Archive for November, 2019

Another Stew

My fans will realize that I am publishing a blog about stew and might think this is a repeat.  Granted it was in 2012 so maybe this is fresh material.

It is a cool, well compared to the rest of the country, a relatively mild night, but raining and damp.  Fog all day looking out on the golf course.  All we needed were wolves howling in the distance  which would have set Reese off.

On the weekend we bought a Flank steak.  I keep reading about this as a favorite in southern US cooking.  Lots of flavour.  We bought one at the local butcher and the price was nice.  I marinated it overnight and slow cooked it, but still, it had the consistency of leather.  I guess a reason why it is a low-cost cut.

There was half of it left over, so I cubed it and tonight we made a stew.

We save all the leftover sauces from dishes we enjoy and freeze in little bags.  A big batch of mushroom gravy was the base. but many little additions from the freezer.

We prepared butternut squash, turnips, small potatoes carrots etc and after blanching added them to the slowly simmering meat.  Simmered everything until soft.

Dished it out and it was lovely (granted the meat was still a bit chewy) but everything else was delicious.

Every time I have stew I am reminded of the scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly where Lee Van Cleef visits a small family and insists on joining them for dinner where he dips into the stew with a wooden spoon and it looks delicious, just before he kills the husband.  I am sorry but every time I dip into a good stew, I think of that scene.


A Noble Effort

It is Saturday…  Earlier this week there was a notice in our local paper asking for volunteers to help with the Fall cleanup of leaves, etc. at the oldest cemetery in the region.  This cemetery has the graves of all the original settlers in the valley, many through the decades up until WWII.  An Anglican cemetery.

This cemetery happens to be right next to the much larger community cemetery where Pat’s grandfather is buried.  As the area is covered in oaks and maples there are a ton of leaves.

So Pat and I decided we would join in with the volunteers this morning to clear the plots and sweep the leaves.

I know I brag about how wonderful Paradise is, but, there are mornings.   A Cool 6° C with a light drizzle and damp, very damp.

The cleanup effort was to start at 9 am but as we slept in we did not get on the road until 10.  Loaded the SUV with rakes and tarps, dressed in layers with outer rain gear, and headed off.  We were going to do the noble effort…

When we arrived at the cemetery we realized that there had to be at least 50 volunteers and they were in the last stages of clearing up.  Standing around enjoying the coffee and doughnuts offered.  We sat briefly in the car and said… Nuts, lets go home.

Now here is the conundrum.  We set off with good intentions, dressed accordingly, prepared to do the work.  But turned out not to be needed.

I argue that we get full points in the award system that gets you into heaven.  Pat disagrees.  I think we settled that we 2 out of 3 points for our noble effort.

Whaddah you think?

To Find the Sky…

If you are astute, you will recognize my title to the Harry Chapin song Taxi.  The theme of this week’s blog.

When I was 17, I was awarded an Air Cadet scholarship to obtain a Pilot’s license.  One of only 20 cadets in Saskatchewan to get this training that year.

Part of this initiative was the RCAF trying to get young guys (in those days there were no girls) to take training and possibly join the air force as a pilot.  I would like to think the other part was because I was a brilliant leader in my squadron.   Regardless, I ended up with a license and I loved flying, but it turned out to be an expensive hobby.  I briefly thought of pursuing flying as a career but I had a major issue:  I wore eyeglasses.

In those days almost all of the airline pilots earned their hundreds of flying hours in the various air forces around the world, and then got the chance to fly commercially.  Otherwise you had to pay major money to get commercial license hours of training.  As I wore glasses, I was told I would never be able to join the RCAF as a pilot.  Which caught me off-guard — it took me aback.

At the start of WWI,I my father joined the air force to be a pilot, but because he had a problem with the vision in one eye, he ended up as an engine mechanic.  Pat’s father also tried out to be a pilot but for some reason ended up as a navigator.  Everyone wanted to be the pilot of a Spitfire.

I quickly realized my dream of being a commercial pilot would not happen, and settled on being an Engineer, and later, a sales guy (which turned out to be my forte).

Anyway, I read in the news that there is a major shortage of pilots in Canada.  The Canadian air lines need a minimum of 3000 pilots over the next 4 years because of the expansion of flights … and retirements.  As well, there is a need for many thousands of trained air frame maintenance personnel.  Not a hope of getting these numbers from our air force.  Likely going to have to hire foreigners.

Centennial College in Toronto is expanding its school at Downsview to train 900 pilots a year, plus 1000s of support mechanics.  You can take a college program with a guaranteed high paying job at the end.  And wearing glasses is not an issue.

I wonder if this had been available when I was young, if my life would have gone in a different direction.  I could have taken off to find the sky.

Boring Air Travel

I have taken hundreds of flights home from wherever in my travels.  Our return flight today from Calgary was typical for my experience.

We dropped off a rental car and wandering into the terminal.  I would be happy when we get our boarding passes and the luggage tags and move on.

But then, of course, we have to go through security.  They make me take off my belt as if I am going to rush to the cockpit and strangle the pilots… but whatever, just be happy to get to the gate, which in Calgary, involved a 2 km hike because we are flying to an obscure destination … Comox.  I will be happy when we get to the gate.

Good news, just a light loading for the plane (36 passengers) so when they call the flight, only a moderate lineup.  Of course, there is a lady ahead of us with an expired drive’rs license and no other IDs, so we had a longer delay.  I will just be happy when I can board and get to sit.  Turns out our seats are just next to the bathroom at the tail.  No idea why, because the plane was only 1/4 full.  (Perhaps because we flew on a seat sale?)

Do not know why they had us board early, because we just sit there.  I took the opportunity to move up to an empty row, leaving the bride in her own window seat.

Then we sit there.  I will be happy when the plane actually starts to back up because that means we are on our way.  Eventually it happened.

I am in a window seat looking out and waiting for the takeoff, but instead the plane taxis forever, I mean I am asking the guys around if I made a mistake and took the bus to Comox.  It goes on forever … (forgetting that this is Calgary International Airport …)

I think to myself,  I will be happy when the plane actually takes off… which eventually happens.  Now you think that once in the air you could experience the joy of air travel, particularly as I now had a window seat … but no.  Very quickly we passed through clouds and for the entire trip never saw the earth.  Very boring.

So now I have the wish for this boring flight to be over.  I will be happy when we commence descent.  Hours later, well maybe only an hour and half, we could hear the engines come back and the wheels go down.  Still nothing to see out of the window.  I am thinking, good, I will be happy when we land.

Then a bit of excitement.  Just as I assumed we would be landing in the fog, the engines rev up and the landing gear is retracted.  Finally something exciting after a boring flight!  Doing a go around!  Granted I am remembering all the Mayday TV programs Pat and I have watched where this was the moment when the plane crashed into a mountain, but I was happy this did not happen.

Long circle and then we landed.  Get off the plane.  Cannot wait.  I will be happy when we have collected luggage … and Reese … and drive home.

We are home…. I am happy.