It looks like we are having 7 days of sunshine now, so today I got the car washed. The gas is now 1.40 a litre meaning that is $5.60 a gallon and this is not the top most expensive gas at the pump. The most expensive supreme is $1.60 a litre.
Another beautiful day, so very nice and not so hot, still at 22C very nice.
I am very busy at the Club with the newsletter every week, lots happening, events of all kinds and now that the PEI Government has announced the first relaxation of the rules, the only change is the number of people you can have inside. With this good weather, we have a large garden with big mature trees around 100 years old and the cedar deck, bar-b-q so we can do lots. Our membership is also getting more diverse, in the Maritimes there is a large African community, mostly educated West Africans and from Cameroon and Kenya. So one member who is from Kenya is doing a special dinner for the Club member this Friday, she is very well known and has cooked for lots of big names here in PEI and has her own restaurant for the last 20 years. Her food is wonderful, this woman has a sense for good food. Another member is from Senegal, a charming fellow and I am trying to entice him to do one of his signature dishes. He started to cook for friends and PEI is still a place where people are discovering exotic dishes. Some 10 years ago it was still pretty much meat and potatoes country, not anymore. So our friend also makes great desserts and pastries, however he is an executive with a big corporation and he can’t cook all the time for friends, our lost. Thanks to the Vietnamese and Africans community their grocery stores carry all manner of wonderful spices, you can find pretty much everything that the regular grocery stores do not carry.
A view below of one of our many beaches, quiet and clean.
Last weekend appeared as if there was nothing to do, quiet. However like the weather in PEI, if you wait 10 minutes things take a dramatic turn.
So Friday morning we went to a schedule appointment at the Vet with Nicky and Nora for their annual physical, they are both 12 yrs old now and for their annual shots. They are both in good health with some medical problems connected to age. Otherwise spoiled and happy puppies. Nora is particularly a drama queen at the Vet and it is quite the scene. Nicky on the other hand is quiet and stoic, not a peep out of him, such a good boy.
We returned home and out the door we went to Rocky Point for lunch at friends Summer home, though they can also live there year round and they have been doing that quite a bit in the last 15 months. Rocky Point is reached by doing a semi-circle around the bay of Charlottetown, crossing the North River and the East River to reach the point which faces the Strait of Northumberland. Our friends just extended their property to 70 acres. From the road you cannot see a thing, it is all treed and you have to know where to turn off to the long unpaved driveway towards the house, at on point you turn left and then right again facing on a high cliff the Strait and the view of water with in the far distance Nova Scotia.
When they bought this property many decades ago, the land belonged to the great grandfather of my current barber. The next door neighbour is the brother of our neighbour in town. The land itself back then did not have one tree on it. It was all farmland and no house. Today a forest has grown all around and dominates the area, making it a very private and secluded residence. The house is also quite beautiful, all wood recycled from the old railway platforms of Charlottetown Train Station when it was all decommissioned 35 years ago and the wood was free for the taking. The house is filled with art work and has a giant deck which dominates and gives panoramic views of the Strait.
The only reason we wanted to see our friend was to give him a birthday gift and say hello, but we got invited to a fantastic lunch of Quahog clams and spaghetti with lots of lemon and clam juice for the sauce, a green salad and a tomato salad, accompanied by beautiful wines. For dessert we had ice cold Limoncello. The sort of lunch we would have in Italy.
We also walked around the new purchased land which is connected with their own.
The land seen extending into the strait is Point Prim, where one of my favourite lighthouse is located. It indicates the way for ships into the bay of Charlottetown. This photo is taken not far from the Block House Light House which indicates the actual narrow entrance into the bay. It is a big lighthouse and has a house attached to it. The house belongs to the Federal Government but no one lives there and apparently it is for sale. It is a located next to the old French Fort of 1700 and is splendidly isolated with views of the water and the city in the distance. All ships coming in past this lighthouse.
We have been many times to the Summer house but this time was somewhat special.
Then on Saturday we went to York which is outside Charlottetown, very rural and green.
We love to go there to chose plants and flowers for our garden. They always have a good selection and offer good service at reasonable prices.
We have been busy and now tonight we are promised muggy weather in a few days. The expression here on PEI is, We are having the muggys (high humidity). I have not mentioned what I am also involved at the Club or everyday, so no we are not bored.
I have been inspired by fellow blogger living in Fuengirola, Spain with the beautiful pictures of flowers, sea, food and fashion. I had mentioned recently that as part of our Spring ritual we had to go to the Garden Centre for flowers, we did yesterday. There is a garden centre just outside of Charlottetown in York. It is a family run place, lots of choices of flowers, some we had never heard of, like Goldalia which is of the Dahlia family.
I love garden centres, so many flowers to look at displayed on mass, riots of colours, it is soothing for the brain, it is simply beautiful. A handful of people, it was quiet.
They also had begonias with candy bright colours to the point of looking good enough to eat.
We did buy for our 2 flower boxes a mix of geraniums and something called
Pechoa, the leaves are beautiful and come in a variety of colours.
Then this past weekend, it was the first long weekend of Summer, Queen’s Birthday or Pentecost, every year we use to go to Salzburg for the music festival. This year with the Pandemic we are at home and invited friends for lunch.
I bought lobster and made a Lobster salad with asparagus. Then since we had lots leftover Will made a Quiche with lobster & Asparagus, there is no cheese in this recipe.
The lobster salad was a big hit with our guests.
Finally the Barman at the Dukes Hotel in London is famous for his Martini and other cocktails, his name Alessandro Palazzi. He makes a martini that is not shaken nor stirred. A cold martini glass, a tumble of Vermouth, slosh it around then simply pour it out. Fill the glass with good quality vodka and top with a twist of lemon.
“For me, a Martini is a drink which has to be strong and three ingredients,” he said. “An Espresso Martini is not really a Martini. A Martini is supposed to be all alcohol. It’s the most simple cocktail to make: it’s the temperature, the quality ingredients, the lemon. There’s the vermouth, gin or vodka, and the oil. That’s what a Martini is.”
Duke’s certainly isn’t cheap, at £22 for a Martini. But Palazzi defends the prices: “You get five shots of premium gin, Amalfi lemon, Sicilian olives, snacks, and if you want you can buy one drink and have the table all night.” Now this is a place I will want to visit once we are allowed again to travel. As for the Amalfi Lemons, they are wonderful, too bad we cannot get them here.
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.
Yesterday Summer arrived all of a sudden as is the custom in Canada. It was warm and sunny and today it was hot and sunny, I had to turn on the A/C in the car, so that makes it official. I also took all the Summer bedsheets out and started to launder them to replace the flannel Winter sheets.
I also re-organized by Summer wardrobe and put away all the Winter clothes, I also made a box of clothing I no longer wear and it had been sitting in my closet for at least 5 years, that is a good test that you are no longer going to wear said items. It is all clean and very nice still but fashion has changed. Of my Summer clothes most of it is at least 12 years old, all in good repair and comfortable to wear. So I do not need to buy more, though I was tempted.
For those who may wonder, I did not send to Value Village the SPO Designer shirt, given to me all these many years ago when Dr Spo was a struggling shirt designer in Phoenix, before he became famous. I am told they are priceless, so I will have it lacquered and mounted.
Yesterday Will baked some wonderful blueberry, lemon breakfast bread with a fine glaze of lemon, absolutely delicious. I then cooked for dinner a roast beef, using my fool proof recipe which requires about 8 cloves of garlic inserted into the roast, a good coating of quality virgin olive oil. You place the roast fat side up and start it at 375F for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 225F and cook for another 90 minutes no more. This recipe works for a 3.5 lbs roast perfectly and it will be medium rare. I served it with roast potatoes and broiled asparagus, because May is Asparagus Month, the only time of the year they are actually in Season.
I remember traveling to Germany and you would have everywhere on the menu, the white and the green Spargel with a nice glass of white wine, Gruner Veltliner.
Today is my hometowns Birthday 17 May 1642, Montreal is 379 years old. My family has been living there for 359 years, we have stories to tell.
It is also the 110 Anniversary of our Canadian National Park service, Parks Canada. We have a few national parks here on PEI to preserve our beautiful coastline.
Flag of the City of Montreal, designed by the first Mayor Jacques Viger.
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.
Today I replaced Will at the Farmer’s Market for the last day of the PEI Symphony Annual Orange sale. Because this is a popular sale and it was the last day we sold out very quickly. The Market is great fun, situated across the street from the University Campus and surrounded by the Government Experimental Farm. Lots of nice things to buy and great vendors, all genuine well known farmers. I got some nice tulips and some good cheese that you cannot find in a grocery store. I also had a conversation with the owner of Gallant’s seafood about Bar Clams which are very popular here and sold in a glass jar by Annands in Tyne Valley. I had no idea what you did with them, you can eat them right out of the jar with a beer or a glass of wine, they are also good on pasta dish or used if you make chowder, so now I know.
Today was a beautiful day, warm and sunny and tomorrow we will reach 18C which is truly Spring Weather.
Some months ago I started doing the weekly newsletter for the Club. I changed the format and introduced new topics, changing it each week with new info and graphics. It has done well and I spend at least 2 days a week putting it all together. So this one way of keeping me busy during this pandemic. As you probably know from the from Canada some of our Provinces are not doing well at all and in Ontario the Health Services and hospitals are colapsing with the daily numbers of people sick with Covid. Ontario went through years of closing hospital beds and not recruiting enough staff to replace those leaving so now with this catastrophy which could have been prevented had the Government of Premier Doug Ford listened to the Health experts and others who warned repeatedly of what was going to happen, to quote Doug Ford, businesses come first before people. Pretty incredible thing to say as people drop dead all around you but hey, his late brother the former Mayor of Toronto was a disaster and Doug is hugely incompetent in this case. Same in Alberta, the Texas of Canada, where Premier Jason Kenney is facing an open revolt in his own caucus, he too refuses to act and now daily cases are extremely high.
Here in the Atlantic, only PEI and Newfoundland are doing ok and all is pretty quiet. However we are isolated and the bridge is closed again to the mainland. Nova Scotia has increasing numbers which is very worrisome, the City of Halifax is closed down completely, another case of re-opening too soon. In New Brunswick same story and there too Premier Higgs has imposed lockdowns to try to stop the disease. So this means a very quiet Summer here with no visitors period.
We have made our plans to go to the Cottage by the sea at French River in the New London area. Such an incredibly beautiful area, for two weeks this year.
The New London rear LightHouse at French River. This is our view from the cottage and the beach is just a few feet behind it. Looking to the left we would see vast expanse of water. The sand bars in that area are impressive. The current is also swift since 2 rivers come into the sea in the area. To think that until about 30 years ago this lighthouse was lived in by a widow and her 3 kids and she kept it going 365 days of the year. I cannot imagine how she did it, it is isolated and very rural, dirt roads picturesque. The sky at night is impressive with an incredible blanket of stars and our galaxy the Milky Way.
I wonder if the family of Foxes will be there again this year.
From the New London LightHouse we can hike about 3 km to the Cape Tryon Lighthouse. It was possible to drive over but the road is not kept and it is dirt, unless you have a tractor you cannot get to it by car. So you can walk it, very nice and scenic, cliffs all the way and once you get there, you can admire the water and the Sunsets are spectacular. It is so quiet on that walk, all you hear is the sea, birds and crickets.
Today Will made 2 dishes, one is a pan cake vanilla and cherries, a recipe our friend in Greece, Yannis shared with us. The other is a Lancashire Lamb stew, it is Ramadan so now is time for lamb. PEI Lamb is very good and comes from the farms just minutes away from the Farmer’s Market.
Last night we had a handful of friends come to the house for a glass of Cremant de Limoux, small bites prepared by our friend and Chef Pico and a cake by our friend Valerie.
The food was wonderful and so imaginative, Pico truly loves preparing food and has no end of ideas.
Valerie, also makes pretty nice cakes, she too has great ideas and she strives for perfection. The Sicilian Whole Orange Cake was rich and very good, the way a Birthday cake should be.
It was fun to have people over even if it is a small number due to Covid restriction.
Also last night around midnight Will was able to make his appointment for his jab, it was confirmed a few minutes after midnight and so he is scheduled. I will make my appointment next week when my age group is next. Will and I are happy that our turn is coming around and get this done. In fact people talk about getting the vaccine and having a date to do it, as if it was a much anticipated event like a holiday. I know so far of no one who described having a problem, at most it was feeling drowsy or a warm arm for a few hours.
This evening at the Club we are having cake # 2 a Black Forest Cake. Then Saturday night another small party with friends, food and cake # 3 a Expresso Moka Cake.
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.
We had a good Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Luncheon with friends.
The 24 Dec was a simple affair of a few friends came to say hello and exchange good wishes. We served home made sausage roll made from the meat of English Banger sausage and using a recipe of Nigel Slater we made puff pastry stuffed with British Stilton Cheese served pipping hot, with a glass of bubbles its a great little bite. He also made small pastry stars mixed with parmesan and served hot. They are very good and of course while we were not looking our Nicky managed to grab a couple. He loves cheese, so does Nora but she is not as bold as he is.
Today’s Luncheon, Will borrowed a great recipe for Tourtiere which came very close to my Mom’s, it was delicious. We also had a turkey breast, Brussel’s sprouts roasted, carrots and roasted small potatoes. We started the meal with Red Sockeyed Wild Pacific Salmon with capers and dill. Our dessert was Plum Pudding Flambé which had a good flame this year and instead of the usual hard sauce, Will made Nesselrode Chesnut Ice Cream, it was a big hit with our guests. It was the great French Chef Carême who invented this dessert in honour of the Russian/German Diplomat and Chancellor of the Russian Empire Count Karl Robert Nesselrode in 1814 after Napoleon’s final defeat.
The tradition of the Christmas day message goes back to 1928 when King George V, the grandfather of the Queen did the first broadcast. As Queen of Canada the message of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is carried on the Nation’s airwaves of the CBC at 3pm. This year unlike any other year the Queen is in Windsor Castle due to the pandemic.
It was also very warm today in Charlottetown, 50F which is unheard of and shows how climate change is really changing the world around us, normally it should be near zero or below zero and snow should be covering the ground, not so this year.
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