30 June, 2010

Who's coming to dinner?

Jessica Faust posted a blog the other day which caught my imagination. If you could have dinner with any 4 authors, who would you choose? She admitted the idea was stolen from her client Jennifer Stanley and her Cozy Chicks blog, and I admit to continuing the "theft." But what a great idea. So here's my question: What four authors dead or alive would you want to have dinner with? And what would you serve?

Here are my picks:

Jane Austen - not only did she write some of my favourite books, but her skill at characterization -- particularly considering the restrictions placed on women in her day -- is second to none.

Julia Child - I'm a foodie, need I say more? Not only is she a female and a pioneer in the culinary world, but her life story is amazing. And maybe, while she's here, she can teach me to make the perfect omelet - a skill I cannot seen to master.

JK Rowling - anyone with an imagination like hers has to be an entertaining dinner guest. A rags to riches success story, I'd love to hear first hand how she found the motivation and strength to preserve through all the obstacles and emerge with her successful series.

Agatha Cristie - queen, empress, of the mystery. Whether it's a play or a book, Tommy and Tuppence, Miss Marple, or Hercule Poirot, she always manages to lure me in and lead me astray in my search for the culprit.

If one of them where unavailable, I'd invite Nicole Mones - her ability to weave story with sensory experience amazes me.

Can't you just imagine the conversation? I wonder what Jane would have to say about some of today's authors. Would Agatha approve of the graphic sex and language we write? I can only imagine.

And what would I serve? Something not too fussy (don't want to embarrass myself in front of Julia), but interactive. Maybe a beef fondue with several tasty dipping sauces, french bread (homemade, of course) and a nice Bordeaux wine. Fresh strawberries, with sour cream and brown sugar for dipping, would make a nice dessert.

What about you?

03 June, 2010

Never break Rule # 5

I should have known better.  I broke my own rule #5: never go to Williams Sonoma alone (we can discuss rules 1 through 4 another time).  Actually I broke #3, too : never take your credit card into a cooking store.   Williams Sonoma is, for me,   like chocolate chip cookies for others: irresistible and never enough.

I went in looking for  a new Y-peeler.  That's all I needed.  Let's face it, W-S is not dumb; their merchandisers know about people like me, that's why they group all the gadgets together in enticing displays.  Reaching for a peeler, I realized I could, instead, get three for only a few dollars more:  a straight, a serrated and a julienne peeler in a set, and in bright colours.  And only $15.  Such a deal.  Why shouldn't I  treat myself?  After all it's a lousy, hot, humid day, a storm is threatening,  and I deserved something .

No sooner had my hand closed on the peelers, than my eyes zeroed in on the Dial-a-slice apple gadget -- the one all the foodie magazines have been raving about.  I just had to have it (even though I can't remember the last time I made an apple pie and I'm perfectly capable of coring and slicing an apple with a knife).  Who wouldn't want a gadget guaranteed to produces two sizes of uniformly sliced apples:  16 thin slices or 8 thick wedges.  No kitchen would be complete without one of these.  And I might want a pie sometime soon….

By now my hands were full, so I needed a basket.  Rule #5: if you break rule #4, NEVER, NEVER pick up a basket.  The basket looked a little empty, and I didn't want to embarrass the helpful ladies at the checkout, so I ambled through the store, adding this and that.  Nothing extravagant, mind you, just a gadget here , a mix there , a bottle of demi glace, some fleur de sel and herbes de Provence (I was running low on both, so these were actually necessities, not splurges).

Twenty minutes after I entered the store, my basket had a satisfactory heft to it.  And then I spotted the food processors.  The rest of this story is not for the faint of heart.

No, I did not succumb to temptation and buy a new $200+ machine, but I wanted to.  Instead, I assuaged my baser urges with, you guessed it, more gadgets.  A new set of (square) biscuit cutters, dulled the pain of resisting the processor, but  the shiny, new grill brush actually made me smile.  So what if I went in for a $4 peeler and came out with a Visa bill I'll be paying off for months?  I was happy.

Now if I just had enough money to buy something to slice, julienne, salt or grill, I'd have it made!  But I'm still smiling every time I look at my nice, new grill brush.  As soon as the storm passes, I'm ready!