Sunday, September 30, 2012

28 Sep 2012

Thanks to Nick from Hungary Exchange for always finding such informative info for us to share!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homade Tomato Sauce - The Old Fashion Way

Step One: Wash Away the Dirt
Every year while growing up, my mom made her own tomato sauce.  It was usually a family event with everyone helping out in one way or another since she made enough sauce to last us until the following year.  Unfortunately I was never interested in making the sauce so I usually ended up cooking dinner which was - you guessed it- pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce!  Once I got married I tried using the canned tomato sauce and we hated it so I began making my own.  It's not hard but it is time consuming so if you plan on making a couple of bushels ask a friend to help.
Step Two: Boil Until Soft
Pick your tomatoes and shop for price and quality.  I got lucky this year - 9.99 a bushel, hardly any dirt to wash off, none spoiled and they yielded me 15 jars per bushel.  They weren't filled with a lot of water either so I kind of regret not buying more.                                                                             Step One:  Wash the tomatoes in cold water as many times as needed to clean the dirt off them.   You can also sort at the same time and remove any that look spoiled.   Step Two:  At the same time get a large pot of water boiling on your burner.  If you are only making a small amount you could use a smaller pot on your stove.  Add some to the water and allow to boil.  You will be repeating this step several times until all your tomatoes have boiled.

Step Three: Drain to Remove Excess Water
Step three:  Once the tomatoes have softened scoop them out of the water and into a clean basket or bushel lined with an old tablecloth.  Put weight on top on the tablecloth so the excess water is drained from the tomatoes and then allow them to cool slightly.  Add more tomatoes to your boiling water.
Step four:  Have your tomato press set up on a table.  I wouldn't recommend using a glass top table.  Set up a large pot or pail below the machine but elevate it so it doesn't splatter everywhere.  Use an shallow pan on the left side to catch the peels and most of the seeds.  Do not throw them out right away as you can normally pass them through the machine a second time but not more than that or it may jam up on you.
Step four: Strain
Step five:  In clean jars add a couple of washed basil leaves.
Fill jars to the neck and then put the lids and covers on them tightly.  Once done line them into a VERY large pot or old metal barrel if you have one and fill with cold water until all the jars are covered.  You should use old towels, table clothes or cardboard around the jars inside to keep them from banging against each other or the sides once they begin boiling or they'll break.  Cover pot with a cardboard. 
Put in jars with Fresh Basil
Bring water and jars to a boil and let boil for another 20 - 30 minutes.  Turn off burner and let cool COMPLETELY before removing them.  I usually wait until the following day.  Store them in a catina (cold room) until you're ready to use it.  You can cook with them immediately if you like but you will get more of a "fresh" taste.  I prefer to use my older sauce first and allow them to age a few months but it's a matter of preference.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surname Saturday - In Loving Memory Pisecny Louis 1930-1963

Louis Pisecny Sr & Louis Pisecny Sept 1963
Today, 14 Sept would have been my late father-in-law Louis Pisecny's birthday.  I don't know much about him never having met him other than he was born Lubomir Pisecny, oldest son of Anton and Anna Skanderova in Senici, Czechoslovakia in 1930.  To my knowledge he escaped to North America when he was about 18 years old to live with an Aunt Helen[e] Nadel in Chicago. He may have also visited New York, and Montreal before finally settling in Toronto.

At some point he changed his name to Louis and met and married my Italian mother in law. They had three children when tragedy struck in April of 1963.  Louis had purchased a motorboat and had taken it out for the first time the weekend of April 7th along with his father-in-law and brother-in-law.  No one is sure what happened but at some point Louis lost his footing and fell in the water near Marie Curtis Park.  His brother in law jumped in in an attempt to rescue him but was unable to locate him.  Eventually Louis drown, his brother-in-law pulled from the lake, taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia.

In Loving Memory Pisecny Louis 1930-1963
It took seven days of rescuers dragging Lake Ontario before his body was actually found.  Newspaper reports say that there was only one life jacket aboard and it was a child size one.  Life preservers were not mandatory in the province in 1963 so my mother-in-law became a very young widow with three children under four years old and another on the way.

It was during this time that Morton Shulman, Toronto's newly appointed Chief Coroner ordered an inquest into the drowning.  He had been a big advocate of making life jackets mandatory in Ontario and referenced the death as one more reason to pass this law.  It was a fight he had been battling for years and would continue to fight.

From an article written in July 2012 by David Wencer:

"In April of 1963, a father of three named Louis Pisecny drowned near Marie Curtis Park while trying out the new motorboat he had recently bought. No one on board had significant boating experience, and the only floatation device on board was a child’s life preserver. Once again, Shulman called an inquest, and once again he subpoenaed a representative from the Department of Transport to speak on the subject of life jackets. Of particular concern to Shulman was a newspaper article he had found, claiming that the federal government planned to relax the requirement of life jackets on small vessels."
Louis's death, although tragic was not in vain.  The inquest surrounding the tragedy created a great controversy but eventually helped make life jacket regulation mandatory in this province.   
Shulman was quoted in one of his autobiographies as saying, it appeared obvious to me that Pisecny’s death could be used to save other lives by pointing out to the public the need to have life jackets in small boats. It may have appeared obvious but various civil servants did not agree with me.”
My mother in law gave birth to a son six months later who I eventually married.  I have read several newspaper clippings on the drowning but up until this evening I had never found reference to it on the internet.  I have to wonder if it's a coincidence that tonight, on what would have been Louis's 82nd birthday I found one.  Maybe Louis wanted his story told...
Happy Birthday Louis.. R.I.P.
*Source: Historicist: Introducing Dr. Morton Shulman written by David Wencer 21 July 2012.  Accessed 14 Sept 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

911 - Where were you September 11th, 2001?

In Memory of  the Victims of 911.
September 2001 is a month most of us will always remember.  The tragic events that took place on September 11th and the loss of lives taken make it the day that never should have been.  For my family September 2001 holds several memories - not all related to 911 but just as significant.  Hubby and I had just celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary the week before and his 38th Birthday that weekend.  Both were quiet.  We were struggling financially and a member of our family was going through a difficult time so was staying with us.  The kids were back to school and our once brand new car was on it's last 'mile' so to speak.  We didn't own a PC and only had one T.V. in the house.  We were working two jobs just to make ends meet.
I remember tucking the kids in on the Sunday night prior to 911 and being shocked when my oldest son (then 10 years old) asked me what would happen if a really big plane ever hit a really big building killing lots of people. I asked him where he ever got such an idea and that that would NEVER happen in a million years.  After talking to him for a while I managed to settle him down and he finally went to sleep.  The following day as I picked him up from school I stopped in the office to pick up my mail (I was the Parent Council Chair at the time) and to talk to the school secretary for a while. We talked for several minutes and somehow the previous night's conversation with my son came up.  We both agreed that I should perhaps monitor what movies he was watching and left it at that.
Tuesday morning came as it always did.  I was at work by 7 am and working on my register.  It was busy that morning and by 8:30 I could not wait for my break as I desperately needed a coffee but I knew it would still be a while before I could go.  A co worker of mine approached a while later and asked me if I had heard the news.  Of course I had no idea what he was talking about.  He told him he heard that a plane may have gone down in Central Park but he wasn't sure.  I told him he must be mistaken.  As I counted the minutes to my break the news hit as customers began discussing a plane hitting the World Trade Center.  Not connecting the Twin Towers at that moment with the World Trade Center my only thought was to gt to the lunchroom and see what the hell was going on.  I walked in just in time to watch a plane hit that second tower and to see the first one fall.  I was in total shock.  I watched those towers being built.  As a child, my father often took us to see the progress of construction of the Twin Towers and now I was watching them go down.  It all felt so surreal to me. 
My boss approached me and asked if I was ok.  At some point I guess I began crying.  I looked at him and said I still had family living in New York and some worked downtown.  He told me his brother had a shop near there and he had been trying to call him but he couldn't get through.  I thought of my kids - how would I explain this to them?  And then my mind did a replay of Sunday nights conversation with my son.  How would he take this?  I had assured him it could never happen less than 48 hours before.  Would he ever trust me again?
I ran to the phone and called his school.  The secretary had been waiting for my call.  I was screeching as I begged her not to let anyone tell him what had happened - I needed to do it.  It was just a coincidence.  These things don't happen.  She had already had him pulled out of class and he was in with the principal.  It was too late - he had already heard the news but seemed fairly calm.  She informed me they were contacting parents and encouraging them to pick up their children early if possible.  Downtown Toronto was being evacuated as well as the news of more planes hitting various parts of the U.S broke.  I told her I was on my way.
When I arrived at the school I was shocked to see some bright person had place a T.V. airing the coverage of the disaster in the main hallway.  Parents, teachers and students were gathered around watching.  People were crying, hugging and some were praying openly.  Special grief councilors were brought in that afternoon and for the next week to talk to the children and their families as well as to school administrators and maintenance staff.  My son declined to see one in spite of my urging.
As I left the school with my children I thought of my family and my friends and prayed they were safe.  I called my parents who had been trying to get through to New York for hours.  I attempted to call my Aunt and was lucky to get though to a cousin.  I asked if all was okay and she told me her father was unaccounted for.  Her mother had dropped him off at the subway to downtown about 8:30 and no one had heard from him since.  It was now 4 pm.  I later learned he walked home that day - it took him 14 hours to get to Yonkers but he was safe.
The following days were the worst.  The eerie silence of the lack of planes in the night air is one I never want to hear again.  I slept in my son's room for several nights after that.  I think it was more for me than for him as I feared that was truly the beginning of the end of the world...