but is instead studying epidemiology. In the tradition of the science-saves-the-day-in-a-weirdly-simplistic-fashion deus ex machina (a tradition with a well established pedigree, from the SF B-movies of the 50s to Independence Day), it makes sense that Meg will have been working on some series of experiments that will contain the secret to defeating the zombie hordes ...

Or perhaps: it was those experiments themselves that were responsible for the outbreak? Hmmmm ....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back in the land of wind and shadows

Well, I'm back ... and was nearly knocked off my feet by the wind the moment I left the terminal. Ah, it's good to be home here in the land of wind and shadows, which is incidentally also the place that Mr. Sparkle banishes dirt. Or is that the land of wind and ghosts (which may or may not be Labrador)? I get confused.

So, 2007 eh? That doesn't seem right, somehow. It was bad enough when I'd think back to something that happened in the late 1990s and realize how long ago it was ... now I'm doing the same thing with the early 2000s. Not happy about that. Also not happy that I turn 35 at the end of the month, but that's a whole nother kettle of anxieties.

Here's another reason I hate New Year's: my year doesn't begin in January, but in September. And yet here comes December 31st, and I fall prey to all the retrospective musing and maundering that is in the air. I hold the whole New Year's resolution thing in about the same amount of contempt as I do New Year's Eve celebrations, but I find myself making them anyway. It takes a conscious effort not to start making promises to myself about the ways in which I'm going to shape up in the new year -- it seems to be almost an instinctive thing. Which is very annoying.

So I've decided to just surrender myself to the impulse. I won't bother sharing the usual raft of resolutions (eat better, drink less, lose weight, write a book, and win the Ultimate Fighting Championship), but the one I've been shamefully putting off can go out there for suggestions: READ NEWFOUNDLAND FICTION.

Yup, there it is. I've been living here a year and a half (almost), and still the only two local novels I've read are The Navigator of New York by Wayne Johnston and The Nine Planets by Edward Riche. Sad, really, that in such a vibrant literary culture I haven't made myself more at home. I'm overdue, and must rectify that in the next year -- if for no other reason than it seems impossible to go into a pub in St. John's and not run into one of our literary luminaries. And really, it gets a bit embarassing when you haven't read a word of their prose.

So here's the request: I have a rough list of books in my head I should read, but I ask, nay, implore my Newfoundland readers to make suggestions about what I should add to it (and with a nod to one of my occasional commentators, This Much is True by Tina Chaulk is on the mental list already).

Speaking of good reading, I read a trio of excellent books over the holidays -- two of them, I'm happy to say, recommended to me by students. The first of the three was Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods. As I''ve mentioned before, I do love the SF and fantasy, provided it's done well. And I've always loved Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic-book series, but I've never read any of his novels -- excepting the very funny Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. American Gods proceeds from one of the ideas he develops in Sandman, namely that gods' strength and indeed existence waxes and wanes with the devotion, fervor and sacrifice of their human followers. Thus, in contemporay America, the old gods that followed the original settlers still live on American soil but have weakened in the face of such new gods as media, fame, technology and (I loved this one!) conspiracy. And an epic showdown is in the offing ...

Next I read Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay, a novel about the golden age of comic books in the late 1930s. I won't even begin to get into the plot here: suffice it to say that Chabon very deftly and elegantly touches upon the deeply-inscribed need, expressed in superhero comics, for fantasy and escape ... and believe me when I say that summary does no justice whatsoever to this wonderful novel.

Mind you, given how many times over the holidays I recommended this novel to people who had already read it, this is likely old news to my readers here. I think I might well be the last person in the English-speaking world to have read it at this point.

Finally, I read Michael Berube's book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?, which was a gift from Kristen. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a huge fan of Berube, both as as an academic and a blogger himself. He regularly engages with right-wing attacks on academia -- especially those of David Horowitz & co. -- with wit and a keen intellect, and What's Liberal is his book-length response to the charge that the university is unfairly skewed toward leftist viewpoints and that liberal professors are indoctrinating the youth with their cant. Though this is not (with the exception of the occasional Margaret Wente column) quite the same issue in Canada, I highly recommend this book to academics and non-academics alike for its intelligence, lucidity and eloquence. I especially recommend it for anyone who's curious about what it means to be a professor today -- Berube does an excellent job of outlining what's at stake in our jobs and in the academy as a whole.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Eve

We apologize for the forgoing silliness ... we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog about New Year's Eve dinner.

I really hate New Year’s Eve … I’ve never liked the pressure to revel so frenetically, the impossibility of getting a cab, the excessive cover charges for overcrowded clubs, and the general rampant yahooism that ensues. My friend Gregg summed it up beautifully once, saying that there are two days a year in which you are socially pressured to have a great time: the first is your birthday, and the second is New Year’s Eve. On your birthday, it’s easy … it’s all about you! You get presents, drinks bought for you, etc. On New Year’s Eve however, it’s everyone’s birthday.

So I was very pleased with New Year’s 2006 … Kristen and I stayed in, rented some films, and made an elaborate meal. So I thought I’d share our menu this evening …

We started with cocktails, of course …


My relatives in Barbados years ago related to my parents the secret to the classic rum punch, summed up in this simple rhyme: “One of sour / Two of sweet / Three of strong / Four of weak.” Sour is fresh limejuice, sweet is sugar syrup, three is rum and four is water or shaved ice. I decided to add one of my favourite cocktail mixes: the juice of blood oranges. Blood oranges have a lovely semi-sweet citrus flavour, and add a gorgeous colour to things.

¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ cup sugar syrup*
¾ cup Mount Gay Barbados Eclipse Rum (nothing else will do!)
¾ cup fresh-squeezed blood orange juice

You can either mix these in a pitcher and serve over ice, or shake in a martini shaker and serve in martini glasses. Either way, garnish with a few blood orange segments.

*for the sugar syrup: bring equal parts water and brown sugar to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, take it off the heat and let it cool.

After much deliberation over the meal, we decided to be a bit decadent and get some beef tenderloin fillets, and to serve them with garlic mashed potatoes and Caesar salad, with crème brulée for desert. Kristen took care of the desert, and I did the meal.


I don’t strictly know the measurements for the dressing—I’ve been eyeballing it for a while now—so here’s something of an approximation.

1 egg
½ cup olive oil
1-1½ tbsp Dijon mustard
a few dashes of Worcester sauce
2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 anchovy, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
one dash of Tabasco
the juice of half a lemon

You can either whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, or, if you like your Caesar dressing creamy, do it up in the blender. This should be more than enough for a single head of romaine. After dressing the salad, grate more fresh parmesan over top.

If you’re the kind of person (like me) who likes the bacon bits with the Caesar, here’s a way to swank it up a bit: get about ten thin slices of pancetta from the deli and cook them in a skillet until crisp. Remove and drain, and dice them up—putting aside a slice apiece for however many people you’re serving. Prop the pancetta slice up in the middle of each person’s salad. If you want to go even swankier, use the fat rendered from the pancetta to fry up some croutons. And if you want to go even swankier, make yourself some parmesan crisps: make piles of fresh (it must be fresh!) grated parmesan on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake at about 350-400 degrees until they are melted and just starting to brown. Whatever you do, don’t forget about them … they cook pretty quickly, and smell pretty vile when burned. Let them cool, and then you’ve got a nifty little cracker you can add to the pancetta garnish.

God love the food network.


This recipe is actually a fusion of regular garlic mashed potatoes and my grandmother’s recipe. It’s very simple: peel however many potatoes you need to cook. Also, peel a handful of garlic cloves, say one for every full potato. Boil the garlic with the potatoes. When the potatoes are done, mash them, garlic included. Add a generous amount of butter and milk and/or cream (everyone likes mashed potatoes done to varying degrees of chunkiness or smoothness, so let that be your guide for how much butter & cream you use). Now, add a dollop of cream cheese and a sprinkling of onion powder.

Here’s my fun option: if you have the potatoes sitting in a non-stick pot, leave it on the stove over medium heat until they brown on the bottom. With a spatula, fold the browned bits into the rest of the potatoes. Repeat as desired, based on how many crunchy bits you like in your mashed potatoes.


My second favourite cut of beef (#1 is prime rib). And easy to cook, though also easy to overcook. If you’re the kind of person who likes well done, save your money … you’re wasted on tenderloin.

Leave the fillets out for an hour or two beforehand, letting them come to room temperature. Coat lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on a touch of salt. Press cracked black pepper into both sides.

Heat a skillet, ideally cast-iron, over a ¾ heat burner. Drop in a knob of butter, swirling it around until it coats the skillet. Place in the fillets. Let cook for 3-4 minutes a side, making sure they develop a nice dark crust. Remove and let sit under foil for at least 5-10 minutes.

Now the fun part: if necessary, add a little more butter or olive oil. Add ½ of finely diced shallots. When shallots have sweated down a little, drop in a variety of diced mushrooms (½ cup to a cup). Sautee for a few minutes, until mushrooms have about halved in size. Deglaze the skillet with red wine and beef broth. Bring to a simmer, and let it reduce by about a half.

There’s your sauce.

A further option is to slice a Portobello mushroom cap into ¼ inch slices and sautee them in butter until nicely browned. Top your fillets with the mushrooms, and spoon the sauce over top.

I realize now, as I write this up back in my parents’ study (I came back to TO today, will be flying to St. John’s tomorrow), that I didn’t get Kristen’s crème brulee recipe … so you’ll have to be satisfied with a picture:

Rest assured, they were delicious.

Happy New Year’s, everyone.

Never again ...

... do I let my brother have access to the computer when I'm logged in and midway through a blog entry.

And here I was thinking that, since he had Morgan with him, he was less likely to misbehave.

My Little Brother is King!!

I hereby state that my little brother is:

1) Smarter
2) Better Looking
3) Way cooler than anybody I know!

Thanks you....

PS - Dont leave your blog account logged in or people may post things you don't want posted.

Chris - The less cool brother...