Thursday, 13 November 2008
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!!!
5 ounces flour
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
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.