Tag Archives: humour

Savour Food Savour Life – great ingredient – mustard with a side of humour

This is funny. And it’s a great ingredient too. It’s mustard; Grey Poupon, in this instance.

When I have a great ingredient I am always inspired to cook. In fact that is usually the genesis of all my cooking. Shopping for great ingredients is where it all begins for me. I have enough cooking know-how that I don’t need to start with a recipe (though I can be inspired that way too). I usually just go out to my favourite market or to my fridge, pantry or garden (well, to be honest the latter has a pretty brief window around here) and see what looks good.

Here in Calgary we have a great mustard expert, the very talented chef Desmond Johnston. When he found out that Alberta actually grows a lot of the world’s mustard seeds (see Canada Harvest mustard seeds story here)and then promptly ships them to Dijon, France to be turned into things like Grey Poupon, he thought, why don’t we make our own? He and his wife Karen Davis started doing just that in 1995 and in 2001 they started their company Brassica Mustard . Des is one of my favourite chefs to work with. He brings incredible passion, fun and energy to everything he does and that translates to Brassica mustard bursting with flavour. I’m proud to be friends with Karen and Des. They’re lovely.

Here’s a few photos of some fun times we’ve enjoyed together.

Des with Paul Rogalski at Slow Food Calgary's Feast of Fields 2008

Des with Paul Rogalski at Slow Food Calgary’s Feast of Fields 2008

When I used to run Feast of Fields for Slow Food Calgary, I could always count on Des to be there to help with set up (he's only pretending to pout)

When I used to run Feast of Fields for Slow Food Calgary, I could always count on Des to be there to help with set up (he’s only pretending to pout)

Des is a great outdoorsman & frequently forages & hunts

Des is a great outdoorsman & frequently forages & hunts

Here are some fun things to do with mustard, whether it is Grey Poupon, Alberta’s homegrown brand Brassica or otherwise.

1. Easy and Elegant Honey Mustard salad dressing – Put 1 tsp of mustard in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp of your local honey and 1 Tbsp of champagne vinegar and then gradually drizzle in 1/3 cup of organic canola oil or camelina oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Herb Crust – Put 1/4 cup of mustard in a bowl and add 1 Tbsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp each chopped rosemary, sage and cracked black peppercorns. Stir and then coat a pork tenderloin with this mix. Put in oven for 45 minutes at 375F. Juices will be slightly pink but let it rest tented in foil for 10 minutes and then slice it and it will be tender and juicy.

3. Always Perfect Beef Tenderloin – Put 1/2 cup of mustard in a bowl and add 2 Tbsps olive oil, 1 Tbsp of minced garlic, a handful of your favourite chopped fresh herbs and about 1 Tbsp of cracker black pepper and 1/2 tsp of salt and stir. Coat the outside of a 3 – 4 lb beef tenderloin roast with this mix, set it on a rack in a roasting pan and place it in an oven preheated to 450F. Immediately lower the oven to 400F and cook it for 35 minutes. Remove, tent with foil, let rest for 10 minutes then carve for medium rare always perfect beef tenderloin.

4. Mustard Meltdown – Add mustard to your next grilled cheese sandwich with a few thinly sliced pears, some prosciutto and either gouda or Gruyère.

5. Bold Balsamic Dressing – Put 1 tsp of mustard in a bowl and add 1 Tbsp of aged Balsamic from Modena (should be over 12 years old to be called aged), 1 Tbsp of Canadian Maple Syrup, and then gradually drizzle in about 1/3 cup of the very best Extra Virgin Olive Oil you own. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now your good to go with another great ingredient to help you savour food and savour life.


Filed under Recipes, Savour life

Savour Life – Notes on and an Ode to Joy

Notes on Joy

What makes you joyous? It’s a good thing to think about because sometimes if you know what causes your joy wellspring to bubble up from where you are grounded then you can do things to sway the odds of that happening more often. I started thinking of what brings me joy and found I have several categories of joy causation as follows:

OBVIOUS – these are so obvious to me they jump out at me as instant go to causes of my joy. Their mine, all mine. What’s your list you treasure like this?
• Waking up another day
• Waking up another day and having my health
• My loving relationship with my husband of 23 years
• My son that is alive and well and thriving
• My son that died because he taught me to value his brother so dearly
• The many darling friendships I am so fortunate to have
• A mother and father who have loved me unconditionally since the day I was born
• Cooking
• Time in nature
• My garden
• Watching the birds in my garden
• Time in a hammock anywhere
• Great music
• Reading good literature and having stacks of it by my bed (I’m like Snoopy when he has a big pile of bones to chomp while he reads the paper on top of his doghouse – Peanuts by Charles Schultz reference a few of you might get)
• Writing something and getting paid to do that
• Writing something and sharing it anyway just because it needs sharing

SUBLTE – things so uniquely joyous it takes you awhile to realize their effect but once you do realize they become a permanent and inseparable part of who you are
• The colour blue
• Listening to waves and hearing them as God breathing
• Curling up in bed
• A hot bath

MUSIC – It is a fact universally acknowledged that listening to your favourite music is one of the quickest ways to elevate your mood. It does not have to be a specific type. The right type is your type. For me that means the following:
• 80’s music
• Beethoven
• Mozart – my thinking music. When I play it I can actually feel my brain work better
• Beatles music
• U2 in concert
• Bruce Springsteen
• My son playing his viola
• Hearing a piano part I love and dreaming I can play it.

FUNNY MEN – I love men that make me laugh. I especially love physical humour. Not the Three Stooges though. I’m talking about John Ritter trying to fold an ironing board. Steve Martin pretending Lily Tomlin is living in one half of his body, Martin Short hopping around a room as Ed Grimley; now that’s funny TO ME. Here they are; all the men that make me howl with joy.
• Steve Martin – you’ll always be #1 you wild and crazy guy, Picasso collector, banjo player and writer par excellence
• Dan Akroyd – nobody reels it off the tongue like you Dan
• Martin Short – thanks for giving the world Ed Grimley
• John Cleese – Basil Fawlty, sigh, oh how I loved you, you pompous ass.
• Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett – if you don’t know The Two Ronnies you’ve missed a lot of funny
• John Ritter – did I mention the ironing board?
• Robin Williams- where would you begin?
• Red Skeleton – clown cum comedian, I loved your seagull skits
• Flip Wilson – thanks for Geraldine
• Chevy Chase – Caddy Shack and anything you did with Goldie Hawn
• Rodney Dangerfield – Caddy Shack
• Mike Myers – So I married an axe murderer… it just doesn’t get any better
• John Cusak – Gross Point Blank, High Fidelity, The 80’s Time Machine
• Steve Carell – Dan in Real life, Date night, 40 year old virgin
• Michael Kane – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Without a Clue
• Billy Crystal – Why don’t you just always do the Oscars for us, please, have mercy!
• Tom Hanks – why don’t you EVER do the Oscars – you are such a great writer
• Pierce Brosnan – every funny man needs a straight man. Thanks for Mrs. Doubtfire.
• Harvey Korman, Don Knotts, Tim Conway and Lyle Wagner- for their work with Carol Burnett
• Woody Allen – you didn’t think I forgot you did you? I especially love Woody on so many levels and endlessly
• John Bellusci – Animal House
• Peter Riegert – Animal House and Crossing Delancey
• Kevin Costner – Tin Cup and Bull Durham
• Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – Sean of the Dead is the best allegorical movie I’ve ever seen. You are both geniuses and I love Paul, Run Fat boy Run and Hot Fuzz too. Thanks.

FUNNY WOMEN – I love women that make me laugh. Most of them are my girlfriends – Kim, Shawnee, Jo Jo. I love my girlfriends that laugh at my jokes and make me feel I’m funny – Donna McElligott especially, Marianne Spoletini too. Oh and Cindy Lazarenko, you bring out the nut in me. Thank you.
• Dianne Keaton – anything with Steve Martin, Baby Boom
• Goldie Hawn – how can you not love someone with those dimples
• Gilda Radner – rest your soul
• Bette Midler
• Dolly Parton – she’s way smarter than most people give her credit for and she’s funny as hell
• Penny Marshall – as a director too
• Meg Ryan – When Harry met Sally
• Sally Fields – the one you did with James Garner – Murphy’s Romance – that was fine.
• Carol Burnet – women should all be as goofy as you
• Vicky Lawrence – cause she made Carol Burnet funnier
• Tina Fey – you are funnier than 10 of your peers right now but Sarah Palin is the only one who comes close and she doesn’t even lift a finger to try – sadly.
• Lily Tomlin – one ringy dingy….
• Terry Garr – Mr. Mom and Young Frankenstein and the Sonny and Cher Show
• Jane Curtain – Jane, you ignorant slut – hanging out with Dan Akroyd and John Bellusci every week and living to tell about it, wow!
• Susan Sarandon – Rocky Horror Picture Show and Bull Durham
• Phyllis Diller – you made me laugh HARD

MOVEMENT – remember when you were a kid and you just ran everywhere? You did because you could and because it felt good. Remember the joy of sliding down a hill or skating fast or being the last one on a long “whip the rope” chain at the skating rink? Remember floating on a raft all afternoon and diving in to cool off? Nowadays, I remember a body in motion stays in motion and I think about how good that feels. I especially love moving in the following ways, most of which are outdoors, you’ll never find me in a gym.
• Skiing – down a hill or across the country
• Running
• Golfing
• Cycling
• Dancing
• Practicing yoga
• Walking and hiking

FOOD – ever since I was a little girl one thing that has always given me joy is grocery shopping. I love being inspired by what is growing in my garden or my Dad’s garden. I love combing a farmer’s market and picking the freshest possible produce. I love scouring ethnic markets for new things I’ve never tried. I love looking at a great menu and seeing how chef’s are inspired to use their ingredients. I love exploring other cultures and studying how their food is intertwined with their way of being. My very favourite foods include the following:
• Blueberries – fresh, tiny, wild New Brunswick blueberries. I like them by the handful, in grunts, pies, buckle, pancakes and muffins. There just isn’t enough blue food in the world and I think that’s because when God made the blueberry he thought, There, I’m done! It’s perfect.
• Lobster with butter
• Turkey dinner
• Really great pizza
• Puligny Montrachet wine

MISCELLANEOUS – just as it sounds
• My dog -because every single day she makes me laugh
• Popcorn at the movies
• Anything written by Jane Austen
• Singing loud in my car
• Counting my blessings
• Keeping a journal

So there’s a beginning list. You might ask, where is helping others, volunteering and serving humankind? Well, I think you are confusing activity that gives your life great meaning with activity that gives you spontaneous joy. Meaning is another key aspect to life but it’s not what we are talking about here. Don’t overcomplicate the simplicity of joy as pure emotional energy.

I believe it is a phenomenon called opening that makes us capable of experiencing more joy in life. What is opening? It’s something that hurts enough to awaken you to the gift life is. It could be a great loss or a great threat.

Were you expecting me to say that?

Once you see life for the precious gift it is you begin to feel joy just in being alive and receiving the breath that is your life for another day. Do some people live this way without a wake-up call? Yes, there are some who have been loved and cared for and have always lived in joy. It is their natural state. I’d like to see more of this. I wasn’t always awakened but I have been for a long time now and even still something can come along to re-awaken me and take me to an even deeper level of love and joy in life. I can see that it really is all good.

I believe joy is the energy that motivates us to thrive and be fully alive. It is a quest and a daily journey. It is often in the details. That is not just a cliché. Look for its subtleness. Look for it in nature and you’ll see it revealed in tiny flowers growing in unexpected places and in patterns in the snowflakes and ice crystals or grains of sand and rocks along the shore. You’ll find it in great art and design. You’ll find it in laughter and time with children, animals and dear ones.

These are my notes on joy. It’s good to pause and think about it once in a while. Joy is one of the things that motivates me to Savour my Life. Won’t you join me?

Beethoven did not have an easy life. His father beat him, he went deaf, he did not end up with his Immortal Beloved and yet he was a passionate lover of life and could write the most powerful Ode to Joy ever while living each day and using his gifts. Here’s an example of how easily we humans can get to joy through the power of music. Enjoy!


Filed under Joy, Savour life