Reductionism


We all want to reduce things in our life.  Oh, come on now, don’t be shy – we all know we have something to have a little less of. I could lose the body weight of my 4 year old daughter and still not look the way I was ..many years ago –  but I am digressing form the topic at hand.

Reductionism is the process of reducing something to its essence.  I mean all we want to do is get the best out of the foods we produce and make it the most concentrated version of that food.  Isn’t that what a sauce really is –  a stock that has been reduced to its basic essence.  Isn’t what cooking is all about in the first place?

When I am invited to a friend’s home for supper (and don’t worry this does not happen all the time) and they are cooking I like to try to get a peek into their process. We can all learn a thing or two every time we go out, so why not peek a bit and see if I have missed something spectacular. Hey, haven’t we all been surprised when a friend has dazzled you at the dinner table?

The first thing look at is how many pots on the stove have lids.  Now lids are very important pieces of kit – it helps keep things moist and it is important to keep most of the heat in when looking to make a pot of water reach the magic mark of boiling.

However putting a lid on a sauce like a Ragu a la Bolognaise would be tantamount to a cardinal sin. As adding any additional liquid other than what was used to flavor the sauce in the first place is the opposite of the result we want to achieve in the first place.

I wrote, nearly a decade ago, a piece called Saucy by Nature and it was a good explanation on how to use reducing a liquid to make a basic pan sauce.  It is one of my favorite things to do watch the endless process of liquids evaporating and concentrating flavors to make something magical.  I have always equated the process of sauce making with alchemy.  it is turning all the “burned bits” into the element that makes a simple meal turn into the most elegant of occasions.

The French have  saying about sauces – “An ounce of sauce hides a multitude of sin” – they are right.  I have witnessed first hand the evils of over saucing a poorly cooked protein.  Hey, it happens. But the ultimate sin would be to undo the beautiful art of reductionism.

Here endith the lesson.

Targa Newfoundland: Racing Hurricanes


There is an island in the middle of the North Atlantic where hurricanes come to die.

This island, hewn from the rock of the Great Canadian Shield and comprised of 500 million year old stone is called Newfoundland Labrador.

When the Vikings settled in the northern tip of the province millennia ago, they knew living here would be tough. Even the mighty Vikings didn’t stay long.  Of the people who remained, some still make their fame and fortune and others lose their lives in the ocean that surrounds and protect our island.

Newfoundland is a destination island.  Like Hawaii or Fiji, you can’t accidentally arrive here. Plane or boat are your only option and if you come by boat prepare for a long drive.

What some call inhospitable and bleak, we call home and every fall a great motor event takes place on the public roads – Targa.

Targa Newfoundland

Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa Motorsports events in the world. From their website at http://www.targanewfoundland.com/

“The annual rally will cover more than 1,600 kilometers of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of the island of Newfoundland, including over 440 kilometers of closed-road, flat-out Targa stages.”

This weekend is the start of the annual Targa.  Now in its 13th year, cars come from all over Canada, the US and from as far away as New Zealand to participate.  Over the years the race organizers have seen mismatched exotics (Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 360),  old classics (1950 Austin Healy, 1969 BMW 2002), classic muscle cars (1969 Chevrolet Camero, 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback) and modern runabouts (Mini Cooper Clubman, Shelby GT 500). All manner of racing enthusiasts enjoy both the racing and the opportunity to meet and talk to the drivers and owners of these fine automobiles.

This year and on this weekend, we are expecting the arrival of Hurricane Henri to our south coast and will just pass by as the race begins on Sunday, September 13.

Ferrari Crash

In 2012 another hurricane barreled down upon Newfoundland on Targa weekend as it had done several years before that but this time it claimed at least one special competitor – a Ferrari – and by accounts one of the only ones to run in the competition’s history. The Ferrari in question was a “typical” Enzo (one of 400) which was converted into a special one of one FXX Evoluzione in 2012 for a special client in Calgary. In 2012 the car and the owner’s crash went viral as shown in this YouTube video.

This year competitors will drive their 1000 miles around our rugged coastline in three divisions.  Timed against the clock it is man versus machine versus weather in the annual Targa Newfoundland.

Targa Newfoundland runs from September 13-18, 2015 see www.targanewfoundland.com for more details.

The untold truths about being a dad


Memes of this sort of thing pop up all over the interwebs.  For me, these are some of my personal observations. These are mainly directed towards men and new dads.

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There are many untold truths to being a dad.

The first is that the smelliest and hairiest man in the quiet of his own home will not refuse the xth cup of tea from his daughter if asked. He will however deny it ever happened if asked.

That the first time your little one, walks across the room towards you reaches their arms out hugs and says “I love you Daddy” – nothing prepares you for that – it is life changing.

The untold truth to being a dad is that if you let yourself be taken away with the experience of being a dad – playing games, reading books, coloring in a book or as simple as just giving the little one a hug and a kiss every time they are near – it changes your life for the better.

The untold truth of being a dad is the fact that it changes you – it makes you a little more sympathetic the next time you are in a restaurant and a little one cries – for we all know it happens to all of us so you better get used to it. It makes us a little more prepared – as in there is no way that you are ever going to get out of the house in 15 minutes if the 16 things you need to pack including the kids are not ready to go laid out or already standing by.

The things that you aren’t told about are the things you are meant to discover on your own- it is almost a dad’s rite of passage – the secret handshake to show you were really there – here are a few things I learned going through the first child delivery and birth:

Your wife is stronger than you are, no joke – so labor for my wife was in the vicinity of 40 hours. That is like having the worst stomach ache followed by the pain of tearing flesh and then the feeling of a hard head being squeezed through an opening the size of your fist…yeah, and she endured the first 38 with no drugs..until there was no choice.

Plan like you are heading into battle

Pack the overnight bag like you are going on a mission in the middle of the woods not like you are heading for the 4 Seasons – face it you could be in hospital for two days like I was and have nothing. Or you could have packed like a real man and planned to have granola bars, some water maybe an energy drink and for the love of god – some really good chocolate for your wife. I mean splurge a little on some Belgian or imported chocolates – she will love you forever.

Be gentle with her – and I mean each and every time she screams, hits, punches or does not make the contact you need to get through the event – she is the one feeding off you – be the strong man you need to be – get the ice chips or a popsicle if asked. The docs will not let you do anything other than that until the baby is born then break out the chocolates (see 2). In some cool cities (like ours) you can even ask for a can of Beer. Yes, in fact they recommend Guinness for women after birth as it can replace lost iron from delivery. Some cities forego this as it can be risky if wifey is breastfeeding, but ask it might just be what you need.

Something’s need to be private so if you are a prolific twitterer or bookfacer, leave it alone and focus on the task at hand, namely your wife and yet to be born child. There will be lots of time to do that stuff when the baby is born. The nurses, doctors and staff need you focusing on the task at hand. Remember that YOU are going to have to make decisions for your wife/partner because she is too busy with labour. If a doctor asks you a question, like, does your wife have any problems with drugs or any medical conditions not listed, you better bring your “A” game. Two or more lives are in this now – so stop being selfish. Suck it up and focus. When it is all done – go wild.

Real men gown up and get in the room – NO Questions asked

Since my wife was not able to hold onto K once she was born, the team of nurses handed me the baby first. The thing about it was that until that very second the nurse said “hold her in the crook of your arm like a football.” that was the Very. First. Time. I had ever held a child. Was I nervous? In a word – terrified.

How did I get over it? I sang to her.

I sang to her for 20 minutes while my wife was receiving some treatment. I sang every lullaby, song, or nursery rhyme I could all the while gazing into the face of a wet, wrinkled baby. The room was full of people but it didn’t matter.  Don’t be afraid.  Sing to your new child, no one is there to judge you.

When the doctors were finished with my wife, I gingerly brought her over to her and asked we get our first family portrait. Save it. Print it. Cherish it.

You get out of it what you put into it

The real untold truth of being a dad is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you decide this is going to be  the singular transformational change in your life then embrace it with all the passion and vigor at your disposal and you will be rewarded with a child that adores and loves you and a warm feeling that you have, indeed, made the world a better place.