Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mid Year Dim Sum Aftermath

More often than not, we've gone for some variation on breakfast the morning after the Mid Year Barbecue. There have been notable exceptions -- such as 2005, when the majority of the Lum clan were sick with the heaving awfuls.

This year, fortunately, there were no stomach bug episodes for anyone.

The Mid Year Barbecue ended around midnight on Saturday. Bob and I traded children -- Brie went for a sleepover with Lisa at the hotel where Lisa and Bob were staying. In exchange, we acquired Robert, who wanted some up-close in-depth hands-on with Quake 4. And of course, we were just the guys to let him do that.

Robert admits to crashing some time around 3am.

Next morning, Jill, Corwin, and I were up by 9:30. Shortly after that, Robert, confronted with Corwin's morning cheerfulness, got up in self-defence. Then Bob called to say that the girls were going for a swim, and they would all eventually get here.

There was time for some barbecue cleanup, virtually all of which Jill did, because I was zoned out. We collected our neighbour Pam shortly after 11, when Bob, Lisa, and Brie descended upon us. After limited debate, we made off for the place formerly known as New World for dim sum.

According to the menu, what was once New World is now Empire Oriental Cuisine, but this is subject to my faulty memory. Might have to go back to verify all this. The food and decor is much the same.

In the first photo, you see Robert and Corwin looking much too happy.

We had an ideal spot -- right beside the kitchen, so all the dim sum carts had to pass us.

Here are Lisa and Bob. What, does everyone except me present such a great appearance after so little sleep??

The food was about like New World's usual standard -- not exceptional, but by no means bad.

Here are Lisa and Brie. Lisa is understandably suspicious of my good intentions.

Both Brie and Pam like shrimp -- which was good, because many dishes contained shrimp.

Here is Jill -- possibly the only woman on the planet mentally equipped (i.e. patient enough) to cope with me.

The service was typical for New World, but my sense was that prices had gone up.

Here is me -- fat, balding, middle-aged, grumpy, not-enough-sleep computer-geek dude. Very happy that another successful Mid year Barbecue is over.

Kid Activities

I have long believed that the perfect family size consists of four people -- two parents and two kids, ideally a boy and a girl. For the next little while, our family has expanded to include Brie and has become the perfect size. It's nice to have her around. Certainly, Corwin thinks so!


Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Tenth Mid Year Barbecue 2006

Brie arrived just in time on Thursday to be put to work to help in the preparations for the 2006 Mid year Barbecue.

I honestly can't remember how many years we have had this event. In 1999, we skipped a year -- we had Corwin's first month banquent instead. But generally, we have held this barbecue on the last Saturday in June, and we've done it since shortly after we moved in to the house. So I am guessing that we would have started in 1996. If so, this was the tenth. (And if we had done one in 1999, this would have been the eleventh.)

On Thursday, with Brie to help with Corwin-wrangling, we got the sausages and the main course -- forty pieces of pork tenderloin. Mid Year Barbecue prep had been underway since Wednesday, when Jill and Peter did a massive round of yard work.

Friday morning, I made the char siu marinade, unwrapped the tenderloin, and repackaged them in ziplock bags to marinate overnight.

The char siu marinade recipe for this year (it tends to vary a bit) was as follows:

in a large non-stick pot on low head, I added
8 squirts of ketchup
8 glugs of teriyaki sauce
8 bottles of char siu sauce
1 bottle of hoisin sauce
16 shakes of white pepper
24 shakes of garlic powder

This mixture was allowed to warm up as it was slowly stirred. One of the eight empty char siu bottles was refilled with the heated mixture and allowed to cool.

The meat was prepared by first rinsing in cold water. With one scoop of marinade in the bottom of a ziplock bag, five tenderloins were added to the bag. On top, a light sprinkling of salt, four shakes of white pepper, and a glug of cider vinegar. Then a second scoop of char siu marinade. The bag was then sealed, and squished around to get the meat coated with the marinade.

In the preparation process, no raw meat was ever allowed to touch the supply of amrinade in the pot. Leftover marinade in the pot was set aside for use as sauce.

The bags of meat were left in the fridge overnight.

Friday afternoon, I went on a road trip with Brie, and got more supplies. On our way home, we picked up Corwin from school at the end of his last day of Grade One.

On Saturday morning, I refilled the propane tanks. This year, I had a tank which had gone past its ten year limit. The guy at the service station offered to fill the tank anyway -- something which has to make you nervous about what people actually do with old tanks.

Michael and Lorna dropped by in the early afternoon, and we did the beer, ice, and fruit run. After unloading, there was enough time to relax and hang out. Around 2:00pm, the Phinneys arrived -- sadly, without Elaine, who had a camping weekend with her colleagues on the same weekend. With Bob, I did the chicken wing run -- 200 medium wings from the St. Louis Bar and Grill -- and the Mid Year Barbecue was in full swing.

Starting around 3:00, other people began to arrive.

Around 4:30 or 5:00, after the chicken wings and the sausages, the tenderloins were hauled out and thrown on the barbecue to cook on low heat. The bottle of char siu mix set aside at the beginning was used to brush on the meat (actaully spooned on and rubbed in with a spoon because of the viscosity of the sauce).

I wasn't as happy with the meat this year as I was last year, because I felt that the heat had been overdone. However, no one seemed to mind.

So, another successful Mid Year Barbecue goes down in history.

There were 60 people this year, and the event ran from about noon to midnight. And for the record, I seriously overestimated the amount of meat needed. Again.

Brianne arrives!

My goddaughter Brianne arrived from Tennessee on Thursday afternoon. I took the afternoon off, picked her up from the airport, took her to lunch at that most Canadian of establishments, Tim Horton's, and got her back to the house by mid afternoon. There was enough time for a brief visit (and for Brie to begin unpacking) before we went off to get Corwin from his second last day of school.

Shortly thereafter, on Thursday afternoon and evening, there was much romping in the back yard.

Bri has been visiting since Corwin was four years old. To say that they both enjoy these visits is probably not overstating the case.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gemini, Spitzer, Space Dust, a Flat Tire, and a Voice from the Past

On Saturday morning, I discovered that I had a flat tire, brought about by too agressively snugging the Volks against the stone wall beside our driveway. I've backed the car in successfully, hundreds of times, but this time, I misjudged and scraped the front passenger side tire, bashing the valve and causing the tire to go flat.

After a morning spent at the office (using the other car to get there) I went home and faced up to my problem. The valve was badly crunched, but there appeared to be no other damage. With Jill's air pump, we got the tire inflated again. It leaked, but looked like it might last until I got over to Canadian Tire (fortunately not a long drive).

However, it was clearly not my morning -- I shortly realized that I had forgotten my money and credit cards in my pouch, left hanging on the door. Fortunately, I had my cell phone, and a quick call later, Jill came to the rescue. In the meantime, I had pulled into the parking lot of my son's school. A few minutes to get the tire pressure back up, and shortly after that, Jill arrived. We even figured out that bending the valve stem and stuffing in a wad of plastic from a grocery bag beside it significantly reduced the leakage.

Once again, I set out. It was shortly before 1 o'clock as I pulled out of the parking lot. The radio was on, tuned as always to CBC. and Quirks and Quarks was on. Bob MacDonald was interviewing an astronomer, whose observations of interstellar dust grains using the Gemini Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, had demonstrated that some of these dust grains -- essential raw materials of planets -- would have formed in the supernovae of the earliest stars formed in the aftermath of the Big Bang.

Then I realized -- the astronomer being interviewed was Doug Welch, my classmate in university -- a very bright guy, who has obviously made it to the big leagues. It was one of the bright spots of a day which hadn't been all that great.

A PR fluff piece of Doug's research is available on the Gemini website.

I recall that it was Doug's custom to wear a cape on the day of the Spring and Fall equinoxes -- on that day, he was Captain Equinox. Somewhere in my collection of old paper photos, there is undoubtedly one of Captain Equinox, dating from the late 1970's, leaping down from the top of some campus structure.

The podcast of the June 17 Quirks and Quarks show is available from CBC radio.

I had another bit of good news a little later -- the tire was only $30 to repair, as opposed to a complete replacement.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


In response to Mick's comment on the first Temagami post, I looked through the photo collection for photos of the town of Cobalt. Interestingly, I have none in digital format, although there are undoubtedly some in actual photo-on-paper format. (But those are hard to search through).

The best I can offer are a couple of photos of the Highway Book Shop, which is just off Highway 11, fairly close to the exit to Cobalt.

This whole region is quite lovely, and we visit whenever possible. It doesn't hurt that the Highway Book Shop is there -- a drug calling to the addict.