Yesterday, as I told you, we were bowling with our Travel League. This month we were visiting Elmira Bowl which is about half an hour out of town for us. I had forgotten until we passed through St. Jacobs and the surrounding countryside towards Elmira, how large a Mennonite community there is in this area. Yesterday we saw several Mennonite buggies driving around, a couple of which were open and must have been damned chilly even yesterday which was pretty sunny. The Crossroads restaurant I mentioned where we had lunch is run by this community so all the girls are wearing their traditional clothes and bonnets - I always admire the women's dresses, they are beautifully made and simple in design but quite elegant. St. Jacobs is famous for its market and of course a lot of it is run by the Mennonites who own many of the farms in the area. They are a religious group and have their own doctrines. They basically don't believe in modern technology and therefore use horses for ploughing and pulling their buggies and so on. I don't know about the level of technology in their homes, but TV is out and they are a much better community for it. However, some of the younger Mennonites are breaking away from tradition and do drive cars these days and take part in more modern activities. I have never been fortunate enough to make friends with any of the families, but from casual interactions they always seem to be very nice and cheerful. Not to mention hard working, kind and caring.
St. Jacobs is also home to two small theatres, the Country Playhouse and the Schoolhouse Theatre. There is a group known as Drayton Entertainment who stage plays all round southern Ontario and we usually try and see some of their shows. I am booked to see four of them this summer and am looking forward to it. The first time we went was for my birthday a few years ago and we saw Joseph and His Technicoloured Dream Coat which we hadn't seen anywhere before. It was beautifully done and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We went for dinner at Benjamin's in St. Jacobs before the show and then drove to Drayton itself to their Festival Theatre which is a fair distance away. A couple of years ago, I went with a friend to the Huron County Theatre to see the Mikado, that theatre is in Grand Bend which is a couple of hours' (or more) drive away, we went to the matinée and arrived in time to have a picnic in the sunshine in front of the theatre, it was a great day and the production would not have shamed d'Oyle Carte in London who specialise in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. The Mikado arrived on stage by being driven in a golf cart right through the audience. Pretty funny. Matt is not going to any of the shows this year as there is nothing he particularly wants to see, so I am going with friends. I also plan to go to the pantomime in St. Jacobs this Christmas. We went to see their Alladin which was based on the wonderful British Pantos; this year they are doing Cinderella. Great fun and great theatre. Traditionally there is always a pantomime dame who is played by a man. In England dames have been played by some very famous comedians. One of whom was John Inman of Are You Being Served fame. I bet he was good, I would have liked to see him.
Here's a nice hearty meal, I got this from a friend in England, but I don't know where he got it from although from the measurements it must have been from North America.
Belgian Beef Carbonnade
2 Tablespoon Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1 1/2 lb. Round steak, 1" cubes (any good stewing beef)
1/4 Cup Butter
3 Large Onions, sliced
1/2 Bay leaf
1/8 Teaspoon Dried thyme
1/4 Cup Chopped celery leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoon Brown sugar
1 1/4 Cup Beer
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1/2 Garlic clove, halved
1/8 Cup Chopped parsley
Blend together the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika, in a large bowl. Roll the meat cubes in this mixture until they are well coated.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, and Sauté over medium heat until they are softened and tender. Be careful not to brown the onions. Remove the onions from the pan with a perforated spoon, pressing out as much fat as possible.
Place the same pan over high heat and sear the cubes of meat, a few at a time. This operation will give color to the finished Carbonnade. Return the onions and meat to the pan, and set it over low heat.
Add the seasonings, brown sugar and beer. Bring to a simmer, while stirring. Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Add the 1 tablespoon vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve with a dish of boiled potatoes and a beet salad or pickled beets.
Have a great day.