Sunday, 28 March 2010
Marie's Sunday Six
Welcome to my Sunday Six smile maker post. This will be the last one I ever write from Oak Cottage actually. It is hard to believe that my days here are rapidly coming to an end. We moved down here, from Chester, in September of 2003. The past six and some years have gone by rather quickly and I thought it would be fun to share with you this morning, some of the things that we came to love and embrace during our stay here . . . and some of the things we will really miss.
It has been a wonderful experience getting to work and to live in such a beautiful environment. Imagine being able to work in a beautiful, historic property, surrounded by beautiful gardens, stunning gardens . . . and imagine being able to live in just such a idyllic place. That has been my experience over these past years. Each day, each week, each month . . . each season and year has unfolded in front of our eyes with great beauty and splendour. The job itself, has given me invaluable experience. I am so grateful for that. I have grown as a cook in unimaginable ways and been able to stretch and develop my talents in amazing directions. I have a wonderful reference as well. Those two things are worth their weight in gold.
We have made so many wonderful friends down here, and been able to share some really special times with them . . . through monthly cooking evenings around my kitchen table with the relief society, garden parties with my friends from RecipeZaar, entertaining wonderful and much loved friends from church, activities for the young women, my young friend the piano playing Michael . . . not to mention countless missionaries that have come to our home that I have been able to mother and feed . . . I will miss them all. Oh, I know . . . I will undoubtedly make some new friends, and have new parties, feed new missionaries, etc. . . . and they will be just as dear to me, but I have made some really special eternal friends here. People whom I have become family to down here . . . people that have become so very dear and beloved to me. I shall miss being able to see them every week, but I do hope that they will take up our offer of visiting us in Chester.
I shall miss living in a rose covered cottage. From the one that is covered with beautiful pink blossoms that scratch against my kitchen window panes, the beautiful red and white hanging roses that sheltered our car against the bright sunshine and elements, to the pretty yellow climbing roses that we planted against the shed . . . these special bushes and flowers brought me so much pleasure and so many smiles . . . I know, I can grow more roses where we are moving, but these will always remain in a special corner of my heart.
The view from the windows upstairs in our library here . . . just a glimpse of the fairytale orchards that have surrounded us. How very beautifully they have taken us through the many seasons here at Oak Cottage. Each season of the year bringing us it's own and special beauty. They are just beginning to bud at the moment, and I know that within a few short weeks, they will be a sea of beautiful blossom and a hum of activity.
Oh how I have loved the special gifts that they have brought to us . . . the pretty blossoms in the springtime, the smell . . . the lovely and long walks throughout the whole year, the sight and smell of branches bowed down and filled with abundant fruit in the autumn . . . the sound of the apple pickers . . . the luxury of having bountiful windfalls to eat and cook with, of all different varieties. What an amazing and wonderful gift it has all been.
The pond in the nearby village that has brought us many hours of joy . . . from the daffodils in the springtime that line it's beautiful banks to the sight of many a lad and his dad fishing on sunny days.
The many Canadian Geese Goslings and the ducklings that live there each year with their parents, and that have brought us many, many hours of entertainment and joy . . . and the beautiful cherry trees across the road that we have found so stunningly beautiful each and every spring. Oh how much I will miss them . . .
My early morning walk to work . . . this too, has changed with the seasons and with the weather. It has been a peaceful time for me, these few minutes of my day . . . listening to the birds in the hedgerows . . . feeling the sun, or the wind, or the rain upon my face.
It is a simple and a short walk that has brought me much joy and blessings throughout the years, and tender thoughtful moments, no matter the weather or season. I shall miss the early morning quietness of a peaceable, thoughtful journey . . .
There has been so much beauty and joy here . . . it sprung from cracks in the pavement and oozed from every nook and cranny . . .a constant feast for all my senses. I am so thankful that I was aware and that I never took any of it for granted.
I have captured so much beauty and peace through the lens of my camera over these past years. I have enjoyed it all so very much and will enjoy the fruits of my labours for many years to come.
Looking back at some of these photos this morning, I scarce can take it all in. It's been amazing and lovely, and breathtakingly beautiful. I am such a nature lover and the experience of being able to live here has fed all of my senses on almost every level, and in so many ways. What blessing it has been . . .
The lavender that grew in abundance along the back wall of our house and edge of our patio . . .
The many bunnies that lived and loved amongs the grassy lawns . . . that ate everything we tried to grow, but gave us many hours of watchful thought . . .
The splendour and magic of winter . . .
The multi-coloured joys of autumn . . .
The many fledglings that visited our feeders in early summer . . .
The crazy squirrels that annoyed and pestered, but mostly entertained us . . .
Splendid walks . . .
and hollyhocks . . .
The beauty and magic of it all . . .
I shall miss you, I shall . . .
Goodbye . . . and farewell . . .
Don't worry by the way. I shall be back once we have settled in Chester and are back on line. Try not to miss me too much!! And do come back to check us out later on this week at the other end!!! (Fingers crossed!)
I was able to make us an incredibly delicious vegetable gratin for supper the other night. I had sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, leeks . . . all needing to be used up, not to mention some cream in the fridge. It came together in an amazingly wonderful dish that had us both smacking our lips!!!
What a tasty concoction!!
*Mixed Vegetable Gratin*
This came about by having to use up all the vegetables left in the larder. It didn't quite use them all, but it did make a good dent in them! It was delicious to boot!
2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 medium regular potato, peeled and cut into thin slices
the neck of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups cream
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
a handful of whatever cheese you have to hand, shredded (Gruyere, cheddar, etc.)
( had a mixed package which contained shredded cheddar, jack, mozarella, chilies and olives)
softened butter to grease the casserole dish
Place the garlic into a saucepan with the cream. Bring just to the boil and then leave to set while you prepare the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F.
Butter a deep casserole dish really well. Layer in the vegetables, layering each the sweet potato, potato, leek, and butternut squash in that order, and repeating once. Lightly season between the layers. Strain the hot cream over top. Scatter the cheese over top of everything. Pop a lid on if you have it, or cover tightly with foil if you don't.
Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additonal 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the top of the casserole is bubbling and golden. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before spooning out to serve.
On The English Kitchen today . . . a scrumptious Gingered Apple Brown Betty!