Thursday, 13 November 2008

Forbidden Places

There was a special place that I loved to go as a girl that was forbidden territory. No, it wasn't in the woods or down the lane, or even across the road. It was within the four walls of our family home . . . my parent's bedroom. That was one place that, as children, we were never allowed to venture. Even now as an adult, I wait to be invited before I will enter my mother's bedroom space.

Being invited in was always a truly wonderful pleasure. It smelled different than any other room in the house, like clean linen and my mother's favourite perfume, which was Ma Griffe. My parents had the same bedroom furniture for years. White laminated wood, with gold knobs on the dressers. There was a highboy, which was my dad's, a lower chest of drawers, my mom's and a bed with a bookcase headboard. My dad always had a lamp hanging from the back of the bed as he was a ravenous reader and I expect still is. They also had four pillows, two a piece, whilst us children each only had one. For years they had an old chenille bedspread covering the bed, and a spare blanket folded over the end.

I do confess . . . I used to sneak inside when nobody was looking. What a magical territory it was. My father's top dresser drawer always smelled like a combination of tobacco, leather, cork grease (he played the clarinet) and the sweet smell of butterscotch wafers that he kept inside as his own secret treat. There would be his handkerchiefs all laid out neatly, pressed and folded, some old wallets, his leather belts. I never ever had the courage to look in any other one of his drawers. Even today when I go to my mother's home and open the top dresser drawer of my dad's dresser in the spare room . . . it still smells like him, although he has not lived there in many years.

My mother's dresser was as feminine as my father's was masculine. There was always a pretty dresser runner on top, embroidered of course, and usually by her. My mum loves jewelery and always has done. It was always a special treat to be allowed to look through her jewelry box, and indeed one whole drawer was devoted just to jewelry and pretty silk scarves. She had one set of jewelry that was black enameled butterflies, all linked together and backed with gold. There was a necklace and bracelet and earrings of the screw back kind. They lay in a small balsa wood box all lined with tissue paper. Oh how I coveted those butterflies and longed to make them mine. I still do. She also had a set of black Alaska diamonds that included a necklace and earrings, that I used to admire. They are quite old fashioned now, but at the time I thought them the most beautiful thing in the world. There were other trinkets as well . . . two flat pendants with the Lord's prayer on them made from copper pennies that had been flattened and pressed out in an oval shape . . . the words to the Lord's prayer stamped into their cool metal surface . . . A small silver cross that was mine from when I was a baby along with some silver pendants that were Christ's robes. My sister's was just plain silver, but mine was silver with a white enamel surface and looked just like someones robe. We were only allowed to wear them at Easter and as I grew the silver cross no longer fit . . .

As a child it was a rare treat to be invited into that room and a very rare treat indeed to be invited in to my parent's bed. I can only remember three times in particular when it was allowed, one of which was when my mother's father had passed away and we all sat in there on my parent's bed crying . . . I don't know why but laying in my parent's bed always felt magical and I can remember floating away as if on a cloud on the very few times I was allowed to sleep there. Indeed in the month or so before I met my Todd, an old flame had come up from Georgia to visit me at my mother's house and was given my room to sleep in and I slept with my mother during that week. It still felt special and a privilege to me and I slept like a lamb.

Although that old furniture is mostly all gone now, except for the high boy dresser, which still sits in the spare room . . . . my mother's room still remains a room of mystery and magic to me. It's just full of lovely trinkets and things that we children have given her throughout the years. When I am invited in I still tiptoe in as if I were a child that has been invited to a special party . . . and it still smells like my mom . . . all dainty and perfumed . . .

Oh my how I have enjoyed that little visit into my parent's bedroom this morning. It's what was on my mind last night as I lay in bed. I do not have any more news of my daughter in law as of yet. I expect things are going fairly well and she is still in hospital. They say no news is good news and I am relying on that. Many thanks for your continued prayers.

I have done a little slide show of my new kitchen for you all to have a look at. It's not quite finished yet. There is still some painting to be done and some tiles to be redone. Also we are waiting on a drawer unit where I will be able to store my pots and pans in that has not arrived yet, but shouldn't be long now. You can click on any one of the views and it will open up into a larger still photo for you to look at in closer detail if you like. I just love my new kitchen. It's so neat and tidy. The old units were a lot smaller and there was a lot fewer of them, so all seemed cramped and over crowded. This looks like a whole new room and so much bigger and open! I am well pleased!!!

I did manage to get the Cookbook Challenge done yesterday afternoon during my break. Todd feasted on leftover roast dinner and I feasted on Italian Baked Pancakes with Tomatoes and Cheese . . . yummo! This was rich and comforting and lovely. I think your family will love this. (I will put a new challenge up shortly!)

*Italian Baked Pancakes with Cheese and Tomato*
Serves 4 to 6

Instead of pasta this recipe uses pancakes, not the fluffy North American kind, but the British kind which are very similar to crepes. Lovely and rich and oozing with cheese, this was truly delicious. Of course you could make it a lot quicker by using ready made pancakes and sauce, but do try to make your own. It's just that touch better with homemade ingredients, but then again, what isn't!!!

Pancake batter:
5 ounces flour
pinch salt
2 large eggs
4 fluid ounces milk (1/2 cup)
4 fluid ounces water (1/2 cup)
1/2 ounce butter, melted
sunflower oil for frying

Tomato Sauce:
3 TBS olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar to taste
2 X 400g tins of chopped tomatoes, or
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 TBS torn fresh basil leaves

11 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated,
plus more for sprinkling on top

Make the pancake batter. The batter can be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept in the refrigerator in a covered container. Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk together and then make a well in the centre. Drop in the eggs. Mix together the milk and water and begin to whisk it slowly into the eggs and flour, whisking constantly until the batter is smooth and free from lumps. Add the melted butter and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a wide saucepan. Heat. Add the onion, garlic and some salt and pepper. Cook and stir over low heat until the onions are completely soft, without colouring. Add the tomatoes and half of the basil. Leave uncovered and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the remaining basil and season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.

While the tomato sauce is cooking you can cook your pancakes. Place a medium non-stick frying pan over medium high heat and allow it to become very hot. Wipe the pan with a piece of oiled paper kitchen towelling. Put the batter into a jug for ease of pouring. Pour in just enough batter to cover the base of the pan. It will start to cook right away so swirl the pan to spread the batter over the base evenly. Cook on high heat for 30 seconds to one minute until the pancake is golden brown on the edges. Using a palate knife of spatula carefully flip the pancake over and cook the other side until golden brown as well, about 30 seconds to one minute. Remove to a place and cook the remaining pancakes in the same way. You will need eight pancakes altogether. If you have more than that, the extra ones can be stored in the fridge between pieces of wax paper and wrapped in cling film. (Just reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or so and eat rolled up with some lemon juice and sugar sprinkled on top, delicious!)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F.

Put all the cheeses into a bowl and mix them well together.

Spray the bottom of a round casserole dish with some cooking spray. Lay in one of the pancakes. Spread with a thin layer of the cheese mixture. Cover with another pancake and lightly press down. Repeat until all the cheese and 8 pancakes altogether have been used, ending with a pancake on top. Pour the tomato sauce over. I then, took a knife and went around the edges of the casserole dish to allow some of the tomato sauce to seep underneath. Sprinkle the top with some more Parmesan cheese. I also sprinkled a bit of Mozzarella on top.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before spooning out to serve. This goes lovely with a green salad on the side.


  1. We weren't allowed in my parents bedroom either..funny huh? And although not forbidden my kids don't hang out in mine either...your kitchen is so cozy marie..I just love it...

  2. Your kitchen looks very cosy I am going to be in a fine mess in January when mine is being fitted roll on. Hope it looks as nice as yours. I can't remember being allowed in my parents bed at all but maybe I have just forgotten. Love Joan

  3. That looks really good! I never knew British pancakes were different....

    I couldn't see the slideshow, but I'm sure it's lovely!

  4. Love the kitchen redo! We were allowed in our parents bedroom but it was understood that we were not to snoop. I've never heard of that recipe before but I really want to try it!

  5. I remember being fascinated with my mother's dolls. Dad went all over the world and would bring them home to her - Portugal, japan, greece . . . . I LOVE YOUR KITCHEN!! Can't wait till you get your swap package! Heh, heh! The recipe looks fab - must try soon! Much love, Raquel XO

  6. LOVE your new kitchen ..!
    hope you keep on making yummy stuff happily ..!

  7. We weren't allowed in my parents room either but Griffin is always in our room. :) How funny how different that is.

    Your kitchen looks fab!! What a difference! I an sure you are thrilled!!

  8. You brought back many memories. As we were not allowed in our parents room either I used to just accept it. And others weren't allowed in our rooms especially boys. As times have changed I sometimes long for the old customs there is much to be said about the traditions of our fathers and mothers. Also, I love how you describe it all I felt myself walking through your shoes into your parents bedroom especially on the day your grandfather passed.

    I love your kitchen as well. Maybe it was done especially for you since you use that space so much I'm so excited for you. I can hardly wait till mine is completely. Happy Baking, Cooking and Dancing in your kitchen.

    Anxiously awaiting the news on your family and your new cookbook.

  9. Yummo is right! My family would love a dinner like that. If I only had the energy to give it a try. hee hee

    I love your kitchen. Actually seeing your kitchen makes me feel like I know you a little better. Funny how that works!

    You are in our prayers.

    Have a happy day.

  10. The kitchen look so 'you', as I would imagine it. I can just see you there working on your magical creations.

    I too was never allowed in my parents bedroom. It has white you can imagine why.

    Still sending prayers!!!

  11. Now I love your new kitchen Marie! And as for this pancake recipe of yours....I JUST HAVE to make it! I've printed off the recipe - Ooooh they do look good.

  12. Reading this Marie I felt as though I too was looking through your Dears Mothers jewelery box and loved it.My Neice who is 15 yrs younger than myself was only telling me last year how she loved to go to my bedroom with me when I was first married and I used to show her mine when she was a young girl.Strange how these things excite us isn't it.I never went in my Mother and Fathers bedroom as I had no call to, unless my Mother was ill of course,but I along with three sisters wern't forbidden.
    I've had a kitchen just like your new one Marie at one of my homes over the years,only with drop bronze handles.Cathedral style.It looks lovely and I am glad you are happy with it all.The cheese and tomatoe dish,well I darn't give it a second thought, as I am doing well right now keeping away from cheese dishes which is one of my favourite yummy.Have a lovely evening.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  13. Such a funny story, Marie! I remember my sister and I used to jump up and down on my parents nice, big, soft bed...usually while my mom was on the phone and didn't know--LOL! Your kitchen is looking wonderful--LOVE your new oak cabinets. They make the room seem so much brighter. Fun with the slide show for us to see! :o) This pancake dish looks delicious. I've not made or even tried anything quite like that...I'm intrigued! But I love anything Italian! Waiting on baby news from home...sooo exciting tonight!! Hope to catch you on MSN for a chat during the weekend. Happy Day, dear friend ((BIG HUGS))

  14. I love your kitchen Marie. And your new window is beautiful! I have never heard of British pancakes. But it looks lovely. I will give it a try! Have a wonderful day!

  15. Almost a pancake lasagna. It looks totally good. I will have to try this one.

    Love the kitchen. Altho, I love the look of a cozy kitchen it would fill up way too quickly, which my new kitchen did seem to do.

    My folk's room was never really off limits, just boring. I do, however, remember helping my mom chase a bat out of the room when she left the window open one night. I loved it, she was not a happy camper.

  16. How kids are in my room all the time. (sometimes I wish they wouldn't love my room so.)
    Looking through my grandmas' earring collection still makes me happy as well.. :)

  17. Looks Great Marie! -the kitchen and the recipe. How many eggs do you add to the batter?, did I miss it?
    Hope to try it soon,

  18. I like your new kitchen. The cupboards are similar to mine. I love nice warm-looking wood.

    We used to play hide and seek in my parents' room because yoou could hide under the bed. It wasn't allowed near Christmas though because under the bed and on top of the wardrobe was where the toys were hidden. Now how did I know that?

    The recipe sounds delish. I often freeze leftover pancakes as they do come in handy. I sometimes make fake canneloni (sp?)!!

    love, Angie, xx

  19. I love your post Marie, is so nice, I remember well too my parent's bedroom and I love it!!!but in my now the childs seeTV, sleep, read and a lot of things, at night when Im in bed come Gerardito sometimes and said May I stay by a while???? of course I say!! many times he sleep in a moment and we have to wake up to go him bed.. Ands the childs always say Why you and Dad have two pillows, and I said because I read at night, butnow they have other pillow too.

    Love your kitchen!!!! I have to say you is beautiful, now some things I have how you!! The little boxes, garnish etc. when I can I will take some pictures and I will send you, yes I love your window is so beauty and nice.
    Nice recipe and tasty.
    We continue pray! xxGloria

  20. as i type my kids are sleeping in my bed:) joey is gone tonight for a YM mini-mission thing(he is the first counselor) and they are sleeping at people's houses. so, no hubby tonight:( but when i told the girls they could sleep in my bed, oh how their eyes lit up! they just love our room and love the occasions when they get to lay/sleep in our bed. and i remember that from when i was a kid too-just LOVING to be in my parents bed. it was so cozy and i just felt protected, warm and safe.

    p.s. your kitchen is so cute! i just love it.

  21. What a great looking new kitchen! I want one too!!!!

  22. I really like the sound of this savoury pancake bake!

  23. I know you posted this a few days ago now but I've only just seen it and i wanted to say.. I love these pancakes! We have that book and my Mum has made these a few times before - absolutely delicious. We shall have to make it again soon!


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