Friday, August 26, 2016

Emigration Story for Gary.

A very good blogging buddy, whom most of you will know as Penny's alleged human, has been having all kinds of problems getting into Canada. Although he was born in the UK, his parents live in BC and he visits regularly. Some of his visits last quite a while I gather. I think he may finally have got it sorted and will be winging his way to BC any day. Anyway, Gary, this post is for you.

His story reminded me of the saga of us trying to emigrate some 40 odd years ago. It all started when the Canadian prison service came to the UK recruiting prison offices in England to come to
Canada. Unfortunately we were on vacation with my parents in Spain. When we returned Matt was somewhat unhappy that this had happened. However, I didn't want to go one little bit. So he let it drop. Yours truly mulled over the situation for a while and then said maybe we should consider it. Matt immediately produced all kinds of leaflets. Hmm!! So then it started. We went to Ontario house in London where an employee informed us there were no jobs to be had in Canada at that time. In the end, Matt flew to Canada (something we could hardly afford at the time) had an interview with the Canadian prison service, got a contract of employment and returned. Whilst doing this he stayed with the English guys who had been recruited before. Returning to Ontario House, the man told us we couldn't possibly get all the medical "stuff" done in a short time, would take a year or more he said. He didn't know the prison service in the UK. Matt knew all kinds of doctors through the prison system and we got the tests done in a few days. We then returned to Ontario House with all the documents and the little man  (little Hitler)was flabbergasted, but still insisted we couldn't possibly go, not sure why now. By this time the best part of a year had flown by. Matt blew up and insisted on seeing a supervisor. She came along, asked what the problem was, we explained it, she said no problem and stamped everything cleared right away. I would like to think the little man got into trouble, but I suppose he didn't. I don't remember if he was a Canadian or a Brit.

Then, we put the house up for sale and Matt hi tailed it to take up his job in Canada and I stayed
Vicious Dog
behind to sort everything out. We had two German Shepherds at the time and I was assured the older one would never make the trip. I ended having to have her put to sleep. Cried my eyes out that day. However, we did take the younger one with us. By this time, my newly widowed mother was staying with me and was driving me up the wall, sorry everyone, we just did not get along. In the end I just packed up myself and the dog, sent my mother to her wards and boarded a plane to Toronto. When I got there, with 6 suitcases and a dog in a crate, I found Matt the wrong side of customs, he had persuaded them to let him through to help me. We turned round to see the crate in which the dog, Brandy, was penned to find out one of the customs officers had let her out and was playing with her. Encounter with little Hitler #2 who came blustering along to tell us to put this dangerous animal back in her crate. She was licking the other guy to death!! We said there was no way we could carry the crate with us and swore blind we would return for it. We never did. We had a Pinto, small car, poor Brandy was sitting on the back seat in a small space left to her by the 6 suitcases. By this time I was not too impressed with Canadian officialdom.

I may have mentioned, a time or two, how much I love chocolate. When I saw this recipe today, I couldn't resist sharing it.

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Food and Wine

Pastry star Gale Gand layers her phenomenal, high-rising cake with an intensely chocolaty custard
and coats it with cake crumbs.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
2/3 cup cornstarch
6 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and coat lightly with flour. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the 1 stick of butter with the shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla. At very low speed, beat in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 2 1/4 cups of cake flour and the milk in 3 separate alternating batches, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl occasionally.

2. MAKE THE CAKE Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then invert them onto a rack and let cool completely.

3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a large saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup of water until smooth; whisk into the cocoa mixture. Cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Scrape the filling into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling (you should have about 5 cups). Let cool, then refrigerate until firm, 45 minutes.

4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING Using a serrated knife, halve each cake layer horizontally. Break up the less attractive top cake layer and transfer to a food processor; pulse into crumbs. Reserve the two cake bottoms and one smoother top.

5. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING Set one of the cake bottoms on a cake plate and spread with 1 1/2 cups of the filling. Top with the second bottom layer and another 1 1/2 cups of filling. Cover with the cake top and spread the remaining filling all over the top and side. Pat the crumbs all over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


7. The chocolate cake can be refrigerated overnight.

Servings: 10

Author Notes
Natural cocoa powder is one of two types of unsweetened cocoa. It's bitter and adds intense chocolate flavor to the cake. Don't use Dutch-process or other alkalized cocoa; when combined with baking soda, it can make a cake taste soapy.

Have a great day


  1. Sounds like officialdom anywhere, Jo. There always seems to be at least one pedantic idiot who has to go on a power trip. I was once a public servant and I always tried to put myself in my clients' shoes and, while I had to enforce the rules, I started from the assumption that I was there to help people, not make life difficult - which was what most of my colleagues did, too. I did have a few times when I had to fight with someone who was more rigid but there are always 'little Hitlers' in every organisation unfortunately.

    1. I guess so Helen, but it ain't no fun when you are on the receiving end.

  2. Hi Jo - wonderfully written story about your journey to Canada: I hadn't realised that was your starting point across the pond. Obviously a successful decision - glad you were able to take Brandy with you ... I sincerely hope Gary's trip will occur quickly for him ... cheers Hilary

    Horrid - how some people get addicted to officialdom and authority: petty minds, I guess ...

    1. Thanks Hilary. It was a pain at the time but it was a long time ago now. I hope so for Gary's sake.

      Isn't it just?

  3. So now you will have to tell us how you ended up in North Carolina.

  4. I cannot believe the problems Gary's been having. I hope he's on his way. I thought about moving to Canada when I was younger but I hear it's not so easy. One of my friends is up there in grad school and she's been vocal on FB about how hard it is to get established, even with a reason to be in Canada like college.

    1. I wrote a comment and then scrubbed it. It isn't easy to get into Canada JoJo, friends tried very hard. They even had a home in BC, but the government wouldn't let them stay as they were already retired.

  5. This was interesting to read. That would have been hard about the dog, but I understand it having to deal with Koda in his final days and our upcoming move at the time to Arizona. Even before we knew his cancer came back I was wondering how he would make the trip, get used to new surroundings, etc. Hard choices to make, but seems at least you could bring the one dog with you.


    1. Yes it was hard Betty and I often wonder whether the other dog, Gypsy, would have made it after all. But no good broking back.

  6. There are a lot of people in this world who let a tiny bit of power go to their head and it infuriates me.They make life so difficult. That was really interesting, Jo.

  7. Trying to cross over is always so hard. It seems they want you to jump through hoops usually whe. It is on fire. So sad about your older dog but if you had to put her down or she dies on the way here, it would have been worse. Little Hitler sounds like a true idiot

    1. It was hard Birgit, but we got through it in the end and have very much enjoyed living in North America.

  8. Hi Jo,

    First of all, I wish to gratefully thank you for putting this post up. Second of all, sincere apologies for taking this long to respond. Yes, I'm that flustered with the bureaucratic lunacy I've encountered with Canadian immigration.

    Your own story of uprooting to Canada and the problems encountered, makes me realise the more you want to get things done simply, the more the powers that be seem to complicate it.

    The heartbreaking situation with your one dog that you had put to sleep is so very sad. At least, despite the idiotic crap, you and Brandy went through, ended, despite the official.

    Thank you for this. I think I need some chocolate, eh.


    1. Bureaucratic lunacy is a good description Gary. At the time we were totally p**ed off but it worked out in the end, I hope it will for you too. Chocolate is a good idea Gary, think I'll join you eh?