Friday, 10 April 2009

Loveliest of Trees



Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of Trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
~A E Housman

The Post Office of a nearby village is flanked on the right hand side by two lovely cherry trees and every year about this time they are abundantly bedecked in beautiful cherry blossom. I could sit and gaze at them for hours, they are so beautiful to look at. The sight of all those ruffly little blossoms does my heart good and makes it sing with joy.



It is spring epitomized and because it is usually Easter time when they appear, it is also the sign of hope for me. All winter long the tree has lay dormant . . . it's branches dark and bare and then . . . with the increasing hours of daylight and the warming rays of the spring sunshine they come alive and little green buds quicken and grow . . . and then it seems that overnight the branches are suddenly filled to overflowing with that ruffled pink and white sweetness. The air scented with the fragrance of a million blooms and full of the buzz of a hundred bumbly bees flitting from blossom to blossom . . .




And what of the man who says there is no God . . . can he ever have really looked at a cherry tree in the springtime and seen it for what it is?? Can he have ever really kissed a baby's toes, closed his eyes and listened to the wild birds sing, or scratched a puppy's nose?? Oh sure . . . he may have done those things, but what of that swelling in the heart that comes from the peace and love and hope that comes from doing all those things and knowing that this life . . . this life is only a pale reflection of all the joy that is to come, and that all that is good here . . . is only a whisper of the sweetness that is ours to find when we finally make our way home to our Father's side.



Just my thoughts on this Good Friday morning . . . I praise God for His infinite wisdom and for His most precious gift . . . and for the lovelist of trees . . . the cherry tree . . .

I made the loveliest soup for our supper last night, a simple cauliflower cheese soup, garnished with some toasted buttered bread crumbs, and on the side? Why, a delicious Cheese and Black Pepper Bread. A simple supper, yes . . . but fit for a King.



*Cauliflower Cheese Soup*
Makes 5 cups

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup grated strong cheddar cheese
For the buttered bread crumbs:
1 cup fresh soft white bread crumbs
2 TBS butter
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Place the cauliflower into a pot with the chicken stock. Bring the boil, then cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Do not drain. Allow to cool for a bit, then run it through a blender to puree. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onion and saute until the onion is softened and fragrant. Do not brown. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute then slowly whisk in the milk. Heat and whisk until it boils and thickens. Add the cauliflower mixture and the cheese, stirring until the cheese melts. Give it a blitz with a stick blender if you want it to be completely smooth.

To make the toasted bread crumbs, melt the butter in a small skillet and then when it begins to foam toss in the breadcrumbs. Add the seasonings. Cook and stir until the bread crumbs begin to brown and crisp up.

Serve the soup in heated bowls with a spoonful of the bread crumbs on top of each.



*Cheese and Pepper Bread*
Makes one loaf

2 cups flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk *
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease the bottom only of a 9 by 5 or an 8 by 4 inch loaf pan. Whisk the flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter and the eggs. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix together just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into the greased pan.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm with butter for spreading.

*Note - if you don't have any buttermilk you can use 1 TBS of vinegar or lemon juice plus milk added to make 1 cup.



If you are interested, HERE is my latest painting on Blossom Time Creations, entitled "Gracie Gets Her Wings."


10 comments:

Jan said...

Love the painting Marie!
The cauliflower soup looks yummy and so does that cheese and pepper bread! I will have to give that bread a go.

Tracy said...

Those blossoms are calling my name! Can't wait of blossom-time here...seems weeks of yet, the snow is still working on melting--LOL! Lovely thoughts today...very good for this holiday weekend. :o) The new illustratsion is fantastic, Marie--I love the bright pink you use. :o) Today's soup and bread are delicious...oh, I could go of a cup and crust of that! This afternoon we're going over to hubby's parents for a visit. This evening we plan on pizza and a movie--loving the holiday weekend already and time to relax--LOL! Happy Day, sweetest friend! Hope we get to talk soon! LOVE YOU ((BIG HUGS))

Kevin said...

That cheese and cauliflower soup sounds really good. Nice flower photos!

Gloria said...

Beautiful post dear Marie.
Have a lovely Easter.
In He we believe, in He we wait, come Lord Jesus! He is our King.
Blessings to all, and specially for you. xxGloria

hoLLy said...

i love how you always see nature as symbolism of spiritual things-you are so good at seeing things in a different light, a light through which we should all see things. you are wonderful! i love reading your posts.

The Food Librarian said...

The cherry blossoms are beautiful. A sure sign of Spring. Happy Easter you and your family!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

We don't have such lovely blooms here yet but I certainly enjoyed seeing yours. What a blessing Springtime is to us. The recipes for the soup and bread sound like something I need right now as it is chilly and raining here this evening. I hope you have a lovely Easter.

The Blonde Duck said...

Very heartwarming! I love your painting!

Have you ever seen a movie called Harvey? I'm going to order it from Amazon.com. I think you'd love it (even though I haven't seen it yet! I can't find it in any rental stores.) Anyway, it's about a man who is friends with a 6 foot invisible rabbit! Jimmy Stewart! We should watch it "together!"

jenjen said...

I love cherry trees - they are so beautiful! It is so miraculous to see the world coming alive again in the Spring. So fitting for Easter weekend!

I hope you have a wonderful Easter, Marie!

XOXOX
Jen

Traci said...

I need to make that bread! I made chicken and dumplings last night and it would go well with the left overs! We are enjoying the blooming trees here too!