cooking

Sunday Chuckle: Microwave Cuisine

The steel mill where I work has been there for decades.  As we clean it nooks and crannies preparing for closure, we keep unearthing the funniest stuff.  One that that work places have to do is replace microwave ovens every few years.  I guess they used to package coobooks specific to the microwave with them many years ago.  From underneath who-knows-what, we excavated the two books seen below.  (The more recent of the two below was dated 1994, the other had no date.  Can you guess by the graphic design which is the book from 1994?)

I find them hilarious.  Microwave specific recipes!  I either a) just reheat stuff or n) follow the instructions on the box!  Mmmmmm!  Look at that…roll of something?  Salmon?  Looks like salmon.  Mmm, microwaved salmon.

 

 

#838.5: Father’s Day 2020

Father’s Day 2020 was one of the strangest yet, but we celebrated my dad outdoors with steaks and social distancing.

The day started quietly with an espresso at dawn, but I couldn’t wait to get cooking.  Jen bought steaks and corn.  I love cooking and I especially love barbecuing.  Cooking for my mom and dad is one of the best hobbies I have.

The morning was spent relaxing by myself on the patio, reading Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack.  I spoke about this book a bit on Saturday’s live stream.  To say reading this book was an intense undertaking is to sell the experience short.  I had to stop twice to catch my breath.  This powerful, true story is made so clear, so intense and spiritual thanks to the words of Gord and the images of Jeff.  A book/album review is absolutely forthcoming.  (Even though the book comes with a download of the Gord Downie album, I still bought the CD individually as well.)

It was a hot afternoon but at least my parents have a back deck with some shade.  I lit the gas and let the flames do their work.  I incorporated some new techniques that I picked up watching YouTube videos over the winter.  I let the steaks get up to room temperature, then patted them dry and seasoned with just salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Nothing fancy and no marinate was necessary.   I overcooked mine a bit for my liking.  Everybody else likes them a bit more done than me.  I forgot how hot my dad’s barbecue can get.  But they were still juicy and flavourful, I just prefer them a little more red.

We chatted current events, the cottage, and Uncle Don Don.  My mom saved for me what was left of his CD collection (I gave my sister first dibs and she took Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats.)  Mom asked me to sort through the music, but I decided to take them home to do that here.  The CD covers have the telltale yellowing of a smoker’s home and I didn’t want to handle them and have to prepare dinner too.

There are a few CDs here that I’ll have to keep.  I’m missing several Tragically Hip.  I don’t have that Lee Aaron (her debut).  I could probably use some Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Garbage, and Jane’s Addiction.  A few of these are duplicates; I have all the Deep Purple and Alice Cooper albums.  But those are two bands that Uncle Don influenced me to get into.  “Child In Time”, he said.  That was the song he praised.  He has two versions of “Child In Time” in this cardboard box.

Looks like I’m going to be owning Jackyl, Haywire and Collective Soul too.  Cool.  I’ll go through the box in detail in the coming days.

My dad enjoyed his Father’s Day meal, and we had a nice visit.  The first one in many months.  It wasn’t hard to stay sanitised and distant, but it was different.  Just something we have to live with for a while.  Hopefully not too much longer.  I’m starting to get tired of the same old scenery from my little patio at home.  I want to get back to the lake.  Because of various health concerns and vulnerabilities, we’ve all agreed that we can’t all be at the same cottage at the same time, so we’ll have to take turns.  I’ll have to wait a little while longer to cook my dad a nice barbecue chicken dinner (skin on, of course). It’ll happen though — eventually.

I hope all the fathers had as nice a Father’s Day as my dad did.

 

 

 

#754: High Steaks at Huron Lake

GETTING MORE TALE #754: High Steaks at Huron Lake

A lot changed in 10 months.

We haven’t been to the lake since last July.  Then Jen’s mom got sick and we spent the rest of the summer driving to and from Toronto, and in hospitals.  Then before we knew it, she was gone.

As part of the healing process, Jen and I have been aching to get back to the cottage.  Her mom loved it here, and she never made it again, though she really wanted to. We’d drive up with her mom in the back seat reading a book.  Every once in a while, I’d look in the mirror and see her, eyes closed, snoozing in the back.  Or so it appeared.

“Jen, look.  Your mom’s sleeping.”

Then suddenly before Jen could see, Mum’s eyes would open.  “I can hear you Michael and I’m not sleeping.  I’m resting my eyes.”

We’d laugh.

Finally we were going back. We packed our bags for the lake, and I spent an hour or so loading music onto a flash drive for the ride.  Specially curated of course, and including the newest hits like Flesh & Blood by Whitesnake.  I have so many flash drives, however, that I made the mistake of loading the one with the little Autobot symbol.  I should have thrown out that flash drive a long time ago.  It works on a computer but not in the car, not since it fell in a puddle a while ago.  We were forced to listen to another random flash drive that I had in the car, which turned out to be serendipitous.

The only album on this specific flash drive was Alice Cooper’s A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris.  Our first concert together happened to be Alice Cooper, so at least it was something we’d enjoy.  “Hurricane” Nita Strauss is phenomenal on it, so I was really tuned into the guitar playing.  Jen was just rocking out and singing along.

But things sure do change in a mere 10 months, the last time I was driving those particular roads.  There is a new Tim Hortons, a few improved roadways, and some traffic lights where there were none before.

By the time Alice Cooper informed us that school was indeed out for summer, we were past Lucknow and well into the windfarms.  That meant the lake was close.  Again we laughed.  Jen’s mom hated those windfarms.  “A Liberal financial disaster,” she called them.  We tried to count the windmills on the way up and it’s all but impossible.

Finally we arrived at the cottage and smelled that country air.  A mix of pine, rain and earth.  I was napping within hours of arrival!  I knocked out good.

We always arrive at the lake prepared to entertain ourselves.  With a killer wi-fi connection (welcome to cottage life 2019) I was showing my dad scenes from Infinity War within minutes.  I also copied that faulty Autobot flash drive over to a fresh one and tossed out the original.  Won’t be making that mistake again, but recovered the Whitesnake album in the process!

I didn’t have much in terms of goals, except to relax and not let anything stress me out.  One thing I was looking forward to was cooking, so I did up a couple steaks, hot dogs, and fish for the family.  I wanted to try a couple new things this time.  First, I wanted to do one of the steaks on a wood fire instead of the barbecue.  We have not done them like that in over 25 years, but the smokiness of a real fire can add its own character to a good steak and make it perfect.  That’s what happened this time.  The steak cooked over the fire was the superior steak for flavour.  I did it to a rare, which was something else I love.  I did the fish over the wood fire too (using maple and cedar).  I chose a nice fatty piece of salmon, and a cheaper but larger fillet of Lake Huron trout; both darker fish.  I tried something different for them.  I laid down a bed of lemon slices onto the grill, and then cooked the fish on top of the lemons.  For seasoning I only used salt, pepper and a roasted garlic olive oil.  The result was a juicy, perfect fish that took longer to cook than normal but acquired all that lemony goodness right into the skin. I added more salt as I went, then I finished them directly over the flames to get the crispy skin.  Surprisingly, the lake trout was the superior tasting fish.  I’m usually a salmon guy but I haven’t eaten a trout since I was a little kid.

We had a birthday party and cake for my dad, now young at 81.  You know what my dad enjoyed more than any of that stuff?  Going to a car dealership on a Sunday and help me pick out my next vehicle.  I won’t reveal what I’ve chosen until I buy the car — stay tuned.  We took my dad’s new car there, and he showed me all the latest gadgets that I’ll be getting too. I was impressed to see that he had three USB ports!  I plugged my flash drive into one of them and treated him to some music.  Max the Axe – “Next Plane to Vegas”.

“This is my friend Uncle Meat singing,” I told him.

He listened for a bit and said, “Your friend Uncle Meat can sing.”  High praise from him!

The weather wasn’t the greatest, but we slept with the windows open and the lake air coming in — the best way to get a great rest.  And rest we did.  We ate some good cooking and came home with bellies full.  Best of all, I have some ideas for the next cookout.

The May long weekend is the official ushering in of summertime.  Welcome, summer 2019 – we’ve been expecting you!

VIDEO: The Cottage in the Woods 2

COLLAGE

If you missed the original story about the Cottage in the Woods, please check out Record Store Tales Part 308.

Another long weekend in Canada has come and gone.  This time we came with a side mission: visiting Condor Fine Books in Kincardine, Ontario.  We’ve been going there for years, and the owner is a really nice guy.  He has a crazy selection of old and interesting books, with a healthy section on UFOs and the paranormal.  That’s alright by me.

I hope you enjoy my latest video, with book finds and lots of scenery.

Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods (VIDEO BLOG)

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RECORD STORE TALES PART 308:  The Cottage in the Woods

As bad as the stress used to get, there was always one place I could return and truly recharge my batteries:  the cottage.

I’d pack a dozen or so CDs (tapes in the early days) and go on long walks with my Discman.  Eat some steaks.  Check out the water, rivers and funky bridges.  The phone never rang.  Heck in the early days there were no phones here.  No cable TV, no wi-fi.

Today, I created, edited and posted the video you’re about to see in one day, entirely at the cottage.  How unimaginable to me back then.

I tried to re-create the experience of being here visually — probably the most peaceful place in the world.  I hope this gives you a taste.  Enjoy

Gallery: Another piece of meat

Fantastic anniversary weekend…