Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day food

This blog is for all of our friends around the world and shows the food we are eating today. Of course, the US viewers will say 'that's not the way to do it' since all families have their traditions, but that is part of the fun of it all. And if you are one of those US families that carve up a roasted hot dog, perhaps you should continue reading.

My contribution is one of my mother's recipes that we used to have about once a week for breakfast when I was a boy. It's apple fritters and we save it for special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or when visitors stay with us.

We have this deep fryer called a Fry Baby. It takes a while to heat up the canola oil so I turn it on first to get the oil hot.

Take one apple. Granny Smiths are great for this. For desert after the turkey I will be doing a baked apple in pastry. The apple will be cored and stuffed with raisins and some cut up prunes that have been marinating in Armangac in the bottle for a few days.

Chop up the apple

A cup or so of flour, depending on the number of people. For the two of us I use 3/4 cup.

Some baking powder and one egg go into the bowl. Add some milk and beat.

The mix should be less liquid that what you would use for a pancake.

Chuck in the apple pieces and mix in.

With the spoon, carefully plop about four blobs into the hot oil.

The finished product on some paper towels to stop the grease going everywhere.

Serve with sugar and lemon juice. Fresh lemon is better.

They really are delicious but definitely unhealthy. But they are quite filling if you have enough of them and they keep you going nicely until 2:30 pm when we had the Thanksgiving dinner.

Here is the bird.

Marianne feasted on this huge drumstick.

I prefer the white meat.

Marianne is appalled that I make the scalloped potatoes from a packet. So am I, but I like them.

Over the years Marianne tried many different cranberry recipes but a few years back she found one which  has been a keeper. Nothing else comes close. 

At my first Thanksgiving dinner back in 1974, Marianne's mother made these candied yams. They have been on the menu every year since. The yams are boiled then covered in brown sugar and butter and then baked. This year Marianne cooked them a bit longer than usual and the sugar almost became like toffee.

The feast with some bubbly.

No, not a turd. A piece of the toffee covered yam.

The baked apple did not turn out very well. There is always next year.

And finally, Robin sent us some photos of her Thanksgiving dinner in Sydney. First there was pumpkin soup and then instead of turkey, they had roast pork. Turkeys are much more plentiful in the US.

Note the yams. There is no way Robin would miss out on them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The old codger

When you are young you know that the day will finally arrive when you turn 65 and you officially become an old codger. Well it has happened to me and for my 300th blog of my retirement I thought I would tell you about it. Most people really like to give presents but there are a few people who much prefer receiving presents and I am one of them. As well as the usual bottle of Pierre Ferrand cognac Marianne gave me a bottle of local honey and a big bag of Granny Smith apples. Robin gave me the complete Black Adder DVDs and last and not least, the complete Rumpole. Fourteen DVDs at three episodes per DVD.

By the way, for Blackadder and House fans, you might like to watch this interview with Hugh Laurie.

or some of the famous 'cunning plan' lines

It was a rainy day so I didn't feel like going outside and cutting up more wood so I relaxed for most of the day listening to music. As usual, Marianne made a special dinner for me and here it is.

First up, the goat cheese souffle.

Washed down with some bubbly. I can't remember having Pommery before and we both really liked it. It is quite a full bodied champers.

When Robin was a child she had one of the American Dolls. Somehow there was a cookbook involved that had a colonial  times recipe for a beef pie. Robin made it and it was so good that we have it every now and then and I selected it for my birthday dinner.

Back in about 1988 we went on a trip to Australia and I brought back two half bottles of Baileys Hermitage. Baileys is a winery just outside Glenrowan in northern Victoria and they are famous for their Liqueur Muscats and Tokays. They also make red wines that are renowned for their longevity. This bottle is a shiraz from 1984 so it is 28 years old. The wine had definitely reached its peak but I didn't get the sense that it was over the hill. Perhaps I am not over the hill yet either.

Finally the cumquart souffle for desert. Back when I turned 57 I had a small role (Karpathy) in a production of My Fair Lady at the theatre at the College. I was telling one of the cast about having a souffle for desert and I sent her the recipe.

It’s time to start preparing the magnificent feast for tonight’s international party. Wouldn't It Be Loverly to have a soufflé for desert? It will fascinate everyone. Not since the Queen of Transylvania came to Elkton have we eaten such a …….

-          one small soufflé dish or ramekin per person
-          one egg white per person
-          1/8th teaspoon salt
-          flavoring – ¾ cup of marmalade or other flavoring
-          1 tablespoon lemon juice
-          3 tablespoon sugar
-          vanilla icecream to go with the soufflé

Step 1: Earlier in the day, butter and sugar the soufflé dishes, one for each person, and put them in the fridge. Traditional soufflé recipes call for paper collars to keep the soufflé together when it rises. With this fridge technique, the soufflés rise straight up with no mess.

Step 2: Melt the 3/4 cup of marmalade or preserve and add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice.

Step 3: Let eggs come to room temperature before starting soufflés.

Step 4: Put a cookie tray in the oven when you preheat it to 350 F.

Step 5: Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Save the yolks for eggnog.

Step 6: Beat the egg whites and 1/8th teaspoon salt until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in
3 Tablespoons Sugar. Beat  until whites stand in stiff peaks. Sing I Could Have Beat All Night

Step 7: Gently fold into marmalade mixture with a rubber spatula. You don't need to mix in every bit of egg white evenly or they may deflate.

Step 8: Spoon into the soufflé dishes.

Step 9: Put dishes on cookie tray and bung in oven. Sing Get Me To The Oven On Time
Bake about 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Step 10: Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream. Sing With A Little Bit Of Muck

Step 11: Serve with Peter Lehman late picked Semillon wine. Open 24 hours before and recork before refrigerating. It tastes and smells much better this way.

Listen to ecstatic comments and moans from assembled guests. Have them sing You Did It

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Comcast Cable is coming

While we were in Oz we heard that contractors for Comcast Cable were laying cable in the community. We found out that there was an email address to send a request to be connected and I duly sent the email. We are not so much interested in the zillion TV channels. We mainly want fast internet.

Comcast has installed these boxes where the links to the houses will fan out from. The orange paint comes courtesy of Miss Utility to mark the existing phone and electric wires.

The main trunk coax that is being laid through the community beneath the right of way.

The Comcast contractors appear to be mostly Hispanics. They are essentially drilling a hole through the dirt for the cable. It is all underground with nothing on the electricity poles in the community.

The clean up pretty well though not all the holes look as good as this.

While I was gone for my daily walk two blokes turned up with a digger and had already mostly dug the narrow trench from the pedestal in front of our neighbour's house to our house.

The digger seems to have a facility to lay the coax at the bottom of the trench which is apparently about a foot deep.

The rolled up coax cable waiting to be connected.

From what I hear, the permits to lay the cable through the State Park are still being worked on. I'm not sure how deep the cable will need to be laid in the Park but these machines really make light work of the trenching. Hopefully we will have cable before Xmas. 

On December 13 this Comcast truck turned up and it looked like our cable feed was connected to the main loop. A supervisor turned up and he said that he didn't think the connection would be made before Christmas and more likely in January. There was a problem getting permissions to put the fibre cable through the State Park but the problem has recently been resolved.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The tree is removed

When we got back from Paris we learned that one of trees had fallen over on our neighbor's house. There was still some of it standing so we had to have it taken down. We used a local company called Wright Brothers and we called them to deal with the tree that came down in Sandy.

Three blokes turned up and one of them used this bulldozer to card away the trunks of the trees.

My long ladder survived, but not the metal gate.

Gradually the tree was cut up.

The remains of the TV antenna. Fortunately Comcast  cable is supposed to be arriving in the next couple of months. 

The base of the tree flopped back upright. I was glad I did not have to cut up all this.

The bulldozer carted a lot of the smaller stuff way down the back.

The jaws with a huge log. The bigger logs were cut up into 12 foot sections and loaded onto a wagon out on the road.

They also took down the tree by the front deck that was split during the June storm. One of the three blokes was the owner of the company and I asked him to identify any trees that also needed to come down. This was one of them.

In the middle of the photo is the top of our well. We decided to get rid of the two trees at the front of the driveway which really have a lean on them.

The tree falling.

The end of the leaning cherry tree.

The wagon loaded with logs. It's great to see that the fallen trees will still serve a purpose. The team of three blokes did a great job and they worked almost three hours. It would have taken me days and days or more likely weeks and weeks to try to do what they did in that time. And of course, they are experts and know what they were doing.

Just before they left, a couple of adjusters from State Farm turned up to inspect the damage. They were very friendly and helpful. One came from Colorado and the other from Ohio. Because of the huge amount of damage in New York and New Jersey, adjusters have been flown in from all over the US. From what they said we will be getting a new roof and our deck will be replaced as well as a new back door downstairs. They were very concerned that everything that was damaged was listed.