Category Archives: Family+Friends

Family randomness

My Mum is currently in Portugal, probably drinking “screaming orgasms” with “the girls”. I think it’s a second childhood thing.

My Dad just had an operation on his wrist. I’ve yet to find out why.

My Brother is a policemen in the Met, and just passed his response driver test. So if you’re in London and see a police car hurtle past with lights and siren going and a skinny lad grinning in the driver’s seat, it’s probably him.

My Sister is in the middle of a paramedic training course, currently inflicting her bedside manner on patients in various departments of her local hospital. I guess all those visits to A&E in her youth had an effect.

My Mother-in-law just spent the weekend practicing sleeping with her friends. Best not to ask.

So now I have to ask, in a terribly transparent attempt at getting more comments, what are your family up to?

Recent past and near future

Friday: We walked over to Cara and Tyler’s for an evening of good company, fine food, and Euchre. It was the guys against the ladies, and I’m pretty sure the guys won. We also took every opportunity (bathroom breaks etc.) to fit in a Magic game.

Saturday: We drove up to the country to celebrate Richard and Elisabeth’s 30th wedding anniversary. The party was at nearby friends of theirs, Candice and Brian, in a very cool house by the lake. We were joined by Nina and Luke and their two boys Eden and Gus. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, a delicious paella with salad and asparagus and a chocolate and raspberry cake that I only had room for about two mouthfuls of. Richie and Ebie were regaled with poetry and Eden and Gus kept us all amused.

Sunday: We had a belated birthday brunch/lunch for Jen, with pancakes and bagels and gifts of cushions, serving dishes and a wind-up penguin. It was a beautiful day so we went walking, then Richard, Eden and I went and re-tapped one of the maple trees and took a look around Luke’s sugar camp.

Sunday night: After coming home from the country, we headed out to Concordia University for Jen’s Dad’s 72nd birthday celebration. George thought he was coming to a student film festival, so he was quite shocked when he walked in and got a big “Surprise!” from all his family. It wasn’t a complete lie though, as Jen’s brother Julian had prepared a 45 minute documentary on George’s life for us all to enjoy. Jen was in tears by the end of it.

Tuesday (tomorrow) morning: We will be featured on CBC Montreal’s Day Break some time between 6:30 and 8:30 am.

Foodie Weekend

Despite the fact that Jen got sick on Thursday and is still sick, we still managed to have a busy weekend.

On Saturday we had Shatnerian and One Wanton Chickie over for dinner and a movie. We had curried sweet potato soup (onions, celery, sweet potato, curry spices, stock, coconut milk, cilantro) with croutons to start, followed by roasted pork loin with potato cakes and asparagus bundles (an old favourite for new friends).

We finished off the meal with blueberry dumplings: Throw some blueberries into a big saucepan with some sugar, a little water and a pinch of ginger and boil for 5 minutes. Make a stiff batter from white flour, buckwheat flower, brown sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, a tablespoon of butter and some milk. Gloop tablespoonfuls of batter on top of the blueberries then cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.

After dinner we watched Roman Holiday. I’m not a big fan of old movies, but I quite enjoyed it, especially with the MST3K style commentary that sprung up occasionally.

On Sunday we had Richard, Phyllis, Sarah, Clare, Luke and Granny over for a family lunch. We finished off the soup then had a big anti-pasti selection of salami, mortadella, roast pork, provolone, mozarella tossed in olive oil and capers, olives, sundried tomatoes, grilled asparagus and peppers, salad, roasted garlic and lots of bread. For dessert we enjoyed strawberries, ice cream, cookies and Richard’s peach and custard tarts. Quite a feast!

The loot

Both of our downstairs trees were completely surrounded by piles of presents when the opening ceremonies began. On top of that, everyone had stuffed stockings too so it was a gift extravaganza. It took two sittings to get through it all, but there were 15 of us so I’m not feeling too guilty. My loot included:

  • Northern Exposure season 2 on DVD
  • Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 on DVD
  • Blood Simple on DVD
  • A Dido CD
  • A Norah Jones CD
  • Various tools and implements required for my upcoming woodworking course (Jen called the instructor to find out what I needed!)
  • An orbital sander
  • Much chocolate and candy
  • Two sweaters from Mum in England
  • Some books from Kim, the Book Goddess
  • Magic cards
  • The America book by Jon Stewart

In-law festiveness

We went to visit my father-in-law George and his family (wife Mary, sons Julian and Stephan) today, arriving an hour early as we always manage to do. We chatted with Julian and Stephan while George and Mary ran around preparing a smoked salmon and bagel brunch. Dan, Susan and baby Simon arrived at noon and we all dug in to the delicious food. George always buys Boddingtons when I’m visiting, so I had a good beer too.

Mary is making a movie about George, so a lot of the rest of the afternoon was spent being directed by Mary while she or Julian operated the video camera. Apparently it was very important not to show any snow views because the movie was a “fall movie”. Not sure what that was all about… We all got interviewed with tricky questions like “George is Hungarian, what do you think about that?” and “How much influence has George had on Jen?”.

Simon was a happy smiley baby nearly the whole time, only getting tired as we were leaving. He did jump out of his skin several times at George’s barking ebullient laughter though.

Happy Birthday Dad!

DadIt’s my Dad’s birthday today; Happy Birthday Dad! He’s 3000ish miles away in France, where he’s busy running a bed and breakfast and raising pigs. I wish I could be there to have a pint with him on his birthday, but instead I’ll open one of my bottles of Lambic in his honour tonight. Oh yeah, that’s him in the picture, I wanted to put up the picture of him when he had a perm, but I can’t find it anywhere so I found the worst photo I have of him instead.

Thanksgiving Gastronomy

We had a slightly unconventional Thanksgiving / anniversary celebration meal here yesterday. Elisabeth, Richard and Loula joined us for:

Curried carrot and peppery Broccoli soups: onion, carrots, chicken stock, curry powder, cooked and whizzed in the food processor; onion, broccoli, chicken stock, salt and lots of pepper, cooked and whizzed in the food processor. Both poured into bowls from opposite sides for an attractive green and orange presentation (very Irish sectarian as Elisabeth pointed out).

Roast stuffed pork loin: Half a pork loin (rib end) rubbed generously with a bashed up mixture of fennel seeds, rosemary and salt and stuffed with a mixture of sliced red onion, ripped sage, sliced garlic, pine-nuts and sourdough bread. Roasted for an hour or so.

Sweet potato cakes: Grated sweet potato, grated onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper, formed into cakes and sauteed.

Asparagus bundles: sandwich an anchovy fillet and a rosemary stalk between six asparagus spears, top with a halved baby tomato and tie together with a slice of pancetta. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Lemony pudding: cream a 1/4 cup of butter with 1/3 cup of sugar and the grated rind of one lemon. Beat in 2 egg yolks and 7 tablespoons of self-raising flour. Mix in a cup of milk and the juice from the lemon. Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold in to the mixture. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until spongy and golden on top (don’t let it burn like I did…)

Busy Saturday

The garage sale was a mediocre success. We didn’t make enough to retire on but we did get rid of some junk. Tara and Cyler got rid of their big stuff, much to their relief as they weren’t looking forward to schlepping it all home.

After the garage sale (yes I had to wait until it was over) I went to the marche de l’ouest to get what I needed for dinner. Last time I was there it was winter, and the place felt like a bit of a dive, but it’s transformed in the summer into a delightful open air farmer’s market. I picked up some very good corn, a big box of berries and salad stuff before venturing inside to pick up some parmesan and sausage-meat. Sadly nobody there had pine-nuts so I still had to stop at Metro on the way home.

The evening dinner went very well, so here are some recipes:

Avocado and tomato dip: diced avocados, diced seeded tomatoes, juice of a lime, tabasco and seasoning to taste. (probaby could’ve done with some red onion too but I forgot that part)

Fiery limey corn: Corn on the cob with husks. Remove silks and rub the inside with a wedge of lime, cover up with the husks again, throw on the bbq for about 10 minutes, remove husks, sprinkle on a mixture of 1 part cayenne pepper to 4 parts salt to taste.

Tastie taters: boil some spuds, toss them in a mix of mustard, honey, soy sauce and seasoning, thread onto skewers, cook on the bbq until crispy.

Mediterranean sausage burgers: sausage-meat, chopped parsley, chopped garlic, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, toasted pine-nuts. Mix all that together, season well, make into patties, throw onto the bbq for about 6 or 7 minutes per side until cooked through.

After dinner Tyler and I snuck off to play Magic for an hour or so. He’s picking the game up slowly, but he still has much to learn and I beat him resoundingly.

Happy things

A few family things to report:

Last night we went to The Keg for a belated birthday supper with granny Loula (she’s 92 you know!), which was fun. We were showing her the NZ pics until the battery on the laptop died.

My Mum recently celebrated her silver wedding anniversary. 25 years!! I’m still having some trouble believing it’s been that long. But hey Jen and I have been together for 6 years, and I’m counting those 5 years of living in sin damnit.

It was my youngest brother’s 21st birthday this month. Happy Birthday James! I always seem to be a year off, so I thought it was only his 20th.

The grandmother visit to Simon Oliver is going well. The giant tinker toy we got for them was an instant hit with Dan, but Simon probably isn’t so impressed just yet.

The In-laws

Today we drove up to the country to visit the in-laws. We decided to try out the ferry route from Hudson to Oka. It turns out the ferry is a barge pulled by a tiny motor boat. It was a busy day, so we had to line up for about 45 minutes before getting on the thing, but the journey itself was only 10 minutes.

It was the first day of the annual Route des Arts du Grand Argenteuil, and Richard was busy showing off his knife-making skills.

It was also the day after the Morin Heights Historical Society garden tour, of which Elisabeth’s garden was a featured attraction.