Friday, January 15, 2021

Cooking our way through the Pandemic

Regis and I both enjoy cooking so with very little else to do, we have been doing a lot of cooking during our “Stay the blazes home” isolation. 

 We have been making fresh pasta for many years, but we experimented with making lovely pink beet pasta, tortellini and ravioli. Then with our new pasta extruder we discovered fresh fusilli and bucatini. Of course you then have to find an interesting sauce to accompany the pasta. 
Another batch of fresh pasta

 We worked at mastering the Instant Pot, discovering it makes perfectly juicy chicken wings ready to be sauced under the broiler, and fall off the bone back ribs. We found it also makes cooking rice easy and quick, and can be adapted for many different recipes. Even wild rice comes out perfectly. As well, the 10 pounds of beets Regis brought home to help with my low potassium, were quickly and perfectly processed in this handy addition to our kitchen. We are constantly finding ways to use this appliance. 

 Regis discovered that rather than buying frozen puff pastry she could add another pastry to her “Pastry expert” resume, when she made beef wellington for my birthday and moved on to sausage rolls and then she discovered choux pastry for cream puffs and curried turkey appetizers. We made a huge batch of pirogies, one kind with aged cheddar and the other
Pierogi filling

with cheddar and added jalapeƱos. 

We also found a variety of ways to cook the delicious Nova Scotia pork filling our freezer from “Pig 3” (that’s another story . . .) The latest recipe we tried was a Belgium Pork Roast served with a gravy made from beer and cream. What is not to like. I discovered that Costco started carrying my favourite fish, sea bream from Greece and I have found different ways to cook this delicious seafood. 

 Video conferencing also became a part of our kitchen experience. Unable to get together to bake Christmas goodies, Regis spent an afternoon on Google Groups making cookies with our daughter living and working in Northern Ontario, and this worked so well that our son took advantage of the new kitchen skill to make crab dip with her via video conference. This has also proved handy in conferring with friends to master recipes and techniques. 

 My family cookbook which I have been building over the years has grown to 133 pages and most of the recipes only get included once they are used at least twice. 

 So being asked to stay home, we have enjoyed cooking and finding new and better ways to make delicious meals, and as a result, we are eating very well. Bon appetite!

Always keep the wine rack stocked . . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Road Less Travelled

I have a good exercise routine established over many years and I have been able to keep it up for over 30 years. It started when I had my back operated on to fix a ruptured disk. I was given exercises to strengthen my core to better support the now bone-on-bone L5 disk and I discovered that these exercises worked. Over the years, I developed a routine that involved doing these exercises one day alternating with walking for about 4 to 6 kilometres on the alternative day. 

All alone in Shube

During the COVID-19 Pandemic the walking became an issue, especially during the first wave when the parks and trails I normally used were closed to the public. It is hard to “Stay the Blazes Home” and get my walks in. For a while I had to limit my walks to the streets in the neighbourhood, so when the parks opened again I was happy to be able to go back to my regular routes. 

One of my favourite walking routes were a couple of loops in Shube Park, the lovely city park within easy walking distance from my house. When the parks opened however I discovered some problems. Some of the most scenic and interesting trails were not close to six feet wide, making it impossible to follow the proper “social distance”. I found myself stepping into the woods when encountering other park users. One solution was to stick to the “Great Trail”, part of the Trans-Canada Trail system, where the pathways were wider and it was easier to maintain a distance between other walkers. I also discovered that if I timed my walks in the park for the week days rather than the weekends it was better. On the weekend, there were more families and groups of people who seemed to just ignore the social distancing rules. During the week, most users were groups of two or singles walking their dogs and they seemed to understand and follow the rules better. I discovered that a walking the trail around Lake Mic Mac was a better option on the weekends because it was wider and not as popular as the ones in the main park.

A little used trail

Walking on the sidewalks was always an option, but again, the sidewalks do not provide enough room for a six foot distance between people. I also tried some other trails around the city and discovered that many parks conveniently placed nice benches alongside the walkways  for people to rest and watch the scenery. Obviously these benches, when occupied literally blocked the trails if you follow social distances rules. 

I wanted to continue my walks, so I developed a “Road Less Traveled” strategy. I started looking for trails that were not used as much and I started following routes that others did not use. There is a nice trail out in Cole Harbour that only a few locals know about, and I found that walking on the trails in Burnside Industrial Park on the weekends provided people free walking routes. Even walking in Shube Park, I discovered the trails that fewer people used. Even walking on the city sidewalks and streets, it is possible to follow routes parallel to the main streets that are less used, and by exploring areas of the city I did not normally go to provided nice safer vacant walking routes. 

It will be nice to get back to sharing the trails and sidewalks with people but until then, I will continue to find and use the “roads less travelled”.

Nobody here at all