A soaker of a Saturday

I'm sure for some Saturdays are restful days. As for me, I dream about lazy weekends. I might even talk a little in my sleep. Perhaps it's because it's January. Because we're all bright-eyed and wistful, making our affirmations and writing down our resolutions. Lose ten pounds, maybe. Live fearlessly. Be positive. Stay hydrated. Fall in love. January, that keener, is full of ambition, and so am I. Paint the bathroom, I say. Organize the closet. Find a spot for those spare towels. Commit to an area rug. Keep in better touch with your friends. Take more photographs. Plan a vacation. Mornings filled with writing and newspapers and sunshine are best left to summertime, maybe. For now there's grocery runs and a never-ending supply of dirty dishes and fridge doors that come unhinged randomly on a Wednesday night and ruin your plans. For instance.

This is not to say the weekends are painful. I might wake up a little later. I might perch myself on the couch and sip two cups of coffee, eat breakfast -- this morning I ate a glorious bowl of spiced oatmeal with grated carrots -- and listen to "The Dog Days Are Over" while catching up on my reading. But mostly they are preoccupied and busy, complete with a very, very long to-do list. The kind of list that emerges if you've spent the last four days desperately trying to ward off illness because everyone in your office is sick and the building is poorly ventilated and no one on the street has the decency to cover his or her mouth when he or she coughs! The nerve! Knock on wood, I'm still healthy, but as I came home every night this week exhausted and sore, I mostly sat down in front of the television, or in a bubble bath, and did nothing. Would it be more or less annoying just to let myself get sick, I wonder? In Toronto, there's now a store that promises to mix an individual fragrance for you, so that you, too, can smell like peppermint without sucking on a hard candy. There's a place that specializes in French furniture replicas and refurbishing. But what of the common cold?

Anyway. Now there's work to be done. I put a decent dent in the list today, trekking all over town and all, and was forced to add the following item to the list: buy winter boots. I've been ambivalent about it. Do I really need them? I admit, I've been whining about it. I already have a black leather pair that I adore and that work just fine (so I thought.) They're comfortable and my skinny jeans fold nicely into them. But walking back from the St. Lawrence Market today, I found myself with a giant soaker. It only needs to happen one time, as it turns out. My mind is made.

But tonight, apart from boot-hunting, I took a small reprieve from the world and cooked. I wanted to. I wanted to make something successful. Last week was full of flops: a beet-fennel soup that was awful and required modification of all kinds (I really should have known better),

potato-spinach cakes that were too liquidy and didn't form into, well, cakes. I planned on writing an elegant and lovely post, perhaps, or one full of passion and anger, but instead, on this snow-filled day, you get this: me eating vegetarian chili and sipping on a Manhattan. Before me lies a night of cleaning and organizing, of glancing at my new library books (I'm so excited!) --The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside and Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes, both by Amanda Hesser, My Life in France by Julia Child (so I can finish it), and Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table edited by Amanda Hesser -- and dreams of that lazy weekend I know I'll have one day (certainly by July!) Concerning all of that Amanda Hesser up there, what can I say? Lately I'm really impressed by The New York Times. The recipes are just plain solid. Ruth Reichl, Melissa Clark, Amanda Hesser -- each represents the gold standard in recipe-writing. Unlike the recipes featured in this publication.

So if you, like myself, have a night full of crazy in front of you, sip on one of these. And make the chili. It's the perfect remedy to a day of insanity and a night of (sigh) work.


Yields 1 drink

2oz whisky, preferably rye whisky (I use Forty Creek)
1/2oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes of bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients (minus the cherry) and shake well in a cocktail shaker with a couple ice cubes. Strain mixture into a cocktail (martini) glass and garnish with cherry if desired.


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