Archive for December, 2010

We make this family recipe only once a year, for Christmas.
Cookies are rich, “short” and delicious!

2012: Alas, I can’t make them this year (no oven!) but if I am lucky, a daughter will make them.



1 lb of butter
⅓ cup of lard
1¼ cup fruit or white sugar
about 4 cups of bread (regular) flour
¾ cup rice flour

Cream softened butter and lard (do not use food processor; but a mixmaster is OK; I prefer to mix by hand)
Add sugar gradually
Add mixed flour
Mix and knead as bread
Roll out ⅓ ” thick
Cut with cookie cutters (bells, Christmas trees, wreaths) and decorate (coloured sugar, silver balls known as dragées or dragoons)
Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes until very pale yellow.

Then hide them, or they will grow legs and walk away (two-legged “mice” in the cookie tin)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — –
It’s the lard and the rice flour that make these shortbreads really ‘short’ and tasting better than any shortbread you have ever eaten.
This recipe makes approx. 60 cookies, depending on the size of the cookies that you bake.
Unbaked dough can be refrigerated a few days, or may also be saved as a roll and frozen.
Just make sure that if it is chilled or frozen, you let it warm to room temperature before you roll out the dough.
A chilled roll may be sliced into cookies (similar to “refrigerator cookies.”) They will taste great, but won’t look as festive.

Read Full Post »

So tonight I’m reading Bob Leftsetz’ blog (Lefsetz Letter) and he’s going on about Tubeify. He’s written a lot about Spotify and I am not up to speed on that. But Tubeify sounds pretty interesting, and furthermore, Lefsetz gives instructions on how to sign up. What the heck– I’ll give it a shot.

Yay, his instructions work perfectly, and now I’m enjoying the music of any decade I want. I spend a half hour or so checking out the music of my high school years. The music lists come up and half the titles are in French. Oops!
Tubeify has identified me as being Canadian, but doesn’t care. (I’m not blocked.) But all these French tunes are unfamiliar (because they are from Quebec) so I delete Canada from the entry. Good – now all the music lists coming up are Billboard and Top 40 hits.

After a while I get bored with the Top 40 tunes (there’s such a lot of junk out there) and go looking for something more interesting. I spend a while in the general Jazz lists, and then I try searching on Big Band, and draw a blank. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I type in the title of Canada’s best-ever big jazz band, Boss Brass. I get 6 hits.

If you try this, watch out, because two of these are not the real Boss Brass, but American student jazz bands who have given Rob McConnell’s charts a great big “student effort.” But they don’t sound like the real BB, they sound thin, especially the student version of Just Friends. The student bands are catalogued under the names of Rob’s arrangements, which puts them right there in the lists with the real band.

So only 4 of the hits are the authentic Boss Brass. I look more closely, and here’s the punch line. One of the hits is my own video. How wild is that? I made it onto Tubeify with my little cheap camera!

The Boss Brass played their final public performance in Toronto, on July 1, 2009. It was a free concert in Nathan Phillips Square, under the big tent, and was part of the annual downtown Toronto Jazz Festival. Even though I arrived at the venue early, I had a crummy seat, at least halfway back in the crowd. The tent filled up very quickly once the huge lineup was allowed in. Determined as I was, I was not going to let this event go by without recording it, so I turned on my little digital camera, and let ‘er rip. My video is pathetic in quality because of the weak power of the camera, and the sound is tinny, but at least I captured the moment.

I posted this video on YouTube soon after the concert, because I thought there were many long-time fans of the Boss Brass in the audience, who would enjoy the video, even though it is poor. I received comments from a few people who watched it, and whined about the heads of the audience members in the videos. Little did we know that we would never see Rob again, because he passed away eleven months later. And I apparently was the only one who posted any of this concert on YouTube.

I became a fan of the Boss Brass when the band first formed, in the late 60s. I don’t think I missed a gig in the first 20 years. This July 1, 2009 concert is the only time where I ever saw Rob sit down for most of the gig. I thought that day that he did not look himself – a little tired, if you like. I suspected after that day that he might be ill, and when news of his death came, I felt I had guessed right. It was such a sad day when Rob McConnell died.

I have a Boss Brass CD in my car and I play it a lot. I always loved the unique sound of the band (hello, French horns!) and never tire of their music. Every tune reminds me of being at a gig, and what a funny and talented man Rob was.
On Canada Day, 2009, the band’s last concert closed with their rendition of O Canada. I recorded that one too, and posted it on YouTube as well. It was a fitting end to their career, and their 30 years together.
RIP Rob. I’m glad you made it to Tubeify!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: