Saturday, February 27, 2010

A different approach to music making

A couple days ago, Melissa and I attended a master class given by Parmela Attariwala on improvisation. This technique is usually only in the realm of popular music, especially jazz, but also blues, rock, and similar genres. However, this class focussed on improvisation in art music. It was fascinating! An entirely new way to approach performance. The main exercises that we did were mostly about completely ignoring the sound you're making and concentrating instead on the sounds your fellow performers are making. A pretty foreign concept to those of us who view sheet music and virtuosity as mother's milk. Aside from that, the improvisation is completely free. We had people playing their various instruments, people vocalizing, some took their instrument apart and played on individual parts, one even used his chair as an instrument! It was all about simply making a sound that reacts to what you hear. An area of music making that I really hope to explore in more depth later on!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Stew with Tomato Sauce

Melissa's dad gave me a gorgeous cookbook for Christmas, the "Bible of authentic Greek cooking". It is an incredible thing; I'm really obsessed with Greece, its culture, its history, its language, and especially its food. I've tried a few recipes from it so far, the first, a sort of really heavy pancake, didn't work out very well, but the second, a braised pork dish, was delectable (I'll probably share it with you soon). This one too was a fantastic dish, although I did modify it pretty liberally. It didn't actually end up turning out as a stew; all the liquid evaporated leaving just intensely flavoured chicken. Still fantastic!

Chicken Stew with Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Vefa's Kitchen

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 lbs chicken, cut into pieces
1 small onion (I used a shallot)
500g fresh tomatoes, pureed; or 400g canned tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the chicken and cook over medium heat, turning frequently for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned all over. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until softened.

Return the chicken to the pan, pour in the tomato puree, add the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and oregano to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce has reached the desired consistency (mine was pretty much gone).

Meanwhile, add the orzo, stock, and butter to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in parmesan cheese.

Serve the chicken with the orzo.

Monday, February 8, 2010


We're back from our long absence! We've been living in the Pit of Despair for the last few weeks:
You see, it has been opera time here at the University of Western Ontario for the past few weeks, and both of us were playing in the pit orchestra for Mozart's Don Giovanni.
It was, above all, an exhausting experience, hence the complete lack of energy for anything else (eg A Tree and Its Leaves). But now it's all over
(the last performance was yesterday) and we're allowed to get back to our more or less regular lives.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Various photos taken by Eric and I

Sunday, January 17, 2010

His/Her Pillows

I am in love with the "his/her" pillow trend right now. They're adorable accents for any room and who says those throw pillows can only stay on your bed! I would definitely curl up on my couch with a good book and that rug hooked beard. Cozy!
(click photos to shop!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cotton Commercial

Why can't all commercials be this amazing? Great music, adorable girl, fantastic clothing, beautiful!

Historical Woodwinds

This is Eric and I in 20 years.
I'm completely in love with the website The Selby and was extremely happy when I came across the page about Joel Robinson and Leslie Ross, historical woodwind makers. The photos are beautiful and I'm especially fond of the video of their organ bicycle (Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima on wheels anyone?)! See the photos here

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies there is. We've made them several times since discovering the recipe last summer, and enjoyed them every time! We found and adapted it from Smitten Kitchen.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

5. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes.

6. Sprinkle a dash of salt over each cookie, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely, or serve warm for an extra special treat.

7. See how long they last!

The sprinkling of salt may seem a little odd, but these cookies have a lot of sugar in them, and we found that the salt added a beautiful little zing. We also tried once to substitute a banana for the eggs, and found it quite scrumptious too. Enjoy!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Secret World of Haute Couture

Last night we watched the BBC documentary about Haute Couture and the secret society of people who can purchase items. It was very interesting, even Eric was glued to the TV-- but don't tell him I said that! Here it is on you tube, it was the only video I could find online and unfortunately it is recorded by someone while they watch it on tv, ha! However, it's better than nothing.

Happy New Years

We hope that everyone had a wonderful new years! Do you have any resolutions this year? I have my old standards of eating healthier but I'm also pushing myself to start up my etsy store. Eric says his resolution is to have none. He thinks he's witty.

- Melissa