Tuesday 31 March 2009

Perfect for a Tea Party

Today is Tuesday and we all know what that means! It means I've been baking, and not on my own either! I've been baking along with a bazillion other bakers around the world as part of that delicious baking group, Tuesdays With Dorie. The baking group that has taken a vow to bake one recipe each week, the same recipe each week, from that scrumptiously delicious baking book, "Baking, from my home to yours," written by the equally as scrumptious Dorie Greenspan. This week's recipe was the Coconut Butter Thins on page 145, as chosen by Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch . . . yummo . . . coconut, butter, macadamia nuts, and all in one cookie. What a delicious sounding choice!!!

Only one problem . . . and you would be forgiven if you were to say right now . . . those don't look like Coconut Butter Thins. They actually aren't Coconut Butter Thins. I had a real problem coming up with some of the ingredients this week, specifically the flaked, sweetened coconut and my larder was completely and totally bare of macadamia nuts. (I know!! The horror of it all!!) I did, however, have plenty of this . . .

Yep, candied ginger! Todd and I both love candied ginger. It's like one of our favouritest of things on the planet. I sure hope that they have it in heaven, coz it just seems to me that a place without ginger is a place bereft of something really special. Yes, if I was 30 years younger and I'm not telling you how many pounds lighter, I WOULD be Ginger Spice!

Since I was missing the integral parts of the recipe and I really want to be able to make them the right way, I gave the cookie recipe this week a miss and made you some of these delicious ginger short bread biscuits instead. Just perfect for a tea party, if you were going to have one.

All buttery and short, and chock full of delicious little bits of candied ginger. Ahhh . . . here is my bliss . . . Could anything be any better than that????

Umm . . . try drizzling them with some melted dark chocolate. There's only one word for it . . .


That about sums it up.

This cookie recipe was a first prize winner in a cookie contest for a major Canadian Cooking magazine some 15 years ago now. One bite and you'll know exactly why . . .

*Gingered Shortbread Biscuits*
Makes 5 dozen ( or so)

These wonderful biscuits are perfection personified. Buttery. Short. Crumbly. Melt In Your Mouth. Spicy . . . perfection. Three little bites of heaven.

1 cup of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 TBS finely chopped candied ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour, sifted

Pre-heat the oven to 300*F/150*C.

Place the butter into a bowl and cream it together with the sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the ginger and the salt. Gradually work in the flour until it is all incorporated.

Divide the dough into thirds and working with one third at a time, shape into a round and roll it out 1/4 inch thick in between two sheets of wax or baking paper. Cut into shapes as desired. Place on baking sheets. Repeat until you have used all the dough, re-rolling the scraps as need be.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes until light golden and set. Remove to a wire rack to cool

Optional: Melt about 2 ounces of dark chocolate by breaking it up and placing it into a bowl. Heat in the microwave for 20 second intervals, until completely melted. Using a fork or a small spoon drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled biscuits. Allow to set and dry before storing in air tight containers.

If you would like to see the real cookie I should have baked this week, the Coconut Butter thins, please hop on over to Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch . . . she will be posting the recipe at some point today, and do be sure to check out the Dorie Blog Roll to see what the other ladies came up with. I am sure there will be some absolutely stunning versions to drool over!

Next week's recipe will be Banana Creme Pie, pages 342 and 343 as chosen by Amy of Sing For Your Supper. OH wow, Todd's really going to love this and so am I!!

Monday 30 March 2009

The Simple Woman's Day Book . . .

FOR TODAY, March 30th, 2009 ...

Outside My Window...

It's dark again. Our clocks finally went ahead that hour early Sunday morning and so we will be getting up in the dark and I shall finally be walking home in daylight at the end of the day. I wish that they would just leave the time alone. I don't mind the change in the autumn when the clocks go back an hour. It's nice to have an extra hour's sleep. This leap ahead in the spring though, it really does my head in! It seems to take days and days for me to recover!

I am thinking...
About the beautiful "Fast and Testimony" meeting we had yesterday at church. We had two fast meetings this month because of General Conference next weekend. I just love General Conference. It is the chance to get to hear our church leaders speak, and I do love to drink in the wisdom they have to share with us. If any of you wanted to follow along, the sessions are broadcast on BYU television, which you can find HERE. It's well worth a listen. The talks are always wonderful and so very spiritual and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir always sings all the hymns . . . so very beautiful to listen to.

I am thankful for...
All the leaders of our church, right from our President, Thomas S Monson, down to my own congregations little ole Bishop, Bishop Bascom. One only has to look at a picture of the church Presidency to see the Love of Christ shining out from their countenance and in their eyes. They are amazingly inspired men. When you read their histories, it is plain to see how the Lord has been preparing them all of their lives to lead this church. One could call each one of them Spiritual Giants, and I am so very grateful for their example, their leadership and the wisdom that they have to share with each of us.

From the kitchen...
There's cake and some delicious cookies sitting on the counter! I baked the cake on Saturday and it's quite yummy. I'll be sharing it with you all at the bottom of this post. The cookies are for tomorrow!! I have some really healthy goodies to share with you this coming week as well. It's not all going to be hedonistic!!

I am wearing...
Pink Jammies!! My favourite colour, well for today anyways! (It's always subject to change depending on my mood!)

I am creating...
Yesterday in church our final Hymn was Joseph's Smith's First Prayer. I must have sung this hymn a million times since I joined this church but yesterday it struck a deep chord inside me and I was inspired with a vision of another painting I wanted to do. As soon as sacrament meeting finished, I quickly scribbled it down into my notebook and when we got home yesterday afternoon, I did the sketch and did not stop until I had the whole thing painted. I called it . . . "First Faith . . . and then . . . the Miracle." It is such a wonderful truth that faith precedes miracles. My life has been just loaded with such moments. Here's a little taste of what I did. I'll be posting the full piece a bit later today on my art journal, here.

Just a little teaser . . .

I am going...
I have a pretty slack week this week. Not a lot going on except for work. Sometimes it's really nice to have a week like that so that you can catch your breath. Because it is Stake Temple Week, we don't have Seminary or Mutual on Thursday evening. I have invited the Missionaries for supper that night and a young lad from church is coming over to help me prepare it. He's on school hols and really wanted to come and cook with me. I think we'll have a good time together, he's a really nice young man. It should be a lot of fun!! He's also an excellent singer and piano player so maybe we will be able to get him to tinkle the ivories at some point. That would be great!!

I am reading...

"The Art of Racing in the Rain," by Garth Stein. I am about halfway through the book and am really enjoying it. I have a new one lined up for when I finish this one called, "Loving Frank", by Nancy Horan. It looks really good too.

I am hoping...
That my inspiration for these little painting I do never dries up. I have a huge stack of sketches. Todd says I will never get around to painting them all. I just have to put them down on paper when I am inspired to though, or I may completely forget what it is I want to paint. Because I work full time, I only have a few hours a week that I can actually devote to my paints, precious hours indeed! I think it's like that with most hobbies!

I am hearing...
My play list and the birds that are now waking up and chirping and cheeping away. It's such a lovely sound to begin the day with. What a beautiful blessing!

Around the house...
My kitchen table is a mess and I am going to have to sort it out. I was making a set of cards to send over to America yesterday afternoon, which took me right on almost to bedtime. I have put some of my mess away, but there is still a bit left to do. I love losing myself in creativity. When I do I am single minded and off in a world of my own. I don't think Todd minds either . . . it gives him a chance to watch cheesy cowboy and war films . . . man movies!

One of my favorite things...
is daydreaming. I have long been a real dreamer. When I am at work, my mind is often miles away and having great adventures. Oh, the places I've been and the things that I've done . . . I think it's a great blessing to be able to take yourself away like that!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
Not a whole lot! Well all except for having the missionaries over, teaching a young man to cook, and watching the Conference on Saturday and Sunday!! Oh, and there's work as well. Did I say not a lot? Scratch that!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

A little something we all have to look forward to!! These are some daisies I took a picture of last summer when we were on our hols. I just love daisies. They're so pretty to look at and you can make lovely crowns and chains with them. You can find out if someone loves you or doesn't. You can just sit and watch the bumble bees flitting from one to another. They make me think of sunny days, quiet summer evenings and all things bright and beautiful. They make me smile . . .

I hope that I have helped to bring a smile to your face today! Smiles are the perfect gift, right up there with hugs, and they're very easy gifts to share! In fact you might say they are the gift that keeps on giving!!

And there you have it, my Simple Woman's Day Book for today. Don't forget to hop on over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries! (Or better yet, do a simple day book entry yourself! )

Here's that delicious cake I baked on Saturday afternoon. The recipe comes from my Big Blue Binder and is a real favourite of ours. I love cakes like this with a baked on topping. So simple, so tasty, so very homey!

*Penuche Candy Cake*
Makes one 9 inch square cake

This is one of my favourite cakes. It has a lovely crunchy candy topping that bakes right along with the cake. I can't remember where I originally copied the recipe from. It was a very long time ago. You can see it's a keeper!

1/2 cup milk
1 TBS butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond essence
1 cup flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup firmly packed soft light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 TBS hot water

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Melt the butter for the topping in a 9 inch square pan. Mix in the brown sugar, nuts and hot water. Spread it all out evenly. Set aside.

Heat the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter is melted into the milk. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are light and foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture becomes thick and ivory coloured. Add the vanilla and almond essence. Blend in the flour, baking powder and salt at low speed, just until mixed. Stir in the warm milk and butter. Blend only until thoroughly combined. Pour this batter over the topping in the prepared pan. Spread over evenly.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched in the centre. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges and inverting the cake onto a large serving plate. Serve warm or cold.

PS - Sorry if my post seems a bit churchy today! It's just what's on my mind! I know it's not for everyone, but it does sing the song of my heart!

Sunday 29 March 2009

Marie's Sunday Six Smile Makers

Brrr . . . it sure is cold this morning. There's no frost, but I think we got lucky there. I expect a lot of places will have frost this morning. It is like winter has popped it's head back in, just to say . . . "I'm not quite finished with you lot yet!!" Nevertheless, we have had some beautiful sunny weather off and on this past week, along with lots of showers and I have had plenty to smile about, and that can't be bad!

Cherry Blossoms. The post office in a near by village has two lovely cherry trees outside, and each spring we are treated to the delightful sight of them all bedecked in a beautiful ocean of pink blossom. Oh how I love to see them! They are absolutely spectacular!!! Indeed, as I look around, this is now the season of blossom, as the forsythia is in full bloom, along with a great many other early blooming bushes and trees, a most welcome sight after the doom and gloom of winter!

Winning Prizes and Giveaways! This was my lucky week! A few days back Michele of Michele's Treasures and Teacups had a birthday giveaway on her blog. The prize was a lovely hanky edged with pink and white tatting, a beautiful tea cup adorned with roses and a beautiful pendant that she herself had made. (She makes the most beautiful things. Make sure you check out her site to see what I mean!) I left my Happy Birthday greetings for her and lo and behold, yesterday I got an e-mail telling me that I was the lucky winner of her Birthday Giveaway! Can you say T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D!!! That would be me!!

I love my church. They have so many wonderful programs that address our every need here on earth. There is help available, and teachings to guide us through any eventuality that might crop up. In fact, on our church web site there is a whole area devoted just to Provident Living and Emergency Preparedness. You can learn anything you want to know as far as dealing with real life emergencies and adversities. Yesterday we had a Preparedness Day at our chapel. 4 different areas of emergency preparedness were presented to us in a very interesting and informative way. There were presentations on how to prepare a 72 hour emergency pack, how to budget and keep your family finances in order, how to garden and how to build, organize and keep your food storage. It was all very well done, and everyone had a great time, both teaching and learning! I know, I learned a few new things that I hadn't known before. Afterwards we were all treated to a fine lunch of sausage and mash prepared by our lovely missionary elders!

Every second year, the youth in our church have a combined camp called "EFY," which stands for the words "Especially For Youth." This week long seminar is being held in Canterbury this year, and our youth will all be travelling up there in August to meet with other youth from all over the South of England. There will be about 500 boys and girls attending, and, from what I hear, it's always a really uplifting and wonderful experience for each one of them. This year's theme is "Be Thou An Example." It costs a fair amount for each child to go, so we are having various fund raisers throughout the year to help and raise enough funds so that each of the young people in our Ward will be able to go. Yesterday we held the first one. While we grownups were all inside the chapel learning how to be prepared, the youth were outside washing our cars! (not to mention each other!!) They had a wonderful time together, and got to earn some money for this project, and we all got nice clean cars! It does my heart good to see a group of young people having good clean fun with each other and being productive instead of destructive! We have an excellent group of kids in our Ward and I love each one of them!

This little girl made me smile. I painted her yesterday afternoon. I call this one, "A Surprise For You." I will be posting the whole picture some time today over on my Art Blog. I just love this one . . . then again, I know say that every time! I am ever so grateful for a mind that dreams up these little pictures and for hands that are able to put them down onto paper! This brings me so much joy and I hope that my creations are able to bring joy to others as well. This wee one has a special surprise for a very lucky person that she is hiding behind her back. It's not her fault that she doesn't know that it is quite apparent to all and sundry exactly what it is!

Todd and I had a "Date Night" last night! We don't often go out for a meal, and so we treated ourselves to some fish and chips at one of our local pubs. Pubs are not just drinking establishments over here. You can also get some really great food in them, usually quite hearty and homey! The fish and chips were beautifully done . . . the chips all hand cut and nicely crisp and browned, and the cod moistly tucked inside a deliciously light and crisp batter! Washed down with tall glasses of lemonade and lime, we feasted like Kings! It's nice once in a while to remind ourselves that we are not just plain old Todd and Marie, but we are a couple who love each other and are devoted to each other, and still want to date each other! He is my honey bun and I know I am his too!

So there you have it, six fun things from this past week that made me smile and brought a song to my heart! I hope that you were able to enjoy at least six wonderful things in your life this week as well!

The other day I made these lovely Tuna Melts for our lunch when I came home for my lunch break. Not only were they delicious but they were healthy and low in fat as well!

*Good for You Tuna Melts*
Serves 4

By making it an open face sandwich and using low fat ingredients this is a tuna melt that is low in calories and fat. The addition of red onion, lemon juice and hot sauce gives it a lovely taste. You won't even notice that you are eating something that's good for you. I served these with some baked potato crisps and sliced sweet gerkins on the side.

4 slices of whole wheat bread
2 - 6 ounce tins of chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained
2 TBS minced red onion
2 TBS low fat or no fat mayonnaise
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Pre-heat the broiler or the oven grill. Toast your bread until it is nicely toasted on both sides. Place the toasted slices of bread onto a grill pan.

Flake the tuna into a bowl. Add the onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and hot sauce. Mix well.

Spread 1/4 cup of this tuna mixture onto each slice of toasted bread. Top each with slices of tomato. Finally, sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over each of them, dividing it equally.

Pop under the broiler and grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling, some 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Saturday 28 March 2009

Perchance to lean and ponder . . .

"Have you leant upon a gate, without a
need for words,
To take in Nature's wonder and to listen
to the birds?
Yes, leaning on a gate is a thing we ought
to do.
It helps us to unwind and such moments
are so few."
~author unknown

I have always been a great gate leaner. Some people might think of me as a great time waster, as they come upon me just standing there leaning on the gate . . . staring off into space, my mind a million miles away. But nothing could be further from the truth. I am not wasting time, I am thinking, and while I think, I am enjoying all of the many blessings that my Heavenly Father has seen fit to grace me with . . .

the feel of a warm breeze across my brow, the smell of roses blooming in the bushes that lay against the walls of my home, the beautiful song of a robin in the hedge, the gentle buzzing of a bumbling bumble bee as it flits from flower to flower . . . simple pleasures and joy, free for the taking, costing nothing but our time . . .

How sad it would be if we could not take the time to stand still and just drink in all these wonders. It is just as important to feed your heart, as it is to feed your body and mind, and little joys and pleasures such as these, well . . . they truly feed the heart in the most wonderful of ways.

Today I wish you a Saturday filled to overflowing with moments such as these, and the time to stand and lean upon a gate to drink them in . . .

Several weeks back, one of you wrote to me asking about a design for a women's church activity they were planning based upon a Scripture that talks about us being God's special treasure. I have lost their e-mail address, so if that person is you, could you please contact me again? I am sorry it has taken me so long, but with trips to America and work, well . . . you know how it goes. I would not ever want anyone to think I could not be bothered! Some days there are just not enough hours to do all the things I want to get done! If I ever become Prime Minister, I am going to make sure there are at least 2 or 3 more hours in each day!

Ohh, I made this delicious dinner for Todd yesterday afternoon when I was home on my break. On the days I have to work evenings (I know that sounds wierd) I always make Todd his dinner when I am home on my halftime break. He never seems to mind and it works out perfectly for me, because if I didn't I wouldn't get a meal at all! Not only was this quick and quite easy, it was totally scrumptious! (Not to mention low in fat and calories)

*Tandoori Chicken with Tomato and Cucumber Raita*
Serves 4

I have come to love Indian food since moving over here to the UK. Although technically, this isn't quite the same as chicken cooked in a Tandoori oven, it does give that same delicious flavour. The Raita is the perfect accompaniment, so do make it! Just be sure not to grill your chicken for too long so it doesn't dry out. I broke out my George Foreman Grill for this one! It was done lickety split!

For the chicken:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TBS canola oil

For the Raita:
1 cup low fat plain yoghurt
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 TBS chopped fresh mint
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

First make the raita. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, mixing together well. Set aside.

Heat your grill to medium high.

Combine the salt, pepper, nutmeg, cumin, chili powder, coriander and paprika in a large heavy zip lock baggie. Trim your chicken breasts of any fat and then place them between two sheets of cling film and then lightly pound them (without tearing them) until they are the same thickness throughout, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Brush some of the oil over each one. Place them all into the baggie with the spices, shaking and turning to coat them.

Spray your grill rack with some cooking spray. Add the chicken and grill until just cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. On my George Foreman grill this took about 4 minutes time in total. If you are using a conventional grill, this would take some 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Serve warm with some of the Raita on the side. Delicious!

Friday 27 March 2009

How To De-Stress Your Life and Make It Better . . .

"Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark, as sages say;
Oft, a little morning rain,
Foretells a pleasant day."
~Charlotte Bronte

There’s no denying it. Life is hard. Life is stressful. We live in a world with an ever-increasing fast pace. Everything needs to be done yesterday, and there always seems to be a never-ending list of tasks laying before us. Sometimes it seems, that we do indeed live in a world without quiet corners. There are ways however, that we can take back our days for ourselves and find little pockets of joy, no matter what else the day might bring. Here’s my list of sure-fire stress busters.

1. Be grateful. No matter what, no matter where, no matter when, no matter why. There is always something to be thankful for.

2. Carve out an hour each day for solitude and meditation. Might mean you have to get up an hour earlier each morning, but it will probably be the most important and meaningful hour of your day. Lay claim to it.

3. Begin and end each day with prayer and reflection. It’s the single most important thing you can do for yourself and for others. Making a few moments for gratitude and supplication, focusing for a time on the problems of others, this simple act has a power that can never be underestimated.

4. Keep it simple. Don’t over complicate things, ever . . .

5. Eat only when hungry, and when you do eat, make sure it’s delicious. If it’s not delicious, then don’t eat it.

6. Keep your house picked up. When it’s not in use, put it away. When you are finished with something, put it away. A few minutes spent each day doing this can save you hours another time and helps to de-clutter your life. (I need to work harder on this!)

7. Never make a promise you cannot keep, and always keep the promises you make. ‘Nuff said . . .

8. Always carry something interesting to read in your purse. That way if you get stuck in traffic, waiting in a queue, have a few moments to waste, etc. you always have something to do, uplift, inspire, magnify . . .

9. Create quiet places at home and at work. Always have somewhere you can go, if only for a few moments in time, to gather your thoughts and just be . . .

10. Be realistic. About goals, about deadlines, about desires, about expectations, etc. both for yourself and for others. Keep things achievable.

11. Take time to breathe, deeply and often. Stop and smell the roses.

12. Don’t over schedule. You know how much you can reasonably accomplish in any given hour, day, week, month. Don’t overstretch yourself. Be reasonable.

13. Stay away from negativity. Don’t watch it on the television. Don’t cultivate it in your friendships and relationships. Stay away from negative people altogether. Don’t give negativity any toehold whatsoever in your life.

14. Laugh, loudly and often. It will help to nurture your soul and create little pockets of joy in your life. “Cry and you cry alone, laugh and the whole world laughs with you.”

15. Create boundaries and then honour them.

16. Express love every day, for God, for yourself and for others.

17. Look at your problems as challenges and then work to overcome them, one small step at a time. Remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

18. Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal. Capture 24 hours just for yourself. Don’t shop. Don’t work. Just let go and be . . . It’s what God wanted for each and every one of us. Remember. . . “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

19. Move . . . walk, run, dance, just move . . .

20. Don’t be afraid of your passions. Embrace them.

21. Stop trying to please everyone else and start pleasing yourself. There are some people in this world you will never please, no matter how much you try, or how high you jump. Accept this and move on . . .

22. Don’t squander your precious resources . . . time, energy, creativity, emotions . . . they’re all yours, so use them wisely.

23. Savour beauty. It’s all around us. Take notice of it and appreciate it for what it is. Let Mother Nature, nurture and feed your soul, even if it’s only am errant blade of grass growing up between the cobblestones . . .

24. Cherish your dreams. They’re worth their weight in gold.

25. Enjoy your life. You only have one. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones to come. Embrace and cherish the here and the now.

26. If you don’t love it, then learn to live without it.

27. Go for comfort. In your clothing, in your footwear, in your furniture, in your bed, etc.

28. Nurture your senses. Feed them daily and make them come alive. Take time to smell, taste, feel, listen and see.

29. Care for your soul. It’s precious and is the only thing you will carry with you from this lifetime into the next. It’s the single most important thing you have. Don’t let anyone or anything take it away.

30. Don’t worry . . . Be happy!

As a girl, I used to love looking at my mother’s cookery books. She only had a few and still does. Even now, when I go home to visit, I love to go through them. They are full of wonderful gems such as this one. This is a recipe I got from out of her meat cookery book. I’ve adapted it and changed it somewhat through the years, but it has stood me well. Todd really loves this. Most people do . . .

*Pork and Mushroom Casserole*
Serves 3-4

Moist and tender pieces of pork, lightly crumbed and browned, then layered in a casserole dish with lightly sautéed mushrooms, bacon, onions and fruit juice. This is quite simply . . . Delicious. I like to serve this with some steamed rice and a vegetable on the side.

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into ½ inch slices

3 slices of streaky bacon, diced

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 TBS oil

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup fine cracker or bread crumbs

¼ to ½ cup fruit juice (apple, orange, or pineapple)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Put a skillet over medium heat on top of the stove and pan fry the bacon until it is starting to brown. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few minutes longer until they too are softened and the garlic is fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

Mix together the cracker/bread crumbs and the seasonings in a shallow bowl. Beat the egg in another shallow bowl. Lightly season your pieces of pork and then dip each piece in the egg and then roll it into the cracker/bread crumbs to coat. Heat the oil in the skillet and when it is hot, brown the pieces of pork on both sides.

Layer the cooked pieces of pork in a 1 litre casserole dish along with the bacon, onion, mushroom mixture. Pour the fruit juice over top and then cover with a lid.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until juicy and very tender. Remove from the oven and serve hot with some steamed rice and vegetables on the side.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Following the Path to the top . . .

"A careful man I ought to be
A little boy follows me.
I dare not ever go astray
For fear he'll go the self same way.

I must remember as I go,
Through summer's heat and winter's snow
I'm building for the years to be
The little chap who follows me.

I cannot once escape his eyes,
What ere he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he's going to be
This little chap who follows me."
~Author Unknown

Todd and I love to holiday up in Cumbria. Technically, the area we go to is not actually in Cumbria, but right at the edge . . . so we are in between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. It is beautiful up there, wild and raw and untouched. Miles and miles of rolling hills, covered with cotton boll sheep, stone walls and little else . . .

We usually rent a self contained cottage when we go, and we always go to the same place. There is a comfort to be found in the familiarity of it all, and in some ways, I almost feel like we are going home, even though we actually live hundreds of miles away. This cottage lays at the top of a steep hill, with another hill that rises steeply at the back of the dwelling. A hillside covered with bleating and gamboling sheep. To an observant eye, one can see that the sheep have made paths for themselves by always following the same route on the steep and rocky slope.

Through years of time and testing, they have found the best way across the face of the slope, right on up to the top, and now these sheep follow the same route each time, the same pathway that has been beaten down and prepared for them by countless generations of sheep that have gone before.

It is a bit like that with children. If you can show them the best way to live now, while they are still learning, there is a good chance that they will stick to that for the rest of their lives. But this is nothing new . . . Proverbs 22:6 tells us

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Pretty wise counsel there.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Wednesday morning thoughts . . .

"A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective. Likewise, problems or trials in our lives need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine. Otherwise they can easily overtake our vision, absorb our energy, and deprive us of the joy and beauty the Lord intends us to receive here on earth."
~Richard G Scott, "Finding Joy In Life," Ensign May 1996

I got this little nugget of inspiration in my e-mail the other day. It was a very timely reminder of how I need to keep my eye on the greater picture, instead of on the minor irritating things that cause me to stumble along the way. We will all face difficulties in this lifetime, some of them small and some of them large, the difference comes in how we handle them.

I am reminded of the song thrush. Our garden is full of song thrushes and I love to listen to the beautiful music that they treat us to every single day. Not much to look at, they are a very plain bird to the eye, but my what a beautiful song. It doesn't matter the weather. On a sunny morning, he can be seen sitting on the peak of the roof next door regaling us with his lovely tune, and when the storms hit, he can often be seen on the top of a large cedar that sits at the front of the house, swaying in the wind and singing his heart out. The worse the storm . . . the louder he appears to sing. I reckon if he can do it, so can I.

What a blessing it is to be able to sing my way through life's storms, and to be able to put any problems that might come my way into an eternal perspective. I am reminded daily of that well known phrase . . . "This too, shall pass." And the truth?? It always does.

I did another one of my paintings yesterday afternoon. I call this one, "Wherever Two Are Gathered." The Lord told us when he was here on earth that . . .

"where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."~Matthew 18:20

As usual, this piece is available as either a print or a card. If you would like to see the whole piece you can see it here, on my art blog.

I was able to pick up a nice piece of spiced beef in the grocery store last week. I don't often see it there, so when I do, I always grab a piece. It is very similar to the corned beef brisket from back home, both in appearance and in flavour. I did Todd and myself a lovely boiled dinner in the crock pot for our tea yesterday and it was delicious!

*Slow Cooked Spiced Beef*
Serves 4

This smells heavenly when it is cooking. I put this in before I left for work yesterday morning and by the time I got home in the afternoon, it was pretty much done. It was delicious . . . the meat thinly sliced along side of the vegetables and served with some horseradish sauce. Ahh . . . bliss!

2 - 2 1/2 pound piece of spiced beef
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, trimmed and cut into pieces
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
4 carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 small swede (rutabaga) peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup of beef broth
1 bay leaf, broken
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard

Place the piece of spiced beef into a large slow cooker. Pile the vegetables all around it. Whisk together the beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce and dry mustard. Pour this over top. Close the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or on medium for 5 to 6.

To serve, remove the meat and cut into slices. Serve on hot serving plates, with some of the vegetables along side and some of the juices spooned over top. We like horseradish sauce with this, but mustard is also good.

*Note - You can also do a corned beef brisket in the same way. You may also add wedges of cabbage in the last hour of cooking, if desired.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

I Found My Thrill . . .

What's soft in the middle,scrumdiddlyumptious, chock full of blueberries and covered all over with a deliciously scrummy brown sugar and nut streusal? Why, it's Blueberry Crumb Cake, this weeks Tuesday's With Dorie challenge as chosen by Sihan of Befuddlement! Yes, welcome Tuesdays With Dorie, that delicious baking group that bakes together once a week, one delicious recipe from that delightful baking book, "Baking, from my home to yours," by the equally as delicious Dorie Greenspan! This week's recipe, Blueberry Crumb Cake, can be found on pages 192 t0 193.

Oh Sihan, I have been wanting to try this recipe for a long time and I was absolutely thrilled when you picked it for the recipe this week!! I have a long standing love affair with blueberries . . . crumbles, pies, jams, cakes . . . in any way shape or form, I am there!

When I was a kid, I hated the idea of blueberries. I think it's because my parents always forced us into slave labour in the late summer, picking what seemed like gallons and gallons of them to put into the freezer for the winter ahead. The rural countryside of Nova Scotia is filled to the brim with wild blueberries, and we would fill up our freezer every year with at least half a dozen gallon sized ice cream buckets of them. This was back breaking labour, for wild blueberries do not grow on chest high bushes, they grow low to the ground in the scrub and the brush, and you have to squat and pick for hours and hours to fill up an ice cream bucket!!! Not only that, but you have to keep your ear open for bears in the brush while you are doing it, coz blueberries in late summer are like, one of their favouritest meals! Anyhoo . . . all of this didn't keep me from chowing down on one of my mother's blueberry pies when I was a kid, nor her pancakes, muffins, cakes . . . well . . . you get the picture! I was like that old grasshopper in Aesop's fable. I wanted all of the pleasure without experiencing any of the pain!! (I've changed, I promise!)

This cake is just wonderful, with a beautifully moist texture. It is filled to the brim with delicious, tart blueberries and the topping is to die for. I could just stand at the counter and pick it off in bits, all sweet and crunchy and buttery in the mouth . . . but I don't . . . coz that would be greedy indeed . . . ok, ok . . . so I am responsible for the bald patch in the corner, but I really couldn't help myself, it's just sooo good!

Easy to stir together, easy to bake and easy to eat. This cake wins on all three counts! It's enough to make Fat's Domino break into song . . . 'nuff said. Don't take my word for it. Hop on over to Sihan's page and grab the recipe for yourself. You'll see what I mean! I speak the truth.

If you want to see what everyone else did with this recipe take a gander at the Tuesdays With Dorie blog roll. You won't be sorry. There are some really creative people in this group, not to mention great photographers! Don't hold me responsible for any weight gained though . . . you may want to be running on the spot while you look just to combat that possibility!

Next week's recipe is the Coconut Butter Thins on page 145, as chosen by Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch . . . hmmm . . . butter and thin in one sentence . . . this sounds intriguing!