Friday 30 September 2011

Almost Poetry Saturday . . . There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay . . .

There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay,
When the artist's hand is potting it.
There is pleasure in the wet, wet lay,
When the poet's pad is blotting it.
There is pleasure in the shine of your picture on the line
At the Royal Acade-my
But the pleasure felt in these is as chalk
to Cheddar Cheese
When it comes to a well made Lie,
To a quite unwreckable Lie,
To a most impeccable Lie;
To a water-tight, fire-proof, angle-iron,
Sunk-hinge, time-lock, steel-faced Lie:
Not a private hansom Lie,
But a pair-and-brougham Lie,
Not a little-place-at-Tooting, but a
And a ring-fence-deer-park Lie.
~Rudyard Kipling

Oh my . . . that Rudyard Kipling has really made me think this morning. I can undertstand the pleasure that a Potter might feel as they put their hands to the clay . . . and the writer to the pen, and I know only too well the pleasure an artist feels when they put their brush to paper . . . but the pleasure one might get from a lie??? That is a bit different. If I were to tell a real whopper, such as the one he appears to be describing here, I think I would live the rest of my life in fear of being found out!! I don't think I would gather much pleasure from it as the fear would be overwhelming . . . but that's just me!

I know, Poetry Saturday a day early. Tis because we went on a lovely jaunt yesterday and I want to go through the photos before I can talk and post about it! You're in for a real treat tomorrow! I still have the Erddig photos to do as well! Here's a hint about yesterday though . . . it involves a very old chapel and a wood.

And now for some totally heart melting cuteness . . .

This is our little Maryn trying on her new headband. Isn't she a sweetheart? Or am I just a doting grandmother?

And here is something that I found quite, quite interesting!

This is me at the same age. Can you see it? Or am I imagining the close family resemblance. Perhaps I am only seeing what I want to see??

We are off to take Mitzie to the dog groomers this morning and then I have a very special piece my fingers are just itching to work on, so I must off here now and get busy. I wish you all a very blessed and happy Friday, the last day in September for 2011. May your day be truly filled with lots of little pockets of joy!

I'll start it off for you with a little taster of chocolate and strawberries . . . yes, believe it or not there are still some British Strawberries to be had! I know, I found that quite amazing as well, when I discovered them the other day. They were from Hampshire. Enjoy!

*Chili Chocolate Dipped Strawberries*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I suppose you could use plain dark chocolate for these, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate, but chili chocolate, well . . . you just died and went to heaven . . . simple, easy, delectable. Remember of course that you will have to eat all of these on the day that you make them. They aren't good keepers. However that should not be a problem as I cannot forsee anyone having any of these any longer than a day!

1 punnet of fresh strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups)
100g bar of Lindt Chili Chocolate (A scant 4 ounces)

Make sure your strawberries are clean, blemish free and completely dry and free of any surface moisture. Break the chili chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl. Zap on high for 30 second intervals, taking out and stirring it each time until it is completely smooth and melted.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and set aside.

Take the strawberries and holding them by the stems dip them into the melted chocolate, swirling them and coating them to your desired amount, holding them over the bowl for a few seconds for the excess to drip off before placing them onto the lined baking tray to set and harden. Repeat with all the berries. Let sit until completely hard before tucking in and enjoying! I don't advise refrigerating them as it will make the chocolate go dull.

In The English Kitchen today a delicious Autumn Berry & Almond Cake.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Collecting . . .

(a variety of collections.)

I went through a stage when I was a child of collecting stamps . . . nothing serious mind you. I had sent away to a place in a comic book ad and gotten what seemed like a bazillion stamps for a paltry few dollars. I can remember looking at each of them and wondering at the different places they had come from and enjoying the various pictures on each and the colours . . . I are in hindsight that there was nothing of real value in the set.

Another time I collected animal cards from the grocery store. My mother purchased a set for each of us each time we bought groceries, either that or she was given them . . . I don't know which for sure. I had a little album that had also come from the IGA (name of the shop) and you pasted all the animal cards inside of it. There were specific spaces for each and a short description of each telling fascinating and interesting facts about each animal, it's habitat, etc. I can remember almost filling in every space, and really enjoying the cards. I remember the cover was a leafy green in colour and it was called Animals of the World.

(A few more flights of fancy.)

As an adult I've made a hobby of collecting salt and pepper shakers and cream and sugar dishes. (Todd would add cook books to that list, but we're not letting him say a word!) I have quite a few different ones now and I love each of them for a special reason . . . and when one breaks, as they have done through the years from time to time, I am heartbroken . . . but then I remind myself that they are only things . . . and I have something much more valuable than anything I could possess . . . and that is the love of family and friends. That usually helps.

There are two kinds of collectors . . . the first seeks to have complete sets of things, be they stamps, coins, Barbie dolls, etc. . . . and they keep a comprehensive and orderly set of their objets d'art. The second kind of collecter is driven by sheer desire . . . by the siren call, as it were, of something that they find beautiful and magnetically drawn to . . . I think I come from the second kind. I am drawn by the beauty of the things that I collect and am happy with them, whether they be just a few or a multitude.

(Time anyone?)

Lately I have been drawn into Pinterest. This is an online place where you can collect things as well . . . in pictures. It's a LOT of fun and quite harmless. You browse the net looking for things you like and then you can catalogue them and pin them onto "Boards" which you create. I have quite a few boards on there now . . . including . . . Everything Barbie, Gingerbread Love, French Country Decor, 1950's Kitchen, Christmas, it's never too early, Gingham love, hats through the Years, etc. I have great fun adding to my different collections and also great fun looking through other people's collections. I believe you can access my collections here. Be careful though . . . I am warning you, it's very addictive! (It's also a really inexpensive way to collect your loves and interests!)

I also collect quotes and poetry. These are probably the things that bring me the most pleasure. There is so much wisdom in words I think, and a great deal of value to be found there, even if it's only to my own soul . . .

(A collection of suitcases and hatboxes.)

My collections give me great joy . . . whether they be tangible or merely collections of the heart. They're like little happiness boxes, filled with things that bring me a great deal of pleasure and cause my heart to quicken . . . just a little bit. Do you have any collections??? Any that you'd like to share in the comments section??? I would dearly love to hear about them! Do tell!!

By the way I enjoyed all of your comments yesterday re family history. Another love that is quite, quite compelling once begun! Thanks so much for sharing!

When I lived in Canada, throughout the years my children were growing up, I used to make several batches of delicious spicyApple Butter every year, along with countless jars of crabapple jelly, and plastic margarine tubs full of applesauce to put into the freezer. In the long cold winter months they were a delicious taste of autumn.

*Applesauce Spice Cake*
Serves 10 to 12
Printable Recipe

This is a lovely cake that the whole family will enjoy. Deliciously moist and full of the wonderful flavour of spice, studded with soft raisins and crunchy walnuts, this truly is a joy to bake and to eat. The smell of this when it is baking is truly heavenly!

2 ½ cups plain flour
1 cups caster sugar
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
½ cup vegetable shortening such as Trex, White Flora or Crisco
½ cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup sultantas

¾ cup of softened butter
5 cups icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon essence

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 15 inch baking pan and set aside.

Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, spices and sugar into a large bowl. Drop in the shortening, applesauce, water and eggs. Beat it all together with an electric mixer until it is all smooth, beating well. Fold in the sultanas and walnuts. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for approximately 34 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched. Alternately you may use a toothpick to see if it is done, which when inserted will come out clean.

Remove from the oven and place in the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once completely cool make the frosting. Beat the butter until light and fluffy and then beat in the remaining ingredients, beating until smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly across the top of the cake. (leave the cake in the pan and serve from there) If you want you can sprinkle more toasted walnuts over the top of the finished cake.


Over in The English Kitchen this morning, a delicious stir up that I composed from store cupboard ingredients, Stir Up Spicy Rice Supper. It tastes a LOT better than it looks!

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Who Do You Think You Are

"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

~Malachi 4:6

One program which we really love to watch is "Who Do You Think You Are," which airs on the BBC over here on Wednesday nights. Last week's episode saw Robin Gibb tracing his ancestry and it was quite an emotional journey for him in many respects. I really enjoy the turns and twists that these journies take and wish that I had the money and resources to do my own family history in that way. (You can keep up with the episodes here on the BBC iplayer.) This week they will be doing Richard Madeley of the Richard and Judy fame.

There is an ancestor in my family that we have been chasing for a long time, but to no avail. We know that one of my ancestors named Boyd McNayr landed in Halifax in 1786. He was approximately 8 years old, having been born at or near Glasgow, Scotland in 1778. He was left in Halifax with friends by his father, who was "in the King's service." His father went to sea and was never seen nor heard from again, presumed lost in 1787. We have no idea of what his father's name was or if there was a mother. Boyd moved out to the valley and married a woman named Rachel Beals in 1802 and there is a wonderful story of them moving down to Springfield, Nova Scotia with her sitting pregnant on a horse, and him guiding the horse all the way there, which would have been some considerable journey!

They went on to have 14 children, but the one I am interested in was Arod McNyr, who was born in 1813, in Springfield. He married a woman named Diadama Whitman in 1840 and they went on to have some 11 children, but the one that is my direct ancestor was Ida McNayr, who was born in 1845.

This is Ida McNayr Smith.

She is my Great Great Great Grandmother on my mother's mother's side. When I look at her I see a strong family resemblance to certain members of my family. It's the eyes and the nose. These features are scattered throughout my family to this day.

My mother told me that she lived with my Great Great Grandmother's family and that she was not very well treated by them . . . this is according to stories told by my Great Grandmother and Grandmother. I can't quite remember the circumstances, so I must ask my mother about them again to be clear. My late Aunt Freda was our family historian and she passed away several years ago. I used to talk to her all the time about our family history, but sadly all her work has been misplaced . . .

I would love to know who Boyd McNayr's father was, and so am hoping one day that we will be able to travel up to Scotland and search records there to see if we can find him. I only know that Boyd was born at or near Glasgow, but am hoping that will be enough to make a start. It sure would be helpful if I could have all the resources to hand that these celebrities have on Who Do You Think You Are!

Family history of course is very important in my church. Not only is it a lot of fun and quite addictive, as many people in the world can attest to. (There seems to be a natural yearning in all peoples to discover their roots.) Those of us who have been bitten by the family history bug know just how much fun it can be. But this isn’t why we have the largest genealogical library in the world and why 13 million Mormons are encouraged to research their family roots. Rather, we are driven by our doctrines which teach that marriage and families can continue beyond this life. But this can only happen when families are sealed together in one of the Lord’s holy temples around the world and united for all eternity. You can read more about that here, if you are interested.

I think it's pretty exciting to be able to trace one's roots back and if you have pictures to look at, it's even more exciting, especially when you see family traits that have been carried on down through the generations, and read about the things they have done and accomplished. Have any of you been able to research or find out fascinating stories about your ancestors? I would love to hear them! Please do share!

I am doing my visiting teaching this afternoon, which will be fun. I do so love to visit the sisters under my care. My life since I joined the church has always been greatly blessed by the Visit Teaching program and I have found through the years that the sisters I have visited, and that the sisters who have visited me and partnered with me have become much valued and beloved friends. I don't know of anyone that can't use more of those!

Look at the fun little piece I did yesterday afternoon. Yes, I am on a hat's kick lately! I love them. I never wear one, as I don't think I look very good in one, but I do enjoy looking at them, and it would seem, drawing them!

And now for the recipe today. It is a simple one, easy to make and uses ingredients I normally have to hand in my store cupboard. Todd always loves it when I make this. Not quite as modest as Beans on Toast, but just as tasty. This is comfort food, plain and simple. With a delicious salad on the side, this was anything but ordinary . . .

*Beans and Wieners Under Cornbread*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This makes a delicious and simple supper. Hearty and family pleasing. Todd really enjoys this when I make it and I can say with a certainty that the leftovers taste even better the next day, so it’s worth making the whole recipe, however you can quite successfully cut the recipe in two if you wish.

1 package of smoked frankfurters
2 (415g) tins of baked beans
1 heaping dessertspoon of tomato sauce
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS dark soft brown sugar
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
(You can cut this down if you don’t like your food too spicy)
1 TBS dark molasses (in the UK you can use a combination of dark treacle and golden syrup)

1 cup flour
¼ cup caster sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta in the UK)
1 cup buttermilk
2 TBS olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces roasted diced green chilies
¾ cup grated strong cheddar cheese
1/3 cup diced red onion

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Cut the frankfurters into 1 inch pieces and brown them in a large hot skillet. (There is no need to add any fat to the skillet). Once they are browned add the beans, tomato sauce, mustard, sugar, molasses and pepper sauce. Stir it all together really well and bring to a simmer. Let cook for about five minutes, on low heat, while you make the cornbread mixture.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the cornmeal and ½ cup of the grated cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil and egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just enough to combine, without over mixing. Fold in the roasted chilies and red onion.

Place the hot bean mixture in a lightly buttered casserole dish*. Pour the cornbread mixture over top. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of grated cheese. Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cornbread is well risen and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

*Note- You can also bake this in individual casserole dishes as I have done above.

Over in The English Kitchen today, some Smashed and Roasted New Potatoes. (Plus I reveal the winner of my Tala measure cup giveaway!)

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, September 27th, 2011...

Outside My Window...

The sky is just faintly beginning to lighten out the front window. It is dark most mornings when I get up now, the days are becoming quite obviously shorter. It is hard to believe that we are at the end of September already.

I am thinking...
My daughter Eileen is going into hospital today to have her tubes tied. If you could spare a little word of prayer for her that would be much appreciated. She is getting married next July. I am very happy for her. Both she, and her husband to be, are developmentally delayed and they don't want there to be any children. He has already been done, a long time ago . . . but I guess to make certain that she can't get pregnant, she is having her tubes tied as well. They have been dating for about 8 or 9 years now, and have been waiting a very long time for people to allow them to get married, so it's a very special time for them and for the family.

I am thankful for...
That Todd is beginning to feel a lot better, thanks! Here's hoping it continues until he is 100% well again!

From the kitchen...
There's not a lot of goodies hanging about! I am getting slack!

I am wearing...
Nightie, robe, slippers. Same old, same old . . . nothing changes!

I am creating...
I haven't done anything new this week. I am slipping! I've done a lot of reading about creating though, so I spect that must count for something!

I am going...
I have an appointment for a hair cut this afternoon and then on Thursday evening we have the General Relief Society Broadcast. I can hardly wait! It's always really good. I have already heard hints from those in America that have already seen it that it is a really good broadcast and you can watch the talk given by President Dieter F Uchtdorf here:

I am reading...

A Game of Thrones, a song of fire and ice by George R R Martin
This is the first volume of a brilliant trilogy, written in the style and muse of Tolkien. The first volume of George R R Martin's glorious high fantasy tells the tragic story of treachery, greed and war that threatens the unity of the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall. Martin unfolds with astonishing skill a tale of truly epic dimensions, thronged with memorable characters, a story of treachery and ambition, love and magic. Set in a fabulous world scarred by battle and catastrophe over 8000 years of recorded history, it tells of the deeds of men and women locked in the deadliest of conflicts and the terrible legacy they will leave their children. In the game of thrones, you win or you die. And in the bitter-cold, unliving lands beyond the Wall, a terrible winter gathers and the others -- the undead, the neverborn, wildlings to whom the threat of the sword is nothing -- make ready to descend on the realms of men. A Game of Thrones begins the most imaginative, ambitious and compelling fantasy epic since The Lord of the Rings. Thronged with memorable characters, it unfolds with astonishing skill, a tale of truly epic dimensions. I am reading it on my kindle and am thoroughly enjoying. It's a can't put down kind of a book!

I am hoping...
That Eileen's operation goes well. That Todd feels better soon. That I can get a handle on this weight of mine. So many hopes . . .

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds . . . the clock on the mantle humming as the wheels inside it turn. The odd car as it goes by. Mitzie snuffling as she snoozes, all curled up behind me on the sofa. The tap tapping of the computer keys as I write.
They are morning sounds. The sounds as I hear whilst the house wakes up around me and the day begins. I know I say the same thing every week . . . this morning I also have Elder Uchtdorf's brilliant talk playing as I write. I can't think of a better way to start my day!

Around the house...

This is one of my favourite online shops, Berry Red. I recently purchased a new oil cloth for the table from here. I fell in love with it, and it really goes well in here. Here's a picture of the pattern:

I think it's very pretty and fresh looking. I also splurged and got these bowls:

Only two, one for Todd and one for me. I fell in love with them. They can be our extra special, celebration bowls. Everyone should have something in their lives that is extra special and makes each day feel like a celebration, don't you think?

I am looking forward to...
Christmas. I have all the gifts bought for the grandchildren now and just have to get some wrapping paper and wrap them up. I wish I could be there to see their little faces when they unwrap them!

I am pondering...
I am a thinker. I spend most of my time thinking about one thing or another. Sometimes my thoughts are very deep . . . and others they are not very deep. I am glad I have a pondering mind though . . . I cannot imagine not being able to ponder the mysteries of life.

One of my favourite things...
Is teaching my reading student. I can see that he has come brilliantly far since we first began the lessons. It is amazing and wonderful. I tell him each that that he is doing wonderfully brilliantly! I am teaching him now, now to string sounds together to make words. It is really amazing to see the light coming on for him!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
There are the daily reading lessons, my hair cut, the General RS Broadcast and then this weekend is General Conference. I love General Conference weekend. I can't wait to listen to the spiritual food that our leaders have prepared for us to digest!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

“No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you, with an infinite love.”

Using the forget-me-not flower as a metaphor for his remarks during the latest RS General Presidency Broadcast , President Uchtdorf noted that . . . although the flower is small in size, and easily unnoticed among larger flowers, it is still beautiful and vibrant.

He tied the five petals of the forget-me-not flower to five things women should not forget, which I will share in brief with you here this morning. (I do hope that you will take the time sometime to listen to his talk. It's brilliant!)

Forget not to be patient with yourself.
Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice.
Forget not to be happy now.
Forget not the why of the Gospel.
Forget not that the Lord Loves You.

And just as a closing thought for today . . . these words from President Uchtdorf:

“Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time.”

“You may at times feel a little like the forget-me-not—insignificant, small, or tiny in comparison with others,” he said, noting: “I hope (the forget-me-not) will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet.”

I will never look at forget-me-nots the same ever again. I think I will scatter some forget-me-not seeds throughout the garden to remind me of the value of his great words and message.

Oh how very blessed I feel to be a member of this great church, with leaders that continuously feed my soul in such a wonderful and beautiful way.

And there you have it . . . my day book for this week. 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! It's not that hard and I am betting you would enjoy it!

I am slowly re-doing the recipes one by one that I first posted in the early days of my blog. They were not put into a printable format and so I am changing them to a printable format. This is one we really enjoyed back in June of 2007. Blueberries are a lot more available over here now than they used to be when I first arrived. They are not the tender little sweet ones of my childhood, but they are delicious all the same.

*Blueberry Gingerbread*
Serves 12
Printable Recipe

This is an unusual version of gingerbread in that it is studded with lovely pockets of blueberry. Who knew the two things would go together so well! This is really moist and delicious and only gets better every day!

½ cup sunflower or canola oil
1 cup sugar (caster* or granulated)
½ tsp salt
3 TBS mild molasses (or equal parts of golden syrup and dark treacle)
1 large egg
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
2 TBS Demerara sugar for sprinkling on top

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*C. Lightly grease and flour a deep 9 inch cake tin and set aside.
Beat together the oil, 1 cup of sugar, salt and molasses with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg, mixing it in well.

Sift together the flour, spices, and baking soda. Remove 2 TBS of the mixture and dredge the berries in this.

Add the remaining flour to the beaten mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in the blueberries and remaining flour.

Spread in the prepared pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle the Demerara sugar evenly over top.
Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, or until well risen and the top springs back when gently touched with your fingertips. a toothpick inserted in the centre should come out fairly clean.

Set on a rack to cool. Cut into wedges to serve, either warm with butter of with some whipped cream on top. OR…you can do like I do, and split the slices in half and dollop some lovely lemon curd in the middle and then put them back together.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, A Delicious Gratin of Chard.

Monday 26 September 2011

Setting forth on wings of faith . . .

If the migrant bird could see the way it had to fly . . .

It might not risk the long hard flight, across the unmapped sky,
But God gives it sufficient strength to launch out into space
Setting forth on wings of faith, for some far distant place.
~Patience Strong

That's kind of like life isn't it? If we knew what tomorrow would bring, would we move forward without hesitation? It would not be very hard if we knew that tomorrow would be filled with happy and pleasant things . . . but what about the tomorrow's that would be filled with the not so happy things . . . the sorrow, or pain . . . the loss or injury . . . ill health . . .

I'm not so sure that I would march forward in faith, did I know the outcome. That's not faith anyways is it? Faith is trusting an unknown future to a known God, and moving forward irregardless of what tomorrow may or may not bring.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
~Hebrews 11:1

It is jumping in at the deep end . . . and trusting in a God that will be there to help to keep us afloat. It's trusting in the strength of our God and Saviour to help get us through anything that life may and probably will throw our way.

Just my thoughts this morning.

Todd is still not very well. If you could spare a few happy thoughts for him, I would most appreciate them. It's just a nasty infection that is keeping him down and out of sorts, nothing serious so far as we know. Hoping that he will feel much better today.

For the past few weeks the hedgerows have been just bursting with beautiful blackberries, their heavily laden branches bowed beneath the weight of these lovely, shiny black fruits. It's been a race between the birds and us to see who can gather the most.

I like to freeze them. I place them on parchment paper lined, rimmed baking trays in single layers and then pop them into my freezer. Once they are frozen solid, I then pour them into zip lock bags. That way they are loose frozen and in the long winter months ahead I can take out just as many or as few as I need to use, at any one given time. I do the same with all my berries that I freeze.

In Canada, when my family was growing up, I used to put up pints of blackberry jelly for the winter every late summer. At one time we lived in a rented farmhouse, which lay on the banks of the Georgian Bay, and the hillside down towards the water was stogged full of wild black berries. Every year, I regularly donned a long sleeved shirt and faced the brambles in my quest for the lovely black beauties. Afterwards, back home, I would make jar after jar of Blackberry jelly, to be enjoyed in the coming winter on thick slices of freshly toasted homemade bread or spread in between the soft sweet layers of a freshly baked Victorian sponge. It also made the loveliest of jam tarts. What didn't make it into the jelly pot made it into my freezer, to be enjoyed at a later date, baked up into delicious dessert bakes, muffins, cobblers and pies.

I have't made much in the way of jams and jellies since I moved over here. Todd and I are just two people, and it takes us ever so long to eat them up. So long, that I fear they will spoil long before we can get them used. Instead, I gather them up, leaving some for the birds, and what I am not able to use right away fresh, gets frozen for use in the cooler months ahead. They are lovely in crumbles and pies. A little taste of summer to light up a dreary winter's day ...

*Blackberry Pie with Streusal Topping*
Makes one 9 inch pie
Printable Recipe

You can use store-bought blackberries for this delicious pie if you wish, but I prefer to use the wild ones picked from the bramble hedges. They seem to have so much more flavour, and I suppose the effort one has to make in order to acquire them makes them taste all the better . . .

prepared pie crust to line the bottom of a nine inch pie dish
(ready made or make your own)
1/2 cup of caster sugar
2 1/2 TBS of cornflour
pinch of salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
the juice of 1 lemon
1 pound of fresh blackberries
Streusal Topping:
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of plainflour
1 TBS water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of butter softened

Preheat the oven to 205*C/425*F.
Make the streusal topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl until crumbly. Set aside.

Roll out the flakey pastry to about 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer it to your pie tin. Trim the edges to about a 1/2 inch over hang. Fold this under until even with the rim of the pie dish all around and then flute the edge decoratively.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornflour, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. (I only use unwaxed lemons. Who wants to eat wax. If you don't have unwaxed lemons wash them really well in soapy water to remove the wax coating. I have a microplane that I used for zesting. It does a lovely job!) Put the blackberries in a bowl and pour this mixture over them, tossing them gently to coat. Try not to crush the berries too much. Let them sit for about fifteen minutes and then, giving them a final gentle toss, pour the whole mixture into the prepared and waiting crust. Sprinkle the top evenly with the streusal mixture. You will most likely have too much, but that's ok. Just freeze what you don't use in a zip lock bag to bring out and use another time. It goes great on muffins, coffee cakes and other things.

Place on a cookie sheet that you have lined with aluminum foil and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes until the filling is all bubbly and the streusal all crunchily golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving. We like to have it warm with big scoops of cold vanilla ice cream.

For my first Meat free Monday post over in The English Kitchen there is a delicious casserole today, Washday Macaroni and Cheese!

Sunday 25 September 2011

Marie's Sunday Six

I have not done a Sunday Six for a while, which is amazing for me. I just realized that this morning, and here we are at the last Sunday for September already! Where is the year going? It's disappearing in a puff of smoke! I thought it would be fun to share six songs that make me smile here this morning and why they do, so here I go!

"Firework" by Katy Perry. It like this song because it reminds me about how very special we, each of us, are. It doesn't matter what the world thinks we are and what's on the surface doesn't matter one iota. It's the "me" that is beneath the surface that is the most important thing of all. It's not my size, or my face or anything else that people can see with their eyes. It's the "heart" of me that counts most of all.

"Getting Jiggy With It," by Will Smith. Actually anything Will Smith makes me smile. I think he's very entertaining and it is the only form of rap music that I like. He always reminds me of my eldest son in a lot of ways, not sure why that is, only that it is.

"Fifteen" by Taylor Swift. I actually like anything by Taylor Swift, but this is one of my favourites. It takes me back to my teen years and how I felt then . . . I just think it is a beautiful song.

"Everything" by Michael Buble. For so long I had that song playing on this page when you opened it and then my music player stopped working in this country. This song just makes me want to get up and twirl around. I love Michael Buble!

"When I said I do," by Clint Black and Lisa Hartman. I just love this song. It reminds me of how very much I love my husband and how special he was to me when we first met, how special he is to me now . . . and how special he will always be to me.

"The Whole Wide World," by Mindy Gledhill. I love anything by Mindy Gledhill. Her music always makes my toes tap and when I am painting, she is who I am listening to 99% of the time. Her music is just so inspiring to me.

"Silly Pretty Little Thing," Bob Geldof. It just brings a smile to my face. I love it. I fell in love with it the very first time I heard it on Radio 1. It makes me want to dance.

These are by no means the only songs that make me smile. Hymns make me smile as do anything by the Beatles or Neil Diamond . . . my list might even vary from day to day and how I am feeling. Music is very subjective and mindful of your heart . . . it speaks to your soul and the few bars of a tune can instantly transport you to another time and place. Tomorrow my list might be completely different than it is today and then on Tuesday, even different still. What are some of the songs that make you smile today? I would love to hear them!

Here's a delicious salad that is quite different than your normal type of coleslaw. It's a lot lighter than the regular kind. I don't like the coleslaw over here . . . it's far too gloopy and mayonnaisey. Even when I make coleslaw with mayo, I don't put a fraction of the mayo in it that they put in it here. It's like there is twice as much mayo as there is coleslaw! One thing I miss from home is the way most dishes you order in a restaurant or cafe come with a side of coleslaw and it's always really good coleslaw too. I guess I just love coleslaw!

*Pineapple Slaw*
Serves 6 to 8
Printable Recipe

In a bid to get lighter and away from all that mayo in regular coleslaw I developed this tasty salad. Crisp veggies in a delicious pineapple vinaigrette. If anything, this gets better upon standing.

4 or 5 cups of thinly sliced and chopped green cabbage
(about 1/2 head)
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsley shredded
3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup of pineapple tidbits (drain and save the juice)
1/2 cup of chopped dates

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS finely minced shallot
3 TBS sunflower oil
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Combine the cabbage, carrots, spring onions, pineapple and dates in a large bowl. Toss together well.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and then pour it over the slow, tossing to combine. Let sit for an hour or so before eating. If you would like to add some delicious heat you can also stir a couple of teaspoons of sweet asian chili sauce into the vinaigrette. Enjoy!!

Baking in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Lemon and Black Currant Swirl Cake.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . The Owl and the Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy Cat, by Ian Penny

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

And there in the wood, a piggy-wig stood, by tahmina torabji

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

Air Art by Imatec

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon,
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
~Edward Lear

unable to find the artist to attribute this to

I don't know about you, but I want to know the rest of the story!! I have long loved this poem . . . since I was a girl. I believe that one year we had to memorize it in school. I wonder do children have to memorize poems in school anymore? Do they have to memorize anything??? I cannot remember my own children having to memorize anything. The longest poem I ever had to memorize was in Grade 4 and it was called The Wreck of the Hesperus, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It seemed to take up pages and pages in my school reader and I thought I would never get it all memorized, but . . . of course I did. ☺ I wonder . . . did my love of poetry stem from those early days when I was made to memorize verse and prose? Probably!

We are having an activity for the Sisters at my church this morning . . . a morning of Desert Island Discs. We are each to bring in a piece of music that we love and would want with us on a Desert Island. It promises to be a good time and I best dash as I am in charge of the refreshments and I have a bit left to do. Happy Saturday all!

This is one of my favourite ways to cook chicken breasts. Chicken breasts can be very dry and tasteless . . . They can use a little bit of help to put some flavour in there. Here’s my secret way of doing that!

*Flash Fried Chicken with Lemon, Capers and Parsley*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Simple meats are so much tastier when you prepare them simply with simple ingredients and not much fuss. These chicken breasts are cut thinly and then flash fried, preserving much of the moisture. The flavours of lemon, parsley and capers really go well with chicken. It also helps to make a little bit of chicken go further.

3 chicken breasts
3 TBS plain flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and mashed a bit, but still in one piece
The juice of a lemon
1 TBS of capers in vinegar, drained well and chopped
3 TBS coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Slice each chicken breast into three or four thin escallops, through the middle horizontally with a very sharp knife, being very careful not to slice through your hand. I like to hold the palm of my hand on top of the chicken, pressing it down gently and slice through it that way. It also helps if the chicken is really cold.

Place the plain flour on a plate and dip each escallop into it on both sides, patting them lightly to help the flour adhere.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat along with the garlic. Once it becomes very fragrant add the chicken pieces, trying not to crowd the pan. (It is better to do a few at a time. If you have too many in the pan the chicken will steam instead of fry.) Fry the meat on both sides quickly, until golden, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.

Remove from the pan as each is done and continue to fry until all the meat is lightly browned and seasoned. Return all the chicken to the pan and squeeze the juice of the lemon over top of it all. It will bubble up and begin to glaze the chicken. Toss in the chopped capers and parsley. You can add a tablespoon or two of hot water if needed and give it a swirl to make a sauce. Remove the chicken from the heat immediately and let sit for a few minutes, covered, for the flavours to develop, then serve hot with some boiled potatoes or rice. Delicious!

Over in The English Kitchen today a delicious Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps!