Posted in General, humor, humour

Know Your Guests By their Food

Every year it seems, My Beloved and I host family or friends guests from  about the third week of June,  for all of July, most of August, and well into September.

And we enjoy every day of that time!
And, more to the point, THEY enjoy every moment of every day!

Why wouldn’t you when you can wake up in the Guest room to this scene:

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So, what does food have to do with our guests?
EVERYTHING!

When they have awoken, some like breakfast; some nothing to eat, but maybe a cup of coffee or tea. If they like breakfast, they may well like a British breakfast with my special extra-creamy scrambled eggs, such as these two Atlanta, GA, friends of ours, J and C, at the far end of the table:

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Others, like N and J from Palm Springs, California, like cereal. (Note to self: make sure the Best Before date is more recent than two years ago.) And/or fruit.

Some, like T and S from Cleveland, bring a trailer and prefer to have breakfast in their abode before emerging for the rest of the day with us.

One of our daughters, Jenny, Jack eating hamburger - IMG_20160715_2007410and her 13-year old son, Jack, come in June every year and stay for all of July, as Jack takes sailing lessons at St. Margaret’s Bay Sailing Club. Last year, the day after their arrival, they were up early,
joined us at our church for morning service,
followed by lots of fun at the Parish barbecue.
Hamburgers and hot dogs for all. Including young Jack
trying to stuff a complete hamburger in his mouth.
Some breakfast! But his teenage appetite is something else!

Lunches are very variable. Some like almonds, yogourt and fruit. We tend to eat those items for lunch, so apples, grapes, bananas, pears or plums are always in the larder or either the kitchen or downstairs fridge. Or there’s always White Sails down Peggy’s Cove road for mountainous Montreal smoked meat sandwiches on rye with sauerkraut and French fries with poutine on the side. Some lunch!

There are some whose digestive system will take any punishment and they need new (preferably) bread, lots of butter, loads of salami or ham slices and mustard and pickles.
Again, some lunch!

I must admit that I have been known at least once in the past decade to have a  new bread thickly-spread peanut butter and tomato or banana sandwich. And there has to be a good layer of butter under the peanut butter.
Well, maybe more than one in a decade.
And there is an alternative, such as today’s lunch of lovely crunchy bread, butter, but because the kitchen was quite cool today, it was impossible to spread the butter thinly – sort of sliced butter – and a reasonable slice of Velveeta. Yes, I have always loved Velveeta, so what, you critics!

New bread with cold butter that won’t spread, so it has to go on rather thickly, and Marmite - IMG_20180522_1226206Marmite is a delight My Beloved, some of our five kids and I relish. Marmite? Ah, go to the British section of the supermarket.  Or World Market in Palm Springs. Yes, it’s a British thing, I’m told, and if you have not been brought up with Marmite, you may not, at a mature age as is Robb, like it. But give it a try – Robb does time and time again: new bread, thickly spread butter and Marmite very lightly spread – you don’t need much. You can also use it in gravies. I think it could be used as a spy test: if you don’t like Marmite, you must be a Russian spy.

Then there are the dinner choices for our guests. Some may have allergies, such as shellfish like K, or Garlic – yes garlic – like J, or onions like D. And there are those like R who are steak people. Or roast beef like Tanis – oh, but wait a minute, she likes Greek and sushi, too.

Take them to a restaurant and see what they order. Do they select the escargots or a chowder? Do they choose salmon or lamb chops? And do they eat desserts? It’s a way of finding out our friends’ preferences.

My Beloved and I rarely eat desserts – virtually never at home – and, if we do choose one at a restaurant, we are likely to share a chocolate mousse. But watch C, he will have the most luscious strawberry Charlotte Russe the house can offer – not this house though, it takes too long to prepare.
However, if I can find plantains, I will flambé them for guests.

Let them get black as the ace of spades, the plantains, not the guests – some people see them on the top of our fridge and think they are rotting bananas. The blacker they are, the better. Carefully run a sharp-pointed knife down the inside curve of the plantain, trying to penetrate only the skin, not the fruit itself, and the skin will peel off. Slice them into 1cm disks. Heat a cast iron fry pan and when medium hot, add a good chunk of butter and some brown sugar. When the butter and sugar have melted, add the plantain disks. Sauté until they are nicely browned, then flip them and do the other side. Just when they are ready to serve, pour in a good splash of brandy or Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice, remove the pan well away from the stove keeping your head well away, too, and ignite the spirit with a long match. Your guests will be amazed at the result! Serve and pour the pan juices over the plantains.

That appears as if I do the cooking: no way, My Beloved is the best cook in the world and she it is at the heart of our home-made gastronomic experiences. But we work well together at helping our guests.

Some guests, of course, are omnivores. They are very easy to please. They’ll eat anything and everything.

Which brings up the fact that, while all our guests may prefer a certain food or type of food, they are all wonderful people and all are accommodating, willing, allergies aside, to eat, or at least try, what we put in front of them.

If you come and stay with us, you have been warned: your choice at a restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you will get at Chez Nous. But we will get to know you by your food choices and you will get love and food prepared lovingly.

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General, humor, humour, Uncategorized

What a Difference a Play Makes!

Yesterday, My Beloved and I went to our excellent downtown Neptune Theatre to see
– and hear, of course –
Jonas and Barry In The Home

Jonas and Barry - IMG_20180128_1608275.jpg

It was hilarious!

The playwright, Norm Foster, a Canadian – a Maritimer, actually, coming from New Brunswick – has written 59 plays, I believe most, if not all, are comedies, and in any year has at least 150 productions in Canada. I have seen only two or three, but thoroughly enjoyed laughing through them.

Barry is a curmudgeon, as Jonas initially calls him, having come into the seniors’ retirement home on the basis that his daughter, who works there, wanted him closer so that she didn’t want to go to see him at his house, only to find that the place smelled of rotting flesh, he having died two weeks previously. Jonas gradually gets Barry to open up and meet “girls”. Jonas is quite the flirt and has a libido as wide as the horizon. (At one point, he admits to Barry that one evening, he looks at himself and sees “an old man’s penis”, small and flaccid.)

Jonas continues to build Barry’s confidence up throughout the play and Barry eventually turns into a man-about-town. And interesting to us was that Norm Foster himself played Jonas. The essence the Director wanted to leave with us at the end of the production was make yourself happy first and then others will be made happy by your attitude.

If you should ever have the opportunity of seeing this, or any other Norm Foster play, do go and see it.

And after the matinee performance? Dinner, of course. At a restaurant to which we had never been, but just 100 paces from Neptune’s door, East of Grafton, a tavern of sorts.

We, apparently, should have had a reservation, for they were full, the hostess told us, except for two seats at the bar or at one of the high tables, where the stools have no backrest. So, we were in a quandary, trying to decide if we wanted to stay in one of the two uncomfortable places or leave, when a young server came up to the hostess and told her he could find us two seats at a table for four, which, we presumed, the people had reserved and not turned up. Ah, God works in mysterious ways, even on the floor of a pub.

We ordered a bottle of Malbec, one of our favourite wines from Argentina, and perused the menu. On our way to the Neptune performance, we had glanced at the menu on the window, so it did not take long for me to decide on the Salmon Tartare and Fish and Chips. My Beloved pondered over it longer, because we could not find the Open Face Lamb Sandwich on the menu, but which we had seen on the menu on the window. “Oh,” our server told us, “that is only on the lunch menu, however,” she continued, “I will see if the chef will be able to put one together for you.”

Our lovely young woman quickly returned and informed us that the chef said he has one lamb sandwich left and My Beloved can have it. Oh, seems like God continued to work in mysterious ways in the pub!

My Salmon Tartare came with a couple of toasted slices of French bread and was more than delicious: wonderfully sushi-ish, ground up salmon mixed with some form of creamy sauce, possibly with dill involvement. My Beloved had a couple of bites and declared it to be as good as I had.

My Beloved’s Lamb Sandwich arrived.

Open face Lamb Sandwhich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to My Beloved, the lamb was sitting in a bowl of bread and it did not really live up to its promise – not that I heard it promise anything – but the lamb was a bit dry, she said. Perhaps it had been sitting on a shelf since lunch.

As far as my fish and chips was concerned, I had been informed that the remoulade on the fish was unavailable last night. That didn’t make any difference to me, as I had no idea what a remoulade was, so I didn’t miss it. The haddock fillet was quite large, larger than those we have been able to get fresh recently, and cooked just nicely: that is, still a little moist inside, so it is not at all dry. And the fries, oh, they were excellent. Small, thin and well deep fried. Mmmm! I shouldn’t have had them. I should have ordered a side salad. I’m sure glad I didn’t, though.

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And to you, My Friends, I bid you bon appetit with whatever you are about to eat and leave you with the following thought……

bacon-quote-quotes-Favim.com-640819

or, Shakespeare said….

A man cannot make him laugh – but that’s no marvel; he drinks no wine.

Henry IV – Part 2 – Act 4 – Scene 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Uncategorized

Super Bowl XLVII

Super Bowl XLVII???????????????

Biggest darn bunch of malarkey since the USA claimed to win the war against Canada of 1812. Even though we burnt the White House, yet! The only thing super about it is the amount of build-up and hype created around it. A frenzy of articles, commentaries and advertisements.

But, this is America and I must say that when you have a friend like Terry, you tend to get caught up in the hype and expectations, too. Terry likes the big TV screen our landlord installed a couple of years ago and the fact that he can watch the game in High Definition. So, Terry negotiated himself to watch the Big Game last Sunday, 3rd of February. Oh, yes, it was between the winner of the American Football Conference, Baltimore Ravens, and the winner of the National Football Conference, San Francisco 49ers, to decide which team was the champion of the National Football League. It was played in New Orleans and what more could be added to the hype than that great and exciting city?

But, Terry’s bargaining chip to watch the game was (and he volunteered this) to provide all of the snacks and main meal and wine. Well, on getting home around 12.30pm from church yesterday, there was Terry standing in his PJs up on his second-storey balcony with a glass of what looked like Champagne in his hand.

“Are you hungry?”, he asked. “ Not exactly,” My Beloved responded (she, who had already had a good portion of Mexican Bread Pudding in the Church Hall after the service). “Well, would you like some snacks?” “Sure,” we both replied. (I must also admit, or suffer spousal abuse, I had also had a goodly portion of that gooey Mexican thing.)

A few minutes later, Terry, still in his PJs, duly walked through our door (he didn’t break it, it was open) and deposited a container of wantons he had just
made.

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Yes, he had just made them, stuffed with mushrooms, water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, bamboo shoots and soy, and deep fried to a delicate shade of tasty. Very tasty! But it was not yet one o’clock and the game was not to start until half past three, so My Beloved started munching on them while doing financials for the Adult Literacy Group of which she is Treasurer back in Nova Scotia and which was to have a Skype meeting with us Tuesday morning (allowing for the four hour time difference). And so many wantons did he bring. Must have been, including the second batch he brought down, a couple of dozen. Well, that was the end of the financials. I am terribly ashamed, or is it proud, to say that, while we watched Mickelson stroke his way to glory in Phoenix Waste Management PGA Tour, we scoffed the lot.

IMG_1022 - SMALLAt about the end of the golf we switched to the pre-game channel and Terry arrived with a huge bowl of Edamame pods on which we snacked all afternoon (and I finished up along with my cereal and raspberries for breakfast next morning – peculiar combination, but not all mixed in together), the main course of chicken thighs marinated and then cooked in a most delicious sauce of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sliced garlic, sliced ginger, chopped green onions, sIMG_1021 - SMALLesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Served with rice, which Terry also provided, this was outstanding or, as today’s jargon goes, awesome.

My Beloved and I swilled it all down with, initially, some imported English Strongbow apple cider, then she joined Terry with a couple of bottles of white wine he had also brought. After my 12-oz bottle of cider, I stuck to my true and tested home-made Merlot.

Terry is absolutely sure that had any two of the four ‘wrong’ decisions the referees, or zebras, ‘incorrectly’ gave not been awarded, our team would have won.

Who cares that the wrong team won and that our team (being here on the West Coast), the 49ers, lost? And who cares that American football is played on a smaller field than Canadian football, yet it requires four ‘downs’ to move the ball ten yards in order to retain possession, whereas we Canadians seem able to do that with only three ‘downs’. And who cares that the World Cup of baseball involves less than 20 countries? And who cares that the world cup of cricket involves well over a hundred countries. And who cares that the Association Football (soccer) world cup involves over a couple of hundred countries.

Who cares? We didn’t. And don’t. We had a great time with outstanding food, drink and company. And My Beloved and I did not have to do a single thing except sit back, eat, drink and enjoy Beyoncé during the half-time entertainment.

My Beloved did aquasizes with the ladies’ group and afterwards swam some lengths while I swam 80 lengths (one kilometre) Monday morning to try to get some of the added weight off. We care about that.