Tag Archives: food

Hungry? Thirsty?

Recently I was going through my photos and found that quite a lot of them are pictures of foods or drinks. I enjoy eating, either at home or in a restaurant and my M is quite a good cook. We are also wine collectors, and we have a decent cellar.

But I didn’t quite realise that I’ve been harbouring a large number of food and drink photos in my archive. Here is a small sample:

A beer flight from a brewery in the Okanagan city of Penticton (where my southern home is).

Some homemade Halloween eyes from last week. These were a lot of work to make!

Hors d’oeuvre from my M. Or, snack time in the d’Arty-Cross household. 😉

Okanagan wine. This was a lovely bottle for a lovely meal.

A picnic. Also lovely, particularly because it was January!

Butter tarts. A Canadian favourite. M made these.

For someone who likes to take landscape and nature photos, there are an awful lot of consumables pictures hanging around in my  storage.

And this also explains why my pants can get tight and then I have to lay off for a while. I used to be able to eat what I wanted, but turning 40 changed all that. As I age though, I’m tempted to think, yeah, but I’m getting older, I can cheat some. I’ve earned it, right? I don’t care about a gorgeous (well, I was never gorgeous, but you know) corpse. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, my body should be done, spent, finished, toast, well past the sell-by date, expired, smoked … Really, who’s going to care when I’m taking the big dirt nap? 

Having said all that though, I am circumspect up to a point. I do watch my weight and I make a point of exercising because I have to pass medicals every six months. My one virtue is that I’ve never been a junk food person.

What do you think?

Do you like a good meal? Do you worry about your age and the extra baggage? Do you care what you look like, especially if you’re “getting up there” ?

But one final photo. Okanagan peaches. Yum. 🙂

Salt River

The Salt River runs through the town of Fort Smith, NWT.

All is very green right now because recently, there has been a lot of rain.

The Salt River is not salty, but is named for the nearby salt plains. The plains can be found in Wood Buffalo National Park and are very attractive to the many types of animals who like to lick the salt that has worked its way up from deep inside the earth.

During the fur trading days, the salt was collected for seasoning. It could still be used for this purpose today.

Happy Independence Day to our American friends and greetings from the non-salty Salt River. 🙂

Jitter All the Way

I’m not a morning person, but even if I was, I would still love coffee. Strong coffee. Turkish coffee. Arabic coffee. Cafe mocha. To me, coffee has all the nuance and complexity of a good wine.

Unless it’s plonk coffee.

And I know that this is some sort of national heresy, but when I think plonk, Tim Horton’s springs to mind. Well, it doesn’t spring. Their coffee has all the kick of grandpa’s walker.

Coffee is one of the best times of the day, even if it does mean that I’m propped up somewhere instead of sleeping.

Coffee has done a lot for me, too. For one thing, it has kept me awake enough to be employed. For another, it’s probably saved me from countless charges of road rage and the like.

Without coffee, I’d be unemployed and in jail. It’s amazing what coffee can do.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become sensitive to it. Which is weird, because it seems like everything else is desensitizing. I don’t see as well. I don’t hear as well. Calories arrive and take up permanent residence anywhere they can find a squat. I consider it to be a good day if I don’t wake up to another sag.

It used to be that coffee would never keep me awake, no matter what time I drank it. Then I couldn’t drink it in the evenings. Then I noticed that the afternoons were problematic. Then I noticed that it could make me a little shaky. Drinking coffee all day became a thing of the past.

Mornings, though. Those were sacrosanct.

So this morning while sitting at work, I noticed a slight tremor in my hands. I also felt a little jittery. As I reached for my coffee, I realized that I was consuming my fourth large cup. Could my hands and the coffee be related???

My cup holds a quarter of a litre.

Oh oh. Was I on my way to drinking a litre of coffee a morning??? Oi.

I thought about it. I thought, I don’t usually drink this much coffee.

Then I thought, yes I do.

Shit.

And no, I don’t mean poo-poop-de-do civet coffee, either.

However.

I’m not giving up coffee. I’ll cut back, but I’m not giving it up.

While I was thinking about it, I decided that there’s some other stuff I’m not giving up.

Chocolate.

Steak.

Red wine.

Maybe the odd cigar.

You’ll have to pry this stuff from my cold shaking hands.

Well okay, okay. Maybe I will have to sort of give it up at some time.

But never completely.

What will you never give up?

 

Fruitcake, Anyone???

I have an uneasy relationship with fruitcakes.

You know, the stuff you eat. Well, I suppose you eat it. I mean, from what I’ve heard, no one eats it. It gets shoved into the back of some cupboard, or into the corner of a freezer, and there it stays until is discovered, like an Indiana Jones artifact. You have to dig it out with a pick.

And by then, it will have acquired the density of a hockey puck.

But my questions is, if so many people hate it, why does it keep showing up on store shelves? Somebody must be buying this dreck.

And what about the people who make them?

If you stop and think about it, there’s an awful lot of fruitcake around at this time of the year, and if you can find one person who says he or she likes it, then you’re farther ahead than me, my friend.

My mother used to make fruitcakes. She would start in September so that they would age properly.

“Age” properly??? I don’t get it. They are the only thing on the face of the planet that doesn’t age.

If Armageddon were to occur tomorrow, the only thing left would be fruitcake. It would be a sea of fruitcake. You would have to elbow the fruitcake out of the way. Every fruitcake that everyone in the world has ever been hoarding would float to the surface, bobbing there like little brown pontoon boats.

Sorry. I just had to have a mini-rant.

Anyway. Once she had made them, she would store them in cake tins and every couple of days, she would take them out and paint them with rum.

Now, I’m half French. And I was raised mostly around my French relatives. And to me, and them, the whole fruitcake thing was a complete mystery. Why would you put this lurid neon fruit that you would never eat by itself for fear of contracting a dread disease, into a pan of perfectly good batter, leave it for months, douse it in rum, and then oooh and ahhh over it?

I suppose it had to be doused in rum. That was the only thing stopping it from getting up and walking out and starting its own colony.

fruit cake side view
fruit cake side view (Photo credit: Dani P.L.)

Anyhow, once it emerged from hiding, my mother would spend the rest of the holiday coaxing, cajoling and ordering people to eat it.

I mean, I know that there used to be a time when fruit had to be preserved and anything sweet, especially at Christmas, was a delicacy.

But my goodness! We aren’t eating hard tack any more, so what’s with the fruitcakes?

And those blanched nuts on top of it. Yikes! The word “blanched” says it all.

To me, a fruitcake should be made with real fruit, dried or fresh, and not that stuff that has survived a nuclear winter. And if you want to add some real nuts, that’s good, too. I’d be happy to try some fruitcake that has been made with real ingredients.

What about you? Are you a secret lover of fruitcakes? Do you feel that fruitcakes have been unfairly targeted by discriminatory forces? What is your fruitcake opinion?

I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Random Stuff

Emmental - Swiss cheese
Emmental – Swiss cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I’ve been really busy and haven’t had a chance to post for a while.  I realized just how busy when I took a look at my last post and saw that I was supposed to give eleven random facts about myself but didn’t. Why eleven? I have no idea, but that didn’t even register when I was doing the post…

All right. I’m digressing again. To finish the last post properly, here are eleven random facts about me:

1.  I am fourth-generation former military. My son makes five.

2.  I once met George Bush Jr. before he was president and had a chance to talk to him. His wife was nice. He was an idiot.

3. I am “double-jointed,” especially in my hands, elbows and shoulders. My legs used to be the same way but aren’t any more because I’m two seconds away from officially becoming ancient.

4. Every time I have the gall to think that I’ve figured something out, God or the prophets or Murphy (you know, the Murphy’s Law guy) smites me (smotes me?) to make sure that I don’t get above my raisin’.

5. Water follows me everywhere, especially into my basement where it keeps finding new places to drip.

6. I’ve eaten prairie oysters and enjoyed them. For those of you who don’t know, prairie oysters are bulls’ balls.

7.  I have a small extra rib on one side, colloquially known as “Adam’s rib.”

8. I like to eat Swiss cheese and pickled beets. Together. I know. It’s weird.

9. I’m half English and half French. This should make me the perfect little Canadian but what it really means is that I can shrug and have a stiff upper lip at the same time.

10. My favourite colour is red. I like lots of other colours, too, but red rules!

11. I am NOT a morning person. I could do a whole post on this one. I hate mornings.  They’re just so, so bright, and, and, bright. And I don’t like it when people around me leap out of bed and act all perky … see, there’s a rant coming.

Dadahhh! Done!

Happy Easter – I Think.

Easter postcard circa early 20th century
Easter postcard circa early 20th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spring has just started and we of course will have Easter in a couple of days. For many people this is an important religious occasion but the idea of a spring celebration of some sort has been with us since ancient times.

Many places in Europe have a bonfire night at some point during the spring, the idea being that lots of light will chase away the darkness and usher in the longer days more quickly.

Down through the ages and across many cultures there has been an emphasis on rebirth and growth and rejuvenation and young, fluffy animals and, of course, on eggs  – those classic symbols of birth and new life.

It’s fun to get together with family or friends to have a few egg fights (with the hard boiled ones, not the raw ones!) to find out which egg will be the “champion.”

As a child I really enjoyed Easter. The whole Easter egg hunt bit was a lot of fun.

I grew up with roasted lamb and roasted salmon at Easter and we often finished off the last of the frozen or canned produce from my mother’s garden from the previous year.

Now, of course, we can get almost anything that we want at any time of year, day or night, as long as we are willing to pay the price. Strawberries from New Zealand during December. Quinoa from South America, a product my parents had never heard of. Wine from South Africa. “On demand” movies at three a.m.

There is, of course, the argument that we should be more cognizant of “eating locally” or should attempt to follow the “Hundred Mile Diet.” The global food industry is seriously contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and our desire for exotic products like quinoa is harming accessibility to the indigenous peoples for whom it is a basic foodstuff.

Despite these arguments, though, I have to say that I’m simply nostalgic for the times when we actually had “food seasons.” Of course, I ranted about a related topic in one of my Christmas posts which you can read here.

Easter eggs // Ostereier
Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, I got rather annoyed when I saw the chocolate eggs gracing the store shelves back in January. They were literally competing with the chocolate valentines. I commented on this to one of the store employees who said that they had no choice but to put them out because they were shipped to them and couldn’t sit in storage. She told me that she had heard the same complaint from other customers, a response that may or may not have been true.

The fact is, there’s nothing special about it any more.  Many of us have access to so much plenty that we have no appreciation for where it comes from or for what it takes to land in our stores. We have everything we could possibly want and our expectations keep escalating. A few days ago I watched a teenager of about 14 deliberately damaging her iPhone. She then bragged to the people she was sitting with that it was okay because her parents would get her a new one.

Our desire for whatever we want, when we want it, is inflicting hardship on those with less means. It is causing environmental damage.

We’re fat. We’re complacent.

When I was a kid, I could tell what month it was from what was available in stores and even in my own back yard.

I think it’s Easter. But frankly, given what’s on the store shelves, it could be August. And that’s a little sad.

So, in this season of rebirth and growth, we might want to consider doing a little “growing” ourselves by keeping an eye on where items are coming from. To perhaps buy “locally” more often. To be a little less demanding and a little less entitled. To be a little more in control of our basic narcissism.

To be a little more considerate.

And that’s never a bad thing.

On “Being” Canadian, Part 1

So, it’s soon going to be spring and I live in Canada. I know that mentioning that fact will conjure pictures of palm trees and sandy beaches snowshoes, sled dogs and hockey players for you.  Oops. Sorry. I went off on a flight of fancy there. The fact is that this country is so big that you can’t make any generalized statements like that.  Actually, the same is true for small countries, which only goes to show that stereotyping is just a form of intellectual laziness and convenient labelling. But I’m digressing again.

I have never gone dog sledding in my life. Ditto snowshoeing.  I watch hockey now and then but have never played it.

I hate poutine. Worst of all, since I’m half French I’m supposed to like this crap and have secret family recipes for it hidden in the attic. Soggy  fries (I am NOT going to refer to them as French – they never were and never have been) buried under some sort of packaged sludge masquerading as “gravy”.  Would probably work as a below zero lubricant for your snowmobile.

Then this mess is further assaulted by a load of  “cheese curds.” Yuck. See attached picture. Jamie Oliver would choke if he saw this stuff. And yes, we let our kids eat it. Encourage them, even. Whoever invented this dreck should be buried in it.

I like maple syrup but I don’t collect it and turn my back yard into a frozen syrup arena.

Most of us do not live in igloos, but some of our first nations people are trying to hang on to the knowledge of how to build one, along with other knowledge that we attempted to either beat out of them or steal from them, including the game of lacrosse. We changed it, called it hockey and then wouldn’t let them play it.

Some of us get terrifying winters and some of us don’t. I live in a part that used to be fairly predictable but isn’t any more. Global warming, anyone?

Summers can be ridiculously hot in some places and beautifully temperate in others. We actually have “desert zones” and “rain forest zones.”

Not all easterners grow potatoes and wrangle lobsters. It’s true that some of them have a pretty strong accent, but so what?

Canada produces some of the best ice wine in the world. Go figure.

The Tim Horton’s coffee shops are really popular in this country. They’re named after a hockey player.  Some people think that this is classic Canadiana. I do not.

Sometimes, other nationalities think that we’re a sort of watered down version of the U.S.  I once heard Canadians referred to as “plastic Americans.” Ever mistaken an Austrian for a German? They hate that and can respond rather ferociously to it.  We feel the same way about the assumption that we’re Americans.

Some Canadians think that in order to be a “success” you have to go to the U.S.

We can often be a rather smug and even arrogant bunch about how great things are in our chunk of the world, but we have our problems, just like everyone else. I’m sometimes viewed with suspicion because I have a French name. Is she a separatist? (No, I’m not.)

What about the tar sands and the oil pipelines? An environmental disaster? I believe so.

Some people say that we have a self-esteem issue.

Our politicians leave a lot to be desired and they exploit holes in our electoral system that you could drive an aircraft carrier through. We aren’t doing much about it.

What say you? What’s your opinion? Where do you live? What stereotypes do you face?

Montreal poutine from La Banquise in Montreal
Montreal poutine from La Banquise in Montreal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)