This year we knew that Thanksgiving would not be a big celebration with 20+ people because of Covid19. The grandkids had gone back to school and the risk of them bringing the virus into contact with the older family members (me), just did not seem to be worth the risk. Instead, Carol and I thought that dinner with my sister, niece, her son and girlfriend would be an acceptable risk and still capture the Thanksgiving spirit. The turkey was ordered, the cranberries prepared, large squash littered the house, deserts were ordered from Karen, the house was cleaned top to bottom, the turkey bag was purchased.
Erin works in a restaurant. They had a Covid-19 scare with another employee, sent her into quarantine, shut down the restaurant and waited for the test results to come back. Thanksgiving decision needed to be made. Carol and I decided to continue with the zoom call to the entire family, cancel the live dinner with my sister and niece, cook the entire meal and deliver it to those who were supposed to have dinner at our house.
Get more Tupperware! Include driving and drop-off time in the schedule. Worked fine.
We returned home and decided that we would have English muffins with peanut butter and jam. But the next day, I made some modifications to the Turkey Pot Pie on Bon Appetit's website and put together a Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping. I have never worked with the recommended puff pastry and was not willing to risk the pot pie to a faulty topping.
When the stores opened the day after Thanksgiving, they were giving turkeys away. We decided to cook another turkey and deliver it to Katie. Katie is in the middle of the longest renovation in history and does not have a cooktop or oven. We met them in Milton and handed over a cooked 20-pounder, squash, dressing, gravy and cranberries.
You know Thanksgiving was a lot of fun this year.
Many of the meals that we have eaten in Portugal came with a simple yet welcome starter of marinated carrots. Sometimes they feature garlic, sometimes cumin (least favourite), but usually they are simply flavoured with a bit of chopped parsley. Here is the recipe that I intend to try when we return home.
- parboil 2 sliced carrots until slightly soft, immerse in ice water, drain, dry, and cool.
- combine with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, a pinch of paprika, and a touch of salt.
- cover, refrigerate overnight.
- bring to room temperature and serve.
The photo above would have been used to serve 4 to 6 people with some wonderful Portuguese bread.
This was (and still is) to be our last night in Portugal. We arrived by bus from Portimao yesterday afternoon and were dropped off by Uber at Casa do Bairro a great little hotel that we stayed at when visiting Marcia and Jamie. It has the same charm but there is an air of uncertainty about the whole place as a result of the coronavirus.
Lisbon is officially mandating social-distancing. Restaurants, bars, cafes, and other meeting places are being shut down to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. We had been traveling since before breakfast, through lunch and we were hungry. The plan had been to check-in and walk to the Time Out Market for late lunch/dinner but the market is closed as part of the social-distancing plan. The hotel knew of only one open restaurant and it was part of their sister hotel up the street - Madame Petisca. They called to see if they could get us a reservation (by reservation only because they were only allowing 12 guests at a time from their hotels.)
It was a tapas menu - but a good tapas menu.
We ordered all of the starters and a couple of glasses of house wine. The sheep's milk butter was amazing. We also ordered the cod on a bed of spinach and the organic mixed mushrooms. These two dishes were meal-sized and wonderful. I am certain that the cod was rehydrated dried, salted cod. The mixed mushrooms were in a very tasty thick sauce with some dunking bread. The second glass of wine was in order.
It is now 3:46AM. We slept right after dinner and now we are wide awake. We will have a light breakfast at 8AM and get in the limo to the airport at 8:30 for an 11:30AM flight.
I had been trying to knock-off a potato recipe that we had a week ago in Silves. I tried a couple of variations of cumin, green chilli, onion and ground pepper. Not really close.
Yesterday I went to the cook and asked for the recipe. I do not have quantities but the ingredients are garlic, onion, tomato, carrot, fresh cilantro, white wine vinegar, and garam masala. Now I just need to work on the quantities.
Segredosmouros Spicy Potatoes
Here are some photos from a trip to Silves to look for pottery. After trudging up the hill to the various pottery stores we decided that we should have lunch in a little tapas bar that I had discovered on a previous visit. To find the place you follow the cardboard signs pointing down an ancient street. These photos follow our trail to the bar. Once you are there it is lovely. Carol went for the Sangria and I a small beer with a nice tapas tray - 3 different chorizos, three different kinds of cheese, a rocket salad, a small bowl of couscous, a small bowl of tandoori spiced potatoes, and bread. Condiments were Portuguese olives, olive oil and balsamic reduction. It was quite delicious and with a great view.
Trying to put an entire Thanksgiving dinner into a meatloaf today. Carol and I were driving to Geulph when I asked Carol to DuckDuckGo the idea of putting the stuffing (good ol' Stove Top), and everything else that made sense into a Turkey meatloaf. The 1st one that came up was one by Rachael Ray - so I used this as the model. It is in the oven now.
Update: We took Turkey dinner to Bronwen's. Turkey dinner with all the fixin's was well received. The only complaint was that I did not put the cranberries right into the meatfloaf - next time.
I made a big mistake by watching a Youtube video of how they make pizza in Naples. It created a terrible desire to make pizza, make it over and over again until I knew how to do it right. Make so much I had to throw it out, it could not be eaten. Today I went looking for an Italian market - one that sold good tinned tomatoes, and Italian "00" flour. I found it in Kitchener. Very busy, very popular, and with all of the authentic products - bulk Caputo "00" flour $2.99 per kilogram, Tuscan tomato sauces. I am in heaven. So I went and bought my second kitchen scale (the first was sold with the house in the desert.) I start again, and I keep with it until it is perfect.
It has been 2 months and 19 days since I last wrote on the VOX. I am disappointed with myself. I have become really, really lazy. Quite a bit has happened since February 6th and I am going to try to remember it now.
- First and foremost Joan "Joanie" turned 66.
- I played my first tennis match in a USTA League. My partner was a very good friend and good player and we did not do well. As a matter of fact not doing well became a bit chronic. We took some lessons together and we promised our captain that we would do better (improvement everywhere but the scoreline). I think that it was good for us. We were both playing better at season end. Those on the other teams should watch out next year. Carol also played on a USTA team. I think that she really enjoyed the competition.
- Carol and some girls friends took a "time out" at Newport Beach for a few days. I have the photographs - nice scenes of jugs of margaritas with the Pacific ocean in the background. Hmmm -- very nice. I took a drive in the desert looking for the "lost mine shaft" -- nope, did not find a thing.
- Carol continued with her tennis lessons with Isabel -- like I couldn't help -- I would have said, "hit the ball, hit it harder!"
- The Pizza Party was a big event for Carol and I. A niece of good friends of ours was coming to visit. She was also entered in a "pizza" competition at a Las Vegas food conference -- a bonafide food star. Ashley's competition recipe was pizza with double-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, and caramelized onion tomato sauce. Carol and I could not resist inviting her to build pizzas for a party at 99 VW. 14 people were invited to eat from-scratch, home-made pizza from a cheap old Frigidaire electric oven. Another good friend demonstrated pizza on the BBQ. Wonderful night in spite of having to scrap the tomato sauce footprints from the the living room floor in the morning. Wonderful, wonderful evening.
Ashley came 6th in the Pizza Conference
- Early March is the Indian Wells tennis tournament. We spent 5 nice day watching tennis - how about the return of Del Potro from the 4th row! It really does make you humble when you realize how much better the professionals are at the game. My best hit is their worst hit.
- A real treat - time out from tennis to visit the Getty art museum in Los Angles. We took a hotel room on Malibu beach -- a really nice experience. We should have rented surf boards. The next day we visited the Grammy Museum in downtown LA. -- a very nice treat again.
- Tennis -- tennis -- tennis -- mixed in with the end of season party -- party. These get togethers are where folk are trying to get rid of the wine, beer and liquor leftovers.
- Finally won a couple of matches in the USTA league. Turns out competitive play requires a different set of skills from everyday tennis -- winning.
All and all a great season. It is good to be home though. We are looking forward to the yard cleanup, Eryn's 1st birthday, our new dish washer, and visits with folk we have not seen since last year.
If anybody is wondering how we have been affected by the rain in Palm Desert - it is the first real rain we have had here in our 5 years of visiting. We managed to work in 2 hours of tennis before it started to sprinkle. About 11AM the rain really started and it kept up for about 7 hours. Our eavestroughs overflowed (must be full of Bougainvillea or grapefruit). Here is a photo of the mountains covered in snow this morning.
We went out for dinner in the rain with a bunch of friends and neighbours. Murph's Gaslight for "family style" fried chicken - pails of beef barley soup followed by great platters of pan-fried chicken with bowls of mashed potatoes, kernel corn, black-eyed peas, and gravy, accompanied by platters of corn bread and dinner rolls, and finally finished with strawberry short cake. We could only eat about half of the chicken on the platters, so they came by and topped each platter up to full again, and then give everybody a doggie bag to take the chicken home. More than once I heard "it really is is good fried chicken". Cholesterol counts in the neighbourhood are off the scale this morning.
Arrived safe and sound on December 1st and we have settled in very nicely. The house had been cleaned and the furniture moved out into the patio, but we needed to get food and water. I always leave a few bottles of beer and wine in the fridge when we leave so there is not a lot of pressure. Tennis started the next day so the social side is also under control.
Carol arrived with some gruesome headaches and I arrived with my sinus faucets wide open. Some antihistamines and pain killers and we are starting to come around.
Yesterday we purchased some gardening tools and started to spruce the place up a bit. We intend this to be a lower investment year, so it seemed appropriate that Friday we were at Best Buy purchasing a new washer and dryer and today we have ordered a new front entrance door. The good news is that we feel quite at home. Temperature is in the low sixties at night and mid seventies during the day. We cannot complain about that.
I dragged my baking steel 15 pounds of steel to California (put it on Carol's side of the car to balance the weight) to master BBQ pizza. The steel was heated to about 500 degrees (F) and then I slid a homemade pizza onto it. The result - about 1/16th (ok, maybe an 1/8th) of an inch of carbon, then 3/8th of an inch of nearly cooked dough covered by the toppings. The toppings were good. Carol and I ate enough carbon to filter our liquids for about a week. Next I will try the oven, I have had quite a bit of success with this at home. Gotta keep pushing the envelope though.
We are watching Anderson Cooper's annual Heroes show. Very inspiring! A must watch every year.
Hope all is well in the North.
Getting old is miserable. You lack the stamina you used to have and muscles give up when they are needed. We did not get out to see Coco in Austin. After a full day of driving in the rain (9 hours) we were just too tired to leave the hotel room. Instead we slept. Then got up and drove in dreary grey rainy weather for a good part of today. Finally the forecast says that we will get some good weather. We did stop yesterday in Shreveport LA for lunch. Ken Whitaker had sent along the lunch suggestion:
Have a look.
- Ken: Happy Thanksgiving! I am recovering from overeating yesterday. We're going to the new James Bond movie this evening and will leave Boise tomorrow to head South. It looks like we will be arriving in PD in the evening on Monday 11/30. Are you guys going to be there by then? If not let me know when you will be arriving and we'll try to get tennis set up.
and then later when Ken heard that we did go for lunch -
- Ken: I hope you had a Shrimp Buster and went inside where there is a profile of an Indian shot into a piece of metal by the original Herby K. It's now run by the ex daughter-in-law of the founder. The son (her ex-husband) had a drug problem and the daughter-in-law used to run it with the mother-in-law (wife of Herby K) until she died.
That area of town died around the bar but they never moved. They tried expanding to a second location but that didn't work for some reason. We went there after my mother's and my father's funeral. As a kid my mother and father would sit in one side of the old wooden booths and the 3 boys on the other and Dad would drink draft beers from big frosted glasses.
We did have Shrimp Busters - very nice.
Ken referred to the "area of town dying". There were two or three blocks of buildings that have been abandoned and are falling down. the restaurant is right in the middle. If it had not been raining we would have explored and taken photos. Very interesting.