March 22, 2013

Tomatoes, Knitting and Service Dogs - What do They Have in Common?

I visited a blog called Dining Room Empire recently and saw a picture of what I initially thought was Veal Parmigiana with a huge amount of melted cheese.  It looked scrumptious.

Here, I have deliberately posted a small picture of said dish, so you can be confused too.  (If you click on it, you can get a larger view).

I am masquerading as veal.

As it turns out, the "veal" was actually poached eggs on brown toast drizzled in tomato sauce, or as Tony Soprano calls it, "gravy".  I am not a fan of a quivery, gelatinous poached egg, but this dish looked good.  I wasn't about to poach eggs or make veal parmi, but I did want to know the secrets of the simplest butter tomato sauce that the writer extolled.  I clicked.  So glad that I did.  I love an easy sauce and I have a few that are in heavy rotation on Bruce Street, which I will share in the latter part of this post.


This butter tomato sauce is RIDICULOUSLY easy and RIDICULOUSLY delicious. I have been eating it for most of the week.  Tomatoes, onions and butter - how can you go wrong? I know it seems kind of boring and it only has four ingredients (I'm usually wary of recipes with only a few ingredients), but it is an amazing sauce. Trust me!

You will need:
  • a large can of diced / crushed tomatoes with the juice
  • a biggish onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to bubble.  Lower heat to simmer, and stir every 15 mins.  Sauce is done when butter has separated from tomatoes and sauce has thickened - around an hour.  That it must be served with a giant mound of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano goes without saying. 

I added a chopped red pepper to my sauce's ingredients because I had one in the fridge that I needed to use.  The sauce was VERY tasty.

Here is the plate of leftover sauce and spagettini that I just ingested.  I am thinking of becoming a food stylist.  It doesn't look like there is THAT MUCH cheese on the gravy; however, that is because I do a sneaky little thing where I hide the cheese under the gravy so that it's all melty and gooey.


That last sentence really needed its own full line of mmm's.
Oh and my apologies to the gluten-free crowd for my forbidden food porn.

eat me!

My other go-to pasta sauce recipe is this one:

Take a 9 by 13 baking dish and dump in some fresh tomatoes (any kind will do - plum/ grape/ heirloom/ Kumatoes or a mixture of all the preceding and if some of them are from the reduced rack - even better!).  Throwins (as many or as few as you like):  a pkg of sliced mushrooms; a bunch of cloves of peeled garlic; leeks or shallots.  Add generous amounts of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste and a spoonful of sugar.  Roast in a 425 degree oven for around an hour.  You can puree the sauce or just dump it on pasta. Don't forget the parmi!  Duh just realized that I forgot the basil - very important! Fresh if you can get it, if not don't despair, dry will do.  

Here's the link to the original Tomato Butter Sauce .


And now, what all the knitters have been waiting for... if you're not a knitter and don't give a shiz about knitting and knitters in general, scroll down a few paragraphs.

What the hell is this thing anyhow?

Wait... is that a UFO?  ha ha.

Okay, I'm kidding.  The UFO is a skirt that I am making for my daughter - The Lanesplitter Skirt. You can find it on Ravelry.   I realize that this is hardly the knitter's dream that you came here for.  What I actually want to share with you is the knitting podcast that I found when I googled "knitting and podcast".  How awesome is it that Brenda Dayne has been recording a knitting podcast since 2005 and that it's still running?  I am so EXCITED to listen to the 120+ episodes before I catch up; I am in fact elated!

Here is the link to Brenda's marvelous CAST ON.  Knitters rejoice!

Oh and here, thanks to the marvels of technology, is the finished skirt (which I finished two weeks after I wrote this post):

My family is participating in the National Service Dogs Egg Hunt for Dogs on Good Friday.  This fantastic event helps children and adults living with autism and special needs. If you would like to sponsor Team Django, you can click right here:  Team Django! 

Here we are, in all our Christmas glory.  We will NOT be dressed like this at the Egg Hunt!  I am thinking rubber boots will be de rigeur.

This pictures makes me a little ill because we look so good.  If I didn't actually belong to this family, I might hate us.   What you don't see - Nathaniel HATING that bowtie and refusal to wear it until I threatened permanent grounding from Minecraft / Mindcrap, Richard's wet hair that looks greasy, Gwen's burned ear from hair straightening (not my idea) and my pot belly (sucked in by fierce constriction of abdominals and support hose).   Oh and the dog smells. 
Last but not least, the fierce hunter who will be sniffing out eggs like they're truffles:

Djing-Djang, the wild poodle.

Okay so remember, you're gonna sponsor us right?  C'mon even five bucks helps!  And remember all those times I sponsored you, people?  Yeah, that's right, I sponsor you whenever you ask!  NO ONE pays me to write this crap, but I KNOW you read it... and all I am asking for is a little love for the dogs, kids and special needs folks (heh heh, I laughed after I read that. oh I am good at pouring on the guilt!). Seriously though, I would be so happy if you sponsored me.  I sponsored myself $50!

Here's that easy-peasy link to Team Django, clickety-click, Barba trick :

Thank you, friends.  Doei! (pronounced "dooey"; it's Dutch for goodbye and needs to be yelled in a high, singsong voice, so saith me). 

March 11, 2013

Women in Aviation, Amelia Earhart Style

Yowzers.  I am one LUCKY lady.  Let me rephrase that... we are one fortunate family!

Last week, a friend of mine sent me some information about Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.  I visited their website and read this:

Individuals and organizations come together and open the gates of airports for girls and women during Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (March 4-10, 2013).

Mission:  To foster diversity in aviation by celebrating history, raising awareness, and shaping the future of aviation.  

And most importantly, the opportunity to fly in a small aircraft for FREE!  What a fantastic thing!

I emailed the Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport and made a reservation for Gwen.  She couldn't wait and neither could I.  Only five other girls had signed up. I was thrilled for her!  The last (and only) time I flew in a small plane was when I was twenty and while it was memorable, it was not at all enjoyable.  I had been treeplanting in the bush near Timmins when I got a call telling me that my Dad had been killed in an accident.  Someone had made arrangements for me to fly on a four-seater to the nearest airport and I was completely hysterical the entire flight, sobbing like mad, the tears never-ending.  It must have been hard for the pilots.  I did not look out the window and enjoy the scenery; I did not relish my small aircraft experience.  I felt like my heart had broken.  

BUT.  This flight experience that Gwen was about to have would be totally different: she was going to fly with a friend - a joyous experience!  My friend Maria and her daughter, Maya, were accompanying us, along with RB and Nathanimal.  We drove the 55 minutes to the airport, which is west of London near Blenheim, and were delighted to see two more friends when we arrived.  There were four flights ahead of us, at 10-15 minutes per trip, and they had been delayed due to the clouds (flights were supposed to begin at 12:30pm and we arrived at 1:45pm).  About fifteen minutes after we arrived, the go-ahead was given and the first plane taxied down the runway and took off into the sunshine.  


The airport staff were friendly and welcoming - in a word - amazing. They had paper airplanes, stickers, markers, cookies and juiceboxes for the kids.  Thank you, Marion!  The lounge wasn't busy and we happily waited in the small and tidy room, chatting and laughing.  We heard lots of stories from an "old-timer" about the cool clients that had flown in to the airport in their private jets (Jack Nicklaus being one of them). We also heard about the amazing Classic Cars in Blenheim, whose owner is local and often flies into the airport.  From their website:

RM Auctions is the global leader in the collector car auction industry. Our specialized services include auctions, restoration, appraisals, collection advice, private treaties, and estate sales. We offer the world´s finest cars to the most discerning collectors from around the globe.
Our business has been fuelled by a love of cars and a passion for producing results since 1976. To date, hundreds of million-dollar-plus automobiles have been sold at our catalogue auctions, which average a 95% sell-through rate. 

Check out their website and the link below, if you like classic cars! The airport had a superthick, glossy catalogue of luxury automobiles and we were drooling.  Seriously.  Here is a link to an event that was held yesterday in Florida (March 9, 2013):  Amelia Island 2013 .  The cars are unbelievable.  (Read the rest of my blog entry first though!)

Soon enough, it was time for our flight.  Nathanimal (the hooligan) managed to go with Katherine and Emily as there was an empty seat on their plane.  Before he knew that he was going up, I told him that his name was "Nathaniella" and that he would have to dress up as a girl in a skirt and ballet shoes (it was Women of Aviation, after all!).  We laughed as we watched the look of horror on his face.  Here he is after he realized that I was kidding:

The Kinsmen-owned Cessna that we flew in:

Getting ready for take-off:

There he goes!

We went back into the lounge to lounge, and soon enough, Nathaniel was back:

Here he is posing with his flight certificate:

Next up, Gweenoo, who isn't excited at all.  If you click on the pic below, you can see a close-up of her face:

Here's a picture of the kids with our awesome pilot, Jeff.  That Jeff is a patient man goes without saying:

Unbeknownst to me, my sweet husband had arranged for an awesome surprise for me:

 I picked a good man!

The Thames, snaking through the countryside:

My sweet men:

Post-flight celebration:

Posing in front of a beautiful little plane that I coveted:

Excuse the puns but I am still "high" and "on cloud 9", from our flight.  What a truly fantastic experience - one that I will always remember.  

Links for your perusal:

RM Classic Car Auctions

March 08, 2013

Paper Routes and How the Pennysaver Turned Me Into a Kid Criminal

When I was a kid, I delivered the Welland Tribune.  I had some sweet customers on my route.  My faves were an older couple who gave me a goody of some kind (cookie, chocolates or candy) and a generous tip.  In the summer, I got a popsicle or a cold drink.  If they weren't home when I came to collect, they left the money and a treat in a baggy hanging from their door handle.

Today, my paper is delivered by a faceless man who creeps up to my mailbox under cover of the night.  I pay for my paper bi-yearly and I do it online.  I do not leave a treat for the paper man.

How things have changed.

In 1983, I would walk up Riverside Drive, meander across Maple to Wilton, then go up and down Oakville, ending at 210 Maple.  My favourite part of the route was along Riverside, a curvy road that hugged the banks of the Welland River - a brown and weedy waterway with an unpredictable current.  There were only a few houses that I delivered to on Riverside and one of them was always in arrears on collection day, but I loved walking by the river.  Equally exciting and terrifying was the monstrous Annex - the creepy, abandoned hospital where my Mother had been born in 1943.

I was able to see past the rock-shattered windows, garbage-strewn grounds and graffiti on the building's exterior.  I knew that it had been a beautiful building in its heyday.

While writing this, I did some googling and found a picture of the Annex in the Niagara Falls digital archives, dated 1927:

We lived about a 2-minute walk away.  The river runs directly behind the hospital, so it's not visible in this photograph.

If you're interested, you can see more pictures of Welland and the surrounding area at:  Welland, Ontario, Canada

Oh, the memories:  throwing eggs at cars and people while hiding in the forest adjacent to the Annex, sneaking into the hospital and throwing things down the elevator shaft, throwing rocks to dislodge the remaining shards of glass in the windows, throwing things in the river, being hit in the head by a stone thrown by Janice Seko and being rushed to the other hospital for stitches... good times.  Seems to me that we did a lot of throwing. I blame my brother for all of it.

The BEST was when we found the money.  We were adventuring on the banks of the river and I spied some foreign money on the ground that looked a bit like this:

That is a LOT of 000's!  We were rich!

Then I noticed that there was more money scattered everywhere amidst the dead leaves and garbage.  We gathered it up like maniacs and filled an entire bag! (On the subject of illicit finds, I also found a big bag of pot at Crystal Beach a few years later but that's a story for another day).

We gave the money to my Dad, who was quite interested in our story (he made us take him to the spot we found it, presumably to look for more).  We had been quite fastidious with our money-grabbing (grubbing?), and none remained.  My Dad took the lire to the bank to get it exchanged.   He said that the cashier gave him $27 for it.  What?!  I thought we were millionaires! Harrumph.  Doesn't really matter as I never saw a penny of that money anyway.  He kept it all, the miser.  Grrrrrr.

I am feeling nostalgic...

But, let's get back to the subject at hand: paper routes.

This morning, I found this in my mailbox:

I showed it to Richard and the kids.  RB rolled his eyes and said:  "you know who's going to be doing that!".

Meaning us.

The same people who walk, feed and take care of the kids' dog.

RB said that there would be stacks of flyers delivered to our home - more than necessary! - and that we would have to assemble the flyers before delivery.  At this point, I began to laugh hysterically, so hard in fact, that I was a bit worried that I might choke on my coffee or snort it out of my nose. The family looked at me strangely, which made me laugh even harder.

Nathaniel seemed interested, until I recovered from my hysteria and told him about how his Uncle Ian and I had a flyer route when we were his age.  We delivered a scrappy publication called The Pennysaver.  My Mom must have known someone there because as soon as we expressed interest, we had the route.

Things were good for the first couple of weeks, the halcyon days.  By good, I mean that the papers were delivered.  There was complaining for sure, but it got done.

After a few weeks, the papers started to pile up in the mud room at the back of the house because our delivery grew more sporadic.  The stacks grew and grew, and threatened to topple over and it looked like we were hoarders.  My mother, who never ventured into the filthy mud room, was oblivious.

There was no recycling back then and so when you have STACKS and STACKS of undelivered flyers you have some choices to make. We weighed our options:

1) leave papers in mud room - NO!  Paper stacks were already HUGE, they were getting huger and Mom would catch on soon. Punishment was imminent.  

2) burn papers in back yard - NO!  We had been punished last year for setting fires in the park.  Ian set my new Levi's cords on fire, they burned, I burned and my butt burned when I got the wooden spoon for being an accomplice to the pyromaniac

3) throw out papers - NO!  See #1).  Too many to put in garbage without attracting attention

4) abandon papers behind old hospital and in river - Yes!  Old hospital was a perfect dumping ground. It was already trashy, it was near our house, it was on the "route" and no one would know.

Turns out someone did know.  The Pennysaver Police were on to us. They knew, after making phone calls to "random" homes on the route, that we were NOT delivering our papers.  My Mom got the phone call and informed us that we were fired.  We were grounded - again - but relieved that the hell of delivering the evil Pennysaver would be unleashed upon some other unknowing victim.

I did eventually get a "real" paper route when I was in Grade 6, my Pennysaver sins long forgotten by the newspaper establishment.  I miss my paper route and I am sad that my son will not know the joys of delivering a paper to happy neighbours.  RB is right about the Starmail flyer route - it will be a horror and there is not a snowball's chance in hell of Nathanimal delivering all those blasted flyers.

On the up side, I have decided that I am going to leave a treat for my newspaperman tomorrow.  I hope he likes it.