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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Taking Stock of the First Month, Fear Sets In, Sauteed Shrimp and Cucumbers and Pierre Trudeau

Ok, so my first month as a self employed stamp dealer has come to an end, and I am just heading into month number two. So what have I accomplished and what have I noticed?

Well for one thing, I feel a hell of a lot better physically. I will be 44 in just over two weeks time. Yet, I feel like I did when I was in my early 20's. The only difference is that I still get tired by 10pm or 11pm at night, because I have usually been up since 6 am. I don't have the ability to go all night, like I did in my early 20's. But my energy levels during the day are strong. I have no more 3pm or 4pm slump, the way that I did when I was working in an office. Just before I left accounting I suffered from recurrant heartburn. That is now a distant memory after a month of eating home cooked meals made with almost exclusively fresh ingredients. I drink my two large cups of coffee first thing in the morning and then not again for the rest of the day. I allow myself one craft beer while I make dinner, and with all the working out at the gym, it is not going to my belly.

But another thing that really stands out is that where I used to live for the weekend, I just live for the entire week now. I look forward to spending time with Steph's family and doing weekend stuff when Friday approaches and by Sunday, I am really looking forward to getting back into work for the week. I am beginning to experience some healthy fear now though. Why? Well because I don't have any more external indicators to tell me whether I am on the right path. No "Good Job", no promotions to work toward. Instead, I have to have some faith in my own abilities and extrapolate from the feedback that I have gotten from my customers so far. For example, I have listed around 150 stamps since I started lotting two weeks ago. Of those, I have sold about 15 or so, which is 10% of what I listed. That is much better than I thought possible and I can take that as an indication that as long as I keep listing material, I will sell  more material. If I can sell 10% of my material this year, then I KNOW that I can make a living at this. But still, I cannot help wondering "What if this is just a stroke of beginners' luck.?".

I have also managed to finally revive my Canadian Philately blog, which had languished for over three years, and I completed a post on the Large Queen issue that I am particularly proud of:

Not to mention, getting this blog established and establishing a presence on Pinterest. 

So overall, I think it has been a successful first month and I am looking forward to seeing what August brings.

My recipes have come to an end, as Steph and I are now, over the next two weeks repeating the best meals that I made over the last four weeks. So I will share with you some of the meals that I did not already write about. Today's meal is very simple and will take less than a half hour. It is sauteed shrimp with garlic and sauteed cucumbers and fresh herbs. The cucumber will to some extent offset the richness of the shrimp. It may not sound like enough of a meal, but trust me when I say that you will find yourself full at the end. It is a good idea to have some crusty French bread on hand to mop up the sauce. You will need:

1 lb of cooked shrimp, preferably medium sized. This often amounts to two bags of frozen shrimp, as the shrimp is usually sold in half pound bags.

6 cloves of minced garlic, and another 2-3 cloves minced and kept to one side.

6 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley divided into two portions

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large English cucumbers, peeled and halved lengthwise.

2 lemon wedges

1/4 cup of chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste.

The first thing you want to do is take the cucumber halves and place them in a colander in the sink and sprinkle them with lots of salt. You want to disgorge the water from the cucumber prior to sauteeing and this will take a good 15 minutes at least. If the salt comes off, don't be afraid to add more, as you are going to rinse it all off after the 15 minutes is up.

Then thaw the shrimp in another colander in the other side of your sink, under running cold water, or if you only have a single sink, transfer the colander with the cucumber into a large bowl or place on a cookie sheet to catch the runoff.

When that is done, add the olive oil to a large skillet and turn the heat to low. Add the 6 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Do not rush this step as the slow cooking is what brings out the flavour. When the shrimp is done, this oil is going to taste exactly like garlic butter. When the garlic is cooked, add the shrimp, the remaining minced garlic and half of the chopped parsely. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for 2-3 min until the shrimp is heated through, but don't overcook it. Squeeze the lemon wedges into it and add salt and pepper to taste.

When the cucumbers have been sitting for 15 min, rinse them off and pat them dry. Melt 2-3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and when it is fragrant, add the cucumbers, sauteeing for 2-3 min until they are seared on the outside. Then add the chicken stock and cook partially covered for another 4-5 min until the cucumber is tender. Add the remaining chopped
parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

And there you have it. Another relatively inexpensive meal that will have you feeling like royalty.

In Canada the current prime minister has just called the election. I have to confess that I don't follow Canadian politics very much anymore, largely due to the dearth of sensible candidates. To me it just seems like nearly all of the politicians are the same. The only one this time that really stands out is Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of the late Pierre Trudeau.

Now there was a prime minister that made me proud to be Canadian. I may not have agreed with all his policies and he was awful at handling the Canadian economic crises in the 1970's. However, he was superb at representing us on the international stage, and more importantly, he had guts. His son has much of the same confidence that he did, but I think he does not quite have the experience needed to be prime minister yet unfortunately. Pierre gave us a lot of things that love them or hate them, made us pioneers on the international stage:

1. He introduced multiculturalism as an official policy of government. Bilingualism was instituted at all levels of the federal goverment, whereas it had not been before.

2. He ended the laws that made homosexuality in this country illegal. He is famously quoted as saying "The Government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation".

But more importantly, he saved this country on more than one occasion from civil war and destruction from the separatism that festered in the province of Quebec for so many years. Back in the late 1960's there was a group of terrorists called the FLQ that wanted to make Quebec its own country and they employed terrorist tactics to acheive their goal, planting bombs inside public mailboxes as well as kidnaping and murder. Trudeau was controversial in his handling of these events because he invoked the equivalent of martial law to apprehend the leaders of this movement and show them who was boss.

Below is a famous clip of him on parliement hill responding to reporters after he came from the House of Commons.

Have you ever seen a politician respond to reporters so directly and completely as this? A lot of people thought he was arrogant. He certainly could dismiss people with his facial expressions alone, as he does several times in this clip.

But the Quebec problem would resurface several times over the coming decade, culminating in two referendums, one in 1980 and one in 1995. Thanks to his efforts, both were defeated, and the country remains unified to this day.

He also was instrumental in bringing about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Here he is taking to Barbara Frum I believe, about special status for Quebec.

I wish we had politicians like this today. Hopefully we will again in the not too distant future.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, sweetheart! :D I especially like the bit about Trudeau.