Archive for March, 2014

Poulet Avion

Last Thursday Pat and I invited a couple to join us at the Locals restaurant for their Wine Pairing Dinner.

LOCALS is a restaurant where the chef (Ronald St Pierre) does his utmost to feature products that are available in our area.  And he is very successful.

A wonderful dining experience in the best restaurant in the valley.  They do this maybe 3 times a year and you have to pre-book months in advance.

A celebration of small dishes and entrees by the best chef  matched with wine pairings from the wineries in BC.

The Hors D’oeuvres had 4 tastings including seared local scallops, smoked Bison and Goat cheese

Next dish was a crepe with Asparagus spears and local cheese

This was followed by fresh Halibut fillet on squid ink linguine in a sauce of ginger and coriander.

The entree was slow cooked beef in a red wine sauce topped with foie gras and vegetables

Dessert was a hazelnut chocolate tart on a shortbread.

I have only given you a brief summary of this meal.  It took almost 4 hours to consume with little dead time.

During the meal Pat was mentioning to our friends that I (Bruce) actually prepare nice meals.  Granted not as nice as the meal we were enjoying, but not in the norm.  She told me to describe my meal for the following night (Friday) which was the Thai Squid meal in my previous blog.  My buddy Harry (who does little cooking) leaned forward and challenged me, “well what are you doing the next night’

I bragged to Harry and Marie that on Saturday night I was preparing ‘Poulet Avion’    They were impressed.

Saturday night and I  did prepare the meal as planned.  Oven baked, spicy, Chicken Wings.  It is all in the branding.

Not to claim all the credit, Pat did the celery stuffed with blue cheese and the carrot slices that accompanied the meal, and of course…… did the dishes.




Blue Jays 2014

Start of a great new season.  Pat and I have been watching the pre season games with great enthusiasm.    This is our year.  Granted the 22 – 5 loss against Pittsburgh was an anomaly, but we are optimistic.

Tonight (Friday March 28) the Jays played their second last pre season game against the NY Mets in Montreal.  The old Olympic stadium and even though it was a pre season game there were 40,000 people in attendance.  JAYS WON WITH A SINGLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH.  Very exciting

Monday is the first official game of the season.  The Jays play Tampa Bay in Florida.

Before the Skydome this was the norm where the Jays had to play in the south before opening at home to avoid winter.  Even with a week delay there were some very cold opening games in the old Exhibition stadium.

I can remember in 1984 the Jays opened against the Seattle Mariners in early April.  The first game drew capacity of 40,000 plus in frigid weather.

At the time Gulf Oil had 4 great seats 15 rows up behind home base.  Wonderful tickets.

At the time I was a sales manager in the local office for the Toronto area.  Not a hope of getting a ticket on opening day, but the next morning the secretary for the VP came to me and gave me the prime tickets and asked me to find good customers for that day (an afternoon game).  It was cold and overcast, but I called in a couple of my reps (that happened to be in the office) and told them to give these wonderful seats to good customers.  I actually kept one of the tickets for myself thinking that I could connect with what my reps considered good customers.  The kind of sacrifice that a sales manager makes.  Told Pat I would be home later

So I walk down the aisle to the seats, and there are 3 of my guys, only looking slightly embarrassed.  No more than me so I bought the first round of beer.  But as the temp dropped and the sun went down, the last thing we wanted was beer.  As I recall I stayed to the end because we beat the Mariners.   40,000 people watched the opening game I think 5000 attended the next game when I was there.

In the years after Pat and I froze watching early games.  Then came the Sky Dome.  Still I always loved to go to early season games when everything is possible.

Pat and I watched this preseason game in Montreal on TV tonight and were just as excited as at a real game.  THIS IS OUR YEAR

I Love Squid

Now who has not gone to a restaurant or bar and not ordered deep fried Calamari?   Face it, gotta be one of the best appetizers out there.

That was my opinion until we started to adventure into Mediterranean cuisine with the concept of grilled calamari.  Squid with a marinade and finished on a BBQ, even better.

So Pat and I started to experiment with squid in many more dishes.  Easy to cook, even easier to overcook and ruin.  Overcooked squid is the same as goat tripe.  But for some reason got out of our regular routine.

Tonight (it being Friday our normal seafood night) I made a Thai Chili Squid dish that was to die for.

Earlier in the week we had leftover pork tenderloin and we decided to make a Thai Pork dish.  It was wonderful and we had leftover Thai sauce.  By happenchance we were at Costco and bought a big package of frozen Squid already cleaned).    Pulled out 3 of the squid tubes and decided to make a meal.

As Pat agreed, this was infinitely better than the Friday boiled cod dinners of her youth.

Attached is the recipe.  Very low in fat but if you use authentic Thai fish sauces they are salty.    Still think of this as your once-a-month movie night with buttered and salted popcorn.


Thai Chili Squid



Stock Market Con Artists

In the news this week is the story of John Babi****  (I do not give his full name because I do not need this blog identified on Google search.  I know nothing beyond the news)

Anyway, this 26 year old guy apparently has made $100 million on pump and dump schemes.  He buys a major position on a worthless penny stock company and then sends out false emails to a million people saying the company is about to make a fortune.  99.9% of the people ignore the email but enough think it is true to temporarily drive up the stock price.  Penny stocks can do this overnight.

So the guy dumps his stock when the price triples and bails out.  The stock immediately falls back to its original value and the suckers lose.  Actually not illegal although a bit immoral. He did this dozens of times.  As a result he owns a Bugatti but is running away from his wife’s lawyers and the police, but $100 million allows for lots of running.

Many years ago (way before  internet) there was a story that I read that was an earlier version of this.  This guy wrote a letter to 5000 people (somehow came up with a list of minor investors)  In half the letters he predicted that a particular stock was going to go up. In the other half he predicted that the stock would go down.  Purely statistical.  A couple of months later he wrote the 2500 people where the stock price had gone as he said and gave another 50/50 prediction.  Not asking for money just saying he was a specialist.  This went through 5 iterations where finally he wrote those few that his predictions had proven out and asked for $10,000 for the next prediction.  Apparently enough people signed on and he was able to cover all his costs for the mailings and make a good profit without actually knowing anything.

I have often thought that if I received 5 letters with correct predictions in a row would I jump on.  These days with all the scams I would not trust anyone but in the 70s this was not as well known.

In 1980 I joined Gulf Canada as a financial manager.  At the time everyone in the office was playing the stock market.  Good pay but a significant reason was because everyone had a computer with early on-line access.  The guy I replaced spent the first hour every day checking on his stock portfolio.  At coffee breaks this game was the normal conversation.  It was like a year-round hockey pool.  Now remember at the time I had just graduated with a rare MBA so thought I was pretty smart.

With little delay my co workers had lined me up with a broker and I put in $500 (which at the time was more than we could afford)  I invested in a series of penny stocks and on one great weekend I made $700 on a minuscule gold mine stock.  I was bragging in the office about my skill when a couple of days later it crashed as it was a pump and dump and I had waited too long.  I took the lesson and cashed out, took the capital loss and thanked my lucky stars.  We had kids to feed, mortgage to pay, car payments to pay.

Since then I have followed a conservative and happy lifestyle……. but I never did get a Bugatti.


I am not sure if many of you picked up on the disaster that took place at the Corvette museum in Bowling Green Kentucky.  A sinkhole formed under the heart of the museum and 8 historic Corvettes fell into the hole.  These cars were worth $ millions.  Since then there has been a disaster recovery program costing even more $ millions to try and save these historic icons.

Pat and I watched an episode from Daily Planet last night where they were showing some of the efforts to dig out and save the cars, at least those that were only partially buried.

There is a reason why I was fascinated beyond the techie aspects of pulling out the cars.

In the late 90’s the company I was working for gained the exclusive rights to provide Automatic Transmission Fluid to every GM plant in the world.  We had a month to send people to every plant to discuss and finalize the details on the conversion to our product.  Hose connection sizes and the process for measuring, testing  etc etc.

As the manager of the group I took part in the calls but did get to pick the plants I wanted to visit.  Among others,  I chose Bowling Green Kentucky as one site although that was probably the smallest volume plant.  For some reason guys pay a fortune for a high horsepower Corvette and still pick the option of an automatic transmission because they never learned to drive a standard.  I thought it would be interesting and I was right

The Corvette plant in Bowling Green is in a wonderful setting.  Green rolling hills without any indication of heavy industry around.  I have been to the Porsche, BMW and Mercedes plants and they are nowhere near as scenic.

When you drive up to the plant for a visit (as I did) the row of parking spots nearest the gate and visitor center is preserved for Corvettes.  Apparently it is a common daily event for Corvette owners to visit the plant for a tour.

Near the plant is the Corvette museum.  A huge structure with a collection of famous Corvette models from the early days of Sting Ray to the ones owned by famous people.  Mercedes and Porsche and other manufacturers  have similar museums that I have gone through over the years, but the Corvette museum was the best.

The center of the Corvette museum has the most valuable models on display.  Some owned by the museum, some by General Motors and some by wealthy collectors.  I walked around that center court and when I watched the video on the news (from a security camera) I recognized where I stood.  Shocking even more so when you think that this is a very expensive museum.  Can you imagine a sinkhole under the main floor of ROM or the Smithsonian?

Corvette Sinkhole

St Patrick’s meal

Last week we were attending our monthly Probus (a club for retired people) where we had a presentation by a local guy that climbs mountains for a hobby.  Interesting presentation but half the 100 people at the meeting were itching for the meeting to end so they could go off to a St Patrick’s pub event.

Dressed in green hats and bow ties eager to go off and drink green beer even though it was 6 days before the actual St Patrick day.  Strange how seniors with not a drop of Irish blood, want to head off for a party.

Unfortunately Pat and I could not join them because the tickets were sold at the February meeting when we were in Hawaii.

Met a number of our friends the day after the pub event (on our hiking group) and everyone was extolling the party with some hangovers.  Granted I suspect that was after maybe 2 beers for the guys and 2 glasses of wine for the ladies.  Wild and crazy time is much shorter than it was when we were in our thirties.  The group did a 10 km hike up and down hills and through streams (we have had a lot of rain) and by the end everyone was recovered.

Pat and I did not have a green beer evening and had no problem keeping up but did miss the stories of the wild and crazy evening ( which I suspect was Howard telling a few Irish jokes, poorly)

So to try and make up for this missed event, Pat and I picked out a recipe published in the paper for a traditional St Patrick’s meal.  An Irish version of a Shepard’s Pie with a Lamb casserole and veggies eventually covered in mashed potatoes and broiled.  Took 3 hours to put together but it was lovely.  No green beer but I suspect better than any of the people had last Tuesday.

Jesse Cook Live

Yesterday (a Thursday) we awoke for a normal, boring retired person day.  Well not that boring as I had to make a new grating for the fore deck on the Victory and Pat was going to prepare one of her marvelous roasted autumn vegetable stews using all the frozen leftover pieces of steaks and roasts from the last winter.  I awoke that morning with a positive feeling that the day was laid out and we were going to have a great supper.

Before lunch Pat gets an email from friends of ours asking if we want to buy their tickets to see Jesse Cook that night at our local theater.  They had great tickets but they were stuck in Calgary (for personal reasons) and could not attend.

Bit of background.  We love Jesse Cook.  A Canadian artist that is noted for his flamenco guitar style.  Many years ago Mary Ellen gave us a Jesse Cook CD and since then we have bought most of his albums and have gone to see him live whenever he came to Vancouver Island.  Every second year before he starts his tour he and his band book small theaters (our local theater is 500 people), to polish their show before taking to the big venues in US and Canada.

We did not realize he was coming this week and even if we had his show normally sells out in a day.

The tickets from our friends were 5 rows back and in the center.

So we immediately agreed to grab the opportunity and yesterday went from a regular day to a great night out.  So close you watch the fingers flying on his guitar.

Strange how life can reward you.

2014 Oscars

Our friend, who normally invites us to an Oscar night party, was ill.  So Pat and I had a lovely roast beef dinner and watched the event by ourselves.

While I did not like Ellen Degeneres  as the host (she seemed so nervous and the whole Pizza concept failed for me) the entire program seemed to be tighter and better organized than previous years.

Granted there was not a single piece of music that I would ever download, but they did manage to keep the boring speeches to a minimum (aside from those that wanted to thank every intern or slave that they had on staff)

As in previous years it did remind me of how few of the great movies we have actually seen on the big screen.

There was a time, when we were younger, that we would have seen most of the films up for awards.  This was a time when Saturday night held no TV attraction (because there was nothing on but Hockey) so you took your date to movies.   Now we wait for them to show up on TV.

There are certain movies you must see on the big screen.  Gravity you must view in IMAX 3D.  Captain Phillips with the ocean views is a big screen event.  Most of the others…. well we can wait and download.

Still there is a reason why I watch the Oscars.   All the old fart actors bulging out of their tuxes and not giving a damn, and every female actress, no matter what age, struggling to stay skinny and fit into their designer dresses.

Makes me realize why I am glad I was born a male.