Archive for January, 2016

Our Roast Duck

I have no idea why Pat and I have avoided roasting duck in the past.  Well maybe.

Over the years I have ordered duck in restaurants from New York to Shanghai… and of course ordered Peking Duck in Beijing. Always loved the meals.

Many years ago we tried to roast a duck but using the same baking routine as a chicken.  Not a great result with the bird sitting in a pool of fat and the meat was at best stringy or tough. So for 40 years we did not try duck again at home.  Wonderful to have at restaurants, but not something you experiment at home just in case it does not work out.

We just received our monthly Fine Cooking magazine and it included several Duck recipes.  Now as my role as the wild and crazy guy in our relationship on cooking, I proposed we buy a duck and roast it according to one of the recipes.  So we did.

The secret is to have a roasting pan with a grill that raises the duck above the drippings.  The even greater secret is a low and slow roasting.  3 hours at 300 F.

We had a duck dinner tonight to dream of.  Crispy skin with meat flavoured with Rosemary and Orange.  We will  have lots of leftover duck so we can have P F Chang’s lettuce wraps tomorrow and a variety of duck flavoured meals in the next week.  With the additional benefit of a cup of duck drippings that we can use for other dishes.

DO NOT BE AFRAID OF DUCK.  I will send anyone the recipe if you want…………IMG_2503 (1280x928)

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Our Fish Friday

In 1251 Pope Innocent IV demanded that all good Catholics should only eat fish on Fridays.  Modern investigative studies reveal that he was paid a huge payment from the fish monger’s society.

Regardless this tradition has continued for centuries long after the fishermen ceased annual payments to the papal estate.

I married a good Catholic and Mackerel Snapper Friday nights were just what we did.  Long after the church said (I expect because they finally realized they were not getting payments from the fish industry) that you did not have to eat fish on Fridays, Pat and I still follow this tradition.

Actually not that bad a thing.  It is so easy to get into dining habits that we have to remember that at least once a week we should have seafood.

Granted it might be oysters or Bouillabaisse or smoked Salmon pasta ( Which I am sure Innocent IV did not have) but we try to keep to our tradition.

Today I received some bottles of specialty hot sauce (a gift from Janine to me for my birthday) so we decided to make Fish Tacos.  Bought some tacos, took some frozen fish sticks from our inventory and had a meal.  The Habanero sauce was wonderful along with the other accoutrements.

A good Fish Friday meal.

Singing Group

Our Probus club has a singing group that gets together once a month at someone’s house and they sing about 15 songs.  A popular group with 15 – 20 members showing up but generally avoided like the plague by the male members of the club so it is primarily a Ladies Singing Group.  I had agreed to attend the December group meeting where carols were sung as a support for my buddy Harry, the husband of the hostess for the evening.  A couple of his friends were urged to attend to insure Harry was not the only man there.

As it turns out it was a nice evening with all the old carols from our childhood, but my buddy Harry ducked out by claiming important business in Saskatchewan.  As it happens I made a few little trivia comments on a couple of the numbers we were singing (such as the history of Jingle-Bells) .  Minor comments that I thought were appropriate.

Well no good deed goes unpunished and the organizer of the group thought this was so nice she ordered me to prepare trivia on the song list for the January get together which of course meant I had to attend.  The songs were a collection by Creedance Clearwater Revival, Gord Lightfoot, Elvis and Fats Domino.  So I dutifully prepared some brief background trivia or humorous tidbits on each song.  For example the CCR song “Down on the Corner” as about a group called Willy and the Poor boys who play for nickels and dimes on street corners.  When CCR performed on the Ed Sullivan Show at their request they were introduced and played as Willy and the Poor Boys.

Apparently my tidbits went over very well and all the ladies demanded I continue to prepare these and be a regular at the ladies singing group.

Pat tells me that it is my own fault and I should learn to keep my comments to myself.

Lots of Salmon meals

Over the New Years holiday we had Meagan and Jorg visiting.  On the Saturday they went skiing and we promised a West Coast Salmon meal.  They were unclear if we actually had the salmon so stopped off and bought a full 4 lb wild salmon.  Turned out I already had the salmon so we froze the fish for the future.

Last week we had Lois and Michael from Saskatoon visit and we brought out the big salmon.  I choose to cook the whole thing and we would deal with the leftovers.  Roasted it on the BBQ stuffed with Basil and lemons and wrapped in foil.  Great meal but we were obviously left with lots of salmon.

In the following week we had salmon salad sandwiches and salmon pasta etc.  By the end of the week we were left with at least 500 g (1 lb) of delicious cooked salmon.  So I decided we would make a large Salmon Casserole.  Went on the internet and did not find exactly what I wanted so I amalgamated several recipes.  A Casserole with elbow noodles, salmon and corn and carrots and celery with a cheesy base and lots of other calories.  Best casserole I have ever had.  As you can see from the pictures we will have several more meals.  But a great way to use up excess Salmon (which, of course, is not an issue in most of the world except here)


Pork Vindaloo

Pat and I enjoyed a great pork vindaloo for supper tonight.  A milder version than you might have at a restaurant, but still picante.

When I was out and about for meals in business and we would occasionally have Indian meals, I would order Pork Vindaloo and ask who knew where that dish came from. No one knew.

Granted most Canadians do not have a clue about Indian food.  What most of us in North America consider as Indian food is actually from Pakistan if it has meat.  That is the version that the British Raj preferred when they were in charge.  I have had meals traditional to southern India and Sri Lanka and they are entirely different than anything we are served at Indian Restuarants.

In any case when I ordered Pork Vindaloo I would tell the story.  First of all it is pork so no Muslim or Hindu would eat it.  So it came from Goa a small Portuguese colony on the west coast of India.  I expect they raised and ate pork just to prove they were different as Goans were Christians in a land of … others.

Granted this in the category of trivia where my family would say.. Dad just eat do not talk… but it is true.

And our Pork Vindaloo was wonderful with Naan and rice.


Snow Blower Good Samaritan

When we moved here to paradise from Ontario, we were told (by the real estate agent selling us the lot) that, like Camelot, everything was perfect and all you needed was a broom to whisk away the light flakes that might adorn your sidewalk and driveway on a beautiful Christmas evening in the moonlight, but reality proved that, like all sales pitches, that claim must be taken with a grain of salt, or more like a bucket if you end up with ice on your driveway.

Sorry for this first sentence but Meagan and Jorg gave me a book about great opening sentences from novels, and I had to try.

We sold the snow blower we owned in Oakville before we moved here.  That winter (2008) we had a major 12 inch dump of wet, heavy concrete-like snow in December.  Fortunately we were hosting Christmas that year and had a whole bunch of sons to shovel.  The following winter I bought a new snow blower by justifying to Pat that it was this purchase or her being a widow.

So I have this big machine that I rarely get to use, but when I do, it is a godsend.  We only get a couple of dumps a winter but when it falls, if you do not get rid of it immediately, your driveway and sidewalks turn to ice because the temp is typically O° C.

Over the last few years I welcomed the opportunity on a snowy night to get out there and run the machine up and down the street doing our neighbours’ driveways and the public sidewalks.  Only needs a couple of cm of snow to get me going.  Last year the machine never left its spot in the corner of the garage.

This last week’s snow fall was perfect.  I got to it early in the evening while it was fluffy so that the blower could throw the snow far away and clear down to the pavement.  The next morning the temp went up and the sidewalks and driveways done by me were clear and those who did not benefit from my efforts, and chose to drive over it, were left with ice.

While I do this for the neighbours because I am, by nature, benevolent and do not expect recognition, I do welcome the emails and personal calls to thank me.  Granted I also like those years when the snow is so deep that the thanks come with a bottle of wine, but we take what nature gives us.