Category: personal

Stamping out breast cancer with Erica and Sue.

Join Erica & Sue

– Stampin’ Up! Demonstrators, for an afternoon of stamping in support of breast cancer research.

Make six all occasion greeting cards while learning a few cardmaking techniques.

When – February 25, 1 PM-5 PM
Where – Cedar Hill Recreation Center
How Early registration: $50 / after Jan 31 until Feb 11: $55
Seating is limited so register early

Proceeds to be donated to the Run for the Cure – including 25% of sales (minus material costs)

 supplies by Stampin’ Up!
 bring an adhesive (tape runner or liquid glue)
 materials pre-cut and packaged

You DO NOT have to be crafty to take part. Just come and enjoy the company of friends and have fun.

 pick up Stampin’ Up catalogues
 view sample projects
 hourly prize draws
 thank you gift

Contact Event Coordinators Erica or Sue to register. Erica: 250-686-3402; ericaedney@shaw.ca Sue: 250-661-5680; suephilipcda@gmail.com

Stamping-out-2017.pdf

Chicken, Sausage and Oyster Jambalaya

I have a weak spot for Cajun cooking and my occasional forays into this wonderful regional cuisine from Louisiana almost always includes variations on Gumbo or Jambalaya.

These dishes scale up nicely so if you have the pots and the ingredients, you can whip up double and triple batches and feed your entire neighbourhood!

Here is a spin on Jambalaya that borrows from a Creole gumbo recipe that I have kicking around.

For reference, here is my gumbo recipe and my other Oyster Jambalaya – Enjoy!

Meat
1 1/2 lbs Chicken breast cut into bit sized pieces.
12 oz hot Italian Sausage, Andouille or Chorizo – whatever is on hand

Produce
1 tsp Basil, dried
1 cup Bell pepper
1 cup Celery
2 cups Swiss chard – chiffonade
2 cloves Garlic
2 cup Onion
1 Parsley, Fresh
1 tsp Thyme, dried
1 14.5-oz can Tomatoes, with juice

Canned or prepped Goods
4 1/2 cup Chicken broth
1 6-oz can Tomato paste

Condiments
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Pasta & Grains
2 1/2 cup White Basmati rice

Baking & Spices
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp Pepper
1 1/2 tsp Salt

Oils & Vinegars
2 tbsp Canola Oil

Instructions

In a large pot, or Dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon oil, the sausage, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook for 15 minutes.
Remove sausage and place on platter – cut into bite size pieces when cool.

Add chicken to cooking pot and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.

Drizzle another tablespoon of Canola oil into the pot and then add onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until vegetables are almost tender or translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

Place chicken and sausage back into the pot.

In a small bowl combine remaining 1 teaspoon salt, ½ tsp pepper, thyme, basil and cayenne pepper. Toss to combine.
Add seasoning mix, Worcestershire, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes to the meat and veg. Stir to combine.

Next, place rice and 4 ½ cup broth in the pot. Stir to completely combine. Over medium heat, wait for the ingredients to come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let jambalaya simmer for 15 minutes. Added chopped oysters and Swiss chard. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Check on the jambalaya at the 25-30 minute mark and see if it needs additional liquid. Stir occasionally to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot.

Once rice is completely cooked, serve immediately with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Talking Ham Radio on CBC Spark with Nora

Social media and its evolution – where did it begin? And where is it going?

We enjoy a spectrum of social media tools and experiences in the 21st Century and rightfully so. We have the tools and the technology to make great things happen. But how did we get to where we are today?

Humans have been communicating, somewhat inefficiently, for thousands and thousands of years – with foot messengers, smoke signals and simple peer to peer links, one on one, through the chapters of human history.

It is only with the advent of the telegraph and, soon after, the radio that we can reach a lot of people, reliably and over great distances. And it was radio, in the form of amateur or ham radio, that facilitated the instantaneous and often random social connections that would become the World’s first social media medium.

I talked at length with Nora Young on CBC Spark. The entire show was around 55 minutes and covered some of the history of early social media and its links to amateur radio technology and popular music.

Feel free to enjoy the entire episode over here

Or, if you are short for time, have a listen to our near-5 minute chat with Nora on the subject so dear to my heart – Amateur or Ham Radio and its relationship to the modern social media we enjoy today. –

If you cannot see the audio player below, click here for the mp3.

Fall colours Canadian Style Thai Turkey noodle Soup

It is a cool October evening and what better way of heating it up a notch than with some Thai turkey soup.

Granted this is a variation on the old classic Chicken soup… but it prepares well and is mighty spicy.

What is special about this recipe is the addition of fresh uncooked Shanghai thick noodle which you can get at most Asian markets. It is an awesome addition to a very authentic recipe.

The basics

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 whole chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
4 cups Turkey stock
1 standard tin coconut milk
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cups shredded cooked Turkey breast
1/2 cup green onion strips
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 package (250g) fresh Shanghai thick cut noodles
Preparation

1. Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Add oil to pan.
2. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, peeled ginger, garlic and lemon grass – stir constantly for 3 minutes or so.
3. Add chile paste; stir for another minute.
4. Add Turkey Stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar;
5. Ease to a simmer.
6. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add turkey to pan
7.) Simmer for a few minutes. Discard lemongrass. Top with onions, cilantro, and lime juice.

8.) While soup is simmering, bring sauce pan of water to boil. Cook the fresh Shanghai thick noodle for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Add to soup. Simmer for a few more minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Serve with bread.

Fall colours Canadian Style sourdough pizza

At this time of the Fall, Andrea and I start looking forward to some rustic cooking; soups, stews and, yes, the occasional treat of pizza with seasonal ingredients. And since I have a sourdough starter that has been on the go since 2008, what better opportunity than right now to whip up a great pizza dough and accompanying pizza. Here goes:

Andrea and Colin’s simple Sourdough Pizza

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter, unfed or not at room temperature
1/2 cup warm tap water
2 1/2 cups Caputo 00 Pizza Flour *
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

A word about Captuo “00” Bread Flour: It is the gold standard of pizza flours by which most others are judged, but there’s quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what it is. You’ll read in countless sources that Italian Tipo “00” flour, like the Caputo, is a “soft wheat flour,” with a low protein content. Caputo 00 flour is ideal for pizza dough for two reasons: one, it’s finely ground, and two, it has a lower gluten content than most flours.

The “00” refers to the texture of the flour: Italian flours are classified by numbers according to how finely they are ground, from the roughest ground “tipo“1, to 0, and the finest 00. Gluten, the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains, creates the elasticity you feel when you bite into a crunchy loaf of bread. The lower the protein content of the flour, the lower the gluten, and the lower the gluten, the less elasticity there will be in your dough (cake flour has the lowest gluten level).

Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment, combine all ingredients. Mix on medium low until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a firm ball. If dough is still very sticky, add about 1/8 cup of flour at a time until dough is firm. Your dough may be wetter than expected based on how wet your starter is. Don’t worry, just add more flour.

Remove dough from bowl and transfer to a lightly floured surface.

Kneed by hand for about 1 – 2 minutes, then form into a ball.

Place the dough ball in a medium mixing bowl that has been coated in olive oil or cooking spray. Lightly toss the dough ball in the bowl to coat in oil/spray.

Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Place covered bowl in a warm area for 2 hours or until about doubled in size.

You can make this pizza dough ahead of time and keep in fridge for 1 or 2 days.

Transfer risen dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out with rolling pin or spread with your knuckles to desired crust thickness.

Transfer dough to a pizza peel, if baking on a pizza stone, or onto a pizza pan or baking tray.

Top with sauce and favorite toppings.
In our case:

– Tomato sauce (by Jamie Oliver)
– Saute mushrooms and shallots
– Salami
– fresh mozzarella balls (from our local market, Root Cellar…)

Bake in a preheated 500 degree oven (or outdoor BBQ) for 7 to 10 minutes – until cheese is bubbly and crust is browning.
Enjoy your home made pizza!

Baking 101 Bernard Callebaut sticky chewy chocolate brownies

I just made this rich, dark chocolate brownie with a soft chewy center, firm edges and a crackly top. Simple to make using just one bowl. Pay attention to the measurements as they are the key to success.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup Fry’s, Hershey’s or Dark Dutch cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅔ cup butter – melted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 free range jumbo eggs
  • 1⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark/medium Bernard Callebaut chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Add cocoa and baking soda to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Melt ⅔ of a cup of butter in your microwave. With a wooden spoon, stir ½ of the melted butter into the cocoa and baking soda. Stir until combined.

Add ½ cup of boiling water to bowl with cocoa and butter. Stir until combined and smooth.

Add sugar, eggs and the rest of the melted butter to the cocoa mixture. Stir until combined.

Sift in 1⅓ cup of flour. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined and batter is smooth.

Add chocolate chips to batter and stir until combined.
Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth the top out with a wooden spoon. Bake for between 35 and 40 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Cool for 30 minutes in pan. When cool, remove from pan and cut into snack sized brownies.
Yield should be around 2 dozen.
Serve with ice cream while warm – or with black coffee. They are an addictive treat.
If you feel the urge to coat them with icing, wait until they are cool and use your imagination.
Alternately, one could swirl in peanut butter chips or raw peanut butter instead of the chocolate chips.


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time creative writer. A baker since the age of 12, he has been around the mixing bowl a time or two!


A slight book review – Adventures in Solitude

Adventures in Solitude Review Grant LawrenceOne would hardly think that we could improve on the relative paradise of Kona, Hawaii – a coastal village often basking in a seemingly endless summer sun, caressed by a cleansing surf and feeling the gentle quiet of the off season.

Despite this perfection, we did. And we did it with a book no less.
And what better book than one that dishes out surprises and regional familiarity by the pail full.

As a Canadian West coast resident who grew up in the in-between zone of not quite country but not quite city life of Southern Vancouver Island, it felt familiar reading a comprehensive, compelling and honest tale of a young man’s coming of age in the blustery South West coastal region of British Columbia. This area, often so unflinchingly merciless, so physically and mentally challenging, was the backyard of my childhood.

Although I have never been in the heart of Desolation Sound, I have been in the region. One of the towns mentioned in the book, Lund, which is the gateway to Desolation Sound, was one of my last stops on many roads trips exploring the area. It is up the road a ways from Powell River at the end of a fully paved 6600 mile road that reaches all the way to Santiago de Chile. And yet, it is, has been and will always be the road less traveled.

I have been to similar places to Lund on Vancouver Island like Port Renfrew, Port Hardy, Telegraph Bay, Ucluelet and many, many others. They are the very fabric of this region and offer a glimpse of what life is like in almost complete isolation.

As pages rolled by I would soon come to realize how much of B.C. wilderness was in my own blood – ready to be relived and re-appreciated.

Adventures in Solitude chronicles the life (particularly the early child development) of CBC host and journalist Grant Lawrence – a fellow who comes across as a chatty and witty pop culture expert and music critic perhaps lacking the kind of depth and dimensionality I have come to expect from other more seasoned and elderly statesmen of Canada’s beloved public broadcaster.

So, imagine the delight of tucking into a randomly selected volume from Victoria’s premier bookstore Munro’s for the purpose of getting me through the fairly routine 5 hour flight from the West Coast to Kona, Hawaii and realizing that there was something truly great between these soft covers. Its resonance with so many hardy Canadians, in part, explains why the book has picked up so many accolades so quickly.

Because, for me, a slightly outdoors kind of guy, here was a story that resonated so deeply in my coastal consciousness that on some minute level I felt like parts of me were incorporated into the book.

Raised in a dissimilar vein to my own, Grant’s background was from tony West Vancouver where lawyers, developers and family money call home. Grant’s dad was a property developer of some note and success and happened upon a piece of land in B.C.‘s coastal wilderness at one of those “just at the right time” moments. Spending summer after bucolic summer in Desolation Sound, the Lawrence family found themselves becoming part of the regional history and folklore of the area.

I do not want to spoil the story though folks – you will have to buy a copy for yourselves. Any long time B.C. resident or Canadian that loves the outdoors and spent part of their formative years anywhere near the coastal wild of the West Coast needs to read this book.

This book reminds me of a really good non-fiction version of a Doug Coupland novel – and I hope that neither of the authors find this insulting because I think Coupland is utterly brilliant – and of course as a British Columbian I relate to his work as well.

Get the book folks – if only for what shades of yourselves you might find. You can find out all you need to know about Grant Lawrence over here.

And another important lesson for me revealed – having figured out that Grant Lawrence was more than the sum of some City parts…

Never judge a Man… or a Book… by its cover.

On location in Kona, Hawaii – I am Colin Newell.

Are you ready – Chapter 2 – emergency preparedness on an Island

Chances are, if you are a resident of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Seattle or one of many small or medium sized coastal communities in the Northwest, one of the worse things that is going to happen to you in your life likely hasn’t happened yet because it is brewing right now, underground, along the coast in a colossal clash of geology that is moving in slow motion towards an earth shattering climax.

Within the last month, on Southern Vancouver Island and amidst the Gulf Islands, we had a very mild earthquake that rattled as many nerves as dishes and caused virtually no damage. There was the typical rush to prepare as sales of emergency kits soared. Truth is, this race to get prepared has very few fully engaged participants.

So if you are among the small percentage of folks that rushed out and got your first aid kits together and took an inventory of your dry goods and water supply… well, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. Truth be told, you are not really and truly prepared. Neither am I come to think of it. As I sit here right now gazing into my back yard, I cannot, for certain, tell you where my first aid kits are – and I know for a fact that I do not have adequate water. I do have enough white and red wine in my cellar to keep my entire street inebriated for an entire week but that is not entirely helpful.

Being ready is more than just having a weeks worth of bottled water stowed in a secure location or having a packed bag of first aid and outdoor survival gear packed in the back of your car or in your garage. These things are all critical (and sadly only 10% or less of area residents have given much thought towards the most basic of survival kits…) but one of the less obvious things that is missing from our plan has more to do with our individual or collective consciousness.

What do I mean by that? I mean that the average person is not having a regular dialog with themselves or their neighbours about what to do in the event of a catastrophe of this nature. The kind of earthquake we can expect in our life time will cut us off from our families and our public services and utilities. This separation from our daily reality could easily last days and weeks.

So, what to do? I am not going to drone on about this. But I will repeat my basic list of what most would agree that you need to hunker down and survive – and to help your neighbourhood survive.

a.) Water. Have at least 2 weeks worth in bottles – at least a litre a day per person in your house.
b.) Candles. Flashlight. Battery powered radio.

c.) Dried food/Emergency rations. Enough for a dozen or so neighbours for a week!

d.) First aid kit. Bandages. Antibiotic cream. Antiseptic.

e.) Shelter. Your house may be still standing but you are going to be sleeping outside for a few days.

The key thing here is: You can live for days without food. You cannot function without water. If you do anything, have water at the ready. Or beer or wine. Or nutritional drinks like “Rumble” – they are available locally and you could survive on those alone for weeks.

Another tip: Have a pair of thick socks and slippers by your bed always. When the “big one” hits, you are going to be walking on broken glass – so it will be good to have your feet covered.

I had an excellent question from Ken Gordon, well known Victoria area resident that works at Caffe Fantastico, “Hey Colin, if anyone would know the answer to this, you would… Where do I tune my radio to in the event of the Big One?”

Well, this may come as a surprise to our readers… but it will not be the CBC on Vancouver Island – and it will not likely be a networked FM radio station operating out of Victoria. It will be CFAX on 1070 khz. During our last great calamity, the snow storm of 1996, most of Victoria’s radio and TV networks never broke from their generic Toronto content feed to even acknowledge that anything untoward was happening here. It was CFAX 1070 alone that reported on the events as they unfolded. CBC Radio 1 on Vancouver Island is hopelessly tethered to the Mother Ship in Toronto and has no facility whatsoever to handle any form of live broadcasting or emergency message handling here in the city or on the Island.

To quote an earlier chapter on this subject…

“The local radio station will be running on emergency power. They will be your first and primary way of assessing what has happened on a broader scale. Your cell phone network will be a paper weight, overloaded by panicked 911 calls and toppled towers. As you divide your attention between the crackling radio and the downtown horizon in the distance, you will be overwhelmed by the immediately unfamiliar chaos, but hopefully you will also have a steady sense of resolve and, as a result of your personal planning, a plan of action.”


Colin Newell is a writer, technician and advocate for emergency preparedness – who is, more or less, prepared for anything nature can throw at him. Join us for a continuing dialog on this subject.


Working on a music project – that is all.

Andrea asked me to cook up something Latin while I was working on a “special” music project. I have just completed assembling my current home recording studio and have been working on a couple of special projects to see how everything sounds – a shake down as it were.

My small basement “grotto” sound work-shop features a 24-Track digital audio workstation, a 12 in / 2 out mixing board, APEX floating plate condenser microphones, Cort and Godin guitars, a digital piano and a variety of incidental percussion – as well as a synth stand-up bass. It’s a good set-up for just about every kind of music.

OK so back to the request – I have a spare hour or two because I am currently on vacation. Let’s see, apart from noodling on the occasional Latin or Spanish rhythm, I have never attempted anything start to finish. There is nothing really that complicated about this piece – more a case of starting in the right groove and staying there.

Click here for audio file if you cannot see flash player above.


My wife is a huge fan of Ottmar Liebert, you know, that German born, Flamenco-Spanish guitar playing wizard…

Well she wanted something that sounded like that.

So, I winged it. Enjoy. It is 5 minutes long and perhaps a bit stretched for a Spanish piece – and currently lacking any lyrics, might drag a bit.

Enjoy. I play everything on it. Feel free to download, enjoy on your iPod, play while you are in the shower or doing whatever. It’s up to you. More to come in time!

Butternut squash soup with vegan option

Winter is the best time of the year for hearty vegetarian soup with the option of adding some animal protein if you are so inclined – either way, these are filling and healthy soups during the winter months – here is how we brew up one of our favourites.

Dice 1 medium butternut squash
Dice 1 red pepper
Dice 1 medium onion

Toss together and split between two baking sheets.
Cover each sheet with parchment paper. Divide the veg between the two equally.

Sprinkle tablespoon of Olive oil over each pan and then salt and pepper to your
own preferences.

Mix together elements on each pan.

Get 4 slices of double smoked bacon (optional) sliced into lardons
and then sprinkle over top of the mixture.

Take one garlic, break it into cloves, leaving in their own paper
and divide them equally between the two pans.

Put into 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, toss at half way point.

Get out a big dutch oven bringing it up to medium heat.

Take the two pans out of the oven, removing cloves of garlic and set aside.

Take both veg mixtures less the parchment paper and dump into dutch oven.
Put in a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme.

Squeeze out the garlic from their bulb into the dutch oven.

Add 2 1/2 to 3 cup of Chicken or Vegetable broth – stirring occasionally
while bringing to boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn off heat and get out your
immersion blender and blend it to your desired consistency.

Add more stock if you want a thinner soup. Return to heat and
take to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with bread.