Monday, September 11, 2006

A Walk On The Beach

For some reason, today I was moved to write. So I'm writing. It doesn't happen often, and like most positive impulses, I've learned to run with it. Interesting things happen when you let momentum take over. You'll notice I didn't say GOOD things happen, but how much fun would life be if only good things happened to you?

Today, the momentum started with a mistake. I missed my stop on the way home from work. I actually got a seat on the streetcar, and was right into the book I'm currently reading ('Calculating God' by Robert J. Sawyer). When I finally looked up, I was three stops past my street. Not really a problem, as I like to take a walk after work, so I got off and decided to keep walking in the same direction the streetcar was travelling.Normally, when I start walking after dismounting from the Red Rocket, I simply walk east along Queen St. until I feel like turning around, then walk home. Sometimes I walk a few stops, and sometimes I get all the way to the end of the streetcar line at Neville Park. Today, on a whim, I decided instead to walk down to the beach and stroll back along the boardwalk.This is my favourite time of year to walk on the boardwalk. It's started to cool down enough that I wore a jacket to work today for the first time since May. Because of this, the tourists who have been flocking to the beach all summer, have now all gone home to Markham or Mississauga or Mimico, and the beach is mine again. It's so nice to be able to sit on a bench facing the water with a nice breeze from off the lake blowing in my face, and just hear the quiet. Not that it's silent by any means, with the rollerbladers on the bike path and people walking their dogs, and of course the gulls fighting over dropped hotdogs or ice cream cones from the Beach Snack Bar, but still and relaxing.As I walked past the Leuty Ave. Lifeguard Station, I couldn't help but think about bonfires on the beach at that very spot and stolen kisses in the dark back when I was a senior in high school. The Eighties seem a long way off from where I'm standing, and if I had realized how much tougher life was going to get, I would have had a lot more fun at the time.As I continued west along the boardwalk, I could see what appeared to be a bunch of people flying kites up ahead. As I was snapping some pictures anyway, this seemed a fun thing to get some shots of. As I approached, however, I realized that it wasn't just people flying kites, but kitesurfers. I had never seen this before, and I was amazed at the speeds these people were achieving. I saw one guy get pulled completely out of the water and glide through the air for about ten feet. Now, I don't know for sure that it's actually called kitesurfing, but it seems a logical enough name. I hung out there for a few minutes, watching what must have been about twenty people doing this. More power to them, because all I was thinking was that it was going to be chilly swim back to shore.

I realize that this is not in fact a food-related post, but the beach and the boadwalk are part of who I am and where I come from. The most important ingredient in any recipe that you make is you, and what you bring to the table. Also, expressing myself by written word is a relatively new thing for me, and I've found that as with most things, the more I write, the more I get used to writing, and the better I become. Hopefully as my cooking progresses, so too will my writing and my photography. I can only hope.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Toys

Well, congratulate me. I broke my first coffee grinder this past weekend. Blew it up REAL good. I had just spent the day wandering through Kensington Market, and had picked up a big bunch of STUFF! Namely, three or four kinds of dried chilis, some tortillas, some tomatillos, and some sun-dried tomatoes. And of course, what would a trip to The Market be without a stop at El Gordo's for some killer empanadas? Their Mexican Chorizo variety are my favourites. Anyway, when I got home with my swag, I headed straight for the grinder to render the dried chilis into a more usable format. This part of the plan went off without a hitch. Seeing as the chilis are, well, dried and fairly thin, the grinder could handle them no problem. The problem was with the sun-dried tomatoes. Crazy, I hear you say? Perhaps, but while I was grinding the chilis, I was munching on the tomatoes and thinking to myself, "Gee, these sun-dried tomatoes bear a striking resemblance to the chilis. I bet if I ground them up, they'd be a lot easier to use."

So, after I finished with the chilis, I snipped the tomatoes up a little so they would fit in the grinder, and had a go.

The first batch came out OK. Emboldened by this, I kept going and tried to ignore the telltale warning signs the grinder was giving me. For one thing, it was starting to sound like an old outboard motor, and there was an odor that didn't smell like sun-dried tomatoes. Another man might have stopped at this point, and transferred the tomatoes to the handy-dandy blender I had sitting on top of the fridge. But no, there were only a few left, so I pressed on.

Then, not unexpectedly, disaster struck.

I heard a snap, and the sound that the grinder was making went from a labouring outboard motor to a high whine. Upon inspection, the rotating blade had bent almost in half, and had completely broken off from the motor assembly. Oops.

Soooo.... I transferred the remaining tomatoes to the handy-dandy blender from the top of the fridge.... Yes, yes, I know....

Now, to the point of this post (yes, there is one). I was then faced with the task of buying a new grinder. Excellent, new kitchen stuff. I looked around in several places, the first being Canadian Tire, because really, I don't need much of an excuse to go there and wander around. Oddly enough, even after looking at Zeller's and The Bay, I still couldn't find one that suited me.

So I came back to work on Monday dejected and still grinder-less, and what do I find but a store in my building called Personal Edge, which is just packed with some very cool gadgets and doodads, including three different models of grinders. I picked up a spiffy new Hamilton Beach model with variable speeds and a retractable cord. OutSTANDing.