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.

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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.

 

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

You know it’s summer when….

You know it’s summer when….

  • you have experienced a daughter and grandson staying with you for six weeks,
  • a couple of friends from Atlanta arrive during that period of time
  • and your son, his wife and two teens arrive arrive towards the end of that time and overlap completely.
  • Then there is a gap of about four days before another couple arrive.
  • Towards the end of August another grandson and his girlfriend arrive for eleven days.

The firt listed event is still on-going.
The last three mentioned have not yet happened – but will. Very soon.

Wow! It’s go, go, go! Being entertained and entertaining. Which, in normal times is just routine, but My Beloved has been debilitated by some freak twist of her back, which jerked the hip around, which jerked the knee around. The daughter who brought the grandson also has back, hip and IT band problems.

Darned good job I’m healthy!Someone has to keep the flag flying.

Oh, but despite the physical infirmaties, we all seem to have been having a great time. Daughter and grandson have been helping out with many of the gardening chores, such as planting bedding plants and trimming hedges. Our guests from Atlanta felled trees, trimmed them and cut some up for firewood, thereby allowing us a better view of the bay and the islands. And also fixed a troublesome pond pump and electrical connection with the house. We thought. But now it seems we may have a leak in the liner, for the sum of the water circulating and evaporating is greater than the sum of the water entering through a float valve. Hmm!

But, of course, there is always dining with family and friends. Just a week or so ago, we dined with two other couples at the house of one of them and enjoyed a fine meal, but, more importantly, we enjoyed each other’s company and socialising.

And a couple of days ago, the friends from Atlanta, our daughter and grandson, My Beloved and I took two cars to the Rope Loft restaurant in Chester – three boys in one and three girls in the other –  and spent a lovely evening on the deck. And since I am frequently told by some of my readers that you all enjoy reading about our dining adventures, here’s what happened at the Rope Loft.

Six of us descended on the restaurant just after 5pm on a Friday afternoon when the harbour was filled with boats and the streets laden with cars. However, one of our number jumped out and enquired whether there was a waiting time for a table and quickly returned with the thumbs up. They could accommodate us immediately.


We were seated on the top deck with a perfect view of the harbour and able to watch the Tancook Ferry come in and out. Our server, Heather, was fun all evening and I’m sure one of our number (one of the four from Atlanta and we will call him our host, for he insisted on paying the bill at the end of the evening) gave her a good tip at the end of a lovely 2-hour meal. It was two hours because we enjoyed eating and drinking slowly and Heather never made us feel at all rushed. BTW there were a few tables available, anyway!!

We started with drinks, one spicy Virgin Mary for a grandson and one similar one for his grandfather, since he was one of the drivers of the two cars. As it turned out, our host had recently experienced our famous Keith’s IPA and he had fallen in love with it, so he started with one of those. His lovely wife and our daughter and mother of our grandson both had double vodkas with juice of a lime and lots of ice; a concoction daughter has been using of late.  My Beloved had a Bulwark Cider, which is on tap. We also ordered a litre of the Nova Scotia Jost’s red wine for four of us to share.
Oh…………and subsequently, another half-litre.
And I started on the litre. You can’t let red wine sit too long or the fruit flies will drink it all. That’s my story and I’ll stick with it.


We also ordered three orders of garlic cheese toast, which, when they came, were very quickly devoured as they were so scrumptious. (The pic is of one order.)

 

 

As main courses, our host ordered a dozen raw oysters, but three of those somehow fell into my daughter’s plate and another three into mine. To make up for his losses, he he also ordered the Friday special 6-oz tenderloin. While he and we all said the oysters were small, but very tasty, I did not here any particular comment about his tenderloin, so I suppose it passed the test.


Our grandson had an appetiser of smoked salmon pate comprising smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and shallots all freshly blended on slices of fresh baguette. As a main, he had a burger stuffed with onion, tomato, bacon and Cheddar cheese with fries (he asked for no lettuce – he’s no vegan), which he avariciously inhaled, although grandmother said he had to eat it all or there would be no dessert. Which he did.

His mother had the peel and eat shrimp  – declared by her to be ‘fantastic’; the flavour and blend of the garlicky and spicy sweet roasted red pepper sauce were outstanding.


Our host’s wife had the fish cakes, which she found bland, but after adding Tabasco, she quite enjoyed them. Homemade baked beans came with them but she donated them to her spouse.

My Beloved had the 1-lb bowl of mussels – an eternal and world-wide favourite of hers, having eaten them in New Zealand, Chile, and various countries in Europe –  and, although on the small side, she said they were very good, but the excellent broth, which had a touch of lemon and garlic in white wine, was delicious.
Of course, white wine falls into the eternal and world-wide favourite category, too.
Along with red wine.

My choice for main course was the fried clams and chips. These were not on the menu but Heather told us they were available. I had been seeking a menu with these for a month or more. However, I found the batter was heavy on the clams; but the accompanying creamy garlic dipping sauce made they  very palatable. The chips were crisp and some of the best I have tasted. I am sure they double-fried them.

Our grandson had earned his dessert, so he chose the coconut cream pie. Apparently, after we all had tasted and agreed with his estimation that it was supremely tasty, he was was not left with much of it; so another had to be ordered, so we could all have another taste and leave two-thirds of it for him.

 

All-in-all, a thoroughly fine summer evening under the evening sun with a delightful setting and atmosphere on the wharf where casual or sailing garb is de rigueur. How enjoyable it is to have food and drink with one’s family and friends. What pleasures we can have in simple meals with those we love!