Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Been a long time

Twitter and Facebook have diminished my desire to take part in long-form blogging, but here I am.

Moved from Spruce Grove to Edmonton.  Commute has dropped enough to add two man-hours per day to our lives that are not spent driving.  It has also substantially reduced by carbon footprint, as far as I can tell.

Baby #1 will be due any day now, so I expect that there will not be a great deal of day to day blogging, but maybe I am wrong.

I think I may return to doing a bit of restaurant reviewing as I go along, too.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Warning: Right thinking people will find this offensive. I sure did.

At 4:45 this morning, on Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend, Jenn and I were awoken by the sound of a group of the towering intellectual giants of our day piling out on their front porch to smoke cigarettes and other things, smash beer bottles on the driveway, and debate an important topic.  While Jenn called in the noise complaint to the police, I followed their conversation with some interest.  It was the kind of conversation that one ought not to have at high volume in a street populated by many young children.

The children's questions to their parents this morning will no doubt go something like this: "How can a cat be tight, and why would it be good for a cat to be wet?  When we gave kitty a bath, he got real mad!"

Yes, these thoughtful individuals were debating, at length and in some specific detail, the proposition "What is the greatest quality of a .... cat ... to be tight, or to be wet?", in upraised voices in the driveway at 4:45 in the morning.  The true tragedy of their situation is that they omitted to observe another great quality of their topic of conversation: relative silence.

But, unfortunately for the West Spruce Grove Debating Society, the level of discourse took a less intellectual but possibly more artistic turn after a few minutes, descending into seventeen repetitions of the following brief dialogue:

"Brother" # 1:  "CJ ...... What the F***?  We're your brothers!  What the F***?"

CJ:  "Galmdfwffkfmg....  F*** ....  hawlmnananaagggggghhhhhh"

"Brother" # 1:  "CJ ... What the F***?"

Chorus of the "Brothers":  "F***in'.... What the F***?"

The steady repetition of this theme reminded me of a modern theatre piece I walked out of while I was in University, where nonsensical phrases were oft repeated and layered until forming some apparent underlying meaning, much as the layers of a minimalist art music composition might be added, removed, embellished and varied to result in a complex motif derived from simple phrases. 

The similarities in this case extended to the fact that both examples annoyed me a great deal, neither example worked as drama, and it was only in subsequent deconstruction that I could even enjoy them as comedy.

As a brief summary, I can describe the evening as sounding like the teaser trailer for FUBAR3 was being filmed in my street. 

Well, in about two hours I figure it will look like the opening scenes of "The Hangover 3" being filmed in that house.  That's too bad.... 'Cause starting at 8:01 AM, I gots me a lot of hammering to catch up on.

The moral of the story for those buying a home:  Buy in the best neighborhood you can afford.  It may not be perfect, but it will have to be pretty bad to be worse than this.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Letting go of things

As I sit and wait for the TSP solution and poly-fill to dry in the bathroom prior to painting, I consider some of the things I am letting go of lately.  Over the weekend, we packed up most of the rest of the house, leaving just what is necessary.  I am rather enjoying it, really.

Today I declared victory over my old charcoal suit.  Nine years of heavy service, forty pounds of weight loss and a handful of alterations left it shiny, ragged, out at the heels, missing belt loops and frayed at the seams, draping over me in a most unfashionable way.  I took a good look at myself in it, and realized that if I donated it to charity, charity would throw it away.  So I threw it away.

Holding up better is Kim the Hyundai.  Since I last wrote about her, the only problem she has given me was an accessory drive belt that failed spectacularly.  I heard a strange noise under the hood, so I got up and opened the hood, and as I did so, a piece of the belt flew past my ear.  No biggie.  Today, Kim rolled over to 225,000 km.  I think she has some road left to roll over.

So too are we trying ever so hard to let go of the spruce grove duplex so that we can take on a new hurdle in Edmonton.  Our hope is to be out before the snow flies.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Amazing what a little motivation will do.

I decided that noting motivates me like a pointless bet, and so in order to spur my ambition for my goal of hitting my wedding weight, I put down some money. It took betting with 4 different people, but today, I hopped on the scale and saw a "1" at the beginning of my weight instead of a "2" for the first time in well over a year.

And I have actually exercised for the first time in living memory. 'Bout time, eh?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Well, since my last update in December, my race to F-31 is stalled at F-3. I still have hope, however, of being at my wedding weight on my 7th anniversary.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A bit of vindication

Blood pressure, where "H=High" is now (H-22) mm/Hg.

Nasty little spike, there. Diet and exercise, people... that's the way to go for me. My goal is still to be at my wedding weight (F-31) on my 7th wedding anniversary. 28 pounds to go.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The things you find on the internet

As I was searching the Internet for ideas of things I may not realize in my diet are raising my blood pressure, becase (in fairness) I had never really though about it before, I came across a link saying "how much Liquorice is bad for your blood pressure?" A little health news article.

WTF, I thought. I had never heard of that kind of link before, so I googled that up. Found a bunch of medical journal articles from Scandanavia, where chronic liquorice consumption is an issue. Why do I care? I ate about a kilo of Liquorice Allsorts in about a week right before my blood pressure showed up suddenly high.

Turn out, large doses of liquorice (naturally flavoured - like the ones I was eating) contain a quantity of glycyrrhetinic acid that will spike your blood pressure - fast.

How large? I was eating them. How fast? The study tested pressure first at two weeks, at which time the healthy control group had spiked a mean of 14.4 points of blood pressure. It looks like they stopped the experiment for that group when they discovered this result.

I ain't saying that this explains anything, but if my pressure comes down a bunch and stays there as I stop eating a ridiculous quantity of liquorice, it may have had an effect. I'm going to play it safe and continue to exercise daily and lose 30 pounds, if you don't mind.

First check in

So after three days of doing the right thing here's the stats:

Weight: F minus 3
Systolic Blood Pressure: H (for high) minus 6

Neither great, but going in the right direction without drugs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Never marry a woman with her own sphygmomanometer

So in order to do a good thing on Monday, I went to Canadian Blood Services to drop off a pint. As part of the deal there, they measure your blood pressure. Mine was high. How high? None of your business, but enough that when I mentioned it to my wife, she hauled out her own sphygmomanometer and had a look for herself.

Long story short, I be grounded. No salt, no grease, no red meat, lots of veggies, and exercise every day. Food Log. Concrete weight loss targets.

Here we go: Where my weight can now be defined as the variable "F" (for "fat") I pledge to weight F- 25 at this time next year.

I pledge to be active 6 times per week.

Dammit, this is going to suck, but I'm way too young to have high blood pressure without doing something about it fast.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Automotive excess

While staying at a pretty little lodge outside Golden BC, one of the other patrons had parked outside in a Mercedes CL 63 AMG. It looked expensive, and so, on a whim, I looked up the price on the web.


I knew it was an expensive car, but that really took the cake. I mean, really, who needs a car that costs $243,000.00? And even if they did, why that one? I mean, yeah, it is a good looking machine, with tons of power and whatnot, but where in North America are you going to wring out a 600+ HP V-12 twin turbo full sized coupe? Silly. This is a car for the autobahn, or possibly some parts of Montana.

But still, how often does one need to do 186 miles an hour in rural Montana?

I mean, I would be hard pressed to spend that kind of money on cars if forced to. Nice to think about though...... What would I drive if I had idiotic amounts of money and nothing better to do with it, and someone had a gun to my head making me spend it?


I'd need a serious luxury sedan. But I'm a cheapskate. Maybe a brand-new Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec for $53,000.00.

I'd need a serious performance car. Something with some pedigree. I check the classifieds. 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 for $89,000? That will do nicely if I want to go grand-am racing, but I think something milder for day to day use. Here we go, a 2005 911 Carrera 2 with 27,000 km for $62,000.00.

Something for the wife, you say? Porsche Cayenne. Wait... It is fundamentally wrong for a Porsche to also be a truck.... How about a Mazda CX-7 GT? $40,000.00.

Okay, I'm up to $155,000.00.

2008 Subaru WRX 5 door with 28,000 K for $25,000.00 for the winter.

Leaves $63,000.00

2003 Mazda Miata - $12,000.00.

Dangit, I still haven't spent as much as that fellow spent on one car!

2006 Lotus Elise with 16,500 km- $30,000.00


2002 Porsche Boxster S.

There. With what that guy spent on one vehicle, I have picked out 7 cars that I would love to own. Low mileage or brand-new vehicles that would go for years, perform incredibly and be a hoot, as well as some luxury in some cases.

Hmmm, I would have to ask the guy with the gun to my head if he has some money I can spend on a 7 car garage....

Friday, July 08, 2011

Godspeed STS-135

One of my earliest memories in life is being dragged in front of my family's television set in our home in Winnipeg in the early 1980s to watch the launch of a space shuttle. I don't know if it was STS-1 or some other early launch, but it must have made an impression on me, more likely for the reaction my parents had to the launch than my own.

My early years were spent at a time when spaceflight was, if not routine, a normal part of the world's group experience. Jet travel was taken for granted. Home computers were starting to make their appearance. High quality long distance telephones were a given. The Soviet Union was one of the world's superpowers.

Today, the final space shuttle mission launched. The shuttle, once the most technically advanced piece of technology ever to move under its own power, operates with a control computer substantially less powerful than that which controls my MP3 player. How things have changed.

Private companies are selling space tourism. I can fly to London for less than it would cost in fuel to drive to New York and back. Wireless high-speed Internet access is ubiquitous in North America. Free Internet video telephony is rapidly making long distance telephones obsolete. There is no assurance that any real superpower will exist in the future, and if so, who.

In a few years, I will be awakening my children and plopping them down in front of a computer to watch the live feed of an event that (to me) is of such a grandiose significance that it merits watching as a family. I have no idea what it will be.

Will it be the next man to walk on the Moon? The first to walk on Mars? The full power test of the first commercial fusion power reactor? The returns of a free election in China? The coronation of a King?

The horrible beauty of this question is that if there was a way to predict the answer, it would no longer be the answer.

Has the first person to live to 150 already been born? Will SETI find a voice in the darkness? Will the half-expected Armageddon of my childhood finally come more by accident than design?

If it is that last one, I think I will skip watching it live.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Upcoming dinner wonderfulness

Oh, yeah, you know that when I put my mind to something food-related, it can only be so long before something serous happens.

So I will be taking part in a competitive series of dinner parties (a-la Dinner Party Wars) in the late-summer and fall. I have put a lot of thought into it, and I have decided not to go too far afield in terms of complicated stuff or outlandish preparations. Here is what I have planned for the menu at this point:

Parmesan crisp cups with heirloom tomato & basil bruschetta

Truffled Macaroni & Cheese with 6 year old Balderson

French Laundry Caesar Salad

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

Asparagus stuffed chicken breast in Holandaise on a bed of truffled mashed Yukon Gold potatoes

A trio of chocolate Truffles

Cheese Plate

I will be serving a tablespoon or so of a different sorbet between each course.

Also, yes, I know it seems like a lot of food. The portions will be small.

What I like about this menu is that so much of it can actually be done ahead. Like, most of it.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A new Review

Today I went somewhere different for lunch. The Bothy is located at 5482 Calgary Trail at the far end of the strip mall from Eddie's Menswear and Bin 104. It is a Smallish, stylish place with a monumental wine and whiskey list for a restaurant that size. The beer list is small, but well thought out.

The small menu focuses on ultra-upscale pub grub - a handful of sandwiches, a handful of salads, a few meat pies, haggis, and a cheese and charcuterie platter.

Upon walking in we saw the sign asking us to seat ourselves, which we promptly did, and were immediately greeted by an enthusiastic Scotsman explaining the specials and taking our drink orders. His enthusiasm only grew when he found us willing to drink scotch in the middle of the day, and even more so when our orders were for Scappa 16 and Ardbeg 10, rather than for "On the rocks." He also drew our attention (somewhat late) to the tasting flights available. Next time... next time. This is clearly a place run by nerds. That's the best kind of place, because nerds will normally not deliberately let you buy something from them that they believe sucks. It is more imporant to them to make sure that their knowledge does not go to waste than to satisfy the on-the-rocks scotch drinkers and Bud Light enthusiasts.

I had the Steak and Mushroom Pie. It... Was.... Glorious. The pastry was obviously fresh and made in house, never having seen the inside of a freezer, the meat was tender, the filling was thick, not runny, and the mushrooms were diverse. The mash served with it was rich and tasty, clearly containing the better part of a butter churn.

The pricing, at $14 or so for a sandwich to 17 or so for a pie, and with the most expensive item on the menu topping only $28.00 (5 things on a cheese & charcuterie platter) this place is plonked squarely in casual dining price range, but has a much more upscale feel. This is an example of how simple, focused, small menu quality mid-price dining has finally come to Edmonton. I love it.

Also they do a scottish breakfast. I think that is a must-try.

5 Ridel whiskey nosing glasses out of five.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Confirming my desire to move back to Edmonton

Last night, rather than going home to Spruce Grove, Jenn and I both stayed over at her parents' house in Edmonton. Rather than 50 minutes, the commute to 15 minutes each way, adding slightly over an hour to my day, and reducing my heavy-traffic driving by over an hour.

The result was that I felt much less exhausted both getting home from work and arriving the next morning. I also felt much less hurried when leaving.

All this does is confirm to me that as soon as it is practical, I really need to move back to Edmonton, particularly somewhere fairly central, rather than the far-flung suburbs. Oh boy would I like to gain five and a half hours a week back in my life, spend less on gas, oil and windshields, and be less worn out when I do get home.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Aurora Brewing Challenge

For the past week, Tuesday through Saturday, I have been participating in one of Canada's largest home brew competitions, the Aurora Brewing Challenge in my capacity as a judge, and also running a tasting seminar on Saturday. It was a fantastic party, although the judging was a bit of a long slog at times. There were a lot of beers that I had to judge that it was an effort to get through.

After a week of that, having judged between 18 and 23 beers a day for 5 days (you can do the math yourself, thank you) I don't much care if I don't see another beer for a while.

Today (Sunday) I had a lazy day. Up, breakfast, weed the garden, do the dishes that piled up last week, do another load of dishes, do the grocery shopping, do 5 loads of laundry, fold the laundry, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, rack a batch of wine, start another batch of wine, change the bedding and help Jenn with a school project.

Lazy Sunday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Long time no Post

Wow, I just noticed it was January the last time I posted on my blog. Since the last post, the garlic bulbs arrived , 4 packages of 3 instead of 4 heads, so I now have more seed garlic than I know what to do with, and portions of it have been planted in neat rows in my flower bed. Some are coming up lovely, some are not doing anything. Steady watering seems to be the key.

At work, people seem desperate to get divorced, and nothing seems to be letting up for summer. We will see how long this can go on. Eventually nobody will be left married.

Jenn is continuing school, a few bumps here and there, but we are hopeful they will get smoothed out in the next few weeks.

Apart from garlic, there don't seem to be any projects or hobbies happening. Just commute, work, commute, cook, dishes, tv, bed. Dull, I know.

Dull. Probably why I haven't posted lately.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stinking Rose

The first summer we lived in our house in Spruce Grove, Jenn lept at the chance to fill the front flower bed with all manner of wonderful annuals. The following year, renovations prevented us from working too hard on that, and weeds took over. Last summer, it was the same, weeds until I dug up the whole lot and pulled everything out.

This summer, I will be taking over the flower bed for my rose garden - a stinking rose garden, that is. I have ordered a few bulbs of seed garlic, and I will be planting in the spring. I have no idea how much of the front garden 4 heads of seed garlic will take up, but what I do know is that I have had really fresh garlic in the past - stuff that was not shipped in from Thailand - and it is so much better than the grocery store stuff that it is worth having a crack at. Worst case scenario - the garden looks better than it did the last two years.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Locking in Kim the Hundai

Kim the Hyundai will be with us for another year at least - we have taken the plunge and bought her new front brakes and winter tires, enough to keep her safe for another year, if we add such sundries as new wiper blades and perhaps some gasoline. With Jenn extending her schooling until next December from Next September, it seems that with two winter seasons to go, it would be prudent to put snow tires in place. We also took care of the Input Shaft Speed Sensor problem and did some general cleanup.

I think I may have spoken ill of Kim the Hyundai on a number of occasions, saying that she is boring, thirsty, ugly, and causes problems. This may well ignore the fact that poor Kim has now taken us exactly 100,000 kilometers further down the road. She is 10 years old, she has nearly 200,000 km on the clock, and she keeps running. And then consider the items that have actually required replacement:

Tires (Summer)
Tires (Winter)
Spark plugs & Wires
Timing Belt
Front and rear brake pads and rotors and rear calipers
window lift
input and output shaft speed sensors

With the exception of the window lift (an inexpensive but annoying repair), the brake caliper (inexpensive), and the transmission speed sensors (inexpensive and easy to do one's self) all of these items are normal wear and tear items on a car.

She doesn't rattle, she doesn't creak, she doesn't rust. She starts on the first try every time. Her heater blows hot and her AC blows cold. She gets 9L / 100 KM in my normal commute. Kim doesn't complain. She does her job and is quite happy to let Joy the Mazda sleep in the garage and hog the glory.

Oh, Kim, I know you will take me another 20 or 30 thousand klicks down the road, I just hope you won't be sad when we finally have to part ways.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another day

A wife looks across the breakfast table one morning at her husband, back from his 7th 28 day shift in a row managing construction on upgraders since they arrived in Alberta. She knows that two days from now, he is heading back to McMurray in the trailer he bought so that they could pocket his per-diem allowance. She looks at the kids, too young to understand what she is saying.

"You shouldn't come back after. I can't do this anymore."

Four years later, I walk beside him as he is leaving the courthouse. The warm inside stink of old paper and fear-sweat giving way to a cold blast of stale cigarette smoke and diesel fumes.

"It's over, no more fighting... And you succeeded on a lot of issues..." I offer...

"Doesn't feel like that."

"I know."

We wait in silence for the light to change on our way to the parking lot. I pretend to check the cross-light to see if it has gone yellow. Really I am taking a sidelong glance at this man. Good looking, charming, intelligent, articulate and successful, his eyes are slit shut against the cold wind. For the first time in three years, I see him fish out a cigarette and light it up. He takes a deep drag and looks out at the tips of smokestacks, gas flares and cracking towers visible in the distance from behind the courthouse. The wind snatches away the smoke from his cigarette. From the parking lot behind the Army & Navy, he sees the cold, cruel unforgiving bitch who took his wife and kids from him - Alberta Oil. "Come on out, come make your fortune and head home with a million in the bank and take it easy, teach the kids to fish at your new place by the lake..."

He sees the reality now.

"I hate this place," he says, turns, tosses his butt, and heads for his truck.

I get in my car, and just drive.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Wow, no September post, either.

OK, OK, it has been a bad year for this blog's level of content. I blame a complete lack of time on Jenn's part caused by her school work and my complete lack of time ( and then motivation) stemming from looking after the chores to the extent I do and practicing law full time.

So to finish off the reviews I started in August - Palliser Hotel -

You get what you pay for, but you pay a lot.

The beds are great, the bedding is soft and pillows are quality. The public spaces are beautiful and full of grandeur. The location is tremendous, right near everything in Calgary's downtown that you might want to do or see. The rooms are a bit small by modern standards, and the plumbing is a bit retro, but it isn't the worst I have seen.

We didn't try the food, since there were so many other options so close. I'm sure it's lovely.

The service is what you expect at a Fairmont hotel in Canada. Good.

There. The Palliser. Good hotel. Also the pool was nice.

And Jenn and I had a lovely time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Finished" the reno

The last of our construction, painting and stuff is now finished!

I say this knowing that there remains the possibility to change out the kitchen faucet and downstairs light fixtures and do a tile backsplash in the kitchen and put new carpet in the stairs and finish that baseboard there, but everything we had actually going on is over!

How does it feel? It feel good.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fon-do or Fon-Don't?

On the 30th of July, Jenn and I went to the Laurier Lounge for our Anniversary dinner. We were a little skeptical at first, as a couple of Calgary-style middle-aged downtown jerk-wads were seated at the table next to us almost right away, and talked loudly of how awesome they were. It was like dining in a Maxim Magazine article. They were rapidly shunted to the patio (where they were more comfortable looking at the "Chicks" and we were more comfortable being without them. We asked the hostess if they could keep us a bit isolated for our romantic dinner, and they did their very best to accommodate.

Our waitress was a thirty-something Aussie surfer-chick on walkabout, but did a reasonable job. She did inform us that Warren Buffet, when he was in Calgary, had dined there, and had their trademark burger and declared it was the best burger he had ever had. I have my doubts. Although I was impressed with the looks of some of the appies, we went with the three course fondue dinner for two, a Prix Fixe option of some excellent value, along with a carafe of the house red, Adobe Malbec from Chile, which was also excellent.

The food was great. The cheese fondue to start was tasty and had a splash of Kirsch. The meat fondue was in a french-onion-soup kind of broth, and came with excellent sides, and the chocolate fondue to finish as to die for. I probably would have died if I had eaten everything with the main course.

All in all, a nice little place in the belt line to try out if you are in Calgary. I would go again, for sure. Also looks fun for groups.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mexican Food in Calgary

So Friday afternoon on the way back from bodyworlds, Jenn and I stopped at Holt Renfrew to do a little window shopping (the only kind I can afford at Holts). She hit Luis Vuitton, and I hit Hermes, and then we split up, jenn hitting ladies wear, while I checked out the blowout clearance racks in Menswear. 70% off is not helpful when the regular price is $3500.00 for a sport coat. I did see an Armani tux I wanted (only $1100.00, after markdown) and I drooled over the Zenga and Canali suits, but I think I will be sticking with secondhand. Even the shirts I liked were well out of my price range right now (marked down from $300.00 +)


We did drop $200.00 at the Bay later on during their season clearance + reno sale and got a large bag full of clothes to last us a little while.

But that leads me to Mexican food (or at least nachos) which we got on the patio at Juan's on Stephen Avenue at about 3:00 in the afternoon on the 30th of July, along with a couple of lime margaritas on the rocks. The nachos were the best I have had in a long time. I would definitely get them again, they are probably the best nachos on Stephen Avenue. The margaritas were good too. The other items on the menu also looked very good, but we didn't feel like a real meal. Also the Guacamole was amazing. I don't make better than that myself, and i am pretty proud of my guac usually.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sorry about no July Posting, I've been lazy.

But now I can post three or four quick ones back to back thanks to my trip down to Calgary this week.

Jenn and I were married a bit over five years ago, five years ago this past Friday, to be exact, and to celebrate, we booked ourselves into the Palliser Hotel in Calgary. (Why the Palliser? Why Calgary? Keep looking for a future post to inform the Calgaryness)

While we were there, we ate out enough to make up for the no-new-food-reviews-in-months situation. The first place we ate was Earls, because we were looking for a place to eat at 9:30 on a Thursday night on Stephen Avenue that wasn't either hyper-expensive or straight pub food. It was an Earls.

The next morning, we decided to take breakfast at the Avenue Diner in the 100 block of Stephen Avenue. Upon walking in, you are greeted by a mid-sized, cheerful space with a long counter in front and tables towards the back on the way to an open kitchen. The Menu is small but enticing, with some wonderful sounding options. Jenn and I, being on vacation, each had a variation on eggs Benedict. Mine west-coast style with smoked salmon, and Jenn's Florentine, with spinach, shallots and smoky bacon. Each came with the same herbed Hollandaise sauce and hash-brown Yukon gold potatoes, as well as an organic cherry tomato, which more or less exploded into a flavour-bomb of tomato-ness as soon as you bit into it.

The food was knock-you-on-your-ass good. The ingredients were of obviously good quality and fresh and local. The portions were a good size and the price- at about $15.00 each, were higher than going to Smitty's but not substantially so, and for the value, they were great.

If you are having a hankering for breakfast (served all day) and you are in Downtown Calgary, go there. It is good.

Five cups of organic, fairly traded coffee.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Health food

For a person who makes their own yogurt and grows their own sprouts, I have a terrible attitude about "health food".

Of course I also make Aioli and Holandaise from scratch.....

Monday, May 31, 2010

Beer Celebration

To celebrate the kegging of my Treewhale Irish Red ale, I made Mac& Cheese.

I seethed some vidalia onions in butter, then made a roux and added a mixture of half red ale and half half-and-half. From there, I added a cup of lite cream cheese, a cup of applewood smoked cheddar and a cup of mozzarella. I blended in the macaroni and diced smoked ham, topped it with crumbs and baked it for a half hour.

That's what I'm talking about, baby... Yeah.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Owen didn't win something

Came in 5th in Canadian Brewer of the year http://www.canadianbreweroftheyear.com/winners.htm without really brewing that much this year. Big plans for summer, though. The Aurora Brewing Challenge wrap up was a fun time after several evenings of judging beers. We killed a noble pig and ate a great deal of home-made sauerkraut. It was lovely.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I know, I know, two beer posts in 3 days. Get over it.

So I won the 2010 Vanbrewers beer competition on the weekend. Best of Show. The grand prize? Yaletown Brewing makes a batch of your beer and sells it to customers. Woo hoo.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Black Irish Red

Today, over came Nick the Mighty Brewer, and we proceeded to make ourselves a batch of Irish Red Ale, which turned out a bit more Brown than we expected. It sure smelled good, though, and we are looking forward to trying it out in a few weeks. Also in the beer news this week, Last Sunday was Big Brew at Alley Kat Brewery, where I walked away with a couple of carboys of a pleasing American pale ale, one of which I will be dry-hopping, and the other will be, I dunno, infused with raspberry essence. Yes, that would be nice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Edmonton International Beer Festival Sucked

I think the title to this post says it all, but just to give some detail, you can learn more about it at www.onbeer.org, where my good friedn Jason Foster keeps us all up-to-date about beer happenings in Western Canada.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another recipe request

This time from Vanessa, for sticky rice in lotus leaves.

1. Steam a steamer of glutinous rice. Don't think you can use regular rice and it will turn out. It won't. I have tried to do this in a bamboo steamer according to directions with the recipe, but it turns out way better if you just put it in a rice cooker. It is easier too.

2. Soak 4 large lotus leaves in hot water for an hour or so. This takes some doing because they are so big. Cut them in half when they are ready. T&T doesn't carry these, so you will have to hit Lucky 97 in Edmonton, or another indie specialty grocer in the place where you are. They keep forever and they are dirt cheap,l so if you find them, get a couple packages if you really like these things. (One package will make a couple of double batches.

3. Soak 4 dried Chinese mushrooms and a couple of tablespoons of dried shrimp in boiling water for an hour or so. Chop them all up together.

4. Heat a wok. Ass oil, stir-fry 12 oz cubed chicken or ground pork until browned. Ass the shrimp and mushrooms, a clove of chopped garlic, 2 thinly sliced Chinese sausages, and 2 sliced green onions. Stir fry another 2 minutes. Add 1 TB oyster sauce, 1Tb light soy sauce, 1 Tb sugar and 1 tsp sesame oil. Mix well. Add 1 TB cornstarch dissolved in 3/4 cup water. simmer until thickened.

5. lay out a half a lotus leaf. put a generous handful of rice on the leaf and flatten it a bit. spoon a portion of the cooked mixture over the rice, and add another generous handful of rice on top. wrap up and lay aside. Repeat until you are out of something. If you are careful, you should run out of everything at once.

6. At this point, you can wrap and freeze, or you can steam them for 30 minutes. If steaming from frozen, steam longer.

7. You can double this recipe easily. I recommend it because doing it for a regular sized batch is a lot of work and soaking stuff, and doing it for a double batch is not that much harder. They freeze well, and they are super handy for an easy supper with some stir-fried veg or as part of a leisurely at-home dim-sum breakfast if you have some other dumplings in the freezer.