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.

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 flambéd 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!

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 Québec. 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! 😉☘️

TGIF & have a good weekend all!

Stocking Stuffer & Christmas Gifts

Christmas is coming, pick up a copy of my absolutely amazingly hilarious collection of Irish short stories as a stocking stuffer for yourself. Or as a gift for a friend. You can tell them you know the author!

For a Man or a Dog is available at your local Amazon site, in paperback & Kindle versions.

Okay, guilt is forcing me to back off the sales pitch a bit … being honest, I think that maybe one third of the stories are great, another third are decent & …

okay, let’s leave it at that! 😜😁

Click the Preview button below & skip through the Introduction to read the first story.

PS … Aside from the Irish shenanigans, you’ll get some interesting insights into where my dietary challenges might have originated too!

Weight Loss & Being Frugal

A nice bowl of stoup!

This isn’t about comparing the relative costs of grass-fed beef against factory-farmed meat. Nor is it comparing the merits and pricing of organic veggies to those herbicide and pesticide-laden choices we sometimes make. This is about the challenge of sticking to a diet when you’ve been endowed with the frugality gene. And I am so endowed with the frugality gene!

Being raised in a household where “clean your plate” was a dinner time mantra, I learned my lessons well. Perhaps too well. I struggle to leave that token amount on the plate. What a waste of good food, I just can’t do it! My habits are more to the contrary, and I’ll mop up whatever residue remains on the plate with just one more bread roll. Buttered, heavily, of course. Now that I mostly don’t eat bread, I have nothing to mop up my plate with. And I haven’t reached the point of licking the plate yet! But I have transferred the expression of my frugality gene to the fridge.

As we approach garbage day, I start surveying any foods that are likely to wind up in the garbage. Or that I know will not be consumed by other members of the household. I feel obliged to consume such foods. And I often do it in the form of a stoup. A dish that is too thin to be stew. Yet too thick to be soup.

My latest stoup was an Irish-German-Mexican-Thai fusion! Garlic & onion, sauteed in the bottom of a large pot starts the process. Add a liter of (organic, as it happens!) chicken broth to the pot. One large, peeled & sliced, potato as a thickener for the broth. Then I go hunting through the fridge. A full head of cabbage, excellent! A bunch of ignored cilantro. Half a dozen wieners that somehow survived a barbecue. Oh look, a little bowl of leftover mashed potato! And another chicken broth container, with a little less than half the contents remaining. A quick smell … yep, that’s good too. Good job I had that extra mashed potato to thicken up all that extra liquid! A couple of slices of cooked bacon. Wash the inside of that German mustard jar with a little broth & in that goes to the pot. Another half an onion in a container. And … wait for it … half a tub of sour cream! Season that pot with some salt, pepper, some other weird condiment mixes & then … a spoon of curry powder. Absolutely essential that.
Oops, now I’m short some liquid. Can’t spoil the pot by adding water, can I? But a can of coconut milk will do the trick!

I can tell you that this was quite delicious. And I should also admit that that one cute little bowl of stoup in the pic wasn’t all I ate!

It probably wasn’t the perfect dish to have on what should have been a low-carb day. Though I’m sure I’ve done worse. But, being frugal, I’m forced to eat all those leftover foods that others (all of them skinny!) won’t eat. It’s just not fair!

But … with all the money I’ve saved … we’re going out & I’m going to treat myself to a nice steak dinner now! 🙂