Tuesday, November 30, 2010

fruit cake recipe

Last week, I was in Virginia visiting family, most especially my Nana.  We have a special arrangement for our matriarch: she spends many months at a time at one of her kids' residences scattered across the globe (Canada, US, UK, Australia and her own home in Bangladesh).  She was supposed to have come to stay with us in September until January, but within five days of landing in VA, she suffered what doctors could only describe as a mild stress attack and was told she was not to travel for at least six months, meaning no excursions north.  Much disappointment ensued.  So, we packed up our car instead and headed down to be with her, even if for a few short days.

Nana is 77 years old.  She doesn't look or act it, but her body must sometimes feel it.  All this jet-setting around the world can't be good for her.  We would gladly have her come live with us, but alas, the Canadian government has a different concept of "family" that doesn't include adoptive grandmothers whom we love and miss dearly. In fact, we pretty much fight for custody.

Since I last saw Nana, things have changed.  I've completely taken over the Holiday baking from Mom and so I knew I'd have to cajole the Christmas Fruit Cake recipe from her.  It's no secret that Nana is the best cook in our family (and possibly the world) but the woman cooks from her head not from a recipe.  Challenge issued.  I asked if I could watch her bake one and then she could watch me bake one.  It was interesting to try and take notes about "pinches" "dashes" and "andaaz" (roughly translated as "know-how")... and I did it.  In all the revelry, however, I did not get to bake one for her approval. 

As I walked out the door to leave for home, Nana hugged me close and whispered to send her a piece.  I told her it wouldn't taste nearly as good as hers and she said that wasn't the point, that she didn't want the cake, she wanted something made by my hands.  At that moment, I was more than prepared to stow her away in our car and bring her away with us, for good.

Today, I began soaking the fruits and nuts in dark rum.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

The full title of this book is Dreams from My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance and was originally published in 1995 (who knew?) by Barack Obama, five years after he had foreshadowed greater things by becoming the first black president of the Harvard Law ReviewOthers have elucidated better than I the fascinating publishing history of this particular work so I won't go into it.

If you, like me, watched the President-Elect on the night of his victory, perhaps you too felt a ridiculous rush of emotion watching him do so.  I had picked up Dreams when I headed to Vegas in September and finished it on a porch in Virginia last week.  At first, I was merely curious to see how this guy came to be.  I mean, he's just so interesting, with his globe-trotting activist-Mom, his Kenyan Dad and his Indonesian stepdad and his many African "aunties" and his struggle to be a "black" man raised predominantly by his white grandparents.  I love that this guy wandered about his youth just like we all did: experimenting, failing, doing stupid things, being a jerk.  It still blows my mind that this guy made it to where he is today.

The writing style can sometimes be a bit formal; for the most part, though, it's accessible and easy to read.  I'm sure much has been glossed over but I can't say that it detracts from the book at all.  If anything, the book is less about Obama himself and more about the perceptions of things: his perceptions of himself, of others; others' perceptions of him; America's perceptions of itself and others, etc.

Yes, it was a bit of a slow read.  I still think it's a worthwhile endeavour, especially for us Canadians.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Stage: Wicked

As with the book, I expected a lot from this production.  I mean, it's just crying out for green glitz and glamour!  While the actors did a phenomenal job of singing - especially Glinda! - I found the staging rather boring (so many empty stage numbers) and the song lyrics a bit, well, underwhelming.  Andrew Lloyd Webber, this is not.  There are some songs I could sing again - okay, really only "Popular" - and I do think I may be reviving my very first Halloween costume.  Would I recommend this?  Not really - not when you can see Lion King or Chicago or something instead.

Regardless, it was a nice way to spend a Wednesday night with the ladies.  And I got a really neat sweatshirt out of it!