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Oyster Stew Click Here To Comment!

Ad for Campbell's Frozen Oyster Stew, circa 1961

Ad for Campbell’s Frozen Oyster Stew, circa 1961

My Mom used to buy Campbell’s Frozen Oyster Stew for us to share at lunch. She didn’t do this often but it was a huge treat when she did. This buttery, creamy, slurpy soup with those funny rubbery fishy bits … I loved it.

This is really an odd sort of choice for my land-locked, Southern Ontario farming Mom. I wonder how she got “hooked” on this soup? Why not, if it is going to be a fishy stew, the more popular and known clam chowder?

Anyway –  I quickly learned to love it too, at a relatively young age. And I do crave it from time to time. It hasn’t been available for years, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t know the first thing about trying to make it from scratch. The only oysters I know of are expensive appetizers in upscale restaurants in Toronto. I suppose there are tinned oysters but I can’t imagine putting them in a soup.

I woke up with this soup on my mind and, alas, had none available. I did have granola, Greek yogurt and a fresh peach so I made do with that.

Granola, yogurt, peach and coffee. An oyster stew substitute?

Granola, yogurt, peach and coffee. An oyster stew substitute?

How To Poach An Egg (a.k.a. How To Get UnSettled In Your Ways) 2 comments

I have always been a good poacher of eggs. A properly poached egg is a thing of beauty. Fully set white, very runny yolk on buttered toast with salt and pepper. A perfect breakfast that seems decadent in its rich flavours and textures but is actually fairly healthy. (The butter won’t hurt ya, really …)

My former egg-poaching methodology involved any old pot with boiling water that has a dash of salt and a splash of white vinegar. (The vinegar helps the whites set without as many stringy bits.) I’d crack the eggs directly out of the shell into the water and then stand over them until the exact right moment, usually about two or three minutes. I also had an method of using a frying pan to boil the water, and now I see that is just WRONG. I remember my brother also enjoying poached eggs and using the heel of a loaf of bread to drain them first before transferring them to his toast. The heel would get tossed.

My ex says I make the best poached eggs. I have them most mornings for breakfast.

My friend Miriam and I talk about poached eggs a lot. She shares my love of the perfectly poached egg. Ever helpful, Miriam sent me a video a while back on how to poach an egg. This arose out of her disdain for the idea of putting a splash of vinegar into the water, which I do understand.

For weeks after I watched this video, my poached egg mojo was totally messed up. I couldn’t get it right as I was trying some combination of my old method and this new method and just getting it all wrong. After years of getting it mostly right, new information totally threw a monkey wrench into the works. The guy in the video leaves out some important pieces. How hot is the water when you start? Do you leave it covered or not? What do you mean, leave the egg in for TEN MINUTES???

Experimenting with this new method of doing something I know so well has taught me a lot. For example, the pot matters. If you are going to leave the eggs sitting in water, they have to be completely covered in water, and the pot needs to be heavy and able to hold heat for some time. My thin-walled small saucepan is a bust. My larger thick-walled saucepan rocks, but only if it has enough water in it to cover the eggs.

I have finally got it right.

How To Poach An Egg Perfectly Without Vinegar and Without Standing There And Staring At It and Fussing Over It

1. Select a heavy pot and put enough water in it to cover the eggs. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil.

2. Crack the eggs into a cup, carefully.

3. Put some bread in the toaster.

4. When the water is boiling, stir the water in a circle in any direction you care to.

5. Carefully drop the eggs in one motion into the centre of the vortex and immediately cover the pot. Turn the heat off. Set your timer for three minutes.

6. Whistle a happy tune. Maybe pour a cup of coffee.

7. When the timer goes off, butter the toast. The eggs need the last 30 seconds or so.

8. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon onto toast. Decorate with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!

One Perfectly Poached Egg

One Perfectly Poached Egg

Hockey Day In Canada! 2 comments

January 13 is Hockey Day in Canada! (Seriously.) In fact, if all goes well today, I'll be playing in a total of three hockey games myself, with the outside possibility of playing in four. Doesn't that just rock? The term Hockey Day in Canada is a small twist on the legendary Hockey Night in Canada, the now-defunct theme to which many Canadians of my generation can hum in its entirety.

Warm up began for me last night when I played in Game #1 of the 2nd Annual Women of Winter Outdoor Shinny Tournament. The weather for the games last night was not optimal for shinny …drizzle and absurdly high temperatures. Many women had to take outer layers of clothing off by the end of the first period and were playing in single layer shirts. Because of the on/off rain and persistent high temps, the ice was pebbly – it was like skating on gravel. The puck was sticky and hard to manage. HOWEVER, a good time was had by all … our team won our first game, but no one is really paying too much attention to the winning/losing part. It is about playing and having fun.

I have a game this morning, then again this afternoon (early). If we win these, we'll likely make it to the championship game, late afternoon. Then, of course, I have my regular Saturday night "real" league (not shinny) game at 9:00 p.m., in a proper arena with proper gear.

What is the difference between shinny and "real" hockey? Well, some would argue that shinny is "real" hockey and that stuff we see on TV is a mere shadow of the original game. I won't get into that debate here. Here are some of the key differences between organized hockey and shinny:

  • shinny is usually played outdoors on ice that has not got painted lines on it. A pond, for example. In fact, shinny is often referred to as pond hockey.
  • because there are no lines on the ice, there are no pesky rules like offsides and icing. It is a free roaming game!
  • players wear minimal equipment -  in real pond hockey, some play just with a stick and skates and a puck.  I'm more comfortable with my helmet/cage, mouth guard, and gloves. Last night, some women were adding shin guards and elbow pads as they anticipated going for some spills on the rough ice. However, full gear is actually prohibited in this tourney.
  • no goaltenders and, in fact, "goaltending" is against the rules. In real pond hockey, the goal posts are usually someone's boots – which they don't need, of course, because they have their skates on. In our tourney, there are special shinny nets – 17 inches high, normal goal width.
  • no raising the puck
  • when a goal is scored, the team that scored has to clear the ice to half way and allow the other team possession of the puck

That is pretty much it. Basically, give us a sheet of ice and some boots, sticks and pucks and we'll show ya a game!

Power breakfast for three-four hockey games in a day? Mango juice, pasta omlette with spinach and romano, luscious coffee. The weather today is much closer to optimal … temps just below freezing, less enthusiastic drizzle that will likely turn to snow later. Drop that puck and let's play!

PS – Don't forget to de-lurk!

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Beatles – Not Just For Breakfast Anymore 1 comment

Weird Venus fact #47 … I almost always make two cups of coffee in the morning. I really enjoy the first one. I rarely drink the second one. The next day, I toss out the cold remaining cup, silently scold myself, and proceed to do the exact same thing. What is that saying about insanity being the repetition of the same behaviour, always hoping for a different outcome?

Weird Venus fact #48 … I like to number things. I just don't always start with #1.

My life has a soundtrack, as some who know me well already know. I have a habit of bursting into song at inopportune moments. It can be quite disconcerting, I suppose. While on my way to work the other day, someone was on CBC-1 discussing "old" music and seemed to be focussing on the Beatles. Immediately one of my favourite Beatles songs ran through my head and then, of course, out my mouth. It is a rather obscure one, but I've always been fond of this catchy little tune. This song has a sort of unfinished quality to it … everybody sing

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go

Isn't this sort of contradictory? If I fix the hole, will my mind not also be stopped from wandering?

I'm filling the cracks that ran through the door

And kept my mind from wandering

Where it will go

Same question, really. Filling the cracks will just keep my mind in again, won't it? Doesn't this defeat the purpose?

And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong
I'm right
Where I belong I'm right
Where I belong.
See the people standing there who disagree and never win
And wonder why they don't get in my door.

OK, so if I fix the cracks in my door, the disagreeing people can't see in anymore. But my mind has become trapped in an air-tight, R-2000 home. This can't be good.

I'm painting the room in a colourful way
And when my mind is wandering
There I will go.

My mind! It escaped! Maybe something to do with the colours …

And it really doesn't matter if
I'm wrong I'm right
Where I belong I'm right
Where I belong.
Silly people run around they worry me
And never ask me why they don't get past my door.

Ah, yes … the silly people. The blue meanies. Fixing holes in submarines … very good idea indeed.

I'm taking the time for a number of things
That weren't important yesterday
And I still go.

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go.

The logic is a bit bizarre … maybe the song isn't so much "unfinished" as "unresolved", like the penultimate chord, just hanging there, wafting through the air. Still, it bounces and makes me smile and tap my foot. Maybe that is where the logic resides, in the bouncing, smiling and tapping.

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Giving Thanks 2 comments

Years ago, I envisioned a particular type of life and somehow, by more hooks than crooks, I seem to have gotten there. At least I'm at that place until the vision changes, and then I'm off on the quest again. Nonetheless, sometimes I forget to notice that I am, in fact, in a good place.

Those several years ago, I wanted to live alone in an open, airy space that was truly "mine". I wanted a wide variety of work and "leisure" activities. I hoped for an assortment of interesting friends who bring richness to my life. I needed a certain level of income to maintain my life in some comfort. Perhaps the best way for me to describe my life is to look at a 24 hour snippet …

Monday – early evening – played in a really fun hockey game
Monday – late evening – dinner and catching up with a good friend whom I'll convert to blogging someday because she is an outstanding writer and a deeply interesting person with an interesting life and I wanna read about it! 🙂
Tuesday – morning – teach a class
Tuesday – early afternoon – meet with students about their project work
Tuesday – late afternoon – massage appointment!
Tuesday – early evening – jam session at a friend's house

When I look at this, I shake my head at the life I lead. Given how I was raised and what the expectations were, it is almost too good to be true. Recently, I've been providing some help to a friend deciding whether to leap from a corporate, high-stress yet high-income life to something more like my teacherly existance. I really can't recommend it highly enough.

In a few weeks, the major assignments, exams and projects will arrive and I'll feel swamped and overwhelmed. This will be at the same time as some of my client work will become more demanding. I will lose sleep wondering how I will manage all of it.

But … not today … 🙂

My American friends are celebrating their Thanksgiving this week. I guess I'm feelin' it too. Happy Thanksgiving to those marking the occasion.

Oh … orange juice, poached eggs on whole wheat bagel, coffee, multi-vitamin … for those who have missed this part. 🙂

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