Saturday, January 2, 2010

Olympic Winter

Bears and chipmunks are smarter than they look. They stuff themselves all summer and sleep all winter. Talk about the good life. But I guess in fairness, we have to compare our lot with the less fortunate critters out there as well. Every time I see a raven or a whiskey jack when it's -40 I wonder how on earth they keep from freezing their wiry little legs off. Come to think of it, I did see a one-legged raven a few years back . . .

Upsala gained an eensy, weensy, tiny, molecular spot in Olympic history today. The Olympic Torch visited our fair hamlet on it's way to Vancouver.

Here is the Olympic van.

And here is the Torch runner. If she looks cold, it's because it's -25 C (about -13 F).

Here's the guy freezing his buns off waiting for the relay to arrive.

Here are the school kids and villagers cheering the runners on with a frozen rendition of "Oh Canada," (while the bears and chipmunks slumber cozily in their dens). Very patriotic, very Canadian, and numbingly cold (did I say the bears were smart, or we're stupid?).

And here are the distinguished torch bearers, pausing to absorb this profound moment in Upsala history. If those shadows seem long for 12:00 noon, it's because we are on the edge of Central Time Zone, so by the sun's time it's only 11:00. You can see the fire hall on the left, solemnly observing the gala affair.

I may be making a big deal of this, but it isn't every day that Upsala gets included in an Olympic-sized event. We've never been one of the top ten gotta-see spots in Canada, surprisingly enough. Or the top fifty or the top thousand or the top million. People drive through Upsala, not to it, and they're usually going somewhere else far away. So it was nice of these folks to stop and say hi.

You may remember my Spur-of-the-Moment Potato Soup (September 26 post). I've added a few innovations that may or may not have improved it. For the record, here is the original "recipe" (I use the word in a generalized sense . . . I don't really know how to cook properly). The additional innovations are listed after.

Spur-of-the-moment-Potato Soup
  1. Take out the leftover mashed potatoes from the fridge (a cup or two?)

  2. pour some milk (maybe 3 cups?) into a pot and turn the heat on low
  3. stir the potatoes into the milk

  4. sprinkle on some chopped chives and grind some fresh pepper into the soup

  5. add salt and garlic to taste

  6. put in a touch of ground red pepper

  7. cook for a little while, stirring frequently

  8. worry that it isn't enough soup for your hungry brood, and add another potato, peeled and chopped very fine

  9. worry that the potato you added won't finish cooking in time

  10. wish you had chopped the potato finer (note: steps 8-10 are optional)

  11. cook on low for a while, stirring often unless you like burned potato soup. It should thicken up a little.
  12. fret that the soup won't have enough flavour and add a couple slices of creamed cheese
  13. cook slowly and make sure the cheese all melts
  14. wish you had some ham to chop and add
  15. turn off the heat, add a some grated marble or cheddar cheese, stir in and let it sit for a minute or two
  16. sprinkle a little paprika on top, just because (don't stir it in)

Here are the innovations:

  1. Add a little leftover beef gravy (that your family doesn't know you put in - sometimes it's okay to keep secrets) don't put too much in . . . potato soup should be white not brown
  2. Chop and add some venison garlic coil (if you don't have a generous neighbour that gives you venison garlic coil, any other kind should do. This does not eliminate step 14, 'wish for ham')
  3. Add a touch of curry powder.
  4. Eat with Erinn's heavenly cornmeal muffins

My kids say this is one of their favourites now . . . especially Erinn's muffins. No, I'm not giving you the recipe for those . . . they probably can't be reproduced by anyone else. As a consolation prize, here is a link to a cornmeal muffin recipe I've never tried. If that recipe turns out to be lousy, and someone really wants to try Erinn's, here's the deal: post a comment asking me for the recipe and I'll dig it out and include it in my next blog entry. Otherwise, you're on your own. Or you can try my Parmesan Garlic Basil Oregano Pepper Bread Sticks (September 30 post).

Side note: the bears and chipmunks don't get to eat potato soup and muffins (unless you feed them, which you should never do), so maybe their 'good life' isn't so good after all.

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