Sunday, 18 November 2012

Siri-ously Funny *Siri*-isms

November 2012 

It's no secret that I love my tech toys.  

The ipad, for example, is attached to my left arm from early morning till late at night
... for entertainment (Hello *Angry Birds* and *Bad Piggies*); 
... for reducing my ecological footprint in terms of downloads of e-newspapers, e-books, e-music, e-videos; and 
... for work purposes (Yeah!!! after countless failed experiments, I've recently found a stylus that works like a pen for notebook apps PLUS I'm slowly convincing work to upload the endless hefty pounds of non-secret briefing books I get every day into the GoodReader app).  

It's all good.

When I'm bored, I have conversations with *Siri* using my Ipad3.  For those of you not intimately connected with *Siri*, this voice-activated software lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls.  All serious stuff.

Except... *Siri* also has Attitude.  Major Attitude.  Funny sayings that only someone with a wicked sense of humour could program.  I think up dumb questions about the meaning of life, love, happiness and pose them to *Siri*. 

The responses are a riot... here's a few.

Me:  *Siri*:  What is the meaning of life?
*Siri*:  '42' (aka Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? and, coincidence? the year in which Husband was born.) 

Other responses to what is the meaning of life.... 

*Siri*:  Try and be nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
*Siri*:  I can’t answer that right now, but give me some very long time to write a play in which nothing happens. 
*Siri*: A principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings. I guess that includes me.
My favourite (right):
*Siri*:  All evidence to date suggests it's chocolate.  

Other funny Siri-isms.  

Me: *Siri*, will you marry me? 
*Siri*:  My End User Licensing Agreement does not cover marriage.  My apologies. 
*Siri*:  People will judge us. 
*Siri*:  Those who claim robot love is (sic) wrong.
*Siri*:  But I don't care about that anyone.
The ever self-serving Apple gets its best shot through Siri:

Me:  What is the best tablet and phone?
*Siri*:  There's the iPad, and then there's ... well, nothing I guess.  The best phone?  The one you're holding. 
*Siri*:  The Apple iPad is the best.  And it's not just my opinion.  
*Siri*:  The Apple iPad.  Need you ask? 

And, finally, just try and ask *Siri* a romantic or embarrassing question, like:
Me:  Do you love me? (in a Fiddler on the Roof tone of voice)  
*Siri*:  How can I tell?
*Siri*:  I respect you.

Me:  *Siri*, why are you so great? 
*Siri*:  I am what I am.  
*Siri*:  I just am, I guess.

Me:  *Siri*, you're sexy.
*Siri*:  I am?
Me:  Yes.
*Siri*:  I thought so.

And, finally, the answer to that question I've been pondering as I make my Christmas list and check it twice ... and so I ask:

Me:  *Siri*, what do you want for Christmas?*
*Siri*:  I have very few wants.  

Ahhh... My e-Personal Assistant, *Siri*.  She's the best.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

White Radish with Chopped Radish Greens Recipe

SmartCooks here.

I bought a new cookbook the other day -- The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.  800 pages filled with more than than 500 recipes, with fresh produce, herbs, curries and adapted for North Americans.  It's written by a well-renowned cook, Yumana Devi, and from what I can see, she and Madhur Jaffrey, cover many aspects of Indian cuisine.  

I said I wouldn't buy another cookbook but, after leafing through this one for 15 minutes, resistance was clearly futile. The ultimate rationale was a chance to use some of the more than hundred spices that I have crammed into my cupboard and that grace my kitchen walls.  Blame the Spice Hunters, the funky Montreal-based spice shop that also makes it way too easy to order spices on-line.  

The recipe I chose is "White Radish with Chopped Radish Greens".  And, yes, it took me a few stores to track down the radishes -- white, daikon (known as mooli) and breakfast red.  But, totally worth it.  the second challenge was looking for radishes with the green tops still on.  I found some but also used kale.  You can also use a bunch of Swiss chard, spinach or mustard greens.  In this recipe, the radish tops and kale are steamed, which reduces their volume considerably.  

A word about North Indian cooking.  I'm a complete novice in this world.  I'm doing complete trial and error i.e., if it tastes great.... it's a keeper.  In reading up on this recipe, I learned that in the Kashmir area of India, the oil would likely be mustard oil; while in the Punjab area, peanut oil would more likely be used.  

Ghee (clarified butter) is completely easy to make but also readily available so I buy it.  It lasts for a long time in the fridge.  

I adapted this recipe slightly by using all 3 types of radishes.  You can use just one or two types, depending on the quantity you need.  The dish is easy to assemble, in about 20-30 minutes all in. A perfect choice for an evening dinner side dish or gracing a salad.  Enjoy!  

A Word about the Spices

Cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne are all readily available spices.  Finding Ajwain seeds can take a little work but is well worth the effort from a taste-bud point of view.  Ajwain seeds have a strong smell reminiscent of thyme.  It is commonly mixed with coriander and cumin to season chicken and fish and works well with root vegetable dishes.  

White Radish with Chopped Radish Greens 

2-3 white radishes
5-6 medium-sized red radishes
2-3 daikon radishes 
1/2 lb radish greens (or substitute Swiss chard, spinach or kale), washed, trimmed and chopped 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 T coriander seeds
1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds
3 T ghee, mustard or peanut oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
2 tsp maple or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice


Wash and trim the radishes.  Cut white radishes and daikon into 1/4 inch pieces; thinly slice the round variety.  Place the radishes in a steaming basket, lay the greens on top, and steam for up to 15 minutes or until tender-crisp.  

Combine the cumin, coriander and Ajwain seeds in a small bowl. In pan, heat the ghee or oil over high heat.  When it is hot (not smoking), add the spice seeds and fry them until they darken a few shades.

Seconds later, add the radishes and greens.  Stir in the turmeric, cayenne or paprika and sweeter (either maple or brown sugar).  Reduce the heat to moderate and fry for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat, add salt and lime or lemon juice and toss to mix well.  


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Aside: Book Launch!

Hi all:

Bob and Anne Marie are thrilled to announce that Professor Ilya Parkins, Coordinator of Gender and Women's Studies at the Okanagan Campus of the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, British Columbia, is about to officially launch her first solo book -- Poiret, Dior, and Schiaparelli:  Fashion, Feminism and Modernity -- on December 10, 2012, at a bookstore in Toronto, Ontario.  

Using memoirs, interviews and writings, the book explores changing notions of femininity in the early decades of the 20th century, when the democratization of fashion began.  It looks at fashion's ambivalent approach to women by both celebrating and vilifying them.  The text will be used by professors, scholars and students of gender studies, cultural studies, and history.

To mark the launch, Bob and Anne Marie are pleased to host a drop-in with Ilya on Friday, December 7, 2012, in Ottawa, at our house.  We would be delighted if you would join  with us in a shout out to congratulate her on the publication of this book, which is available at Chapters and through

Smitten Kitchen Book Launch Tour

November 2012

SmartCooks here. Facebook seems to want to delete text soooo.... I'm reverting to the blog.  

Although I’m so work-occupied these days ;), I retained enough memory to pre-order an advance copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which arrived this week and perked up my day. It's a sturdy book with its 105-plus recipes, 85 of them vegetarian, and 300+ full- colour photos.

It’s the long-awaited cookbook from the first food blogger I found when I started the SmartCooks blog. Smitten Kitchen author Deb Perelman has been blogging her kitchen creations for the past four years from a tiny New York kitchen. The recipes on the blog, and now in the cookbook, are based on seasonal produce from her local farmer's market, and come complete with her signature style of photographing food. 

Her writing style is witty and engaging – each one of her entries leads to hundreds of enthusiastic comments from her loyal followers, myself included. 

Her book launch tour was delayed due to Superstorm Sandy and lack of power in her home! But she has two gigs in Vancouver (Nov 6 and 7), with one on CBC already sold out. She will be in Toronto on November 16 at the George Brown Chef School and it too is nearly sold out! 

I bought my copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook from and am prepping a Sunday night dinner of mushroom bourguignon, (, a worthy choice after Husband and I brave the cold and rake up the oodles of bags of soggy leaves. Enjoy!

And update:  Leftovers!  Am watching the results of the U.S. Presidential election, a nail biter, and eating leftovers.   Yumm.'