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Talking Ham Radio on CBC Spark with Nora · 11.11.16 by colin newell

Social media and its evolution – where did it begin? And where is it going?

We enjoy a spectrum of social media tools and experiences in the 21st Century and rightfully so. We have the tools and the technology to make great things happen. But how did we get to where we are today?

Humans have been communicating, somewhat inefficiently, for thousands and thousands of years – with foot messengers, smoke signals and simple peer to peer links, one on one, through the chapters of human history.

It is only with the advent of the telegraph and, soon after, the radio that we can reach a lot of people, reliably and over great distances. And it was radio, in the form of amateur or ham radio, that facilitated the instantaneous and often random social connections that would become the World’s first social media medium.

Nora Young CBC Spark on Ham Radio

I talked at length with Nora Young on CBC Spark. The entire show was around 55 minutes and covered some of the history of early social media and its links to amateur radio technology and popular music.

Feel free to enjoy the entire episode over here

Or, if you are short for time, have a listen to our near-5 minute chat with Nora on the subject so dear to my heart – Amateur or Ham Radio and its relationship to the modern social media we enjoy today. –

If you cannot see the audio player below, click here for the mp3.

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Fall colours Canadian Style Thai Turkey noodle Soup · 16.10.16 by colin newell

Thai Turkey Soup

It is a cool October evening and what better way of heating it up a notch than with some Thai turkey soup.

Granted this is a variation on the old classic Chicken soup… but it prepares well and is mighty spicy.

What is special about this recipe is the addition of fresh uncooked Shanghai thick noodle which you can get at most Asian markets. It is an awesome addition to a very authentic recipe.

The basics

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 whole chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
4 cups Turkey stock
1 standard tin coconut milk
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cups shredded cooked Turkey breast
1/2 cup green onion strips
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 package (250g) fresh Shanghai thick cut noodles
Preparation

1. Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Add oil to pan.
2. Add mushrooms, red bell pepper, peeled ginger, garlic and lemon grass – stir constantly for 3 minutes or so.
3. Add chile paste; stir for another minute.
4. Add Turkey Stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar;
5. Ease to a simmer.
6. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add turkey to pan
7.) Simmer for a few minutes. Discard lemongrass. Top with onions, cilantro, and lime juice.

8.) While soup is simmering, bring sauce pan of water to boil. Cook the fresh Shanghai thick noodle for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Add to soup. Simmer for a few more minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Serve with bread.

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Fall colours Canadian Style sourdough pizza · 16.10.16 by colin newell

Rustic Pizza from Andrea and Colin

At this time of the Fall, Andrea and I start looking forward to some rustic cooking; soups, stews and, yes, the occasional treat of pizza with seasonal ingredients. And since I have a sourdough starter that has been on the go since 2008, what better opportunity than right now to whip up a great pizza dough and accompanying pizza. Here goes:

Andrea and Colin’s simple Sourdough Pizza

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter, unfed or not at room temperature
1/2 cup warm tap water
2 1/2 cups Caputo 00 Pizza Flour *
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

A word about Captuo “00” Bread Flour: It is the gold standard of pizza flours by which most others are judged, but there’s quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what it is. You’ll read in countless sources that Italian Tipo “00” flour, like the Caputo, is a “soft wheat flour,” with a low protein content. Caputo 00 flour is ideal for pizza dough for two reasons: one, it’s finely ground, and two, it has a lower gluten content than most flours.

The “00” refers to the texture of the flour: Italian flours are classified by numbers according to how finely they are ground, from the roughest ground “tipo“1, to 0, and the finest 00. Gluten, the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains, creates the elasticity you feel when you bite into a crunchy loaf of bread. The lower the protein content of the flour, the lower the gluten, and the lower the gluten, the less elasticity there will be in your dough (cake flour has the lowest gluten level).

Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment, combine all ingredients. Mix on medium low until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a firm ball. If dough is still very sticky, add about 1/8 cup of flour at a time until dough is firm. Your dough may be wetter than expected based on how wet your starter is. Don’t worry, just add more flour.

Remove dough from bowl and transfer to a lightly floured surface.

Kneed by hand for about 1 – 2 minutes, then form into a ball.

Place the dough ball in a medium mixing bowl that has been coated in olive oil or cooking spray. Lightly toss the dough ball in the bowl to coat in oil/spray.

Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Place covered bowl in a warm area for 2 hours or until about doubled in size.

You can make this pizza dough ahead of time and keep in fridge for 1 or 2 days.

Transfer risen dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out with rolling pin or spread with your knuckles to desired crust thickness.

Transfer dough to a pizza peel, if baking on a pizza stone, or onto a pizza pan or baking tray.

Top with sauce and favorite toppings.
In our case:

- Tomato sauce (by Jamie Oliver)
- Saute mushrooms and shallots
- Salami
- fresh mozzarella balls (from our local market, Root Cellar…)

Bake in a preheated 500 degree oven (or outdoor BBQ) for 7 to 10 minutes – until cheese is bubbly and crust is browning.
Enjoy your home made pizza!

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Baking 101 Bernard Callebaut sticky chewy chocolate brownies · 31.08.16 by colin newell

I just made this rich, dark chocolate brownie with a soft chewy center, firm edges and a crackly top. Simple to make using just one bowl. Pay attention to the measurements as they are the key to success.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup Fry’s, Hershey’s or Dark Dutch cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅔ cup butter – melted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 free range jumbo eggs
  • 1⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark/medium Bernard Callebaut chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9 by 13 baking pan.

Sticky chewy rich Bernard Callebaut Brownies

Add cocoa and baking soda to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Melt ⅔ of a cup of butter in your microwave. With a wooden spoon, stir ½ of the melted butter into the cocoa and baking soda. Stir until combined.

Add ½ cup of boiling water to bowl with cocoa and butter. Stir until combined and smooth.

Add sugar, eggs and the rest of the melted butter to the cocoa mixture. Stir until combined.

Sift in 1⅓ cup of flour. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined and batter is smooth.

Add chocolate chips to batter and stir until combined.
Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth the top out with a wooden spoon. Bake for between 35 and 40 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Cool for 30 minutes in pan. When cool, remove from pan and cut into snack sized brownies.
Yield should be around 2 dozen.
Serve with ice cream while warm – or with black coffee. They are an addictive treat.
If you feel the urge to coat them with icing, wait until they are cool and use your imagination.
Alternately, one could swirl in peanut butter chips or raw peanut butter instead of the chocolate chips.


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time creative writer. A baker since the age of 12, he has been around the mixing bowl a time or two!

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A slight book review - Adventures in Solitude · 11.08.16 by colin newell

Adventures in Solitude Review Grant LawrenceOne would hardly think that we could improve on the relative paradise of Kona, Hawaii – a coastal village often basking in a seemingly endless summer sun, caressed by a cleansing surf and feeling the gentle quiet of the off season.

Despite this perfection, we did. And we did it with a book no less.
And what better book than one that dishes out surprises and regional familiarity by the pail full.

As a Canadian West coast resident who grew up in the in-between zone of not quite country but not quite city life of Southern Vancouver Island, it felt familiar reading a comprehensive, compelling and honest tale of a young man’s coming of age in the blustery South West coastal region of British Columbia. This area, often so unflinchingly merciless, so physically and mentally challenging, was the backyard of my childhood.

Although I have never been in the heart of Desolation Sound, I have been in the region. One of the towns mentioned in the book, Lund, which is the gateway to Desolation Sound, was one of my last stops on many roads trips exploring the area. It is up the road a ways from Powell River at the end of a fully paved 6600 mile road that reaches all the way to Santiago de Chile. And yet, it is, has been and will always be the road less traveled.

I have been to similar places to Lund on Vancouver Island like Port Renfrew, Port Hardy, Telegraph Bay, Ucluelet and many, many others. They are the very fabric of this region and offer a glimpse of what life is like in almost complete isolation.

As pages rolled by I would soon come to realize how much of B.C. wilderness was in my own blood – ready to be relived and re-appreciated.

Adventures in Solitude chronicles the life (particularly the early child development) of CBC host and journalist Grant Lawrence – a fellow who comes across as a chatty and witty pop culture expert and music critic perhaps lacking the kind of depth and dimensionality I have come to expect from other more seasoned and elderly statesmen of Canada’s beloved public broadcaster.

So, imagine the delight of tucking into a randomly selected volume from Victoria’s premier bookstore Munro’s for the purpose of getting me through the fairly routine 5 hour flight from the West Coast to Kona, Hawaii and realizing that there was something truly great between these soft covers. Its resonance with so many hardy Canadians, in part, explains why the book has picked up so many accolades so quickly.

Because, for me, a slightly outdoors kind of guy, here was a story that resonated so deeply in my coastal consciousness that on some minute level I felt like parts of me were incorporated into the book.

Raised in a dissimilar vein to my own, Grant’s background was from tony West Vancouver where lawyers, developers and family money call home. Grant’s dad was a property developer of some note and success and happened upon a piece of land in B.C.‘s coastal wilderness at one of those “just at the right time” moments. Spending summer after bucolic summer in Desolation Sound, the Lawrence family found themselves becoming part of the regional history and folklore of the area.

I do not want to spoil the story though folks – you will have to buy a copy for yourselves. Any long time B.C. resident or Canadian that loves the outdoors and spent part of their formative years anywhere near the coastal wild of the West Coast needs to read this book.

This book reminds me of a really good non-fiction version of a Doug Coupland novel – and I hope that neither of the authors find this insulting because I think Coupland is utterly brilliant – and of course as a British Columbian I relate to his work as well.

Get the book folks – if only for what shades of yourselves you might find. You can find out all you need to know about Grant Lawrence over here.

And another important lesson for me revealed – having figured out that Grant Lawrence was more than the sum of some City parts…

Never judge a Man… or a Book… by its cover.

On location in Kona, Hawaii – I am Colin Newell.

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