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Tea Biscuits

I was working in the shop downstairs doing manly things. Adding chain plates for dead eyes to support the funnel for the French Frigate Sphinx.  But I had to stop work early to go upstairs to make Tea Biscuits.  

Some background.  Last week Pat and I made a huge batch of 8 bean soup with ham and veggies.  We had it as a main meal but in the last week or so I have used small batches to share with my sandwich for lunch.  Absolutely, a delicious soup like nothing you get out of a can.  When we have soup as the main meal, I would prepare my special bread loaf to go with it.   

After a number of days of great but hearty meals (like South Carolina back ribs yesterday), we decided for Monday to use up the last of the bean soup.  I did not think to prepare a loaf of bread.

Now I could have made a French stick but the last time I made this, the work involved (an hour of kneading and massaging) put the kibosh on that.  Also did not want to head off to the store as we are trying to minimize our external contacts.  So I decided to make tea biscuits, or as we knew them growing up, baking powder biscuits.

These were common when we were kids.  Our mother never had the time to bake bread but she could often whip off a batch of biscuits for our dinner after she got home for work.  Properly done, these biscuits are delicious but there is a narrow time in the baking between underdone and the kind of biscuits used in the Royal Navy called Hard Tack.  Even in our youth the biscuits were no good the next day as they turned hard, but with Blaine and I, never a problem.  Give a little butter and honey and they were gone.  Dale started making them when she took home ec in high school and became involved in feeding us.

Pat dug out her cook book from when she was taking home ec in high school for me.  Lots of penciling in the side margins.  

I made perfect tea biscuits tonight to go with our bean soup.  Light and fluffy with a crisp crust.  Just like they serve the Queen.  

Friday after American Thanksgiving

I did not include the term “Black Friday” in the title or I could possibly get hundreds of hits on my blog.  What a concept for sales. 

I remember when Boxing Day was the big sales day for bargains. 

At one time I thought we could hide the calendar from the kids and convince them that December 27 was Christmas so we could buy all their gifts at half price.  Unfortunately we were “rewarded” with children of intelligence so this never worked out.  Also the option of telling them we were actually Ukrainian with Christmas Day in January, also did not work.

Anyway I digress.  For some unusual reason, the first day of the Christmas season seems to start with American Thanksgiving and all the football games that go with it.  The next day you are supposed to rush out and buy, buy, buy as there is only 5 more weeks until December 25.  

We are being inundated with brochures and flyers advertising Black Friday bargains, but they no longer wait until the NFL games are played.  Such good prices.

I was telling Patty that we have to replace our 2 year old TV because just look at the deals.  She ignored me.  

We will not be participating in this frenzy and definitely will not line up at 6:30 am at Best Buy on Nov 27 for the true bargains.  

Bowling

With the advent of cold weather there are not a lot of activities that we can do with our Probus group.  Too wet for hiking and too cool for golf.

So Pat and I today joined the small bowling group for 5 pin fun.  Only every other lane is open and you are limited to 3 bowlers per lane and masks and lots of sterilizing.  So felt safe.

We have not been bowling for at least 45 years.  I thought it would be like riding a bike, but it is not.

When I was a teenager we did a lot of 5 pin bowling.  On Friday night you could take a date to the Norwood lanes and at 9pm they turned down the lights except over the pins.

I even prepared for today by watching The Big Lebowsky movie.  Two reasons why this did not work.  They were playing 10 pin, and they drank beer.

I mean, how hard can it be. Just roll a ball down a flat surface and knock down some pins.  Granted it would help if you could bounce off the side like playing pool, but no.  They put troughs down each side.  Just not fair.

I scored terrible.  Even Pat beat me on the first game (sorry Pat that sounds condescending).  I did not fall on my bum and in the second game managed a couple of strikes and a spare.

Still we had fun so I suspect we will join them next month again.

A Meal for Two

Earlier today I phoned Rose, a member of our Probus group who is turning 100 this coming week.  Just a great lady, active golfer and bridge player.  The COVID issue has curtailed much of her outside activities, so she decided to move out of her house and into a senior retirement home.  One of the big reasons was the difficulty in cooking for one.  She was used to inviting people to join her as she loved to cook.  She is now in a good facility with 3 meals a day and lots of social opportunities.

I told her the story about when I phoned my mother when the last of our girls went off to University.  I was saying how difficult it was to prepare great meals for only two.

She replied, “try cooking for one!”  Good point.

Pat and I have learned a compromise.  BBQ and simple meals can be catered for just the two of us, but for the great meals we have to assume we will have leftovers.

Tonight (Sunday) is an example.  Earlier in the week I  came up with the concept that we should have a meal based on ground lamb.  Patty looked up one our favorites.

Pastitsio… a Greek casserole with lamb and penne and feta cheese and too many other ingredients to list.  Problem is that to make it properly, it will feed 8.

It was a wonderful dinner and we have 4 more meals to follow.  The secret to preparing a meal for two is a refrigerator.

Deer in Yard

We nightly have deer venture into our yard.  I put up deer fences (basically fishing line) beside the house to keep them from walking through the property, but as we back onto a golf course with only a small hedge, they jump over.  From deer scat it is evident they only stay at the back of the yard.  We occasionally have the big motion detector lights come on and but they only seem to pose in them and does not scare them away.

Still this morning a deer hopped over and gave us a visit.  Reese did not see it or she might have warned us.  The Comox Valley is a refuge with no hunting allowed so we have many dozens of deer.  Still not normally this brave although they commonly follow golfers around.

The big Black German Shepard ‘Typhoon” came over to the fence to see what was going on and the deer sped away.

Little Details

I realize that my blog family may be getting bored with my little details, but this is the part that I love and while I still have some control on my hands, the best part.

This week I made the smallest eyebolts I have ever done.  Total length 2 mm with an opening of .5 mm.  These will go on the back of the Carronade sleds on the model.  They are there so that the crew can hook on to the thwarts to pull the carronade back into position.

Carronades are smaller cannons used on smaller warships.  Less weight than a 1 ton long gun, but with short range.  Think of them as shotguns. Did not have wheels just slid back and forth on the platform that could be moved left and right to aim.

In the future I will give a long explanation of why Le Sphinx mounted these guns.  But just enjoy.

Unfortunately the only one I can thrill to show these details to, is Patty (well also my Blog family)…..;

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.