Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Better Dish And Pot Scrubbing Brush

It might sound odd to be excited and post a review of a dish washing brush. However, seeing as I enjoy cooking, and have to do my own dishes on top of that, finding a decent brush that can scrub well is exciting!

It's not so much for doing dishes - a dish cloth is good enough for me, most of the time. However, much of my cooking is done in cast iron, and although it is well seasoned cast iron, there are times when food that gets a little overcooked gets stuck to the surface. In that case, I want a good stiff bristled brush. I won't use any type of steel scouring products or soap on my cast iron. Most of the time, a simple wiping with paper towel gets my cast iron cooking implements clean.

I've been quite disappointed with the standard plastic scrubbing brushes meant for dishes and cookware that have been available at my supermarket. Most of them, the bristles are far too soft and wear out too quickly.

When I was growing up as a boy, I know we had much better scrubbing brushes. How do I know? Well, I was often the one to do the dishes and be responsible for scrubbing the cast iron skillet clean!

The other day, when shopping I came across a brush that had nice stiff bristles. Much better than the other ones that were on display.  And it cost about $4.49 whereas the other ones were about a dollar less expensive. So, as the one I had at home was worn down (after about six weeks or use), I purchased it.

The brand of this brush is "Vileda." It's made in China, but distributed in Canada by Freudenberg Household Products Inc. in the Province of Quebec. On the cardboard packaging, the brush apparently also has "antimicrobial action" with Silver Ion particles inside the brush material. Personally, I don't care much about that; I was my dishes in extremely hot water and they are all given a very hot (close to boiling temperature) rinse anyway. As well, my cast iron cookware is always heated well up before I ever start cooking food in them. So I'm really not worried about the antibacterial action, I'm just happy to have found a dish and pan scrubbing brush with good bristles!

In the US, the same brush is distributed under the "Cedar-O" brand and is available here.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Celery & Buttermilk -- Two Quick Tips

Ah, you know I like to eat food! And because I like to eat good food, I have learned to enjoy cooking and preparing it. Two things today happened, and they are related to the fact I like to cook but are unrelated to each other.

First, a remedy to "fix" celery that has gone limpy in the refrigerator.

Add a couple of cups of very cold water to a pitcher. Throw in a quarter of raw potato. Thinly cut the bottom of the celery stalk and then put the stalk into the pitcher with the cold water and raw potato.

Wait about four hours, and your celery should now be crisp once again.

Bonus Tip To Keep Celery Crisp Longer:  Keep your celery wrapped in tinfoil in the refrigerator. This really does work and will help your celery last longer.

Second, Make Your Own Buttermilk:

I go through a lot of buttermilk. I like to drink it as well as bake and cook with it. At almost $4.00 a quart where I am, that can get expensive so I learned how to make my own.

Today's buttermilk is made from a bacterial culture. Most of it is made from 1% butterfat milk. But you can make it from whatever kind of milk you like, although the more fat that is in it, the thicker it will be.

Use store bought buttermilk as a starter. Add between a half and full cup of buttermilk to a quart mason jar. Fill the rest of the mason jar with fresh milk and give it a few shakes.

Set the mason jar on the counter or table in your kitchen for between 24 and 36 hours. You will now have your own homemade cultured buttermilk for a fraction of the cost that you buy it at the store. Refrigerate and use within two weeks, but make sure you reserve some to make more buttermilk!

You can continue to make fresh buttermilk by reserving a half to full cup from what you've made.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Challenges Of Working From Home

As some readers may know (and most of my friends and all of my family knows), I work from home. Working from home is awesome in some ways, but it can also be very challenging in other ways.

I do not miss the morning traffic and the early evening rush hour, that can last for who knows how many hours, if there is an accident up the road. Not having to commute is a major advantage for me, for working at home.

I also like to cook, but my belly has it's own schedule. That is another thing about having a home office that is nice.. I am not bound by a supervisor's schedule as to when my lunchtime or coffee breaks should be. Heck, sometimes I can even eat my lunch while communicating with a client, or I can take some time away and go have a picnic with my ten year old son.

Those kinds of advantages are pretty awesome to have when you have your own business and don't actually need a physical office, with hours, and commute times.

When I clean my home, I am also cleaning my office.

But sometimes, all those advantages aren't all that great. There is no delineation between home, work, and recreation. Sometimes my job or what I do is recreation, but then I end up not doing what I really want to do, that by working, and losing sight of my goals.

I am so thankful for an old friend of mine who has helped advise me and coach me at times. Tawyna Sutherland is an old friend, and who has also been a coach and advisor to me, and her systems work very well... when I put them place and practice them.

You can learn more if you want to be a virtual assistant and work from home yourself. That is her specialty - the field of virtual assistants, but her skills and knowledge include organizational and other experience in effectively working from and using a home office.

Tawnya is awesome at getting through the "chaff" and cutting to the core to help individuals get to what they want to be.

The Right To Exist

I know there are some major issues going on in the Middle East.

I guess that is an understatement. I am getting a bit tired of people who simply parrot one side of the issue, and seem to go on and on about how Arabs are evil; how Muslims have these terrible nasty things written in their Holy Book, and yet ignore the similar nasty and horrible commands by God in the Old Testament books.

One of the things that I hear over and over is that Israel as a nation "has a right to exist."

Ok... let's forget about Israel for a moment, and focus on this notion of a nation having a "right to exist." What sort of "right" and from where does it come exactly? Do all nations have a right to exist? Or does Israel have some "special" right that no other nation has, to exist?

Perhaps we need to define what "rights" are to answer the question properly. If there is some "right" for nations to exist (and then we need to define "existence" as well), and it does not simply apply to Israel, but to ALL nations, that leaves us with some questions, does it not?

If all nations have a "right" to exist, then why were not other nations fighting for the continuing right of the former USSR, to exist? Today, there is no such political entity as the USSR. But if the USSR had a right to exist, then why does it not still exist?

Why did all the other nations not stand up and when it was breaking up, defend the USSR's so called "right to exist?"

If Israel has a right to exist as a nation, does Lubbock, Texas have the same right? Does the state of Oregon have that right?

So what exactly is a "nation's right to exist?"

Why does it not apply to the Gaza Strip and West Bank? Who is supposed to "declare" the nation for the "right" to be a right in the first place?

Props To A Great Company

I have known the Saunders family for years, who have owned a family business in Toronto for over three generations.

I have to admit that I am not always one to give public "shout outs" to businesses that provide good service. Good service is what you usually expect. Excellent service though is oftentimes hard to come by.

The family owned business is called Britannia Printers and they are located in Toronto, ON. However, they provide printing services all across North America. One of the things that for me is a real asset is that they can print anything! I do know that they print monthly medical journals as well as books, but I get all my business cards and promotional materials from them.

I have never had a problem with their service, ever. The nice thing is that their work is always done on time, and there have been a few times when I've needed a rush job and somehow they managed to come through.

Thanks Les! You deserve some props!

Irish Bread

I love Irish Bread, including soda scones and wheaten. My mother used to make it for me regularly, when I was growing up, and of course on visits to Northern Ireland, it was pretty much expected that wherever we went to visit, there would be scones and wheaten being served.

In some of the "tea shops," you would order tea and a scone for an afternoon snack. One of my favorite places was not far from Dublin, in the Wicklow mountains. I believe it was near DĂșn Laoghaire.

Yes, I have some very fond memories, including the food and hospitality of friends and relatives. The last time I visited was in 2007. Time for another trip!

In the meantime, I can make my own wheaten bread with this recipe here!




Sunday, 19 August 2012

Happy Birthday, Colleen

The past couple of days have been a bit trying for me for a number of reasons. One of them includes the fact that I wish very much I could be spending this day, August 19th with Colleen. It is her birthday. And I miss her.

Happy Birthday, Colleen. You are always on my mind, and on days such as this, which hold especially more significance, you are on my mind doubly so - to the point of distraction where I can't get things done.

I doubt you will ever read this, but in case you do ever come across it, I want you to know how passionate and deeply I have loved you, and still do. A year has gone by almost since I have last seen you, but it has not changed my passion that I have for you. Many people have said to me, "Move on" or other similar things - it is not so easy to do when in your heart, it is reserved for a woman that you truly love - not just "love" in the sense that many say, of where saying "I love you" is just too easy and bantered about without deep, long lasting meaning.

I do hope you have a very happy birthday today.

With love.