Sunday, 27 January 2013

She may have lobster marbles, butter cooking's pretty good!


Welcome to the live blog-cast of our butter poaching lobster experience! Sister and I have decided to simultaneously blog from our respective kitchens this fabulous recipe and hilarious read on Deadspin’s Foodspin.

Here we go! 
This is our first live blog ever, where we actually publish as we go. Therefore, you cannot hold the typos against us. We are literate, we are just also trying to poach lobster tails in butter and the same time, and this is complicated. Also related, I am sure there is some sort of fancy way we could publish this as a continuous flow, but I don’t know how to do that. So, you will just have to continue to hit your “refresh” button if you want to follow along with us. Fun! Are you ready, Kelly?

I'm ready! I'll be typing in bold font so that you can tell who is who. Follow me along on Twitter also (@kellllybeth) for further updates. Let's do this!

First things first. I have to quickly scrub up my stove top because dear God, there are sure to be photos taken and I don't want the Twitterverse to see yesterday's bolognese. I also have to get my drink in hand. Tonight I'll be trying a local pale ale from Barley Days which is located in lovely Picton. Awesome! 

Good work Sister, yes, clean up that stove top! I have a nice chilled white wine to drink while we do this, if I can get it together enough to pour myself a glass. First step: 7:01 pm-  My menu is a nice lobster tail with hasselback potatoes and snow peas. Let’s getting started. According to the very wise Albert Burneko, “cram your ego down into a drawer and buy small lobster tails instead of gaudy enormous ones”. Okay Albert, done and done. Luckily on my expedition for lobster, which took me careening around the town to several stores, I finally found exactly two small lobster tails in a Metro. Luckily I am a spinster and am not cooking this meal to impress anyone; thusly my ego was not bruised. 

Extracted flesh.
7:04: My menu is surf and turf: tenderloin cooked in cast iron, lobster tails, and steamed broc. Simple but delish! By the by, I used to work at Red Lobster, y'all. Better watch out. I know my crustaceans. I purchased two lovely rock lobster tails at Farm Boy, my culinary heaven. They have been thawing all afternoon. Now to break out that unsalted butter....

7:07: Oh, also: I don't really understand that instruction about boiling one or two tablespoons of water. That didn't even cover the bottom of my pot. So I did about a quarter of a cup instead. Hoping I haven't destroyed this already. 

7:09: Okay. I have removed the flesh from shell. According to instructions: “The next step is to extract the gelatinous blobs of semi-translucent horror from their shells. This will be much easier (although still a little bit of an annoying chore) if you had the wisdom to buy the kinds of frozen lobster tails that have already had their shells split lengthwise prior to freezing.” 

I did not have previously split shells. This was accomplished with kitchen shears and a knife. And my fingers. And also allowing lobster juice to spray from one end of my kitchen to another. now on to the water in the pot... 
Lobster tail bits

7:12: I have also extracted the meat with some kitchen shears and they look like little aliens. Blechhh. Water is boiling. Time to whisk the bejeesus out of some butter, even though I don't have a whisk. 

7:14- I added white wine instead of water. Yikes. According to the recipe, we start with a tablespoon or two of water in a saucepan. We have been duly warned in the recipe that this will seem ridiculous, and in fact it does. Apparently neither Kelly nor I could do it. But I am also going to add a little minced garlic to the pot, because I feel like it will add flavour and I am bad at following explicit instructions. I hope to God this does not destroy the entire meal. We now add the butter blob by blob and whisk our hearts out. Let’s refer to the recipe: “Four things are very important, here: 1) The heat under your pan must be very low throughout this process (not quite the lowest setting on the stove, but close; you want to keep your butter between 160 and 180 degrees, if possible). 2) The butter you use must be genuinely cold when you add it to the pan. 3) You must add only one tablespoon-or-so-sized hunk of butter at a time. 4) You must not stop whisking for longer than the time it takes you to wag your whisking hand, run it through your hair, and mutter, "I fucking hate this shit." (NB: I am quoting. Sorry for the explicit language. You should note however, the language being used in my kitchen currently is, in fact, far worse. Good thing we didn’t YouTube this.) Things might get quiet here people. Both Kelly and I must whisk. But according to Mummy, who is watching this (Hi mummy!) , Kelly doesn't have a whisk. True or false, sister?

7:20: It's true, I have no whisk. I am using a fork like a loser. Also I am not seeing how this is all that different from melted butter, and how you typed that novel while still whisking is beyond me! I still have one hand in the pot and no typing skills akjsafkasdbaldma.......

7:22: I just copied and pasted from Deadspin most it! Must whisk... 

7:25: Getting nervous. Butter not deep enough yet for my alien creatures. Cripes, why did I only buy one block of butter! #firstworldproblems

7:31- I'm sweating! Also, my butter is not deep enough yet either. 

7:34- I'm doubting my emulsification. Blame it on the garlic?

Lasting longer than Nam. 
7:35: Still whisking....But I admit, the butter does look glorious! 
This is what non-emulsification looks like. 

7:37- Kelly! Your butter is amazing. Mine is nothing like that velvet you've got. Gah. I forgot to buy fresh lemons. What kind of an idiot serves seafood without a fresh lemon! I am mortified but I will have to either use the lemon juice in my fridge or use a fresh lime. I’ll go with the fresh lime. Kell, I bet you did not make this fatal error. Mummy, are you horrified?

7:39: Ha! Bailey I'm worse than you because I fully looked at the lemons in the store and decided I didn't really need them. But at least I didn't add garlic to my velvety butter. Silly girl. 

7:42: My iPhone is too greasy to use! Kelly wins Battle Emulsify. 

7:47: Oh god, my phone is covered in grease, my keyboard is covered in grease, and so is my housecoat. But the lobster tails are in the pool! They are juuuust barely submerged but I literally melted all the butter in the house so I had to proceed. I now have 8 minutes to get my steaks hot and ready! 

7:53- Good lord I am glad I skipped cooking the steak! My potato set off the smoke alarm because I forgot about it! But I have submerged the tails in the butter. Yay! This is happening. We must not touch the tails. We must only allow them to cook. 5-8 minutes. This gives me ample time to swig back some wine.

7:56: Must resist urge to poke and prod tails. 

8:01- I believe my tails are done. Please don't be mad at me, Albert Burneko. I tried.

8:04: So in trying to use my cast iron for the first time, I filled the whole kitchen with smoke and set off the alarm. I also smoked out a mouse, I suppose, since I saw one run past me. This lobster better be worth it. 

Mummy: Um, Ladygirls, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life is to watch this blog and resist the urge to jump in and boss and cajole. I'm only coming on now because there are smoke alarms going off and Kelly seems to be cooking at a hot stove in a flammable housecoat! So I just want to tell the two of you to be careful and also to extend my apologies to Albert on behalf of the girls that cannot follow explicit instructions! I thought your recipe was marvelous and if I weren't deathly allergic to lobster, I would have followed it exactly!

8:12- Hhahahahahahhahahahah Just read the Twitter feed of the REAL chef, @albertburneko.... We have failed him. But I swear it tastes amazing! 

8:15: Trying to think how to turn all this melted butter into a sauce. Add an egg yolk? Hmm...

8:16- Sister? Sister? Did you add an egg yolk?

8:19: I did! But it didn't do anything. In any case, this tastes awesome! My cast iron steaks and butter poached lobster are so fab. Too bad my broccoli is stone cold. Oh well. Can't have it all!
The finished product. Damn, it feels good to be a gangster. 
Bailey's finished product... At least there's wine?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Thai Coconut Curry

           Well. This blog seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about how much I love my neighbourhood. My neighbours are delightful people. I thought we really felt like a community when we were all drinking ales on our balconies this summer, but no, true Canadian community is when you are all out there in your snow suits shovelling your driveway, up to your arses in salt and snow, and cursing the northern hemisphere.

Finished product 
This has been the kind of week where you can’t quite remember what +30C feels like, but you really regret that day in July where you stepped outside and said, “Oh my, it’s TOO hot.” Because you didn’t mean that. You didn’t mean that at all, now that you can remember what thirty below feels like. What you meant to say that day was, “Oh my. Today is a lovely day. I love sweating the second I step outside, because I really hate it when I step outside and my nostrils freeze together.”

But back to my neighbours. Firstly, the couple that lives next door to me are possibly the best neighbours you could ever have. Kelly drinks wine and Erik shovelled my driveway while I was away for Christmas. It doesn’t get any better than that. Erik put salt down and everything, it wasn’t some shoddy job that was half-done. For his trouble, I baked him a chicken potpie.

Now the family that lives across from me, I don’t know anyone’s names, but they are pretty nice too. And one Sunday a few weeks ago, I had a compulsion to attend yoga class at 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Which meant that at 10:15, my car was stuck and I had to get out and try to shovel myself out in my yoga pants. The man across the street could have watched this hilarity from his window and laughed, but instead he came down and pushed my car out all by himself. I was duly impressed and offered free babysitting to him any time he needed it. (Upon reflection, I may have over-extended the generosity there because his children are… energetic.)

This may bring you to the question, “Where were you stuck, Bailey?” Well, I was stuck in my driveway. This is not to speak to the great job Erik had done on the driveway previously. The annoying thing about these Canadian winters is that they can’t just stop at one snowfall. After Erik did the driveway, it continued to snow and I had to deal with it myself. Which brings me to snow shovelling. Now, I am a homeowner. I am a woman of the new millennium. Hear me roar. But I am not a shoveller of snow. This is not a hidden talent of mine that I recently discovered. In my defense, I have made several noble attempts to shovel my driveway. I actually own a shovel. I gear up, I put on my toque, and I even put on snow pants sometimes. In my mind, I can visualise myself moving snow from one place to another. But, this is not the reality of my life. What actually happens is I flice the snow around enough to create several different sizes of snow piles. In my mind, my car can then manoeuvre about the various piles and drive onwards. When I arrive back home, I always have this impression that these piles will have somehow magically removed themselves from my driveway and then my driveway will be clear and I will be a triumphant Canadian driveway-clearer.

If you have a driveway, you likely know this does not happen. What actually happens is that you create ruts in your driveway that, if you are wonderfully accurate with your car navigation, you hit the ruts close enough that you get in the driveway. If you failed your driving test 4 times like I did, you may be unlucky with the navigation and instead get stuck in your very own driveway. Anything can happen, because Canada is not a civilized nation. It is the wilderness, and in Suburbia, it is quite possible to become entrenched in your own driveway.

Now that was a long and roundabout way of getting to this point. Just two days ago, I arrived home, and the driveway had, in fact, magically cleared itself. It was a miracle. I expected to see the face of the Virgin Mary in a snow bank on my lawn, weeping tears of kindness for me. I was all prepared to call the Enquirer when my third neighbour, Andre, told me he had snowblowered (I have been struggling with the past tense of this word all week- snowblowed?) my driveway for me. I nearly ran to his arms I was so happy and grateful. I made him some brownies for his trouble.

Shrimp rice wraps for an appetizers 
What we have learned from all of this is that we should help each other the best we can. While my brute strength is lacking, my cooking skills are not, and I will continue to offer baked goods in exchange for driveway shovelling. Now, if you are a lovely, strong person who shovels your driveway, and the driveway of the elderly woman down the street, you deserve a nice warm meal. Maybe someone wonderful in your neighbourhood shovels your driveway for you. Or gave you some salt. If so, you should cook them a nice warm meal too.

Here is a great Thai Curry recipe that is guaranteed to create some heat for you. You can use shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu for your protein, and it’s totally up to you which curry paste you use. I like green because it tends to be spicier, but red or yellow works too.

You need:
·      Curry paste
·      Protein (shrimp, tofu, beef, chicken, whatever!)
·      Coconut milk
·      Chicken stock
·      Fish sauce
·      Soy sauce
·      Onion
·      Garlic
·      Ginger
·      Various vegetables like bok choy, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. (this is really just a matter of what you like)
·      Fresh cilantro (quite necessary for garnish and flavour)
·      Limes
·      Peanut or sunflower oil
Start with a wok if you have one, otherwise a big and deep fry pan will do. There is going to be a fair amount of liquid in the pan at the end, so just make sure you pot will be deep enough.

Sautéing tofu
If you are using chicken, beef or tofu, we will start by sautéing that. If it’s shrimp you are using, add them at the end so they don’t become overcooked chunks of rubber. Add a little oil in the bottom of your wok and throw in your meat. Cook that (or brown it- just don’t serve it raw and full of botulism, you know what I mean) a little, it doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through until the end. How much you add depends on how spicy you like your food and what curry paste you use. Then add a scoop of curry paste, a few cloves of garlic, grated ginger and an onion sliced. Now you can add your very crispy vegetables and sauté them. When they are soft, add a can of coconut milk and some chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you are making this vegetarian) to cut the broth a little. Add your fish sauce and soy sauce- a few splashes of each.

This will simmer until your meat is cooked and the flavours develop. Right at the end, add fresh cilantro, lime juice, spinach or the leafy bok choy, and you can garnish with some sliced scallions. Serve on a bed of rice or noodles and enjoy! 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes

Honestly, there cannot be a lonelier feeling in the world than being the only football fan in the house. I've been slinking around corners all day trying not to look as though I'm doing nothing but watching football playoffs. Oh sure, I have that fake basket of laundry that I'm carrying all around and folding in front of the television whenever it's 2nd and goal. The Windex and my dusting cloth are positioned right in front of me. And of course I have minimized on my laptop screen at all times so I can check on my tickets that I bet secretly (because we're watching our money). But on the main screen, I have the banking website up and a pile of bills that I'm pretending to pay. I'm on an ice floe, floating aimlessly, likely to perish unless my Patriots get their win.

But when dinner time comes, it really stands out like a sore thumb that I've been remiss in my duties. Okay, I admit it. I didn't get any groceries today because my regular shopping time would have fallen smack dab in the middle of the Seattle/Atlanta game. So I hid behind the sofa peeking out at the TV for most of the afternoon. But I did take out steaks! And during the half time of the early game, I scrounged through the fridge and came up with a plan. Late night onion rings (recipe contained here in the blog) because onion rings go wonderfully with steak. Sauteed red peppers and also twice baked potatoes. Now baked potatoes are so delicious, and I could have left it at that, but I always like to be one up, so we'll take it up a notch! After spending the day being stealth and flying under the radar, I want it to be very obvious that somebody has clearly been cooking and preparing and planning all day long! Hahah so let's do this!

You'll need a potato for each person, and maybe one extra insurance potato because they're so delicious. And also you might drop and smash one on the kitchen floor such as I did after drinking beer all afternoon.
Wrap them individually in tin foil, pierce them with a fork to let the steam escape and bake them for one hour at 400 degrees.

For the filling, you can fry some chopped bacon or pancetta (about 5 slices of bacon) or you can cheat such as I did. I had leftovers from my lovely snack plate I made for myself for the early game, salami and prosciutto, so I chopped that up and fried it in a bit of olive oil just until crispy. You need about 1/2 cup of any grated cheese you like. The more flavourful the better. I used sharp cheddar today, but anything except mozzarella works fine. Also a couple of tablespoons of a chopped fresh herb. Choose one to compliment your cheese and meat. Eg - bacon, cheddar and chive. Today I used chopped rosemary.
1/4 cup of butter, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, a splash of milk or cream, freshly ground pepper and salt to season.

After the potatoes come out of the oven, use an oven mitt to hold in your hand (since they are very hot!) and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato of each one leaving just a 1/4 of an inch attached to the skin to give them enough strength to hold up. (like a boat.) Add all the potato into a mixing bowl and add all of the other ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer until everything is just blended together. Not too much. It's not a cake batter. Now scoop it all back into each of the hollowed out potatoes. Season them with salt and pepper and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on each one. Put them back into the oven on 350 for about 15 or 20 minutes. Voila! So amazing. And you can see how this recipe fit perfectly into my disappearing act because I did the prep and stuffed during the halftime and never missed a play! Enjoy friends!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Epic Meal Time: Let’s Get Shucked Up

(Or, perhaps more accurately, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Kitchen”)

It’s Epic Meal Time, y’all! Better watch out. Tonight I am making a three-course affair: freshly shucked Malpeque oysters on the half shell, a roasted whole duck with honey-sriracha glaze, and spicy Mayan pot au chocolat (because we all survived, after all).

I’m going to live-blog this so you can see what a monumental meal this is going to be. But first of all, it’s been a fabulous day. I started the day with a trip to the beautiful Farm Boy grocery store where I bought my whole duck, my fresh oysters (along with a free demo of how to shuck them), and the fixins for my desserts. Then I went and treated myself to a massage. Just ‘cause I can.

Okay, let’s cook.

Duck is ready to go in the oven
4:45: Arrived home and tackled opening up my duck, which still had giblets and a neck. I was really confused at first; I thought you pulled the neck out of the head side. So I don’t know what piece of waterfowl anatomy I was tugging on for so long, but I finally found the neck inside the cavity. Okay, done.  Next up, I trussed up the legs with twine (but I only had the equivalent of yachting cable, so it looks stupid. Pay no attention to that). With a sharp knife I scored the duck skin in a diamond pattern and then seasoned with salt, pepper, and pats of butter sitting on top. Bird goes in a 375 degree oven in the beautiful new roasting pan that Momma got me!

5:00: It’s break time. A hot shower, a little bit of spiced whisky (rye not?), and some folk music. Bird must roast breast-side up for an hour. I’ll be back.

6:13: Flipped my bird to roast breast side down for an hour, and now starting on my Mayan pot au chocolat. Sit tight.

6:49: Criminy! I’m run ragged and I haven’t even touched an oyster yet! But My Mayan pots are cooking away. I followed the recipe from Dec. 24th’s blog, with the minor addition of a little chili powder to the chocolate mixture, just to make them even fancier! I also heated up some sriracha and honey to make a glaze, but I decided it smelled too spicy so I added a bit of raspberry jam and some bacon fat (we had quite a bit on hand). I figure the extra fat will help crisp up the duck. So I’ve got another 20 minutes until I take out my desserts. Then I’m going to blast the heat to crisp up the duck skin and give it a generous glaze bath. I plan to shuck the oysters while the duck rests. Time for another break!
My pots au chocolat sitting in their water bath

6:52: You may be wondering what I plan to make for side dishes. Originally, it was going to be a savoury quinoa salad and parmesan baked broccoli. But this is already a lot of work. So to hell with it. Steamed broccoli with lemon it is.

7:01: Oh dear. I just forgot that I left my extra glaze simmering on the stove while I got caught up in an old episode of the West Wing. It’s now destroyed. But who cares anyway because it’s time for JEOPARDY!

7:06: Ugh, the anecdote portion of Jeopardy. Mute.

7:20: Well, this had to happen I suppose. I was trying to transfer my pot au chocolat to the freezer for a quick chill. Not picture: molten hot chocolate lava all over my face, clothes, ceiling, cupboards, etc. I think it’s time for another drink.
Chocolate explosion

7:35: Just took a peek while I basted. My duck looks SO BEAUTIFUL!

My own freshly shucked oysters!
8:17: I’m back! The oysters were a bit of a process. I had to both Google and Youtube the shucking method after I broke into a sweat wrestling with them for about fifteen minutes. Apparently my friendly neighbourhood fishmonger’s demo was not sufficient. But everyone, I am telling you, there is NO BETTER FEELING than shucking your first oyster. It’s definitely my proudest kitchen moment so far. That little click as it pops open…magic! As for the actual shucking technique, I’ll make that its own blog post because it’s complicated. We ate them with lemon and a dash of tobasco on a bed of fresh Ontario snow. Delicious, I tell you! Right now I have the broccoli steaming for course number two.

8:49: Wooo! Finished course two and the duck was fab. And so beautiful! I tell ya, there was a time there where I didn’t think she was going to crisp up or brown up at all. But those last 30 minutes changed everything. Although I do think I overcooked it a tad, it was still a hit. I served it on a bed of steamed broccoli with lemon. Simple but great. Now we are having a glass of wine and watching a movie while we wait for dessert!

My beautiful roasted duck on a bed of broccoli and lemon
10:50: Well, we have finished our spicy pot au chocolat and our delicious wine. What a wonderful meal! Can’t wait to see what I’ll be cooking up next. Today at my local grocer I saw young goose for sale! Hmmmm……..

Til next time, friends!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Snack Stadium

It's what we call Wildcard Weekend in the NFL! Four teams will play for a spot in the playoffs and 4 teams have already locked down a spot. It's pretty much as exciting, or more so than Christmas and birthdays put together in my family. Superbowl Sunday is our biggest day of the year by far. And I know we're not alone! We spend every Sunday watching football from September until Superbowl in our team jerseys, drinking, (swearing sometimes) and gambling like drunken sailors! It is so much fun, and we often get a little depressed in February when its all over for another year.

We have what we call "snack" on Sundays. Chili, chicken enchiladas, nachos, chicken wings... Well, you get the idea - Football Food! And since we love to cook and even more so, eat, we really indulge during the 17 weeks of the regular season. So for Superbowl Sunday, I had to come up with something to really bring it up a level from a regular Sunday. So last year I made a "Snack Stadium". Here it is. But I'm in deep, deep trouble this year since the Feds have outlawed the Twinkie. Twinkies were the building blocks to my stadium! I may have to use doughnuts cut in half this year. I'm thinking on it because Superbowl is only 3 weeks away and I don't have an engineering degree, so ideas are most welcome!

You have to start with a good dip. And that will be your playing field. Depending on how many people you're having at your party will determine everything. I used a smaller size aluminum pan for this planning on 12-18 people. Size it up if you're feeding a crowd. Use your favourite layered dip or use this if you like.
Spread a layer of bean dip all over the bottom of the pan. Then a layer of room temperature cream cheese seasoned with a tablespoon of chili powder and a good squeeze of lime juice and some chopped cilantro. Then spread guacamole across the whole pan and this is what will be your playing field. For each end zone, use salsa on one end and cheese dip on the other. This is lots of fun to do! Now put some sour cream into a little sandwich bag and cut off the tip so you can squeeze it to draw your yard lines and write your team names in the end zones. For the goal posts, you need to insert a toothpick into a 1 inch square piece of cheddar cheese. (the cheese will be buried in the dip. It's an anchor to hold them up) and cut a Hot Rod to measure 3 inches and insert it onto the other end of the toothpick. Then toothpick the 2 vertical posts and a cross piece to this. You have to study the photo to get the idea. Use your imagination for the players. I used sausages in the tin and put helmets of black olives on one team and jalapeno slices for the helmets on the other team. Your "field" is finished!

Now here is where I'll miss my Twinkies because I used toothpicks to attach them and build the perimeter of the stadium. So use doughnuts cut in half or cupcakes or whatever you like. The lack of a Twinkie will never be my ruin! Put your playing field dip in the center and work around from there. Add different kinds of chips into the outer perimeter of the dip but inside your walls. Since I had Kelly in town when I built mine last year, and she has computer skills, we printed off little flags and put them on wooden skewers to really dress it up. My family likes to do things BIG and really over the top! And so we did.
The whole idea of this recipe is to just have fun and use your imagination. And I guarantee you that after you make your first snack stadium, you will be called on every year hereafter to be the architect of Superbowl Sunday! Cheers friends! Go Patriots!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A bit o' sobriety... But I'm still fun!

See how close it is to the stove? This was not my brightest moment.
A few weeks ago I had one of those hangovers that you crawl out of around 6:00 pm, dry-mouthed and blinded by the dull glow of your digital clock, swearing you'll never drink again. Usually this pledge lasts until about Thursday at 3:00, when you decide a few ales will go down perfectly fine.

For me, this "never again" statement had been made several times in the few months prior, and this particular time I had just had enough. I'll spare you the sordid details, but on a scale of one to Lindsay Lohan, we're looking at about an eight. The next day shame spirals were of course annoying, but more than anything, I was just sick of feeling like death the entire next day. So, I decided enough was enough and I stopped drinking. (Not entirely- but mostly. Just for the future, if I reference drinking you don't need to worry I dropped out of a twelve step program or anything. I just changed my definition of partying to a two-drink max, and that's only for special occasions. We're talking some major grip-getting is all.)

So anyway, as you may have already deduced, because I have no doubt in your deductive reasoning skills, I chose possibly the worst time of year to jump on the wagon. Holidays = drinking. New Years Eve is basically a girl's excuse to paint her body in sequins, wear something entirely inappropriate for the weather, and drink as much cheap sparkling wine as possible whilst hunting for the perfect Mr. Midnight Kiss. (Which no one will admit to secretly hoping that kiss will actually turn into the perfect relationship and become the basis of a romantic comedy and every hilariously adorb answer to "so how did you guys meet?")

Anyway. My main goal in my quote-unquote sobriety was to still remain fun. I should point out that a huge part of my social image is this party girl thing. I can do a shot off my forehead without touching it with my hands. This is a party trick that blows people's minds. So, this sober girl had some big shoes to fill of the gin-soaked alter ego.

The biggest component in this fun-ness was not to be that a**hole who was the DD the night before who at brunch starts every conversation with the passive-aggressive hilarity of, "Omigod, do you remember when you fell into the DJ booth/made out with that dude/sobbed in the bathroom for an hour because they played your ex's favourite song?" (For the record, I personally have never been a crier in the bathroom. But I've seen many a battle wound tended to in there.) Of COURSE I remember. And if I didn't, why are you reminding me? I always have a mixed feeling of wanting to crawl under the table in shame/wanting to stab that person in the eye with the spicy bean from my breakfast Caesar.

So, I clearly won't be that annoying person. Instead, I will be the DD and actually enjoy my Eggs Benedict at brunch instead of feeling like I might hurl if I have even one look at hollandaise sauce. And I will share this delightful idea of a homemade ice bucket with you. I saw this on Jamie Oliver’s holiday special, and I think I have established my adoration of him in quite a few previous blogs.

Start by cutting the top (just about to where it reaches its full width) off of an (empty, obviously) 2 litre pop bottle. Buy a bottle of a spirit of your choice (I chose bubblegum vodka, because this was a gift and it was pink. I realize only 16-year-old girls would drink this, but for the record I wasn’t buying alcohol for underage children.) Put the alcohol bottle in the empty pop bottle. Now, fill with water and various herbs (almost to the top but not quite). Jamie Oliver used Christmas sprigs of foliage, but I chose herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage. Not only because I grow these in a pot and they are easily accessible, but also because if you use a spirit like gin or vodka, you an actually put these herbs as they de-freeze in your drink for a stylish little mix. Freeze. If you are lucky enough to live in the Great White North, as I do, you can just pop it outside for a few hours. Otherwise, I hope you have a sensibly organized freezer.

Here’s a little tip. Don’t place this anywhere near a heat source as it melts. This will cause it to melt unevenly, and then it will fall and possibly smash your friend’s brand new glass stovetop, which would be an expensive thing to replace in order to save a friendship. Santé!