Disappointing Summer?

I’ve heard many people recently talk about how disappointed they are with the summer this year.  Other than a week or so of very hot and humid weather, it has been quite cool. In my part of the world, the past couple of weeks have even seen night time temperatures dip down to 10C when normally we would have lows at night in the upper teens.  One night last week,  my son and I left the windows open – and in the middle of the night, he was crawling in with me because he was cold!

That is definitely an unusual thing for a summer night.  While many are worried about global warming, the more I study the issue, the more concerned I am about a possible global cooling and perhaps a mini ice age.  What has got me concerned are a couple of things:

1. Allow the press continues to harp about global warming, the fact is this has been one of the shortest and coldest summers at the north pole.  While it is common for their to be ponds due to melt water near the north pole every summer, and this year has been no exception,  Steven Goddard provides a graph from the Danish Meteorological Institute showing 2013 temperatures at the pole.

2. The second reason is the fact that the sun appears to be going into a hibernation mode which has scientists scratching their head.  The reasons are not clear, but there is definitely much less activity going on at our solar system’s star.  While it is true that there are some parts of the world that have experienced unprecedented heatwaves (the Irish do not know how to handle days and days of humid weather above 30C), it is also true that the UK had a brutal (for them) winter last year.

Is it possible that this winter could be as bad or worse? Hard to predict – long term weather predictions are often completely wrong. Take southern Ontario for example, which was supposed to experience “normal to above normal” temperatures this summer but it’s been nothing but.  It is weird to see people walking around with jackets on here in the late afternoons and evening when normally they’d be out in short sleeves and t-shirts.

Personally, I prefer this kind of weather over hot and humid.  But I certainly wouldn’t want to see it get any cooler – it would have a massive affect on our food chain and life in general. Life actually thrives when it is warm – and in ancient history, when global temperatures were higher than they are now, indeed life did thrive!

I am wondering though if it might be a good idea this year to stock up on long underwear and other protective clothing against the cold – and be prepared for a mini ice age.

Are you concerned about the possibility of an ice age coming upon us?

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Business Cycles

Recently, I’ve been writing about food and cooking, and I had originally set up this blog to write about my fly fishing experiences, my times with my kids (and now that my older ones are adults, mostly my ten year old), and whatever else was on my mind. So, what’s on my mind…

I am thinking about owning your own business and the various cycles a business can go through. The beginning stage is always exciting, no matter whether you are building it on your own sweat equity or have investors, or have some money yourself put away that you are going to invest.

I still remember the early days of my business, and the excitement I had. And it was all built with sweat equity.  It took a few years to get really going to the point I could resign from my full time job, but when it reached that point, there was a true sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as some fear when I wrote out my resignation letter.  “Am I doing the right thing?” I thought to myself, as I had some doubts about myself and whether or not I had saved enough in case things didn’t work out as planned.

But they did work out, and the business saw some growth. There were times it was hard to deal with that growth as there were two of us, and sometimes not enough time in the day to get everything done, but still not really enough income to justify hiring others. There were times we could outsource on a contract basis, but oftentimes when we did that, the work was not of the quality and caliber we expected from ourselves – so quite often we had to fix the work that was delivered before we could deliver it to the client.

Growth is great, and it can also have it’s downside too. When you first start a business, often you will try to do as much as you possibly can for a client, but then your skills get spread out to far to really be good at just a few things. You have to learn new things which takes time.

So sometimes, you lose a few clients which is always an ego dampening event.

When you have clients in countries that are facing economic downturns, then your business can go through a cycle of downturn as well, and you need to learn to deal with that.

One thing I wish I had done was find a virtual assistant. Someone that I could trust to do many of the tasks that were not that valuable in the long run, but needed to be done.

As my business goes on another “up swing” cycle, I want to spend more time directly on my clients and not on the other paperwork stuff that someone else could easily do for me and save me some time as well.

I would far rather be working on the major parts of my business than having to spend too much time on the stuff that just doesn’t pay me.

More Resources:

Why Aren’t You Delegating?

 

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Sea Bass, Vegetables & Preserved Lemon

moroccan sea bass

That Is A BIG Plate

As I pointed out earlier, I made some preserved lemons a few weeks ago. I have been looking forward to making a Moroccan chicken dish with preserved lemons, but something else caught my eye.

Many years ago, when I visited my homeland of Northern Ireland, I enjoyed sea bass for the very first time in my life. Living in Canada, I had caught and eaten both smallmouth and largemouth bass, but sea bass was entirely new to me and tasted nothing like its namesake that lives in freshwater lakes and rivers. Since that first time of eating sea bass across the pond, I have not seen it very often in my local supermarkets until recently. Mind you, I have not looked for it either.

This evening while shopping at a local Zehrs store, I saw that they had fresh sea bass and recalled a recipe I had come across for that type of fish, along with vegetables and other vegetables, as well as Moroccan preserved lemon. So I decided I had to give it a try.

The recipe says it will serve four. I figured that being the big eater that I can be at times, it would probably make tow full meals for me. Well.. I pigged out. Turns out there is perhaps 1 1/2 meals – with no sea bass left over.

Now considering there were five cloves of garlic in total as well – I likely won’t be kissing anyone over the next few days. But.. was it ever scrumptious!

The sea bass I purchased was about a pound before it was cleaned and the head removed. I am not sure the net weight of the fish, but it cost me about $9.00. I figured I would eat half of it this evening and the rest tomorrow.

I followed the directions and discovered that curcumus was another word for turmeric. The spices included turmeric, garlic, cumin, parsley, cilantro, oregano and pepper, all made into a paste with lemon juice and a bit of water.

The vegetables in the dish included onion, potatoes, green pepper, portabello mushrooms, and tomato.

The sea bass was cooked on top of onions, with the other vegetables surrounding it, and the spice paste rubbed into the fish with the rest of it drizzled over the vegetables.  Half a preserved lemon was cut into wedges and placed on top of the fish.

It was so good. I ate practically the whole thing, with some potatoes and mushrooms left over for my brunch tomorrow (I’ll fry them along with some bacon and eggs).  I ended up eating the entire fish in one sitting.

It is hard to describe the cornucopia of tastes on my tongue! It was just really that good. I should point out that I did not cook it in a traditional Moroccan tagine, but in my cast iron Dutch oven with the lid off, in the oven.

Tomorrow my son is visiting with me, and I’m planning on the chicken with preserved lemon.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemon

moroccan preserved lemonSo, I bought some lemons. A lot of lemons, actually. I like lemons and am not sure why they get a bad name, as in when you buy a car that is constantly breaking down, they call that a “lemon.” Lemons are great, they are tasty and healthy. They are also have a multitude of uses as well. Cleaning with lemon oil (or other citrus based oils) is one of the best cleaners.

As a food, they are amazing. They add a depth of taste that can’t be matched to a large number and wide variety of dishes. They can be used in main courses or in sweet desserts. They can be made into beverages for kids as well as beverages for adults with an additional spark of alcohol. So why do lemons get a bad name? I don’t know.

I am determined to try out a recipe for chicken that uses what is called “preserved lemon” in Moroccan cooking. But first, I need to make me some “preserved lemons” and I did that today. The original recipe I saw called for 7 lbs of lemons that, along with some of them being juiced, would fit into a 64 fluid ounce container which is also about the equivalent of 2 litres. Unfortunately, I only had a 3 litre glass jar available. So I used more than 7 pounds of lemons. I don’t really know how many pounds of lemons I used, and I lost count at the actual number of individual lemons as well. Each lemon is halved and them semi-quartered and salt is sprinkled on them before they go into the jar. As well, other lemons are juiced so that there is enough juice covering the salted lemons.

Then you add more salt, and let it sit for a month before they are ready to be used.  I am looking forward to seeing how they turn out!  Zehrs had chickens on sale today for $5.00 each, and each chicken is a minimum of about 2.5 lbs. I picked up three of them and they seem to be over 3 lbs. each.  Two of them went into the freezer so I can try making the preserved lemon and chicken dish, in about a month from now. I am sure I will want it more than once!

Anyhow, the photo above is of my 3 litre glass jar, filled with lemons, lemon juice and salt. If you’re interested, you can learn to make Moroccan Preserved Lemon here.

 

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Make Your Own Orange Peel Oil Cleaner

Some time ago, I was cleaning cupboards in my kitchen and was disgusted with what I found under my kitchen sink. A mess! A mess of cleaners for this and that, some half used, and I decided I wanted to get rid of all the containers that were taking up so much space and adding clutter.

I made a note of what I had and resolved to use them before buying anything else. Sometimes, we buy cleaners hoping they will do a better job than the previous product we purchased, but in the end, quite often it’s a matter of elbow grease in getting stubborn messes cleaned up. And that is one thing I have got going for me – I have lots of elbow grease and am not afraid of putting in the effort.

Another thing I decided to do was to settle on ONE cleaner for as much as possible. For this, it had to be antibacterial, tough on dirt and that could cut through grease. One thing I hate with a passion is a messy stove and fridge, but with the fridge right beside the stove, it will often catch grease splatters as I am cooking. So what is the answer? A citrus based natural cleaner!

You can make your own orange peel oil cleaner for a fraction of the cost of buying it at the store. It has many advantages as well:

  • No harsh and dangerous chemicals
  • Fresh and clean scent
  • Kills germs and bacteria (so it can also be used in the bathroom too for those yucky cleaning jobs)
  • It’s inexpensive
  • It works!

Here’s what you do:

Put your orange peels into a glass jar. Cover with vinegar and screw the lid on the jar.

Whenever you eat oranges, add your peels to the jar, adding more vinegar to cover. You can press down on the peels that are already in the jar to make more room for additional peels.

orange peel cleaner degreaserOnce you have the jar packed full of peels and vinegar, set it aside for a month. Then, strain off the orange peels from the vinegar/orange oil liquid. Discard the peels the way you normally would, in the trash or compost.

The oil/vinegar that you have left is an amazing cleaner that you can use on just about any hard surface. Mix one part with two parts of water in a spray bottle and use like you would any other cleaner. For really tough dirt and grease, use full strength.

If you use a lot of lemons, you can use lemon peel as well.  Another cleaning tip for you – if you have stubborn greasy stains on hard surfaces, cut a lemon in half, and rub (using elbow grease) the inside of the lemon against the grease and dirt, directly. It works as well as any other cleaner and it’s natural and safe!

 

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Recent Food Adventures

As I mentioned in my previous post, I love to cook. I like to be adventuresome in my cooking as well and enjoy trying new things.  One day, I tried to make butter – and succeeded. Not that I will constantly make my own butter all the time, but I just wanted to know how it was done. I guess I’ve been like that in many different arts of my life – I learned to change my own brakes and do my own engine work – not that I would do it all the time, but I wanted to know how it was done, and that also gave me the ability to speak more knowledgeably with auto mechanics when I did need them to do the work.

As well as butter, I discovered that making yogurt was much easier than I had ever imagined. And that is something that I will do more often because in the end, it is more economical to make it at home than to buy it at the supermarket.  Yogurt is so easy to make and it is probably a superfood with lots of health benefits. I know it might sound nasty to think that you are consuming active bacteria when you eat good yogurt, but those bacteria are really good for you. I recently came across a website that discussed some of the health benefits of yogurt that I found really interesting: http://healthyhappybeautiful.com/healthy-food/yogurt-dairys-miracle-food/

Did you know that the ancient medicine men of India believed that eating yogurt regularly could extend your life? And there is evidence for that too!

One of the food styles I really enjoy is Indian food.  Although my mom would make curry chicken from time to time (and I really liked it), it was not until some years later when I had the chance to date a girl living in Canada who was originally from India, and she taught me a lot about genuine Indian cooking. Since then, my cupboards are stocked with spices such as cumin, gara masala, turmeric, coriander and other delightful and tasty stuff. I also developed a new appreciation for chick peas and something called “paneer cheese” (almost like a farmer’s cheese, that you can make at home in just a few minutes too).

Many who enjoy Indian cooking are vegetarians, and while I can eat vegetarian food, I admit that I am also a meat eater. Having said that, I really enjoy the vegetarian recipes at Lisa’s Kitchen, which are primarily Indian style cooking.  Lisa does not just have Indian food on the website though. In fact, on October 8th this year, it was thanksgiving and my young ten year old son was coming over to enjoy turkey dinner and I wondered what special desert I could make him. Well, I found this amazing chocolate flourless cake – and it certainly met with my son’s approval: http://foodandspice.blogspot.ca/2007/07/flourless-chocolate-cake.html

Another recent discover was Moroccan food! Not exactly Indian, but in the Middle East, some of the same ingredients of spices and herbs are used in their cooking; spices and herbs I really enjoy! And while I do enjoy my Northern Irish “Ulster Fry” which includes bacon, eggs, sausages, white pudding and black pudding, I was looking for something different to have with the eggs that I eat regularly. I came across this “preserved meat” recipe, and it is to die for if you enjoy beef with earthy flavours. The preparation stage filled my kitchen with a scent that just made me hungry! I highly recommend this to you if you are looking for something different, and I am thinking of trying the same recipe with stewing lamb now that I’ve tried the beef.

Perhaps shortly I will provide more about my culinary adventures recently and share what I have enjoyed.

 

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It’s October Already!

It has been awhile since I posted anything here, and it has certainly been a busy but good summer. I managed to spend some quality time with my son although it is never enough. I did not get out fly fishing as much as I had wanted, and already the autumn is here with the steelhead running some of the rivers that are not far from me. I am hoping *crossing fingers* that I can get out before the snow really starts to fly!

Speaking of snow, we’ve already had some fall in my neck of the woods! It’s not uncommon; in fact, there have been years when it started snowing on Halloween enough to cover the ground – and that stayed until the following spring. But compared to last year, this autumn is already much cooler and perhaps we’ll have a much more “normal” winter with lots of snow.

When I started this blog, it was going to be about search engine optimization, fly fishing adventures, and “other rambles.”  Another one of my hobbies is cooking. I grew up enjoying the scent of fresh bread; especially Irish types of breads like soda farls and wheaten, and if I wanted to enjoy it as an adult, I knew I’d have to get my mother’s recipes and learn to do it myself. Along with “Ulster Frys” with potato bread, white and black pudding, and other delicious things. Some call an “Ulster Fry” a “heart attack on a plate,” but the curious thing to me is that although I eat them a lot, my cholesterol levels always come in fairly normal whenever I have a physical. So, I think there is much more to cholesterol levels than simply fat intake. I’ve been doing some research and it seems that there is more of a link to the amount of simple carbohydrates in the diet than the amount of fat. But scientists are constantly learning new things and even what was once believed to be true a few decades ago, are now being revisited.

Anyhow, this is a good time of the year to start looking at new recipes and ideas for “comfort food” for the coming winter months. The one thing I do regret is that I don’t have my own garden like I used to, where I could grow enough vegetables to put away from the winter. For several years in a row, I grew enough tomatoes that my family never had to buy tomatoes in any form – sauce, canned or fresh, from August through to the following April or May.

I hope I can do that again!  Did you know that tomatoes are very healthy for you and contain an ingredient called lycopene? According to the article I just linked to, cooked tomatoes contain more of this, and lycopene has been shown to help kill and prevent cancer cell growth.

I have been interested in foods that are healing along with tasty; although I certainly like my sweets too! So, I think I will write a few posts about some of my cooking adventures!

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