Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour, Uncategorized

After 14 months, Dining-in In a Restaurant! Ah!

My Beloved and I are well-known for our proclivity to dining out. But for 14 months of CoVID-19 we have been unable to do so. Until we got our first shots.

While we appreciate that the first shot does not provide total protection, it does provide much better than no immunisation, so when Karen said Dee was leaving for Ontario at the end of the month of April and were we up to a lunch to bid her farewell, My Beloved and I said, since we had the shots two weeks earlier, we were: with apprehension.

After anticipation lasting a couple of weeks and after due discussion as to whether Karen and Peter were going to walk to the restaurant or we would pick them up, Karen said, since you don’t know exactly where the Restaurante A Mano is, pick us up and we will walk back afterwards.

Well, Italian is not my first choice – or even my second or third – but since our guest of honour had requested it, Restaurante A Mano it was.

So, we picked up our friends and, after zipping out of their street, which means accelerating asap left across two lanes when there is a gap in the traffic into a, hopefully, empty lane, and after turning across in front of a cyclist and having an oncoming car trying to make a left turn across our bow in a traffic light intersection and having him honk at me – the cheek of it – we turned into the courtyard wherein is Restaurante A Mano and a zillion other restaurants and there, as Karen had predicted and as she now shouted, ‘There – there – at the end of those cars on the right – oh and there are two on the left!” – I pulled into the blue wheelchair parking space on the right. All safe and sound.

Now, the entrance to Restaurante A Mano does not open onto the courtyard, which maybe explains why there are no blue parking spaces near it, only those ‘over there on the right’. So, we hiked across the courtyard and up to Lower Water Street. To be fair, we found out after the meal that there is an exit onto the courtyard, which cuts off half a kilometre.

Excitement rose to My Beloved and me, along with greater apprehension than we would have thought necessary. Our minds, however, directed our feelings. So we sat at a very nice window table Karen had reserved. It was a gorgeous day and I could see all through the meal people enjoying themselves in a patio off another restaurant. Karen had originally said on hearing my initial apprehension, maybe we could sit in the patio at Restaurante A Mano. Apparently, they had not yet opened their patio. Maybe just as well, for it might have been too cool outside, the temperature being about 14C. Whatever, we had a lovely table with our lovely best friends. Awaiting the arrival of our guest, Dee.

Now, while being a bit of a linguist, my knowledge of Italian is limited to trying to figure out the Latin root of words. And knowing that left hand in Latin is that very sinister couple of words, sinister manus, I thought Restaurante probably meant Restaurant and A Mano very probably meant ‘by hand’. It does, but I also did my M-W (Merriam-Webster) search along with my friend Google Translate and found out that a mano, as an adjective, which it could be referring to the noun Restaurante, also means carry-on. Well, we were not going flying, so that rules that translation out and leaves the first translation. It’s a restaurant by hand, whatever you think that means.

Thank God Dee arrived. Not that we were not enjoying Karen and Peter’s company, but My Beloved and I were still feeling maybe a trifle uncomfortable and had not taken our masks off since sitting down.

We haven’t seen Dee since she arrived at our front door one day just before Christmas, when she backed away from us on our opening the door, but she had put a lovely bottle of Port and some daughter-made jam on the deck for us to pick up. She kept her distance, knowing we were being very CoVID-19 correct. What a friend!

So, it was good to see her again and her arrival quickly put a stop to any hesitations about taking masks off a tavola (at the table). My Italian is improving.

As the wine and the food arrived – and got consumed – any inhibitions about dining in a restaurant seemed to diminish and, eventually, disappear.

I recall that Karen and Peter shared a pizza. They had no inhibitions, having been to this restaurant a number of times before, even being known by the staff. Dee had some form of an insalata (my Italian broadening again). My Beloved and I shared a garlicky soft bread with a dip, while, simultaneously, she had calamaretti fritti – flash fried calamaretti served with lemon garlic aioli and my additional choice was the Crostini Trio – Goat cheese, honey, fig & pistachios – Gorgonzola, roasted pears, and mascarpone – Ricotta, basil pesto, pomodorini confit.

Pomodorini, you ask? So did I, my Latin being totally useless, since tomatoes of any sort, especially cherry tomatoes, which this word turns out to mean, had not been introduced to Europe until the early 16th century.

Well, it was, Italian or not, all exquisitely delicious.

However, My Beloved and I had not finished: we wanted, nay, needed, a desert. We shared a decadent Torta al Cioccolato e Arachidi – Chocolate cake with not one, but two layers of peanut butter icing, chocolate ganache, candied peanuts and we added a scoop of chocolate Gelato.

It was a wonderful re-introduction to living the way we like it. Thank you Dee, Karen and Peter for not only getting us back into the flow of things delectable, but for introducing us to another great restaurant.

The only issue from the lunch was that we came home and slept for over an hour. And later, I must admit to a little bit of nausea, which disappeared quickly, in the middle of the night.
Food I am not used to and so rich.

So that was, as I said, our re-introduction to dining-out.

Our wedding anniversary was two days afterwards, on the 9th April, so I mooted to My Beloved that it might be an idea to dine out again. It did not take too much urging. Seems like our apprehension of a few weeks back was nowhere to be found. I had had a hankering for fish and chips for some weeks and this was the time to go for it.

Lefty’s. A family style restaurant (no Italian necessary) just ten minutes away. We checked if we needed a reservation, but, no, they do walk in or take outs.

On arrival, we were welcomed and shown to a booth immediately. Pinot Grigio for My Beloved and Malbec for me. Small glasses only. It did seem strange, however, to be back at one of our customary spots again after so many months.

Two pieces of beer-battered haddock and chips for me;

honey-garlic chicken wings for My Beloved.

In times past, we would have ordered garlic toast as an appetiser. Not nowadays.

So, we enjoyed this dinner and gave thanks for the fact that in Nova Scotia, people have been very good over the pandemic, resulting in relaxed regulations. Friends, Gloria and Ken, from the church came in while we were eating and were shown to an adjacent booth and on answering the question, we replied it was our anniversary dinner except for the lunch two days previously, it had been fourteen months since we last did this.

And then came the time for paying. I gave the server my card, only to have him return it, saying, it has all been taken care of by your friends in the next booth. Oh, how wonderful to have such friends. Bless them for their generosity and love.

So, getting back to dining out has been an adventure we have enjoyed with five great friends. We consider ourselves so lucky to have such friends.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Posted in Dining, General

An Exciting Date

It was the 8th of September.

When did CoVID-19 really get going so that our normal disappeared?

Well, it seemed like eternity had passed when My Beloved and I decided to go out on a date to a restaurant – AT LAST!

Where we live, there is not much choice: Lefty’s, The Finer Diner, Wing ‘n It, Trellis or, a relative newcomer to the scene, The Rustic Crust pizzeria. Yes, just five. Our old friend, Smitty’s, unfortunately folded three years ago, and now Wing ‘n It. Well, we know what three of the four present for eating – and drinking – but we had no idea how this newcomer, The Rustic Crust, which had been open only since last Fall, had survived the CoVID crisis, nor what their menu was. I could have looked it up, it seems, but we thought we would go and find out for ourselves.

On arriving, we saw there were plenty of tables, as in picnic tables, available and we were told we could select any one. Our server took us to our selected table and placed paper menus on it. Only to see them being blown off. No problem once they were collected and placed under napkin and cutlery.

On reviewing the menu choices, we were very pleased: there were five Starters and a small or large Caesar Salad, fifteen different pizzas (after all, it is a pizzeria), and three desserts. While looking over the menu and trying to decide which of the pizzas we would share, our server brought us our chosen wines, a Tidal Bay 9oz for My Beloved and a Padrino Rosso 9oz for Yours Truly.

Parenthetically, for you wine snobs to whom I talked in my last post, Tidal Bay is a registered Nova Scotia appellation, just the same as Beaujolais or Gevrey-Chambertin or Sauternes. “A wine with Nova Scotian character, Tidal Bay brilliantly reflects the terroir, coastal breezes, and cooler climate of its birthplace.

“Officially launched in June 2012, Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and one-of-a-kind for North America. A racy, aromatic white wine, it displays the Nova Scotian characteristics of our cool climate region and pairs flawlessly with the local seafood we’re known for. The name Tidal Bay was inspired by the influence of the sea and being home to the biggest Tidal changes in the world.” (https://winesofnovascotia.ca/tidal-bay/)

As My Beloved and I sipped, we could not decide on a starter: Garlic Fingers or Wood Fired Pepperoni? We settled on the latter and chose a pizza entitled Salsiccia comprising San Marzano Tomato sauce , fior di latte mozzarella, fennel seed , sausage, roasted red peppers, pesto and aged Parmesan on a thin whole wheat base. Our server asked if we wanted the starter first or together with the main course: I responded ‘first’, but subsequently discovered that it was such a large starter that it would have accompanied the pizza beautifully. Next time.

Part of the large eating area with proper separation

The pepperoni was cut into numerous slices and sauteed in the fire oven. Very tasty, I might add. As for the pizza, it was simply delicious. We love thin crusts and The Rustic Crust pizzas are all very thin. We did not know what San Marzano tomato sauce was and I still don’t, but it seemed to us that it was like any other herbed tomato sauce.

We were hungry, so started on the pizza before taking pic.

While we ate, and while some parents were presumably chatting, some children were pleasantly enjoying themselves using chalk to make a hop-scotch route or just chalking a picture of something on what once had been a paved driveway. It was great to have them there close to us and see them enjoying themselves so much. Much better than having them run around inside a restaurant, as some are wont to do under uninterested parents.

Kids enjoying playtime – others playing hop-scotch to left unseen here.

Of course, there has to be a dessert and even more certain when the choice includes genuine Gelato. So, My Beloved preferred strawberry, I preferred chocolate and asked our server if that could be provided. “Well,” she said, “our ice cream always come with three scoops, so I’m afraid I will have to add our neopolitan scoop.” Oh, what a shame, we said! We’ll have to eat all three scoops.

Tri-flavoured Gelato.

So, our first visit to The Rustic Crust was a rousing success. We will certainly be going back. Before the cold weather comes and threatens to shut things down. Actually, we are meeting a couple of our best friends there tomorrow, Friday.

POSTSCRIPT
In my last post, I recounted (viz below) a story from my past, in which a certain then-colleague and I submitted ourselves to a plethora of wine. His response below:

“For those reading your delightful and informative post, the recounting (and that word was chosen deliberately) of consuming 5 bottles between 2 persons at dinner is accurate.  As to the wine referred to therein, that particular vintage comes from France when the Pope was living there because it was too dangerous to stay in Rome.  It literally means “The Pope’s new castle”.  It is located in Avignon (the bridge made famous in a children’s song) in the Rhone appellation.  The “Avignon Popes” were actually there for about 70 years, but I digress.
“The beloved author of the post/column/rant also introduced me to Barolo wines.  One of Italy’s finest wines.  Although well meaning, I cannot ever forgive him.  I am just a poor country boy and as I have frequently commented, “once you go to Paris it is really hard to go back to the farm”.  Having been seduced to try this wine forever changes you and one now are saddled with a refined palette or at least an addition to your oenophilic experiences.  It is not the education that I regret but the cost of the wine today.  In our liquor stores they range from $36.80 – $92.50 a bottle.  Like Mel, I am no wine snob but this pricing is just not sustainable if you want to enjoy wine in satisfactory quantities over the long haul.  
“In my not so humble opinion the author justifiably is critical of wine snobs, the verbiage around them and other related sins.  He refers to reds and whites, etc.  There is only thing you need to know and that is the best wines are the ones we drink with friends.  Yours very truly, Robert the Red.”

It was, as usual, a pleasure writing to you again, so, until next post, keep healthy, stay safe, keep your mask on, except when dining, and bon appetit.

Adieu until next From time to time….
Please mark me as being followed by you, or say you liked.

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

Wine critiquing

This lovely wine’s nose of lavender with a shade of parsnips simply asks to be be sipped to enable you to balance the elegant forestry redwood nose with the delicate weediness of dandelions and stinkweed palate, all brought to your table from, since one year ago, our family-owned winery.

I am positive you have all read something along those lines when seated in a restaurant (when you could go there without a mask, which might have helped in covering the ‘nose’) and preparing to taste the wine the sommelier brought to the table.

Of course, it may not have been quite so caustic or drastic as that which I have composed as an example, but what I have read many times makes me almost want, to use a good old English word, to puke. Descriptions like, “lofty white floral aromas and fragrant minerality on the nose; while on the palate the wine is plush and full-bodied, superbly fruit-forward with generous mixed red berry fruit, mineral and earth tones, integrated sweet oak spice, augmented by sagebrush undertones with gritty tannins, zippy acid and a persistent finish,” (courtesy Vivino.com).

back wine label how to read

Of course, if you cannot read French, then the information on this back label, of which more later, will not help you establish of what the nose comprises.

There are a few of my friends who can tell the difference between a red and a white, except by colour. And having said that, I’ve lost my wino friends, save those many who don’t care which it is as long as it is a red or a white. Oh, well. I think they know whom I mean. One of them has had many an experience in the past with me, when we were much younger and could drink at least five bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape over a dinner and then be able to find our way back to the hotel. Of course, neither of us could – or would have wanted – to afford even one bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, but, in days of yore, we were on an expense account.

A ‘nose’, of course, means what the wine smells like, while a ‘palate’ could simply be stated as what the wine tastes like. In fact, to obtain the nose of a Chardonnay, a wine of which I do not like the palate, you have to stick your own nose so far into the glass to get the nose, you may cut the bridge of your nose open, or, at least, bruise it. And that’s the reason I don’t like the wine, the palate of it is, in my opinion, zero, tasteless.

Are you a wine snob? Oh, yes, such people do exist. But not I.
I think at one time in my life some years ago I must have had Wine CoVID-19, for my sense of ‘nose’ and ‘palate’ regarding wines seems to have disappeared. I can smell bacon frying and love the taste of salmon, but as for the nose of any wine and then the mandatory sip to get the palate, I may as well not waste the sommelier’s presentation and time. Oh, I can tell a good Malbec from an awful Malbec, but to tell a Malbec from a Pinot Noir, I would have to concentrate hard and come up with, likely, no decision.

But to get back to the wine snob, he, for I have never come across a she wine snob, always presents the bottle for inspection, I would say shows it, to his guests and announces what it is; he always then makes a show of uncorking the bottle and placing the cork on the table for examination before he decants his wine, or to put it in less snobbish tones, he always pours the wine out of the bottle through muslin or some other filter, but never a coffee filter for a wine snob, into a flagon or carafe. From there, he will ask who would like to taste it. Now, this is where the wine snob shows his snobbish expertise. He will watch you like a hawk to see how you pick up the glass, by the stem or by the bowl; how well do you observe the colour; how you take it to your nose to get the nose; how long you take to nose it; how long do you take to taste the palate; and, finally, how do you replace the glass on the table and mumble, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ Of course, you can tell whether he is a wine snob, too, for while you are doing your job, he should be silent, watching you, not making lame jokes with the rest of the table.

Now, if you come to chez moi (that’s a snobbish way of saying, my place), we will usually use my home made wine. No snob here. Unless it’s to use a bottle of wine brought by a guest. But my home made wine is of exquisite quality with a fine nose and noble palate. And, besides, you do not have to go through the rigorous business of being presented with the bottle or nosing or tasting it. No. Because, bottling is a waste of time and as soon as my wine is ready to bottle, I put it back into one of the plastic bags in which the concentrate comes, stick a rubber tap on it and shove it back into a box in which it or some other concentrate came. I call that boxing my wine. No snobbish procedure there. By the way, I get three 7-litre boxes (over 20 litres) out of the one box of concentrate. Works out about $3.50 a litre.

There is one other sign of snobbery, that being the labels. Here is one example:

and here is another:

Let us compare the labels.
Note that the former says it is from Brengman Brothers Estate.
My label says it is from Chateau Melville, and,
elsewhere on the label, at the home of Mel and Beryl.
The former specifically states it is a ‘white wine’, nothing special in other words.
My label states it is a Malbec.
The former says produced in 2016.
My label say this month, August, 2020. But it adds it is a Reserve. Oh, my, that’s almost being snobbish.
I have no idea what is on the back label of the former, but my wine does not have a back label, but simply states that it was made for two particular people, although it is quite likely that others will drink out of the same box. But my label also states that it was made with our own hands and no feet were used in the process.

So, you can see that there is a great deal to say about wine critiquing and, with these words of a wise man I leave you until my next post:

clever wine sayings


Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

I’m Retired

I’m retired – at least, I thought I was

When My Beloved and I finally retired, some few years ago, we thought we would be able to relax, take life at a more sedate pace, even lie in a little – not too long or we wouldn’t be able to do our exercises.

But, take this morning: I had set the alarm for 6.45am, so when the appointed minute arrived, my phone softly woke us. Up, out of bed, shave, bodily functions, shower, dress (that was easy, since I had left the clothes I had on for church yesterday ready for me to jump into), went downstairs to weigh myself and do some easy exercises on our Wii, had breakfast, made sure I had my laptop in my computer bag along with some papers I needed to work on………… hey! Stop right there!

I said I was retired, yet here I am taking some documents to work on. Work. Taking. Where am I going? Oh, to one of my volunteer jobs, at the Reception Desk of the local not-for-profit Commercial Enterprise Centre for four hours every Monday from 8.30am to 12.30pm. I also sometimes assist in another area of the CEC.

But, I also said I was taking some work with me. That’s because we still have one client for whom we provide risk management counsel and Monday mornings at CEC are notably quiet, so I am sometimes able to do real “work”. It keeps the grey cells working, too.

When I get home, it will be lunch time.
Then nap time.

This particular Monday, will be free the rest of the day, so I will do the PowerPoint presentation for next Sunday’s church service. That entails doing the whole service, including the hymns, which the Music Director will have given me, and finding interesting, often humourous, slides as openers and closers. Oh, yes, God has a sense of humour!

The third Monday of every month entails both My Beloved and me attending the church Finance Committee in the evening from 7pm to whenever, but our chair runs an efficient meeting and we can sometimes be away in less than an hour. And if you don’t believe God has a sense of humour, come to a Finance Committee meeting and listen to the discussions about the state of our church.

Tuesday, of course, starts off the same way, although, I admit we may be an hour later arising. I might have to make wine or box it, so that takes most of the morning. I box it, not bottle it: meaning I put the finished wine back into the large 7-litre bags in which the concentrate comes, attach a tap and stuff the bag of wine back into the box in which it came. Oh, it’s much easier than having to wash and sterilise bottles, which, before I became wise, I used to do.

Then comes lunch, but no nap, for this Tuesday, it is our regular Adult Literacy Board meeting, of which I am Chair and My Beloved is Treasurer. Both of us for one more year. 20 years of that is enough and two people are prepared to take on these duties. For the next couple of hours, I try to keep eight or so people, each with his or her individuality, on the Agenda. It’s really strange how quickly we can get sidetracked, sometimes with totally extraneous issues, such a have you tried the new restaurant?Nevertheless, they are a great group of people who become friends over a period of time – and the occasional item of business does get attended to. So, a couple of hours later, back home to get dinner.

Wednesday starts the same way, but we have to get out for My Beloved’s appointment with our family doctor at 9.30am. She’s a hoot and we love visiting her. She is excellent as a doctor, just the very best, but we love the humour with which she is endowed – often at our expense.

After seeing the doc, we drive to the Bulk Barn. Oh, you can spend a complete day there looking at all the different flours, nuts, seasonings, spices, pastas, pastas with no wheat, candies, chocolates, chips and crackers for dipping, dried fruits……..
After we pick up our items, we head for home and lunch. And nap.

Thursday, after the usual program, we head to the chiropractor for adjustments and some bone-cracking. He is very good and we invariably feel our spines are still able to keep us up and walking. Speaking – or writing, rather – about walking, a week or so ago I bought a pair of Nordic Pole walkers and I have found that they are really, really good, once you get the hang of planting each pole alongside the opposite foot. Going up hill is much easier now.

Normally, choir practice would be in the evening, but as our church is putting on two weekends of 3-course dinner theatre, they are rehearsing every day of the week, so no practice . We were told yesterday that performances this Saturday, next Friday and Saturday are totally sold out; only this Friday’s opening night has some seats left.

So, now we get to Friday. Every Friday morning when I do not have another appointment, I attend a Friday morning sort of prayer and book club. It’s fun and we get into all sorts of discussions, most having little to do with the book we have been reading. Sort of like the Board Meeting on Tuesday. Quite often on Friday afternoon, after lunch and nap, we do our weekly grocery shopping, spending all that hard-earned money the government is so generous to give us oldagers – sic with sarcasm.

This coming Saturday, we have volunteered to get to church by 9am to prep the meal for the dinner theatre show that evening. I know I will be spud-bashing, as we used to call it in the RAF, peeling and cutting potatoes. And maybe peeling and cutting carrots in preparation for putting them in the food processor. But it comes with lots of fun and laughter, so it’s a very enjoyable time.

Then lunch and nap. Maybe a long nap. Yes.

Some Saturdays, we go to the theatre, the Neptune, as excellent a professional theatre as one can see anywhere. And, as we always choose the matinee performance, after that, we go and eat. Yum!

Sunday, of course, means we have to get to church to sing in the choir by 9.30am and afterwards, we get together for coffee and nibblies. Then, if you like, you can stay and sit to discuss some bible reading. We don’t like, so we skedaddle. I guess we may pay for that in the next world!

And that’s our week.

Except this past week, we had to go to visit our last and only client in Prince Edward Island (one of our three Maritime provinces). So, that took from Tuesday noon to Thursday late afternoon.

However, some of my fans have been asking about food and telling me I haven’t given any descriptions recently. Well, no, because there haven’t been any posts recently. The last one before this was w—a—a—a—a–y back in mid-July of this year.

So, here’s how we fared with our client last Wednesday evening at a restaurant in Charlottetown called the The Brickhouse Kitchen.

My Beloved and I arrived first, having walked from the hotel in which we were staying, so we chose our seats at the back of the booth and immediately ordered a Pinot Grigio. “Sorry, madam, but we seem to be out of that. ” We jokingly said, well the liquor store is immediately around the corner. Some of our guests arrived and one also would have liked the Pinot Grigio. However, she chose the same as My Beloved, a Spanish white Verdejo. Minutes later one of our guests saw a fellow carrying four bottles of wine crossing the street and into the restaurant. I guess they took us at our word.

Me? Well, you know I would not grace myself with a white, so I ordered a bottle of Argentinian Don David Malbec, after checking they had at least one other bottle in reserve.

We had a shared calamari platter for all of us, one guest having Chowder, My Beloved had half Caesar Salad and blue mussels (obviously PEI mussels); another guest had a Scallop paella; and another the Steak and Fritz; and I, the Salmon Carpacci as a starter followed by the Special of the day, bacon wrapped scallops with brisket and one of the most delicious meat sauces I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, a dish another of our guests also had and she declared it excellent.

Bacon-wrapped scallops and Brisket
Steak and Fritz



And how did we get back to the hotel? One of our lovely guests gave us a ride back, with me in the back seat along with the baby seat.



But, if that is retirement, then it is definitely not quite what a large Life Insurance Company used to imply when advertising Freedom 55.
But I love it.

Bon appétit – for food and retirement!

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

Ramen

Ramen. Or Ramen noodles. I had heard of it: it was even mentioned on CTV’s Your Morning today. But what actually is it. Not being a pasta lover, I had never really thought about it.

Today, we were to have lunch with Charlie and Shirlie. Finally. Yes, there had been at least two previous attempts to get together for lunch at a particular restaurant in the Dartmouth side of Halifax, but because of (a) the first time last year, instead of driving to the restaurant, My Beloved drove me to the ER; and (b) the second attempt just last week, either he or I got the date mixed up and My Beloved and I did not join them in their lunch at Moxie’s.

But today, all four of us made it to Moxie’s. Believe it: a new item on the menu is a bowl of Miso Ramen. I know what miso is, but not knowing anything about ramen and always having been
adventurous, I opted for that with added shrimp. My Beloved opted for the Loaded Hamburger, but iceberg lettuce supplanting the bun, along with a side Caesar salad. Least said about Charlie and Shirlie’s choices the better.

As it was Wednesday, Moxie’s has their wine on at half price, so a bottle of Trapiche Malbec served My Beloved and me during the lunch, 66% for her and 33% for me.

Loaded Lettuce Burger with Caesar Salad

After a special grace, since I didn’t know whether I would survive this, I dived into the noodles with my chopsticks and pulled up a load of them mixed with some Chinese broccoli and a piece of green onion. Mmmm! That sure tasted great. But what was in the sauce which made it so tasty? There definitely was some Sriracha, since a plate accompanied the dish with a bottle on it, should I wish to hotten it up. There were also some mushrooms. And, sitting proudly atop of everything were two half soft-boiled eggs. Have you ever tried to pick a slippery half an egg up with chopsticks? I did it: twice.

Having devoured every solid piece of food in the bowl, I was left with one of the most delicious thin soups I have ever spooned into my mouth. There was plenty of it, but I could have gone on drinking more. But that would have been greedy and I try not to be a gourmand.

My Beloved deconstructed her lettuce burger, as there was no possible way for her to get her small and dainty mouth around it. As it was, the burger was voted just an OK; she could not finish her lettuce nor the salad. As for our friends, they did devour the substantial items on their plates and, as they and I still had left room for dessert, they shared the Fiasco Gelato, two scoops of mint chocolate chip with chocolate sauce – gluten conscious . My Beloved and I shared, 90% me and 10% her, (I let her steal some as I was still trying not to be a gourmand) a luscious flourless dark double chocolate cake, moist & rich, with almond & coconut crust, also with one scoop of the fiasco mint chocolate chip gelato – gluten conscious.

We departed still good friends and looking forward to the next lunch together. At home, I delved into Google to try to find out about ramen. The first thing I learnt was that the word ramen is a Japanese transcription of the Chinese lamian (拉麵) and the noodles are made from wheat. But here is some of what I read:
Ramen noodles contain a preservative called tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which extends their shelf life by quite some time. TBHQ is a byproduct of the petroleum industry and is often listed as an “antioxidant,” but it’s important to realize that it is a synthetic chemical with antioxidant properties — not a natural antioxidant. The chemical prevents oxidation of fats and oils, thereby extending the shelf life of processed foods. You’ll find it in Chicken McNuggets, CHEEZ-Its and Taco Bell beans. You’ll also find it in varnishes, lacquers, and pesticide products. Yuck!  They also contain other horrible additives such as MSG .

Oh, no, you gourmand, you! What went into my stomach?

BUT then I realised they were talking about the instant stuff college kids use as a quick go-to meal and those packages have another package inside, which contains the offensive products.

Should you wish to see something revolting, check out the video in the article at
https://www.littlethings.com/ramen-noodles-inside-stomach-digestion/

But I still asked what did I put in my mouth?

So, I went to Moxie’s web site, Moxie’s.com, and, lo and behold, ALL IS WELL, for this is part of what I found there:
Inspired by the rich culinary landscape of Japanese cuisine, Executive Chef Brandon Thordarson has created a hearty, belly-warming Miso Ramen. Our version is made with vegetarian miso broth flavoured with roasted garlic, nutty sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. We then stir in sambel oelek—a hot paste made from chili peppers, ginger, and shallots. After the broth is perfected, we add gai lan, or Chinese broccoli, fresh green onion, a marinated soft-boiled egg, shiitake mushrooms, and, most importantly, authentic ramen noodles. We invite you to try it with Chasu—fatty slices of braised pork, or sautéed prawns for a boost of protein. And, if you like it spicy, we serve our Miso Ramen with a bottle of Sriracha so you can turn up the heat!

Although I said, all is well, it really is a good meal only on very rare occasions. For, if you explore Moxie’s web site further, click on Food, then Bowls and scroll down to Miso Ramen. Alongside to the right is an (i); clicking on that brings up the Nutritional Information. Although there are good vitamins A and C and also calcium and iron , there are 3650mg of Sodium – salt. A daily value according to Health Canada should not exceed 2300mg, so ………….

…………….I will go back to one of Moxie’s locations – often – but I’ll stick with a Caesar Salad.
Maybe. That ramen was really good.

Posted in Dining, General

Food at the Beginning and at the End

I
t is very odd that I start a post with a food item.
It, customarily, is at the end.

But yesterday, Friday, was unique. We had been eating left over Easter barbecued duck, Chinese style, and we needed fish. Well, we had had fish on Wednesday, but we really needed some more. So I offered to pick up some sushi style tuna and make tuna tartare.

The result was magnificent. Delicious, succulent tuna in light soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, finely chopped green onions (or scallions or spring onions, depending on where you were brought up), grated ginger, lime juice and zest, and, of course, wasabe paste to give it a bit of zing. The mixture, best mixed by hand, set on some lettuce leaves, was enjoyed by My Beloved and me.

Ah! Sumptuous, luscious, delicious sushi-like tuna.
With a glass (or two) of Chateau Melville Malbec.

In the fridge was a lovely wedge of that royal cheese, Stilton – oh, blue cheese is not too bad, but Stilton is the epitome of cheeses – and along with a bottle of Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Port (not the best, but affordable – and in any case, it was a gift from someone, so it didn’t cost me anything), we started on dessert.

However, first things first: a toast to Her Majesty, the Queen.

To Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth!

Oh, yes, my dear readers, one cannot let Stilton slowly melt in your mouth (say that s-l-o-w-l-y and isn’t it aphrodisiacal?) and sip Port without acknowledging a fine British tradition. Way back several centuries ago when Britain truly did rule the waves, the Captain on board a Royal Navy vessel might entertain his officers in his cabin with a meal followed by dessert of Stilton and Port. The rule was that the Captain would pour some Port into his glass first and hand the bottle to his left. That person would then pour into his glass and pass on to his left, all never allowing the bottle to touch the table – or a glass! Imagine that in a rocking ship. But that was why tables were constructed with something like a fixed lazy Susan with holes the size of a wine bottle above the actual table: the bottle could be set in a hole so it would not fall off the table. When the bottle had been around and came back to the Captain, he would set it in the hole, pick up his glass of Port, rise, as would his guests, and toast Her Majesty.

So did your ‘umble scribe and My Beloved.

I remarked earlier on having to eat leftovers of Barbecued Duck. Which brings me to the real item.

I had intended to use an old recipe of mine involving a duck marinated in a Chinese marinade of soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger and some five-spice or anise or some other spice, all of which required an overnight marinating of the duck. However, Friday was Good Friday and, after church, it was not a day, in my opinion, maybe not yours, on which to celebrate and barbecue. So, why not Saturday? Well, because on Easter Sunday we had a sunrise service at church, following which our Men’s Breakfast Group, under my direction, was to provide a real breakfast. That meant getting up at 4.45am in order to be at the church by 5.30am to get things started. The service would end at seven o’clock or soon after and breakfast had to be ready to eat at that time.

Well, after the breakfast, we men had to clean up, dishwash and put tables and chairs away. At 9.30am, I and My Beloved had to be in the choir singing the Lord’s praises and hopefully not fall asleep during the service. After the service, we went home and I was in no mood for barbequing the duck. Besides, it had to be marinated overnight. So, I did prepare the marinade and put duckie in the fridge to suck up the juices and spices.

Which meant we ate the duck on Easter Monday.

Now there was another problem which I had to solve. Two or three years ago, I replaced a barbecue with a new one. But, apparently, I did not give much thought to the purchase. The previous barbecue had an infra-red back burner and a rotisserie on which I had stuck another one or two or three ducks. I had thought the expression ‘hoisted on your own petard’ meant something like that: but I found out that it meant, courtesy and copyright of Grammar Monster, “The term hoisted by one’s own petard means to fall foul of your own deceit or fall into your own trap. This term has its origin in medieval times when a military commander would send forward one of his engineers with a cast-iron container full of gunpowder, called a petard, to blow up a castle gate, obstacle, or bridge. The fuses on these bombs were very unreliable, and sometimes the engineers would be killed when the petards exploded prematurely. The explosion would blow (or hoist) the engineer into the air.” Just like if you turn the propane on and wait too long before igniting it.

Anyway, the new barbecue did not have a back burner nor a rotisserie and of the three I had from previous barbecues, none fitted the current one. So, I had to reimagine the rotisserie and, in fact, it looks nothing like it: simply a duck hoisted on a high rack so heat can circulate.

But it does look good, doesn’t it?

And the finished product looks – and tasted – even better!

BBQ’d Duck, Roasted Parsnips, Peas and Scallion Pancake

So that’s how I ended up starting with a food item and still getting a food item to end the post.


At the moment, as I sign off, it’s pouring with rain – not Port – and I hope you all fare as well with your fare as My Beloved and I do.

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour, Uncategorized

Crossushi, Raw Water and Mouth Cooking

I like to think of myself as a Foodie -sometimes a gourmet and sometimes a gourmand, but always a Foodie.

But recently I came across an article in the Oxford English Dictionaries Word of the Day mentioning crossushi, raw water and mouth cooking and I wondered what they were.

Crossushi, it turns out, is manufactured by a bakery in New York and is a cross between a croissant and sushi as we know and love it: a sesame-seed-topped croissant with smoked salmon, wasabi, and nori seaweed. Well, I could certainly handle that as a Foodie.

Raw Water is something quite different: it is unsterilised water taken by those who do not believe there should be chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals in drinking water. Well, I drink that all the time, since we obtain our water from a 200-ft/65-metre well in our property. The only chemical of distinction in our water is arsenic. True. But I have been drinking it for well over thirty years now and I still have quite a head of hair. But others, apparently, simply get their water from streams and open water. Nah, that’s not for me.

Now we get to Mouth Cooking. Oh, my, after I discovered what that was, again, courtesy of OED, “A viral YouTube video called ‘Cooking With Your Mouth’ features a chef preparing a Christmas turkey stuffing entirely with her mouth – from dicing onions by chewing a big bite to zesting lemon by scraping the rind against her teeth to mixing a raw egg by swishing it around her gums” I decided that was distinctly, definitely outside the realm of this Foodie.

Yes, I have often shared a fork, say an escargot from My Beloved’s dish, or a spoon, say a small piece of my grandson’s chocolate torte, but chewed food out of another’s mouth? Not for me.

The article went on to posit whether Shakespeare was a gourmet or gourmand. Perhaps we will never know for sure, but judging from the many times food is mentioned in his thirty-nine plays one might consider he was, like me, a Foodie. Consider some of his lines:
Eight wild boars roasted whole for breakfast, and but twelve persons there. (Antony and Cleopatra)
Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers (Romeo and Juliet)
Do you think because you are virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? (Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night)
Then again, Drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things………nose painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but takes away the performance. (Macbeth) [Nose painting, by the way, is the reddening of one’s nose through drinking.]

Interestingly, Jennifer Beard wrote a book of recipes based on Shakespeare’s works and one was Shrewsbury Cakes taken from that Twelfth Night quote above https://anaspiringhomemaker.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/shrewsbury-cakes-an-elizabethan-cookbook/.

I cannot end, of course, without recognising that we have had two of our daughters here over the past two months, both providing a huge help in the weeding and planting of flowers. One grandson has also been here helping with some of the heavier chores, such as chopping and stacking wood. They all will be gone towards the end of next week, but shortly after in August, another daughter and her two daughters will be arriving from California. It is possible, hopefully, that a fourth daughter will be arriving by herself (children all grown up and husband cannot get away from work) for a week or two just before the other daughter and granddaughters leave. Too bad our son will not be able to make a trip here from Victoria, BC, but, in September a dear friend from England arrives for three weeks. And, obviously, we will have more adventures for Foodies over the next two or three months.

Last night, one daughter, one grandson, My Beloved and I each had a more than 2-pound

lobster and My Beloved’s fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. Oh, that makes me, with good wine to slosh it all down, like the printers, an all-in-one gourmet, gourmand and Foodie. And if you know our family, you always leave a last slice of new bread to the very end, when it is smothered in butter and Marmite. Oh, yummmmmmy!

And I leave you with some words from this Foodie:

I go to the market to buy me some bacon
but when I get there, my tummy starts achein’,
for I see all the goodies lined up on the shelves
and to them my eyes are drawn all by themselves:
Hershey dark choc’late and Breyer’s ice cream
and things that I love and not just in a dream
like peaches and crumpets and jams with great flavour
and spices which I in my curries can savour.
As I pass by the shelves I select this and that
much more than I came for – and that’s a true fact.
I’ve seen so much choice that my will’s got forsaken
and I choose so much more than the one slab of bacon;
my cart is so laden with peanuts and Ruffles
to get to the car I can barely do shuffles.
It’s not till next morning as I stand on the scales
the neighbours for far sure can all hear my wails.
So, gourmand or gourmet or plain simple Foodie
fill up my tummy and I’ll never be moody.

Posted in Dining, General

Mother’s Day

After railing about grammar in my last post, you might wonder whether it should be Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day. Or maybe you don’t wonder about it.

To be candidly truthful, I wasn’t sure myself. So, not relishing a logomachy, I wondered, even if you don’t, if I could discover what other logophiles had to say about the apostrophe in question.

I discovered that Mother’s Day originated in the United States of America in 1908, when Anna Reeves Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, the US Congress failed to pass a law making the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked Second Sunday in May and Mother’s Day and, after several states made the second Sunday in May a Mother’s Day holiday, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson had Mother’s Day made a national holiday.

Wikipedia says, “Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was [intended to be Jarvis meant – Ed] on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue law suits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honour their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards.”

So, Mother’s Day it is.

I wish I had been more appreciative of my mother’s muliebrity. I was too young to appreciate what sacrifices she made during the war-time rationing, although I did know that she did give up eating something she knew I would like or of which there was not enough for two people.  She was loving, always there for me when I had a fall, or I’d driven an axe into my leg, or, as happened once, an evacuee from London picked up a 2 x 4 and hit me over the head with it, causing the centre of my scalp to stream blood until I had cycled a mile home. Fortunately, no severe damage was done except that it rattled what brain I had around in my head. Not being able to think well caused me to have five kids – at least, that’s my story.

My Mum (or Mummy, but always with a capital M, for she was special) was always there to help others, taking in friends for a weekend or a week or so in our rented house which Dad had found for us well away from the city, to give them some relief from the blitz going on in Southampton, our (and their) home town.

And could she sing! She had a wonderful soprano voice, which, had it been trained, could have taken her onto the concert stage. As it was, she sang beautifully, whether it was at one of our many parties (strictly tea-total, mind you) in our house or in a neighbour’s house in Southampton before and after the war, or at church. People loved to hear her sing accompanied by my Dad, who was a brilliant pianist and likewise could have taken up a concert career instead of teaching.

Mum had a great, if somewhat quirky, or even a slight shade of blue, sense of humour (the blue never being exposed when Dad was around) and I well remember walking along one of our country roads when a convoy of American army trucks passed us and the wolf-whistles the troops made at her made her laugh and laugh. I felt very proud of my Mum. It was only in later life after the war that middle age took its usual toll on shapeliness, as it does to many of us. Photos of Mummy before the war at a beach with Dad and me show a good figure. Oh, is that being chauvinistic?

S-o-o-o-o….

…..what did I do for the mother in this house, My Beloved, who had raised five children?

No, I did not provide breakfast in bed – she would not have appreciated it.
No, I did not provide lunch for her, but I did let her nap –
and then watch tennis all afternoon.
While I also had a nap and then started prepping dinner for her.

Appetiser: Sizzling Tequila Lime Shrimp

This was three large prawns sautéed in butter with grated ginger and garlic. When done, I added the Tequila and flambéed them. When the flame had died down, lime zest and juice were added.

Appetiser

We did not sit at the table: I presented My Beloved with her plate as she sat comfortably in her lazyboy-style chair watching the end of the tennis.

When we had savoured and relished the shrimp and the tennis had finished, I moved back to the kitchen and finished off the main course: Bacon-wrapped chicken stuffed with guacamole. In other words, tender chicken breast which had the heck malloted (newly coined word meaning the breast was smashed thin with a mallot) out of it, rolled up with creamy guacamole and wrapped in bacon that’s grilled until the bacon is nice and crispy! It was declared a success by the one who mattered – actually “matters” always, every day, every minute!

Main - stuffed guacamole bacon-wrapped chicken - 20180518_172702

Accompanying this were grilled asparagus and balsamic soy garlic roasted shrooms. While the asparagus was as one might expect – roasted – they were very thin. My options on buying them were limited: thin, or thin. However, the shrooms were a true success, delivering a sweet and deep flavour such as we had never had with any vegetable before. We will do those again. Soon!

All of this was accompanied with my own Merlot. Several glasses.

Dessert was very simple: vanilla ice cream and coconut chocolate ice cream.

Dessert - IMG_20180513_1952177

And with some or all of those delicious flavours lingering on my and your pallet,
I bid you and Mother’s Day adieu!

 

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

One More Year and Still Going…. and What a Difference a Meal Makes

10th day of March this year of 2018 marked my 85th birthday. And did a year make a difference? No, and but for a few minor health issues dealt with or about to be dealt with, I still feel as fit as last year – or the year before.

So, what made the 10th special were three great happenings? A great hotel, a great theatre, and a great dinner.

First, I had found a good weekend rate and we checked into the Prince George Hotel last Saturday afternoon. Right on check-in time of 3pm.1

We didn’t have more time than to dump our belongings, few though they were for a one-night stay, open the bottle of wine in the room and have a glass each, before we had to leave and go to the Neptune theatre for what turned out to be a totally brilliant performance of The Mountaintop. This short, only one hour-twenty-minute drama was a tour de force for the two actors comprising the cast: Tristan D. Lalla as MThe Mountaintopartin Luther King, Jr. on the evening before assassination day, and Letitia Brookes, as Camae, the flirtatious and temptress room-service waitress. They held us spellbound for the entire eighty minutes with lots of humour and leaving us with a vital message that we, as human beings, still have a long way to go to get racial integration.

Lalla was the mainstay of the entire evening although both of them received three call-backs for their intense and often humourous rendition of their parts. The playwright is a Memphis, Tennessee woman, Katori Hall, the director was Jamaican-born Torontonian,  Ahdri Mandiela, and the cast were Canadians.

Prince SuiteFrom Neptune, we returned to the Prince George only to discover, in the shortened version of this tale, that Atlanta daughter, Jenny, had found out where we were and had had us upgraded to the most luxurious suite in the hotel, the Prince Suite. Mind, you, I later discovered that she, as only she can, wangled and wrought wonders with the staff to reduce the cost astonishingly.  Not that that mattered to us, as she had taken care of the stay and thrown in dinner for us, which My Beloved and I had previously reserved in the very good hotel restaurant, Gio.  I had been particularly careful not to tell any of our family and only one friend, and she not until around our check-in time, where we were going to stay and eat. But the wiles of Jennifer Anne are hyperacute. The following day, we walked out with zero on our credit card. Oh, she does something like this every year on our birthdays, for she can do a two-for-one, My Beloved’s birthday being eight days later, tomorrow, in fact. My Beloved and I believe it is wonderful that she is able to do this for us and we are annually very, very grateful.

We dressed differently for dinner, discarding our casual theatre garb for more formal dress. Except that I had intended to wear a navy blazer, grey trousers, blue shirt and red tie. Only I forget to put the blazer in the car. What did I say at the beginning of this post – I was that day 85, so we will ascribe the forgetfulness to a sense of joyful achievement. So, I was left with a red cashmere sweater and a red tie. It worked, sort of.

Table plant
Interesting table plant – do not know it.

Chantel, with whom Jenny had worked regarding the restaurant, was not our server, but came over to the table and welcomed us and told us she had enjoyed working with Jenny. Our server was Hannah and she was just wonderful, hiding our wine, Trapiche Iscay, and suddenly appearing with it just as the glasses were getting low.

While we were sipping our wine, Hannah brought some lovely soft bread with oil and balsamic vinegar – always a winner for both of us.

My Beloved started with a squash soup, roasted and pickled squash, chili oil (only a dash, please asked My Beloved), cinnamon, and crème fraîche all of

Squash Soup
Squash Soup

which was truly tasty and filling, so that when it came to her main course, she opted for another appetiser of Pork and Beans. Yes, you may well smile, but when they arrived, the plate had three strips of caramelized pork shoulder, navy beans, molasses and pickled Brussels sprouts (which neither of us had seen before). Very, very good, she declared!

IMG_20180310_1958467.jpgBetween the appetisers and the mains, Hannah arrived with what I can only describe as a very tasty amuse-guelle in a porcelain Chinese soup spoon. Although Hannah explained what it was, I have no recollection of her description.

 

IMG_20180310_1938400My appetiser was something I had not seen on a menu for years, although it had always been a favourite of mine: sweetbreads. No, that is not a form of sourdough bread; it is – usually – either the thymus or the pancreas of a calf or lamb. Mine were described on the menu as breaded sweet breads, focaccia, mushrooms, pickled egg and tempura enoki mushrooms. Oh, how these sweetbreads brought back so many far-off memories of delicious ones, especially creamed, eaten with my parents during or after the war (WWII, not WWI), as during the war meat was scarce or unobtainable, but you ate every part of an animal. When creamed, they are soft and tender and these at Gio, although soft in the middle, were spoiled a little by the fried breading. Nevertheless, I enjoyed them immensely. I have had them since the war, certainly dining somewhere in North America with My Beloved, but it was a long time ago and neither of us can remember where or when.

 

IMG_20180310_2000573Back to my main, which was three delicious large Digby scallops with rye spätzle, corned beef, chestnuts, kale, brown butter cream, capers, squash purée and crispy sauerkraut. Wow! What an aggregation! But it can be described as par excellence.

As my family all know, I am very partial to the large local Nova Scotian scallops from around the town of Digby.

 

IMG_20180310_2044000Following this wonderful dinner, we ordered our digestifs, Cointreau on the rocks for My Beloved and a Chocolate Coffee, consisting of kahlúa, bailey’s, crème de cacao, grand marnier and chocolate with whipped cream on top for me, the Birthday Kid.

Suddenly out of the somewhere, Hannah appeared with a chocolate dessert.

IMG_20180310_2049435.jpg

As could be expected after such a sumptuous course, we retired to our Prince Suite and just sat, relaxed, sipping the last of the previous room’s bottle of wine, when, lo and IMG_20180310_2205505behold, a doorbell rang and who should appear but a room service server with a plateful of our favourite Stilton and glasses of Port. Oh, and a few grapes, but who cared about them.

Pizza

So, what a difference a meal makes? Yes, yesterday, I undertook to create a cauliflower crusted pizza  It was a lot of work cooking and shredding the cauliflower, grating Parmesan and Mozzarella, lots and lots of it, chopping salami, pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, cooking bacon and chopping it, cooking the base, then assembling it all with store-bought pizza sauce and a layer of cheese, then layer upon layer of meat, mushrooms and bacon, separated with even more cheese.

Well, we had a very good appetiser of shrimp in avocados, but the pizza left a lot to be desired. Could it really be called pizza?

Could it be compared to Gio’s dinner? Yes – it was edible, but will not be repeated.

Of course, neither may the Prince George adventure and experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Dining, General, humour

It’s winter, but…….

Sure, just a couple of days ago it was above freezing.
Now it is -4C and going down tonight to -11C.

And, call me a liar, I said there was no snow.
Now there is.

IMG_20171216_1017586

The sun was shining brilliantly, so I cleared the snow off the decks – no worries, it was light fluffy stuff and I just pushed it over the sides of the decks, so no lifting – and I felt wonderful. It was exciting to be back in snowland after so many years away from it.

Even better was the fact that I could watch all my friends: Mr & Mrs Blue Jay and a few others, the Black-capped Chickadees, the Dark-eyed Junkos and even a remaining pair of Goldfinches, which I did not expect to see. And from time to time, they all came to one or other of my four feeders. Additionally, the two regular red friendly squirrels came as soon as I started to refill one of the feeders. One is Noisy, because he is noisy, and One-eye, because he has only one eye. He’s my favourite and has been around for at least three years, feeding from our hands every summer, so I imagine he is very pleased to see we are vacationing at home this winter. How he manages to survive, jumping from branch to branch, never falling, with only one eye, is a wonder of nature.

IMG_20171217_1603458

The last time I was able to watch my feeders during winter, some twenty years ago, there were never any Goldfinches around at Christmas. However, I now see that they are quite common at Christmas and I am very happy. No global warming? Ha! Their colouring, however, is very dull with no yellow on the male at all, just the olive-greeny shade. There are actually two in the next picture, one on each side of the feeder.

IMG_20171217_1426125 - cropped

Now I have to admit that, aside from having to get rid of a little bit of snow, winter can be quite pleasant. My Beloved and I live in our house with five acres, basically unable to see our neighbours through the forest of trees, able to view the Atlantic Ocean in St. Margaret’s Bay from 100 metres up above, occasionally watching the lobster boats when lobster is in season as now, or the sailboats in the spring through autumn, being able to feed and talk to our avian and mammalian friends, with a feeling, even in winter, that all’s right with God’s world and we are blessed to be able to live and share in it.

Now, what’s for dinner, just to underline that all’s right with God’s world, particularly in this house at our feeding time at our feeder? First, a wonderful, flavourful beef stew, filled with carrots, cabbage, onion, herbs, garlic (how can you eat without that), with potatoes to mash into it and a glass of wine to accompany it.

IMG_20171217_1905307

But, delicious as that was, I did not finish it – it’s now leftovers for Tuesday’s dinner, for we have to be out early on Tuesday for carols at a Seniors’ home followed by choir practice at our church. And I had to leave room for dessert. Simply had to.

IMG_20171217_1932558

Oh, a so scrumptious apple and wild blueberry crumble. The apples were from our own tree; the blueberries had been handpicked by someone and frozen by My Beloved. And she has a secret for the crumble, which I shall share with you: mix in some crystallized ginger – what a difference it makes.

As I wrote above, It’s winter, but…. how could such a wonderful day; singing joyful songs in church for the 3rd Sunday in Advent; a gorgeous afternoon out on the deck with my little friends; and a superb home-cooked meal be surpassed?

On Facebook, my nom-de-plume is Nuntius Muse.

Until the muse catches hold of me again, it will be from time to time.