Archive for October, 2020

A Tempura Evening

Over the years, I have enjoyed Tempura in Japan and in meals over here.  Often the Tempura was part of a bento box or as an appetizer.  Always loved it.

It is Friday or, as we say around here, fish night.  Earlier this week I suggested Tempura for our Friday meal with some of the big shrimps that we have in the inventory. 

Patty said great, but forgetting that it is deep fried.  Mention deep fried to Pat, and she assumes she will wake up a widow the next day.

This morning I went off to pick up veggies. Small yams and zucchini and shitake mushrooms and broccoli.  Could not find Japanese eggplant.  But we had nice big shrimp. 

Turned out we did not have a proper thermometer for deep frying in the Wok, so I had to go out again and buy one.  (Granted it gave an excuse to take Reese for a walk on the estuary.)

I sliced all the veggies and prepared a batter (using cold soda water) and started the oil in the wok.

There is no question, I realized I had prepared too much, but once a plan is started you have to continue.

The picture is the result.  This is one of those stories where if we were living in the basement of one of our kids we could have called them and said, cancel everything and come on down.

Way too much food, but it was all delicious.  Not sure how leftovers will go over.  Of course if you have ever made Tempura in your kitchen, you will know it makes a huge mess.  Hence why I am writing this blog as the bride has banished me from the kitchen.  


Another Pizza Evening

Over the years we occasionally enjoy a Pizza evening without ordering in.  I admit we would buy a basic uncooked pizza at Costco or Thrifty’s and bring it home, augment with a few toppings and bake in the oven.  Good pizzas, but nothing spectacular.

When isolation came along in March I started to bake.  You may remember that period as you could not find toilet paper or flour or baking yeast.  Fortunately we had a bit of a supply that lasted until the panic was gone. (not the toilet paper I am speaking of the flour and yeast) 

I started to make pizza dough from scratch.  This included 10 minutes of kneading.  Now most people have machines for this, but I did it by hand.  Good exercise for my arthritic hands but do you have any idea how long 10 minutes last? 

So I started to do scratch pizzas once a month.  Even went out and bought a good Peel (see the picture)  

This morning I started the dough early.  Did the kneading and let it rest for 2 hours.  Knocked it down and let it rest for another 3 hours.  When I brought it out from the bowl the dough was the size of a basketball.  Rolled it out and put it on the pan.

Toppings are the kind you only get for the premium, over charged pizzas, you get at fine pizza establishments.  Two kinds of mozzarella, pepperoni slices, tomatoes from our garden, black olives, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes.   

Pizza to die for!  Granted if I charged myself by the hour in the preparation I would never pay this much at a restaurant. 

Farewell To Turkey

In the past I mentioned to my children..  if am ever convicted of murder.. and they have the death penalty.. I want a Turkey dinner with all the fixings as my last meal.

Great Turkey meals just go so far back in my memories of family dinners.  Love preparing the meal, and love consuming it with family and friends.

A couple of weeks ago we were facing upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving.  Well, not always having the opportunity of enjoying with family, we always had the meal with good friends.

But with the Covid issue going on, obviously not going to happen.  So a week or so before, I noticed that Crown Isle would serve a special Thanksgiving dinner at the clubhouse.  So I signed up for Pat and I.

It was very nice.  Turkey and ham and all the other things.  We sat at a table separated from others and wore a mask to get our portion at the buffet table.   Not the same thing.

So on Tuesday, I went out and bought a 5 kg (11lb) turkey.  We planned the week until the following Sunday when Pat could go into her thing.  Mushroom dressing and sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts.  On Sunday we had the meal that we love, unfortunately without family or friends, but everything I would wish for as my final meal.  Great gravy…

Of course we were left with a lot of leftovers.  Repeat of the meal on Monday and then on Tuesday I made my famous Turkey Pot Pie, repeated Wednesday.  On Thursday Pat made a soup with spinach and veggies.  I made one of my loaves of bread.   Delicious.

During the week Patty delivered generous portions of turkey and dressing to a couple of her senior ladies friends that still live independently.   They loved it.

So here it is Saturday evening, and we are having a farewell to turkey dinner.  Turkey soup followed by pot pie with mashed potatoes (including yams and parsnips) — all leftovers.  What a meal, what a week.

Ukrainian Thanksgiving

When we were young In Regina, there was always a concept at Christmas that there were two celebrations.  Our date for Christmas and then the Ukrainian Christmas which occurred a week or so later.  The theory was that they celebrated later so that turkeys and presents went on sale so they could save money.  An early version of boxing day sales.

As it happens our sister married a Ukrainian so our family followed the tradition.  Kept the lights up on the house (granted in late December in Regina you did not take lights down unless you wanted frost bite) Did not throw out the tree.  Everyone said you have to continue to celebrate until Ukrainian Christmas. 

My brother and I always hoped for a second gift giving, which never happened, but we did get another great meal with the addition of cabbage rolls.  

Anyway.. Pat and I are celebrating, Ukrainian Thanksgiving tonight.  Last week we went to Crown Isle clubhouse for the traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey and ham and everything. 

Sure enough everything went on sale the following week.  So I bought a turkey and Pat is preparing the whole shebang.  Turkey and potatoes and Brussel Sprouts and all the fixings. 

The only thing missing is….  well.. family.   But we will have all the lovely leftovers that make this meal so special. 

The other thing missing is cabbage rolls, but you can only do so much for two people.


Train Update

I have finished the trains that I was building for Ryan and Corrie’s boys.  Originally I was making them for just the twins but I suspect it will be a gift for all three.

A circus train and a logging train.  I suspect this is larger than Ryan thought when he gave me the suggestion.

Good sturdy toys built of Maple, Oak, Yellow Poplar and Walnut.

Trains for Twins

You may have read that I am making some toy trains for Noah and Charlie. Ryan contacted me a month ago suggesting I could make a train set for the twins. I think he was considering one of those dinky toy sized trains.  Well I choose to use my skills for a proper train.  And just because they are twins, they should not have to share a gift, so a train each.  

Granted when Blaine and I were little kids our parents gave us a single train set.  But as the older brother, I was always in charge and Blaine had to put the train back on when I upset it.  

In the previous blog I told you I started with the rolling pin for the boiler.  This established the scale.  I quickly determined that the 2-6 layout would be way too big.  The locomotives would be a foot long.  So I ended up with 2 – 4 layout, and had four excess drive wheels that I had spend mucho time on.  

After that I spent days making the rods that connected the wheel sets together and the shafts that went into the drive cylinders.  It was glorious.  The wheels went round, the cross rods went up and down and the plunger went back and forth into the cylinder block.  But then it occurred to me, that I was making toys not a model of a train.  All these little mechanisms would not be appreciated by Noah and Charlie and would eventually break off.  

So I  removed them  and simplified the locomotives.  Granted they are still larger than Ryan probably thought they would be.  But good strong toys.  

I do have a history of going a little overboard in my plans for kids.  Just look at the doll houses I made.  In this case the locomotives are kind of large and the trains when finished will be 4 feet long, but they will be solid.  Wheels and drive frames are made of maple. Boilers are maple and the cabin is good solid oak.  The cowcatcher and top is walnut.  

I will start on the coal cars and caboose and cars tomorrow.