Are you ready - Chapter 2 - emergency preparedness on an Island · 24 January 2016 by colin newell
Chances are, if you are a resident of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Seattle or one of many small or medium sized coastal communities in the Northwest, one of the worse things that is going to happen to you in your life likely hasn’t happened yet because it is brewing right now, underground, along the coast in a colossal clash of geology that is moving in slow motion towards an earth shattering climax.
Within the last month, on Southern Vancouver Island and amidst the Gulf Islands, we had a very mild earthquake that rattled as many nerves as dishes and caused virtually no damage. There was the typical rush to prepare as sales of emergency kits soared. Truth is, this race to get prepared has very few fully engaged participants.
So if you are among the small percentage of folks that rushed out and got your first aid kits together and took an inventory of your dry goods and water supply… well, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. Truth be told, you are not really and truly prepared. Neither am I come to think of it. As I sit here right now gazing into my back yard, I cannot, for certain, tell you where my first aid kits are – and I know for a fact that I do not have adequate water. I do have enough white and red wine in my cellar to keep my entire street inebriated for an entire week but that is not entirely helpful.
Being ready is more than just having a weeks worth of bottled water stowed in a secure location or having a packed bag of first aid and outdoor survival gear packed in the back of your car or in your garage. These things are all critical (and sadly only 10% or less of area residents have given much thought towards the most basic of survival kits…) but one of the less obvious things that is missing from our plan has more to do with our individual or collective consciousness.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the average person is not having a regular dialog with themselves or their neighbours about what to do in the event of a catastrophe of this nature. The kind of earthquake we can expect in our life time will cut us off from our families and our public services and utilities. This separation from our daily reality could easily last days and weeks.
So, what to do? I am not going to drone on about this. But I will repeat my basic list of what most would agree that you need to hunker down and survive – and to help your neighbourhood survive.
a.) Water. Have at least 2 weeks worth in bottles – at least a litre a day per person in your house.
b.) Candles. Flashlight. Battery powered radio.
c.) Dried food/Emergency rations. Enough for a dozen or so neighbours for a week!
d.) First aid kit. Bandages. Antibiotic cream. Antiseptic.
e.) Shelter. Your house may be still standing but you are going to be sleeping outside for a few days.
The key thing here is: You can live for days without food. You cannot function without water. If you do anything, have water at the ready. Or beer or wine. Or nutritional drinks like “Rumble” – they are available locally and you could survive on those alone for weeks.
Another tip: Have a pair of thick socks and slippers by your bed always. When the “big one” hits, you are going to be walking on broken glass – so it will be good to have your feet covered.
I had an excellent question from Ken Gordon, well known Victoria area resident that works at Caffe Fantastico, “Hey Colin, if anyone would know the answer to this, you would… Where do I tune my radio to in the event of the Big One?”
Well, this may come as a surprise to our readers… but it will not be the CBC on Vancouver Island – and it will not likely be a networked FM radio station operating out of Victoria. It will be CFAX on 1070 khz. During our last great calamity, the snow storm of 1996, most of Victoria’s radio and TV networks never broke from their generic Toronto content feed to even acknowledge that anything untoward was happening here. It was CFAX 1070 alone that reported on the events as they unfolded. CBC Radio 1 on Vancouver Island is hopelessly tethered to the Mother Ship in Toronto and has no facility whatsoever to handle any form of live broadcasting or emergency message handling here in the city or on the Island.
To quote an earlier chapter on this subject…
“The local radio station will be running on emergency power. They will be your first and primary way of assessing what has happened on a broader scale. Your cell phone network will be a paper weight, overloaded by panicked 911 calls and toppled towers. As you divide your attention between the crackling radio and the downtown horizon in the distance, you will be overwhelmed by the immediately unfamiliar chaos, but hopefully you will also have a steady sense of resolve and, as a result of your personal planning, a plan of action.”
Colin Newell is a writer, technician and advocate for emergency preparedness – who is, more or less, prepared for anything nature can throw at him. Join us for a continuing dialog on this subject.
Working on a music project - that is all. · 13 January 2016 by colin newell
Andrea asked me to cook up something Latin while I was working on a “special” music project. I have just completed assembling my current home recording studio and have been working on a couple of special projects to see how everything sounds – a shake down as it were.
My small basement “grotto” sound work-shop features a 24-Track digital audio workstation, a 12 in / 2 out mixing board, APEX floating plate condenser microphones, Cort and Godin guitars, a digital piano and a variety of incidental percussion – as well as a synth stand-up bass. It’s a good set-up for just about every kind of music.
OK so back to the request – I have a spare hour or two because I am currently on vacation. Let’s see, apart from noodling on the occasional Latin or Spanish rhythm, I have never attempted anything start to finish. There is nothing really that complicated about this piece – more a case of starting in the right groove and staying there.
Click here for audio file if you cannot see flash player above.
My wife is a huge fan of Ottmar Liebert, you know, that German born, Flamenco-Spanish guitar playing wizard…
Well she wanted something that sounded like that.
So, I winged it. Enjoy. It is 5 minutes long and perhaps a bit stretched for a Spanish piece – and currently lacking any lyrics, might drag a bit.
Enjoy. I play everything on it. Feel free to download, enjoy on your iPod, play while you are in the shower or doing whatever. It’s up to you. More to come in time!
Cajun Oyster Jambalaya - a slight variation · 13 January 2016 by colin newell
I love the complex, sometimes rich and exotic flavours of Cajun cooking. Unique to Louisiana, it features French, African, Spanish and Native American influences – depending on liberal application of regional spice blends and with the availability of wonderful fresh shell fish these dishes really shine!
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: About 70 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
1/2 lb. fresh dry andouille sausages, about 2 to 3 depending on size
3 Tbsp Canola oil (approx)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 tsp homemade Cajun spice (divided; see Note 1 below)
1 large onion, finely diced
4 celery ribs, finely diced
1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 Poblano chile, 2 Jalapeno chile, 2 Serrano chile, 1 Habanero chile and
2 Thai red chiles
2 cups Jasmine rice
4 cups low salt chicken stock
2 bay leaves
• salt to taste
12 large prawns – peeled with tail portion left intact, and deveined (see Note 2 below)
Alternately – 2 standard tubs of fresh Oysters (chopped in 4’s)
Heat oil in Dutch oven or wide pot set over medium-high.
Add the chicken and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp of the Cajun spice.
Cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through and nicely coloured, about five to seven minutes.
Lift the chicken out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl.
Lower the heat under the pot to medium. And the onion, celery and pepper assortment and cook until very tender and slightly caramelized, about six minutes.
Note – you can dial back on the Habanero and Thai chiles to dial back the heat — because these two kick it up a big notch!
Mix in the rice and remaining Cajun spice and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes more.
Mix in the stock, bay leaves, sliced sausage and chicken.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. When boiling, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 18 minutes.
Nestle the prawns or oysters into the top of the rice and cover and cook five minutes, or until the prawns are cooked and the rice is tender. Serve.
Note 1: Cajun spice is available in the bottle herb and spice aisle of most supermarkets.
Cajun spice, in a small bowl combine 4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Use what you need for the recipe and save the rest for another time.
Note 2: To peel and devein a prawn, hold the tail of the prawn in one hand and slip the thumb of your other hand under the shell between its swimmerets (little legs). Pull off the shell, leaving the very bottom portion of the tail intact. Use a small paring knife to make a lengthwise slit along the back of the prawn. Pull out, or rinse out with cold water, the dark vein. Pat the prawns dry and they are ready to use.
Many thanks to Chef Eric Akis of the Times-Colonist newspaper for this inspiration!
Christmas Turkey Enchiladas - spicy leftover delight · 5 January 2016 by colin newell
I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cuisine – can’t get enough of it but I am humble enough to admit that, apart from nachos, I have never learned to cook very much of it at home. Now admittedly, some of the cuisine is pretty complicated and filled with steps – but many, if not all, of the ingredients are readily available locally. So, get out there and give this one a whirl. You can use chicken, beef, pork, some kinds of fish I would imagine, or beans for a vegetarian approach. Let’s get busy.
2 cups cooked shredded Turkey (I have used leftover Christmas turkey breast meat)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup lo-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 small (284ml) cans enchilada sauce (La Victoria is my go to)
3 cups shredded cheese (tex-mexican blend)
1 small tin mild green chiles (diced)
Tablespoon of Cumin
Tablespoon of Chile powder
10 flour tortillas
Preparing your ingredients
Chop the onion and parsley, and shred the Turkey.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Step One Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring all the while.
Step Two Add the turkey to the onions in the frying pan. Add Cumin and Chile powder and stir until combined.
Step Three Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the turkey and onion mixture.
Step Four Add sour cream and parsley. Add diced chiles – stir until combined.
Step Five Once all the ingredients are fully combined, turn off the heat. now add the shredded cheese. I usually add 2 heaping cups. Mix to combine.
Once the cheese is melted and combined with the Turkey sour cream mixture, taste it, and see if it needs anything else – like additionally seasoning or more sauce.
Step Six Now it is time to fill the tortillas and make the enchiladas. pour just enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.
Step Seven Take each tortilla and spoon some sauce on the tortilla coating the entire side that will hold the turkey mixture. Then spoon on some of the turkey mixture.
Step Eight Roll up the tortilla and place it in the baking dish.
Repeat steps to make enough tortillas to fill your baking dish, or until the Turkey mixture is all used up.
Step 9 Pour enchilada sauce over the completed enchiladas. spread it evenly over the top.
Step 10 Top with more shredded cheese and garnish with chopped parsley.
Now they are ready to place in the oven. cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Since the turkey is pre-cooked, you only need to bake them long enough for the sauce to start bubbling, tortilla edges are slightly crisp, and the cheese is melted.
We serve with homemade guacamole and a suitable salsa – you can make the salsa yourself if you are so inclined. These yummy enchiladas are great with your favourite strong beer!
This dish can make 10 to 12 single serve enchiladas. Plenty for leftovers!
Butternut squash soup with vegan option · 3 January 2016 by colin newell
Winter is the best time of the year for hearty vegetarian soup with the option of adding some animal protein if you are so inclined – either way, these are filling and healthy soups during the winter months – here is how we brew up one of our favourites.
Dice 1 medium butternut squash
Dice 1 red pepper
Dice 1 medium onion
Toss together and split between two baking sheets.
Cover each sheet with parchment paper. Divide the veg between the two equally.
Sprinkle tablespoon of Olive oil over each pan and then salt and pepper to your
Mix together elements on each pan.
Get 4 slices of double smoked bacon (optional) sliced into lardons
and then sprinkle over top of the mixture.
Take one garlic, break it into cloves, leaving in their own paper
and divide them equally between the two pans.
Put into 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, toss at half way point.
Get out a big dutch oven bringing it up to medium heat.
Take the two pans out of the oven, removing cloves of garlic and set aside.
Take both veg mixtures less the parchment paper and dump into dutch oven.
Put in a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme.
Squeeze out the garlic from their bulb into the dutch oven.
Add 2 1/2 to 3 cup of Chicken or Vegetable broth – stirring occasionally
while bringing to boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn off heat and get out your
immersion blender and blend it to your desired consistency.
Add more stock if you want a thinner soup. Return to heat and
take to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with bread.
Katie and her World of beautiful cards for all occasions · 15 December 2015 by colin newell
Katie is a lovely 19 year old girl who has Cerebral Palsy. Together with her mom, Sue, they have been making stamped cards since 2007. Prior to receiving assistive technology, Sue used to help her daughter stamp the images on the cards.
Katie has a head controlled stamping machine made for her four years ago by CanAssist. She is now able to stamp the images for her cards through a switch control using her head.
Card making is Katie’s thing and it brings her great joy. She loves making cards and sharing them. Making and selling cards has given her a unique way to connect with people in the community. Additionally, this also allows Katie to give back to the community with the profits from her cards. This year, Katie’s cards accounted for 100% of the festive seasonal cards that we sent out – and as you can see in the photo above, they are beautiful.
Katie had hip surgery a year ago which took her out of card making commission. Her story was featured on Global-TV and she was an instant hit – it put a smile on her face and to this day she is still very busy putting smiles on our faces.
At the time, her Mom, Sue and some of the neighbors put their heads together to see if they could come up with a plan to brighten her recovery. Sue suggested, “Since Katie will not be making cards for a couple weeks, I thought that it would be amazing if bright, beautiful cards made their way to her. Near and Far.”
“We have a world map up. Her sisters will open up the cards and we can mark on the map were they have come from. We have also created a box of inspiration. When someone sends a card if they could put in a single button or piece of ribbon – something cute that Katie can put on a card… That would be great. Once she got back to making her cards she had hundreds of pieces of inspiration from everyone around the globe to put on her cards.”
At the time the message was – “Please mark on the back of the cards were they are from. I know that Katie will want to look at each and every one for years to come. We are going to put the world map up in her room so she can always see it.”
If you feel like sending a card (or getting an incredible custom card for any and all seasons) from Katie, send your own card or a request for a price list to:
6898 Central Saanich Rd.,
Katie has a website and point-of-sale PayPal thing for her cards over here
Katie thanks you!