Right now I am living the dream, people. That’s right, it’s end-of-the-year list time! Every magazine you pick up, every website, every blog every everything has got some sort of list going on right now. It’s “best of” time and “top ten” time, and everything gets rated! Movies, books, technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, you name it, it’s all listed there for you. Not to mention dead celebrities. But, um, that one isn’t quite the yippee-hooray list, is it? You know how the papers put in a list of who died this year? That’s a bit creepy, in a way. But anyway, it’s list time and this year is even more exciting because it’s also the end of the decade. So we also get the “best of” the decade! Lists upon lists, I tell you! And look! Here’s another one:
The UIG’s Top Whatever of 2009 or maybe the whole damned decade, depending
I read up a storm in 2009, I truly did. Mostly due to my commute, and learning that I can, in fact, read on a moving bus. Which up until recently I could not. So that has helped me devour many, many books this year. Here are my highlights, in no particular order:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – Melinda mentioned this book in a post earlier this year, and I am really glad I picked it up. It’s a YA book and a super interesting one, with, you know, character development, and style and an excellent plot! Secret notes, talk of time travel and Madeleine L’Engle. What could be better?
Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy – This was one of the most anxiety-inducing books I have ever read. A man stranded in a strange country, completely unable to make himself understood through any language, gesture or…anything. A city teeming with people, all in a rush, always moving. It makes my heart race a bit just typing that. Brilliantly done, and, since it was translated from the original Hungarian, an incredibly vivid and masterful translation.
The Outlander by Gil Adamson – A young woman on the run from the law in 1903 after killing her husband? An adventure that sees her trying to survive in the mountains in winter? Some crazy characters and close calls? Yes, please. All the elements for a great adventure novel and then some, and a very beautiful style of writing to boot.
Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music from Hank Snow to The Band by Jason Schneider – I really enjoyed this book. It is a fantastic reference book that manages to read like a friendly, yet at times disturbing novel, and kept me continually uttering phrases like “holy crap, I had no idea!” and “damn, now that makes sense now that I know [insert musician’s name] was an influence on [insert musician’s name]!” and “whoa, no wonder that’s how that happened” and on, and on. So great.
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne – Zombies were big this year, weren’t they? What with the Jane Austen books and all. This one is just about a bunch of the undead coming to terms with their situation, and trying to be understood. Hilarity ensues. Most enjoyable, some very funny parts, and a bit of a commentary (I thought) on the situation of any group of outsiders who just aren’t made to feel welcome.
So I’m not the London Review of Books. Moving on…
So since I don’t eat out very often, and when I do, it’s usually places I’ve been before, I thought I would create a list of damn fine eats I made my ownself this year. Complete with cookbook references and everything! Salivate, my friends, for the following:
Vegan sausages from Vegan Brunch Oh, blogfriends. I can’t even explain how amazing these were, you really need to give this a try. Beyond easy (measure ingredients and throw into a bowl and then shape into sausage shapes), and just so, so tasty. Even my meat-eating family agreed that these were some mighty fine sausages in both texture and taste.
Three Sisters Burritos from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook This cookbook, which I received from my sister-in-law a couple of year ago as a Christmas gift, has been my go-to cookbook all year. I have already used more recipes from this than any other book ever! This recipe blends corn, squash and beans (the three sisters) with spices and a really tasty red sauce. I served this to my friends at the cottage and everyone raved. Raved, I tell you!
Paneer. Whole milk + vinegar = delicious tasty Indian cheese! The recipe I used was from an issue of Edible Toronto and it was SO easy. I used the paneer in a spinach curry (sag paneer) and wow, was it good.
Blackberry Jam. Okay, this is actually from the previous year, but if we hadn’t had such a craptastic summer, I would have been doing it again, so it totally counts. We have massive blackberry bushes in our little backyard, and for years, we would just pick and eat them. When the boys were little we’d send them “out for dessert” and they’d hit the blackberry crop, which was pretty funny. Two summers ago it was holy bumper crop, Batman! And there was just no way we could eat them all – we ate them on cereal, in yogurt, with cream, etc. Just so many. So I decided to make jam for the first time in my life. And it turned out well. Freezer jam, naturally. The “real jam” thing kind of scares me. So much sterilizing and worrying that I am going to poison people. The jam was tasty and was a hit with friends who tried it. We gave some jars as gifts, which were well received. Oh, the pride.
Going out to hear live music is one of my absolute favourite things to do in the world. I love the energy in the venue, the onstage banter, the way the band feels. Just so much love. Here are some highlights from the past couple of years:
Blue Rodeo in Bala. Vivian and I went twice to The Kee to see Blue Rodeo – once in the fall of 2008, and then again this spring. The fall show marked the first time either of us had been to see the band at this venue, and we were not disappointed. Talk about energy and love in the room. It’s obvious the band enjoys this place as much as the crowd, and they put on an amazing show both times. The first time we stayed outside of town, but the last time we were there, we stayed at a hotel right near The Kee, and that was much better. The entire hotel was full of people there to see the show, and the vibe was just right.
The Skydiggers at The Studio at Hamilton Place This show launched me straight back to the early 90s and the amount of nostalgia mixed with sheer awesome musicianship made this show a true highlight of 2009. Andy’s voice still gives me shivers, and the range of emotions he and the band can express is magical.
Lee Harvey Osmond at Casbah You want to talk energy and fire? Tom Wilson is both those things, and when he hits the stage (especially in Hamilton, I think) you are not going anywhere. His current band is made up of a whole lot of great musicians and this particular show generated a lot of heat and a lot of buzz. Great night, great band in my favourite Hamilton club.
The Musician, Live on Locke St. My son made his debut this spring at a gig as part of Art Alley on Locke St. in Hamilton. He attended March Break Rockband Camp at Picks and Sticks, the music store where he takes lessons, and the kids jammed and wrote songs to be performed at a later date. The song they performed was based on a bass line that The Musician wrote, and the singer did some lyrics, they added a drum line and that was that. He looked SO natural up there, tuning up, adjusting the amp, laying down a few warm-up riffs. They did the same thing again at the Locke St. Festival in September (which I missed due to a prior commitment – boo!) but it was his first onstage performance as a bass player that stands out for me. First of many, no doubt.
So there you have it, blogfriends. Books, food and music, three of my favourite things – in list form. I’ve shown you my lists. Maybe you could show me yours?
ETA Dec. 21: Ugh – typing/spelling fail on the link to Anything Said above – link fixed. My apologies. I suck.