BBQ Easter Weekend

My wife likes to point out, rightly so, that I don’t do much of the cooking. That said, when I do cook it’s pretty good but it usually involves the BBQ, regardless of the season or the weather. This weekend, being Easter and a four day weekend, I spent a fair bit of time on the BBQ. Sure I could have been running, especially Sunday when it was unseasonably warm in Ottawa, but instead I helped out with the family meals in my favourite way.

It started out simply enough with lunchtime hot dogs and buns at my mother-in-law’s, but that was just the primer for dinner. In the morning I had prepared the run spices for our dinner — beer can chicken. In the afternoon, I prepped the cans of Goose Island IPA, and set up the three chickens. FYI, Costco often has the three packs of chicken on sale so it’s how I often shop.

The three birds were the centre piece for dinner that also had a wonderful spinach salad, potatoes, and green beans. It was a wonderful dinner enjoyed by the entire family of 13!

Of course even with so many people, three birds does leave some leftovers. My lovely wife thought Saturday was the perfect day to try quesadillas on the grill. She adapted a receipt from Looney Spoons and I was back at the grill. While I used my cast iron skillet, next time I will probably just use the grills.


It was a great recipe, and a definite make again. Of course, later that day I discovered a quesadilla recipe in one of my Weber Grilling cookbooks with a few cooking tips. They will come in handy next time.

A well used and loved cookbook


My most often used Weber cookbook.

Easter Sunday was the big cooking day. In addition to my regular BBQ bacon for breakfast (the neighbours must love me!), it was also the big family dinner. Because my wife always takes care of the cooking at these big events, which isn’t even close to fair, I offered to cook whatever she brought home. Of course knowing it was Easter and my family has certain expectations, I was pretty confident a turkey would be involved. For Christmas my parents gave me a rotisserie for my Weber; I had only used it once before when I cooked a pork loin roast, so I figured why not try a turkey. While my kids kept teasing me about ruining a nice family dinner, and referring to the bird is Butch, I hoped to be more successful than Stuart McClean’s Dave and his Christmas Turkey.

My wife is a very smart woman, and she knows I can’t tell time to save my life. She told me to have dinner ready for 5:00 which meant I had to have the turkey on the BBQ at about 2:30 so it would have enough time to cook. You would think that after 22 years of marriage I would know she had given me a false time, a buffer for success, but I don’t think it really registered. I do, however, know it takes time to prep a meal, especially the first time you try it. Sure enough I started prepping the turkey at 1:30, getting it ready for cooking and getting it secured on the spit. Starting early paid off, though as I had the bird on the BBQ on time.

Not surprisingly, I had a few issues. First the BBQ wasn’t firing properly and was not getting hot enough. Then I had an issue with my trussing job which took two attempts to fix. That was compounded by a problem with the tines slipping.  Once all of these issues were resolved, I was cooking with fire (pun intended). And it was 3:00. When I mentioned to my wife that I was worried because of the lost 30 minutes, she let me know that perhaps she had built a the buffer — we were exactly on time.

Dinner was a big success. The turkey and stuffing turned out great. My mother brought a ham. We had mashed potatoes, bacon beans (another Looney Spoons recipe), heritage vegetables, and candy cane baby beets. All of this was served with a healthy side of laughter and cheer.

What are your favourite BBQ recipes? Do you BBQ all year or are you a fair weather BBQ’er?

Finding the fun in sports

After a lengthy ringette season that began the first week  of September and ended with a Silver medal in her division at the Provincial Championship in the middle of April, our daughter went straight into three weeks of tryouts for next season. She had exactly 48 hours without ringette before she was back on the ice. Not surprisingly she (and my wife and I if we’re honest) suffered from sport fatigue.  Unfortunately, tryouts didn’t go as she had hoped.  After playing as a competitive goalie for the last two seasons, she will be playing at the rec level next year. While there was some disappointment at the time, she took the news very well.  But it was very clear that she DID NOT WANT TO PLAY THIS SUMMER.  We understood that emotion, and we were happy that she was finding fun in another sport — field hockey — for the summer.  Last night, however, she was back on the ice in the 4-on-4 summer league as a back-up goalie.  She played very well, and she was clearly enjoying herself.  After the game she was smiling and she said she really had fun.  My wife asked her about one thing she enjoyed. Although there were lots of things she said she liked about last night’s game, after a lot of thought our daughter said she liked that she stopped every shot but two.  That was a great answer for her to give because it was something specific about her play.  She handled some really tough shots, she played her position well, and she enjoyed herself.  She was happy to be back at the rink, she had fun in her position, and she enjoyed being with her teammates.  After a very long season, it was clear all of the girls were having fun out there playing a sport they love. And that is all any coach and parent can ask/hope for.

Everybody’s Working for the Weekend!

This was a short week thanks to Thanksgiving on Monday, but we had a pretty busy four days at work and home. It’s early Saturday morning and my daughter and I are up and trying to get to the rink for her 7:30 a.m. practice. For such a lovely child, she can be pretty grumpy. So much for sleeping in, but we did get to do that Monday morning so I can’t be too greedy. But this early practice is the start if a very busy weekend — 3 kids and multiple sports activities, not to mention the regular family jobs that have to get done (yay Costco!). I vaguely remember a time when the weekends were a restful time, but it doesn’t seem that lately. Oh well, the kids are active and they enjoy there sports so it’s worth it. Also, since I can’t just sit in the bleachers, I have the fun of coaching so I get a little exercise too. Okay, time to head out.

Today I walked and that’s okay

According to my training plan, today I was supposed to run 4km. I didn’t get to that, though, because we’re on vacation and we went for a walk. As a family we walked about 7 km today, and 6 km were on a beach. Instead of running, I pushed my 16 year old son in a rugged beach worthy wheelchair on the sand right next to the ocean. Our whole family spent the whole day together on the beach laughing, enjoying the fresh air, and having a fantastic time. The other 1km was spent pushing him in his regular chair which is not at all beach worthy. Thanks to Parks Canada for making sure there was a beach chair available for my son in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino, BC. The wall wasn’t part of the training plan, but I wouldn’t have changed for it for anything.

Summer Travel (bucket list items, family time, relaxation)

This summer seems to be moving pretty fast, but I have managed to get a few things accomplished. Sure I’m not running as much this summer as I had hoped (due to a lingering bruised metatarsal), but I have logged some miles (okay kilometres since I’m Canadian) especially walking the dog. It turns out that that by tracking all of those walks, it makes a big difference to my total distance covered.

I did my first trail run this summer. It started well, ended strong, but had a few minutes of confusion in the middle. Like the poem says, I took the road less travelled and that made all the difference. Also, it pays to read the signs (Signs, signs, everywhere signs!). After a brief detour in the deep bush and long grass cutting my own trail, I found my way back to the main path. It was great to run a trail, and I see why so many people enjoy it; I’m definitely going to run some more trails.

Bucket lists are funny things. There are so many things people want to try and accomplish that it makes me wonder if it is ever possible to actually do them. As it turns out, Jean and I spent a week together in New Orleans and Atlanta and we did get to cross of a few of our bucket list items. For me, just getting to NOLA was a bucket list achievement. While there, we went to the National World War II Museum, caught an awesome zydeco show by Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and attended a special presentation of one of the Mardis Gras Tribes. Really this only scratches the surface of what we got to do, and that in itself only scratched the surface of what there is too do and see in NOLA. I may never get back there, but at least I’ve been.

20130803-135027.jpgMy Gal Sal B24 bomber at WWII Museum, New Orleans

Before heading home from NOLA, we stopped in Atlanta, Georgia for 48 hours so that we could cross of a bucket list item for Jean. Of course we told the kids this was a fact finding trip to see if it would be a suitable location for a family holiday, but really it was about seeing one thing. Okay four things: whale sharks. There are pretty much only three places you can see whale sharks, and since we have no plans to go to Japan or like the randomness of flying over the ocean, the Georgia Aquarium was a must see location. Of course there is more to do in Atlanta, but we really went to just to see the whale sharks, and they at absolutely breathtaking. It was really hard to walk away from the viewing area at the end of the day.

20130803-135202.jpgWhale sharks, Georgia Aquarium

We have headed into August on our official family vacation to Vancouver, BC to see family and to enjoy a slightly slower pace before we head back to work and school at the end of August. We’ve already done the Grouse Grind, watched fireworks on the beach, and taken a ferry ride to the island; all this and we still have two weeks here. There may still be time to cross off one more bucket list item: seeing killer whales in the ocean.

20130803-135426.jpgAbout halfway up Grouse Grind

Lessons from sports

I write this at the end of a typical Saturday in my household; one which involves lots of driving for mom and dad as we get each of our kids to their various sports. Son #1 had riding this morning which is something he has been doing since he was not quite 3 years old. For him this activity is both physical therapy and competitive as he is now a nationally ranked para equestrian. Daughter had ringette this evening, a sport she wanted to try because it looked fun. Now in her third year, she loves the games, the friendships, and the fun. Son #2 finished the day with hockey, a sport about which he is passionate. Between all the driving, there was the normal business of weekend life to attend to. My wife and I saw each other briefly throughout the day during which time we shared some smiles and joked about the old days when my parents called is the 2 o’clock kids (clearly those days are long gone). At the end of this very busy day, however, I find myself pondering why we have our kids in sports and why we spend our time as chauffeurs. The reality is that we want our kids to love healthy and active lives. We want out kids to try new things which will help them develop skills and confidence. We want them to have fun. My daughter was not bothered by the loss (she’s the team goalie and only asks about how many shots she stopped). Son #2, however, was bothered by tonight’s loss (it hasn’t been a great season so far). Sure we had a chat about the team needing to work together and that it was just one game, but what I think really resonated for him was remembering he did have fun from the moment the game started to the moment it ended. That is what I want him to take way from tonight; not the frustration of losing, but the enjoyment of playing.

My oldest son rarely complains about the challenges he faces. He always has a positive disposition when on the horse or trying new sports like wheelchair tennis. At the end of a long day, we all need to think about what really matters. While I have never been a great athlete, I have coached as man teams as possible that my kids are involved with because my wife and I believe it is important for the kids to see us involved with things they care about. I can’t help but hope that through my involvement and support I remind our kids that trying as hard as you possibly can and enjoying the experience means more than the final score.