Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All The Very Best of Us String Ourselves Up For Love

This past Saturday I headed to Massey Hall with a few of my favourite weirdos to see Daughter and The National.

The stairs up to our balcony seats seemed never-ending (who told me that heels were a good idea?!), and the seats themselves were made solely for people under 5 feet (my legs didn't fit & so they bashed into the seats in front me for the entirety of the concert, causing bruises and swelling) - but dammit, it was worth it.

Seeing Daughter again re-affirmed my girlcrush on Elena. While I couldn't see her as well this time and she didn't talk as much, she's still so damn cute. And they put on a good show, as expected.

And then there was The National.

The last time I saw them was their NXNE show at Yonge-Dundas Square, and I ended up spending the last half of it waiting in a brutally long bathroom line-up.

So this was an improvement - no fighting crowds, no grabby people, and no lines.

I should probably apologize to everyone who sat around me, including my friends, for singing along too loudly.

Yeah, I'm that person.

And then, during the encore... a surprise guest.

Really, this could only happen at a show I was at - Hayden came on stage and joined for a couple of songs. Considering how much I fangirl over Daughter and The National as it is, adding another one of my favourites is almost excessive, in the best way possible.

That's a stage I'd like to be on.

They closed the night off, as always, with Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. The whole place sings along (again, sorry if my singing ruined anyone's videos), and it's a pretty darn good ending to an amazing show.

And since I've shared my fairly terrible photos with you, you may want to check out my friend Steve's photos as well - he caught some unbelievable ones. He was right in the middle of the action and apparently got a hug from Matt Berninger after holding him up as he ran around the crowd during Mr. November. Give 'em a gander.

Seems only right to end this post with someone's else's video of the song, from the same show:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Got Sidetracked And Re-arranged, & Like A Leper I've Been Estranged

So... I'm not dead.

Just wanted to let you know that.

I realize that it's been over a month since I've posted, which is something I promised wouldn't happen (and hasn't happened since I started this thing in 2007). Well, I lied. I haven't been overly present on most social media channels, either. Years ago, I said that if no one heard from me online for awhile, they should probably check up on me to see if I died. Y'know, because I mostly work from home, I live alone, and could technically go a long time without human contact. So I figured I should probably let you all know - I'm not dead. Which is good, because I hear funerals are expensive.

According to the comments though, my blog - much like Skynet - has become self-aware and needs an explanation. (Masuka, I'm lookin' at you).

Well sorry, neglected blog. I've been busy doin' stuff.

Like seeing as many shows as possible.

Watching music-related movies when I force myself to stop working for the day.

Booking my summer concerts.

Putting hats on dogs who do not want to be wearing hats, but are wearing hats nonetheless.

And planning for Rex Manning Day. So say no more, mon amour - cuz that's today, kids.

On top of all that junk, a whole bunch of working. Lots and lots of working, and it keeps me from doing certain things... like blogging, skipping up and down the street, and planning the destruction of my mortal enemies. Just kidding. I'm still doing the last one.

And so, to re-cap. I am not currently dead.

...but if I ever am, I'll be sure to haunt you and let you know. Because I care.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I'd Show Them The Stars & The Meaning Of Life, They'd Shut Me Away But I'd Be Alright

As I continue to cook and bake all sorts of random crap, I've been making a conscious (potentially obsessive) effort to find or create healthy versions of whatever I'm making. I love food. It's sad how much I love food, but with my health increasingly being an issue, I started eating a lot better than I used to (what, no more weekly Big Mac meals?! Dammit.) - but I didn't want to give up what I liked to eat, or any food that actually tastes good.

I'm stubborn. So I found ways around it.

Whatcha got? Mixing bowls! And whatcha gonna do? Mix stuff!
I enjoy baking a lot, but sometimes it's pretty eye-opening to learn how much butter and sugar goes into everything. Man, ignorance really was bliss. Delicious, wonderful, artery-clogging bliss. So I've found a few recipes that I now tend to fall back on; baked items that taste like they're full of fat and other yummy garbage... but actually aren't.

For example...

Most people likely think banana bread is a pretty healthy option in the "cake" department. And compared to some, it can be. But just because there's bananas in it, doesn't mean it's good for you. Hell no. It should be called "Sugar & Butter Bread - Now With Bananas"!

I now know that the crack in the bread is good. The internet told me so.
This chocolate chip banana bread recipe has probably 1/6 the amount of sugar and butter of normal recipes, and it also has flax & yogurt in it. It passed the Family Test at Christmas, so y'know it's a good one.(For this, I make it with all-purpose gluten-free flour from Bulk Barn and use an extra egg white in lieu of xantham gum.Yeah, that sentence was kinda pretentious. I'm awful.)

Here's the recipe. Play around with it, you likely won't screw it up.

I'll never be a hand model. But I'll model bread.

Then there's the brownies.

I've always been skeptical of fake brownies. But I once made them out of dates, walnuts and cocoa powder and they were awesome, so I gave my sister's recipe a shot - brownies made with black beans. No flour, and you can use even healthier substitutes than the recipes calls for, if you're so inclined.

And I was.

Steph's photos make mine look like a toddler took them.
These were stupid good. So good that I figured I could trick my chocolate-loving dad into believing they were your run-of-the-mill floury, fatty brownies. (But since he reads this, i guess the jig's up! S'ok, he'll still eat 'em. They're delicious.).

Here's the recipe, from my personal food guru sister.

To make them a bit healthier, I swapped half of the already small amount of butter for coconut oil, and half of the sugar for coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. I also opted not to include walnuts because, well... I had none. That's a pretty good reason.

Next? Balls.

Yes, that says balls.


I dunno what to call them, I don't even think they're actual "things". I came across this on Pinterest, and - though it had literally no instructions at all- decided to throw them together and see how they were. Check out the "recipe" here. (In quotations because it isn't so much a recipe as a list of words thrown together and bolded.)

Turns out, these are great. Healthy, filling, easy. And the chocolate chips make you feel less like you've given up on all things delicious.You can use a lot of different ingredients, whatever you have laying around. I added unsweetened dessicated coconut that I had on-hand, as well as chia seeds. Throw everything in a mixing bowl, mix it (as the aforementioned bowl title suggests), then shape 'em into balls. Put them in the fridge, and you're done.

Balls. Your very own balls.

The last thing I'd like to share is my sister's recipe for granola - I've become sadly addicted to it and make a big batch every week.

Unfortunately, she hasn't yet posted the recipe on her blog. So you'll just have to keep checking back for that one. You want it. Trust me.

And with that, The Culinary Idiot is now friggin' hungry and must go raid her kitchen for banana bread, fake brownies, nutbar balls and granola.

Damn, I love food.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Play My Stupid Songs, I Write These Stupid Words

People seem to like discussing "guilty pleasures". Everything from men binge-watching The Bachelor (and crying), to women lip-synching Adele songs in the mirror (and, again...crying). They're the things we're ashamed to like, so that's what we call them - our guilty little pleasures. Especially when it comes to music.

But I'll be honest. I feel guilty about NOTHING. I like what I like; I do what I do. Let's drop that damn guilty pleasure title and be honest with each other. I'll start. I have a pretty long list of musical likes that other people would certainly feel guilty about, so let me get some of those out in the open:

I dig the Spice Girls. Always have. Mel B. was my uber crush, and I even dressed as her for Halloween in grade 9 (don't ask how it turned out. Just don't.). I can still remember every word to their first album, and some of the dances - no shame. None.

Estro-generation X

Apparently I dig Brit chicks, because then there was All Saints. In fact, my all-girl group that I created when I was 14 (see blog post for full admission) was an attempt at being an edgier, heavier All Saints. And no, you can not hear the tapes. I likely burned them.

Of course, there was also my Backstreet Boys phase. Before anyone else ever knew much about them, I was obsessed. Hence the website. That love may be long (loooong) past, but I recently learned that I still know the words and am happier than a pig in shit to belt 'em out in public. Never cared about any other boy bands, however. Odd.

Dear 13-year old Kris - you never end up marrying AJ. (You'll get over it.)

Some of my past so-called guilty pleasures weren't always so guilt-causing. You know those bands that everyone liked for awhile, and then they became like the plague (Limp Bizkit, Korn, anything Nu Metal, etc).We can all admit that when those songs come on, the happily nostalgic part of our brains makes us enjoy it. And sing along. Loudly. Often with awkward dancing. And why the hell not?!

I was the little girl who listened to metal, alternative, classic rock, grunge, prog-rock, et al... but I was never embarrassed when people would see a Spice Girls album underneath Tool's Aenima, or (briefly) a poster of AJ McLean wedged between Chino Moreno and Zack De La Rocha.

I currently get made fun of for still liking Skid Row, but it doesn't stop me. Hair metal will always have a special place in my heart. And how anyone can not like Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil album or GNR's Appetite For Destruction is just beyond me. But then my fellow hair band lovers may mock me for loving the Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Fleetwood Mac or Zeppelin. And my metal fan friends definitely hate my folk musicians. Bottom line: everything you like will be hated or judged by someone else. But screw it - our personal tastes are subjective, relative, and completely our own prerogative.

So, now it's your turn. Tell me your guilty musical pleasures, and make 'em not-so-guilty anymore. This is a non-judgemental space. We're not cool - we don't expect you to be.

Go for it. Spill. I'll be over here, dancing to Spice Girls.

Friday, February 14, 2014

There's Nothin' Like You & I

It's Valentine's Day.

Since Daisy already sent her personalized Valentine to my brother-in-law, I figured I could use her to give my messages to you guys - because you'd definitely rather have a Valentine from the pigdog than from me. (And if you're cheap and/or forgetful, feel free to send them to your own Valentine. She's like Cupid, except not a freaky naked baby with a weapon.)

So, to you all, Valentine messages from Daisy:

Happy Valentine's Day (or Gal-entine's Day, or Singles' Night Before Cheap Chocolate Day, whatever) from me and Piggie Smalls!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There Is Always One Addiction That Just Cannot Be Controlled

It's been a long time since we've heard from our friendly neighbourhood pervert, Masuka. He's a busy, busy man. Plus, I haven't posted a video blog in over a year. (Whoops.)

So, since I still talk to him often, I decided it was time to post a more lighthearted entry for once and give the Masuka-lovin' readers something they've been missing. A Masuka question.

So the Olympics are in our midst. If you could make up a sport in something you excel in and compete in the Olympics what would it be? For me, it would be boob judging from 10 paces. I can guess a bra size like no ones business.

- Masuka

I can attest to that, Masuka judges boobs like no other. I've seen it happen. It's like he has a 6th sense for mammories. A unique skill, no question.

As for me... there are actually a few things I think I could kick ass at if they were actual events. Yes, you read that correctly. I have some skills. (Ok, more like "skills", as they're mainly useless.)

My Olympic Events:

1. The Skittle Toss - a solo sport, where one throws Skittles into the air and then promptly catches them in their mouth. Can also be used with M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, and the extracted teeth of your nemesis.

2. The Lyric Switch - when given a popular song, one must sing it and change the lyrics on the spot. Main topics: dogs, food, and awkward situations involving falling down and/or walking into walls.

3. Completely Useless Trivia - if a fact has no actual use to anyone at all, chances are I know it. I'm pretty good at trivia games in general, but the more useless they are, the better. I am a vast vessel of stupid knowledge (musical knowledge aside), and I'm damn proud of it. So this event is pretty self-explanatory.

4. The Dumbass Jingle-Off - players will compete to see who can sing and/or recite the most jingles and ads from 1983 - present. (This would be no contest. Instead of learning multiplication tables as a kid, I was too busy absentmindedly absorbing all advertisements like a cheap sponge. You'll often hear me singing local Niagara jingles from the mid-90's. So useful! So resume-worthy! So attractive to the opposite sex!)

While I can think of many other weird skills I possess, my Kris-lympics are already looking pretty sad (and please note that I left out Tongue Folding in Thirds as an event, just this once). Therefore I'm opening it up to you guys - we already know that Masuka's event involves boob judging. So what would yours be?

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Talent of Time, That Thief That Delays, We'll Come Back Tomorrow & Tear Down Your Ways

It's been a long time since I've indulged in one of my over-worded rants. I could be getting soft and sentimental in my old age, I suppose. But something happened the other day, and it's a regular occurrence that brings out my bitchy confrontational side - so if you're someone guilty of this, consider yourself warned.

Swanson-isms always work for me.

I was headed north up Roncy on the 504 King streetcar a few mornings ago. It was about 9am, it was cold, and people were cranky. It happens.

A woman came on with her toddler in a stroller. She was very polite, excused herself as she strolled by and thanked those who moved for her. And her little one? Super cute. Chubby and curly-headed, squirming in the seat.

Now as I said, it's around 9am. So it was packed. Standing room only. A nice man gave the woman his seat, and I stood nearby. Then as kids do, her son began to scream. Not a lot, by any means - because we all know kids can really scream if they want to. Just some slight squealing.

And then the looks started.

Being the nutbar observer that I am, after I smiled in sympathy toward the woman, I saw no less than 5 other passengers give her the absolute worst evil eye you can imagine. Death stares and muttering under their breath directed solely at her. The mother was doing her best to make her child quiet down, and the bitchy stares just worsened. And this pissed me right off.

Even Zoidberg thinks you're a dick.
While I fully understand that not everyone has the nurturing parental gene, the part of some people that makes us want children & drives us to care for them, there is still such a thing as regular ol' compassion. What exactly do these people expect her to do? Shove a sock in her toddler's mouth? Smack him in the head and tell him to shut the hell up? Or should she have stayed home, just because a couple of cries from her child might briefly annoy a few assholes on a crowded public transit car?

I think it should be the opposite - if you can't handle a few minutes of noise from a kid who doesn't know any better, and if you can't show respect to a mother who is obviously doing her very best (and has much more on her plate than to worry about you), then maybe you should stay home. Because you're an idiot, and you've obviously overlooked the "public" part of public transit.

To all the moms out there, I offer you all the respect in the world. Being a parent is hard work, so kudos to all of you for taking on that massive job - especially when things get rough in public. Because in case the judgy jerks on the TTC have forgotten... we were all children once. We all screamed, we all squealed, and we all made our parents' lives extremely hard at times.

Wonder how these people would feel about their own mothers being treated poorly for just "being a mom".
It's worth a thought.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Born With Insight & A Raised Fist

Awhile back I started posting some of my favourite albums - either recent favourites, or those that have been at the top of my list forever. But there's a pretty important album that I've not yet posted about, and it must be time.

Let me just take you back a couple of decades. It was 1992, your ol' pal Kris was a mere 9 years old. And an album came along that kinda changed everything. Rage Against The Machine's self-titled.

If memory serves me, the first Rage song my sister ever put on one of my infamous mixed tapes was Bombtrack. And that one song was enough to hook me. So much so, in fact, that it often became part of my internet handles (Y'know... once the internet happened. That's right young readers, I was alive before internet.).

My first-ever blog on LiveJournal/DeadJournal was written by Bombtrack_99; whichever first chat software had been popular, I was Bombtrack_Kris. We should all be highly surprised that this blog you're currently perusing is not called Bombtrack Ramblings. Just sayin'.

I was first hooked to that song, then the rest of the album (come on, what kid doesn't love the end to Killing In The Name? Though I'm more partial to the beginning.), and then there was Zack De La Rocha.

Oh, Zack. How I loved him. In school I'd write his name all over my books - as well as Chino Moreno's and other musicians, respectively - often alongside random Rage lyrics. Because, well... the rage is relentless. And I was born with insight and a raised fist. Also? There's nothin' proper about your propaganda. Fools follow rules when the set commands ya. And so forth.

I'm sure these lyrics all over my books would have caused some concern with my teachers, had they been paying attention.

He wanted to free Tibet. I wanted to have his children.

As I got older my Zack love, while still strong, also gave way to my Tom Morello love.

The dude is just awesome. Ask Springsteen, he'll tell ya.

Tom Morello - he's cooler than you.
And so this Rage Against The Machine fandom has been going on for 22 years. Through all albums that followed their self-titled (Yes, I even like the Renegades album - I'm that person), but I always come back to the first. This one. It has constantly stuck with me as an all-time favourite. I wasn't the least bit surprised when I randomly threw the album on the other day, and still knew every word to every song.

Because, as you already know... the rage is relentless.

(And yes... Maynard being on this track does help make it my all-time favourite.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Maybe I'm Just The Thing To Break My Own Fall

Its been awhile since I've posted a blog for Samba Days. They recently sent me a new product they've just launched, called Gift Card Offers - a discounted gift card program for various highly rated restaurants, spas and services.

So I decided to check out Hapa Izakaya, since I'd never been before. I brought along my sister and brother-in-law, and we were not disappointed in the slightest.
Spicy Baja Rolls

First off, I'd like to say that although me and chopsticks have never been friendly (ie - I'm too uncoordinated to be able to actually use them properly. I blame my left-handedness. Shh.), I decided not to wimp out and use a fork.

That's right. For the first time ever, I ate an entire meal with chopsticks. I am horribly un-cultured. And stubborn.

But I did it! Sorta.

Seesters with Sake Punch

As I practiced my chopstick-age (new verb!), we had some drinks - delicious Sake Punch for the girls, organic draught sake on tap for the boy - and ordered some items off of the "Hapa Hour" half price app menu. This was my first-ever izakaya experience, so my sister and brother-in-law made sure we had a little of everything so I could try new things.

Every bit of it was fantastic.

Tuna Avocado Salsa Dip


After the Hapa Hour items, we ordered from the main menu. (Some items we tried that I didn't post photos of were the Gindara, Ika (squid), Beef Tataki, and  Black Sesame Tan Tan Noodle. All delicious.)

Little did we know that we also ordered items that came with mini blowtorches.

Here, the server is lighting up the aptly-named Firecracker Roll.

...and then another one set fire to the Aburi Saba (mackerel).

I might start lighting all of my food on fire, because it's just damn fun to watch.

Although too full to properly think straight, we split some desserts afterward. This is the Matcha Brulee, and the Ichigo Chocolate Fudge behind it.

Overall, my first izakaya experience was awesome. Amazing food, really friendly and fantastic staff, and I even managed to make peace with my evil chopstick nemesis. Nuthin' like progress!

If you'd like to try out Hapa Izakaya with a Samba Days card, visit and check out the selection. Or, grab one in the gift card section at select Rexall, Pharma Plus, Loblaws and Sobeys.

Pretty sure I'm going to order another one soon and go back for more. Wanna come?

Friday, January 10, 2014

I'll Tip My Hat To The New Constitution, Take A Bow For The New Revolution

Up until last year, I did not cook. Refused. Hated it. Somehow managed to stay alive without it (and yes - I live alone.) But that's all changed, and now I cook all the time. Still, sometimes the entire procedure is awkward and hilarious - technically, I'm still learning. 

Oh, you learned how to cook when you were 5? Cool. I'm learning at 30.
Because of said awkwardness, I've decided to blog some of my kitchen activities for a few reasons - one, so you can laugh at my attempts. Two, to document and prove to the non-believers that I AM actually cooking. And three - to show other chicks (and dudes) living alone that you can cook this stuff just for yourself, even when you lack skills or have to improvise ingredients. And I do. Every damn time.

So, today? We're gonna cook a chicken. My first one ever.

I had thought I was being smart, buying chicken breasts, roasting them, freezing them and then thawing them one by one to use in sandwiches, salads, and other crap (a year ago, this would've sounded impossible). But as my sage & trusted food advisor and sister Stephanie told me, it's better to buy a small, whole chicken for cheap, and use every damn bit of it.

So I bought one. And realized had no idea how to cook it.

Using a recipe and tips from said cooking advisor/sister, as well as this recipe here, I got cookin'.

First off... it was traumatizing. I've never really looked at a whole chicken from these angles. It made wonder briefly why I'm not vegetarian. And sadly I made the rookie mistake of naming him George. Oh, George.

Look away. LOOK AWAY!
The recipe calls for a lemon. I didn't have any left. So instead, I put part of a spanish onion and some garlic cloves in the cavity. Yup, the cavity. Shudder. I had to do things to this chicken that you would likely only see in the paid porn your Uncle Roger watches. And this chicken didn't even buy me dinner first. (Though technically he was providing me with a meal or two... ok, I take it back. We're cool, George.)

Next, that guy got the massage of his life. Some olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, some Herbes de Provence because I didn't have whatever the hell the recipe called for .... and again, back to the cavity & more awkward massaging. I feel dirty. But we do gross things for the sake of our inner fat kids.

At least I do.

"You're putting me where?!" Sorry dude.
After being rubbed, herbed & completely violated, the chicken was thrown in the oven at 450 for fifteen minutes. (I don't yet have a roasting pan. I improvised, yet again.) After, I turned it down to 375 and the waiting game began. Meanwhile, I tackle the whole reason I used to hate cooking - the cleanup. And so, I'm a constant cleaner. I clean while I cook and after. Since I'm dealing with George, The Chicken With Potential E. Coli & Salmonella, I disinfected the entire kitchen ASAP. And then took a blowtorch to it.

Germs, guys. Germs. Don't be stupid.

After nearly an hour, the temperature of the chicken is supposed to be 165 degrees. But I don't have a friggin' meat thermometor, no matter how pervy and hilarious its name is. So I tend to slightly overcook sometimes, just to be safe. (And because I like things overcooked, ok? Geez.).

However, this chicken came out completely perfect. I secretly high-fived myself and then it took all my willpower to stop eating the damn thing right then and there. Like the good little girl I am, I put some of the meat in the freezer for future meals. Boom. Preparation. You're welcome, Future Kris!

And here's my George, with a sweet tan from his trip to the oven.

So there ya have it. The Culinary Idiot learned how to cook a chicken, and it actually turned out awesome. (And yes I WILL be making a broth with George's remains, since I use chicken broth in a lot of my dishes. But I won't bother blogging it. You've been spared.)

The rogue bread tag really adds a touch of class to this photo

Until next time. George the Chicken bids you adieu.

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