Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sascha Mazzucco - Rising Talent

Candid of Lisa-Marie and Sascha by Tammy Maltese
Today, instead of a regular column, I am going to share a link to a blog I did for Fame'd Magazine on Sascha Mazzucco.  This rising photographic talent is the son of Rafael and Lisa-Marie Mazzucco - one known internationally for his fashion photography and mixed media art, and the other a make-up/hair artist who has stepped behind the camera to become the go-to photographer for classical musicians.

I was asked to do a piece on Sascha to promote his 2nd gallery at a charity fashion event by LuvNGrace Entertainment tonight (December 22nd) in Vancouver. You can check it out at

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's Talk Food #15 - Holiday Leftovers With a Traditional Flair

"THAT TIME OF YEAR" came early for me this season.  As I am planning to do some travelling over the holidays, I had to cook the traditional turkey dinner early.  Our family has so few traditions that those we do have are becoming very important.  The family, the smell of the turkey, the REAL fire in the hearth and the jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table make the day for us.  The same applies to the way I deal with post-holiday dinner leftovers.  Serious guidelines are followed that I am not allowed to diverge from.

Despite the fact I purchase a large turkey every year (9-9.8 KG, about 19-20 lbs.), and we only have 9 people here, I never have a lot of leftovers.  For some reason we go through piles of meat during the meal -  not my fault as I have vegetarian tendencies.  Then a couple of the older relatives take home leftovers so they don't have to cook.  These same people fed me for years as my kids were growing, so it's their turn.  In the end, I get maybe two post-holiday meals out of the bird. 

Last year my daughter informed me turkey soup is first and foremost what she wants. The boy's couldn't care less, but she does, so turkey soup it is.  The second is from my side of the family and I had it every year.  It requires me to have not only enough turkey left for a second meal, but enough stuffing.  This year I had a lot of stuffing remaining, so I celebrated this accomplishment by creating the casserole first.  The soup will be light on meat, but oh well.  This is one tradition I wanted to celebrate and as I do the cooking I can indulge my whims.

Here are the basics for my two leftover turkey recipes.  Remember, it's all about making it your own for me.  None of these are exact replicas of what I grew up with.  They have evolved over the years and probably will continue to do so.  So first consider - what do you love?

Turkey Soup - 
(How many this serves depends on the size of your turkey and the amount of leftovers)

Ingredients - 
Turkey carcass cleaned of meat including all bones, wings and well-browned skin.
Chopped onion, celery (important) and mushrooms (optional)
Sliced or diced carrots
Chicken Bouillon cubes or packages
Cooked Pasta or Rice (Traditionally this is Pasta - either egg or broad noodles)
Salt and Pepper (herbs are optional)

1.  After cleaning all meat off the turkey, put the bones and skin in a roaster and cover with water.  Bake for 1-2 hours at 350 degrees.  Strain and cool.  
2.  Saute onions, celery and mushrooms if you like them.
3.  Put broth from #1 with saute'd vegetables and diced or sliced carrots in a large soup pot or crockpot.  
4.  You will need to adjust seasonings.  Salt, pepper and your favourite herb if you want (mine is Thyme).  As well, I often end up adding a couple packets of chicken bouillon soup to add more flavour, but taste your soup and decide if it is needed to suit your preference.  
5. In soup pot, simmer for a couple of hours.  In crockpot, cook on low all day or on high for 3-4 hours.
6.  I boil the pasta or rice separately and then add just before serving.  If you are eating it all that day - just add to the pot. If you have enough for a couple of days it's nice to add them to the soup in the bowl. Then when you store the leftovers, they don't soak up all the flavour.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole -
(The number served totally depends on the amount of leftovers you have.  My mother's version was basic - leftover turkey meat mixed with remaining gravy, topped with stuffing and baked until the stuffing was crispy.  My current version is below.)

Ingredients - 
Leftover Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy
Onions, Celery and Mushrooms (minced garlic might be a great addition too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease or Pam a 9 x 13 casserole.

Saute onions, celery and mushrooms in oil (I use olive oil) until soft.  Mix with leftover turkey and enough gravy to be moist.  Pour into casserole and smooth with spoon until even.  Dot with a thin layer of stuffing (if you are a stuffing addict, you might want this a THICK layer).  Bake until the top is crispy, the gravy is bubbling and it is heated completely through.  Serve with salad or vegetables leftover from the holiday dinner.

Enjoy your holidays and always make it about what you love in the season.  It's the only way for it to be meaningful.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Patch Adams - A Message That Should Continue

The other night I stumbled upon one of my favourite movies.  I have to admit, in general I chose to watch humour, animation and things like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond that take me away from the regular world.   Life is way too serious on a daily basis.  There are one or two exceptions to this rule and the movie Patch Adams is one.

Robin Williams is actually on my list of people I wish I could interview.  We both lived in California for awhile as his comedic star was rising and I heard all the rumors good and bad.  But not one person ever said they didn't like him.  I found it interesting when he began to move from comedy into serious roles and was surprised that he did well.  I can't vouch for all his dramatic ventures, but in the ones I have seen he brings a humanity and "real-ness" to the role that is impressive.  Patch Adams is no exception.

The movie is set in the 1970's.  Patch Adams is a former mental patient who decides to become a doctor and bring joy and humanity to the medical profession.  This is not embraced by the doctor running the program and the students themselves take a while to come around.  Despite warnings to stop, he continually sneaks into the teaching hospital to get to know those who are suffering and to try and raise their spirits.  I have no idea how much liberty was taken in this area, but it is Hollywood.  However, it still floors me every time I watch it.  Obviously the doctor in charge is not amused and tries to kick him out of the program.  The ending is a happy one and Patch goes on to become a doctor although the road is never smooth.

Seeing this movie again made me curious about the person who it is based on.  There actually is a real Patch Adams - not just a Hollywood invention - and his life is quite similar to the movie. He was initially a very happy kid, but due to life circumstances tried to commit suicide and ended up in a psychiatric facility.  There the realization came that he would serve humanity through medicine and he would never have another bad day.  In the movie he talks about turning the focus on how to make the lives of others better and the freedom that offered from his own trouble.  Adams continues to promote changes in the medical system and has even taken his life's work globally.  

The two together creating joy!
I personally would welcome more doctors with this outlook.  Those who don't just look at the symptoms, but the quality of life.  One example - my daughter had a unexpected knee injury.  First she was told 2 weeks recover, then 12 weeks recovery.  When she finally went to an orthopedist he told her to never bend her knee over 30% including on the bus.  At six feet in height, and hoping to be a mother one day, this was unrealistic and totally crushing.  A little compassion would have gone a long way.
The Real Patch Adams in China
In closing I want to share two things.  First is a link to this amazing person's website -  Second are some quotes from the movie.  Enjoy!

"You treat a disease, you win, you loose.  You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome."

"Our job is improving the quality of life, not just delaying death."

"You're focusing on the problem.  If you focus on the problem, you can't see the solution...See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see...out of fear, conformity or laziness.  See the whole world anew each day."

Dean Walcott - "You're not cut out to be a physician and it is my responsibility.
Hunter Patch Adams - "Responsibility?  You have one responsibility- to be a dickhead. How hard can that be?  All you to do is make sure you head is a dick and it's attached to your neck."

"If we bury you face up, I've got a place to park my bike."

"What's wrong with death sir?  What are we so mortally afraid of?  Why can't we treat death with a certain amount of humanity, dignity and decency and, God forbid, maybe even humor.  Death is not the enemy gentlemen.  If we're going to fight a disease, let's fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference."

"Now you have the ability to keep me from graduating. You can keep me from getting the title and the white coat. But you can't control my spirit, gentlemen. You can't keep me from learning, you can't keep me from studying. So you have a choice: you can have me as a professional colleague or you can have me as an outspoken outsider, still adament. Either way I'll probably still be viewed as a thorn. But I promise you one thing: I am a thorn that will not go away."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Blog Dilemma!

I have always been, and will continue to be, a fan of Social Media.  It allowed me to move into freelance writing at a later age when no one would give me a chance and to become an editor at two magazines.  There is no doubt it can create opportunity with a capital "O" for anyone who knows how to use it - just look at Justin Bieber. It also provides an avenue to reach customers at a time when the cost of running a magazines means many print editions have to rely on "ADVERTORIALS" to keep afloat - my name for articles generated because of purchased advertising. At the same time there is always a downside.  Just a few include cyber bullying, misinformation that takes on a life of it's own, hours spent needing to keep up on all the different types of communication and a lack of face-to-face contact that can affect how accurately one perceives their clientele.

There is another side to Social Media I am beginning to look at.  It's a tenuous link at this time with no real proof other than my observations over the last 5 years as editor for Fame'd Magazine in Canada and Raine Magazine in the U.S.  I have noticed a serious lowering of initial skills in new writers.  They are able to write one good paragraph, but the ability to take a subject through 6 paragraphs including an opening, a closing and 4 connecting paragraphs appears to be harder to come by.  

The point-of-view has also changed.  We seem to be moving towards a personal perspective with a lot of "I's" instead of the 3rd person interview with a professional focus.  I truly love it in a blog and use it extensively here, but question its relevance in an article that is designed to promote an artist internationally.  That personal peek behind the camera can be the ticket that brands an artist in a future client's minds, but it still has to be done in a way that clearly indicates they have tremendous skills and experience - a professionally written article that includes a personal perspective.  What I seem to get now is a personal article without a professional slant.

Blogging in particular has become the venue of choice for many writers and as far as I can see, most are just a lot of pictures with a few notes.  There are several great exceptions that break this rule and do it in an amazing way - one personal favourite is Solo Lisa who I worked with on Fame'd - but I'm talking about the industry in general.  Add in short Facebook and Twitter posts and you have a writing style lived in the fast lane, all speed and no depth.  The effect overall is that new writers who come to me do not seem to understand how to write a longer piece that sounds professional.  They are hooked into the shorter sound byte and the "I" mentally so prevalent in blogs.  

Whether I am right or wrong in my assumptions only time will tell, but more than one industry professional is lamenting this same "fact:".   Sometimes fighting these trends is like swimming upstream, so I honestly have no idea what the future will hold.  It's in the hand of the 20-year-olds coming up through the ranks.  In the future they will define the trends and what it takes for writing to market the next generation.  Oh please don't let me be one of those wishing for the good old days!!!!!!

I love to end with some humor, so here is todays!!!