This title is almost biblical, sounds like the Prophet Abraham and his son Isaac and the sacrifice asked by God. Luckily it ended in a lamb shank dinner.
So today is Father’s day, a bit of a commercial holiday like Mother’s day. But at the Farmer’s Market a lady from whom I bought stocks of rhubarb, wished me a happy Sunday (that is very Italian) and a happy father’s day, which surprised me. It also got me to think.
Today I am cooking for dinner 2 lamb shanks from well known local farm and their lamb is delicious. It takes about 2 hours to cook slowly with some thyme and rosemary. This is a meal I would have in Jordan every Friday, being prayer day for Muslims, we had the day off. Lamb in Jordan is a very traditional dish and it is prepared with much care. Lamb also appears at religious festivals, this of course is taken from Scripture and the Koran is basically the Old Testament with its stories and various prophets like Abraham, Moses, etc, including Jesus and his mother Mary.
So I was thinking if I had a son what would I want for him. I was reminded yesterday at a concert piano recital at the Club of Chopin, Bartok and J.S. Bach by young 12 yr old musicians, how education is so important to create a happy life and future for children.
I would emphasize reading and love of books, starting by books suitable for the age and then progressing to more serious books with time.
I would encourage visits to art galleries and museums, learning about paintings and its historical evolution and understanding what influenced painters is important because it develops the sense of observation and appreciation.
Learn to cook and appreciate food in many various forms. This is a life skill in my book, I find that people who cannot appreciate food or would not know how to boil an egg are deprived of an important life skill. Frozen food and fast food is not the solution, I unfortunately know people who feed their kids nothing but junk food because it is so easy to do so. Learning completely about vegetables and fruits, what is in season and what is not, appreciate cheeses from various cultures, there is more to life than commercial cheddar, baking is also an important skill.
This I would pair with learning about wines and how quality is not expressed in the price of a bottle, but the simple pleasure of what is good.
I would try to develop in him a taste for all cultures, pointing out that there is nothing to fear in what may appear strange or different. This is tied to learning languages, speaking a minimum of 3 languages fluently to me is essential to life, because if you speak many languages it opens doors to understanding others.
Above all, I would teach him to appreciate quality in all things and shy away from the simplistic and average.
Finally respect for people and a sense of civic duty and responsibility towards your community.
Children are a responsibility and need lots of care and at the same time the parent has to develop in the child self-assurance and natural curiosity. This is too often completely lacking in our world today.
In 2015 the Winter in PEI did not start before mid-January, there was no snow, nothing, very quiet weather wise and then all of a sudden every 4 to 7 days a major snowstorm and it lasted for 2 who months. There was so much snow that no one knew what to do with it and life became difficult for many. The City had no where to put it, people could not get out of their homes, some people lost their homes to house fires simply because the Fire Dept could not get to them, blocked by giant snow banks. Here is an archival picture of what it was like. People were in shock, yes we are Canadians but there is a limit to everything, the cold also was intense. We missed it all by arriving in May 2016.
Hopefully this year 2022 will not be a repeat but we have had 2 major snow storms in 7 days. The City has had little time to clean up after the first storm. We also have now Omicron and 2 people died last night in hospital, the first of this pandemic. People are scared and concerned.
Needless to say, tonight the storm is over but the streets remain unplowed and the sidewalks well they disappeared under 4 feet of snow. It is very heavy snow, very compact and it is about -28C right now. So walking the dogs is short and sweet, they do not want to be outside.
While this was happening Will was making meat pies aka Tourtière, small ones for 2 so we can have them for dinner. Tomorrow he is making his lasagna with béchamel sauce. He already made his meat sauce. For the pie crust he uses a little vodka, it makes it more flakey.
With the Winter weather and all the Omicron talk, we like many people are staying home. We also are doing a lot of home cooked meals. Will follows this channel on YouTube called
Glen and Friends, he is a fellow who lives in Ontario and from his converted garage brings up all manner of recipes. But Will also has a lot of recipes which are his standards and we use them for dinner parties. One was Chicken Marbella, which was always well received and it is easy to make. Another is a pasta dish with a dill cream smoke salmon sauce served with Papardelle noodles. He has also made blueberry and lemon bread and various sweets during Christmas. His Salisburry steaks with mushroom sauce was very good. He also made wonderful meatballs from a recipe a friend used and it was another great success.
Tonight we are doing Halibut which is one of my favourite fish and is only fished are very define periods of the year, it is also a low fat fish of the family of the flounder. I do prefer Halibut to Haddock or Cod. Eaten fresh, the meat has a clean taste and requires little seasoning. Halibut is noted for its dense and firm texture. We have another recipe for fish tonight.
So today Will is getting is booster shot and I am getting mine next week. After that we should be good to go, as they say. I was discussing with a fellow member of the Club this pandemic and he said to me, why do I need to know that we have in PEI or Canada so many new cases each day or how many end up in hospital ,how does that affect me. This person is fully vaccinated and boosted. I also feel the same way about it, it’s needless information, I am fully aware that this is serious and I do what is necessary, beyond that, it is out of my hands.
I have here with me my Vaccination booklet, which shows all the vaccinations I received for various endemic diseases to places on Earth I travelled to for my work. The Medical staff always told us what precautions to take and also that the vaccines usually protected you up to 80% the rest well is up to luck. Never had any problems with getting vaccinated, I did not want to get any of those diseases, which were often long term and fatal. However my understanding was and still is, life goes on. You have a job to do or you need to be somewhere and you are careful, so that is life. No one told me my life would be disease free or that I would live to be 100 + which I do not want to do anyway. So after the booster, we will look at things very differently and take the attitude I took when in an Endemic region of the World that Life Goes On.
On American thanksgiving both my sister and my brother who are American Citz sent pictures of what they were doing. My sister and her husband got dinner at a Jewish Deli they have been frequenting for decades. My brother and his wife who live in Florida had roast beef. My brother loves to BBQ and he is very good at it, he also like to use his smoker and that is how he cooked the prime rib. I wish I had been there because I know how good it must have been.
Hopefully in 2022 we can visit and see each other. I also hope that my sister will come up to visit PEI.
On Instagram and on YouTube you will find many cooking tips and shows. Some of it is fine and works well, others not so much and you need some common sense and cooking knowledge to avoid mistakes or tips that are clearly wrong. A few years ago I remember seeing one demonstration on how to use the Bialetti Espresso maker, the demonstration and advice was clearly wrong and would never work. I only knew this because I have been using this Bialetti machine for years. But for anyone not familiar you could easily fall for it.
The other night we had a large bowl of leftover rice in the fridge from a previous night. I wanted to make Fried Rice but usually in the past the results was a mushy over seasoned rice with too much soya sauce, very disappointing.
I found an Asian woman who has several recipes on YouTube and hers on Fried Rice looked easy (it should be easy) and it had ingredients I had never considered to add before like Oyster Sauce and Sesame Oil. She also advised to make sure the pan was very hot when you add the rice to avoid, because rice is glutenous, that mushy clumpy result. She used bacon fat instead of oil, she did say that it was unusual for Chinese cooking but the fat of the bacon was a good thing. Butter lots of it can also be used.
The cold rice in the bowl already had chopped onion, red pepper, green pepper, celery and chopped carrots, I added mushrooms and broccoli florets. I first started with sautéing the mushrooms and broccoli for a few minutes, then set aside, I added more butter and scrambled 2 eggs quickly and set it aside.
I put the pan on high heat and added more butter and then the rice and the mushrooms, broccoli and scrambled eggs all together, mixed it up well. I then added the oyster sauce I Tsp, I Tsp of soya sauce and a sprinkle of Sesame Oil. Mixed it all well and continued to cook for a few more minutes and served. The garnish on top is simply the green tips of green onions.
I think that the Oyster sauce and the Sesame Oil made all the difference. It was perfect and I was very happy with the results.
In my lifetime, I picked up a lot of information about various topics. It follows no one field of knowledge it is just a very diverse group of topics. I have interests in Archeology, history, languages, cuisine, culture, the arts, music, politics, diplomacy and protocol. On the other hand I have no interests in sports of any kind or the mundane, like television, american movies, pop culture including popular music, fast food and vulgarities.
This leads me to read on various topics, anything that strikes my fancy. I can walk into a bookstore and pick up a book, any book and read two or three pages and will know right then if I am going to buy it or not. My love of ancient sites and archeology. In Jordan I often visited the Roman city of Jerash or Gerasa in the Bible. A site built by the Romans and one which saw many roman generals and Consuls come to visit, some became later Emperors. The city has extensive ruins of temples and 2 well preserved theaters. On one such visit, I had read that after the Roman Legions were withdrawn in the fourth century AD, the citizens having lost their military protection decided to build walls to protect themselves from marauding Arab bedouins who would come and pillage in and around the city on a regular basis. I noticed that the walls in question were built hastily with no real defensive plan, more a stop gap. The stones came from other buildings and stacked on top of one another. This observation I made from studying the plan of the city and asking questions about how this had been achieved.
Same with my visits to the Roman Forum or to other Greek and Egyptian sites. In Khartoum all the British colonial buildings were off limits, this would have been the site of where General Gordon fought and died and the Anglican Cathedral. However from my hotel roof top you could see it all and with a plan identify the various buildings of the compound. Gaining an understanding of history and what happened.
I also love to visit art museum, Dresden has wonderful well curated museums, a few years ago I had been told that a retrospective of the works by Otto Dix was on show with the famous triptych to the first World War, painted between 1929-1932, a stunning painting in the modern realist style of Dix. He was a young soldier involved in this conflict and he manned a machine gun, a new invention in 1914, Dix was horrified to see that he could with his machine gun kill 100 men with no effort on his part. He came out of this conflict bitter and angry at politicians and society who failed to accept fully the horror of this conflict and the aftermath. Dix work was put under lock and key and he was declared a degenerate artist by the Nazi regime, what saved him was his war record and his fame in Germany.
There are many more paintings and works of art I love to study. Per example Auguste Rodin, I never really liked him until I started to look in depth at his work, he is thought to be the father of modern sculpture. He broke with the classical school by doing sculpture on a human scale instead of the larger than life which was the accepted method. His sculpture the Age of Bronze, 1876 or The Vanquished as it was originally called. Standing 72 inches tall or 1.80 metres, the model was a young Belgian soldier.
This sculpture comes after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Rodin like many artists was horrified at the violence of this war and the heavy toll on civilian population and the starving of Paris by the Prussian army.
Per example Austrian author Stefan Zweig and his wonderful book The World of yesterday, presenting a Europe which disappeared forever in 1914. The chronicles what life in Austria and Germany was like then and his travels and all the famous people who were his friends. Life was then so very different and it helps understand the people then and what happened afterwards. He is an author who really brings you into the subject one he lived through and was an actor and eyewitness.
Then cooking shows, I don’t like them all, I do have my favourites. Mostly watched on YouTube, giving you new ideas on old recipes. One is by the former chef to the Queen and Diana. He has lots of anecdotes and funny stories and shows off favourite recipes of the Royals. Thing is they have very similar taste to other people when it comes to food. The difference they can order exactly what they want from the kitchen and set up menus, or I should say the Queen sets up menus for all of them, what you can and cannot eat.
One story was about Friday’s meal at the Palace, being Friday then it’s fish and Fish and Chips is on the menu. He used only Yukon Gold potatoes for the fries and for the staff did a haddock in a nice beer batter but for the Queen she prefers Cod and she does not want greasy fish so it is done in the oven. In this case the Cod is first cut up in even similar size pieces, dredge in egg then in panco and put into the oven at 450F for 7 minutes. The fries must also all be the same size, the chef makes a little tower of them with 2 pieces of cod. Now the sauce that goes with this dish is really nice, it’s not mayo or tartare sauce, but a nice Tarragon Hollandaise Sauce which has that nice yellow colour. All the menus are written in French and Fish (cod) and Chips is Cabillaud et Pommes Frites, why in French because it is believed that French is the language of cuisine, I agree.
So many other things I know and have picked up over the years. It is silly I know but I do enjoy all these little details.
This weekend is a long one in many countries around the world. Pentecost Weekend is celebrated in Europe, in Canada it is the Official Birthday Weekend of the Queen, it use to be known as Victoria Day but this has now changed. In the USA it is also a holiday.
Here in Canada it is seen as the first long weekend of Summer, time to go to the Cottage and fire up the Bar-B-Q. Plant the garden, make plans for the Summer months.
Friday we had a wonderful lobster dinner, I had a 2 lbs lobster, one of the best I have ever had and it had been all opened up, so I did not have to fight with it. Friday was a gorgeous day weather wise and though Saturday and Sunday have been a washout sort off with uncertain weather, Monday promises to be another sunny day.
I am going to make a Lobster Salad for dinner Monday, we will start with fresh asparagus in Hollandaise Sauce and we will have orange slices with syrup for dessert.
The Lobster salad I have wanted to try for some time, it is very easy to make and lobster I can get very easily, the price in fact has come down by $2 dllrs a pound.
We have done a lot of transitioning from Winter to Summer, going through wardrobes and giving away big bags of clothing, bought new summer cotton sheets the first in 11 years, washed and put away the flannel sheets, all this takes time. I have not gotten around the garden yet nor I have looked at flowers to get for window boxes. Still have to wash windows but too many rainy days put a stop to it. It will get done eventually.
There seems to be in the Press and amongst the Conservatives this fascination with vaccination rates. In January it was ”not enough” vaccines, despite the fact that millions of doses had been bought by the Federal Government. Then in March it was ” delays in delivery” we are doomed, then in April it was ” The USA is doing better than us vaccination wise” of course forgetting that the USA is 10 times our population and economic size, so you really cannot compare. In May now its ”another Summer of restrictions” Yes only 50% of the population has received on dose of the vaccine and the two dose level will be reached in September for 75% of the population. The big problem in our Canadian Federation is that the National Government buys supplies but it is up to the Provinces to vaccinate since Health Care falls under their jurisdiction and we have several stauch Pro-Trump Premiers in Canada who do not believe in the pandemic and will do nothing about it, not even organizing a vaccination campaign. So the Red Cross and the Army have to do it. Not to mention that Premier Pallister gave a 5 cent increase to minimum wage workers in his province. A nickel increase, should change his name to scrooge.
Manitoba, pop 1.3 million is the latest now to see its health care system collapse sending patients 600km away to Ontario for ICU beds and treatment. Again the Premier Brian Pallister prefers to blame everyone else but himself for his gross incompetence. Again happy to be in PEI where 40% of the population is vaccinated and probably by July most if not all of us will have our 2 shots.
Every night we will have dinner mostly at home and Will or I will cook dinner. So it is different every night from fish to seafood, to steak to pasta or some kind of dish like meatloaf, the recipe of Helen Corbett or macaroni and cheese from a recipe we may have seen no YouTube. We also decide in the morning what we will have for dinner that night, unless we decide to go out for dinner.
This evening I had 7 chicken thighs with bone and skin and I was wondering how I would cook them. I looked up a recipe which cooks them in a cast iron pan, it take all of 24 minutes to cook on both sides, starting with the skin on side. In the second part of cooking you add a chopped onion and when the thighs are cooked, you remove it all from the pan and then pour about a glass of white wine like a Chardonnay and stir to get all those juices from the cooking, add one table spoon of Crème Fraiche, one table spoon of Dijon mustard and one tea spoon of a grain mustard or in this case I had orange and tarragon mustard, mix it all up in the pan and then add back the chicken thighs let rest for about a minute and serve. The sauce with the chicken was very good and the onion added to the flavour. I was surprised how easy it all was to do.
Here is the recipe on YouTube, the heat on the stove should me medium high but I reduced the cooking time of the chicken because my chicken portions was not as big as hers here. Keep on eye on the onion also to avoid burning.
Tomorrow at 11:45 am I am getting my first jab of the vaccine. Can’t believe the day has come finally. I will be asking also for proof of vaccination, there appears to be some confusion on how you get it, I will certainly enquire.
The weather here is definitely Spring now, which is encouraging. As of Friday many restaurants will be re-opening including the one across our street the Water Prince Corner Shop Restaurant whose specialty is lobster and mussels, with other seafood of course. We think of it as our very own restaurant. The year 2021 is there 30 Anniversary of Water Prince.
With the Merry Month of May, more promise of good weather and trips out to the beach and the countryside.
This past week our little Island province went from 1 case to 15 cases of Covid19, all due to a handful of under 30 who travelled outside the Province and failed upon return to observed the mandatory rules of 14 day quarantine. They in turn infected their friends and all of a sudden we have a crisis. Unfortunately too many people still think they are above it all and it does not concern them. They put everyone at risk with their irresponsible actions. What was most shocking was the 2 girls twenty something who being sick decided to go shopping instead of going straight home, result they infected staff and other clients in the store which had to close. Or the 17 to 24 group who went to the Gym in Summerside a small community about 50 minutes from Charlottetown. They gave false names and phone numbers so they could not be traced, only then when they were found by the Health Authorities lied further by giving false information. I have a real problem with this type of reasoning. Do they not care that they are putting family and community at risk? Summerside has a population of 14,000. small town in other words.
At the news conference Dr Morrison, chief medical officer was visibly upset and appeared very tired, she and her staff of the Health Dept have been working flat out 24/7 doing a tremendous service. Well some people are making death threats against her. Unbelievable that anyone in their right mind would say such awful things. They are upset and cannot understand the gravity of the situation. News UPDATE as of Sunday night we are now in a RED zone and everyone is confined to home for 72 hours, the only stores open are grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies. The streets are deserted.
I was at the grocery store just before the Premier and the Chief Medical Officer went on the air to announce the restrictions Saturday afternoon, which closed the Island and all businesses, restaurants etc. Stay Home and wear a mask even outside. There was a noticeable air of panic and anxiousness in the air at the store, many already knew the bad news and we are back to where we were one year ago. The difference this time we have some 7,000 Islanders or 4.5% of our population who have received the vaccine and more have been called up, vaccination is in effect and moving ahead, that is a big plus.
IN OTHER NEWS
As we enter March Winter is clearly coming to an end, the days are 1 hour longer now. As my Birthday is coming up, Will asked me to see some old photos of myself, one photo was taken some 59 years ago, the other 62 years ago. I have to say looking at those photos made me wonder, it is another time and place gone forever. Now when I think of the past, it is mostly 5 to 10 years ago, this to me is manageable and in the realm of reality. Anything beyond that looks to remote, so many people, family and friends I knew simply gone, they are memories of another era. I also realize how the world as a whole has changed and with it our lives.
Maybe the Pandemic also affects my view of the past. Our movement are curtailed and everything is local, the rest appears to far away to reach.
Finally today I miss Italy and Rome, saw some pictures of friends gardens all in Spring flowers and the trees are also in flower, greenery everywhere under the beautiful sky. It looks so relaxing and pleasant. It is also artichoke time and you can buy the whole thistle plant and stock and make a beautiful meal of it.
In restaurants in Rome you could order the artichoke dish in two styles, Carciofi alla Romana, Rome Style Stuffed or Carciofi alla Giudia, Jewish style fried, both very good.
What a strange Winter we are having, it is clearly Climate Change in action, no ice in the gulf of St-Lawrence, none around PEI, little snow on the ground and mild weather, sidewalks are free of ice and snow. It is cold enough for ice rinks but just, the weather lady said that we might get more snow in March but that is the end of Winter at that point.
Vaccination wise it is going well in PEI, so far more than 6000 have been vaccinated out of 150K population. Still no Covid 19 hospitalizations or death after one year of this pandemic, we are truly lucky and so happy to be here and not somewhere else in Canada.
Funny thing about living in PEI, there are some foods you cannot find, one being chicken livers, no butcher carry them. Usually butchers will sell beef, pork, chicken and turkeys, some duck and goose imported from Quebec, they also sell seafood, scallops, lobsters, oysters, clams and mussels and Atlantic Salmon, haddock and halibut. But the lack of chicken livers on the market when we have major producers on the Island is a mystery. Butchers claim they cannot sell it, others say that they buy chickens and eggs from farmers but livers and heart are not available. I suspect that it may go to animal feed instead and sold off that way. On the other hand beef liver is readily available. When you find as I did just this week, both chicken livers and rarity of rarity ground veal, I bought a good quantity not sure if it would be continuously available or just a lark. I phoned friends to tell them because everyone is looking for it and let them know that if we create a demand maybe butchers will carry chicken livers. A friend of ours gave us a very good chicken liver paté recipe. Will made some today and it smells so good. I love liver of all kind but the best is Goose liver pan seared, to me this is a divine dish. I also like chicken livers with rice or in vegetable soup or sautéed with wine. In other provinces like Quebec and New Brunswick it is available in supermarkets and at butchers.
Again PEI is very different in this respect from other Canadian provinces. Not so long ago lobsters were fed to hogs not to humans, it is only with a growing tourism trade and demand in the last 40 years that now lobster is seen as a delicacy, but this change in food eating habits and taste is due to the American tourists who asked for it and could not understand why it would not be available, if you can buy it in Maine just next door. It could also have to do with poverty, PEI was a poor province for most of the twentieth century. The habit was to go to Boston to work as servants in households, others travelled to the West Coast, Vancouver was popular, more recently the Oil fields of Alberta attracted a lot of people. So people ate what was cheaply available in PEI and most lived on farms in isolated areas of the Island. Given the large Irish population, poor Scots and Acadians, potatoes, ham, chickens and casseroles were popular. Fishermen sold their catch for profit not to eat at home, though fish like cod, haddock are popular because it is cheap. I suppose it is just one of those vagaries of life.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown