Archive for March, 2012

Mar 31 and it is snowing

This has been a crappy spring for us on the west coast.  While all over North America, west of the Rockies, there has been record warm weather.  But those of us on this side (BC down to Oregon) have had a cooler and wetter spring than historical average. 

Here we are on a Saturday night and Pat and I are dining and as we watch out the window it is snowing. We spent the day to drive up to Campbell River to trade in coupons for Buster Bar parfait at a new DQ .  Retired people have to look for these deals so instead of $4.99 per parfait, with the coupons we got them for $2.99. 

Granted it did involve a drive up the coast to Campbell River in Little Red.  The coupon was not good at the local DQ.  Two hour drive with the side excursions but we did have a deal. 

Should be a lovely evening but then the sun went away, the temp dropped, and we are now seeing snow falling.  I put away the snow blower for the summer just last week.

It is 2° C and tomorrow will be 8° C so I do not expect the snow to stick around.  Still the issue is I am used to sending emails to my family in Alberta and my friends in Ontario bragging about our beautiful spring.  I am sulking.  But the good news was the Jambalaya was as good as we ever made it and the fireplace is on so not a bad evening.

James Coburn, Bouillabaisse

Last Friday we had our seafood evening. It is lent so Pat cannot be tempted away from fish.  I have long since moved from accepting baked  fish sticks on Friday so we always try to get adventurous.  Quite often it will be chowder or blackened fish, but every now and then we like to make an authentic Marseille Bouillabaisse.  A spicy fish stew/soup.

Every time we make it I am reminded of a movie I saw once, many years ago, where Bouillabaisse was a key feature.  Never can remember what exactly. So there we were Friday night with a glass of wine (well maybe more than one for me) trying to remember why I keep thinking of this movie whenever we have the dish.  Combination of wine and my freshly baked No Knead Bread, meant that the conversation moved on.  A wonderful meal. 

When we cook these dishes there is always enough for a second meal, so tonight we had the second half.  Much less wine so we were able to analyse the question further and Pat remembers that it is James Coburn in the movie Our Man Flint from 1966.

This was a movie made to take advantage of the British James Bond movie hits.  James Coburn was to be the American James Bond, (named Flint) but they went over the top (not quite a parody but close)  One of the skills that he had (to emulate Sean Connery) was phenominal taste buds.  In the movie a suspect dies and they find Bouillabasse on him. CSI would have found it in the stomach but I do not recall if this is how Flint tasted it.  Anyway Flint goes off on a search of Marseille bars to find the exact match to the Bouillabaisse so they can find the evil one behind the whatever. 

I do not recommend watching Our Man Flint if it comes on TV, but at least it relieves me of the question of what this dish reminds me of.  Remember in 1966 this would have been an exotic dish for me and it was likely 25 years before I actually tasted it. 

But it does leave us with one observation.  Pat and I have probably made Bouillabasse at least a dozen times.  If Our Man Flint was looking for us good luck, as I doubt if we have made it with the exact seasoning twice. 

Whatever the choice we made last Friday it was delicious.  Salmon, Cod, Shrimps, mussels, oysters and calamari with stuff left over in the fridge.  A proper combination that would have been used in the region at the time with just enough spicy seasonings to cover the fish that had started to turn (which, of course we did not have). 

So now in the future when we make this dish I will not have to struggle with this little memory worm.   Granted I will likely forget and have the rediscovery of this detail thrill me again in the future.  One of the benefits of getting older.

Evil Steak Dinner

It is Sunday night and we just had a marvelous meal with our friends Harry and Marie.  They phoned last night to say they had just arrived home from their trip to Florida so we invited them to dinner tonight.

Their trip to Florida is an annual event where they go for a  two-week group meeting to learn new diet patterns and detoxify. Regular blood and urine tests and I can imagine gurus walking around in robes chanting about the evil of processed food.  Not a cheap 2 weeks as it is held at the Doral Golf Resort in South Florida.  (lots of famous people attend) 

They study the evils of salt, alcohol, sugar, fat and the enlightenment of good healthy living.  Huge amount of money spent to detoxify the bodies and become pure.

So we invite them to dinner and have huge BBQd rib steaks, potatoes with sour cream, and flagons of red wine.  It was like taking advantage of little kids with candy.  “Oh we should not be doing this” but they gobbled down the steaks and drank the wine like people starving.  Apparently sea weed mush and fruit compotes may leave your body clean, but it is nothing like a good steak dinner. 

They loved the meal and we had a wonderful evening.  I only feel a little guilty.

Victory Model progress

I have been spending every afternoon for at least 3 hours on the model.  I love it.  The progress has been wonderful as I learn how to increase production because of the time spent.   Just like any good manufacturing processes, you get better by repetition. 

As I showed earlier, the framing was completed and now I am planking the exterior.  Due to the 1/98 scale, the planks are narrow, about 5 mm wide (bit more than 1/8 inch for my American fans) .  I have determined that I will need 6000 tree nails just for the exterior planking.  That is right 6000.  

So every few days I must spend time in the boring process of cutting down a shank of bamboo into the little nails that are 0.5 mm in diameter and 3 mm long.  Actually I am getting good at it.  In less than 2 hours I can make about a teaspoon of treenails that lasts me 4 days of planking.  Pat has suggested I train my grandchildren in this effort the next time they visit, but I think that will not happen. 

The hull is turning out great.  Look at the picture because all of those frames and all of the detail in the nailing will be lost in the finished product. You will see the great clamping device made for me by my buddy Harry.  Allows me to position the frame for planking in all the angles. 

I love my hobby.  I think of the small parts as someone who makes a very detailed quilt.  All the tiny stitches, all the planning in the individual squares, and in the end it is a skinny blanket. 

In this case, in  the end,  this will be a model where everyone will look at the rigging and the carvings and the stern and no one will count the 6000 treenails.   I hope that those who read this blog and see the model when it is finished will at least glimpse at the hull and remember this blog.


Sunday morning is a different pace for us.  I do not get up early and do not go the fitness club.  The only morning where I may put on the light and read in bed.  Later Pat goes to church and while she is away I prepare brunch.  Normally I make my (now world famous) omelets.  Full egg omelet for her and egg white omelet for me. 

Occasionally I mix it up with Eggs Benedict (where with the Hollandaise sauce I choose not to skip real eggs)  or Poached eggs on toast or Denver sandwiches, or Egg McMuffins.  Lots of variety to surprise the wife and reward her for….. well for her being my wife (laundry, dishwashing, housecleaning ,  just to mention a few things for which I am grateful)

Last night, I did not sleep well.  No particular reason, so my mind went into overdrive and at 3 am I decided on breakfast crepes for brunch when Pat came home from church.  When I get into one of these nighttime thoughts there is no sleep.  I prepared the entire breakfast in my mind.  Then I fell asleep and woke at 8:30 am.

I have never made crepes before although I have seen it done many times.  When Pat went of to church I went into our recipe inventory and then went on-line.  Basically an  easy recipe, but it is essential that they be thin and that is the skill of the presentation.  When Pat came home from church I had perfect crepes warming in the oven, with sliced strawberries, bananas, Nutella and icing sugar on the table.     Damn I am good.

So good I get to write this blog while Pat, having cooked the Roast beef dinner tonight, is doing the dishes.  Apparently you only have to be good at a few things in life to be rewarded. 

Actually I think breakfast crepes is a girly dish so it may be a while before I do it again, but the wife was thrilled and I guess that was the objective.

Friday March 16

Not sure why the date instead of a title, but it has been a nice but nothing spectacular couple of days.  When we were in Edmonton we used Andra’s discount at Sports Chek to get snowshoes for Pat and myself.  With the discount and the lack of PST we bought better quality equipment than we would have here if we had gone to the local C Tire and have been anxious to try them out. 

We had been planning all week to head up to Mount Washington, but it has been a crappy week with wind and rain here and heavy snow up there.  In the last 3 days Mount Washington has had 82 cm of new snow (2 1/2 feet for my American fans).

This morning there was light rain but no wind, so after my morning fitness visit (and Pat’s trip to church) we drove up.  It was -1 C at the Nordic centre (combined cross-country routes and snowshoeing)  with light snow.  A different experience than we had when we went with Blaine and Lisa on Cypress  a couple of weeks ago where we had a guide that took us off-trail.  This time we followed the marked trail and because of the new snow it was shoeing in a trench that was 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide.  I tried briefly to go on my own trail but believe me, if I had continued you would be reading my Obituary and not my blog. 

Still a great workout and this is something Pat and I can enjoy again and again (provided always I get a shower and nap following)

In the evening we attended a big Junktique at a local church centre.  We thought we might find special exotic gifts for our family but it was basically a huge room filled with stuff left over from garage sales. Very crowded with people snapping things up left and right.  For us it was trip down memory lane as we recognized dishes and teacups and mementos that we discarded 20 years ago.  I was tempted to buy a small tea kettle for my workshop, but at 75 cents, it was over-priced so we left with nothing. 

Tonight for dinner we had great leftovers.  We made jambalaya this week (chicken, scallops, shrimp, chorizo sausage and rice in a spicy sauce). 

As it is Lent, and Friday, Pat could not consume meat because of the threat that she would lose all the points she has been saving for Heaven (apparently going to church 6 days a week only gets you so far into the good books) so she could not share the jambalaya.  Fortunately we had a curried red lentil, rice and potato dish also left over as well and with a  piece of pan-fried sole, she was content. 

Listening to good music and thinking about the good we had done our bodies today, it was a lovely evening, even with no success at the Junktique.

March Wind Storm

Monday morning we had a major wind storm blow across Vancouver Island.  100 km per hour wind.  We were pre warned that a storm was coming through but it was worse than expected.  An intense cell came through and headed on to Vancouver.  I woke up during the night hearing the house creak and at 5:30 the power went off.

We know this because we have a carbon monoxide sensor plugged in outside of our bedroom that bleeps when it loses power.  Losing power on the Island is not that big a deal, although it should not be where we live because all our power lines are underground.  At one point all the power on Vancouver Island was cut off due to falling trees.  It was plus 2 deg C and raining heavy (or it could have been the worst blizzard you can imagine)  I was up early watching the storm as the trees and bushes were sweeping back and forth.  With no power I put on the fireplace (natural gas) as the place was getting cooler.

Pat and I sat in the living room reading as the storm blew on.  By 11 am the power came on and the wind died down.

Trees had blown down all over the valley.  Ryan Road across from Home Depot was blocked by a fallen tree as was the entrance into Crowne Isle Blvd.  The roads were covered by debris blown from the trees.  Fortunately nothing major on our property but lots of damage in town. 

I guess this is a by-product of global warming as the wind speed exceeded the record for the month of March in town.  Still it is a ill wind that does not blow someone some good.  Mount Washington ski resort was closed yesterday, but they received 1/2 metre of new snow on top of the 5 metres base.  They expect to be open into June

Pat and I will be going snowshoeing put there tomorrow.  (by the way, Daide and Doris were concerned enough to call us about our safety through the storm, apparently our children were not as concerned) 


Keema Curry

It is Monday night.  Last night when we arrived back home and had our chicken meal, we considered what we should have tonight. It is normal for us, as we finish a meal, to plan the next day.  A full stomach keeps me from saying “lets cook a big roast of beef” 

We looked in the freezer and as we had some 400 gram pre packaged ground beef, I suggested an old favourite, Keema Curry.  A simple Indian curry dish with ground beef, onions, Yogurt and peas (although as it has beef in it I assume it is never served in India) 

Many years ago in Oakville when Pat and I were arriving home late from work, I would pick up an Indian dish from a local Indian take away place.  I would pick up a few Pakoras from the Indian grocery store next door and some fresh Naan from the takeaway and a favourite was a large portion of Keema Curry.  At home, steamed some rice and with a little Chutney on the side, a great meal. I would bring home the Keema Curry and put in a pot to keep warm as the rice cooked and then serve. 

Girls loved it and an easy choice.  Exotic and spicy.

One infamous night, as I was about to serve myself from the pot (the girls had already started eating) I noticed a large, cooked cockroach on the surface.  A little digging and there were a couple more.  Fully cooked mind you, so filled with protein.  Janine was already into eating when I called a halt to the meal. 

Now the Indian take out restaurant had always looked authentic to me with a large Indian woman at the counter and her old husband in the kitchen behind.  I say authentic, although I have never been to India, because it was kind of junky and (in hindsight) not exactly clean.  Go figure.

Needless to say, we never bought from them again, but over the years I tried to remake the Keema Curry dish that we always loved.  I have a nice recipe that I used tonight, and it was OK but I really think I should try and find some frozen crickets or grasshoppers to add to the pot.  That may have been the secret ingredient that we all loved.