Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring? Is that you.

Feb 2, Ground Hog Day. We had a small mountain of snow covering my little pond garden in the front yard.
March 2, the small mountain was still there. No February thaw.
March 17th.... all gone. We had a crazy two week melt! I love it.
Iris are poking their noses out of the ground. Imagine. Brave little souls!
Happy Spring

Friday, March 4, 2011

When will the snow go away?

The sunshine last weekend and part of this weekend is giving my cats false hope that they will once again be roaming the yard, hunting and prancing amongst the grass and bugs. We pinned the door open for Tonks and she perched in the doorway enjoying the sun. She finally made her move and braved the pavement but was very intimated by the high snow banks along the sidewalk

Then it became all too much for her, and she bolted into the house and up onto the table at the top of the stairs... probably for a better look at the outside, but still well out of reach of any monsters that might drag her back outside (like Terry!)
Paralax was much more willing to try out the outside world. She has been out more and more each day but finds the snow and the melting snow (as in puddles) very limiting!!!

I am still waiting for the green ball of twigs to die. I am waiting so I can pull it apart and see how its made. It has some slight browning happening.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fish Cakes... a Maritime Staple

You know... I ate fish cakes a lot when I was a kid. Several of my uncles were fishermen, and they gave my mom tons of fish, mostly cod and salmon. Both of which we ate a lot of. I wasn't so keen on the salmon but I did love fish cakes. Mom made them with cod mostly. But you know, I haven't made them that many times in my married life. I bought them frozen a lot for my kids, but making them from scratch was not in my routine.

It really was Scottie who reminded me how yummy they are homemade, after he treated me to a pan full. He made them from scratch and it inspired me to make them too. I bought some nice dried Cod from Carol Robicheau, Seafood Express. She also gave me a nice recipe that I sort of followed. I omitted the green peppers, I only put in a quarter of the bacon, and I only added one egg, not two. It doesn't really say how many potatoes to use, so I cooked this many. How do you measure potatoes anyway. I used 5 BIG ones.They are so easy to make and I got 15 nice size fish cakes. I used an ice cream scoop to get them the same size. I decided to experiment with the actual cooking part of the fish cakes.
The recipe I have from the Robicheau family says to saute them for 4 to 5 minutes per side, without any dipping or coating. My mom (and I do believe Scott) dipped them in egg and then flour. When I "googled" it, some mentioned bread crumbs both on the inside of the fish cakes and the outside. So... I tried 2 of each technique. 2 plain, 2 dipped in egg and then flour, and 2 dipped in egg and rolled in bread crumbs.
As far as handling the fish cakes, I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes while I cleaned up. The one down fall to making fish cakes from scratch... the amount of dishes you use. The dipping of the egg went fine, and the rolling in breadcrumbs were truly a piece of cake. The rolling in flour version was gooy, clumpy and messy. Not a winner so far. Lets see how they fry up.
The palest fish cakes in the frying pan are the flour coated ones. Believe it or not, the plain, untreated (naked) fish cakes cooked up very nice. The breadcrumb ones did too. Still not many good things about the flour coated ones!The taste test was fun too. Three fishcakes was way too many for me... man, I was stuffed! But I had to try one of each, right? So, the breadcrumbs was the best, but the "naked" ones were a very close second. Flour coated... no bonus to them, what so ever! Don't bother!. More observations about our fishcakes. I cut the bacon down to a quarter of what they called, mainly for the calorie save. Well, we didn't taste any bacon, really, so, why bother with the extra fat. I would rather use the extra fat in the frying pan to get a nice golden coat. Also, I would use the second egg in the actual fish cakes, because I found them a little dry without the second egg.

I left a little of each of my fish cakes for the kitties, and they had nothing to say about any of them. They just cleaned my plate and walked away.. not even a thank you.
The Recipe... by permission of Sarah Robicheau

Seafood Express Maritime Fish Cakes

1 lb salt cod or salt pollock
(soak overnight in water, change water several times)
In the morning, change water and bring to a boil, then simmer about 15 minutes.

Cook and Mash potatoes
1 lb bacon, fried lightly
2 onion, fried lightly
1 green pepper, fried lightly
Summer savory (a heavy sprinkle)
2 eggs

Mix all together in a big bowl. Let sit a little while to bind together.
Scoop up with ice-cream scoop. Pat down lightly with a fork. Saute about 3-4 minutes per side.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Korea Anyone?

Stephanie has been in Korea since August 2009 and Sean was there at the same time until this Christmas. He is staying in Canada to finish a couple of semesters at UNB to finish his degree. Stephanie has always been a fan of travel and foreign countries. She doesn't get that from neither her mom or dad.. as we are not that adventurous. Stephanie has had the privilege of foreign travel since she was 13. Her first experience was to spend a month in Japan during the summer with a host family, then, two years later at 15, she spent two months in Japan, both going to school and living in a rural community. Michelle also travelled to Tokyo for two months.. staying with host families and going to school. Stephanie spent a month in Belize, living in a camp in the jungle, digging with an archeology group, as well as spending a month in Mexico and Guatemala travelling the small villages and communities, studying the textiles of the people and their craft.
Korea was totally foreign to her, though, more than she expected. Being very familiar with Japan and its ways, we all expected Korea to be some what similar in customs, habits, living conditions, etc. Not so much!
As I have mentioned before, through the wonders of Skype, we have stayed connected to Stephanie and Sean, just like they were down the street. The biggest difference is they are always 12-13 hours ahead of us. When I am starting my morning at 6am, Stephanie has completed her work day and is making supper, when I am eating my breakfast.
With Stephanie's first contract, she was given a one room apartment on the ground floor of a "not very secure" building.
Above, you will see, her whole apartment, with patio doors that lead to her washing machine, but do not go outside. She stood in her entry way, which is also the kitchen, to take this picture. She and Sean endured the year there, but when it was time to sign for a second contract, she insisted on a better apartment in a better area, with more security. The theory behind this was that with Sean going, and it would be safer for Stephanie. Well, her company came through with a new place, that was luxurious compared to her old one.

This new apartment, is on the second floor of a three floored building, with secure entry. It has two rooms, not just one. This is her living room, dining room, along with a very useful closet. Sean took over the closet, and set it up as an office!
This is from the front door, and shows all the way to the end of the apt. To the left, in the picture is the kitchen, which also is the laundry room. The apartment comes with a washer. The drying racks for clothes are hooked to the ceiling of the kitchen.

there are no ovens in Korean homes, and the fridge is located in the living room, as there is no room in the kitchen. But the flooring is warm, the walls are straight, the woodwork is beautiful and it has lovely sliding doors between the bedroom, the kitchen, bathroom and main room. Very efficient design features for small spaces. While this place is huge compared to her first home, below you will see the two designs she just put together, to use for moving her furniture around for better planning. In my world... that is still tiny. But she loves it, and I can understand why. She owns very little, and everything she owns is little. Her bathroom, which you can't see, is ahead of the kitchen. In Korea, as with lots of other Asian countries, the shower, sink and toilet are all in one tiny room.
This is the design she plans on, when she gets a normal size bed. The bed she and Sean have been sleeping in for the past 18 months was a semi single. 45 inch bed. She plans on a Double to Queen bed purchase soon!
Something I would have a huge problem with in Korea, is the food. Stephanie, although very adventurous when it comes to food, is getting tired of it all. Spending time this Christmas at home got her in touch with K-Dinner again, and bread... cheese, raw veggies and meat. Sean, on the other hand, is here in Canada and missing the Korean food terribly!!! Below, you will see what a lunch in a restaurant sometimes entails.

You are brought all these little dishes, you pick and chose your "eats" and the hostess will come by and refill your little buffet of items that are depleted. Not too much I would try, I am afraid! Again, not adventurous! Stephanie's biggest problem with the food, is her school lunches, which she is obligated to eat. It is expected, and she never quite knows what she is eating! She plans on doing a series of blogs to highlight her lunch time adventures! There are good days and some really bad days!

Its an amazing experience for all of us. I am so proud of Stephanie for her bravery and sense of adventure!