Monday, 14 November 2011
Once upon a time . . .
Once upon a time, not so long ago, and not so far away . . . in a beautiful place, there lived a girl who was very, very happy.
She slept every night in a beautiful room next to her Prince Charming, who was everything she had ever hoped for and dreamed about. Each morning she awoke in a beautiful bed, so soft and comfy that she scarcely wanted to leave it . . . but she must, and she did . . . because she just knew that she had a beautifully wonderfully exciting day awaiting her. So she would throw off the bedcovers and jump out of bed, doing a little happy dance because a whole new adventure was about to begin! This happened every day.
Into the bath she would dash to splash some water on her face and brush her teeth. She just knew that something exciting was going to happen today and she could not wait to get started . . . she threw on her clothes (only the best you understand) and ran a comb through her hair and then she fair danced down the stairs!
Into the kitchen she would bounce where she would sit in her comfy kitchen chair and think about the day ahead. She would bow her head and give thanks for all that was hers and pronounce blessings upon all that she knew who were in need of them and even some who weren't, and she gave thanks for the day she had been blessed with and then . . .
It was time to crack a few eggs and juice a few oranges because she needed sustenance to begin her day and nothing was better than a plate of scrambled eggs and a big glass of fresh orange juice . . . nectar of the Gods . . . it was . . .
She'd do up the dishes and as she did she admired their beauty and how they sparkled in the sunlight once they were all squeaky and clean . . . oh she was a very lucky girl to have such beautiful things, and she knew it.
After the dishes were done and all had been put away, she would pull on her cowboy boots and bound into the yard, where the sun shone down on everything and it was warm and sweet and you could hear the birds singing and the chickens pecking in the yard . . . oh it was so beautiful . . .
She'd say goodmorning to all of her friends and give them a scratch behind the ears and a cuddle and oh the world was so sweet and the dew so pretty sparkling like jewels on the grass as it did.
And that was how her days would go . . . there would be time for play and time for work . . . time for fun . . . and time for friends. Her days were a happy mix of all that was good and some that was sad and everything in between. Not all days were sunny, but then again . . . how could you love the sun without a bit of rain in between to make it even sweeter . . .
There was light and there was song . . . pretty flowers, and butterflies. Lotsa green and lotsa pink. Carrots to pull and peas to pick . . . a pretty bouquet for the table . . . a dance on the garden gate, swinging to and fro whilst the wind blew her curls against her cheeks just so, and sunshine bathed her face in it's golden glow . . .
And then there were kindnesses shared with those she loved and sometimes even those she did not love so much . . . but it didn't hurt to make them smile even a tiny bit. Perhaps a kind word, or a handful of daisies . . . or even just a smile to brighten up their day. She filled her cup with lots of these, so much so that it overflowed and some spilt back on her own scuffed toes, which made her dance even more . . .
At the end of the day she'd curl up in a chair, a blanket wrapped around her just so, and watch the sun as it dipped and bathed the earth in the wane of it's diminishing warmth and she would think about all the things that she had done . . . as crickets and toads began to sing their evening song . . . she'd ponder all the good and the bad, the sweet and the not so sweet. She'd kick off her boots and wiggle her toes, and run them into the cool grass next to her chair, feeling the sweetness of it all and sighing at the wonder . . .
and to think . . . she could do it all again on the morrow. The thought of that made her scrunch up her shoulders with joy and her tummy got filled with light and little tingles and sparkles that made her want to explode with the goodness of it all . . .
Who needs a castle in the air, and golden jewels and auburn hair when you have a life that is filled to overflowing with simple joys and pleasures . . . treasures that money cannot buy, and love and the joy that comes from being able to count your blessings and smell the roses. The ability to feel the grass beneath your feet and know that it is good and sweet . . . eyes to see the stars appear in the waning light of a summer sky, a heart that knows where goodness comes from and where it goes . . . all the beauty that each day brings in small and not so small ways.
Today is your once upon a time . . . only you have the power and the ability to make it so.
My mother always made lovely tortieres for Christmas. That was the only time of the year that we had them and we did so enjoy them. Back home you can buy tortieres frozen now, all year round and they are good . . . but nothing beats the pleasure of making your own from scratch. My sister makes very good ones too. Her pastry is sublime. I think there are probably as many versions of this French Canadian meat pie as there are bakers . . . but then again, that is the way it is with something that is really good.
Tortiere is a meat pie originating from the Quebec (French) region of Canada. It is traditionally served on Christmas eve in French households and on New Years Eve but it is also found and enjoyed in grocery stores all year round. As with anything though . . . Homemade is the best of all!
1 ½ pounds ground pork
1 onion, chopped really fine
¼ cup celery, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp summer savoury (if you can’t find this, you may use a mixed herbs)
1/3 tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
½ cup boiling water
1 small potato, peeled and finely grated
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup cold butter, cut into bits
5 to 6 TBS ice water
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 TBS water
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the ground pork. Cook, stirring to break up the larger chunks until it is completely cooked through and all of the water is evaporated. (I like to use a potato masher as it cooks, to help break it up into small even pieces)
Stir in the onion, celery, garlic and grated potato. Cook until the onions and celery are tender, but not browned. Add the salt, savoury, pepper, allspice, bay leaf and the boiling water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes.
Remove the lid and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer until most of the water has evaporated, but the mixture is still quite moist. Set aside to cool while you make the pastry.
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl, mixing it well. Add the shortening and butter and cut it in with a pastry blender until it resembles very fine bread crumbs. Add the water a little bit at a time, stirring with a fork until the mixture forms a soft dough that holds together well. (Try not to overwork it) Gather it into a ball and wrap it up in plastic cling film. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F.
Divide the pastry in half. Roll one half out on a well floured surface, with a well floured rollingpin, to a size that will fit into a 9 inch pie round pie dish with about a one inch overhang all around. Transfer it to the pie dish.
Remove the bay leaf from the filling and spoon it evenly into the pie dish.
Roll out the other half of the pastry to fit over top of the pie dish with the same amount of overhang. Trim and seal the edges by either pressing it together with the tines of a fork or fluting it with your fingers. Cut a few vents in top for steaming and brush it with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 50 minutes, on the lowest oven rack, until it is golden brown on top and crisped on the bottom. Serve warm with mustard pickle or catsup on the side.
(Pork and Roots Traybake with an Apple Relish)
I'm reviewing Coleman's Gravy Paste and have posted a round up of lovely recipes that you can eat gravy with today, over in the English Kitchen!