FUN FRIDAY: Sometimes we need to loosen the apron straps and write about some of our influences outside of food. Don’t worry, it always comes back to food. This is a potluck of our favourite things as we say farewell to 2013.
Since our last post of the year just happens to be listing our favourite things, we had to include this Beutler Ink 2013 summary illustration created by the brilliant Mario Zucca. Select the image for a larger view and spend an hour dissecting it — it’s all there – Miley twerking, the red wedding, the return of the Bluth Company, the Pope, Daft Punk, our dearly departed, Mars… 2013, you were a whacky year!! One perfectly represented by such an illustration. Check out the illustrator’s process on his blog at mariozucca.com.
What we’re reading:
Reagan: Strangely enough, now that I’m back to work, I have more time to read (on my subway commute – those two free hours a day didn’t exist when I was at home with the munchkin). Right now I’m reading Happiness(™) by Will Ferguson. It’s hilarious. But probably my favourite read this year was John Irving’s In One Person. I can’t get enough of his writing…so sad and dark but pretty absurd at the same time.
Jodi: Since I’m in two(!) book clubs, all I seem to read are our book club picks. But so far, there have been more ups than downs. I was riveted by The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan, an historical fiction focusing on life in Paris in the late 1800s for aspiring ballerinas, as depicted by Degas. And I finally read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I enjoyed it immensely and had another layer of interest in its Detroit setting, as my sister lives right across the border in Windsor. And of course, as always, there’s David Sedaris. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls was released this year and, although I read many of the essays in The New Yorker, experienced him read from it at the Sony Centre, and read the entire book, I’m planning on diving back in and reading it again ASAP. His writing is poignant and hilarious, and I’ve been a loyal fan for many years. Read him!
Amanda: I get Terry Pratchett books from my mum every Christmas, meaning that I spend most of the post-turkey coma chortling away to a new Pratchett book rather than socialising with relatives (oh, she knows me so well). It’s been all about Raising Steam since the 25th.
Dana: Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin because I want to be the greatest food photographer on the planet and recognize I have SO MUCH still to learn.
Caitlin: Lisa Moore’s incredible novel Caught was one book I just couldn’t put down. If you love books about the dark side of pretty much everything, with a side of gorgeous evocative language, criminals on the run, and a mad romp through the maritimes, this is the book for you. Upon the realization that my knowledge of A Christmas Carol is based mainly on the Muppets’ classic version, I’m also attempting to read some Charles Dickens. I’m starting with David Copperfield, and I am still somewhat daunted by its length, but I figure any self-respecting librarian better get a little Dickens under her belt sooner rather than later…
What we’re drinking:
Reagan: The Steigl grapefruit radler was a clear winner for me this summer! So refreshing and delicious. Actually, didn’t we all discover it together on our HPA field trip to Bier Market in Toronto? Now that it’s Christmas, I’m into the mulled wine. I found a killer recipe by Jamie Oliver that I make every year. I tend to be the only one who really loves it so I get to kill a couple bottles myself. Tis the season!
Jodi: Oops, I was just going to say “’tis the season,” but just noticed Reagan already has. Oh well. ‘Tis the season for eggnog!! No-one I know really seems to like it, but I looooove the special taste of eggnog. Whether it’s the no-name brand from the grocery store, or a lovingly prepared homemade cuppa, eggnog spiced with rum and some sprinkled nutmeg is my happy place in winter holidays. And it’s around for just the right amount of time, before I get sick of its creamy sweetness.
Caitlin: Sandbanks’ Love Aperitivo. I discovered this gem during a wine-soaked tour of Prince Edward County this fall. It’s a blend of white wine and Cassis liqueur and is perfect for sweet-toothed winos like me.
Amanda: PORT. Every time. We have a cracking winter fair with loads of local produce, which is a glorious excuse to load up on cheese. And what would a Christmas cheeseboard be without a vintage port I ask you?
Dana: My handsome hubby (@homebrewBrett) continues to perfect his homebrewing beer process — his recent double IPA is one of the best ales I’ve ever had and his brown ale with bourbon soaked oak chips has been the theme to our winter so far (at 11% we’ve tentatively titled it ‘The Baby Dropper’ – long, funny story for another Fun Friday). Considering that he’s making this kind of carbonated magic happen from our garage, we’ve begun to seriously consider a 5-year-goal of opening our very own gastro pub. Y’know, that little life-long dream of mine.
What we’re listening to:
Reagan: Alt J (still!). Also, the new Arcade Fire.
Jodi: Being a mom out in the west end of Toronto’s big smoke, I felt a bit closed off from what was going on, indie music-wise, and thus was glad when Indie88 was granted its license. Finally, a radio station that wasn’t just oldies or Nickelback songs! But it’s wearing a bit thin. SO many repeats! SO few songs. I did like the new Arcade Fire, but it’s beginning to grate on me, hearing the hit at least once an hour. And way too many songs that sound like new country. Ugh. I’m too cheap to get satellite radio, so I’m hoping these are just growing pains.
And why don’t they play this local song that I’m obsessed with?
Although I do love July Talk.
Caitlin: Neko Case is amazing on stage, on Twitter, and on my stereo. I looooved her new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Her songs are, as always, confessional, sassy, smart, sad, and lovely. I’m From Nowhere is one of my favourite tracks.
Dana: The National’s Trouble Will Find Me was absolutely the soundtrack of my year. I am so madly in love with this album.
And, Jodi, I looooove my SiriusXM satellite radio – absolutely worth every penny. This year I became hooked on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. The station is dedicated to playing ‘the coolest rock and roll records ever made’. You’ll hear The Beatles, The Ramones, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks and T Rex in a single set, and the show hosts are rock and roll elite – including Little Steven himself (E Street Band, though you’d probably recognize him from his role on Sopranos), Andrew Loog (Rolling Stone’s original manager), Genya Raven (The Escorts, Goldie & The Gingerbreads), even Lou Reed had his own Sunday evening show until his recent demise :(. Each host leads you through their personal history of music, sharing behind-the-scenes goods with every track. From my car, to my office, and into my kitchen, I have it wired so my satellite radio is always streaming and I never miss a chance to Get It On.
What we’re watching:
Jodi: I’m a nerd who loves the Oscars. Every year, a couple of friends and I try to see all the Oscar contenders and then watch the awards show together. So, imagine my pleasure (/horror/pain/admiration) when I caught 12 Years a Slave this year at TIFF. I actually just picked it as a film to see because I love Chiwetol Ejiofor. And it seems to have turned out as the movie of the year. Amazing performances all around. Canadian connection to the story. Astounding showcase for an (I believe) under-appreciated actor.
Oh, and on TV I’m watching Masters of Sex. The first episode was not extremely compelling, and I wondered what – aside from titillation – one could produce from the story of Masters and Johnson’s study of human sexuality. But I found I quickly became invested in the characters, even though I could look up their actual history on Wikipedia. Since I did, I’m even more interested in seeing how the production deals with the evolution of this story. And, as always, Lizzy Caplan is great, and Michael Sheen shines (har).
Amanda: It’s all about the long wait for the next Sherlock over New Year. Nothing comes close to my excitement for the latest installment from our favourite detective. Have you seen the teaser BBC launched on Christmas Day? #SherlockLives
Caitlin: I got really into Enlightened this year, and was quite bummed out to hear it had been cancelled. I’ve watched the first two seasons, and it’s one of those shows that is funny and horrifying and poignant all at once. It has this very subtle way of poking fun at new agey stuff while also celebrating it. The characters are weird and sweet and flawed, and to me it’s one of the best representations of just how lonely people are, starved for human contact in an over-connected world.
Dana: I really wish I had more to contribute to the ‘What We’re Reading’ section but how can I make time to read when there are so many great TV series to devour?? Thank you, Netflix! Orange is the New Black, Homeland, Breaking Bad (all five seasons in just three weeks – don’t attempt this yourself, will turn your brain to Walter White obsessed goop for weeks), Girls, The Nick Kroll Show, Newsroom, VICE TV, Mind of a Chef… just to name a few. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Season 3 of Game of Thrones. Actually, it’s thank to my GoT obsession that I’m able to include anything at all (other than cookbooks and food mags) to my reading list this year. A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords redeemed my imagination and kept the boob tube off for a few weeks. Heisenberg has nothing on Tyrion Lannister in my heart.
HBO’s end of year promo eerily summarizes my 2013 near perfectly. I’ve clearly watched too much TV this year. Wait, it’s not TV, it’s HBO, nevermind.
Things we love:
Reagan: My toasty warm Sorel winter boots when I’m out. And mulled wine to warm me up when I get home. Winter is really on my mind right now.
Jodi: My new bread-maker! I’m not spending tons of money on preservative-filled bread anymore! I would try to make my own, but it would not happen that often because of the time involved. Now I can throw in the ingredients, go to bed, and wake up with a lovely fresh loaf of bread in time for breakfast.
Dana: This is a great opportunity to mention a few of the products sent to Hot Pink Apron HQ that we’ve really enjoyed this year. Bauli Canada has hooked us up with amazing cakes and fruit-filled croissants and they always invest the effort in beautifully packaging our gifts. Much blogger love to Bauli. Maggi sent us a few samples of their So Juicy seasonings, these create remarkably simple and delicious chicken dinners. And we’re still playing with all of the goodies from our friends at bottle green.
What we’re up to next:
Reagan: Ordering Chelsea buns from overseas! Amanda’s post on Fitzbillies has lodged in my brain and I won’t be hopping across the pond anytime soon. We’ll see how this goes…
Jodi: I’ve changed my organics delivery to every two weeks as I was getting a bit overwhelmed with veggies. Waste not want not! And I’m digging back into my crock pot recipes for winter. And, although there may be complaints, I’d like to try out some casseroles that aren’t the goopy messes of yesteryear (tuna, peas, and mushroom soup with crackers on top anyone?), so that I can store more in my freezer and not have to plan a new meal every night. It’s exhausting!
Dana: Pop Culture Kitchen. This is the name of our new sister-site preparing to launch next month. This is where we’ll be producing podcasts and vlogging our culinary adventures. (No, Grandma, I’m not sneezing, vlogging is video blogging). With a fancy new camera and new workspace, the Apronites are finally joining the powerful community of YouTube. I’m so excited to return to my first love of documentary film making – with food. It’s about time I do something productive with this uber-expensive film school education that I’ve spent a decade paying off.