Traditionally, I’ve made a chocolate trifle at Christmastime – thanks to Jean Pare and cookbook given to me by an old friend years ago. However, no oven in my flat here met brownies, cake, or anything resembling them were off the table. I wanted to make dessert to bring to Christmas dinner with my co-workers, and had to find something no-bake. Of course, Nanaimo Bars seemed obvious! Until I tried to find the ingredients to make it.
This is the recipe I went with. And here’s what I had trouble finding: graham crackers, Bird’s custard powder, and anything resembling Baker’s chocolate. I should’ve scrapped the idea, but sometimes when I get an idea, it gets lodged.
So. Here’s what I did:
I didn’t, actually, not at the same time, so that advice is misplaced.
I spent yesterday with my amazing co-worker Sosena: she was born and grew up in Ethiopia, went to university in St Petersburg and Odessa (BSc in Statistics!), visits her family in France regularly, and came here from living in Queens, New York. Sosena’s in her second year of teaching, so she knows of sights my other friends don’t yet.
Zhongshan is called China’s “Garden City”, and it really is. The parks are gorgeous — plants, architecture, and art! — and well-maintained. And as people earn more and open up to “the West”, more expensive, fusion shops are opening.
Sosena took me took me up Zhongshan’s “most beautiful street” to a mall called Holiday Plaza, where the subtle Christmas decorations are up, and there are lots of beautiful, very expensive shops to look at. I got presents from an incredible bookstore to send home, and scented sachets to keep the mustiness (and maybe insects) out of my wardrobe.
And then, in the evening, my much younger co-workers asked me out for a drink, which turned into drinks plural, which turned into a cab ride, which turned into meat sweats at the “night market,” where one can eat lamb which has been slaughtered and butchered minutes before eating it, while losing at poker. (That all happened the night before last, to a friend.) Viewers of my Fringe play Allergy will remember that my endo has resulted in me not being able to have alcohol — I simply can’t have any without feeling immediately ill. It had been about four years since my last drink, and last night among my friends, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I had one glass of excellent Shiraz, was instantly drunk, and — despite drinking water between sips and eating all the meat — had the nausea and headache within an hour. Time to admit there’s just some things I can’t have anymore.
Not directly – I got back home today.
I wanted to do something utterly different, because, once again, I was on my own for New Year’s. So I cashed in the travel points on my credit card and got a room FREE for two nights at the Jasper Park Lodge. And then I splurged on the spa and marvellous food and just wandered around the lake and read a book. I don’t DO that anymore.
It was amazing. Not only the BEST massage of my LIFE, but the whole setting is just utterly beautiful. Everything was decorated for Christmas, it felt like a proper VIKING house, with enormous fireplaces, and big squishy chairs. And the resort was full to bursting – it’s a pricey place, but it’s obviously hugely popular with families, I think because you can get a completely separate cabin if you want, and there’s skiing, snowboarding, skating, tobogganing. AND you can bring your PETS. It was full of dogs! I loved it!
I hope this bodes well for 2015. Rehearsals for Ugly Princess begin this Saturday, so that should be a sign.
Oh yes. Photos.