Archive for January, 2011

Newcomer Dinner Party

Pat and I hosted a newcomers dinner party last night (Saturday) .  The local newcomers club has 150 women and the dinner party is a popular event but no one wants to host.  So Pat agreed to host again because many couples signed up to be guests but no one to host.  

  We decided to do a winter meal with our Devilled Short Ribs which is a slow cooked meal that we love to do but you really need a crowd because the recipe does not work for 2 people.  This time we used 9 lbs of short ribs so a large portion.  Fortunately we have a big pot. 

It was a great party.  The other 3 couples are in our age group and none of them had heard my stories before, so wonderful company.  Played some Sonos song games later in the evening (honestly I should get a commission as everyone wanted to find aout about the system).  We sat for dinner by 7:30 and were still sitting at the table enjoying ourselves at 11:30.  Many courses in the meal and Chocolate Port to go with the coffee helped.  By the time we cleaned up it was almost 1:00 am (truthfully Pat did most of it) 

Now we will see if anyone else steps up to the plate to take on hosting themselves. 

The short rib recipe was a winner with everyone loving it including one wife that said she normally does not eat beef but this was so good she had seconds.  The recipe is attached

 Devilled Short Ribs

Blackened Catfish

Years ago I had a business trip to New Orleans. This was about 1990 as I recall just after Mardi Gras.  Arrived for the last day of festivities (which I would never take the grandkids to experience)

Over the 4 days I fell in love with spicy Cajun meals.  Crawfish Etouffee, dirty rice, Hurricanes, and Gumbo.  Blackened Catfish was a special dish that I had at Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant (at the time a big TV star chef)  Anyone showing up had to line up on the  sidewalk, drinking Rum Hurricanes  as you waited to get a table.

Over the years I had thought of seafood (aside from lobster) as either bland or as part of a deep fried Fish and Chip meal where the vinegar and salt made the fish taste exotic.  Several fish dinners including blackened Catfish changed my mind.

I flew back to Calgary with a Louisiana cookbook and a supply of File (ground sassafras) whichI had never seen as a spice before but I knew I needed it.   I arrived home in the late evening in a taxi with Pat in the bathtub and all the kids asleep.  I rushed upstairs to her bath to show the recipes with her and promised a Cajun meal on the weekend. ( also noticed she was naked but that is another story)

Over the years we enjoyed many of the cajun meals and they have been nice but the best has always been the blackened catfish.  Simple recipe you take a cast iron pan heated until it is almost red hot.  Season catfish fillets with cajun seasoning and black pepper.  Throw on the red hot pan, flip after 1 minute and one minute late it is done.  Pan must be hot enough to singe the seasoning into the fish.

Problem on Vancouver Island is that you cannot get Catfish.  I ask at the local fish store (and here on the Island we get great fresh fish supplies; Mussels, Oysters, Salmon, Pacific Cod and Halibut) but the fish monger thinks that catfish is a garbage fish so why would anyone on the west coast buy it. 

I have tried to replicate the blackened fish recipe with west coast fish but with little success.  Tonight I made blackened Tilapia and it was like a flourish coating over a non existent fish. Catfish has enough oil and flavour to be part of the meal instead of the bland carrier of the coating.  Still a pretty good Friday night meal with dolamades as an appetizer, red beans and rice, and yams with the spicy Tilapia.  (when you think of it not a bad meal in itself)

I love being on the Island but there are times that I miss the eclectic supply that we had living next to Toronto.

Stuffed Port Tenderloin

Pat and I had BBQd pork tenderloin tonight.  We bbq tenderloins regularly as they are low fat, tasty and easy to do.  Normally I just season them or rub them with pesto and bbq.  Saw a new recipe the other day and we tried it.

Take the tenderloin and cut a slit in it (not all the way through)  Stuff it with goat cheese and herbs (we bought one of those small goat cheese and herb rolls you find at the deli)  Only need a couple of tablespoons.

Seasoned the outside and cooked on the bbq for about 15 minutes.  Took longer then usual because the cheese kept the inside cool but 15 minutes was ample.

Delicious and still easy to do.

Model Ship Juno

I reached a milestone on the model Juno.  I finished the standing rigging which holds up the masts.  You will note in the picture that the lines are black.  Standing rigging is not changed or run through pulleys so is tarred to make water proof.  The next stage is to put on the spars which will require running rigging (tan) because they run through pulleys.

I will not be putting sails on this one since that would add another year and I have already spent 4 years on this one.  For the running rigging I need belaying pins to tie off the lines at the rails.  I did not have the right scale so have to make them.

Years ago Blaine gave me a micro lathe which is perfect for making the pins.  They are made from boxwood which is the only wood that would handle this small scale.  The little handful is the end result of about 8 hours of work.  I know some of you are saying “this boy needs a life” but I do love it.  I think you have to open the gallery. 

I hope to finish it by this summer so I can start on the next project which will be a Chinese Junk commissioned by Meagan.


We had a lot of dances to the original Rasputin but not sure if this attached version will become a family tradition

Finding Fish

A few weeks ago I recorded a movie called Antwone Fisher with Denzel Washington.  Good movie based on a true life story .  So I searched for the book (Finding FishI that the movie was based on and booked it through the library.  The movie is better than the book.

Recommend the movie (provided you do not have to pay for it) but not the book.

Chili Dinner

Well last night’s chili dinner turned out a big success.  Two of the neighbours, only the wives made it and the other couple were the first neighbours that we knew when we moved in.   

Pat’s chili was great.  It was a little less heat than we would normally make it but still great.  My special bread.  We sat and we ate and we laughed and drank beer and wine.  When they finally said time to go I was stunned as it was 11:45 and the evening started at 6. 

Nice night

Dining out

When we were living in the hotel in Courtenay 3 years ago, we used to have supper at a local diner called Plates.   Not a fancy spot but favoured by the seniors because the food was good and cheap.  The name comes from the collection of license plates that cover all the walls.  We always made a point to eat there thursday night as it was Roast Beef buffet night.  Mash potatoes, Yorky pudding,  gravy and vegetables with salad bar and dessert tray.  If you brought a coupon, two could dine for $15.

Had not been back since we moved into the house in June 2008.  We were at an appetizer party last saturday and a newcomer was asking for a list of the best restaurants.  I jokingly (after several glasses of wine) listed Plates and particularly commended the Thursday night. 

Anyway yesterday one of the couples suggested we join them for a night out and took us to…… Plates for the roast beef dinner.  I think they were a little surprised that it was such a casual place but we had a good meal and everyone left happy.  I am not sure if they are going to follow-up on the rest of my list.

True Grit

Pat took me for dinner last night and to see True Grit.  Great movie.  I had watched the original last week in preparation.  I think the three principle roles were done better this time than the original although the Duke was great.  Definitely Matt Damon is better than Glen Campbell     It was a late night however so I missed my 7:15 workout by an hour this morning


Cover Songs

At Christmas the family played our music game with favourite cover songs.  This week I  burned a CD so we can listen to some of them while travelling in Little Red.  Added a couple of  extra good ones that did not  make it into the contest. 

Crying by Roy Orbison and covered by KD Lang

You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore and covered by The Blow Monkees

This last cover might have been a winner if I had remembered it.  Still I like the one I picked which was Everly Bros Crying in the Rain covered by A Ha