Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Practicing My Mom Skills

Right now is a very busy time for my office. Production starts in two weeks, and before that happens, we have to get everything we need to do said production. This means for me a lot of writing of the short blurbs I will soon put in my portfolio, the delights of checking facts that have already been verified by the reporter who wrote the story, and my favourite of all; photo requests. Or, as I describe them to my friends and family as I describe my work day, nagging.

Last week my editor gave me a list of events that she was considering putting in our calendar called, "Hot Dates." She told me that they all needed photos, and to start accumulating them. On Monday we had an editorial meeting, yeah, remember those? We discussed Hot Dates, and the required photos. Laura told me to really get on it this week, and to tell people we needed them by Thursday. This is where the fun really begins.

Asking companies for photos, in many ways, is like being a mom nagging a child. First you've got the ones with selective hearing, or at least, selective e-mail reading/voice mail listening skills. No matter how many times you call/ e-mail/ harass them they refuse to respond, even though you are offering something that will eventually bring them happiness.

Then you have what I like to call the Yesees. As soon as you first contact them they're all, "Oh right away, thank you for the publicity, anything we can do to help, blah, blah, blah," and then they do nothing. The child version of the Yesees I am very familiar with, because I do this often;

"Honey can you clean the kitchen?"


"Great." (Three hours later) "Honey, why didn't you clean the kitchen?"

"You wanted me to clean the kitchen?" - I'm starting to sympathize with my mother here.

There is another version of the Yesees that are even more obnoxious, the Confused Yesees. These people give the same flattering reply, and when I give them my requirements (high resolution, no promo posters, TIFF of JPEG) they do the exact opposite (200 ppi, promo poster as a Ps file, goody) It's like the kid who doesn't hear their mother say, "Do not pour cold water in your grandmothers vase right out of the dishwasher." Guaranteed, when the dishwasher is unloaded, the vase will crack.

This last one is the type I was dealing with today: I had one person who responded with a Yesee response, and then starting asking a ridiculous number of questions. I thought I'd really got through to him, but then he said the files could not be sent from his computer, that his designer wasn't in the office today, that he wasn't sure if he had any images of what I was asking for (which I'd seen on his website), blah, blah, blah. The Excuse Child. It was so ridiculous, I felt like I was talking to a kindergartner.

So tomorrow I am going to go to work again and call the restaurants that are not calling me back. I'll try and think of some really good threats for them to get their attention. Maybe I'll take away their TV privileges, or just deny them free publicity. Then I will laugh about it with my coworkers because they are all so adorably naive.

Man, I cannot wait until I have teenagers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Veggie Tales Vol 3: New Ingredients

For those of you faithful followers (Hi Grannie) I apologize for not posting this yesterday. But for one thing, I was busy, and for another, I could not, for the life of me, think of what to write.

I mean what had happened in the world of vegetarianism this week? Not a lot. I still haven’t eaten tofu, I’m not sure I even will. To be honest, I’m not that fond of it, and I have no plans for my character to eat it anyways.

I did not crack this week, I remained meat-free and am still quite enjoying my veggie ways. This weeks story however, does come from my culinary experiences.

On Saturday afternoon my friend Colleen came over, and we had the idea to make pizza with Janine. Of course it came up that I am not eating meat, so we decided to make two pizzas; one veggie one, and one with salami.

Janine, who reads more cookbooks then me, had a great idea for the veggie pizza, we should put black beans on it.

At first, I was sketchy. Beans on pizza? What was this? But seeing as she said she’d got the idea from a trusted cookbook (Skinny Feasts by Dee Hobsbawn Smith) I went with it. Along with my mushrooms (favourite pizza ingredient) olives and bell peppers, we sprinkled on some black beans.

It was delicious! Seriously, I normally don’t even like black beans, but on pizza they were so good. It was like like a little soft, tasty surprise every time I found one amid the cheese and tomato sauce. I would put them on any pizza.

So that is my vegetarian dining experience for the week. Janine copied some recipes from a magazine I want to try, so maybe next week I will not be pulling your leg when I say I’m going to blog about real vegetarian cooking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Something Funny

I was riding the train to work this morning when I looked up, and laughed. Over my head, among the usual adds for community colleges and identity theft, was an ad that read "Agnostic Gospel Choir Concert."

Is it me or does that seem like a play on words? Aren't agnostics supposed to be undecided as to whether there is a god or not? What is the gospel of agnostics, and more importantly, what does their gospel choir sing about?

All day I've had this thought metriculating at the back of my mind while I imagine what sort of songs an agnostic gospel choir would sing.

Praise be to the all powerful thing we are not even sure is there!
We don't know what you are are but save us from sin that we don't know exists!
We don't know, know, know, oh we don't know!
Hallelujah! That is, if there are angels.

All right, clearly I should not be in an agnostic gospel choir, but seriously, what do they sing about? I'm challenging everyone who reads this blog to try writing an agnostic hymn. Winner gets to lead their own imaginary choir.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Veggie Tales Vol. 2: The Greatest Temptation

So I just finished week two of being vegetarian, and so far, it's going splendidly. I have not slipped up yet, and have actually began to enjoy my non-meat eating ways. I learned this week that Julio's Barrio has several delicious vegetarian options, many of which include portobello mushrooms. Yum! I also explored the non-existent vegetarian options at the Claresholm 7 Eleven, and discovered a delicious vegetarian cafe in Kensington called The Gratitidue Cafe. Try it out even if you're a meat-eater, it's amazing.

Needless to say, I did not get around to experimenting with tofu, but I am hoping to try a bit more veggie cooking of my own in week three. This week my challenge was surprising and harder then I imagined; resisting temptation.

So far I have not found it hard to resist much of the meat offered to me. At most family meals I have just avoided the meat dish, and substituted it with nuts, beans, or eggs. Or go without protein all together. Even on the night my family had steak, I held strong and just enjoyed the mushrooms instead.

Then, on Friday, Janine and I went down to Cardston on a ward temple trip. After going to the temple on Friday night, as usual, Neen and I headed over to our grandparents house, where we would be spending the night before going to Waterton the next day. I love visiting my grandparents. It's such a comforting place to visit because it always stays the same. Everything, including the menu.

Ever since I was a little girl, my grandpa has always made me his specialty; chicken sandwiches. This may sound simple to some of you, but that is simply because you have never eaten Grandpa Redd's Chicken. Our whole family loves the stuff, I can't get enough of it. Really the recipe is quite simple, you boil it with celery stalks, onions, and pepper, and I have tried to imitate it, but there is no way to truly master Grandpa's chicken artistry unless you are Grandpa. I am salivating just thinking about it.

My grandparents both know how I feel about this chicken, and so naturally, Grandpa had a batch ready when we arrived. He and Grandma welcomed us in, asked how we were, and before going to bed, they informed us there was plenty in the kitchen. I suddenly remembered I was a vegetarian, and for a minute, I thought I couldn't resist. I would just have a bit of Grandpa's Chicken. One meal of meat in a month wouldn't hurt, and no one would have to know except Janine. It was GRANDPA REDD CHICKEN for crying out loud. How could I say no? I had never said no to his chicken in my life, surely I wouldn't have to start now.

But then I thought of something; my goal to go an entire month without eating any meat. I thought of the steak I'd turned down, how carefully I'd been planning my lunches for the past two weeks, and the idea of looking back on July 2009 and being able to say proudly and truthfully, "I did not eat meat for an entire month." For some reason, I wanted that more than I wanted the chicken. I'd made a commitment to myself, and I was not going to break it, even for one of my favourite foods in the world.

So I didn't eat the chicken. I had a cheese sandwich instead. Janine got all the chicken she could possibly want and more. And while that chicken continued to tempt me all Saturday, sitting in the fridge looking delicious, I just didn't let myself do it.

Now this is going to make the next two weeks a hundred times easier. If I can say no to Grandpa Redd Chicken, I can do anything! Huzzah!

PS - the first thing I want to eat in two weeks, is Grandpa Redd Chicken.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Veggie Tales Vol. 1: The "Healthy" Stampede

As some of you already know, I've decided to go vegetarian for the month of July. A lot of people have been asking me how this is going so I thought I would add my weekly updates here.

But before I do, I suppose I should explain why I'm doing this. As most readers know, I recently finished the first draft of my first novel, and am now simultaneously preparing it for publication and writing the sequel. One thing I am doing in edits for book 1, is trying to make it better and more relatable. My protagonist is a vegetarian. In order to understand her better, what she eats, how she lives, etc, I am going vegetarian for research purposes. My brother finds this very funny.

I know July actually started a week and a half ago, but I decided to start on Monday so I could just record my progress of four weeks going veggie. Plus I had a family reunion last weekend, I didn't know how easy it would be to suddenly be vegetarian there.

So Monday I started, and so far, I haven't slipped up. There have been a few incidents where I've gone to the fridge, reached for meat, and then suddenly remembered I can't eat it. I was also very worried in starting out that I wouldn't know how to substitute the protein, and get really unhealthy. Here is what I've discovered:

I, like many people, eat way more protein than my body actually needs.

I've read that North Americans actually overestimate how much they need, so a lot of beginner vegetarians fret about this far too much. I've found I feel just fine if I've eaten some grain or nuts.

My dairy consumption has also increased. Usually when I'm craving animal products, I eat a slice of cheese. I've also discovered a renewed love for refried beans, and my mother suggests I should eat more eggs to stay healthy.

To sum up my first week as a vegetarian, I will share my favourite story of going veggie this week.

My friend Colleen, my sister and I went to the Stampede this Tuesday after work. We'd spent some time going on a few of the rides I can stomach, wandered through the stables (my favourite part) and pinpointed the yummy candy apples we wanted to buy on the way out. It was nearly 7, and we were getting hungry. Now here's the thing, I hate Stampede food. While some people find they can indulge in the corn dogs and deep fried jelly beans once a year, I can't stand greasy food at the best of times, let alone in copious amounts at the Stampede. Normally I eat beef on a bun. We'd been looking for food for a few minutes when I remembered I couldn't eat this. Janine and Colleen got their yummy-smelling beef, and I was left looking around going, "Is there anything I can eat here?"

What do you do at the Stampede when you are non-grease eating vegetarian? The answer may seem obvious and depressing: starve. After a few minutes going over the non-existent options, I got frustrated and just declared;

Me: Whatever! I'll just eat when I got home.

Colleen: No, we can't do that. If you don't eat, you'll just get cranky.  (she knows me so well)

Janine: Hey, there's a Mexican stand right there, you could eat nachos. (The idea of corn chips drizzled in syrupy Cheez Wizz makes me pull a ghastly grimace) Or maybe they have a veggie burrito or something.

I check the menu, and sure enough, there is  a vegetarian burrito for the bargain price of $7.50! But it's the only thing we can find, and my stomach is beginning to protest. I shell out the cash, and gain a new appreciation for refried beans. And okay, it's not the greatest thing I've ever eaten, but it filled my stomach until I was eating my candied apple on the way home. Plus, it helped me get to here: 7 days meat-free!

So these are my veggie tales. Tune in next week to hear how I tackled an office lunch, and returned to tofu!