It’s Not the Vaccine!

Flavour Bombs!

After decades of trying to pickle my tastebuds with alcohol & barbeque them with cigarettes, it’s no surprise that I might not taste things as well as before. You’d think that might help my weight loss efforts but, no, I like to think of myself as a fighter. Take away the taste of food & I’m going to eat even more. I’ll battle away eating, more & more, ’til I find something with taste! πŸ™„πŸ˜œπŸ˜

Then we had the pandemic. I got my shots. And I read something about the vaccine causing loss of taste. Or was that covid? Who cares, I had an excuse to carry on eating now. I didn’t even bother to look it up, having the excuse to eat was worth more to me!

Last fall, my nice neighbour was planting garlic & she stuck three bulbs into my flower bed for me. I harvested them recently & tossed them on a shelf in the garage to dry. The hint of garlic in the air was far nicer than the usual garage odour, especially coming up close to garbage collection day!

I just recently cooked with them, and … OMG!

There’s nothing wrong with my tastebuds. They work just fine. This stuff is to die for. No, it’s to live for. It’s absolutely ducking amazing. Where does the stuff in the supermarket come from? There is no comparison. It’s a good thing that I’m still restricted to online meetings these days! 😜😁

Same thing with the blueberry bushes & fruit trees I planted a couple of years ago. And the armful of rhubarb than my neighbour tossed on the porch. All that stuff tastes great too.

Now what does that say about all the bland takeout food I’ve been complaining about recently?

I’d buy more organic farmer’s market stuff, if it wasn’t so expensive. And if some of it didn’t look half dead. It might be a bit of a challenge this, but I’ll be doing a little more food hunting locally now. And cooking at home more often. Maybe that’s why I bought the pot of basil that’s turning into a little forest on my kitchen window! 😁

My next mission is to learn how to make a tart apple tart, without having access to “cooking” apples. I hear Bramley trees don’t survive the Canadian winter very well. I’m open to suggestions, please let me know if you have figured out how to work around this one.

And if you’ve never had home made apple tart, made with Bramley apples … my sympathies! 😜

How to Criticise?

Sometimes beans on toast are better!

I like to write restaurant reviews online. I do it because those reviews help me find good places to eat. And I feel like I ought to contribute to the pool of knowledge. My problem is that I’m reluctant to criticise. I’m especially reluctant to criticise a small business. I know how tough it can be to get a small business up & running. I know too that it’s been really tough for many small restaurants to survive covid restrictions. But, to be honest, some of them don’t deserve the reviews I give them!

I know, I know, that is not very helpful to the other readers. But I just can’t help it. When I hint that the food was mediocre, the service average, or the cleanliness just slightly lacking, I then compensate by enthusing about how great & nice the people were. Even if they weren’t! I’ll then tick 3 of 5 stars, because I just couldn’t force myself to give them the 2 that would have been generous.

Is this wrong?

It’s been really challenging to write good restaurant reviews in whatever phase of the pandemic we’re in at the moment. I don’t know what’s going on, but places that I used to like are now awful. Did they fire the old chef? Are they using last year’s oil? Are they buying cheap ingredients? It’s been so challenging to write good reviews, that I’m not writing any recently.

We’re all used to something advertised as “home cooked” being absolutely nothing like Mom used to make. But we’ve only got one Mom, so that’s understandable. But when something is advertised as bring authentically Irish, British, or whatever ethnic flavour is core to the business, then it should vaguely resemble that. Sometimes, it doesn’t. And when the owners are from that country, I feel even more cheated. I know they know better. Or maybe their Moms (or Dads!) were hopeless in the kitchen!

So here’s my dilemma … how do I warn the other Irish people out there that the Irish breakfast at this particular restaurant is about as Irish as flambΓ©d alligator ice-cream? That the other place is about as British as Timbuktu? But without beating up on some small business owner, who may be struggling to pay his kids tuition through school. Or she is trying to keep the place afloat because her partner is sick. I worry that my criticism will add to the burden of their backstory.

But if I don’t offer criticism, how can I help the small businesses owner who genuinely wants the feedback, so they can improve?

I’ve built a list of new restaurants that I want to visit. I’m hoping there will be some good ones that will free me to wax lyrically about how great they are. Fingers crossed! 🀞🏻

Despite all the very mediocre food I am being served, I’m still tucking it away. So, no, I’m not losing any weight either. Maybe those people are serving me this stuff because they see that I need the help! 😜

Anyone got any idea how to best provide feedback? Without being too hurtful!

Dishwasher Art

Thermaquaformed Cellar of Salt!

Many of us are getting better at the whole work-from-home thing these days. Some of us are picking up new hobbies along the way too. I’m struggling along trying to add a few words of French to my very limited vocabulaire, for example. I’ve also become a part-time DIY investor. There seems to be some sort of correlation between my portfolio & when the market is going up. I might be on to something here (😜)!!! And while my diligence with my writing is nothing short of horrendous, I have had an occasional artistic success.

In case you’re in search of a new hobby, I’d like to share one of those successes with you …

Dishwasher Art!

I know, I know, it sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? But have you seen the money some of our art galleries have paid for a few big stripes of leftover paint on a sheet of drywall? What about your man that used to dance all over the canvas on the floor like a mad thing, while splashing paint all over the place. What was his name again? It escapes me for the moment, but if I ever get to have a pint with the guy in the hereafter, I know I’ll be ROTFLing with him. He’s probably got abs from laughing so hard at the money people were willing to pay him for using up the dregs in the leftover paint cans in the basement.

Well … Dishwasher Art is even better than this. You don’t need an art studio. There is no mess & no cleanup. In fact, you can do it while the dishwasher does the dishes. Anyone can take on this new artform, but only a few will rise to the top of what might become a new art niche. If it works out for you, remember who told you about it first!

A little while back, I bought this big tub of pink Himalayan salt. I got it because I thought the pink salt looked kinda cool. It was all odd-sized granules, more natural & elemental, very artisanal in fact. But some of the grains were too big & they blocked the holes in every salt cellar I owned. My salt cellars were all made of glass, or ceramic, or of some bloody material that I couldn’t easily run a drill bit through. To enlarge the holes, you see. I thought of going into the forest to hew down an oaken limb, so that I might sculpt an artistic salt cellar, for my artisanal salt. No, I shaggin’ didn’t, are you out of your mind? That’s way too much work! LOL

I went hunting in the press (cupboard!) for a nearly-empty bottle & I found one with a few whole peppercorns, balling about the bottom of it. Dumped those into the pepper mill & then, I had me a salt shaker in the making! Whacked a hole through the center of the plastic screw-on cap & tossed the nearly-finished ensemble into the dishwasher to excoriate the piquancy of the perrercorns’ piperine. I like pepper but I didn’t want the peppers’ pungency contaminating the olfactorius magnificence of the Himalayas on me. πŸ€ͺ

While lesser mortals were decrying my daring, insisting that my simple cellar should not see the light of day in the company of visitors, I forged ahead regardless. Creating the masterpiece in the pic above.

Dishwasher Art! 😜😁

PS … There’s no truth to the rumour that pink Himalayan salt is a miracle weight-loss cure! πŸ€ͺ

Big on Big!

Savour the International Flavours!

I’m big on big. Wonder if that’s part of my weight problem? We generally like big though, don’t we? While I’d rather not have a big gut, I think big can be good.

We like to “talk big” , for example. We want to “make it big”. We’re encouraged to “go big or go home”. Big winners. Biggest losers. No matter the field, we are conditioned to see big, by & large, as a good thing. Some of that kind of talk is pure giraffe guano, but big does work for some things. Like shopping!

Buying in bulk both saves & satisfies. I like big boxes, big jars, big bottles, & big containers of food! Especially those expensive foods that come in little jars. The way I use hot peppers on a burger, it could cost me an extra 5 bucks to dress up a bun. But that only happens when I buy the peppers in those dinky little jars at my local supermarket. When it comes to condiments & seasonings, it’s way cheaper to buy big. Yeah, I feel a twinge of guilt buying online, but I don’t do it very often, so I get over it. And the stuff I buy is Canadian, right?

Turns out not!

My latest shipment had mixed pickle spears from India, pepperoncini from Egypt, hot peppers from Mexico, with curry powder & spices that were only packaged in QuΓ©bec. A big box of Japanese cookies that I love so much (not in the pic, too big & too bad! LOL) are now made in the US. They must’ve gotten popular enough to justify manufacturing on this side of the world.
The “decorative” candies in the pic were only purchased to get me over the free shipping limit, I swear!
They are made in Poland.

How much does it cost to ship such low-cost items around the planet? I don’t know why we can’t make more of this stuff closer to home. That said, nothing wrong with a little international flavour either.

You know what I’d most like to get delivered?

An Irish breakfast!

OMG … Irish bacon, sausages, black & white pudding … mmmmmm!
Let me know if you know how to make that happen. Please.

Now that would be truly big! πŸ˜‰β˜˜οΈ

TGIF & have a good weekend all!

Investing … Vegas Style!

Roll the Dice … Invest!

Las Vegas recently blew off all pandemic restrictions. If I was vaccinated, I’d love to go & join in the fun. But that’s not happening yet. Here, we just got partly released from our tight community lockdown. πŸ™„

As I was dreaming of a Vegas vacation, I got a message from my kid. He remembered that I’d sent him stuff on investing, but he couldn’t remember where to start. Fantastic, I had finally gotten through to him.

Next message read … “What do you think of Bitcoin, Dad?”

Okay … maybe not! πŸ˜†

Hey, I have nothing against buying crypto (especially when you can’t go to Vegas! 😜), but that wasn’t the message I was going for when I was trying to encourage them to save & invest.

I’m no expert, so I played it safe. I went with what Jack Bogle & Warren Buffet have been telling us amateurs to do for years … suggested they look at buying a low-cost index fund. Through a low-fee or no-fee transaction brokerage. And hold it for a long, long, long time. Had I done that myself back at their age, I’d be spending a lot more time in Vegas now! The big advantage kids have is time. Time allows the magic of compound growth to do its thing. A very special thing.

But I’ll have to save that for the next post or they won’t take the time to read this one. They wanted me to send them something in under 280 characters. What’s that about!?! Maybe if I can keep these posts down to a two-minute read, there’s a chance they’ll read them! πŸ€žπŸ»πŸ˜‰

Warning & Disclaimer … I’m a Dad, not a financial advisor or a financial planner. I am not a tax advisor or a lawyer. These posts are for entertainment only & are not investing advice. Do your own due diligence & seek professional advice before making any decisions on saving & investing. This content relates to Canada but, wherever you are, check the rules with your own advisors before making any financial decisions.