Tom, Jim and Freddy

I am a little late in posting my newspaper column for this week – you will find some of the column is a bit personal and local–while I usually edit that kind of thing out for my blog–I thought I would give you the full flavour this week:

“Tom Sawyered”

My favourite quote of the week and possibly of all time comes from Jonathan Goldstein’s latest column called “You Call This a Party?” Among other things, Goldstein writes for the National Post, and his words this week hit a real chord with me: “Calling something a party doesn’t make it one….One can throw a septic cleaning party, but one would have only fools for guests.”

His statement was made in answer to an invitation from a friend of his to “a painting party” where the guests would get the lucky chore of priming and painting his house. Now his friend gets some points for cleverness, but many more for being a con à la Tom Sawyer. In fact there is a term for being conned into doing something you really did not want to do but ended up doing it anyway—it is called being “Tom Sawyered.” Tom, of course brought the whole thing to another level, in that he not only got his friends to whitewash a fence for him, he got some snacks and toys in return for “letting” them have the pleasure of doing his work.

There are other less polite terms for being “Tom Sawyered”. I am sure many of us have been on the receiving end of such a con. Goldstein was too clever to get caught up by his friend’s promise of making the job into a party—he recognized it for what it truly was and declined–at first. Then he thought about—and in an effort to score friendship points and a 4:30 a.m. ride to the airport he finally acquiesced. But, not to be totally “Tom Sawyered”, he demanded that there be expensive imported beer at the ready. And, oh yeah, he did not ask for the ride until after he had made his “friendship points”.

I suppose we all do it—gather friendship points—some to be bartered with, but many times forgotten—because dealing in friendship points is not a game one can win. In fact, I have trouble keeping up with my friends and family and all the favours they do for me. If they all tried to collect at once I would be in big trouble. Candy coating a job and turning it into a party can make the task more palatable—just ask Tom—but most of us would rather be asked honestly for help.

Happy Birthday Jim

Hey, this is my column and if I want to display outrageous and extravagant nepotism I will. Having said that, I am throwing a little party in this column for my brother Jim for his 70th birthday. His family is throwing him a real party and to that I will bring some food and drink and a gift—but this party is for any of you who know him—to call him (you could email or Facebook him but he has neither) or tell him when you see him around town—a big Happy Birthday. Do this in an exuberant fashion—shouting across the street if you have to. But keep this in mind: in my family, we only admit to being 39, so really this is the 31st anniversary of Jim’s 39th birthday. (I think this works out—my math is a little weak)

Jim is my eldest brother and having reached this milestone my family from far and wide, near and narrow are coming together to taunt him a bit, but mostly to celebrate him. As the big brother of our family (father, grandfather, and uncle too) he deserves both our reverence and ribbing, which I am sure will be plentiful when we come together on Saturday to eat, drink and be merry.

Freddy Farmer

Friend (in keeping with my nepotism theme here) and local author, Brian Sweet, along with local artist, Harold Burton have produced a new children’s book called “Freddy Farmer”. The story is endearing and the paintings come to life on the page creating a book that kids will love to read, or have read to them.

The illustrations are vibrant and the story is one that shows if we all “pull” or “push” together we can get a lot done. My favourite character is the pig Sloppy though, who at the end of the book, after the labours of the day have been carried out, goes back to “play in the mud”.

 

 

 

~ Easiest Stew Ever ~ No Kidding! ~

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think by now you have learned not to look to me for fancy cuisine, gourmet delights, or even recipes with much more than five ingredients. But since it is November, the harbinger of cold weather, I thought I would share my recipe for the “Easiest Stew Ever” with you.

When I shared my Chili recipe in a post, I asked if you wanted my easy stew recipe. Several of you answered in the affirmative (big word for yes, I know-keep it simple stupid). A number of you nodded your heads vigorously (I could hear the rattle). So without further ado, I will give you the original recipe that my sister-in-law, Brenda, provided for me about two decades ago. Then I will tell you how I have adapted the recipe. Are you ready?

Here goes:

OVEN STEW

1 ½ lb. stewing beef

1 10 oz. can mushroom soup

1 envelope onion soup mix

¼ tsp. thyme

¼ tsp. pepper

1/3 cup sherry (or water)

Put all in casserole, cover tightly and cook 2 – 3 hours at 325 degrees. Brenda’s comment on the recipe: “All in one pot, extremely easy, very good…my kind of cooking.”

Now, I used to be a little bit of a snob about cooking with soup and soup mixes (I don’t know why—must have been from reading Gourmet magazine, not from cooking from it).

I have never made this recipe the way it was written, and a lot of times, I just throw the ingredients in the crock pot—so here is what I do ~

Put the soup and soup mix in the crock pot. Whisk it until it is smooth. (Sometimes I double the recipe). Then throw in the stewing beef—you don’t have to brown it. Add pepper and sometimes paprika if you have it.  I leave out the thyme because for some reason I do not like it. Add the water (as I never, ever have sherry and my husband does not like wine in his food.) I add more than a 1/3 cup of water (usually half a soup can unless I double it). And there you have it—

I usually cook it anywhere from 6-8 hours on low or four hours on high in the crock pot. Most of the time, I add carrots and onions and potatoes and then I have a complete meal.

Sometimes I will do it in the oven—but both ways are delicious. It makes surprisingly good gravy. If you make it without the potatoes and carrots, it is good on rice or noodles.

I have a whole binder full of recipes (not women) from my family. My sister instigated this recipe exchange about twenty two years ago, and for several Christmases members of my family would add three recipes. If there is a demand, I can make Saturday recipe day. Just to get your mouth watering– the next one I will share is my brother John’s Fried Bologna Sandwich. It is a gourmet delight (seriously).

What do you think? Should I make Saturday recipe day? And do you have any easy recipes to share or hints for fast meals?

Haikuish

I lost my little red wagon

It has four wheels

My brother was in it.

Haikuish 2

My brother bugs me but

I did not mean to lose him

Give him back please

Haikuish 3

My stupid little brother

Took my red wagon and hid

Why did mom have him?

For the record, I do not have a little brother.

Published in: on July 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm  Comments (29)  
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