Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Happy Eleventh Birthday to I’m Turning 60…!! by Margaret Ullrich



Happy 11th Birthday to I’m Turning 60… and its readers!!
I want to thank each of you for visiting, whether it's been on a daily, weekly or occasional basis!
Also, a big 'Thank you!' to those who've invited their friends to visit!

I especially want to thank those who have commented. 
I really appreciate it when you tell me that your family enjoyed a recipe, or when you ask if I have a recipe for a particular dish.


I’m Turning 60… continues to be more popular than its older ’sibling’ blog
Really!!
I’m Turning 60… - with 1,098 posts - has had over 955,000 visitors since July, 2010, when Blogger started keeping track of both blogs.
That's more visitors than its ‘elder sibling’ blog, Winnipeg is Better Than Chocolate, which has 2,787 posts, and has received a little over 475,000 visitors.
That's less than half the number of posts with over twice as many visitors!


Okay… enough with tallying the reader numbers.
Let’s get back to the recipes which deserve the credit for all these visits!

I recently took a look at how this blog’s posts have been doing.   
The current all-time top ten posts are pretty much the same as last year's favourites:
               Italian Easter Pie with Ricotta and Meat
Carmela Soprano's Scungilli in Hot Tomato Sauce                           

The monthly top ten choices have frequent changes, especially during holiday seasons. 
During the past month many posts were the same as those in the all-time posts.
Please, if you haven’t already, do try a few of the recipes on these lists.
Anna Sultana's Imqarrun il-forn (Baked Macaroni, Maltese Style) has been viewed - and, hopefully, enjoyed - 19,343 times as of today.

A few months ago, when the virus first came to Canada, i gathered recipes for two as well as recipes according to type of ingredients, and shared the posts on Facebook.
Here are the posts:

Bread Recipes made with Yeast, Baking Soda, Baking Powder or Sourdough Starter

Anna Sultana's Roasted Cornish Game Hens 

Anna Sultana's Lemon Cranberry Muffins / Baking Powder Substitutes 

Anna Sultana's Pull-Apart Pizza 

Anna Sultana's Pork Chops in Lemon Caper Sauce / Wine Substitutes for Cooking

Anna Sultana’s Milkless, Eggless, Butterless Cakes (Chocolate or Raisin) 
       and Two-Egg Sponge Cake

       and Quick Fudge

Hope you find them useful, too.


I also get a kick out of seeing how you search for my blog, such as: 
folklorama filipino pavilion food
a christmas story red cabbage recipe
hoito pancakes
red cabbage a christmas story
the hoito thunder bay pancake recipe
how to fix ross il-forn maltese receipy 
cheesecake co-pckers new jersey
eat your manicotti
pudina tal hobz ricetta bil malti
depression fruit cake recipe
how to cook petite scungilli with tomato sauce
maltese macaroni
cake with coconut

And my personal favourite:
nearer and dearer anna
Ma would've loved that!

I'm always amazed at learning where you live.
I expected visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom since many Maltese immigrated to these countries, especially after World War II.
I’m surprised to see that Russia is one of the top five countries, while the United Kingdom is a little lower on the list.

Now the top ten countries and their visitors are:   
United States………….. 480,119
Canada………….……….…. 82,337
Australia………….………… 56,161
Malta……………...…………  54,783
Russia…………………….…. 33,453
United Kingdom…….….  33,223
Turkey……….………………. 29,364
France………….………..…. 18,191
Germany……….…..…….  16,649
Ukraine.…….…….….……. 11,760

During the years there have also been visitors from Italy, Finland, Poland, Spain,
the Netherlands, Macedonia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Thailand, Slovakia, Ireland, 
Denmark, Bangladesh, Sweden, Israel, Moldova, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, 
Greece, Kenya, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Brazil, Bermuda, Namibia, Cyprus, India, 
Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Madagascar, Armenia, 
South Africa, Romania, Iceland, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Argentina, 
United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Tunisia, Taiwan, Paraguay, Columbia, China, Jamaica, 
Portugal, Bahamas, Kazakhstan, French Guiana, Côte d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Egypt, 
Kenya, Oman, Hungary, Belarus, Switzerland and Romania.

Since last October 20 there have also been visitors from Czechia, Lebanon, Austria, 
Venezuela, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, U.S. Virgin Islands, 
Gibraltar, Jersey, Nigeria, Serbia, Equador, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Albania.
It is a small world after all!!

Recently there has also been a visitor which Blogger is calling ‘Unknown Region’.
I don't know where these unknown visitors live.
Oh, well, I wish a hello to you, wherever you call home.
Hope you found a recipe or two that you enjoyed.


I don't post very regularly and I don’t post on Facebook.
Please become a subscriber to the blog I’m Turning 60…
It’s easy and FREE - just click on the ‘FOLLOW’ link under the pictures of followers and post your email address. 
You can also follow I’m Turning 60… by email. 
Free, easy, and, I promise, your address will never be shared with anyone.
You’ll get an email when there is a new post, so you'll never miss a post.

I do post a link on Twitter whenever there is a new post. 
If you feel more comfortable using Twitter, just click on the Twitter link '@ImTurning60' and we’ll keep in touch that way.

I'd also like more comments.  Really.  
It's easy to do - just click on 'Comments' and write. 
Tell me what you want to know about. 
Would you like more holiday recipes, or more easy, cheap, quick meals or…?

Thanks again for visiting!
Hope to see you again real soon!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Anna Sultana’s Lemon Blueberry Muffins and Fried Green Tomatoes

Happy October first!
COVID-19 has been with us for over six months.
It’s been a half year like no other.

But some things have stayed the same, such as tonight’s Full Harvest Moon.
It got its name because the Autumn Equinox happened on September 22nd.
The full Moon that comes nearest to the equinox is the one called the Harvest Moon, and it can occur in either September or October.
The full moon rises above the horizon around sunset, about 30 minutes later each night.
This extra light gave farmers extra time for harvesting, giving it the name Harvest Moon.

Here in Manitoba we’re also at risk of getting more frosty nights.
I harvested the tomatoes that were still on the vine.
Some were ripe, but most weren’t.
No problem - I’ll just make some Fried Green Tomatoes.


Last April I posted the recipe for Anna Sultana's Lemon Cranberry Muffins.
They’re delicious, but since we’ll be having cranberries as a side dish with a holiday meal - or two - it’s time to make muffins with blueberries.

Stay safe and well!

Hints:

You don’t have baking powder? Save yourself a trip and make your own.
Cream of tartar combined with baking soda is an excellent baking powder substitute.
For 4 teaspoons baking powder:
Combine 1 teaspoon baking soda with 2 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
To make it shelf-stable add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to the mixture.

These muffins, unglazed, also freeze well.


                        Lemon Cranberry Muffins

Line 24 muffin cups with paper muffin liners, or grease them

Melt
1/2 Cup butter
Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Sift together in a medium bowl
3 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a medium bowl
1 1/2 Cups frozen blueberries
Coat the berries with
1/4 Cup flour

Place in a larger mixer bowl
1 1/3  Cups sugar
1 1/4 Cups milk
1 Cup sour cream
the melted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended.
Fold in the flour mixture until batter is just moistened.
Fold in the coated blueberries
Stir just enough to blend. Do not over mix.

Preheat oven to 350º F
Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
A toothpick inserted into a muffin should come out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack.

If you want to dress up your muffins you can makes this lemon glaze:
Combine in a small bowl
1 Cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Stir until smooth.
Place the muffins on a plate and drizzle with the glaze.

                                  ~~~
                        Fried Green Tomatoes

Combine in a shallow bowl
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Slice 1/2-inch thick
4 to 6 firm green tomatoes

Place in a skillet
1/2 cup vegetable oil or shortening
Heat over medium high heat.

Dip tomato slices in flour and place in hot skillet.
Brown tomato slices thoroughly on both sides.
When tomatoes are finished, add to the skillet
1/2 cup milk
Stir to make a gravy.

Pour gravy over tomatoes and serve as a side dish.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Anna Sultana’s Crumb Cake / The Perseid Meteor Shower

COVID-19 has made this a summer like no other.
Including here in Manitoba.
Most of our usual festivals and events have been cancelled, and we’re nervous about going out for groceries, let alone having simple get-togethers.

Parents here, as everywhere else, are worried about what to do this September.
Should children go to school, or stay home and learn on-line?
Modern technology is amazing, but it does lack that human touch.


Some events and things can be handled on-line, but others can't.
We still have to eat something solid, something that we can touch.
Virtual reality will not work for the dining room table.
Meal times and snack times demand a bit of cooking.

The take out places have been saying that NOBODY touches the food they sell.
All well and good.
I do support local businesses, but after a while one can actually get tired of take out.
Since cheesecake usually helps keep me calm, last month I posted the recipe for Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake.
It’s an old favourite, and I do love cheesecake, but just like take out, one can get tired of eating cheesecake. Really.


When I was growing up Entenmann’s Crumb Cake was a popular dessert.
Ma had a recipe for it.
Warning: the recipe requires cake flour.
If you have cake flour on your shelf, all is well and good.
If you don't have it, you can make a cake flour substitute.

If you don’t have time to make a cake flour substitute and your store doesn’t have bags of cake flour on its shelf (yes, supplies - even of staples - have been a bit erratic since the virus came), then this recipe is for you.
Time was a precious commodity in Ma's home so she often used this recipe.
It calls for regular flour and will give you a delicious crumb cake.


About the sky this month...
The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is returning, with the peak of the shower happening between August 11 to 13.
The bright meteors are a favourite summer sight, and the virus can’t stop them.

Why not bake a crumb cake and enjoy the night skies with a slice? 
The kiddies can have a glass or two of lemonade.
Piña Coladas or Strawberry Daiquiris (with or without the rum) would be appreciated by the adults.

Stay safe and well, everyone!


Hints:

It your family really likes crumb toppings, the crumb recipe can be doubled.
it won't affect baking time.

If you have salted butter, don't add the 1/8 teaspoon salt.

This cake is denser than the recipe using cake flour. 
A smaller slice will be filling.


                        Crumb Cake

For the Crumb Topping
In a small bowl mix together 
1/3 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup dark brown sugar 
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted and still warm
Add
1 3/4 Cups flour
Stir until the mixture is a solid dough.
Set aside to cool.

For the Cake
Place the oven rack in the upper-middle position.
Preheat oven to 350º F
Grease and flour 2 8-inch square baking pans

In a large mixer bowl place
1 Cup butter, softened
1 3/4 Cups sugar
4 large eggs 
Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Add
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
Beat at low speed just to combine.

Add
1/2 Cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 
Beat at low speed just to combine.

Spread the cake batter in the prepared pans.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter into an even layer. 

Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread the pieces in an even layer over the batter.
Do not push the crumbs into the batter.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 
The crumbs should be a golden brown.
A toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
Place the pans on a wire rack.
Let the cakes cool at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving dust with
confectioners' sugar 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake & Strawberry Cream Cheese Icebox Cake / Comet NEOWISE

Thanks to the COVID-19 virus we’ve been staying home for the past four months.
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Staying home is always better than having to stay in a hospital.
For one thing, the food is always better.

Ah… the food.
Since the virus started there's been a growing interest in home baking, especially in baking bread, particularly sourdough.

The only problem is, since we’ve been staying home eating all that bread and not going out for walks or errands unless absolutely necessary, the calories have been staying on our hips, as well as on other places.

It’s time to get back to normal and to start getting back into shape.
But we’re still in a stressful time, and occasionally need a bit of comfort food,

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know that cheesecake is my idea of the ultimate non-pasta comfort food.
Well, there are cheesecakes, and then there are cheesecakes.
Some are rich and thick and loaded with calories.
But there are cheesecake recipes that are more diet-friendly.
And many are easy to make.

The Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake is a delicate lemony dessert.
The Strawberry Cream Cheese Icebox Cake is a light and creamy dessert.
Neither recipe requires using an oven.
Looking for something for the kiddies to do? These recipes could be fun projects.

Stay safe and well, everyone!


Here are more cheesecake recipes. Enjoy!!



Cheesecake with Strawberry Glaze from the 1960’s Argo® Cornstarch Box




                        Woolworth Icebox Cheesecake

Shake well
12 ounce can evaporated milk
Place it, along with a large mixing bowl and beaters, in the freezer.
Chill for at least 1 hour.

For the crust, combine in a medium bowl
1 2/3 Cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 Cup confectioners' sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, melted 
Reserving 1/3 Cup, press the remaining mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.
Refrigerate until needed.

Place in a small mixing bowl
1/2 Cup boiling water
Stir in until completely blended
3 ounce package lemon jello
Stir in
1/2 Cup cold water
Place the bowl in the refrigerator. 
Leave it there until the jello is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. 

Place in a large mixer bowl
8 ounces cream cheese
1 Cup granulated sugar
5 Tablespoons lemon juice 
Beat with mixer at medium speed until smooth. 
Add 
cooled thickened jello 
Beat until well blended. Refrigerate.

Take from the freezer the can of milk, the mixing bowl and beaters.
Pour into the bowl the cold can of evaporated milk
Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
It should be similar to the consistency of stiffly beaten egg whites.
Beat in the cream cheese/jello mixture.

Gently spread the filling over the chilled crumb crust.
Top with the remaining crumbs.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours. (It's better to refrigerate it overnight.)
Cut into squares and serve.


                        Strawberry Cream Cheese Icebox Cake

Spread over bottom of a 9x13 inch pan
1 1/4 Cups graham cracker crumbs
Set aside. 

Wash
2 pounds strawberries
Cut the tops off of the strawberries and slice them 1/4 inch thick.
Set aside. 

Place in a large mixer bowl
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy. 
Add 
2 3.4 ounce packages instant cheesecake-flavoured pudding (or vanilla)
3 Cups milk
Mix at low speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken. 
Fold in
2 cups whipped topping
Blend until smooth. 

Pour half of the cream cheese mixture into the prepared pan.
Arrange half of the strawberry slices in a single layer over the cream cheese mixture. 
Cover the strawberries with 
1 Cup graham cracker crumbs
Cover with the remaining cream cheese mixture. 
Top with the remaining strawberry slices.
Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours. 

When serving, top with whipped topping and a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs. 


According to the Farmers’ Almanac:

There’ll be quite a few interesting and bright spots in the sky this month!

Along with Comet NEOWISE you’ll see the bright blue star, Vega, which will be the North Star 12,000 years from now.

If you look tonight or tomorrow, some time after midnight but before dawn, Mars will be near the Moon. Rising in the East after midnight, Mars is not as bright as Jupiter or Venus, and it’s found midway between them. 
At midnight, you’ll see the brightest "star" in the sky, the yellow-white planet Jupiter. The bright "star" to its left is Saturn. 

On July 14 Jupiter is at opposition to the Sun. 
Look in that same eastward direction before 5 AM to see the Morning Star, Venus.

On July 17 Venus will be joined by the crescent Moon and Taurus’s orange star, Aldebaran. Enjoy it at pre-dawn when it outshines Mars in the south, and Jupiter setting in the west.

On July 20 Saturn has its own opposition. It is also at its closest and brightest for the year. With the new Moon on the same night, Saturn viewing should be perfect.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Father's Day, Then and Now, by Margaret Ullrich

I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all dads, nannus and uncles. I also want to wish a happy day to everyone who is working to keep us healthy and supplied with food and necessities. 
Thank you for everything you are doing during these times.

This is not like any Father's Day we've ever had, but I'm hoping it will give you nice memories!

This is a story I wrote in 2006 for my CKUW show. Hope that the weather will co-operate and that it gives you a chuckle.
Stay safe and well, everyone!


     I hope all you Dads will have a great Father's Day. 

     People talk about how Christmas has changed over the years.  Well, I think Father's Day has changed even more than Christmas has.

     In the fifties, Father's Day was pretty simple.  It was a snap to shop for Dads.  Moms were hard.  There were so many different toilet waters.  Lipstick colors changed every year.  One year Lucille Ball Red was popular.  The next year every lady was wearing Flaming Fuschia.  I mean, how was an elementary school kid supposed to know what to get?  
   
     Dads were easy.  They always needed a pair of socks or another tie.  There WAS something about an Aqua Velva man.  The bottles of blue water came in a variety of sizes and they were all cheap.  If you had to soften Dad up for the report card that was coming, you could splurge on Old Spice or English Leather for a few pennies more.

     If you'd blown all your money for Mother's Day - an easy thing to do - you could get another tube of Brylcreme.  Those little dabs went fast and Dad always needed another tube so he could look debonaire and Mom could run her fingers through his hair.  

     Keeping the family car spiffy has always been a Dad's job.  Remember when they were unwrapping their presents in the movie A Christmas Story?  Dad Darren McGavin was thrilled to get a tin of Simonize for his car.  It was big.  It was heavy.  It was cheap. 

     That was the Golden Age for Dads gifts.  But now?  Let's just say that Dads are getting to be as big a problem as Moms are, gift-wise.

     I always thought of men as being rough and ready in their grooming needs.  I raised a son.  He once took a bath, answered nature's call, then went straight to drying everything - and I mean everything - with the bath towel.  He thought cutting out a small step would save some time.  At least that was his explanation when I asked him about the skid marks on the yellow towel. 

     Now men have discovered their inner Alan Alda.  They know about brands like Nivea.  Soap on a rope has lost its oomph.  Blades and a can of Barbasol just won't cut it anymore.  Guys have discovered grooming sets: shower gels, body washes, face scrubs, after shave balms and a post shave soother that the nice sales clerk swore will control his beard's growth.  You know, the same crap and sales pitches they've been throwing at women for years.  

     And for the guy who's really into his feminine side, there are events like the Papa-razzi Package at the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver.  The 36 hour getaway includes an hour-long massage, a facial, foot care, a souvenir shaving kit and a round of golf.  The package costs $2,165 plus taxes and airfare if you don't happen to live in Vancouver.  Hey, femininity never came cheap. 

     Tools have always been popular gifts.  Something is always getting lost or broken, right?  Time was when, after being showered with a 32 piece wrench set, a 14 piece clamp set and a 65 piece screwdriver set, every Dad was ready, willing and eager to wrench, clamp and screw any and everything in the house. 

     Fellows, I was wondering… if a man receives a 205 piece drill and screwdriving set (consisting of screw driving bits, nut driving bits, spade bits, high speed drill bits, hole saws, masonry drill bits, sanding drums and a countersink which, I've been told, are ideal to use on wood, metal, plastic, brick, mortar and concrete) would he really use them all or just stick to a half dozen favorite pieces?  You know, the way we women use the same favorite spoons and pans in the kitchen.  Sometimes wretched excess is just, well, excessive.

     Speaking of the kitchen, a Dad's cooking used to be basic.  Raw meat plus fire equaled hard small hockey pucks served with ketchup and relish in a bun.  Raw onion slices were added for the July first weekend.  Up to now the most exciting thing I'd ever seen a man do at the barbecue was to stick a can of beer up a chicken's butt so it could stand and roast.  It looked almost patriotic.  

     Dads made simple basic food.  And healthy.  No E coli bacteria could ever survive a Dad's barbecue.  

     Now folks are dropping like flies because Dads have discovered cuisine.  Ketchup and mustard have disappeared.  Guys who flunked Geography and can't find their way to their in-laws across town without a CAA trip tik are now into Japanese, Mexican and Thai recipes. 

     While at the Liquor Commission, I picked up the freebie Flavours magazine.  On the cover it said, Sassy sauces for your grilled goodies.  Uh, huh.  I don't know what my Dad would've thought of things like sorrel-spinach sauce.  On salmon, yet. 

     There was also an article about the joys of salt water.  According to the folks at Flavours, soaking food in brine is the key to a killer barbecue.  I don't know.  I remember one picnic forty years ago when the boat tipped over, everyone and everything fell out and everything got doused with good old salty Atlantic Ocean water.  No one thought that was anything worth repeating ever again. 

     Shish kebabs used to be simple.  Meat, onion, green pepper… meat, onion, green pepper… meat, onion, green pepper… until you ran out of everything.  Well, now bamboo skewers aren't good enough anymore.  Oh, no.  One recipe in Flavours should earn a cook a Boy Scout badge.  Get this: Peel fresh ginger and cut into several four inch long skewers.  Then carve the ginger on one end into a sharp point.  If your local grocer is out of long chunks of ginger, don't panic.  You can also do the same thing to lemongrass stalks.  

     Oh, pull-lease!!  If God meant us to spend our short summers carving little sticks He never would've made those nice clean bags of bamboo skewers.  Life - and a Manitoba summer - is way too short for that kind of nonsense.     
  
     There was a time when a bag of coal big enough to burn down a house could warm the cockles of a Dad's heart.  It could keep a fellow busy for a whole summer's worth of Sundays.  Now charcoal has some competition.  Have you been exposed to Mesquite Flavoured wood chips?  Our neighbor, Lou, really loves mesquite.  He chopped some chips up and sprinkled them on the salad.  Okay.  Lou isn't quite right in the head.  Last week he served up what he called grilled pizza.  Uh, huh.  Like we didn't notice the take out boxes stacked next to his recycling.  

     We have an old gas barbecue that chugs along with 11,000 BTUs.  It has been doing a dandy job of turning meat into blackened briquets for quite a few happy family gatherings.  Have you seen the new barbecues?  When did guys start pimping their grills?  The big selling feature for these monsters is how many BTUs are under the hood.  

     I checked the dictionary.  BTU means British Thermal Units.  Well, that was a big help.  I needed to get BTU into terms I could understand.  I looked around my house and found that my gas water heater has 30,000 BTUs.  The heater is plastered with little notes from Furnaceman.  Cheery messages like: "Third degree burns can occur in six seconds when the water is 60º C.  Death is also possible."  

     Hmmm…  My water heater has 30,000 BTUs and it can get water hot enough to kill somebody.

     A Kalamazoo Bread Breaker Two Dual-Fuel grill with an infrared rotisserie cradle system and a side burner has a 154,000 BTU capacity.  It has a temperature gauge that reaches 1000º F.  It also has nighttime grilling lights.  Why?  Would a middle-aged hubby, after his 3 a.m. pee, get an uncontrollable urge to wander out to the Kalamazoo and grill a couple of turkeys? 

     According to the manufacturer, it's geared to the "Man cook with fire" market segment.    

     Middle-aged men, who normally think it's a hassle to reheat leftovers in a microwave, are gathering around these monster barbecues and acting like a bunch of teenage boys.  They're checking under the hood, twisting dials and rattling off phrases like "Mounted smoker box… warming rack… hi-dome cooking lid… porcelain coated cooking grid… heat plates" with the same slobbering enthusiasm most had for their first car.

     There are also barbecue accessories.  I'm not talking long handled forks and aprons that tell folks to kiss the cook.  

     The Centro food prep station is a buffet, cooler and more.  It can be connected to the barbecue to create a complete outdoor kitchen.  Hey, fellas!  There's a room that has all this stuff.  You're welcome to come and flex your cooking muscles all year round.  Sorry the oven only goes to 500º F, but, we girls have been able to crank out complete holiday dinners in it.  it's called the kitchen.

     Maybe the Discovery Channel was trying to do a public service.  They had a special on the 1883 Krakatoa catastrophe.  When Krakatoa went Kabooie, it produced an ash cloud.  The ashes and gases reached 1000º.  Most of the people in a 30 mile radius were killed by the extremely hot air which liquified their lungs. 
     
     Dads, if some fool gave you the Bread Breaker, think of Al Gore and take it back.
     The ozone layer will thank you.
     The environment will thank you!
     The lungs of everyone within 30 miles will thank you!!

     And, most important, the family's burgers and wieners will thank you!!!   

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Flowers for Mother's Day by Margaret Ullrich


I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to mums, nannas, aunties, but most especially, a happy day to everyone who is a caregiver or working to help keep us supplied with food and necessities. 
Thank you for everything you are doing during these times.
This is not like any Mother's Day we've ever had, but I'm wishing it will give you its own, hopefully nice, memories!

This is a story I wrote years ago for my CKUW show. Hope it gives you a chuckle now.
Stay safe and well, everyone!


     Isn't it great.  Mother Nature has finally realized it's Spring!

     Parents in the wild weren't confused by the crazy weather we've been having.  We live in a cul de sac near farmers' fields in the north end of Winnipeg.  Geese and ducks have been making nests and babies in our local ponds.  We've been watching bush bunnies chase each other like race horses at the track.  Our kitchen has a picture window facing our garage, where we have a grapevine growing up a trellis, then continuing over wires to the window to give us some shade.  
  
     On top of the trellis, under the garage's eaves, two robins recently set up housekeeping.  Rain or shine, they knew it was time to have babies.  And, they did.  While we ate, we watched them take turns keeping the eggs warm.  A few weeks ago we saw the babies' wide open mouths over the edge of the nest.  When I went out to hang laundry, I heard the birds chirping overhead.  
     
     When you live in the 'burbs, it's almost the law to have a garden.  You know it.  Your neighbours know it.  And every store in town knows it.  So, marketing folks, ever eager to make a buck on anything - especially guilt - have hooked Mother's Day to Gardening.  In a way, it's a natural.  

     Everyone can remember proudly giving Mom a bouquet of freshly picked weeds.  Okay.  It's the thought that counts.  And, as a gift, the weeds weren't bad.  Mom could smile, plunk them into anything from a vase to an empty coffee tin, set them anywhere and everybody was happy.  Mom could ignore them until they flopped over.  Nobody cared when Mom tossed them out.  Hey, they were free weeds. 
  
     The problem is, kids grow up.  They learn how to read.  They read the flyers.  They get some cash.  They get suckered.

     One large chain, whose buyers have some serious size issues, recently came out with a lawn and garden flyer.  They proudly announced, We make gardening REALLY EASY!  Uh, huh.  By this they meant they'd packed to overflowing huge planters with annuals, about which they said, and I quote, It's like adding another room to your house.

     Yippee!  Picture it.  Lugging around a kitchen chair, then climbing it to hang 'another room' from a hook you can barely see because the darn heavy thing has to be hung high enough so no one will walk into it and knock himself out cold.  Having to unhook 'the room' which is hanging a few feet above your head so you can water it.  Regularly.  Every couple of days.  Hey, what did you expect?  They're honking big flowers.  They're thirstier than sailors on shore leave.  It was your lousy gift, so there you are, hoisting something that weighs as much as a toddler over your head.  Oh, and you had just watered it.  Dirty water is running down your arm.  Happy Mother's Day.   

     Okay.  The kids meant well.  You can't return them - the kids or the flowers.  Let's grab a cold one, sit down and think this through.  

     They're just flowers in a pot.  You buy annuals in a box.  What do you do with the annuals?  Just separate them and plant them where you please.  Hose them down every so often.  No climbing or weight lifting required. 

     Alrighty then.  Upend that oversized pot and do likewise to those overpacked petunias.  They'll be grateful for the breathing room.  Hey, would you like to spend a scorching Manitoba summer crammed six to a bed?  Neither do flowers.  

     But, that leaves you with an empty pot.  And even though the kids barely look you in the eye, there's still a chance they'd notice that the pot - their gift - is now empty.  No problem.  Can you say Dollar Store?  Just waltz in and buy any flowers you like.  Think you have to get the same flowers?  Get real.  How much do you notice the uniqueness of each potato in a twenty pound sack?  The kids bought those flowers by the basket, 25 bucks each, two for 40.  They shopped with friends and had a few bucks left for snacks.  All they noticed was that the baskets were heavy.  

     Get whatever you like.  Um... on second thought, try to stay with the season.  I have a friend who loves Christmas.  She packed her pot with flaming red poinsettias.  Even her kids thought there was something odd about their Mom's pot.  She just smiled, hugged them and gave them a cookie.  A store bought cookie.  It worked.  

     While you're at it, get some fake flowers for the yard, especially for those dark, hard to grow areas and window boxes.  I got a lovely assortment of blue, white and orange flowers for our yard.  Mama Robin ignored me as I placed some flowers in a large pot under our chokecherry.  She chirped as I inserted some into my kitchen window's flower box.  

     Then I tried to hook a few onto the trellis under her nest.  Mama Robin flew onto our neighbour's roof, to watch me beautifying her neighbourhood.  Then she started screeching like a banshee.  I glanced up just in time to see her act like a kamikazi pilot, talons aimed straight at me.  I ducked and ran.  The grapevine can stay flowerless until her kids have flown the nest.             

     Ah, the circle of life!  Ah, Nature!  Ah, crap!