Sunday 27 April 2008

Nature's Theme Park

"I like to look at everything -
A snow capped peak, a sign of spring;
A moonlit night, a sunny day,
A swallow winging on it's way;
A rose in bloom, a cherry tree,
A shore's liaison with the sea;
A lazy river winding by
On which reflections catch the eye.
I like to look at things each day,
It's all a Theme park in a way.
The only difference seems to be,
In Nature's park, admission's free."
~ J M Robertson

All around me now, are signs that spring is in full motion. The countryside is rapidly greening and the birds, which have been pairing up for weeks now it seems, are now busy gathering in little bits of this and that to help build their nests with. The other morning I saw a wag tail with bits of straw in it's beak and then, later on in the day, a song thrush sitting on a post at the end of the lane, with a beak full of moss.

All the leaves have burst out on the trees, seemingly overnight, and the lilac is full of buds which will be soon in full bloom, gracing us with their wonderful scent and beautiful blossom. When I was a much younger woman, one of my first apartments was in an old Victorian house, which was surrounded on three sides by a lovely lilac hedge. In the springtime it was like heaven on earth, and my kitchen table was often graced with a mason jar full of lilacs, their lovely fragrance making my two room home smell just wonderful . . .

As I look out over the orchard, it's plain to see that the apple trees are beginning to break into blossom as well, and indeed the tractors have been very busy this past week running up and down the rows and spraying. The hedges are full of May blossom and when we venture out for a walk, the slightest breeze fills the air full of petals . . . falling softly like snow and dancing all around us. It's all so very beautiful . . .

As I look out across the Downs, the rolling hills and fields are full of the wonderful yellow of rapeseed in bloom. Not so delightful to anyone who suffers from allergies of any kind, but so very beautiful to behold . . . it's so very good to be alive, and happy and surrounded by all this beauty . . .

Well folks . . . it was bound to happen sooner or later . . .

Yes . . . I finally bought me a cookbook that I don't really like all that much!!! Perhaps it will grow on me with time. (Here's hoping) Those are the risks of buying a book, sight unseen, I'm afraid.

I have had all of Tessa Kiros's cookbooks for a while now and they are my most beloved of all my cookbooks, especially her book entitled "Apples and Jam." Her recipes are always lovely and simple and easy to do on a budget. The books themselves are a work of art, with beautiful covers and pictures inside, not only of the food and recipes, but also of little snippets of Tessa's life and environment. I could just sit and read and browse through them for hours and never cook a thing, and still be happy with them. I do confess, I have always loved her recipes . . .

I was so excited a couple of weeks ago to see that she had published another book, and so I ordered it, sight unseen, just because it was hers.

It came several days ago, and it has a beautiful cover, just as her other books do, as well as a lovely blue and white striped book marker ribbon . . . blue and white being two of my favourite colour combinations. The pictures inside are lovely as well. My problem with it is . . . they're almost all seafood. I suppose it was kind of dumb of me to buy a cookery book about Portugal and not realize that indeed a lot of the food would be seafood based, and I am sure the recipes are lovely, well, at least to anyone who can eat that type of food and who enjoys it, and to someone who enjoys that type of food this book could be considered a real winner . . . it's just not my cup of tea, I guess. There are a few lovely desserts though, so I suppose I can make them . . . but I do have to say . . . this is not my favourite book and indeed I might even go so far as to say this is my least favourite book and I am sorely disappointed! Oh well . . . you win some . . . you lose some!

I did another painting yesterday afternoon, this time as a gift for my mother for Mother's day, which is rapidly approaching. You can pop over to BLOSSOM TIME CREATIONS and have a gander if you wish. I call it "Being Mom." I just love it and I hope that my mom loves it too!

I just love chicken wings, but really they're not that healthy, all that skin and fat you know . . . probably why they taste so good. They're one of the things I always liked best about the Chinese Food Buffet place back home. Other people would come away from the buffet table with plates heaped with sweet and sour chicken balls . . . not me . . . it would be the wings. I also really love hot wings . . . Buffalo Wings. This lovely recipe I am going to share with you today is a way of enjoying the taste of Buffalo Wings without all of that skin and fat, and I do have to say, they are yum, yum, yum . . .

*Boneless Buffalo Wings*
Serves 2

This is a delicious way to have your cake and eat it too . . . ahh . . . err . . . wings, I mean. Tender, juicy and chock full of flavour, these please on all counts! If you are not a fan of really spicy food you can cut down the amount of cayenne pepper and they will still be very good.

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
vegetable oil (for frying)
1/4 cup hot sauce (I use Louisiana which my friend Eliza brought over to me)
1 TBS butter, melted
Blue Cheese Salad dressing for dipping, if desired (see recipe below)

Whisk together the flour, salt, peppers and paprika in a bowl. Set aside. In another bowl beat together the egg and milk.

Slice each chicken breast crosswise into about six pieces. One at a time, dip each piece into the egg mixture, and then into the flour mixture, turning it to coat. Repeat once more with each piece of chicken so that they are double coated. (I use one hand for the flour mix and one for the egg mix, that way my fingers don't get as messy) Place each piece on a plate while you finish coating them all. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes.

Heat about a 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once it is hot add the chicken pieces a few at a time and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Remove to a dish lined with paper toweling and keep warm while you are cooking them all.

Melt the butter and stir it together with the hot sauce. Once you have finished cooking all the chicken pieces, brush them with this mixture and then serve with some blue cheese dressing to dip them in if desired. Delicious!

*Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing*
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

If you use light mayonnaise and sour cream, this is not all that bad for you. I think in America you can even get low fat blue cheese. It goes very well with the chicken and is also a lovely salad dressing.

1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Hellmans)
1 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
6 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and mayonnaise. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, making sure that they are well combined. This should really be made the day before to get the optimum flavour, but you can make it just a few hours ahead of time as well and it's still quite good.

PS - I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who came here looking for cheesecake pops. I'm afraid I did not do the Daring Baker's Challenge this month. I could not find anything to use for holders and I did not have enough room in my freezer, and to be honest . . . I am not just all that fond of cheese cake . . . well, not fond enough at any rate to have a whole passel of the stuff hanging about the freezer taking up space . . . I know . . . crazy me!!


  1. They look good Marie! I love the blue cheese dresing.

  2. I love reading your blog, you describe sights and things in such a lovely way, it's really relaxing to read. I really want to move to the countryside now!

  3. Two great recipes in one Marie. I will have to move over to see your painting for your mom. You are just so multi-talented!!

  4. Lilacs!!! I love them so.... I could sit and sniff them all day long...


  5. Deligthful post, Marie...the nature photos are especially charming my heart today :o) Pity about that cookbook...I have pared down my cookbook collection as many would sit and not really get used. Althouhg I can still devour a cookbook like many do novels--LOL! My hubby would love this wings recipe, and so would my family back home! Hoping we get to talk today...((BIG HUGS))

  6. Hi Marie,

    Too bad about the cookbook. Maybe others here would be interested and you could do a trade or a giveaway?

    Best regards.

  7. I haven't been a reader of your blog for long, but I have learned that there are none that compare to your's! I love reading your thoughts, punctuated with fantastic photos, and learning about your life far away and different from mine. Something to be said for "living vicariously through others." Enables us to experience so much more. I am not one that loves to cook, though I can when I have to and want to (I have a magnet on my frig that says, "I know how to cook ...I just don't"), but I do love to bake. However, I cannot imagine stopping every step of the way to photgraph it! I grew up with two parents that photographed everything - they were professional photographers and traveled all over the world taking pictures - but I don't recall them ever photographing the baking process. You are to be commended.
    I also have several cookbooks, but not many acclaimed ones, just mostly old ones given to me, or ones put together by organizations, communities, etc. to raise money for a cause. They do contain some of the best recipes, though. However, recently a friend gave me one because she knows my love of baking and thought of me when she saw it. It is called "A Passion for Baking" by Marcy Goldman, published by Oxmoor House. I have yet to try any of the recipes, mainly because I am so busy just reading it! It is a fabulous book and I do think you would enjoy it. I believe it is available on I'll keep you posted once I reach the point of acutually trying a recipe. :-)
    Thank you for sharing your life with so many of us........Judi :-)

  8. Sorry your cookbook turned out to be a dissapointment Marie.Who needs others when you are THE BEST LOL!!Well the pictures of nature sure put me in a good mood this morning .What is there nicer to wake up to than the birds singing and flowers blooming.Only two I can think of.A new baby and Maries recipe of course He-He.Have a lovely day with Todd.Take Care God Bless Kath

  9. Of course the recipe looks great! I love, love, love lilacs!

  10. I used to work in Buffalo, NY, and I'll give you a tiny wing-sauce secret... add a dash of garlic powder to the butter/hot sauce mixture. It'll knock your socks off!

  11. I love the pics of all the flowering trees. We have one in our front yard that has started to drop the flowers and it looks like snow on our front lawn!!


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!