Monday, 20 May 2013

10 Great Things About Being Adopted

            May 20 is a special day. 30 years ago today my adoption was finalized and I went home with my new family. I was 16 days old, so I can't recall much of those first 16 days. I'm sure my activities were quite typical of most babies: eat, poop, repeat. I was healthy, but things took time to go through, so I stayed in the hospital. Mom says that the nurses there felt bad for me (waiting to be adopted and all) so they fed me every time I cried. She says I was eating a ridiculous amount of food by the time I went home with her and that I was a diaper-filling machine (cloth diapers- because I'm the asshole who had to be allergic to disposable ones that might make it easier on my parents).
            But that's really all I've got about my first 16 days. We got a little file of information about my birth family (nothing to identify them, just basics like height/hair colour/eye colour and some interests). About seven years ago, I started making contact with my biological mother and we email back and forth and send cards and gifts at birthdays and Christmas. It's a wonderful thing and I'm so happy I chose to contact her!
            Adoption can be a difficult thing to deal with and I certainly had a bit of an issue with it as a child. I saw a counsellor for a while as a small child because Mom thought it was important to discuss our feelings. I had to mature a little before I realized that adoption has nothing to do with abandonment and everything to do with making a difficult emotional choice. Mom always made sure to tell me this, but I had to discover in my own time the gift of adoption. And there are some wonderful things about being adopted- well, they are things I love about being adopted.
1. I chose my own cultural background
"What's your family background?" is a fairly common question asked in school. Sure, in the beginning I said, "Well, my adoptive family is French Canadian so I'm French Canadian." As I got older, I realized that I could give any answer I wanted. No one challenged me when I said, "My biological mother is Cambodian," or "My family is from the Ivory Coast of Africa," because no one wants to call the adopted girl a liar. But when my biological mother and I began talking she told me her family is Scotch-Irish. My reddish-brown hair and freckles seem to fit with that. Sadly, it seems unlikely now that I am of Asian or African descent.
2. Finding out things you have in common
My life is kind of my own adoption study- you know, where you study a child brought up in a different environment and see any common points. And there are common points. Sure, there are the small ones, like my biological mother and I both love Stephen King and we're both short on patience. But there are big ones too. I was the only girl in all 3 of my high school auto shop classes and my maternal biological grandfather had his own garage. Nifty, eh? And then there's my two half brothers: one has a round face and one wears glasses. If you put them both together, they look a lot like me!
3. I never have to fill out "medical history" questionnaires at the doctor's office
Well, I have some of that information now and I fill that in, but mostly I put a big cross through the section and write, "I'm adopted." My body is kinda like an unlabelled can from the supermarket: you never know what's going to be in here! Hey, where did that thyroid cancer come from?
4. I can make many people feel super uncomfortable just by saying "I'm adopted"
People just don't know where to go with this. Most people apologize as though they've brought up a sore point. It's not a sore point to discuss! If I were a religious person, I could paraphrase John 3:16: "For Bio-Mom so loved the world that she gave her only daughter." I think people are a little oversensitive when it comes to adoption- sure, some people would prefer not to discuss their adoption, but those people aren't likely to tell you they're adopted... or write a blog post about it. Ask away!
5. I have an instant connection with clients not raised by their biological parents
I spent nine years working with clients in residential care who could not be cared for by their parents for one reason or another. I never hesitate to discuss my adoption with clients because I get the chance to talk about love and responsible choices.
6. Brother
One of the best parts of adoption is building a new family- and Brother, adopted 2.5 years after me, was a wonderful gift to our family. He and I do not share any biological ties, but he is my brother- not "adopted brother." Brother. It was sheer chance that brought him and I to the same family and I can't imagine having any other sibling in the world!
7. I've got two moms!
Sure, we're talking two completely different mother-daughter relationships, but I still have two moms and they're both wonderful! That makes me pretty freakin' lucky in my books!
8. I get to quiz the men I date about their family histories
There's always an awkward moment early on when I'm getting to know a man when I have to ask some interesting questions about male family members. You know, to ensure I'm not starting a creepy soap opera "I didn't know we were siblings!" relationship. It's always a little uncomfortable to set up, but it's usually good for a laugh.
9. "I was chosen!"
Kids can be cruel. I was always very open about being adopted because it was never a secret in my family- Mom told us from the time we were little, so there was never a heartbreaking conversation where I learned I was adopted (best way to do it, hands down!). Kids would tease me and Mom would tell me, "Your biological mother didn't get rid of you, she gave you to us. You were chosen." Well, that gave me a fat head. The next bully who told me my biological mother didn't want me was hit with, "Well, I was chosen and your parents got STUCK with you!" I know that wasn't the ideal way to make that child feel loved, but you gotta deal with bullies.
10. I know two sides of maternal love
It's true. I know the love of a mother who raised me, not as if I were her own but because I am, adoption or no. I also know the love of a mother who gave birth to a child and made the best decision she could to give that child the brightest future possible. Those are two pretty freakin' amazing gifts! It's almost as if the best part of being adopted is not feeling adopted at all, but feeling as if two families came together to make and raise a baby, despite being separated by genetics and the law.
            It's part of who I am, but it's just a part. I can't imagine growing up any other way. I'm so lucky to have two moms and a whole, big family of great people. I'm lucky to have such a great sense of humour (no doubt inherited from my biological mother and cultivated by my adoptive mother!) because there's no way I get through anything without it! Today is a great day to remember how fortunate I am to have the family I have. Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn't make a "Happy Anniversary of Your Adoption" card and it has yet to be recognized as a gift-giving holiday. I'll keep hoping.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #2: Pizza Buns

            A co-worker of mine said it best: he said that something magical happens when you bake. You begin with a bowl of basic ingredients that often do not taste good individually. Mix them up, put them in the oven, and suddenly you have a delicious treat. Now, you may say that's chemistry, not magic, but I say it's both.
            I've really come to love cooking and baking. I search out new recipes to try and think of things I've never made that I'd really love to try. There has been a lot of time for that in the past six months as I search for a new career and it's been great to have my mom as a guinea pig (though she's a little less adventurous when it comes to food, she's always supportive and willing to try a bite!). I found out I love lentils. I've made a delicious dish with broccoli rabe and polenta. And last night I made pizza buns.
Baking Magic
            Oh boy.
            I've been a huge fan of pizza buns since I worked at a supermarket bakery when I was in high school. Pizza buns were always one of the first items to sell out- and often, they were bought up by the stock boys and other store staff while they were still warm. They are a bit expensive when you think about it- we're talking about $1.75 per bun. And it is just a bun with a little sauce and cheese. But it's a magical bun with a little sauce and cheese.            
            I found an amazing recipe on the amazing Seasons & Suppers blog and they turned out perfect. I mean these were bang on. I made eight and they were gone. Sure, it takes a bit of time to make the dough, let it proof, and bake them but it's worth every second. Look at these- look at them! Try them. Use homemade sauce (lower in sugar) and low-fat cheese if you must. I'll definitely be making these again!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Fifty Word Rant Friday #3

I'd make a helluva 50's housewife. Yesterday I made a delicious brunch, baked 4 dozen chewy lemon cookies, did three sets of dishes, and then made a roast chicken dish. Where's my 50's husband with his pat-on-the-behind-for-a-job-well-done? I'd do it all in pearls and heels, too. Independent woman, 50's style.

Delicious chewy lemon cookies

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #2: A Very Special Mother's Day Edition

            I'm one of those lucky kids who has two moms. Sadly, it's not a fashionable lesbian couple like Ellen and Portia, but a biological mother and an adoptive mother. They're both fabulous women who are strong, intelligent, caring, and wonderful. Mother's Day is a holiday that leaves with me two great women to be thankful for, both of whom have played a huge part in the woman I am today. This special Mother's Day edition of Snapshot Sunday is dedicated to the woman who has raised me from 16 days old and she's the woman I call Mom. 

Mom and I at afternoon tea in Niagara-on-the-Lake on my birthday, May 04, 2013

            My mom is wonderful. All my friends think she is adorable and hilarious- and they're not wrong. She's not always intentionally hilarious. So often, it just slips out. It's not always what she meant to say, but it's usually freakin' gold. In honour of Mother's Day, here are just ten of the hilarious things my Mom has said and done that have brought such joy. There are in no particular order because there's really no way to rank the hilarity- just enjoy!
1. "I'm the adult!"
            This one Mom said to my twenty-seven-year-old brother and I at Christmas. We were discussing sleeping arrangements in her tiny one-bedroom apartment and Brother and I wanted her to sleep in her own bed and not on the pull-out couch. She exclaimed, "I'm the adult!" in an attempt to win the debate. Well, Brother and I lost it. She tried to clarify by telling us, "No, I mean it's my apartment." It was too late. The hilarious damage was done. Even now, if Mom asks me something I sometimes respond with, "Well, you're the adult."
2. Birthday flowers... from my cat?
            I got a delivery on the morning of my birthday. It was a beautiful bouquet of orange and yellow gerbera daisies- signed from my cat. Mom played that coy, adorable, "I have no idea who could have sent these!" before telling me the whole story of picking them out- without the cat's assistance, of course. Adorable.
3. Her obsession with "How's It Made"
            Mom loves this TV show on Discovery channel where they show viewers how various objects are made. It doesn't matter if it's blueberry turnovers or Tiffany-style glass lamps, Mom cannot watch the show without making sounds of awe. It's all, "Ha." "Hmm." "Ooh!" "Neat!" She also wants to make sure that I don't miss anything exciting, so she'll call my attention to the TV to ensure I see how that Inuit snowshoe is laced with hide.
4. Food Network colour commentary
            Mom makes comments while watching Food Network like it's her job. It's like watching football. "Ugh, I hate cilantro!" "Pfft, you think that's eight cups of arugula?" "Those potatoes look awfully lumpy!" "That portion is just too large!"
5. "If it's meant to be, it'll happen."
            Also known as, "If you're meant to get that job/puppy/dress on eBay auction, you'll get it." Infuriating, because she also says, "If you want something, you have to ask for it/pray for it/etc." There is no use explaining to her that these two ideas are contradictory- and more importantly, they make sense to her. I smile and nod, and Mom rolls her eyes because she knows I disagree. It's a thing we have.
6. The Christmas Turkey
            I did all the shopping for Christmas dinner this year and I've never picked out a turkey before (I usually buy a boneless turkey breast since I'm all about the white meat when it comes to poultry). I asked Mom which one to buy and the following conversation ensued:
Mom: I've always bought a utility turkey.
Me: What's that?
Mom: Well, it's a turkey that might be missing a wing or a leg.
Me: You've been feeding us handi-capable turkeys? Do you think our turkeys were veterans?
Brother: I'm not comfortable eating turkey that had a limb amputated due to illness. Mom and I need to discuss the difference between frugality and cheapness.
Mom: *facepalm*
7. The Penguin
            I fell in love with penguins when I saw Billy Madison with Adam Sandler. To this day, I still receive penguin-themed gifts (you'll remember the big, round stuffed penguin that Brother gave me for my birthday this year!). If I imitate the Adam Sandler "Penguin" voice, Mom belly laughs. I used that voice to get pizza takeout back in high school. "Mom, the Penguin wants pizza for dinner." And it worked. Mom still asks me to do that voice- as recently as last week.
8. "South Park"
            Do you know who took Brother and I to see South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut in 1999?  That's right. She regretted the decision during the first musical number, entitled "Uncle F**ka." She covered her eyes and Brother and I roared with laughter. She was a great sport about it- and she loves Cartman so much. It was definitely not her taste, but she took us, suffered in silence, and later told us that was a terrible movie for her to take her children to see (I was about 16 and Brother was about 13). It's a great memory.
9. Her interesting taste in TV and movies
            I'm quite aware of my questionable taste in TV, movies, books, etc. I stick to pretty neutral TV shows when trying to pick a show to watch with Mom. Mom is different. She would really like us to watch a TV show together now and then. Like the night she wanted us to watch some old west movie featuring Patrick Duffy. Or the 8-DVD Christian love story set on the prairies. Or the finale of "The Bachelor" even though she hadn't seen a single other episode that season. Or the Hallmark TV movie that she watched through her fingers when a man injured himself with an axe (it's not Saw- there's no gore...sadly). We can agree on Food Network, "Jeopardy," and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. That's enough, isn't it?
10. "Katie, what's ___?"
            I love that now I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with Mom, as she did when I was a kid. I'm teaching her different things than she taught me, though. We were watching "The Talk" one day with guest Margaret Cho and a word came up that Mom was not familiar with. She turned to me and asked, "Katie, what's camel toe?" I died. And I explained it to her. And she responded with, "That's terrible!" It was gold.
            See? I live with The Unintentional Comedienne. She has no idea how funny she can truly be until we crack up. I'm so lucky to have a great relationship with Mom! As tough as it can be to not have my own place right now, it's wonderful to get to spend some time with Mom. She's certainly getting spoiled today and she deserves every bit of it! Mom has already enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and now we're watching Il Volo's concert DVD Il Volo Takes Flight. I'm going to make a beautiful roast beef dinner and a tasty dessert later. It's the least I can do for her- not only for raising me, but also for giving me tons to laugh about.
            Happy Mother's Day to my favourite reader!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Fifty Word Rant Friday #2

When contestants buy a vowel on "Wheel of Fortune," I get angry. Every. Single. Time. It costs you money! You're doing the other contestants a favour! Just spin the wheel, guess a consonant, and solve the puzzle. "Jeopardy" would eat you alive and Trebek would shame you and your mama.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Award for Best Brother Ever Goes To...

            I got a box in the mail today from my brother for my birthday and could not believe what was in the box! 

You're jelly, right?

1. Candy: My favourite sour candy ever- Fuzzy Peaches. A big bag. Huge. Mom thinks I'm going to share them with her...
2. Umbrella: It's purse-sized and it's zebra print. I love zebra print stuff!
3. Dr. Seuss book: Fox in Socks. I freakin' love me some Seuss and a good rhyme.
4. Stuffy: A huge, round, stuffed penguin with big doe eyes. It's hilarious!
5. Lego: I still have my Lego table from childhood- not because I'm saving it for potential future children, but because I use it as an actual piece of furniture.
            It's awesome that a person can feel like an adult on Saturday at a mature afternoon tea and still enjoy the fantastic fun things from childhood. And I love that my brother, who is two-and-a-half years younger than I am, fully supports this playful, fun side of me.
            So, if you're looking for me this afternoon, you should check the floor in the living room where I will be passed out, snuggling with a penguin, after a sugar rush, Lego playtime, and a storybook.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #1

            I'm a bit of a strange bird. I'm silly and playful. I own a Wii and play "Just Dance" for fun by myself (well, for fun and exercise- the sweat challenges on those games are fantastic!). I still dress up for Halloween. I wear pajamas when I'm at home. I've never liked coffee. One time I was at a friend's house and her six-year-old son was showing me a game on the computer. He wanted to show me a YouTube video, but told me he had to get an adult to use YouTube. It didn't even occur to him that I am an adult.
            Sometimes I don't feel like much of an adult. I mean, I pay my own bills, I've lived on my own, and I finished school. I owe a big 'ole student loan. I turned 30 yesterday. I am an adult, but like that cliché, sometimes I feel like I'm just impersonating an adult and barely getting away with it.
            Yesterday, I felt like an adult. Not because I turned 30 (well, partially that, I suppose). Not because I didn't spend the night drinking with friends and hitting a club (I would have loved to do that too!). Not because I went to a specialty cheese shop and bought a sun-dried tomato and garlic sheep's milk cheddar and some smoked salmon (but I did, and I can't wait to have that for lunch today!). I felt like an adult yesterday because I went to the afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Afternoon tea- for mature ladies only!
            It was beautiful! Antique furniture, clotted cream, matching china- just amazing! Ladies sitting around, chatting politely, and I didn't curse or use toilet language even once! We drank tea, ate tiny sandwiches, cooed over cute little desserts, and I felt like an adult. AND I ENJOYED IT! That is pretty impressive! It usually takes income tax season to make me feel like an adult and certainly not in any enjoyable manner. It was a wonderful afternoon and a fantastic birthday surprise.
            What makes you feel like an adult?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Fifty Word Rant Friday #1

"If they wanted to change, they could." No, people who are gay/lesbian/transgendered/etc. don't choose to be so. I can see how you might have a tough time believing this since you choose to be ignorant. Quit judging and root for love and acceptance in all its forms. #bornthisway #straightbutnotnarrow #loveisallyouneed

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Most Awkwardly Hilarious First Date Ever

             Sometimes something happens to you and you wish that it could be documented in something other than your memory. You just know that when you tell the story to your friends that words just can't do it justice. The people who hear the story will not understand the depth and importance of this very moment you experienced. That does not mean you don't tell that story over and over. You can't help but share these moments because they are unbelievable. I had one of these unbelievable moments at a Boston Pizza on a first date. I've probably told the story a hundred times and it just never gets old.
            I can't remember the man's name, so we'll call him Joe. The fact that I can't remember his name but I can remember every ridiculous thing he said is just one more thing I love about this memory! Joe and I met on Plenty of Fish, a dating website, and exchanged a few messages before making plans to meet at Boston Pizza one Saturday night at 8pm. Joe sent a few text messages around 6pm telling me he might be a little late because he was out of town, but that he would text me when he was in town. No problem. Until it's 9:30pm and he finally says, "How about 10pm?" I was dressed and starving by this point, so I called a cab and met him at the restaurant.
            He looked relatively normal and had even worn a dress shirt for the occasion. We had the initial conversations about our jobs and gave our drink orders. When the server came back to take our food orders, I ordered an appetizer and he ordered nothing. "I ate on the way back into town around 8pm," he said. So here he was, drinking a glass of water and I had a strawberry margarita and cactus cut potatoes. I told myself it's fine, but I still picked at my appetizer so his first impression of me did not involve watching me hoover down a plate of fried potatoes. A delicious plate of fried potatoes. The best part of the evening, aside from the hilarious things that came out of Joe's mouth.
            Joe asked me about some of my interests on my dating profile, including my love of cooking. "I don't even know how to cook," he said. He told me he mostly eats take-out or convenience food at home. I talked about some of my favourite things to cook and told him I preferred to cook at work because of the larger kitchen and great kitchen utensils.
            "Oh, I have a wonderful kitchen in my condo," Joe said. "I may not cook, but I always buy the best of everything. All my pots are Paderno and I have chef's knives and blah-blah-blah. You would love to cook at my place."
            "Sure," I told him. "It does sound wonderful." I tell him about my hand-me-down pots and pans from my mother and grandmother. They work great, but I really do enjoy cooking for other people so preparing meals at work is fun.
            "So you could do all the cooking for me and my roommate and I could clean up! I love to clean," Joe explained.
            "Roommate?" I let the part about being a personal chef to a man and his roommate go. That shit was just too much.
            "Yes, I bought my condo and my 45-year-old friend needed a place to live. He moved in and pays rent- almost pays my entire mortgage!"
            "You don't split the bills?" Nice guy, this Joe, ripping off his friend.
            "No, he doesn't know. He's a good guy. I don't have a car so he's going to pick me up tonight."
            "That's really nice of him. Sounds like a good guy," I said.
            "So, I want to try something different tonight. I'm just going to lay everything on the table and see how you take it. Is that okay?"
            "Sounds interesting. I'm game!" I said, terrified at what he was going to say but also intrigued, like a driver slowing down as he passes a car wreck on the highway.
            "Well, I have O.C.D. Are you familiar with this?" Joe asked.
            I explained to him that I had worked with clients with O.C.D. and had studied it.
            "I've got a real issue with things being clean and neat," Joe explained. "Like, the blanket on my bed has to stay on my bed. I would never take it out to the living room and use it on the couch. And my walk-in closet. Everything in there is clean. I can't have anyone go in my closet."
            "Fascinating. There doesn't happen to be a locked crate full of knives in your closet like on 'Dexter?'" I asked facetiously.
            "No, I just don't want anyone in my closet," Joe laughed.
            At this point, I want to mess with that closet so freakin' much. I imagine cooking him and his creepy old roommate a delicious meal just so I could sneak into the closet to see what's in there and then poop on the floor in the closet. I mean, I would never poop in someone's closet, but you know my mind goes strange places. I'm really curious at this point and I want to see this closet. Is it really just a closet, or is the pole to the Batcave in there? Is it really just a closet, or it is a panic room like in that Jodie Foster movie?
            "Any other things you are particular about?" I asked, still smiling about what I would do to this man's closet.
            "Can I just say that you are curvy like Katy Perry and I really like it?" Joe replied.
            Katy Perry, if you're reading this, I'm so sorry about this comparison. We are not shaped anything alike and I'm sorry he went there. It made me laugh out loud. I didn't gently blush and say thank you like a lady because that is the last thing I am.
            "Bwahaha! What?" I exclaimed.
            "No, really!" Joe said.
            "Well, thanks," I said, trying to get a hold of myself. "So what else are you particular about, Joe?"
            "I don't like cats, and I know you have a cat, so we would never spend any time at your apartment. I hate cat hair getting on my clothes. I always have to have the best of everything. I told you about my pots and pans- I spend money and get the very best. I buy the best clothes and the best shoes. Your engagement ring would be the biggest and most expensive of any of your friends' rings," Joe smiled.
            No shit. Not "my future fiancée's ring." My engagement ring. Most bizarre comment a man could come out with on a first date which, quite honestly, is awkward as hell so far. He's not eating, was two hours late, won't let me in his closet, and wants me to cook for him and his roommate. I responded the only way I knew how.
            "This necklace I'm wearing I bought at Wal-Mart for $9. I'm not the kind of girl who wants the best of everything," I told him.
            Joe was genuinely bothered by this statement and tried to explain why I deserve the best. We fumbled through the rest of the conversation and though he called the next day to make plans- and I really wanted to see his closet- we did not see each other again. It was for the best.
            I'd have terrorized that man- intentionally and unintentionally. I would never have pooped in his closet, but I would have left things in there, like an orange or a box of tampons. I would not want to hang out at his condo and cook for him and his roommate, even if Joe did the dishes. I would buy cheap flip-flops and those items from the meat department that are 50% off because the "best before" date is tomorrow. And the cat hair- oh, the cat hair.
            While I respect his method of laying it all out, I've got to say I prefer the usual way of dating: where you're both on your best behaviour on the first date and not plotting ways to explore and defile his walk-in closet. This is the only first date I've ever been on that I wish had been videotaped- I'm sure I didn't convey even 50% of the awkward and hilarious nature of this date with these words. I sometimes wonder if he was even serious. Maybe he took one look at me, decided I wasn't a candidate, and thought, "I am going to give her a great story to tell her friends!" I've never thought this way on a date, but I've often thought it a great public service to do something so funny or odd that strangers go home and tell stories about me that start with, "You won't believe what this woman did at the gas station today!"
            Wherever Joe is today, he should know that this was, hands down, the weirdest first date in my dating history. I still wonder what's in that damned closet.

Friday, 19 April 2013

10 Things I Didn't Do Before 30

            30 is one of those landmark ages that you either can't wait to hit- or more likely, you dread. I can't say I'm dreading my 30th birthday two weeks from now, but I'm certainly not planning a party either. It's a time to take stock of where you are in life and determine where you want to be. We all occasionally feel the pressure to keep up with the people around us. I've felt this. You see your friends around you moving along quite nicely with their lives and you may feel like you're always getting ready to live your life, but not really living. Then you come across ridiculous online lists of things people say you simply must do before you turn 30, as if 30 is some door that closes out things you can no longer do.
1. Find a life partner
It's never even been close. Unless my cat, Sweet Pea, is my life partner, in which case I found her in January 2011. Maybe this one is yet to be determined.
2. Start a family
And thank goodness for this one, actually. While science and my biological clock tell me my childbearing years are dwindling as I approach 30, my brain tells me I'm not quite ready for someone to call me "Mommy."
3. Buy a home
What do I know about mortgages and plumbing disasters? I'm a liberal arts student! Renting is where it's at. Sleeping on other people's couches- not so much. Working on that.
4. Pay off student loans
Geez, I graduated at 29! Barring a lottery win there's no way I could have paid this off in a year. My statistics professor always told me that the lottery is a tax on stupid people, so I just can't bring myself to buy tickets. My mom says, "You can't win if you don't buy a ticket." They're both right.
5. Get in peak physical condition
Not yet. I'll never run a marathon, but I'll keep trying to be healthy. It does seem a shame to get in shape and then consider having a child. That must have sucked for Jessica Simpson, but at least Weight Watchers paid her to lose weight. I'm doing this shit pro-bono.
6. Go backpacking somewhere exotic
I'm not a backpacker. I'd move to a lovely country and stay there, but I've seen all the Hostel films and even though my rational brain tells me they aren't real there is no way I can convince myself it's safe to backpack. Yes, tell me I'm missing out. I'm all right to miss out on this one.
7. Go blonde
Oh man. If I could go Gwen Stefani blonde and have a hairstylist take care of it for me I'd try it. I wore a blonde/pink Nicki Minaj wig last Halloween and I sort of loved the blonde on me. Sure, it might look a little bizarre with my freckles, but my makeup artist would take care of that (if we're going to dream, dream big).
8. Find my dream job
I've worked at jobs that I have really enjoyed in the past ten years. I haven't found my niche quite yet, but I know I will. I don't have to have it all figured out by the time I turn 30. I should probably have a handle on this by 35, though.
9. Become fully bilingual
"But you had 12 years of French language education and did very well in your courses!" Yup. But you should know that French classes in Ontario don't get you anywhere near bilingual. You need a French word search done? You want to conjugate irregular verbs? Sure. You want me to read a recipe written in French? I can muddle through. You want me to have a conversation with someone in French? Nope. I wish. I'd have an upper-level government job by now.
10. Get a Masters degree
Technically, I could be finishing up a M.A. right now. I did finish my B.A. a year ago. I wasn't ready for grad school yet. I'm still not. My Latin professor told me not to do my M.A. at any school that wasn't going to pay for it for me and I think that's wonderful advice. I certainly can't afford any more student loans (see above!).
            Who needs the pressure of a list of someone else's priorities? Yes, these are ten pretty great goals, but why would I live my life according to someone else's timeline? My life, my timeline. And you know what? Most importantly, there are a number of things I did do before I turned 30 that I am so glad I've achieved.
1. Lived on my own
Yes, I had roommates in college, but I've lived on my own for years now. I've enjoyed years of watching what I want to watch on my very own couch while not sharing Doritos with a roommate or partner. I love my space. There's only a short number of years when you're young when you can sit alone watching TV in your underpants and I worry about people who don't know that simple pleasure.
2. Fell in love
I didn't think it would happen for me, but it did. And it ended. And I survived. Most boring romantic comedy idea in history, but a realistic love story.
3. Moved across country
There's nothing like an exciting 1000-mile move to bring you new adventures and new friends! It was terrifying initially- I can't lie- but it was one of the best decisions of my life.
4. Took belly dance classes
One of my very favourite hobbies- I know everyone says it, but it's easy to fit in active time if you love what you're doing. I love to shake my groove thang. I love Middle Eastern music. And most importantly, I love the jingly sound of a beautiful hip scarf.
5. Adopted a cat from the SPCA
I wanted a kitten, but you fall for the one meant for you. She's outlasted two relationships- she's not going anywhere. If you have cat allergies you can't handle, find another potential girlfriend.
6. Took two vacations to the Caribbean with my best gal pals
I went to the Dominican Republic once and Cuba once. I never thought I'd like lying on a beach all day (I'm way too fair for sitting in the sun!), but give me a shady spot, a few great books, and a bucket of SPF 30 and I'm set.
7. Obtained my B.A.
I never wanted to go to university, but after working for a few years I realized that I would need a B.A. to affect any real changes. I've now realized I'll probably need more than that, but this is a good start and I loved so many of my classes and professors.
8. Studied Latin
A philosophy professor once told me, "If you want your argument to sound intelligent, insert some Latin." I loved my Latin classes and I had a wonderful professor. Plus, Latin helped me whoop an ex-boyfriend's brother at Cranium (I'm not a competitive girl, but when someone underestimates me I have to feed it to them) and really helps with my "Jeopardy" playing.
9. Mastered making a killer risotto
After being inspired from a wonderful college friend and her delicious risotto, I had to try making my own. Nailed it. It's a new favourite!
10. Got a tattoo
I went with two college roommates and we all got one. It was a great experience and I've been wanting another tattoo for the past 10 years- lots of ideas, but nothing concrete. Every time I watch one of those tattoo shows I worry about ending up with something hideous and hopeless.
            Most important to me is my list of things to do before I turn 31: find a wonderful career, rent a great apartment, and be happy with a consistent routine of work, sleep, healthy activity, and social outings. That's my timeline. Don't feel pressured to take belly dance classes and I won't feel pressured to get married. I won't rag on you for not taking Latin and you don't give me trouble for not being able to carry on a conversation in French. I'm doing things in my own damn time and you should too.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

My Fantasy Celebrity BFF

            I've moved a few times in the past five years and I've got friends all over. None of them live where I'm staying right now during my job search and I'm missing them terribly! When I was messaging a friend on Facebook the other day, I mentioned that I was missing my social life and imagining celebrity BFFs (best friends forever) who would love me if we just could meet. To be clear, I could never replace my actual friends with anyone, male or female. But from time to time, I discover a celebrity with whom I feel a certain kinship.
            Actually, I'd love to have my own Paris Hilton type BFF reality show. I know we've talked about my wish to have a new version of "The Bachelorette" with people who aren't lame and boring, but this is a much better idea. I would start with ten celebrities and each week we'd do all sorts of best friend activities (of my choosing, of course!). Maybe one week we would go to Clay Cafe and paint piggy banks. Another week we'd go to my favourite bar in Toronto- Crocodile Rock- and see who could get "Jook Gal" played for me first. There would be a big twist at the end where the final two contestants would both be my new BFFs and then we'd get a TV contract for our very own sitcom. You know you'd watch the crap out of that.
            But first, you should know that narrowing down this list to just ten celebrities was a daunting task. There are so many great people who could make this list, but I think I've got a pretty fine group here. The series premiere would be freakin' amazing. We'd get Alex Trebek to host because he would announce little interesting facts through the episode and this would be my "in" for "Celebrity Jeopardy," which I would rule as long as they didn't put me up against James Franco or Natalie Portman or something (those two smartypants did not make the list, but not for any specific reason). Without further ado, here's the list of celebrity BFFs in no specific order (you know, assuming they agree to be on the show and I can't imagine anyone not wanting to be on the show). You can click on their names and see what I consider to be their audition- it was all I needed to see to know they were right for my BFF show!
Lovely Ladies
            I missed her once she left "The Office" and just discovered "The Mindy Project" last week. I watched every episode within a few days and couldn't get enough. Her character is saucy, funny, and a mess. Mindy has mad comedic writing skills. We could write our own sitcom if she wins and save so much on hiring other writers who would be way less funny than she and I put together. We would hire amazing actors and have hilarious adventures.
            She steals the screen with her amazing comedic talents in Bridesmaids, but it was the trailer for Pitch Perfect which really made me realize how perfect she and I would be together. The accent is killer too- and anyone who knows me knows I love a good accent. And she has mad flow. I'm pretty sure we could be the new Salt-N-Pepa- and we'd be even more awesome than she and Ellen because we'd go with "Push It."
            Filthy and hilarious. She says things that make me giggle and worry that if there was a hell that I'd be going there. Of course, she'd be there too so we could hang out. She taught me one of life's more important lessons: you don't need two reasons when doody is involved. We would say inappropriate things that make my mom roll her eyes and exclaim both my first and middle names. Plus, she could show me the fountain of youth because that woman is gorgeous.
            The woman is a food goddess. I'd make her confess how she eats such rich, delicious foods and keeps such a trim figure. We'd cook together and raid the fridge after everyone else is in bed. I don't know so much about her comedic timing, so if she wins we would consider doing a cooking show instead. (In the video linked to her name, she makes a chocolate cloud cake- I made my own at Easter and it is delicious! You should definitely make this!)
            I love that there is an adjective that was created just for her: adorkable. And she is. We both have bangs and blue eyes. She could help me find that perfect polka dot skirt. We would make up funny songs together while wearing matching flannel pajamas. We'd talk about kissing Will Ferrell and how she is definitely the hottest Deschanel sister even though I love "Bones." And I know she knows all about me. In the second season episode of "New Girl" entitled "Katie," her character says, "Katie knows how the sausage gets made" and "Katie's got some pretty dark needs." She already knows me.
Genial Gentlemen
            He was the first name that came to mind when I started this list. It might be because I've watched about a thousand episodes of "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" on Food Network since I moved back to Ontario, but it's also that adorable spiky hair , his sense of humour, and the thought of taking to the open road in his convertible and eating amazing food. He could also introduce me to real Mexican food since Taco Bell does not count (sorry guys, it's delicious, but it doesn't count). I bet he'd be blown away by my pulled pork!
            Raw stand-up, yet can be tamed for an Adam Sandler movie for kids- that's pretty much exactly who I am. I mean, he has the history of addiction and romantic entanglements that I do not, but that's neither here nor there. He's funny, he wears tiny pants, and that British accent again- am I right? I'm pretty sure any show that he star in would have to be on HBO. Imagine us bumping elbows with the cast of "True Blood," "Girls," or "Game of Thrones." Classy.
            Conan has the late night show I have always wanted. Of course, I'd do things a little differently. Conan would be my sidekick, we'd wear flannel pajamas, and every celebrity interview would take place in my bed. You're never watching Conan from a desk wearing heels after midnight (prove me wrong- pics, or it didn't happen). Celebrities would love coming to our show, getting to wear comfy pajamas, and just lounging in my bed. Conan, of course, would still have rocking hair. I would style my bangs exactly the same as his.
            "House." Stuart Little. "Fry and Laurie." Yet another hilarious Brit makes the list! My Monday nights just aren't the same without "House" and I can only imagine the shenanigans Hugh and I could get up to writing funny little sketches and walking around with canes saying terribly mean and sarcastic- but true- things.
            Alas, the only Canadian on my list! Seth is funny, sexy, and real. He can write and he can act. Most importantly, he can make his hair do that crazy, curly, messy thing. I wish we could go back in time and get Seth Rogen from Knocked Up, though. Health be damned, chubby Seth is where it's at. Maybe Guy and Nigella can fatten him up during the show. He and I would play hours of "You Know How I Know You're Gay" and our sitcom would be the hilarious true story of how we fall in love on a BFF show and get married in Vegas.
            I haven't worked out the logistics of the show quite yet. I mean, how will I get this show off the ground? Twitter is a great tool for reaching out to celebrities. I tweeted John Catucci of "You Gotta Eat Here" on Food Network last week and he actually responded. I felt super excited and he immediately became one of the alternates for my BFF show, along with Snoop Lion, The Lonely Island, and Lindsay Lohan (the girl seriously needs a straight-up BFF who will kick her ass and love her enough to put her in one of those serious rehab places- I could do that). Finding a celebrity BFF isn't all about the celebrity perks, you know. It's about finding a serious BFF and being real friends. Or, finding two celebrity BFFs and getting my own sitcom with my own not-so-celebrity friends as guest stars. I wouldn't forget about all of my favourite people just because I'd be hanging with my hilarious new BFFs. Oh yes, "Katie's Celebrity BFF" would be just the beginning.
            Who do you want as your celebrity BFF? Who would you vote for to be my celebrity BFF? Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or on Twitter- look to the right of this post to find the links!

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Should I have graduated with a fiancé and a B.A.?

            Susan Patton from the 1977 class at Princeton wrote a letter to The Princetonian student paper explaining that the best advice to Ivy League women is to focus on finding a fiancé before graduating. To be fair to Patton, I want to emphasize that she says this is important because well-educated women are at a disadvantage in finding mates because men tend to marry younger women who are less educated than they are. She worries that educated women may end up settling for husbands who do not challenge them intellectually. She suggests that smart women have "priced [themselves] out of the market."
            We may have.
            Sure, I'm not Ivy League educated, but I was educated at two Canadian universities. I'm a pretty clever girl. I've dated men from different educational backgrounds, but never a classmate in university. Here's the thing, though: I'm pretty sure I can find intelligent men outside of my alma mater. I mean, there are even super clever guys who didn't even go to university. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both dropped out of college.
            Patton got some things right, though. I can't imagine dating someone who isn't on par with me intellectually. It's so important to me that I meet a man who will watch "Jeopardy" with me and not get all pissy when I call out the answers. I would definitely want a life partner who could challenge me intellectually.
            But here are the problems with Patton's advice.
            First off, it's not 1977. Advice that she wishes she had received more than 40 years ago isn't necessarily advice that today's young women need. Sure, there are lots of professional women who lament not having a family, but for every one of those women there are hundreds of young women who put relationships first and skipped higher education. You only have to watch one episode of "16 and Pregnant" (oh, don't judge me!) to see young women who struggle with prioritizing education and raising a child at the same time.
            Women aren't marrying as young as they used to- if they choose to marry at all. We travel, live on our own, buy homes, and live single girl lives longer than ever before. We have relationships, but we're not rushing into marriage because we can take care of ourselves. When I was 18, I dated a 23-year-old man who told me, "Well, I'm done college, my grandparents are giving me their house, what do you think about marriage?" Ah, no! I hadn't moved out of my mom's house, gone to college, travelled, or lived yet. I was nowhere near ready to settle down (and certainly not with him, but that's beside the point!).
            I'll be 30 in a month (a bone-chilling thought!) and I'm still striving for some of those single girl goals. University was not a time to be looking for a fiancé- it was way too early! If it happens, it happens- but it's not 1977. We're not limited to dating the people in our immediate social/professional circles. We're not marrying the boy down the street- we're dating people we meet at work, at social events, and online. We are meeting people we never would have met pre-Internet. I can narrow down my search by looking for university-educated men or look for a witty profile of a man who I think would challenge me. So if I'm looking for a man who is my intellectual equal I don't have to hop in a time machine and head back to university.
            And I wouldn't want to head back to university. When I enrolled, it was after 3 years of college and another 3 years of working full-time. I was 24-years-old. My freshman classmates were mostly 17 or 18-years-old and I can tell you that that six year gap is a big age gap. I was not looking to attend social events with people the same age as clients I had just finished working with at the group home before starting university. I was too old for that crap. I wanted potluck dinners and quiet nights at a classy wine bar. I lived in a nice apartment by myself because I could not imagine living with roommates in student housing once again. I worked full-time to pay for that nice apartment. I was busy with very different things between classes than my classmates.
            Patton discusses age as a barrier to dating in university as well. She states that since men tend to date women younger than they are, freshman women must begin the search immediately since by fourth year they will have only one class of potential fiancés to choose from. Now, barring the issue that a woman couldn't possibly date a younger man (J.Lo and Casper?), age can be a bit of a factor. I certainly felt way too old to be dating classmates the age of former clients. The man I dated for most of my university career was older than many of my professors. Of course, dating professors is against the rules. (Wait, what about former students? I may need to Facebook some former profs!)
            To put a four-year expiration date on dating is a scary thought to a nearly 30-year-old woman. Is Patton suggesting that since I didn't find a suitable mate in university that I'll end up having to settle for a slack-jawed yokel? Her target audience, current Princeton women who are mostly between 18 and 22, don't need this sort of scare tactic. There is no way a woman at age 22 in 2013 needs to feel as though she'll never find her future partner because she wasted her university years studying, volunteering, working, and making lifelong friendships. You have way more than four years to find someone just right for you.
            And who is to say that the person who is just right for you has a post-secondary education? I mentioned above two super clever men without degrees: Jobs and Gates. Doesn't Patton's letter sound just the slightest bit elitist? Of course, by "slightest bit" I mean "Holy shit." I've been to both college and university here in Canada and I can tell you I studied with idiots from all the institutions I attended. A fancy, framed piece of paper does not indicate you are an intelligent person, just that you attended and passed. We all know this but somehow we still buy into this credential society idea. Yes, there are certain careers in which I would prefer a person to have a degree- like my doctor. But does my degree in philosophy tell you I'm intelligent, or does it just tell you that I wasn't too focused on a specific career path after graduation?
            We all know there are different kinds of smarts. We tell this to children when they fail a math test or can't hit a baseball. "Oh honey, but you're so good at telling stories!" It's not a silly consolation, but rather a matter of fact. If you eliminate from your dating pool everyone without a higher education, you'd eliminate great people like Abraham Lincoln, Jay-Z, Walt Disney, Lucille Ball, and Drew Barrymore. (The fact that three of these people are dead is neither here nor there!) Patton fails to understand that there are so many types of intelligence and the only thing you'll achieve with this elitist attitude is a pared down dating pool filled with Ivy League snobs.
            CTV News in Canada introduced her story by saying something to the effect of, "Patton states that women in university should be looking for a husband instead of focusing on their studies." That isn't what she said at all. She suggests that women multitask, prioritizing finding a relationship right alongside getting a higher education. I think that the general message is a good one: all people should strive for a well-rounded life. Patton didn't exactly support her argument well (and for me, as a philosophy graduate, it's all about a well-supported argument) and that is where this message fails. She's right to say that it's never right to settle for less than you want in a relationship, but she's wrong to assume that your university is the best place to find what you're looking for.
            My advice to Princeton women would be to take in the spirit of Patton's message, but don't look too closely at the specifics. Get your education, get to know lots of people, and don't stress about finding a fiancé by age 22. You've got some good years left in you yet- I know this because I do too.

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Reader Questions #1

     Who doesn't like interesting questions? My favourite game show, "Jeopardy," is all about the questions. A good question will tell you as much about a person as a good answer. Philosophy is all about asking questions, but it's also about douchy answers. I prefer to stick with non-douchy answers. I'll try to do so below with our very first set of Reader Questions. It's very exciting to have questions to answer since I'm always so filled with questions to ask. I'm one of those strange people who enjoys filling out forms and questionnaires. I love being asked questions! Once, my aunt asked me over the phone, "An M.P. [member of Canadian parliament] used a term the other day and I didn't know what it meant. Katie, what's a MILF?" Yup, amazing, right? I love a good question! I can't share them all at once, but I've chosen a couple of good ones to answer below in our first ever Reader Questions.

Do you like people taking pictures of you?
Signed, Posing in Peterborough

      You know, I love posing for pictures. I love the idea of having a forever-frozen memory of a great moment. I take hundreds of pictures. I like to share cute pictures of my cat, pictures of food I've prepared (as you've seen in previous posts), and pictures of friends (though I often forget to actually take pictures when I'm out with friends!).

      Here's the thing.

      I'm not terribly photogenic. It's not that I'm not cute- I'm definitely cute when I put a little effort in. Pictures of me just don't accurately convey that cuteness. A guy I worked with once asked me why 50% of my Facebook pictures were of my cat. I told him there were two reasons: my cat can't take pictures of me since she can't operate the camera and she's far more photogenic than I am (except for one picture which makes me laugh every time I see it). I make weird, rubber faces without realizing it (I do this in conversation as well, but no one regularly documents my conversation in photos, thank goodness!). What can a girl do? Embrace it and remember that every one of these pictures documents a great moment and a wonderful memory in rubber faces, crooked eyes, and hilarious body language. I'm a party in a photo. So yeah, snap a picture- and be sure to post it on Facebook and tag me in it.

When bad pictures happen to cute girls

 I like to call this one Sweet Pea's "Come here, Sailor!" look

What book are you reading right now?
Signed, Reading in Regina

      I just finished Of Matters Great and Small (1975) by Isaac Asimov. I'm only too aware of how few things I really know- especially since I'm a liberal arts major- so I love reading non-fiction books to learn new things. I tend to have these strong urges for learning when I'm out of school for more than two weeks, so I try to keep a small stock of pre-loved books on my bookshelf. When I moved to Ontario, I didn't pack any books. I got a few for Christmas, but they were fiction and a cookbook (all wonderful books!). Luckily, there is an amazing used bookstore downtown and I visited a few weeks ago. Even more fortunate, the bookstore was having a 50% off sale for the entire month of March! Since I'm on a tight (almost non-existent) budget I bought five books for $12.50: three Asimov essay collections (I've got a couple of these in storage and I love them!), one Carl Sagan novel, and one Stephen Hawking novel.

      These wonderful, affordable finds should keep me busy for a while. I can't devour science and mathematics quite as quickly as a Stephen King novel. Next up, I'll be reading the Sagan novel The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977). If I ever go back to school, I'd love to study science, perhaps evolutionary biology. I should choose some sort of technology, but the brain wants what it wants! Clearly, I've gone with this sentiment before- check out the philosophy degree in the box in the storage closet.

Asimov makes science fun!
How do you motivate yourself to keep writing when no one is leaving comments or sharing the links?
Signed, Curious in Calgary

      This one is easy. I like to write. I enjoy coming up with ideas. I like having that spark and having an outlet. It's great to have a place to share my ideas. For most of my adult life, I've written things that I had to write: papers for school and reports for work. I've enjoyed this writing, but it's nice to choose my own topics and write for myself.

      I also thought that this blog might be a great tool for me someday. I've looked at job ads that have asked for a writing portfolio and I never had that, aside from school papers. I think it would be pretty interesting to have a whole array of posts with different topics to share with a potential employer. Right? I mean, if you want to read my Bataille paper I'll send you a copy. I can write a mock incident report or Plan of Care to share. This blog is a demonstration of a more generalized writing style- not to mention that I don't get to share my sense of humour in school papers or work reports very often.

      So, if other people are reading (and you are reading- Blogspot tells me how many reads each post receives) that's a bonus. If people were to love my blog so much that they feel a burning urge to comment and share my blog with their friends, well, that would be the icing on the cake. Imagine this blog is a delicious chocolate cake- and remember that chocolate cake always tastes best with icing. Don't be stingy with the icing.

      I hope the Reader Questions keep coming so we can all share in this- feel free to post them right here on the blog or on the blog's Facebook page. Remember, you can post them anonymously on the blog! If you've got a question you've been aching to ask me, send it in!

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

How to look like a highfalutin chef with a delicious and easy risotto recipe

            Risotto is one of those dishes I always wanted to make but I thought it was impossibly difficult. It sounds fancy- there's no way to say risotto and not sound like a fancy pants. I went to dinner at some friends' house in January and they served me a delicious dinner of roast chicken, green beans, and risotto. I knew I had to have it again! I came home and began to do some online research to find a recipe that sounded right- and not too difficult. And you know what? It's not that difficult. It is, however, time consuming. You can't walk away from the stove. Risotto, like my cat, commands your full attention on its own terms. Chef Michael Smith gave me the basic proportions and I've added my own flavours, as he encourages on his television cooking shows on Food Network.

  • 9 cups of chicken broth (I've used a few different types of chicken broth, but I'd suggest you always stick with a low sodium broth- you could use veggie or beef broth too!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used canola because that's what's in the cupboard)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup minced onions (about two small onions)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (I like to grate mine, but you can mince it)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice (you'll find it in the rice section of the grocery store, I swear!)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used white cooking wine from the grocery store because I'm on a budget, but you use whatever white wine you like!)
  • pepper to taste (I've never needed to add salt because the broth is often salty enough)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I've used provolone or Parmesan and they've both been incredible)
  • a fun stir-in: I've used sautéed cremini mushrooms or frozen peas and they've both been fantastic!
Use a giant pot to bring your chicken broth to a simmer. You want it to be hot when you add it to the rice later so that you don't cool down the rice when you add the liquid.

In a deep skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat just until they're soft, but not browned. 

Stir the rice into the onions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about three minutes. The rice will go from clear to opaque and that's how you know you're ready to begin adding liquid. 

Add the wine to the rice and stir it in, allowing the alcohol to cook off for about five minutes  while you stir. You need to make sure you cook off the alcohol because you want the wine flavour, not the alcohol taste! (Unless you do, ya boozer, but don't say I didn't warn you!) Feel free to swig a drink of wine from the bottle, but I wouldn't suggest this if you're using cooking wine like I did. Not so tasty!

Now, you can start adding the broth, one cup at a time, to the rice. Make sure you stir the rice and allow each cup of broth to be absorbed before you add more broth. Yes, this is the time consuming part. Don't leave the stove. Stir, stir, stir. I chose to stir while I talked on the phone and that kept me entertained. But seriously, be patient. Stirring and slowly adding the broth is what will make the risotto creamy and delicious. If you don't want to stand over the stove, make Minute Rice instead. On second thought, don't ever make Minute Rice. Ever. Microwave a package of Uncle Ben's rice if you must. That Minute Rice stuff isn't even real rice, you know. This risotto is the real deal, and the real deal will take about 20 minutes from the time you add the first cup of broth. Taste it to make sure the grains are cooked.

When the risotto is cooked, take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese. I used a cup of grated Parmesan cheese here- actual Parmesan cheese, not the stuff in the can. But I'm not snooty. That stuff is tasty, too. Use a cheese that makes you happy!

I decided to jazz my risotto up with sautéed cremini mushrooms, so I used a little oil and browned the mushrooms up nicely before adding them to the risotto.

            Michael Smith says this recipe makes enough for four main dishes or six to eight side dishes. I've only ever used it as a side dish and it definitely could serve eight people! You can refrigerate leftovers and enjoy the risotto for a couple of days.

            And enjoy it you will. I promise. You can take the basic proportions of rice to liquid and switch it up however you like by choosing different broths, cheeses, and stir-ins. If you've got a fantastic idea for a delicious stir-in, please leave it in a comment below. I'd love to keep trying new ideas and new flavours! Let me know what you think when you try out this fantastic recipe from a great Canadian chef... oh, and Michael Smith!

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.