Monday, January 31, 2011

First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition Deadline

For everyone that is submitting your entry for the First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition  - the deadline is today!!  Hard to believe that the 31st is here already!

To submit:  Simply post your story and it will come through my email.

I am really looking forward to everyone's submissions!  So far, they are looking wonderful!

Good luck

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition

I just wanted to remind everyone that the date for "First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition" is getting near.  I am so excited about doing this - I hope to see a few submissions!

Just as a refresher - here are the guidelines:

"First Annual Cabin Fever Competition" - the inaugural topic this year will be - what else but cabin fever!" It should be 200 words or less... and the timeline would be ... say the end of January? The 31st?

Good luck to everyone who submits a story!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Wine-ing" away

I made some rhubarb wine in 2008 from some rhubarb I had frozen the previous summer.  I think I had about 15 lbs or so of it to use for a batch of wine.   It was frozen in large, heavy bags of about 5lbs each and took what seemed like forever for it to thaw out.  Into the primary bucket it all went along with the yeast and other winemaking powders to help it along the way.  It started out fine - smelled great, in fact!

Then, life interfered and I got pneumonia.  As a result of this, I forgot to move it into the secondary after the allotted amount of time.  It sat there for a good couple weeks or so extra before I could work up the energy to filter it into the secondary and put an airlock on it.  I knew that it was still possibly salvageable but not a hundred percent sure.  I consulted with my local wine guru and he said it would either oxidize, which is one step or so away from being vinegar, or turn to sherry.  In other words, I could toss it or play the odds.  I decided to play the odds.

Now it is 2011 and we decided to crack open a bottle of that dubious "wine."   I rummaged around the basement shelves to locate it, dusted it off and carried a bottle of it upstairs with a little bit of trepidation.  We grabbed a couple wineglasses and cracked it open.  I took a sniff of the bottle and wasn't too sure what I was smelling.  I poured a couple glasses and let it sit for a few minutes before sampling it.  We both took a sip and realized that we indeed had sherry!  It seems really sweet on the first sip but this diminishes after a couple sips.  Unfortunately, it also has a kick like a mule.  The flavour is good though - definitely a nice surprise considering that I had no high hopes for it at all.  It starts out sweet but ends on a more wine-like note.  It is not at the commercial level by any stretch of the imagination but it was pleasant, especially after a glassful or two!  Mind you, with the amount of alcohol in it, after that glass or two it could taste like a glass of swamp water and be fine.  I am hoping in another year or so it will be really good - probably wistful thinking on that though.

Cruel Fate

He stopped for a moment before he went in. He knew it was going to be difficult and wasn't sure how he was going to approach everyone. It wasn't until later that he knew that nothing he did or said would have changed the outcome.

It all started before the funeral, during the viewing. There were awkward silences and furtive glances. In his grief, he didn't have a clue about these. Later, he would wonder at this and feel as though they were all travelling the same direction but on different highways and no matter how hard he tried, he could not make them converge and become one.

When they shut the coffin, he finally realized what all the fuss was about.  Him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Candy of the North

I watched him slowly and methodically cut open the carcass. His hands moved with the surety that only comes with experience. As I gazed up at him, I shivered with anticipation as his knife slid into the eye socket and deftly removed the glutinous, very round, black globe that once held sight. It slid sideways down the face, still attached by its optic nerve and its sheath. With a quick flip of his wrist, the knife slit the tentative join permanently. Shyly pleased and with a gap-toothed grin, he handed me this gem after giving it one more little slit on the side - the candy of the north.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Closet Poet

I was laughing to myself the other day, totally in sympathy, when I saw how the kids at school were struggling with poetry. With poetry, it either clicks right away and you get it or it doesn't and you have to struggle through. I have seen tons of kids struggle but enjoy the rewards of their struggle when they have their aha! moment. Compounding this is finding poems for a certain theme and understanding how to share and reword it into a critical essay with a reasonable amount of intelligence. Again, easy if it clicks - a real curse when it doesn't.

I was talking to a couple kids how I had had a themed poetry assignment when I was in high school and how I dealt with it. At that time, I mentioned that we also had a very small library and, unlike today, absolutely no internet for resources. Being a typical teenager, I procrastinated until I had only the weekend to do this long assignment and I had to work one of the two days at my part-time job. I think we had to find ten or so poems to use. I hit a dead-end getting poems because the library was closed by the time I was off work but I wasn't willing to call it quits - my marks were good and I wasn't willing to take a fall, especially because of my own idiocy. After a brief moment of thought (remember - time was of the essence), I sat down and popped off ten or so poems of varying lengths and styles dealing with the theme. I added made up names for the poets/authors and anonymous ones for some of the others. It was easy to write a critical review of the them because I had written them and knew exactly what the poet intended and the styles that were used! As I recall, I got one of my best marks for that assignment.

I still laugh to myself when I think of it!

(That little microsoft guy above says it all!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally Smokin'

I walked around the house yesterday trying to figure out where the smoke smell was getting in. It seemed to permeate everywhere I went in the house. I had finally taken the first giant step of seasoning my new smoker that I got as a Christmas present. I knew I had set it up properly out of the wind and had been careful about going in and out so that the smoke wouldn't follow me in, so it was important to me that the house not smell like a smoker.

Everything went as it should have, the pucks advanced, the smoke poured out the top and the digital instruments gave temperature and time readouts. It finished shortly after dark and I removed the generator and covered up the smoker after it cooled and came back into the house.
I could still smell smoke throughout the house - I finally asked the youngest if she could smell it (she has a nose as sensitive as a puppy's sometimes) and she said no - only a little in the kitchen by the generator. So I thought it was because I had inhaled a few whiffs and the smell was stuck in my nose. Later that night, I groaned when I realized that it was me that smelled like a smoked sausage! I had forgotten how smoke adheres to hair and clothing and permeates it completely.

So, today I put back on my smokey clothes and went downstairs to put in some marbled cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese, paprika and coarse salt to smoke. I poured the salt and the paprika onto some coffee filters and put them on the racks and loaded up the cheese racks. I preheated the bisquette burner and put them all into the smoker. I kept checking the temperature but it didn't want to go over 60F and I needed it to go to about 80F. So I turned on the bottom burner and waited for it to heat up. It was going so slow - 2 degrees at a time...until finally I went out to check the connections. I laughed when I realized I had not put on the oven burner cord because I had planned on cold smoking the cheeses. It heated up quickly to 80 once I did that.

A couple hours later, I pulled out the cheese but left the salt and paprika in. I raised the temperature to 260 and prepared a chicken I had been marinating since yesterday for smoking. I used a Rickard's Red beer can chicken stand to put the chicken on and with a bit of olive oil and Italian dressing I put it into the smoker. Halfway through, the whole unit quit working!! I unplugged and replugged everything numerous times until it finally kicked in again. I guess you actually have to push the plug all the way in so it can connect properly! lol

I removed the salt and paprika after an hour with the chicken, cooled them and put them into jars to use later on. The salt is going to be wonderful on crusty buns and as a flavour enhancer. It is interesting how it turned from a bright white to a soft tan, which will continue to darken as it sits.

I decided to finish the chicken off in the oven inside the house and brought the bird in. It looks wonderful! I put a casserole of rice in to cook alongside. I think I will make a broccoli and raisin salad to eat as well to help balance out the possible saltiness of the chicken flavours.

We found that the chicken had a lovely, mild smoke flavour reminiscent of a very tender ham. It was so good. I can hardly wait to try smoking some trout and the back bacon (Canadian bacon) I have marinating in the fridge!

Who would have thought that smoking a piece of meat and some cheese could turn out so great!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Task at Hand

He noticed how she quietly went about doing it her way. She did it slowly and real careful like. Her cuts were clean, and precisely where they should have been.

He let out his breath slowly, so as not to disturb her. He knew his head would be on the line if he did and that was the last place he wanted to be. She turned and looked at him with no expression in her eyes. It was as if she was dead and stuffed, with glass eyes that held no feeling and no depth. He shivered despite himself and slowly handed her a clean cloth and some gut to finish up.

She bent back down and continued with the task at hand. As she placed the last piece in place, she let out a slow sigh like a gently deflating balloon that you could only see deflate and not hear. Finally, she turned to him and said, "Well, that's all I'm doing for today - you did a good job."

He smiled and picked up the heavy tubs. As he heaved them onto the dolly, he thought of when things were better. He wheeled them over to the freezer and carefully emptied the contents onto the shelves at the back, hanging the sausages from the hooks in the ceiling. Returning back to the operating room, he removed the bones and skulls, glad it wasn't him that was going to be dinner tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blackberry Widow

I am a Blackberry Widow. My husband got a Blackberry for work at the start of December. I knew he would be obsessed with it, initially anyway. He is a gizmo kind of guy and a Blackberry is a gizmo deluxe!

Previously, he always said he didn't see what the fascination was with Blackberries - they seemed to be like an addiction. He even said that he didn't know why people got so caught up with them and he couldn't imagine having one. What a pain to have your work follow you home, he said.

Then he got one.

At first, he was tentative about the Blackberry. Cautiously asking our daughters questions about how to do this or that. Then he began to explore on his own. He became like an armchair adventurer, delving into the abyss of the Blackberry. Like cocaine, it has sucked him deeper and deeper into its mysteries. Revealing itself, one small step at a time.

Then, the unbelievable happened! I called him for dinner one night and he couldn't put it down until he finished dealing with it's siren call. If you knew my husband, missing dinner is like cutting off one of his limbs. When he was younger, he would pace back and forth until I had a meal on the table, always anxiously awaiting his sustenance. I knew then, that the Blackberry had its hold on him.

As if he wasn't addicted enough, he received "Blackberries for Dummies" book for Christmas. I haven't seen or heard much from him since...I think he said something about downloading some apps but I'm not sure because I don't think he even knew I was there...was he even talking to me? Or to the Blackberry?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Annual Cabin Fever Competition

How would you like to do something fun this January that will help celebrate (or not) the cold weather? How would you like to write a story or a poem for a potentially wonderful prize?

I am calling this my "First Annual Cabin Fever Competition" - the inaugural topic this year will be - what else but cabin fever!" It should be 200 words or less... and the timeline would be ... say the end of January? The 31st?

(I do reserve the right to disqualify anything that is very inappropriate, which still gives you tons of leeway...)

As a prize I will send the winner a little something...not sure what yet but it will be something great - something quintessentially Canadian - I will let you know closer to the date.