Post 260

A Post that Roams and a Recipe for June

I suppose I should really be giving these recipes at the beginning of the month. This is the recipe for June, but I’m sitting down to write it out at 7:33 p.m. on June 30th. If June had 31 days, then I’d probably be sitting down to write this tomorrow.

As it is, however, tomorrow is not June 31, but July 1st. Tomorrow is Canada Day and it’s a bigger deal than usual this year because it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. To its credit, Canada didn’t begin via war or revolution. Our start was Confederation, and it’s a bit-by-bit story that probably felt really exciting if you were a politician or a businessman hoping to get some of the money that would be flowing to build the railway.

There are a lot more Canadian flags up than usual around town, and some people have even attached hardware to their homes in order to put up the flag. It’s kind of neat.

I’m not a fan of the specially-made flag, which was created to commemorate the 150th. It’s red with a multi-coloured version of the leaf. The first time I saw it, I thought it was some kind of sporting event logo. Are we hosting another curling event? Lacrosse? Softball? My view is that there’s no need to start again with a new flag when we’ve got a perfectly good one already. Besides, the regular flag won’t be out of date when this party’s over. It’s a classic.

So what have you been up to today?

I was gardening again. It was a big day for it actually – a couple of hours of weeding and a couple of hours of planting new things. Things are looking nice. I’m doing a mix of vegetables and flowers in my garden boxes, some from seed or bulb and some not. The large semi-circle garden is for perennials — a mix of roses, daylilies and several other things, such as bellflowers, hydrangea and even clematis. I’m not sure how I feel about clematis. They’re on probation.

The weather’s been hot, so daily watering is necessary even though we’ve had some good rains. Watering is enjoyable because you get to look at everything again. I coiled the hose up nicely when I was done, just for the record.

Hmm. What else? Errands included a trip to Goodwill to donate some clothing, a trip to Home Depot for lightbulbs and a little pot of pink petunias (to fill an empty spot), and a stop at the tailors. The tailor always wants to know what I’m up to. It’s always casual, but it’s there. As I left, she was checking out my shoes. (They’re espadrille wedges, bought online.)

Yeah, that’s what I find. Some people really want to know what projects I’ve got going, but almost nothing else, and other people are frightened that I might tell them what projects I’ve got going. They’d rather hear about anything else. Strange.

Anyway, today she wanted to know what I’ve got planned for the Canada Day weekend. She’s going camping.

I’m not, thank God.

I’ve got fresh sheets on my bed and ready access to clean water, both hot and cold. I’ve got sandwich fixings in the fridge, Revellos in the freezer and food growing in the garden. You don’t have to convince me that Shelter is a good thing. I like being able to go inside when it gets cold or hot or windy or buggy. I’ve never been a fan of pretending I need to survive the elements.

Animals, on the other hand, do tend to live outdoors. They don’t seem to mind it, and you might say that they seem to prefer it. They don’t even have campers with mini stoves and mini fridges. No tents, even.

It’s true. I saw bison the other day. I stopped off at Elk Island National Park and there they were. They didn’t have anything. No sunscreen, no shades. They just stood there in their fur coats. They swished their tails and looked like they had really No Plans.

Nobody was making supper and there was not a plastic fork to be seen. Instead, grass abounded.

Consider: dinner everywhere. What’s for dinner? You’re standing on it.

I was on my way home from Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. You know, I really wanted to like it. I had heard good things and I really felt it was worth going to see. I was proud of myself for finally heading there, and I paid the admission price with high hopes. Soon I’ll be seeing a friend from Europe, and I was wondering if this tourist attraction would be worthy of inclusion on the schedule.

It’s been a few days since I was there, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on the problem. How could it be changed to make it better?

I think that one of the biggest problems is that the people who are stationed in various buildings throughout the Village have been instructed to pretend that they are villagers from the past. The website says, “Costumed role-players recreate the life of early Ukrainian pioneers that settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930.” Sadly, it doesn’t work.

Let me explain. You walk into a building, and the woman tells you, in a fake English accent, that the constable is away. You walk into a building, and the woman says to you, “Are you looking for Olena and Borysko?”

No, I’m not. You know I’m not, and I know that you know I’m not.

At this point, you have a few choices. One choice is to be a good sport and ‘play along,’ saying, “Ah yes, I am looking for them; where have they gone? I badly wanted to borrow some eggs because I need them for my recipe and the fox killed all my hens.” A second choice is to ignore the fact that she just asked you a nonsensical question and instead ask her something that she can answer within the alternate universe that she’s creating now. In this alternate universe, she was born a long time ago, and she lives in this village. In this alternate universe, you are apparently looking for Olena and Borysko, which means that you were also born a long time ago.

Any questions?

Here’s one. Does the typical tourist want to pretend to be looking for Olena and Borysko? Here’s my guess. My guess is: no. The typical tourist is, generally, wanting to see things, with very little personal expenditure of effort. The typical tourist goes to observe, almost all of the time, not to participate. The typical tourist doesn’t want to play improv games. If you go to a show, and the person on stage asks for volunteers, what percentage of people raise their hands? People do not, generally, enjoy being part of the show.

Thankfully, the churches on site were game-free zones, and the hosts did not pretend to be anything other than the individuals that they were. You could carry on a normal conversation with them. They were a sane refuge from the rest of the village.

I don’t know if I’ll ever return, but I know that I won’t be bringing my friend there. Instead we’ll go to Elk Island National Park.

We’ll check out the bison. You know – see what they’re doing. I think I know what we’ll see.

This little bison will be running the food processor until the salmon is finely minced but not pureed.
This little bison will be trying to shape the mixture into little round patties, roughly 2 1/2 inches wide.
This little bison will be dredging the patties into flour, dipping them into egg and coating them with breadcrumbs.
This little bison will be freaking out because the patties are hard to handle with hooves. Aaand . . .
This little bison will be cooking them until they are golden on both sides.

Making these patties are a bit of an adventure, but they are so incredibly good. They’re just lightly crunchy on the outside and perfectly delicious on the inside. If you haven’t had homemade salmon fish cakes made with fresh salmon, then perhaps now is the time.

Here it is, from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Pan-Fried Salmon Cakes

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes (includes 15 minutes chilling time)

A wedge of lemon is the simplest accompaniment to these salmon cakes, but any one of the sauces on page 673 will also taste great. If you don’t have a 12-inch skillet, cook the salmon cakes in batches.

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, skin removed
1 1/4 cups plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise [I make mine using homemade mayonnaise, but that’s just me finding it difficult to defy the last murmurs of the Weston A. Price voices.]
1/4 cup grated onion [essential!]
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Lemon wedges (for serving)

1. Remove any pin bones from the salmon. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Carefully pulse half the salmon in a food processor until finely minced but not pureed, about 4 pulses. Transfer the salmon to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining salmon.

2. Gently stir 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs, the mayonnaise, onion, parsley, lemon juice, and salt into the salmon to form a cohesive mixture. Form the mixture into 8 patties, roughly 2 1/2 inches wide. Lay the patties on two plates lined with plastic wrap. Freeze, uncovered, until the patties feel firm, about 15 minutes.

3. Spread the flour, eggs, and remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs in three separate shallow dishes. Working with one patty at a time, dredge through the flour, dip into the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Press on the breadcrumbs to make sure they adhere to the fish. Lay the breaded patties on a clean plate.

4. Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick [I don’t have non-stick; the recipe can be done in a normal pan] over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay all the salmon patties in the skillet and cook until golden on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Let the cakes drain briefly on paper towels before serving with the lemon wedges.