Dangnabbit! I thought summer was supposed to be here. Where's the 100 F temps? Where's the roasting hot sand at the beach? Where's the cool, refreshing dip in the ocean? And when the hell is this drought gonna end?
Those questions were all asked by me to myself as I sit here in shorts and bare feet in 72 F temps wondering whether I should chop some wood for the furnace to be on tonight... Oh I am turning into such a wuss! Do you know I used to take the trash out barefoot at -40? I used to wear a tshirt below freezing... But now? I think my blood has thinned out a wee bit since I've been in a land of endless summer (I really don't think there's a winter down here, but most aussies will disagree with me).
But, then again, maybe I'm not such a wuss. I wore shorts all "winter" long down here when everyone else was in jackets and scarves. These folk would have a BIT of a hard time if they had to go through a real winter. But hey, that's why they're down here! Duh, it makes sense!
Even though it's cooled off for a day or two, and it's overcast, there still ain't no rain! Damn! The barking job is coming along nicely, but I'm getting tired of doing the bucket brigade thing for the garden. We really do need it to rain for about a month straight, then the reservoirs might get up of 50% full --yeah, right... that won't happen anytime soon.
For those of you going into winter up north (and for many of you your winter is already there), I'll make sure I send some of our summer sun your way if you send some rain and snow our way? Deal? Ok, itzza deal! And whena Portagee maka deala, then itzza deala (from The World In His Arms, 1952, very very good movie).
Since I'm starting to babble, let's get straight to story time! This'll be a multi-parter since I'm sure many of you read at work and can't take the time to read a long post (even for me, it's long).
Here we go:
Part 1 of ?
As many of you may (or may not) know, I grew up and lived in Alaska for a long time. I was there before the pipeline was thought of. Yes, I was a true sourdough! Now, I'm just an ole sourpuss. So back off and let me grumble... Ok, I'm done grumbling now.
Back to the story, this is from my elementary (my dear watson) school days and it spans a few years --see, I told you it'd be long. Actually, it's some specific highlights over a few years all tied together with a common theme: Ice Skating!
Ah yes, ice skating... what little kid in Alaska didn't ice skate? None that I knew, that's for darned sure. And what little skater in Alaska didn't own a pair of hockey skates? None that I knew of, that's for darned sure... Oh WAIT, that was me! I had figure skates --wee-hoo! I was pretty damn good too. So good that my mom (rest her soul) would buy me custom fitted skates every two years. And boy did I use those things! I could out skate most of the hockey guys (and gals). Fun times...
I remember signing up for broomball during recess. When the teach saw that I had figure skates he wouldn't let me cus he thought the toe claws would ruin the ice --dumb ignorant bastard! But whatever, I wanted to play so I was goalie. I was very very good.
Have any of you heard of broomball? No, let me fill you in: The "brush" part of the "broom" is actually very stiff, about as solid as wood (it's close to using a hockey stick). The ball is about softball size, and it's an inflated, thick, hard, rubber ball which gets very very very stiff and hard when it's cold.
Did I mention no pads, helmets, or anything else like that?
Do you think that in todays litigatious society and PC and play nice in the schoolyard that this sport is still played? Only in inbred communities would be my guess.
IT WAS FUN! I could outskate most everyone else, but there I was in goal. Not a net like a hockey goal, just some painted lines on the board around the main rink.
Hmmmm, jammed fingers, black eyes, fat lips, bruised knees and elbows... Yup: all part of growing up on the ice! Wee-hoo. I had fun. We even got to play a couple of games against other schools (third graders were all of us) at one of the big rinks in town. That was very cool.
I was quick and had very good reflexes, --I did manage to stop a few with my face, it's a skill I tell ya-- so I did make a good goalie. Damn I shoulda been a hockey goalie... Course, if I did I wouldn't still have my good looks but I'd be richer.
Ok, nuff about broomball... I didn't break any bones or tear any ligaments playing, so the fat lips, jammed fingers, and bruises everywhere don't count.
See, part one is more of "setting the stage" for things to come... The four main points you should have got out of part one is that little dave could skate, he could skate very well, he really enjoyed ice skating, and he had no fear.
Part 2 coming soon to a blog near you...
Now for the Food
Shiitake and Seaweed soup
This isn't spicy at all, and makes for a nice, soothing cup of soup with lunch. If you want it hotter, there are several ways to do that*.
What you need:
20 gms dried shiitake mushrooms
1 sheet dried yaki nori (seaweed)
1 litre (4 cups) of H2O (water)
1 glass sherry
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp chilli (chili) powder
1 tsp light miso paste
What you do:
Soak the shiitake shrooms in the water and sherry for about an hour. After they are soft, you can shop them into whatever size pieces you'd like.
Bring the water and sherry that the shrooms were soaking in to a boil, put the chopped shrooms back in, along with everything else. Note: for the seaweed sheet, tear it up into small pieces over a DRY cutting board, NOT over the steaming broth.
When it's hot (just boils), it's ready (a few mins max).
There's lots of stuff you can add for various flavours (flavors), but this is a good starting point.
*ways to make it hotter:
1) add more chilli powder (duh)
2) add chili flakes
3) soak some dried thai chillis in with the shrooms and boil them up in the broth too --this'll be pretty hot.
If you've made it too hot for your guests, then put a dollop of fresh cream in each serve of soup.
This is a good base to experiment with different spices and herbs, so get creative kiddies.