Friday, 30 September 2011

Looking ahead

Long Term Forecast Updated: Friday, September 30, 2011, 6:00 CDT

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6am - 6pm
SunnyMainly sunnyCloudy periodsSunnyCloudy periodsMainly sunny
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WindS 25 km/hS 20 km/hS 10 km/hSE 10 km/hS 20 km/hS 25 km/h

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Recently, over at Boxer's place, there was a discussion on smoking pot. Lots of lengthy comments on that post!

I'm going to add my little bit on smoking... turkeys.

I admit, they are difficult to roll, keep falling outta the paper... and don't stay lit either.

But it was an experience for me! First time in my life I'd smoked a turkey. Well, two actually.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. She's been into the green too much and is talking nonsense. No green was inhaled (or ingested) in the smoking of these turkeys. There was a lot of smoke, though, and I didn't do too well with that. Inhaled a bit too much over the course of the day and spent a bit of time feeling a little nauseous. Bleh...

However, I recovered well with fresh air and a shower.

The MoS has a nice stainless steel smoker that runs on propane. It looks a lot like this one (although this isn't his, because I neglected to take a picture of the outside of the thing):

His is actually taller than this one, with more shelves, so you can smoke quite a few things at once. It's a pretty nifty gadget, I'll tell ya. And he keeps it in the garage with all those big tools he has. You remember me mentioning his tools, don't you?

So I got an education in smoking turkeys. You have to brine them first, so on Friday, he cut the spines out of the turkeys (they fit in the pots much easier that way), and put each one in a salt solution. This firms up the meat and keeps it nice and moist as it smokes. One turkey was brined with just fresh herbs (sage, thyme, black peppercorns, garlic) and the other had cranberry juice added to the salt solution. You can add whatever spices or flavouring to the brine that you want, depending on your tastes and the type of meat you are going to smoke. We figured cranberries and turkey were rather appropriate!

The turkeys were left in the brine for a good 16 hours in large stock pots in the fridge in the garage. Always handy to have an extra fridge somewhere. We pulled them out the next morning, patted them dried and proceeded to put them in the smoker that had already been fired up. The MoS felt apple wood chips would be best as they have a mild flavour and you don't want to overpower the taste of the meat with the flavour of the wood chips. When the smoker hit 250ºF, it was ready and we loaded the two turkeys onto racks in the smoker. There is a bowl that sits above the cast iron chip box that was filled with a simple syrup (warm water with some sugar dissolved in it). This ensures the meat doesn't dry out too much from the heat and the sugar adds just a hint more sweetness to the smoke.

Here's the "before" shot. And yes, it looks a bit like something from Alien...

It took these two turkeys, about 10 lbs each, 4 1/2 hours to smoke. I'd had smoked turkey breast (sliced) from a deli before, but never fresh and whole like this. Oh lordy! was it ever good! They turned a wonderful golden colour but because they had been soaked in the brine, you had to discard the skin. It was much too salty to eat. The meat, however, was super tasty and moist. It was excellent!

Here's the finished product:

Now, we smoked these turkeys because there was a party with a bunch of the MoS's friends and former colleagues. (He's retired from his first career of 30 years as a millwright in a steel mill and has moved on to his second as a gov't health and safety officer.) Every year, these guys and gals get together and everyone brings some food item. Although we didn't buy the turkeys (the party was hosted at someone else's house and he bought the turkeys) and despite having done the work of smoking them, I wanted to bring something else, so I decided to whip up a dessert.

How does Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake sound? I had a recipe stuffed in amongst various books and binders in which I've collected recipes over the years, so I figured this would be a good time to give this one a try. It is Fall, after all, and is definitely pumpkin season. Again, I didn't take a photo of the one I made (I gotta remember to do that!) but found one on the internet that is pretty close to what mine looked like.

I baked it in a 9" springform pan and it filled the thing right to the rim! I think next time, I will use the 10" pan, as there was barely room for the topping. But Oh. My. God. was it good! Almost orgasmic!!! I think it was a bigger hit than the turkey, which got rave reviews. There was absolutely none left over.

I have a feeling we will doing both the turkey and the cheesecake again! Maybe we'll just lock the doors and eat it all ourselves...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Fall has fallen. With a thud. One day it is 29C (whatever in the 80sF) and the next day, we get up to a high of 16C (61F). No transition. No gradual decrease in the daily high temperature. Just smacked in the face with cooler temps.

But last week... Well!!! The weather was spectacular! It was hothothot and blazingly sunny. I think we hit 33C one day and the rest were pretty close to that. The sky was clear for the most part, with only the odd fluffy cloud passing by.

Thursday morning was an early one for the hot air balloon ride. Up at 5:30 a.m. as we had to be at the launch site by 7:00. It was clear. The sun wasn't even up yet, but the eastern horizon was lightening and you could not see a cloud anywhere. The balloon ride was a blast and both the MoS and I agreed that it is something we would love to do again. Perhaps a sunset flight the next time.

(We were on the far side, just under that tree in the middle.)

Friday was still smokin' hot so we toodled off to the beach at a local park for the afternoon. Very peaceful as most kids were back in school. There were a few people there, mostly adults with preschool aged children, older couples and a few small groups of kids who had finished high school but were not doing anything else. Packed a picnic lunch, wandered into the water for a dip when it got too hot, people watched, chatted, just lazed around. Ah, it was grand!

Saturday morning we took a road trip out to Falcon Lake to view a cottage that is one of the main prizes in the local large hospital's annual fundraising lottery. Now THAT is a house (I don't think you can call this thing a cottage!) and it is gorgeous! Right on the lake, with a boathouse and a dock. The view is fantastic!!! We fantasized about having that place, let me tell you!

On the way back home, we stopped to view the other grand prize, which is a home in a posh neighbourhood in the city. The big thing here is building areas with little 'lakes' that the houses back on to. Of course, if you don't fence in the yard, this means you have gazillions of Canada geese crapping all over your yard and getting cranky if you shoo them away. (Having a Border Collie dog would come in handy.) It's a lovely home but ultra modern in style and decor, which really didn't appeal to me. But hey, I'd live in it if I won it! Might sell it after a year, though. This is a million dollar home, after all. The 'cottage' is just under a million ($925K). The cottage I would keep, the house I'd probably sell, if I won one of them. Nice to wander through them and have a look and dream the dream!

Sunday was a day to just do stuff around the house (his). He cut the grass while I went to the grocery store to pick up things needed to make supper. It was still hot and sunny so we made the most of the weather! We spent the afternoon sitting in lawn chairs in the back yard in the shade of a big elm tree, enjoying a few drinks and just talking and laughing. It was lovely!

Monday morning saw the MoS heading back to work and me back to my apartment, where the cats gave me a talking to about leaving them on their own for 3 1/2 days. I think Lila was telling me about all the fun she had, and Pips gave me hell for not being around to scratch her neck and make my lap available when she required it!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Weaning, sand and kitty cleaning

From wearing my sling, that is.

Nothing to do with breasts or milk or anything like that.

Although I do have breasts... And milk... (in the fridge).

But no, I am now allowed to forego wearing the much hated but entirely necessary sling that kept my arm from moving around when it shouldn't. Today was the first day I went out in public without it. Yes, I felt a bit naked, and I was very conscious of what my arm was doing all the time. Can't have it getting ideas of its own and moving around or anything like that.

Because it would hurt. Big time! I know because I have occasionally forgotten that I can't lift it, and have done just that. Or attempted just that. Only it does not lift. It just causes me sudden, intense pain. *sigh* You'd think I would remember after all these weeks. I will continue to wear it in crowded public places for a while as a visual barrier so no one will bump into me, or try and shake my hand. It is still far from a usable arm.

So here in the Centre of the Universe... or make that the Centre of Canada... it is a stupendously warm and sunny week weather-wise. Perfect for the MoS to be on holidays, and perfect for the kids to be back at school, which makes it absolutely perfect for us to get out and about without hordes of children getting in the way!

They wouldn't get in the way of the balloon ride, which is bright and early Thursday morning. The high for Thursday is 31C/88F, which is above normal for early September.

And Friday will be equally as warm and sunny, which means we are going to spend the day at the beach! Minus the great hordes of school aged persons who normally clutter up the sand in the summer time. Not that they are a bad thing. I just like having a few less people milling about. It's nice to have some space, after all! Given that I have no open wounds any longer (all suture abcess crap is all cleared up), I can go in the water too! Yippee!!! I love the beach and the sand and the water.

This is shaping up to be a lovely week. Because we have to be up way early on Thursday, the MoS is coming to my place tomorrow, bringing a pork tenderloin with him that he put in marinade this evening. Plus, he is making a bread pudding and bringing that as well. I picked up a couple of wonderfully ripe avocados at the store today and will be making guacamole once again. Plus an apricot curried rice to go along with the pork, sweet and spicy and yummy delicious!

I'm going to try an experiment and will be giving the cats baths in the morning. I want to try and reduce the allergens floating about the apartment, and that is one step I've not taken yet. I vacuum and dust and wash things down. I even buy Febreeze Allergen Reducer to spray on all the furniture. It helps. But Mister Allergic still sneezes and itches, so I feed him antihistamines and will now scrub the cats to see if it helps. He thinks I'm crazy, and I am sure the cats will agree with him once they find themselves in the tub, all wet and lathered up, but hey... I like living on the edge!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thursday stuff

We had a low pressure system move in today. It made my shoulder ache something fierce all day! And it made me almost weepy, which is sooooo not like me. And that made me mad.

Tonight the Man of Steel and I went to see a man about a gargoyle.

He's my cousin (the man, not the gargoyle) and he's an artist. A soap stone carver, painter, sculptor... he spends the school year travelling around the province teaching carving at schools. He's a pretty cool guy. But then I'm not biased or anything.

My MoS and I decided we needed some food after that, seeing as how he'd picked me up right after he got off work and we'd gone straight to my cousin's place. So we went to one of the better Greek/Italian/pizza restaurants in town and had wonderful food. I think we had Lindsay Lohan for a waitress, though. An airhead, with tats on the back of her neck ("I think that tattoo has damaged her brain stem", he said at one point) who even looked like the infamous Ms. Lohan. Not too on the ball, that one. But the couple of drinks I had killed the ache in my shoulder, which made me very happy. And it has yet to return (pleasepleasestayaway) so hopefully I'm good for now.

I got refills on my hormone prescription so I can keep the dreaded hot flashes at bay. I prefer to think of them as power surges, but I sure as hell don't need them in the summer time! My doctor told me I looked "healthy" and had I lost some weight? Um.... no... in fact, I think I've put on a couple pounds since meeting the Man of Steel. He's way too good a cook for a weight loss program. But he (the doctor) makes me smile every time I see him. Actually, the Man of Steel does that too. Guess I'm a lucky woman then!

Tomorrow night is game two of the playoffs for our local triple A baseball team. I managed to get us a couple of good seats. All we need now is for the weather to cooperate and NOT rain on us! That is the start of the MoS's vacation, so after the game we will head north to his place. Saturday is supposed to be cool and rainy so it may be a good day to snuggle under a blanket on the couch and watch a movie or two. And cook. We always cook when we're together.