Archive for November, 2012

Mulligatawany Soup

In the last week we have been dining well.  Saturday night we hosted a party and in addition to the nightly meals we have had lots of leftovers.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I announced to Pat that I was going to FAST on thursday.  I was feeling stuffed at the time and felt that maybe I should try to purify the system. 

So this morning I had a banana for breakfast (I should have said semi-fast) .  For lunch I had a small yoghurt.  I told Pat I wanted broth for dinner. 

I worked late in the workshop and did not come up to the kitchen until 5:45 to keep temptation away.  I did not want to take part in the meal preparation.

Pat decided to make Mulligatawany Soup using the leftover Kung Pao Chicken I made Monday.  

The aroma in the kitchen was to die for.  She also had fresh bread baking in the oven.  Soft music playing. 

I suspect Pat would make a great drug dealer.   DO NOT TRY TO BREAK AWAY FROM YOUR ADDICTION

A wonderful meal. 




In the past when I write of meals in my blog, I usually refer to something I have prepared.  But tonight I write about Pat’s stew. 

It is Grey Cup day and for the first time in years we are spending Sunday dinner by ourselves.  We hosted a party with 22 people on Saturday night so this was a chance to relax. 

When you hear the term Stew you think of those dishes where the meat and veggies are cooked together in a pot.  A great winter weather dish all simmering together.  You eat it when it still has texture and before it turns into soup.   

I am always reminded of the scene from the movie Good Bad and the Ugly, when Lee Van Cleef sits with someone he is trying to intimidate and uses a wooden spoon to eat some of his stew.  He dips several times with chunks of meat and vegetables.   Looks delicious.  Great scene.

This was the kind of stew that I knew growing up.

Pat  introduced me years ago to a different concept.  She takes all the meat left over from the previous months.  Leftover steak, beef roast, Pork roast, sausages etc.  The rind from Parmesan cheese that is no longer useful.  All of this is frozen and when we have enough she makes a stew.  They are cut up and simmered in a broth with HP sauce and secret ingredients for hours. 

The veggies are cooked separate.  Potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, onions and brussel sprouts are rolled in oil and spiced and roasted in the oven.

When the meal is brought together it is beyond any stew you have imagined.  It is wonderful.   I would pay good money to have this meal at a reastaurant……(and the Argos won so a great evening)


Organic Bananas

Yesterday, despite the fact that I was near death with a cold, Pat sent me to the grocery store to get a few things.  Apparently she was sick of hearing me moan about life and hacking away.

So there I am going through the produce section at our new local grocery store.  One of the items on her list was a bunch of bananas.  A quick check and there were lots of green ones and a few ripe ones on the side.  Little did I realize at the time but the ones on the side were ORGANIC BANANAS and at least twice the price. 

Now I do not buy organic.  It just means expensive.  I will not even venture down the Oranic aisle at the store.  But we were stuck with them.

This morning I ate one of the expensive organic bananas.  It was so nice I had a second.  Life kind of changed.  I decided that we were going to trade in the Murano for a Prius, and that I agree with the legalization of marijuana.  I announced that we were going to have Tofu and organic veggies for supper and started looking for a place where I could get my ear pierced.

That of course led to a dilemma.  Which ear?  I could not remember the rule about the sexual preference indicator of right versus left so I guess I would have to get both.

Fortunately in the afternoon the effect wore off and reality set in.  I told Pat that there was a change of plan for dinner.  We were going to the butcher and see what kind of endangered species meat they have in stock.  Aw that feels better

Trouble is I still have 4 more of these bananas to eat….  Could it become addictive?  (I suspect at the price, it will not)

I have a Cold and I feel miserable

Despite our religious attention to avoid sick people, avoid children and use hand scrubbers everywhere, I have a Cold and I am feeling miserable.

This morning as I lay in bed I wanted Pat to call my Mommy (just like the TV ad).  Unfortunately that cannot happen.  Whenever I had a cold or flu and called my mother she would say “oh poor dear”  It was only after I healthed up each time that I suspected she was being sarcastic given her problems, but it was always nice to hear.

What do I get from my wife… pick up your used Kleenex, stop grumbling, basically Buck up Boyyo.  Now to be truthful when Pat had a cold last week (which is obviously the source of my contagion) my reaction was to avoid her.  Women do not feel the agony of colds and flu like men do.  It is a scientific fact.  However she made a nice soup for me last night and the kind of baking powder biscuits that Mother used to make so I forgive her.

Still it would be nice if she tucked me in on the bed and kissed my forehead and said “oh poor dear you will get better”

My Popular Mechanics

In a previous blog I wrote of my excitement on subscribing to Popular Mechanics magazine.  THE FIRST ISSUE ARRIVED TODAY!!!!!!

I have spent countless hours over the years pouring through this magazine at the library.  Now I have them for my own…  ooooo my precious.

This issue deals with the future for Supersonic Jet Airliners, Self driving cars, potential living on Mars and Flying Cars. 

Funny, as I recall,  these were the same articles in the first issue I read in 1965.   Apparently a good subject matter never grows old.

Victory Stern Carvings

I have finshed the stern galleries for the model of the Victory.  There is no question that building at 1/100 scale gives great challenges.  I normally work at 1/48 or 1/72 but this is a large ship so to keep it manageable for Andra and Sean I have gone this way.

Fortunately the HMS Victory does not have an exorbitant amount of carvings.  There are far worse ships.  Andra could have asked for Sovereign of the Seas  (not the cruise ship but the Royal ship built in 1637)  That is a madhouse of carvings built for the only King of England hung by the English army (Charles I)  Look it up on the internet and realize the issue.  A crazy bordello of carvings. 

I would have gone bonkers trying to do that model.  Not that the Victory does not have its challenges.  The Stern has some carvings culminated by a diaorama of furled flags with guns and pikes.  Attached is the picture of what I have achieved.  The entire diaorama is about 1 1/4 inches long and 1/4 inch high.  Carved from boxwood, The pikes were turned on my mini lathe from brass and are at most 3 /16 inch long. 

If you blow it up you see the flaws but at real life scale… not bad.  I am pleased.  Took me several attempts and this version was about 12 hours of work.  And you wonder how I fill my retirement years. 


Understanding Structures

I have just completed a course in Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures.  This is a DVD course from “The Great Courses”  and involved 24 half hour lectures studying the development of structures like buildings, stadiums and bridges from Egypt until today.  The development of domes, arches, modern stay supported bridges and many more.

I know, you hear the term lectures and immediately think of boring school, but this course was anything but.  Taught by Dr. Ressler an engineering professor at West Point it is filled with pictures, diagrams, models and computer graphic images to show the inside of historical structures.  Fascinating subjects if you like looking at buildings or unusual bridge designs. 

Dr. Ressler is an interesting and dynamic teacher with enthusiasm for the subject.  I wish I had more teachers like him when I was in school.

Granted you may well think that this is a nerdy subject and I must be weird to enjoy the course and you may be right.  Pat joined me for some segments and found them interesting as well (but not interesting enough to sit through all 12 hours) 

The course covered breakthrough technologies in building and bridge design over history with lots of examples of failures to demonstrate where the Engineering was not well done.  There was very little math or equations just enough for the basic understanding of how tension and compression must be balanced in all structures.  More of a first year  introduction to civil engineering than an actual engineering course.

I expect I am the only one that would love this course but if any of my family or friends would like to watch it, I will lend it to them.

Standing Beef Rib Roast

Well this is a first.  Two great meal blogs in one week.  But it happens.

When available, I will often order prime beef roast at a restaurant.  It is a timing issue because the perfect roast must be warm pink on the inside and crusty on  the outside.  Later in the evening the beef is over done and chewy.  When done right it is wonderful.  It takes the right restaurant to make it happen.  Old Ed’s in Toronto was a master at this but they closed down 30 years ago. 

Over the years we have cooked countless roasts of beef.  Sean has made some of the best roast beef that I have enjoyed, but still not quite Old Ed’s .  At home we normally have had the traditional round or rump roasts which can be very nice.  Whenever we saw Standing Rib Roasts at the butcher they were far too expensive to contemplate. 

In the last week there was a convergence of concepts.  Our latest Fine Cooking magazine had a cooking plan (more involved than a simple recipe) for the perfect slow-roasted beef standing rib roast.  Meantime our local Thrifty grocery store, which just opened a couple of weeks ago and is normally too expensive, put on a sale to attract new customers.  One day sale of Standing beef rib roasts at less than half the normal cost.  We bought a 5 lb roast for only $28.  Normally this is $55 hence the reason we have never bought it before. For two of us, a huge roast, but you cannot do justice for a standing rib for anything smaller.

I followed the cooking plan (which involved 5 hours of cooking time)  We had it tonight for dinner with Yorkshire pudding (thanks to Pat) potatoes and peas.  Absolutely fabulous.  Never had a better roast at any restaurant. 

The crust was deep brown and crispy with a wonderful flavour.  The interior was warm and pink and juicy enough to cut with a fork.  Heaven for a carnivore.  We should have had at least 4 other people joining us to enjoy the meal. 

We have enough for at least 2 more meals and maybe some sandwhiches which actually makes this a bargain.  We contemplated inviting people over but we were planning to watch the Rider football game in the afternoon and not sure that would have been accepted by our BC friends. 

So we have lots of food and a wonderful recipe for a future family meal.

A great recipe if you want it let me know. 


A Veal Scallopini Evening

In our home dinners we do not follow a fixed weekly menu plan, but it is easy to get into a rut where you start to rely on the same favourites.  This is the norm in the warm weather with BBQ and easy meals.  It is now fall and time to get creative. 

Last night in bed I was reading a novel that has a scene where the main character is working on the 90th floor of the world trade center on September 10, 2001.  He is working late (and is a rich guy) (and is planning to spend the night working) so you can figure what happens the next morning.  Anyway he  orders down a meal from the restaurant at the top of the building.  He orders veal scallopini.

I am in bed reading the book and Pat is in her usual position in the tub having her hour long soak.  I yell at her through the door that I want Veal Scallpini  for dinner the next night.  Then I went to sleep.   We have a great relationship where Pat is used to my outbursts and the next morning reminds me of my inspiration.  Loves the idea. 

We have made Veal Scallopini meals many times in the past but realized we have not had it since we moved to the Island. 

Now came the hard part of finding true veal slices at the grocery stores in our town.  This is the fall and you are not going to get the white fleshed, milk fed veal that you can get in the spring in major urban areas.  There is not a huge beef industry on the island. 

When you are retired you have the time to go on journeys for things that interest you.  After all the house jobs were done this morning we went out to select the best veal  we could find.  Fortunately the community is fairly wealthy so if you are prepared to go to the good stores (not Costco or Superstore where we normally shop) you can find quality. 

We found some nice thin sliced veal and sautéed it with cheese, fresh oregano, basil  and mushrooms. Pasta on the side and a Pinot Grigio wine. Fresh salad with our own mini tomatoes (the last of the season) 

Not a bad meal for a retired couple living on pensions.   However this would have been a meal that had I described it to my mother (which I would have done instead of writing this blog) her comment would have been “no wonder you are so fat”  She may have been correct, but still a great meal. 

As my regular audience will recognize, I write this while Pat does the cleanup and loading the dishwasher.  She thinks I am an artist and allows me this time.

Which Side of the Bed?

I apologize to my many blog fans for the absence on my highly rated blog.  We have been away, visiting our distant child and her husband.

Tonight’s subject is –  as a couple, which side of the bed do you sleep on, and who gets to decide?  Deep intellectual thought.

Granted this is November 6 and the election of our southern neighbour for President might be slightly more important, but I am not going to compete on that subject.  We have just spent 10 days in Ohio and I do not want to dwell on that issue.  Boring to the max

Now for something down to earth.  On our drive home we were listening on the radio about a study on why couples select their side of the bed.  Pat and I have switched sides over the years as we travel in hotels, and we have our own system, but it apparently this decision can be important.

Here are some of the top reasons according to the Harvard University study (and how could this get funded?)

  • The male (or dominant partner) should sleep closest to the door so they could defend in case an intruder breaks into the room (believe it or not this was the top reason in the survey, obviously either American or from South Africa)
  • Related to the above is the concept that the dominant partner (assuming right handed) should sleep on the left side so they can automatically react to alarms with their right arm. 
  • The partner who is always warm should sleep next to the window and the partner (you notice that I am an enlightened 21st century writer that accepts modern life styles so I refer to partner instead of man and wife?) who always feels cold should sleep on the inside.
  • One of the partners might want to sleep on the side that is closest to the bathroom. 
  • The last one to bed should be next to the light switch

In our case, as we travel, I choose to sleep on the side that has the clock.  If I wake in the night I want to check the time to see where I am in relationship to the time to get up.  Been that way all my life. 

Fortunately in our home that puts me on the left side of the bed where I am positioned to leap up when an intruder breaks into the house and defend my wife.  However in our house an intruder is much more likely to break in through one of the bedroom windows which puts Pat in the position of delaying him while I run around the house looking for my baseball bat. 

What is y0ur side of bed theory???