Friday, 3 April 2009

How to spend a pleasant afternoon . . .

Some days are just diamonds! We had just such a day yesterday afternoon here at Oak Cottage. The son of some friends of ours had been telling me for a while now that he really wanted to come out and cook with me some afternoon. I thought it was a wonderful idea!!

As you know, my own family lives quite far from here, and there are times that I miss them very much. I am used to having a kitchen full of teens and their friends. I am used to cooking for a crowd. I am used to the hustle and bustle that comes from having a rather large family and sometimes I find it to be very quiet around here. I miss the noise . . . I miss the busyness of it all . . . I miss the company.

Mind you, that is not all the time . . . there are lots of times I am glad that we are just we two, and that it's nice and quiet here.

Anyways, because Michael was on his Easter Holidays and I had a free afternoon without anything much to do . . . and because we had invited the missionaries over for supper, I decided that yesterday would be a good afternoon to have Michael over and have him cook with me!

Nothing fancy mind you . . . just plain old family type of food. Things that he wouldn't find too hard to do, and things that the missionaries would enjoy eating. Stuff like Meat Loaf and Scalloped Potatoes. Man Food.

Michael very graciously had brought along a CD of Opera singing for us to listen to while we worked. He's a very musical lad and that was so kind of him. Me, I'm quite tolerant of all sorts of music. Playing the clarinet myself, and having learned to do so when I was a teen, has helped me to be quite appreciate of many different kinds of music . . . some people are not quite as happy about it. Michael and I puttered away in the kitchen, while the fat lady sang . . . Todd busied himself upstairs putting together bookcases. Jess went out and lay in the garden. Everyone was happy.

I put Michael to work peeling vegetables for the Parsnip and Carrot mash we were going to have with our meal. We chatted away and before we knew it all of our preparations were done. Now, Michael is an excellent pianist and we have a piano in our back room that is sorely lacking in attention. Michael so very graciously played for me . . . Claire De Lune . . . hymns . . . it was beautiful.

Before I knew it Lamb Chop had entered the picture and was singing along. I expect that after an afternoon of listening to Pavarotti and such, he was feeling quite musical himself.

He even joined in by tinkling the ivories with Michael for a duet, or two, or three . . . it was quite fun!!!

We really did have a wonderful afternoon. Michael was really fun to cook with. He didn't mind peeling oodles of vegetables. He didn't mind grating oodles of cheese. He didn't mind mucking in and getting his hands dirty with meatloaf mixture. He didn't mind listening to my cheesy jokes and old lady conversation!

Before we knew it, the missionaries had arrived and we were all sitting down and tucking into our meal. What ensued was a pleasant hour or so of some pretty fun conversation, lots of good food and wonderful companionship! Michael wants to do it again in a couple of weeks time. He likes to cook curries, and so I think I'll let him take the lead on that one. I'll buy the ingredients, and let him do all the work. It sounds like perfect plan to me!

One of the things we made was this delicious Broccoli Salad. I'm sure there are hundreds of versions floating around out there, but this is the one we made. The recipe comes from one of my Amish Cookbooks, "Cooking From Quilt Country", by Marcia Adams. I can remember watching her cooking show on the PBS channel back in Canada. I used to really enjoy it and I have all of her Amish Cookbooks. I just love anything Amish, and I love this salad.

*Broccoli Salad*
Serves 10 to 12

This is colourful, sweet and crunchy. I can't really tolerate raw broccoli, so I have varied the recipe somewhat in that I blanch the broccoli for two minutes first. That really helps me to be able to digest it better. I just love this salad!

2 bunches of broccoli
10 thin slices of bacon
1 large red onion
1/3 cup dark raisins
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS cider vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped nuts (you can use toasted sunflower seeds,
but I used toasted chopped walnuts)

Cut the broccoli florets into small than bite sized pieces. Drop them into a pot of boiling salted water. Blanch for no more than two minutes, then drain immediately and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking any further. Drain well and pat dry. Place them into a large bowl and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Set aside on paper toweling to drain and cool.

Peel the onion and slice lengthwise. Then cut into julienne strips. Add them to the broccoli in the bowl, along with the raisins and bacon.

Place the mayonnaise in a clean and empty jar. Add the cider vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Give it a good shake to combine. Pour this over the vegetables and give them a good stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, giving them a stir from time to time.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and stir in the nuts. Delicious!


  1. I agree with you Marie.It's lovely to have company for a change but also lovely to be quiet and alone or just the two of you.It sounds you had the best time.What a lovely lad Micheal is and I love the picture of them all tucking in.Well Done Micheal (Clap Clap) from me.Then again who wouldn't enjoy the afternoon with you Marie.Thankyou for sharing the pics.Have a lovely Friday dull and cool here this morning a chilly breeze.Just been out to feed the birds with leftovers from yesterday.LOL!!Pooterbeen in to be fixed ( facelift and surgery He-He)so sorry I havn't been around this past week.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  2. Ali from Ireland3 April 2009 at 10:54

    Sounds like a fun afternoon and evening! Marie if you have a good recipe for meat loaf please could you post it sometime... All your recipes turn out so well when I make them and I've been looking for a good meat loaf recipe for some time. All the best, Ali.

  3. Sounds as if you had alovely fun afternoon. Boys seem to love cooking these days I know my son loves to cook and always has done and it makes me very proud. He came down one evening while I was ill and cooked up a storm for my freezer to help hubby out. Have a lovely weekend. Love Joan

  4. I love the Marcia Adams cookbooks too. And the cooking programs were fun to watch. There are good kids out there and Michael proves it.

  5. I'm like you and enjoy company sometimes. When my boys were growing up they were always in the kitchen. They loved to eat and also became very good cooks too. The salad sounds so good. It's another I've put on my list to try out. Have a wonderf Friday!
    'On Ya'-ma

  6. I agree with ali. I would to see your meat loaf recipe! I cannot make good meatloaf, at least not the kind that I love. I jsut have never seen the recipe for the kind I had a few years ago when a baptist church in Winston Salem, NC prepared the "wake" meal for my uncle. It was so light and tender and tasty.
    Michael looks like such a sweet, talented and smart young man. What a wonderful time yo all had from stt to finish!Stuff of great memories!!!

  7. What a lovely meal! I have a similar recipe for Broccoli Salad and I'm going to try your tip of blanching the broccoli for a couple of minutes. Carrot and Parsnip Mash sounds delicious - was there any special seasoning you added?

  8. The best kind of day...what delight for you all! Such fun to see the photos of Michael, Todd and the Missioneries...oh, and can't for get Lamb Chop! ;o) So glad you had one of those special, magic moments kind of days. :o) Oh, how I would loved to have also been around your table! hubby & I think and talk and reminisce all the time of our summer visit to you...*sigh*... :o) Very lovely broccoli recipe. I just love broccoli--could eat it daily! Oh, yes, do share your meatloaf recipe--I know hubby would love it! ;o) I may be offline tomorrow, but hope we get a chance to chat on Sunday--hooray! Stop by my place during the weekend, if you get a chance, I have a little giveaway I hope to share then along with something new and fun! Happy weekend, dearest friend...LOVE YOU HEAPS!! ((BIG HUGS))

  9. I got the same broccoli salad recipe from a friend many years ago and then Canadian Living magasine featured it in one issue with this change, using half plain yoghurt for half the mayonnaise and a little lemon juice (Instead of vinegar) and you know what? We liked it even more and I make it that way all the time now. It is a summer potluck favourite.

    Btw, I love it when boys cook!

  10. This looked like such a fun way to spend a, music, boys...ahhh what a wonderful life you lead!

  11. What a wonderful afternoon! Michael sounds like a wonderful young man. I love that Lambchop joined in the fun too!

    And that broccoli salad looks wonderful. Perfect for some warm weather. (It's snowing here again today)


    PS - I am so jealous that Sade lives near you. I love her music!!!

  12. What a wonderful day you had. I can just imagine the fun you had. You wrote about it so well that I can picture you two cooking away having a great time together. The missionaries and Todd look like they really enjoyed your efforts.

    I love broccoli salad.... but I usually only make it for holidays. maybe I will make it for dinner and surprise my family... they will think it is a holiday.

    Johnny is off to Colorado to compete in the regional (9 states) gymnastic meet this weekend. It is a 12 hour drive so none of us went with him... I wish we could have gone...our love is with him. He won the right to attend because he took first in 4 events at state.

    Loni is competing this weekend too. Her event is only an hour and a half to two hours away so we will go to that one. We don't want to have to pay for a motel so we will drive back late tonight.

    As you can see we have a fun day ahead. We all are sending you our love... I know you will be wishing us good luck as well.
    Have a great weekend. Love, Lura

  13. I've been looking for a good broccoli recipe and this one sounds delicious. Thanks for giving it to us. blessings, marlene

  14. I too can't eat raw broc, not even a little bit. This recipe sounds good. I think I will let the broc be warm so it will absorb that lovely dressing even more.

    love, Angie, xx

  15. What a great day you had. And nothing is better on a mothers heart seeing those cute missionaries enjoying a meal with a great family! I sure hope that there is someone like you for my boy.

    Dinner was probably wonderful. And you had a good time fixing it!!
    Have a good day.

  16. I adore teens (especially boys) that want to cook. My 15 year old daughter is an amazing cook, and I hope it serves her well. Many teens nowadays don't have much regard for the "home arts". Most adults here in my local city don't have much regard for it either. I am, quite literally, the only person I know that cooks on a regular basis. My across-the-street neighbors eat out 3 times daily. And I am not exaggerating! Can you imagine?

    Thanks for showing the photos of your kitchen. I love seeing interiors of other bloggers homes. I think it really gives a feeling of that person.

    Garden Painter Art

  17. I love Michael I think is so nice Marie, is lovely!Im happy you really enjoy this afternoon. Some days are so perfecta and we don`t want finish!! but is the life. But is so nice.
    And I love Lamb chop!!! huggs and kisses to; Todd (je), you of course my friend , Michael and Lamb chop. Blessings and have alovely and nice weekend. Gloria xxxx
    Of course "our mouses" are well Esperanza love them Thanks God are as Stuart Little!!!! bbrrrs!!

  18. This is quite a different broccoli salad then the one my mom makes, I need to try yours too!

  19. I love how Lamp Chop snuck in there! That was so cute. Michael sounds like a wonderful guy. How old is he? My sister needs a good bf....

    Oh, and I wanted to tell you. They built a Mormon Temple here in SA with a HUGE cross you can see from down on the highway. I'm going to try and find a picture for you at work--I think our photographer took a picture at their grand opening. I thought you'd get a kick out of it!


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