Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Peak shaming

There's online shaming. There's offline shaming. And then, in its own separate, amazing category, is poodle-pants-shaming.

The backstory:

I have a dog, a miniature poodle. Because the results are cute, and because she doesn't at all seem to mind this, and yes, because it gets cold, she has some clothing. Not, like, evening-wear, but a sweater and a jacket. And, fine, a parka.

Well! I was out just now with Bisou (again, a dog), both of us in our parkas. 16 degrees and snowing. I was wearing jeans. She was not. This is important for what follows:

At an intersection, a woman on a bike was saying something to me. I took out the headphone playing a Terry Gross interview with a woman who knows how to get children and adults alike to enjoy vegetables and said, "Sorry?" At which point the woman repeated what I thought she'd said: She was saying that they should include pants (I think she said "chaps"), I think as some sort of extension of the dog-coat, or maybe just that Bisou should be in pants. She was concerned that Bisou was too cold. I tried to explain about why dogs don't wear pants (the obvious), and why they're really OK without any (fur), but then the light changed and that was that.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hotpot: a recipe

A photo posted by @casa_della_bisou on

I don't know what cuisine this is. But here's how I make hotpot:

-Meat: You'll want a nice cut of beef (ideally ribeye), but not much of it. It needs to be thinly sliced, which is no big deal if there's a supermarket near you that sells this, but if there isn't (or if, as is my situation, there probably is, but it's a choice between the place with Wagyu and the one where even tofu purchased near the butcher section stinks of rotten meat), pay up at whichever other butcher and do the partially-freeze-then-slice method. I have no idea for how long, only that I always get this wrong, and freeze it too little or into a solid block. (Maybe 3 hours would be ideal?)


Put up the rice cooker. If using a regular pot, start on the rice after the broth, I think.


Put chicken stock (packaged is fine) in the pot you'll use for the hotpot itself, but on the burner, so as not to waste hotpot-canister fuel before you're actually having the meal. If you have one of those induction-top situations, put on the burner immediately, as this will take forever.

Spices: Add to the broth one star anise star thingy; a few (not too many! I have done this!) Szechuan peppercorns; and a good number of dried, whole red chilis. (Or maybe fewer if the ones you have are really spicy.) Also: sliced fresh ginger, some less aesthetic-looking (but edible!) bits of shiitake mushroom, scallion, garlic. Let that simmer for... as long as you're preparing everything else.

Ingredient prep: Soak dried tofu skin. That needs to happen first, because it takes forever. Then, in whichever order:

-Chop scallion and chop (or better yet, garlic-press) garlic. Put these aside in dipping-sauce bowls, to be combined with soy sauce and sesame oil.

-Wash a tremendous amount of pea shoots and/or baby bok choy.

-Cut up remaining shiitake mushrooms. "Cooking with Dog"-style (that is, with a little cross in the center), if you're feeling ambitious.

-Tofu? Why not! (I like the one that's silky but not so much so that it completely disintegrates.) But try to get a smaller amount, since leftover raw tofu is complicated.

-Remember to take out anything else of interest (say, the thin mochi designed for hotpot) from whichever pantry.

-The meat! It should probably come out of the freezer by now. Take it out, and try to slice it thinly.

And then it's just time to eat the thing. Which is - apart from the setup itself - kind of self-explanatory.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The when you least expect it approach to shopping UPDATED

About as awake as I could be, post two two-hour classes (and an office hour), and pre-non-teaching-work o'clock, so, a shopping-achievement post.

Way back when, I saw a scarf on Instagram that was just perfect. Also £75, or $75,000,000 CAD. A Kensington Market scarf-bin investigation didn't lead anywhere. (I wasn't expecting the scarf, but something along those lines.) Some halfhearted Googling for polka-dot scarves, also futile.

Well! I was on the tram the other day, and passed by an exclusive boutique you may not be familiar with called the Gap. In the window, a mannequin was wearing... could it be? The scarf! At just under $9 (CAD bien sûr) in the store, thanks to the wonders/evils of inconsistent fast-fashion pricing, it pretty much had to be done. Whether the end result will be more Mary Richards, more Cupcakes and Cashmere, or more why is there a handkerchief around your neck, we shall see.


No less an authority than Garance Doré('s blog) advocates not just scarves of this nature, but scarves just like that one.