Monthly Archives: June 2010

Experiencing Rural NL

Dear all readers,

I am currently on stay-cation, experiencing rural Newfoundland. While on holidays there will be no blog posts. Please check back on July 5, 2010 for the next update. I am sureI will have lots to talk about at that time.

Cheers,

CCM

Black Gold: Famous Newfoundland Screech

During the Napoleanic wars in the early 1800′s Newfoundlanders sold fish (when we say fish in Newfoundland, we refer to “codfish”) to parts of the Carribean, as markets to Portugal, Britain and other parts of Europe were too risky. In return these schooners would return to the island filled with rum. Still today, Famous Newfoundland Screech is imported from Jamaica and Bottled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation in St. Johns, NL. I sit and drink their Limited Edition tonight, which pays tribute to the past as it potrays an old-style image of years ago. This is a fine aged Jamaican rum, which is full flavoured and robust, yet remarkably soft, a well rounded rum……black gold.

For those who know me well, know I enjoy the sweet taste of our Famous Screech on occasion. However, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, most Newfoundlander’s I know depict Screech as strong and somewhat vile. I think my first attempt at a Screech and Coca-cola lasted near two hours. I remember it being somewhat unpleasant. However, I am resilient and never gave up with my attempts and now Newfoundland Screech is a rum of choice for me. I take great pride as I take each swallow of the black gold.

We have a famous ritual known as the “Screech-In”, which was adapted as a marketing campaign  developed around this liquor. I assume it was done to boost sales to visitors, as most locals I know still won’t stand to touch the stuff.

A Screech-in is a ceremony that enables first-time visitors to the province to become honourary Newfoundlanders. Many variations exists and it is a long time custom in many older bars, in which a person eats Newfoundland steak “balogna”, takes a shot of Screech, kisses a codfish and says “in’deed it’is me ol’ cock and long may your big jib draw” along with a few other tasks. If successful, the person gets a Certificate from the Royal Order of Screechers noting their special accomplishment. To explain the saying…

  • indeed it is: here we are
  • me ol’ cock: cock comes from Old English of your “buddy”, meaning my friend
  • jib: sail of a ship
  • draw: is a gust of wind

So here we are my friend, long smooth sailing. It is a fancy way of saying all the best for a worry free life or cheers. Leave it to us Newfoundlanders to make things complicated. :)

I had the opportunity to conduct a special Screech-in Ceremony, which at the Canadian Nation-2-Nation party while studying in Prague, Czech Republic at the Kamikaze (Face-2-Face) club in front of hundreds of people. Each week a different country had the opportunity to host a party teaching other exchange students and residents about each others Home Country. It was a Halloween celebration and about 20 Canadian Exchange students had the opportunity to host the party. We made Ceasars as a welcome drink, pancakes with maple syrup, nanaimo bars (a big hit) and lots of Halloween candy, pumpkins were carved and we were well dressed. I was a Mountie, we had cowgirls from Calgary, Canadian bacon and real lumber jacks. We showed a presentation highlighting our beautiful country and then played a game. It was elimination style…best two of three to chug maple syrup, next best to shotgun a giant can of Molson Canadian advances to have the opportunity to become an Honourary Canadian. Well, then I make my appearance…Captain Jack with my bright yellow rubber boots (thank you Theresa) from the waters of the Strait of Belle Isle with today’s catch “carp” (Czech speciality). I baptized the person with the salt water, got them down on their knucks, thought em’ how to do a jig, drink the screech, kiss the carp and say the words. Truly a great sport and totally deserving of being a resident of our beautiful island. We all danced the night away and I have many fond memories of that night. Thank you everyone….

Screech has become a big part of my tradition to pass on to others. This past Christmas I sent many mini bottles to past co-workers in Edmonton, to Tobias, Reto, David, Marcel, Valerie, Nacho (RIP) and many others. Soon too Benoit you will have the chance to become an honourary Newfoundlander….I hope you all enjoy the black gold as much as I do.

Cheers,

CCM

A Sunset over the Horizon…

Yesterday, I stared out my kitchen window in awe at the magnificant sunset that was on the horizon overlooking the Strait of Belle Isle.

You see the kitchen brings me great comfort. If represents more than scents and smells, it has a childhood of memories of mother preparing a nice meal, baking my favourite banana bread, preserving berries, dates, beets or preparing homemade pickles.

I stopped to reflect for a moment, as I sipped tea out of Aunt Elsie’s cup (thanks again Melissa, it is surely a treasure and will get great use through the years) and put down my book, “Honorary Indian” by Sandi Boucher. This book has been uplifting, inspirational and attitude changing. I highly recommend it, if you would like to feel more positive, empowered, gain inner strengh or about life in general (www.sandiboucher.ca). Thank you Sandi! I just stared at the water, as the waves were silent.

Earlier that day I walked along the shoreline from each end of my community, stared and smiled. You see, I can just reach out and touch “the Big Land” Labrador and enjoy their lights every single night. I hear the waves crash when the wind blows, the icebergs as Spring breaks, whales, seals and seabirds visit frequently. Moreover, I hear the motors as fishing boats leave the wharf to attend their nets and secure their daily catch. It is quite magical to experience the life that exists from the water!

Today, I think of my father, my grandfather and their fathers before them…all made their living from the sea. We have much to be thankful for in my small community….as I go to bed each night and wake up each morning and look out the kitchen window, see the water and think…these are the kinds of things dreams are made from…

The water represents a special place in my heart, quite possibly all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I will not take such a treasure for granted.

Take time to find your special place and keep your dreams alive,

CCM

Sunday Dinner

Today, I had dinner with my grandmother, an intelligent youthful person at the mere age of 78. She certainly can put up a good meal. We chatted, as we ate fried vegetables (greens, potatoes, salt meat, onion and oil) and other remnants of yesterday’s Sunday dinner. It was very special as we had an opportunity to reflect on her first summers of coming to the community which has become her home for 6 decades. She makes the very best puddings and I always tell her. Today, I inquired further as to how and when she learned. As the oldest child, she learned from her mother at a very young age and passed on these skills to her younger siblings. In her words, “everyone had to contribute”. Everyone learned a variety of talents that prepared them as they progressed to take on the world. It seems we are losing some very valuable customs and traditions as not everyone chooses to learn.

I will share with you how to prepare Sunday’s Dinner, since it is my favorite traditional Newfoundland meal. It is chicken or turkey with stuffing, potatoes, carrots, turnips, greens, cabbage, potatoes, gravy, peas pudding and our famous salt beef. We also have a selection of other puddings that may be served with the meal: bread pudding, raisin pudding (locally referred to as “figgy duff”), molasses pudding, blackberry, partridge berry and there are many others! My grandmother makes the best raisin puddings and molasses puddings. Yum!

SUNDAY DINNER

  • 1 Whole Chicken, Turkey, Moose Roast or other meat product
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 6-8 medium potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 medium turnip (peel and slice)
  • 1 medium cabbage (cut in wedges)       
  • Slices of slightly stale bread
  • Onion
  • Ground Pepper
  • Salt
  • Spices (thyme, basil or rosemary)
  • Butter
  1. Prepare stuffing by soaking slightly stale bread in water. Squeeze to remove excess water. Add melted butter, salt, black pepper and seasoning (basil, rosemary or thyme).
  2. Prepare chicken or meat, lightly salt. Place stuffing inside chicken, excess can be wrapped in foil. In a roasting pan, place chicken and add water. Cook on 350 F, lightly baste and add an onion for flavour. 
  3. Soak salt meat overnight, drain and place in large cooking pot. Tie peas in cloth bag (locally referred to as “peas pudding bag”); however, a mason jar with a few holes punched at the top will also be sufficient. Put peas in pot with salt beef. Cover beef and peas with water. Heat to boiling, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Prepare vegetables. Small carrots and potatoes may be left whole, larger ones are to be cut in half. Slice turnip and cut cabbage into wedges. After meat and peas have cooked for 2-2.5 hours add vegetables and cook until tender, adding the cabbage last.
  5. Remove peas from bag, place in bowl and mash with butter and black pepper to make peas pudding.
  6. Remove salt meat and slice. Remove vegetables and place on platter and serve.

FIGGIE DUFF

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk or water
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • Pinch of salt

Combine dry ingredients, add milk and egg. Put in a cloth or spring container and boil for two hours.

MOLASSES PUDDING

  • 1 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups flour

Mix together molasses, sugar and spices in a bowl. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to first mixture, then add melted butter and raisins. Mix well. Add sifted flour a little at a time. Put in greased pudding mould and steam 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Hope you enjoy! I certainly did this past Sunday with my grandma, mom, her partner and my three aunts. Many great talks or yarns happen around the kitchen table in rural Newfoundland, both in the past and still today.

Hello world!

Hello world! Blogging is a new concept for me. I am looking forward to the adventure as I share with you a life of rural Newfoundland. Together we have an opportunity to learn from each other, share knowledge, opinions and experiences.

A little about me…

I was born and bred in rural Newfoundland, growing up in a small fishing village on the Northern Peninsula. The fishery still remains the backbone of the economy in my hometown, but is evolving and so are the people living in our region. We struggle to continue with our strong sense of community and tradition, as the rest of the world and popular culture has become more accessible to us. Influences, such as mobilization and technology steadily advanced, enabling me to share news, jokes, yarns or stories via blog, which would typically be handled at the commons (the wharf, fishing rooms, sheds, or over a drink at the kitchen table).  Although, these advancements bring new challenges to traditional means of the social commons in rural Newfoundland, there is an opportunity to share with you our messages of Live Rural Newfoundland with the wonderful world around us.

I left the region to attend post-secondary at the capital city, St. Johns. Basically, following in the footsteps of my sibling and other cousins. This was a big move, an unknown world to me. My hometown has a population of 150 people, the city and surrounding area about 150,000. That’s intense and complete culture shock! However, I adapted and enjoyed the change in lifestyle, the sheer convenience of a city. It help me build my self-confidence, become open-minded and meet an array of people to share experiences. One opportunity leads to another, if you decide to take these measures to allow for greater personal development. I spent a year studying and working in Europe, visiting many countries and living in cities with millions of people that speak different languages. This cross-cultural experiences established an understanding and built relationships I never thought could exist in a lifetime. Recently, I returned from living in Western Canada after travelling all the provinces in Canada to my home, rural Newfoundland.

I am back to the hometown and able to make valuable contributions in my current role as I strive to build Stronger Communities and accelerate the process of advancing the social & community enterprise. I have changed many times as a person as I progress through my twenties, but I realize that with the right attitude and efforts we can accomplish the unthinkable. Today my friends, I just want to share with you what it means to me to continue to Live Rural Newfoundland.

Cheers,

CCM -

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