Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 19, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

My just dessert

 

 

“Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man,

Bake me a cake (pie) as fast as you can”

The good news is that I know how to make a pie.

The bad news is that I know how to make a pie.

Growing up in a large family, you were expected to do your chores, which included the dishes, vacuuming, polishing your shoes for mass and yes, cleaning the dreaded French door windows. In our house, baking wasn’t necessarily a chore but we were certainly expected to learn the rudiments of baking and meal preparation.

Many of the recipes we followed were moms and her confreres. So we learned how to make Effie’s chocolate squares and Evelyn’s lemon tarts among many other goodies.

One of the many lessons learned from baking was that this was a selfless task. You would bust your butt to make something tasty and with eight vultures around the table, anything baked was devoured quickly. Sometimes the crumbs didn’t even survive.

I did a fair bit of baking in my 20s when I lived out west. Survival of the fattest!

Last week, I was staring at three overripe bananas. The freezer is full of them, frozen solid and probably never to see the light of day again. I decided right there and then to make banana bread, something pretty basic and simple. It turned out pretty well and no emergencies were reported at Outpatients.

On my walk around the Cabot Trail, I was treated to dinner twice by my friends Kathleen and Alfred in Cape North. The meals were fantastic and the company even better. Dessert on the first night was butterscotch cream pie. Simply put, the pie was divine. If you check Trip Advisor, you’ll see my 5 star rating for Kathleen’s pie…” best on the Cabot Trail”.

I haven’t made a pie in over 40 years so when I decided to try my hand at butterscotch pie, I brought in the big guns. I got the recipe from Kathleen and then enlisted the support of my sister-in-law, Karen, to school me in the fine art of pie making. I learned how to make the dough for the crust. The most important tip for you two left handed men who might attempt this is to not handle the dough too much. Many of you are already good at this having left the money- managing exercise to your much wiser partner.

The proof is in the pudding, they say, and indeed, the filling for the pie is crucial. I learned how to make the custard, even scooping out a few tablespoons of the hot sauce to mix with the egg yolks before putting them into the custard.

Everything appeared fine, as I cooked the pie shell, made the filling and put it in the fridge to set. The only deviation from the recipe is that I chose whipped cream as a topping rather than meringue.

Last week, I had a few friends over for dinner and they became my guinea pigs. The pie tasted fine but the filling never really set leaving some of it to leak out the sides once the first piece had been cut.

I have discovered that cream pie is an excellent dietary source of something and a perfect substitute for scrambled eggs at breakfast. I mean, the recipe contains two egg yolks, after all. I brought what was left of the pie to my brother’s house the next morning and we made short work of the leftover pie (an expression I never heard growing up on Hillcrest Street).

Yesterday, I watched a few YouTube videos on pie making and am happy to report that my second attempt yielded a favourable result.

Now, the bad news. Even after sharing a few pieces with neighbors and friends I have this conundrum. What am I to do with the leftover pie?

I’m pretty sure a call to one of my siblings would solve this problem quickly!

Have a great weekend.

P.S. To my loyal readers spread far and wide around the planet, there’s a link to Amazon on my home page where you can order my Camino book.

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on September 16, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

 

“And death shall have no dominion.” Dylan Thomas

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you who sent messages of condolences on the death of my brother, Tom. I want you to know that I read every e-mail, text, private message, Week45 comment, telephone message and Facebook post. There were simply too many to respond to individually. Just about every one of you reading this will likely have experienced death up close and personal. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the outpouring of support, if that makes any sense. I think that the mind and heart only have a limited capacity to absorb all this when they are in grief mode.

Death is so complex. There’s not a day goes by when we don’t hear about someone’s loss and while we try and comfort the best we can, grieving is very personal. We scan through the obituaries daily and then casually move on to the sports page. It is only when it hits close to home that you realize that every death notice carries with it suffering and pain.

We will miss our brother terribly, as you miss your loved ones. We’re all in this together.

I did the Cabot Trail again this past weekend. What? Have you completely gone bonkers? I joyfully drove the Cabot Trail with two dear friends on Saturday. My friends wanted a guided tour of the Trail which also gave me the opportunity to stop by and thank several people along the way who helped me on my walk for Simone a few weeks back. It was a beautiful sunny day. We saw many moose and one whale which is a pretty decent tally if you ask me. However, the moose were all affixed to road signs and the whale was painted on a mural at the lookout on Mackenzie Mountain overlooking Pleasant Bay! We had a lot of laughs, had some great food and shared some stories. It was the perfect tonic for me after spending the day after Tom’s death huddled up at home. Thanks, Kathy and Linda from the bottom of my heart.

By the way, I am a measly $115 short of the $8,000 mark. I will close the account later today but will graciously receive a last minute donation! You can e-transfer me at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com

I have completed my Camino book and it is now on sale through Amazon. The title is “Eat, Sleep and Walk: Stories from the Camino”. Hard copies are being shipped to me this week so they should go on sale locally next week at the 5 to $1.00 store or you can track me down to buy one. I’ll let you know when they arrive. Each chapter of the book contains four distinct segments: the first part is a brief description of where I walked on any particular day along with a smattering of the history of that part of Spain; the second part is a blow by blow description of what I experienced each day; the third part contains an interview of people I met along the trail; and the fourth part contains “Camino Tips”. These tips might be useful for someone contemplating doing the Camino.

In my estimation, the interviews form the core of the book. I interviewed people from all over the world during my Camino walk. When we had all completed our walk, I asked each of them some follow up questions about their personal journey. I asked five questions: 1) who are you. 2) Where are you from? 3) What do you do or what did you do for a living? 4) Why did you come to walk the Camino? 5) What are your observations or key takeaways from doing the Camino? I think you will find these stories quite compelling.

The inspiration for the book came from my brother, Tom, who did the Camino in 2018. He had a chance to read the book before he passed.

I hope you enjoy the book.

Have a great day.

 

 

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A Tribute to Tom

Posted on September 14, 2019 under Storytelling with 18 comments

Tom and his beloved dog, Oslo

 

My hero, my brother Tom, the inspiration for my Camino walk, has died.

He taught us how to live a life of passion and how to die with dignity.

Tom was a person of considerable energy and enormous empathy. Most of his life was spent in fifth gear. He had a zest for living. Whether working, volunteering, hiking or cooking, he did it with gusto. As people are wont to say, “He was all in”.

From an early age, he displayed his entrepreneurial skills by trapping muskrats and operating an ice cream stand. His work ethic was something to behold. His attention to detail in every aspect of his life left us all shaking our heads. His spreadsheets were legendary!

He and his wife Catherine loved to entertain. Getting a dinner invitation from them was something to be treasured. I often had the pleasure of hanging out in their kitchen watching this amazing tandem put their considerable cooking skills to work.

Several years ago, he received the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia’s award for distinguished service in the field of municipal administration. His family was justifiably proud but none more so than our mother who attended the ceremony, beaming with pride.

Approximately ten years ago, Tom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The prognosis wasn’t great. In all the ensuing years we never heard him utter the words “Why me?” He faced the illness head on as he did with everything else in his life. His mantra was so telling. “I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of not living.” And oh, how he lived this last decade of his life. He made every day count. He would be very upset with me if I dared mention that he battled cancer courageously. That’s not how he viewed things. He, Catherine and their service dog, Oslo,  all volunteered at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Victoria. Even when he wasn’t feeling the best, he always reminded us that there were other people in far worse condition. I don’t know of a more selfless person.

Tom was a marathon runner, which morphed into marathon walking when his body told him to stop running. He knew every trail in Greater Victoria. Recognizing the need for water taps on these trails for both man and beast, he rolled up his sleeves and used his considerable skill and charm to convince several local municipal councils to assist with the project. He then went out and raised all the money for these unique fountains.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of their friends. Tom had a wide swath of really remarkable friends from all walks of life.

Tom’s beloved dog , Oslo, his loyal walking partner, died a few months ago.

A little over a year ago,with his health in decline, Tom decided to walk the Camino in Spain. Among other things, he wanted to pay homage to his best friend, Mark Taylor, who died tragically a number of years prior. Having walked the Camino myself this spring, I simply don’t know how he managed the long distance and uneven terrain. I remain awestruck at this achievement.

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to Tom and Catherine. He asked me to join him for some snowshoeing. Even with his compromised health, I had great difficulty keeping up with Tom as his long strides plowed effortlessly through the snow on a breathtakingly beautiful day on Mt. Washington.

His wife Catherine and children, Colin and Emily will miss him terribly. His siblings are bereft at his passing but the last thing Tom would want is pity. That’s not how he rolled.

A quote printed in Reader’s Digest years ago in the segment “Points to Ponder” rings true today. It describes Tom to perfection.

“Let me live until I die.”

Farewell, Tom.

 

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