My Book of Stories from Ireland is on Sale!

My book (For a Man or a Dog) is on sale at Amazon.com. It doesn’t appear to be on sale at any of the other Amazon sites, but it’s 41% off on the .com site.

I didn’t put it on sale, but maybe Amazon does every now & then? No clue how it works, but if you want a copy, this might be a good time to get it.

Possible appeal to the Irish diaspora, or if you have any interest in Irish life & culture. If the link below takes you to your local site, you might have to go to Amazon.com the hard way.

My Heart is in Ireland

Comfort Food from the Past!

My heart may be in Ireland. But I’d rather my arse was too! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Really, I’m way overdue for a trip home. Haven’t seen our families & friends for years now. I’m seeing more planes in the air recently, but no resumption of direct flights to Ireland yet. The cost is triple what it was pre-covid, & the journey is three times longer with layovers. Aaaarrrrrgggghhh!

That said, even if things were back to “normal”, I’d probably wait for my booster shot before travelling again anyway. ๐Ÿ™„

Along with seeing family & friends, the other great thing about Ireland is the food! I’m not kidding, it’s not all about bacon & cabbage, with boiled spuds, you know. Though that is so amazing too. I think Ireland has the best take-out food on the planet!

Yes, I know, I know, I’m biased. And that’s probably not what it’s known for. After all, it’s got all that natural beauty, the people are lovely, & the history is … well … very historical! But the food leaves all that nonsense in the dirt. As the travel restrictions drone ever onward, I find myself looking up the menus of Irish restaurants online now.

The battered smoked cod & chips is the best. A doner kebab, with extra garlic sauce, reminds me of late night trips home from the pub. Buy an extra one for the hangover breakfast next morning! Speaking of breakfast, the full Irish breakfast! Mmmmmm! Another Irish staple, chicken curry & fried rice is not to be found as good anywhere. Not even in China. Scampi & chips, with Dublin Bay prawns. Mutton. Real bacon. Black & white pudding. Drisheens. Coddle. Boxty. Soda bread. Alright, enough, I won’t go on any more.

Okay, one more … I must mention the fresh, real, cream cakes. Did you know that all dairy products in Ireland are healthier? Yes, it’s true. They’re all made from the milk of grass-fed cows. (What do the bloody cows eat everywhere else anyway!?!) If you go, you can ladle on all the butter you’d like. It’s health food in Ireland. ๐Ÿ˜œ

I love the lobster roll in Nova Scotia, the subs, pizza & poutine in Quรฉbec, the salmon in BC. But I think a big part of my heart, & my stomach, will always be in Ireland. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช

PS … The pic shows one of my favourite fast meals from way back … fried onion & baked beans, with a spoon of curry powder. Accompanied by leftover protein & some melted cheddar. Typically rushed together when a night at the pub was in the offing. Though it didn’t have the fancy sprig of basil back then!

Okay, I’m homesick now. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Still Doing the Work from Home Thing?

Work Wear?

I don’t even know how long I’ve been working from home now, but it feels like a long, a very long, time. Though I really worked from home pre-covid, it didn’t feel like that. Because I got to travel a lot. On the work front, we’ve all gotten much better at online meetings. So many phone calls & email exchanges turn into online meetings now.

We’re all much better at, & more prepared for, impromptu online sessions too. I keep a hairbrush in my desk drawer now, for example. I’ve moved the underwear-laden clothes horse out of my office. And I’ve swapped out the juvenile posters on my back wall with some hoity-toity Venetian masks. They’re a good talking point, while we wait for that important laggard to join the session. It’s all very streamlined & business-like these days!

All in all, the whole work from home thing is far more professional now. Far smoother. It is also quite effective. And very time & cost efficient. If everything went back to normal tomorrow, I think I’d still use the online get togethers. A lot.

But now that things are starting to open up a little more, I recently took the opportunity to go out for a mask-to-mask meeting & to bump elbows. I had to dust off my big-boy pants. I had forgotten that pants had creases. It took me a while, but I managed to dig out a belt that wasn’t a draw-string. Finally, I found a shirt with a collar & more than three buttons.

I was feeling pretty good about heading back into the real working world again. As I was pulling out of my driveway, good job I noticed that I was barefoot & wearing flip-flops!

How are you doing, as you transition back to the new normal?

You’ll have to cut me a little more slack on the weight-loss front though. I’ll come clean on that soon! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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 flambรฉd 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! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

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! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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