Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Witches of Quogue Return - Part Four - Absence Makes Steve's Beard Grow Longer

As with all good things....they must come to an end. If you are one of my faithful readers I'm sure you are thinking to in hell can a one week holiday (45 minutes by air to the destination) turn into a War and Peace style four part novel? Do you know me? I am blessed with the ability to have explainable occurences everywhere I go.  Most of you realize that I can't leave the United States without searching for some of my beloved discontinued items. On the evening before I was scheduled to leave the tranquil surroundings of the Hamptons, I asked my niece if we could make a quick stop at the local Rite-Aid to look for my Revlon SPF 25 Sport Makeup that is no longer available in Toronto. We both went in to look around...they didn't have my stuff but we couldn't leave without posing for pictures. My photo shoot took place caressing the Christmas Cookies and my niece....well...her shoot took place showcasing her addiction to Coke. This all took place while my nephew and the baby waited outside in the car - starving.

We continued on to one of the local haunts we had visited back in the Summer. Tony's Asian Fusion Restaurant. They serve the most amazing dish I have ever tasted - Boneless (yes Boneless) BBQ Ribs. Mr. G. on the other hand is more of a noodle man and loves the Cantonese Chow Mein. From time to time he is also likes to visit the other tables in the restaurant to make sure everyone is enjoying their meals - "A Wandering Jew".

After dinner, I decided to do my online check-in and boarding pass. My flight was booked to depart from La Guardia at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday while my niece and nephew's flight was leaving at 10:30 a.m. As you can see, that's a long lag between flights so I thought it may be a good idea to check if there was an available seat so that I could accompany them home. This is what I found - Air Canada - Economy Class - $704 to purchase while an upgrade to an Executive Class seat was priced at $264. Was there anything to think about here? NO. I made a quick call to the airline, switched my flight and looked forward to the experience of being pampered in First Class for my 45 minutes of flying time.

So what are some of the perks of flying "First Class"? :

Private Check-in Area (for me, Michael (Kors) and Louis (the Fooey)
Priority Bag Tags (this means you don't have to watch everyone's black suitcases go around in circles for a half hour until yours come out)
Larger Comfy Seats ( Some aircraft have seats that convert into lounge beds - which I wouldn't sleep in because I don't close my eyes onboard in case the Captain needs me for anything)
Wider Arm Rests (for people with wide arms?)
More Leg Room (so that I can stretch my legs and look at my new boots from Target)
Welcome Cocktail (which I don't drink)
Lots of free booze (which I don't drink)
Choice of "Gourmet" meals (which I will definitely eat)
Daily newspaper (which I don't read)
Free Headphones (which I don't need)
Attentive Flight Attendants (My personal Air Bitchezzzzz)

Here's the story. I boarded the airplane which was the same "puddle jumper" I flew in the Summer. There are about nine seats in first class configured like this - Two, Two and Two on the right side of the plane and One, One and One on the left side. I was in a single seat in the last row of this part of the cabin. Basically I was situated near the curtain that separates US from THE REST. I placed my coat up in the overhead compartment while trying to maneouver Michael and Fooey beside my feet. I was psyched to be catered to for the duration of my 45 minute flight. Meantime, back in coach, my niece, nephew and Mr. G. were settling in for the journey. I planned on visiting them during the journey but not until I was tired of being "attended to". I didn't want to miss any of the good stuff by walking through the curtains.

I sat and waited for Round One of First Class treatment. As if on cue, my air bitch approached with a hot towel to freshen us up for the "long" journey. She then returned with a silver tray that held some plastic glasses filled with orange juice and champagne. Hmmm...this was good....the spoiling had started and we hadn't even taken off yet. This was definitely the only way to travel. Once we started down the runway and gained momentum it came to mind that I had no one beside me to squeeze for held on tight to Michael and kicked Fooey as we lifted off the ground. Waiting for more spoiling as the seatbelt light turned off I could smell something baking in the galley. I was imagining that the First Class AB's (Air Bitches) were preparing a full breakfast for me - eggs, pancakes,sausage, bacon....perhaps a fresh croissant with homemade preserves......steaming hot coffee and then maybe another HOT towel to wipe off the stickiness of the jelly? This is what I got instead. A cup of coffee and a slice of Banana Bread - A jail meal. I finished the piece of bread in 5 seconds and went past the curtain to visit my family in row 22. I was expecting to find the baby sound asleep in the arms of my niece. They usually travel back and forth from New York to Toronto in this fashion. At takeoff, he falls asleep and when landing he wakes up. The perfect child to travel with......what I found was a bit different from the scene described above.

I found him with a mouthful of crackers and a set of rockstar sunglasses on .....not exactly out like a light. I also noticed that he was in the arms of his father and not his mother. The balance of the flight was as follows.....once he spotted his Auntie D. and became aware that I was on the same flight as he was all hell broke loose. He would not sleep, he would not sit still and best of all he became "stiff legged" when it was time to buckle up and land. The new rules for travelling with this kid are....we need to board the plane in disguise and he is not allowed to be seated anywhere near his father or for that matter any relative but his birth mother.                                                 

I managed to steal him for a few minutes to give his parents a break and went back to my seat beyond the curtain. The AB's thought he was the cutest and gave him a piece of First Class Banana Bread....without even having to pay for an upgrade. Once I deposited him back to the arms of his waiting parents I returned to the solace of my seat. I reflected on the past week. The food, the fun, the dancing we did with Mr. G. and oh the shopping! It was a wonderful holiday with great memories. I also couldn't help but think how much I missed my husband. I know he was working hard during the time I was away and I also know that he missed me by the tone of loneliness in his emails. I was looking forward to seeing him at the airport when we arrived. I left Steve in good hands, under the watchful eyes of YO, MO and FO. I knew that my four men would be just fine for the short time I was away (especially when you equip them with the three C's - CASH, CAR and CREDIT CARDS. We landed on time at YYZ and I made my way to the retrieve my PB's (Priority Bags) - which were already off and spinning around on the carousel. We flew through Customs without any effort. I was excited to see Steve waiting beyond the big frosted glass doors that preclude the waiting public from the arriving passengers. As we exited the doors my niece said "are you sure Steve is here to pick you up? I don't see him". I looked around and didn't see him either.....fearing that he may be circling the parking loop I reached for my blackberry to call him when I saw a strange looking man sauntering over towards me. The man looked like a cross between Snoop Dogg and Shaun White. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder....I'm not sure what transpired here but I do know kids are lousy babysitters.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Witches of Quogue Return - Part Three - Iron Chef Hamptons

Three weeks prior to the trip my niece emailed us a MEAL itinerary. When we visit her "HOTEL", there is always a masterplan. One part of the plan is to COOK and subsequently to consume the FOOD that is prepared. There was also a request to recreate some of my mother's famous recipes. My mother is an old fashioned type of cook. There are no precise recipes associated with her food. A Yiddish word that describes this type of cooking?

"SHITTERYNE"  (pronounced SHIT- ER-EYEN) - To cook without a recipe and yes it's okay to say SHIT in the Yiddish language.  Add a little of this, a little of that, a little of something else, without measuring. That does not in any way mean that your cooking is SHITTY it just means that you are in a culinary class on it's own. To make a recipe without precise measurements means that you are more than a CHEF it means that you are a SUPERIOR COOK OF THE WORLD.

The problem with these types of recipes is that you must learn them practically. You need to stand by the curator of these guarded secrets to watch, learn and listen. Closely paying attention to technique while having the stamina to deal with failure should you reach the point of no return when the result is disasterous. So when Anita and I arrived at our destination we knew that we were in for a good time. First thing on the agenda was a trip to a roadside produce stand and next we made our way to the Stop and Shop. I call it a Groceria without all the essential groceries. There are missing food items on shelves........not that the shelves are empty.....they just don't carry the same products that they do in Canada. Strange but true.

I always thought we had less food options than our American cousins but I was wrong. I had to bring a few things with me in order to recreate the intricate recipes we were about to embark on. One of which was Dr. Oetker's Vanilla Sugar. I soon learned that there are other grocery items that are only available in Canada. Here's a list:

Ketchup, Dill Pickle and All Dressed Chips
Lipton Vegetable Soup
Telma - Chicken Soup Powder
Mushroom Soup mix
Coleslaw Salad Dressing
Walnut Crumbs
VH Honey Garlic Sauce
Kraft Poppyseed Dressing
Neal Brother's Mango Poppyseed Dressing
Diana Sauces
Areo, Coffee Crisp & Smarties???? Yes...Smarties !

G-d Bless America and the Shipping and Handling costs associated with bringing in these goods online from us Canucks.

So we began our Iron Chef Hamptons journey with a series of cooking lessons. I was taught how to make "no knead" bread in a few simple steps and my niece was taught how to make Apple Strudel, Chicken Soup, Homemade Egg Noodles and Matzo Balls. Instructional videos available upon request.
Our taste tester was none other then Mr. G. who couldn't wait to try our homemade goodies. The true compliment was....he didn't throw it on the floor and better yet....didn't spit it out. He also tends to "wear" his food beautifully.

My days were filled with anticipation as Thanksgiving approached. I was not experienced in celebrating this holiday over the border. It is held on the 4th Thursday in November in the United States and commemorates a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims. Any excuse to have a feast is fine by me. My niece on the other hand (Born in Canada but an American Immigrant) looks at this holiday as a time to showcase her culinary skills. Each year we receive pictures of her Thanksgiving Turkey. It is truly the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. Her tablescape is always magnificent. Her side dishes adorn the main featherless attraction and her goal is to make it the best Thanksgiving meal EVER. Our invitation to participate was extended in the Summer when we were visiting her for the first time in her new home. "YOU MUST COME FOR THANKSGIVING, I HAVE TO MAKE YOU A TURKEY", she said excitedly! So we booked the Turkey Run back to the Hamptons and counted the days until November 25th.

The day began with preparations. Please note: My niece weighs less then the Turkey so lifting and handling that sucker is more than a feat for someone who is a size double zero. She began by performing a standard medical procedure - a TURKEYLOSCOPY. This entails removing the entrails from the turkey's tuchas (bum). Once the entrails are removed and examined for good measure I noticed that she was discarding the Turkey's neck. "What are you doing with that neck"!, I asked. "Uh, throwing it away", she answered. I then informed her that turkey necks are a delicacy and that she should consider cooking it with the turkey. "Are you going to eat it", she asked? "Hell ya", I told her. So she appeased me by placing it in the roasting pan with the giant bird. A turkey is not much different than a small child. It needs to be washed, dressed and babysat for at least 4 to 5 hours at a given time.
Once your turkey baby is basted over and over it is time for the bird to be lifted out of the oven and plated....then you have to dress it up as if it is going down the Red Carpet or in this case the Green Carpet. This is the stage where the incredible double zero Hulk grabs the roasting pan and hoists it from the oven onto the counter top. We stare at it in awe as my nephew then runs to his computer to Google " 100 Ways to Carve a Turkey Without Dropping it on The Floor" (while your guests are starving). In the meantime, the Iron Chefs, Grandparents and main attraction (Tilly the Turkey) get dressed for the event. We quickly changed from our "cooking clothes" to our "eating clothes". The Red Carpet was rolled out and we readied ourselves for a photo-op with the leading actors in the show. The Turkey AND The Turkey Neck. 
I title this grouping of pictures: A Rockwell Thanksgiving - Turkeys with Turkey

Hamptons Style Turkey
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sausage Stuffing
Scalloped Potatoes
Cornbread Pudding
Green Bean Casserole
Pumpkin Cheescake
Apple Strudel
Tablescape by Little Miss Party Planner
Napkins folded by your truly (another video is availabe upon request for this too)


Twas the night of Thanksgiving
It was time for some living
The Table was set
With a meal we could not forget
We changed our clothes
For the opportunity to pose
When candles were lit
We were told where to sit
We all had to wait
While Grandpa Stu licked his plate

Once the dishes were done
There was a football game to be won.
We lit the fire and together sat back
Waiting for the gas pains to attack
When there were none to be had
We were all really glad
With leftovers galore
and family out the door....
our hostess naturally hit the floor.
Please stay tuned for Part Four.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Witches of Quogue Return - PART TWO - Shop til ya drop

Retail Therapy (Definition) - shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as a "comfort buy".

As I mentioned in PART ONE - the only item I intended to purchase while in the HAMPTONS was a frying pan. An odd purchase but there is a reason behind it. I have issues with Non-Stick pans. I've never been able to find one that is NON-STICK. Oh sure, it's non-stick when you first peel the T-Fal sticker off and place it on your stove for the initial omelete making practice round but after that everything STICKS. Last year Steve took me to Caynes (the Super Housewares Store). I could stay in Caynes for hours looking at Knicks and touching all the Knacks. Going with Steve it is a whole different shopping experience. Gone are the days that he used to follow me around like a lost puppy - lovingly sniffing my leg and brushing up beside me to see what I was purchasing. Now it goes something like this:

SCENE ONE - Prior to reaching our Shopping Destination

Steve - " Are you going to be long"

Me - "I haven't arrived there yet so I can't give you that information"

Steve - "I am only going to be in the store for 5 minutes and then I'm going to the car to have a nap"

Me - "that sounds good to me".

Steve - "Don't be too long, I have things to do".

Me - "Like what"?

Steve - "Like oiling my motorcyle engine"

Me - "I will hurry....I wouldn't want you to be delayed in oiling your engines"


I am still inside the store


Steve is in the car sleeping with the radio on


I reach the car and wake Steve by banging on the window


Steve shakes the sleep out of his head, puts the key in the ignition and the car won't start.
Why? Because the battery died while he was sleeping in the car with the radio on.


Roadside Assistance is alerted to our location


Steve blames me for the car not starting because I took too long in the store.


When Steve suggested we go to Caynes together is was a complete surprise to me. I am usually the one to go there by myself to RELAX and enjoy looking at items I don't need and will not fit on my countertop. There was a method to Steve's madness this time around. He WANTED to be patient. He WANTED me to chose things I liked.  He wanted to not have to THINK about a present and this was an easy way to get me an anniversary gift WITHOUT having to wrap it.

This is what transpires after years of buying gifts for your SOULmate:

YEAR ONE = Small jewellery items because in new relationships the male counterpart is unsure if he should invest BIG

YEAR TWO to FIVE = larger jewellery items because he was sure if he didn't invest BIG I would have found someone who will

YEAR FIVE to SEVEN = Jewellery items slowly dissipate in exchange for clothing items and gift cards

YEAR SEVEN to NINE = Replacements for Year One jewellery items that were too small to see without a magnifying glass during the initial investment stage

YEAR NINE to PRESENT = mixing bowls and a non-stick skillet

Romantic eh?

So standing in the non-stick aisle of Caynes we were given a lesson in high end frying pans with ecological benefits. The salesperson (who is also one of the owners) sold us on a medium sized pan that was guaranteed to be THE WORLD'S BEST non-sticker. It was and still is a beauty. $69.99 for a PAN.
We made our first omelet in it - it didn't stick - we made our second omelet in it - it stuck. The PAN now resides in the darkness of the furthest cove in the cupboard amongst all the other imposter non-stickers.

My niece pulled out a yellow non-stick pan when we came to visit her in the Summer. She placed two eggs in it as I watched in awe..... they slipped and slid all over the pan. How much are these pans you ask? $11 at Home Goods. I immediately asked her to take me there where I purchased them in two sizes. Large and Small.

My goal was to get three extra frying pans when I returned for Thanksgiving.

When I arrived at Home Goods I ran to the shelf that housed my "miracle" pans. What I found was this....ONE medium frying pan amongst all the frying pans that I have in my cupboard.  It was REDUCED TO CLEAR.  I wanted THREE but then sales lady in the Home Goods Apron gave me the news....THESE FRYING PANS HAVE BEEN.........DISCONTINUED.

We continued our retail therapy by going to the.....

OUTLETS & TARGET. A place where Mr. G. is very used to and loves. He has helped his mom shop there on many occasions and is more patient than Steve in the Knick Knack aisle. I found a ton of goodies - from lipglosses to sequin tops to leather boots it made up for the lack of non-stick frying pans in the small town of Quogue.

On day two we ventured to South Hampton where the therapy got a bit pricier. Designer boutiques were a far cry from TARGET. As we walked along the streets of this quaint part of town we lost Anita when she ducked into the Michael Kors Store. Let me make this perfectly clear...I had no intention of going in. My philosophy on designer wear is this.......why buy one when I can have twenty for the same price. It seemed that Anita was taking a bit longer than expected so my niece and I took Mr. G. to see what was going on in the Kors store. As we browsed about I came across a purse that caught my eye. Before I took the a look at the price I asked my niece what she thought of it. "Auntie D. it's stunning", she said.

And it was.....
Chocolate brown. Soft. Chains........mmmmm........I was smitten....and the price?
"Affordable Designer Luxury".......but was I going to purchase this item for myself?

Here's the answer.......

no....but I couldn't forget Michael....he was there on a shelf...he was calling my name....
My past record shows that I usually end up with an imitation of what I really want.
For example, my fake Louis Vuitton travel bag which I have lovingly nicknamed...... my Fooey.
Knowing that this was the famous BLACK FRIDAY week I made a decision to leave the purse behind and check back in a few days to see if it was going to be marked down. Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season - similar to the Canadian Boxing Day. Prices are slashed everywhere EXCEPT as I discovered - at Michael Kors. The price was still the same........still affordable but I didn't want to have my niece drive out of her way to go back to South Hampton. We needed to think practically here. I wanted to buy a belated birthday gift for Mr. G. so I traded Michael Kors for a trip to Toys R Us.
Mr. G. got a Red Wagon, a Rock and Roll Elmo and Auntie D. didn't get a Michael. But I was okay with that. I focused on packing my purchases from the week while my niece and nephew went on a visit to a so-called friend who "just had twins". During their absence I played with Mr. G., fed him lunch and called Steve to see how he was doing without me. I was on the phone when my niece and nephew returned from their faux outting. Steve then proceeded to ask to speak to my niece who then proceeded to hand me back the phone. Steve asked me to play "hot and cold" with him as he guided me through the house towards the basement. I am less than thrilled with basements as they have scared me since I was a kid. Nonetheless I played along with him to keep him amused. As I switched on the light to go down to the basement...there at the bottom of the stairs lay a cream colored box in a bag......and the name on the box was......


It seemed that my husband and my niece initiated this secret purchase plot after I told him that I saw my dream bag.

The moral of the story is.......even after the pan schtick my future still holds romance.... and......
I now sit here in the company of Michael (Kors) and Louis (the Fooey). Two men who say nothing but look good. 
Happy life Happy wife.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Season Two - The Witches of Quogue Return - Part One

Let me ask you a quick question. Did you miss me? I did.

As you may have noticed, my "narsbar life" went on hiatus while I was consumed with a few projects over the past 3 months. During the time I was BLOGLESS I contemplated different career paths should my current stint in politics run its course.  Here were my top 10 choices and the pros and cons of these possible employment opportunites:

1. Cocktail lounge singer. 
Pros: I get to wear sequins and false eyelashes (even in the daytime)
Cons: I hate cocktails and can't sing.

2. Carpenter
Pros: I get to work with tools all day
Cons: I can't unscrew a bottle cap let alone build a house

3. Ice Cream taster
Pros: I like ice cream
Cons: I only like one flavour and it's fattening

4. Easter Egg Decorator
Pros: I would clearly fulfill my spiritual desire for arts and crafts
Cons: It's a seasonal job

5. Radio City Rockette
Pros: Dancing with a bunch of cloned bitches for a living
Cons: My legs are not the right dimension

6. Psychologist
Pros: I get to work with tools all day and don't have to build anything
Cons: I get to work with tools all day and don't GET to build anything

7. Fortune Cookie Author
Pros: Writing brillliant quotes on miniscule pieces of paper
Cons: Having someone reading your quotes and adding "IN BED" at the end of each one

8. Private Detective
Pros: Hiding and seeking
Cons: Finding and telling

9. Customs Agent
Pros: Watching people squirm
Cons: Sifting through dirty laundry (not much different that I'm doing now)

and my top choice

10. Television Weather Girl
Pros: Steve will watch me every 10 minutes as he is ADDICTED to the Weather Channel
Cons: Steve will continue being addicted to the weather channel

On October 25th I confirmed that my possible career choices were put on hold and I'm not quitting (or being booted out of my day job).... in other words.....we got re-elected.

It was a relief but the stress had gotten out of hand and I needed a break. We had planned another trip to the Hamptons to visit my niece, nephew and their baby. The reason for this visit was two-fold:
1. I needed a new frying pan
2. I needed to experience an American Thanksgiving

So I packed my suitcase (large and light), took one of my closest friends from the office and hopped on a plane to NYC.

It seemed like we were just there but it four months had past since our last visit. Steve was planning on joining me there but had to change his plans due to work related issues plus he also wanted to try to watch the 216th repeat of his favorite movie -Top Gun.
We arrived in Quogue with some of the original cast from our Season One blog but we now had a new member joining us - Anita. Our week was mapped out with a multitude of cooking,eating and shopping projects.

Not to mention some quality time with the baby. My niece needed to attend two events during our stay. One was a baby shower and the other was a pre-school registration back in the City. Anita and I were more than willing to spend time with the little guy. How bad could it be? After all...I was a seasoned parent and Anita was a baby magnet. On day one of "Babysitters in Paradise", we tried watching Sesame Street with the little angel. After sitting on Auntie Anita and Auntie Debs lap for exactly 28 seconds the "angel" got restless. What transpired next was not premeditated and in no way punishable by law because..... I did NOT drop the baby.

After the dangling incident we moved on to feeding and changing. Remember something I have had three of my own children...the problem is...I can't remember how and why I took care of them so I needed to practice again. Anita took charge and we soon discovered that the "Angel" preferred to throw his food on the floor rather than eat it from his plate. Fearing the worst (that the child would go to bed hungry) we instated the 5 second rule. If it's picked up off the ground within 5 seconds it's still a viable comodity and can be consumed without fear of being poisoned. At one point we had the "Angel" eating right out of our hands. Simple zoo concept method.

 Once dinner was over it was time for the "adults" to get cooking. Meanwhile back in the kitchen "Angel" thought it would be fun to ransack his mother's cupboards. We were not certain if this was on the "ALLOWED LIST OF THINGS TO DO" but desperate times require desperate measures and besides "Angel's mother wasn't around.

Once we tuckered the Angel G. Man out it was time for some rest and relaxation by the Big Screen. Our fee for babysitting was cheap - we wanted to watch Sex and the City II on the Movie Network while sipping SleepyTime Tea and eating biscuits. Tomorrow was another day.........