Monday, February 28, 2005

Braising With Shao Xing Cooking Wine

Braising is a wonderful and rewarding cooking method. Simply seek out the toughest cut of meat you can find - beef blade is a great cut to start with. Make sure the cut comes with bone-in and lots of connective tissue (gristle). Brown the meat in a hot pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper; when you think it has browned enough, let it brown just a bit longer (the carmelisation here is the key to the eventual flavour). Remove the meat and put some mirepoix (diced carrots, celery, and onion) into the same pan. When this mixture is soft, place the browned meat on top, and de-glaze with some tasty wine and stock. Add garlic, bay leaves and some thyme.The choice of wine is yours - I like Italian reds from Abruzzo; my top choice is Shao Xing cooking wine from China. It is important to only add enough liquid to cover half the meat/mirepoix layer. After 30-40 minutes of cooking on low heat in the covered pan, turn the meat over and cook for another 30-40 minutes. Take the meat out and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid and reduce it by about 2/3. Reducing the liquid is simple but requires a bit of attention. Put it in a pan on high and watch it reduce. It will at some point change viscosity quite suddenly; from a watery liquid to a dark syrup-like sauce. When this happens, you are done; take it of the heat immediately and test for seasoning. Slice the meat thinly and serve with the reduction. Heaven!

Chinese rice wine. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Some Old Photos

I guess I should apologize to you out there who have seen these photos before; but, heck, this blog is new.

5 and A5 - laminated wooden doors at the old streetcar facility at Wychwood Ave (around 1905). Posted by Hello

Morning Fishers. Posted by Hello

English Beach change room. This beach is one I used to swim a lot at in the '60's when I lived in Vancouver. The photo was taken on a trip back in '99. Posted by Hello

Tracks. These tracks were found in the sand at the bottom of shallow creek near Huntsville, Ontario. I've no idea what made them. Posted by Hello

Reeds. Posted by Hello


OK, with no editor watching what goes into this blog, well, weird stuff will get published. So, in 1986, I was riding in the landing craft with Ripley and the gang and we were decending on the relatively unknown planet LV-426. I got lucky with this one shot out the porthole.

Seems fairley probable, no? No, it doesn't. It was actually the winter of '98 and I was flying somewhere over the Canadian prairies. Still, with a little imagination....

LV-426 Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Toronto Terminal One

The Toronto airport keeps evolving. The new Terminal One is hard to distinguish from Stanley Kubrick's "2001-A Space Odessey".

Terminal 1. Posted by Hello

Terminal 1. Posted by Hello

New Terminal 1. Posted by Hello

Asian Confusion - Jujubes

One of the true wonders of the greater Toronto area is the proliferation of Asian food stores. This ranges from small sidewalk markets to full size bigbox outlets like T&T.
On a visit to a huge all Asian mall called Pacific Mall
I wandered into a foodstuffs/medicine shop and spotted what looked to me like a container full of a type of chilli that I had never used before. I filled a bag and asked the fellow behind the counter if they were hot. He said "Oh yes, your face will have a good glow!"
When I got home and tasted these "fruits", they were sweet, not hot. It turned out that they were, in fact, red dates (jujubes) and not chillis at all.
Undaunted, I searched for a recipe (using mushrooms and chicken) and gave them a go.
They were good; a total opposite of what I had anticipated, however.

Jujubes. Posted by Hello

Cooking the dish. Posted by Hello

Final plating. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie is one of the great architects of our time. He has done a lot of really interesting work worldwide.
On a trip to Vancouver in '98, I had a chance to look at his Municipal Library. It really is a magnificent building.

The Vancouver library. Posted by Hello


Toronto is a photographer's paradise. In most of it's older commercial areas, colour dominates. There are few areas in the central core where the process of constant change doesn't juxtapose falling-down-old with brand new.

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello

Toronto. Posted by Hello


Divorce is a nasty calamity, no matter how well it's handled. Mine took place over a decade ago and most of the unpleasantness has now dulled. One matter that cannot ever be resolved, however, is the decision of my former wife to take exclusive possesion of all photographs taken during the marriage. This makes the few (from the 3-4000 taken) that I have very special. These are among those.

Olivia. Posted by Hello

Olivia. Posted by Hello

Olivia.  Posted by Hello


Of all the kinds of cooking I've tried to get a handle on, baking is the weakest link in my arsenal. So, it was with some trepidation that I took a shot at baking a bjornkaka (bearcake). This was a dark, cardamon flavoured cake my mother baked for years and was always a huge hit. I decided to use a bundt pan to give it an interesting shape.
Wonders of wonders - it turned out great!

Here is the recipe:
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted margarine
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp freshly ground cardamon seeds (remove the outer husk)
2 tsp cinnamon

Stir eggs and sugar for 5 min. Melt margarine and mix with milk. Let cool.
Mix the wet and dry ingedients.
Grease a pan with margarine and bread with fine breadcrumbs.
Bake in a 350 F oven for about 40 min.

Bearcake. Posted by Hello