Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tea! Just what the Doctor ordered.

Basically, I’m such a big nerd that I accidentally stayed up until about 4:30 yesterday morning making tea blends based on the first eight Doctors.  Thus:

The First Doctor tea starts off a classic Granddaddy assam, tempered with chestnut and cream, making a surprisingly lovable blend.

The Second Doctor tastes like a safety cling: sweet, whimsical, and a little bit sexy.  Warm and comforting chai spice and vanilla, then packs a little extra ginger punch for good measure.

The Third Doctor, velvet and aikido.  Bright, flamboyant and flirty flavours of cherry, hibiscus, and orange.

The Fourth Doctor would like to know if you’d like a jelly baby.  Raspberry, currant, and pomegranate are evocative of The One With The Scarf’s favourite sweet, foregrounded by serious business black tea.
The Fifth Doctor is precious and understated and just a little bit sassy.  A suitably beige blend of caramel and almond cream tea that pairs wonderfully with celery.
The Sixth Doctor is bold and brilliant, brash and clever secretly a big bowl of snuggles.  Bold chai spice, with undercurrents of surprisingly cuddly hazelnut and vanilla.
The Seventh Doctor is a big bowl of mystery with a special relationship to the letter R.  Dark, roasty yerba mate and rooibos are a little bit nutty, with brighter, warm notes of vanilla and honey.

The Eighth Doctor is sweet and full of love, elicits vast amounts of feels, and is prone to amnesia.  This blend of cherry and almond with a little apricot won’t actually restore your memory, but you’ll feel warm and happy, and as a bonus, you won’t turn you into Zagreus.

Friday, November 09, 2012

If you don't think this is awesome, I don't think we can be friends.

Seriously.  I'm stupidly, ridiculously excited to be taking on this project.  I'm going to knit a Six coat cardigan.  Squee!

For the uninitiated, Six looks like this:

Whoops, how did that picture get there?  What I meant to post was that Six looks like THIS:

And here he is with his long-suffering wife:

And here's the yarn I've ordered from Purl:

And here's the pattern I'm adapting:

Basically, this is the best decision I have ever made.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Slides Will Be On The Website: When Pegagogy Meets Technology

... and my head explodes in frustration.

It's been almost two years now since I parted ways with the academy and began, in earnest, to make my own way in the world.  So far, this has more or less amounted to me continuing to do the same part-time job I had before I started my degree.  Do I feel cheated by the academy?  Only moderately.  What I keep coming back to these days (probably because of the academics on my facebook feed who like to talk about academia and make me feel moderately still some kind of a part of that magical world that's so super great that everyone who lives within it likes to complain about it all the time) is the ongoing debate over how emerging technologies are integrated into the practice of teaching.

See, I like to engage with emerging technologies.  Boy, do I ever.  How much does technology pervade absolutely every waking and sleeping second of my life?  I have a thing that attaches to my trousers and tells me how many steps I take in a day, I have twitter in my pocket (ok, so it's a phone, but when was the last time I actually used it to make a call?) and about 90% of the time I spend at home, I spend doing some kind of work which involves my desktop, my netbook, or sometimes my desktop AND my netbook.  Most of the quality social interaction I get in a week is livestreaming classic Doctor Who with people I like who don't live anywhere near me, and I can barely remember the last time I set foot in the mall, because I do nearly all my shopping online.

But please, please don't tell me I don't need to take notes in class because the powerpoint slides will be posted on the class website.

I was one of those weird old kids who brought a shitty spiral notebook to lectures instead of a laptop, not because I didn't have a laptop, but because I process and retain large amounts of complicated information best if I'm actively engaging with it by writing it down.  Passively skimming a set of powerpoint slides is kind of a substandard educational experience by contrast.  And sitting behind as many laptops in as many classes as I did, I can attest to the fact that most students behind laptops are multitasking - Farmville, I seem to recall, was a popular choice in that last year - if they're typing up notes at all.

And really, you're not doing students any favours by telling them it isn't necessary to take notes.  Dumping everything onto a set of slides and reciting it verbatim in front of the class, then dumping the slides onto the class website, is fine, I guess, but it does sort of render attendance at lectures redundant.  I once had a professor who would speed through an hour and a half's worth of lecture material in 30 minutes or less, then dismiss class early, every week.  His argument was that all the slides were available online, so no need to take notes.  Except that I always did take notes, because SOME KIND OF ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE MATERIAL ACTUALLY HELPED ME RETAIN AND UNDERSTAND IT ALL BETTER.  You might as well just hand us a textbook, ask us to read it, and then have us sit the final exam in three months' time.

What needs to happen in a lecture is for there to be some kind of active element: don't just read what's on your lecture slides, we can do that perfectly well ourselves.  Expand on your bullet points, provide further examples, relate some anecdotes.  Actually force students to have to write down some of the stuff you're telling them.  They may resent the effort in the short term, but they'll probably have a better time taking what they've learned and extrapolating on it later as a result.  This should be common pedagogical sense, but my experience tells me that in some cases, it's kind of not.  Passively reading stuff off a slide is a great first step, but actually writing it down, copying it out, paraphrasing it, that's how you really get to know the material.  I can only assume in my absence from academia that the focus on technologies and online resources in the classroom may well exacerbate this issue that continues to get my goat, even long after my degree has begun to gather dust in a pile on top of some unfinished knitting and a few paintings of Doctor Who, next to a stack of Boston Legal DVDs in my living room.

But I'm no expert on learning or education.  I'm just somebody who recently took a lot of classes, and made some field observations along the way.

I'll make it up to you by sharing a picture of my doofy face, hanging out at the art show I did last week.

Don't feel bad for not coming because literally like three people showed up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's the Sami Kelsh art show of magic and wonder!

Yep, this Friday, for one night only, the Guelph School of Art is hosting a whole bunch of exciting new works by me.   Featuring illustrations and photographs of people, places, and things!  Things from space!  Classic Doctor Who!  Mysterious places in large cities I've been to!  Experimental photographic weirdness!  It's going to be pretty spectacular, so you really ought to swing by.  DJ Sarah Jane Smooth (also me) will be spinning some serious tuneage, and there might even be baking.

RSVP here!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


It's nearing the end of September, and I'm suffering greatly from the tail end of a doozy of a cold, that lingering unpleasantness that leaves you blowing your nose in vain and coughing endlessly for the next few weeks. Needless to say, I'm not feeling too sexy. The best solution I could come up with was to make sweet potato and coconut soup. It was a really good idea.

1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 cups vegetable stock
1 400ml tin coconut milk
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over low-medium heat. Add onions and celery, cover, and steam for 5 minutes or until they have begun to become translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add sweet potato, curry, coriander, and cinnamon, and stir, steaming for another minute or two. Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until sweet potato has become soft. Whizz until smooth with an immersion blender, or whizz in batches in a blender or food processor. Add coconut milk and stir to combine, cover, and simmer 5 further minutes to warm through. Serve with a bright, autumnal salad (my favourite is mixed greens with thinly sliced apple, dried cranberry, pecans, and balsamic) and enjoy the heck out of it. Nom nom nom.   

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sami Kelsh Eats Toronto

Exactly what it says on the tin, really: I came, I saw, I ate. Ravenously, and with reckless abandon. I also got rained on frequently, listened to Doctor Who audio dramas on my ipod (highly recommended, though be sure you know you'll be able to contain your giddy excitement at the especially adventure-y bits if you're planning to listen in public), and filmed more or less everything, which can be seen here in a convenient playlist for your viewing pleasure:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshake

This works well when you’ve got a ridiculous hankering for something that tastes like pure summer fun, in the most ostentatiously rainbow-sparkly way possible.

Take a handful of fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled, chuck them in with a scoop or so of party cake ice cream (which is basically vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, a ripple of frosting, and cake chunks)

and top up with enough milk to cover.

Whizz until more or less blended, serve, and feel really, really good about yourself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Torontonia, here I come

So this year, in an effort to economise on travel (but still get the bloody hell out of town for a few precious days) I've elected to put Portland (I'm about 12,000 aeroplan points shy of a free flight) and Montreal ($250 for a train ticket? Je pense que NON) on the backburner, and take a Sami Kelsh Eats tour of the beautiful city of very nearby Toronto.

I'm actually quite embarrassed to say that it's been well over a year since I spent any time properly exploring the city, even though I'm only a little more than an hour away.

I've been living here for the better part of three decades, and there are startlingly few places I know where to eat in Toronto. If anybody wants to make some recommendations of cool places where I can get pancakes and sandwiches and things that are good, if I don't get lost, I might end up filming myself eating there.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Alice Day!

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Alice in Wonderland stories, isn't that cool? To commemorate this, we've released a special anniversary artist edition of the Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, chock full of gorgeous illustrations from a host of talented artists, including *blushblush* me.

It is available in paperback and ebook editions here, and all proceeds from the sales of the books go to the British Library's conservation fund.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Not Only Do I Own a Pair of Braces, I've Also Read Piaget

If the title of this post hasn't already made it abundantly clear, I've decided that I really ought to figure out how to pursue becoming a children's television presenter. I'm strange and brightly coloured, and if my one-month-old nephew is any indication, kids think I'm completely awesome. Add to that my slightly comedic-vagabond sense of personal style and the fact that I very nearly minored in psychology, some of which was developmental, and you've got a winning combination, really.

But where, you may well ask, does this all stem from? And if you are asking, my answer would be: the 1970s. Namely, a little program called Vision On, which ran from 1964 to 1976, and is undeniably groovy. Originally conceived as a program geared towards deaf children, it consequently relies very little on spoken dialogue, and only occasionally are spoken words or signs used. Instead, the show is very heavily visual, sometimes incorporating written gags, and employing live action as well as several different animated segments. And claymation.

Those of you who remember the hurricane on the east coast last summer may also remember that I spent hurricane day cooped up indoors with my girlfriend at the time, producing this animated classic:

Admittedly, however, what drew me to the awesomeness of Vision On in the first place was the fact that it starred, among others, a young (and moustachioed!) Sylvester McCoy, who would go on to become the Seventh Doctor. Just look at his little face.

If it were possible, I'd probably bingewatch every episode ever made, but at least there's 9 minutes of it on youtube:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fourth Friday, Woop!

This past Friday - which was also my birthday, hooray for 28 years of Sami Kelsh - I was invited to participate in downtown Guelph's regular Fourth Friday festivities. The idea behind the event is to host many different cultural happenings in various locations around the city centre. As for me, I was blessed with the opportunity to set up a little art show at the Casual Gourmet on Carden Street. If you're in town, do check them out. They've got some gorgeous kitchen stuff going on, and seriously excellent taste in cheese and crusty bread, nom nom nom.

A friend of mine also asked me to make a video for my birthday. Funny, asking someone to do more work on their special day, but suffice it to say it was a labour of love, with a musical score from the classic Doctor Who serial Tomb Of The Cybermen.

(If it's strange that I just have various musical scores from classic Doctor Who serials on my ipod, I don't want to be normal!)

The really exciting news is that my art is available for viewing at the Casual Gourmet until about the end of June, but if you can't make it in person, there's always prints available on etsy and my website.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What I Did This Weekend, With Peob Bear

Peob and I spent Saturday night and most of Sunday lunchtime putting together a gorgeous black forest trifle. Here's how it went:

We started with a base of brownies (made with lots of really good dark chocolate and sweetened with maple syrup) baked in the wee hours the night before and left to cool until morning, then topped with half a jar of sour cherries and their juice, then topped with chilled vanilla custard cooked while we baked the brownies, then we whipped some cream and spooned generously over the other ingredients, and garnished with a sprinkling of dark chocolate. Perfection.

You can use pretty much any recipe you like for any of the components of this dish, but here are some you might find helpful:


1 1/2 c. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. maple syrup
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped roughly
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. oil
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350, and line an 8"x8" dish with parchment paper. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder. Combine chocolate, maple syrup, water, oil, and vanilla in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring gently, until chocolate is melted. Allow to cool slightly before adding to dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Batter will be very thick. Spoon over parchment-lined dish and bake 20-25 min. Cut into squares and let cool completely before assembling trifle.


3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
one vanilla bean, scraped, or a good slug of vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler (if you don't have a double boiler, a metal bowl set over a saucepan works just as well - just be sure the width of the metal bowl allows it to sit on top without falling into the water below) and warm over simmering water on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be sure not to overcook, or cook over too-high heat, or the egg will curdle. That said, don't sweat it if a few lumps form! Just give it a really good go with a whisk to smooth out the lumps and you're golden. Place in the refrigerator to cool before assembling trifle.

Whipped cream

1 c. heavy cream
sugar to taste
a little vanilla extract, if you like

This is such a no-brainer I'm not sure if it even warrants being a recipe. Using an electric hand-mixer, whip cream until it goes solid and creamy. See above for the kind of texture you're going for. Add to trifle as pictured above. And there you have it, ladies and gents, trifle!