Archive for September, 2011

Pork Shu Mai

Pat and I love Dim Sum.  I first discovered Dim Sum in 1980 when I joined Gulf Oil at the office on College Ave in Toronto.  A weekly event was to walk down to Queen street for Dim Sum lunch.  Probably the best years of my working life. 

I loved all the Dim Sum dishes particularly Pork Shu Mai Dumplings.  Over the many years this has been something I have always ordered when we went for Dim Sum.

Apparently some time ago I bought some frozen Pork Shu Mai dumplings and they have been resting at the bottom of our deep freeze ever since.  I was reaching down to pull up something else and decided it was time to try the dumplings. 

Now we could not exactly remember when we bought them but think that it may have been when the Chinese Grocer on 5th ave went out of business 2 years ago.  They may have actually been many years in their deep freeze before that. 

So we steamed the dumplings as an appetizer.  I noticed a funny odour in the kitchen  which I though was leaking natural gas.  Checked all the valves on the stove and OK.

I served the dumplings along with hot chili oil and mustard for dipping.  Now I realize why they use hot spices in warm countries, to cover the taste.  The dumplings were terrible so we threw almost all of them out (aside from the 4 that I dipped into the hot sauce before I realized the horrible flavour could not be covered)

So if  Pat and I die tonight from food poisoning, unfortunately there is no one to sue since the store where we bought them from closed 2 years ago. 

I still love Pork Shu Mai  ( remember that at my funeral)

Weird Weather

Now there is nothing more boring than talking about the weather, but it is a typical Canadian topic of conversation. 

Here on Paradise we are used to 3 weather patterns.  Overcast and cool, Overcast and rainy or Perfect sunshine.  The patterns normally take some time to move from one to the other.  But today was quite different.

For the last couple of days there has been a storm coming in from the Pacific.  Lots of rain and lots of wind.  My mother and Pat’s parents both phoned to see if we were still OK because of the TV reports.  No big deal until today when we had a big windstorm with heavy rain.  Maybe not a hurricane but the trees were waving and our bird feeders were dumped of all the food and I had to bring in anything loose in the yard.  We even had a 3 hour power outage.

Then at 4 pm the clouds went by, the wind died to nothing and we have a brilliant blue sky evening.  Paradise returned.

Now this is not that remarkable.  When we lived in Calgary this could be a typical day.  I remember going to work one morning at -20 C and coming home to +20 and wind.  Change was normal, still an interesting day.  I can take the yard waste bins out tonight and of course the bird and hummingbird feeders are now clean so I can bring them in.

Damn Ronald Reagan

Now the title is obviously controversial.  I have found that my blogs are available to searches and weird people are contacting me trying to comment on my blogs.  You do not see them because I am able to block them.

The reason for this blog is to damn Reagan for canceling the move in the US to the Metric System which they were supposed to do after Canada.  I believe his early Alzheimer condition kicked in (or the fact that he was not that bright) and he said “Well I do not understand the Frenchy measurement” so cancelled the conversion. 

Now the particular reason for my diatribe is as follows. 

Janine asked me to make her a free standing Jewelry box.  I acquired some plans from the US and of course it was in the old english measurement system.  Janine asked that the box resemble her current furniture, and I wanted to make other adjustment.  For instance the plans called for butt joints and I wanted dado joints.  The difference is a piece of furniture that starts to lean and sag in 10 years versus a piece that stays tight for 100 years. 

Now we come to the problem.  Lots of adjustments to every measurment in the plans.  Dozens of parts where you modify 3 3/16 ” (original) plus 1/8″  (for the trim)  less 1/4″(for half the dado joint) plus 1/2″  (to make the frame line up with the picture that Janine sent me).

Needless to say, despite the coffee mug that I proudly own from “This Old House” that states “Measure twice cut once”, I made a number of errors.  Not critical to the finished product, but critical to the amount of material used. 

Would have been much easier if I was doing it in the metric system.  Adding and subtracting millimeters is so much easier.   81+3-6+12=90 mm

Interesting thing is that the US industry agrees and almost all major manufacturers including automotive, have long since converted to metric. 

But I suspect the old system based on the length of some old king’s foot and the dimension of the last joint in his big finger will last to make my grand children suffer.

However Pat maintains my problem goes back to the Measure twice and cut Once. 

I still blame Ronald Reagan.


It is Friday night and we are enduring the BC Coast fall weather of overcast and light drizzle.  Fortunately I had time this morning (between sprinkles) to work on some outdoor projects.  One of which required me to go up on the extreme extension ladder to replace hooks (smaller hooks with larger versions)  that I use for the outdoor Christmas lights. 

Pat demanded that she would be present to hold the bottom of the ladder for this job(and I suspect be there in case I fell and killed myself so she could tell the kids how I  died as a hero) The irony was that when I was at the very top and reaching to the point where I could fall, she was directly below me so if I had fallen we may both have died.

Anyway, I did not fall (but I am feeling I am getting too old for these projects).  As I said, the hooks are used to hang our christmas lights.  Fortunately Vedran will be visiting when it is time to put up the lights this year so he will be offered the opportunity to climb the ladder.

As it was Friday we agreed to have a seafood meal and as we had uncooked shrimp in the freezer,  Pat thought why not Jambalaya?  Now that required sourcing some Chorizo sausage (which of course did not fit the meatless friday concept, but is essential)  It was a fabulous meal.  Shrimp Jambalaya with Chorizo.  Many Jambalaya recipes call for chicken, but this was an accepted variation.

The Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay just before I served the meal so Pat was happy (and could turn off the TV so we dined)    I attach the recipe in case anyone is interested.  Bit spicy but not overwhelming. 

Shrimp Jambalaya

Saturday Night Live

Pat was out last night at one of her executive functions (still coughing away) so I decided to watch something different.  At my earlier visit to the Library (a bi weekly event) I noticed DVDs of the early years of Saturday Night Live.

No everyone agrees that the first few years of SNL were the greatest.  Dan Akroyd,  John Belushi, Chevy Chase Gilda Radner, Bill Murray etc. and fabulous guest stars.  I clearly remember Pat and I watching the shows and all we talked about on Monday at work was the previous Saturday’s show. 

Apparently memories should not be revisited.  I watched highlights from many shows and did not find them that funny.  Granted at the time (mid 70s), satire and making fun of celebrities and politicians was new for TV so we may have found it funny due to the shock value, but still.  I think the truth is the show was on late Saturday night and, like Improv theatre,  much funnier if you had a few drinks under the belt (which I had not last night)

Watching Brian Wilson try to sing Beach Boy songs while he was obviously recovering from his stroke and had a half frozen face, was not comfortable. But watching Paul Simon sing with George Harrison was very nice. 

All in all I do not recommend people of our vintage taking out these old SNL shows to reminisce.  You will be disappointed. 


Pizza Night

Well I have to start by saying I received a number of new people replying to one of my earlier blogs.  Fortunately the filter blocked them as they were all wanting more details about my Grandsons.  I am now getting phishing on my Blog.  What a success.

In case Andra and James are worried I did not forward naked pictures of my grandsons to the new contacts.  

It is Saturday night and Pat is still suffering from her Upper Respirtory Virus attack.  Getting difficult to cook meals when she is just not interested.  So I decided on Pizza.  I was going to order from a pizza place but in the afternoon I visited the local Superstore where they had PC frozen pizzas on special for $5 each.  They were thin crust and the pictures on the boxes looked like the best pizza you could ever get.

Opened the boxes this evening prior to cooking and picture on the box had no resemblance to the actual product.  I doubt if there were 8 wafer thin slices of pepperoni on the one and nothing but cheese and miniscule bits of meat on the other.  So I augmented with extra salami, sun dried tomatos, sliced tomatos, peppers, sauce and whatever else was available in the fridge and baked them. 

Turned out to be great pizzas.  Crispy thin crust and tasting of all the exta stuff I put on them. 

I figure between the sale priced pizzas and the cost of the extra ingredients and the cost of the baking (not counting the labour) it would have been cheaper to order the deluxe pizza from Dominos. 

Aw well as I always say, you are never to old to learn things.

Cabbage Rolls

A few weeks ago Pat and I were at the local farmer’s market and there was a lady selling cabbage rolls.  Precooked, and frozen.  Nice looking farmer woman so we figured lets do it.

Pat is still under the weather (going into the second week) so I decided to bring out the cabbage rolls and heat them up with some salad for dinner. 

Now I will not say they were bad, they were not bad they were bland.  Even with the sauce I added (which added the only flavour) 99% rice, very thin cabbage and only a trace of beef (not even CSI could have obtained DNA from the sample)

I think of the great cabbage rolls we make and the ones that we have purchased in the past from farm wives and I am very disappointed.  But when I think back, the lady at the booth was skinny….   I should have clued in.  What kind of a good Ukranian farm wife is skinny?  If there is no meat on her bones that is a good clue there is no meat in the cabbage rolls.

Lesson learned.  Nice that I can still add to my knowledge at my age.


Damn Deer

It is coming on to early fall and we are having annual problem with increasing deer attack on the yard.  A problem all year long but worse at this time of the season. 

Deer have always been a problem here in Comox Valley since a few years ago a bunch of bleeding hearts worked the local council to declare our valley a Deer freindly zone where they could not be hunted or harmed in any way.  I expect there was a big party afterwards where dandelion wine was consumed. 

Of course over the years natural selection has come along and we are now infested with deer as they move out of the woods.  There is now 100 times as many deer in the valley than would ever have been here under normal situations.  Lets face it if they had shaved tails we would think of them as rats, but they have a better PR so they are considerd cute. 

Yet everyone with a garden HATES them.  When we discuss this hatred at social meetings there are furitive looks over the shoulder in case the Environmentalists are listening and have us arrested.  

I have tried to protect our garden with motion detector lights and water ejectors, but at this time of the year the beasts ignore them (or have gotten used to the motions).  This morning I woke to find all the rest of our flowers destroyed as well as many other plants.  This is not a drought situation as the bushes in the forest are lush so there is lots to eat, it is clearly the arrogant attitude of the deer that they can do anything because they are PROTECTED. 

We have had reports of a cougar and a bear in the neighbourhood and I hope it is true.  As long as people keep there pets and kids indoors through this period it will be great, as the carnivores will devour Deer.  Of course the deer lovers are calling for the authorities to take away the cougar and the bear thus denying natural selection.    Interesting they are calling for a cull of the animals that that should be here but not for a cull of the over- infestation of the rats (deer) 

My neighbour says give up and tells me to just fence in the yard and accept the situation (he also hates deer but glories in the beautiful yard he has since he put up a fence) but I will not give in.

Maybe I will start to sleep through the day and stay up all night with a baseball bat in the back yard to protect the garden.  (which has introduced the issue of what I would do with the dead body in the event I am successful, but I could live with that)

Pat thinks I am over-reacting.  She thinks they are cute.  Maybe some venison steaks will change her mind (which particially solves the problem of the body disposal)…..


We had an earthquake over lunch on the Island.  No final figure but the estimate is 6.4 on the Richter which is not insignificant.  Granted the center was off the west coast of the island so not that scary here.  The Earthquake proof picture hangers worked as nothing fell down although it seemed so mild I am sure if they were on nails nothing would have happened. 

Still it was strong enough to wake me from my nap.

New Cell Phone

Somehow we apparently misplaced our cell phone.  We have had it for years and it was perfect for us.  A flip phone version that you could put in your pocket and flip it open to answer as required.  Basically the equivalent of a rotary dial phone. 

No idea where we lost it (although Ariana and Bronte were visiting at the time, don’t get me wrong, not making an accusation, but it did go astray while they were here and we had managed to keep it for years before, but we do not suspect them, only making a time reference) CORRECTION WE HAVE FOUND THE PHONE IN A BACK PACK SO NO WAY ARE THE GIRLS RESPONSIBLE (not that I actually accused them)

We waited a few weeks to see if we could find it but finally went into Telus to buy a new phone.  Apparently because we had over-paid for the last 3 years on our old program, we were allowed to get a new fancy phone if we signed up for another 3 years. 

In the past I had a Blackberry and have watched my brother and my children show off their much fancier cell phones so we (well actually me) were tempted to skip the basic flip phone version to go for the mini computer version. 

So now we have a phone that is three times the size of the old phone but with thousands of applications (apps for those that actually understand what I am saying)   GPS mapping, access to internet, Google searching and Gmail all from the phone. It took me an hour to figure out how to make a simple phone call let alone set favourite phone numbers. Of course it no longer fits in my pocket and has a LCD screen that will be destroyed if I throw it into the golf bag pocket as I could do with the old one, but it is really, whats the term…. boss, sweet, super … damn I feel old.

My first call was to my Mother.  I was trying to explain to her the historical significance of the phone that I was calling her on. (Meagan I realize that last sentence has a dangling participle)

Even after I explained all the features that I could do with the phone, Mother was not impressed.  Did I really need all these functions or did I just need a phone?    I finally admitted that the true value of the phone was so I could impress my kids when I next see them (no hope on impressing the grand kids as they will think it as normal)