Tuesday 25 October 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, October 25th, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It is very dark and very cold. Not as cold as it can get in the winter, but the thermometer is definitely beginning to dip down . . . I am still sitting here hacking away. Sure sign of this time of year . . . the dreaded lurgy . . .

I am thinking...
I belong to a highschool group on Facebook. Well, it's not really a highschool group, but more a group of kids that used to hang out in a certain place. Most of us are Military Brats, with the odd civvie thrown in for good measure. It's been really interesting and fun seeing where and how everyone has got on in life. I'm really enjoying it. What's really nice about it is that all the walls have dropped. There are no "cool" kids anymore . . . or nerds . . . or prom queens . . . just good, decent, kind people, who have matured and have a story to tell and to share. I'm really enjoying it!

I am thankful for...
The scars that life has given me. They have helped to make me who I am and I like me. There is an old saying . . . Ain't nobody gonna get out of here alive! So let's appreciate what we got while we still got it!

From the kitchen...
Not a heck of a lot! Perhaps that is a good thing!

I am wearing...
L just giggled at the thought that I could have accidentally put the above line in here by mistake. Now that would have gotten a lot of attention! tee hee I'm wearing a pink nightied a robe and slippers. ☺

I am creating...

This is a little piece I did yesterday afternoon. I may never sell millions of pounds worth of stuff and I may never become a recognized artist, but I do so enjoy putting my whims and feelings down onto paper. This is a little girl on a swing, holding a sparrow in her lap. It reminds me of that song I learned as a child about God seeing the little Sparrow Fall . . . and how it meets His tender view . . . and of my relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father and my Saviour. I can tell them anything and I know that they are listening.

I am going...
We have our extra meeting for the Relief Society on Thursday Evening. This one is going to be foodie centred and we will be teaching the Sisters some great ways to stretch their food budget and how to make their meals more interesting and exciting . . . and different! Not the same old, same old!!

I am reading...

Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell

The book is a true account of the fascinating career of a 1920's kitchen maid, which promises any fans of Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs a good read. Having worked myself as a cook in a "big house" I really enjoyed this peek into another cook's life and could easily align my own experiences with some of hers, although to be sure I had no kitchen maid to do all the dirty work for me and my boss was a bit of a nutter.

Margaret's background career started at the age of 14 when she became a kitchen maid in Hove, eventually progressing to the position of cook before, her marriage to a milkman in later life.

The book reads as virtually a transcript, bearing in mind that Margaret was knocking on a bit when she wrote this book. She recounts a lot of her experiences as wonderful or marvellous but still begrudges the position of 'servant' when some have nothing and others have too much.

The work of a kitchen maid is hard graft and never ending, with an early start and late finish. Her life as a cook improved her hours and work but she still tried hard and tried to work well with her employers which sometimes proved difficult.

My favourite bit of the book is when she describes her lodgings in each of the many grand houses she worked in. Sometimes it was rough and sometimes nice but never luxurious. I felt like Margaret had a lot of respect for her work and determination to do well but often came a cropper with a clash between employers or even the other longstanding staff. Whilst she was kind to people she did not suffer fools and as such would have been a good person to work for or with.

The language in the book is simple and paints a great picture of what it must have been like in the 1920s. Some employers were very generous, some were mean and some just misunderstood what the servants felt like and forgot they have feelings too.

It's hard to imagine in these days having a staff of 10+ people but these were the environments Margaret worked in and this is within the last 100 years of our world. Times have changed so much even in terms of cooking, Margaret describes working with the best (and worst) ingredients and abhorred cooking with margarine - it had to be butter! I did not learn to make any new food after reading this book but can see how things have changed.

I am hoping...
I got a letter telling me to make an appointment with my Doctor to see about the results of my ulta sound. I am nervous but remaining positive.

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 . . . my mornings have the comfort of being the same day after day. I love that about my days. They are quite, quite peaceful. (that's a good thing!)

Around the house...

I love this idea of using an old door as a kitchen table. It looks very rustic and so very countrified! I love the idea of re-purposing anything and giving it a new life!

I am looking forward to...
I have not done a lot over the past week and a half whilst I've been ill. I am starting to feel a bit better now, although the cough and congestion linger somewhat. I am hoping that it is all gone by Thursday and that I can truly enjoy sharing with the Sisters at church. We have not made any other plans for the week . . . just want to get completely better is all.

I am pondering...
Everyone has a hidden story. We only see the surface or the things that people want us to see about them. If we were able to scratch the surface we would see something quite amazing I think . . . and we would be able to understand a lot more about why people are the way they are. There is an old Indian saying about not judging another until you have walked a mile in their moccasins. It is so true . . .

One of my favourite things...
I love to put my brushes and paint to paper and to see where they take me. I never know where I am going to end up when I begin . . . it evolves as my brushes stroke the paper. Each has a story to tell and I would hope that people who see my work can read the story I am trying to tell!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Not a lot!!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Once upon a time my pantry walls used to be lined with jars just like this in the autumn. Oh how very much I enjoyed preserving summer's bounty for my family to use over the winter months ahead. I can remember looking at all the jars once the season's work was done for yet another year and feeling a great sense of pride in all I had accomplished. It was truly a labour of love and I got a great deal of pleasure from it. We are hoping that our garden will be a lot better next year and who knows . . . perhaps my hand will lend itself to doing this again. I did buy a nice dehydrator the other week. I took a page from Marlene's book and plan on dehydrating a lot next year!

As a closing thought I would like to leave you with this:

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
~Albert Schweitzer

What true words these are. Most of my joy in life has come from being able to serve others. It is only in the giving away of your life that you truly begin to live it as it was meant to be lived.

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!

For the Simple Day Book . . . a simple tomato Tart. Enjoy!!

*Crisp Autumn Tomato Tart*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I had some tomatoes that needed to be used as well as some puff pastry. They just spoke tart to me and so I knocked this delicious one up. It's pretty wonderful what you can do with just a few ingredients.

1 (375g) packet of ready rolled puff pastry
4 ripe plum tomatoes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup homemade garlic mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated strong cheddar cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for dusting
Tomato vinegar for drizzling (optional, can use Balsamic)
a few basil leaves

Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and lay the puff pastry out on top of it. Taking a sharp knife run it along about 1/2 inch from the edges all the way around the sheet of pastry, being very careful not to cut through all the way to the bottom. This will be the rim of your tart. Take a fork and prick it all over inside the edge. Place into the heated oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and tamp down the centre area, leaving the edges puffed.

Spread the centre area with the garlic mayonnaise, covering it right up to the raised edges of the tart. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese. Lay the tomato slices over top of the cheddar cheese and sprinkle with a healthy dusting of sea salt and black pepper. Dust the top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Place back into the hot oven an bake for another 20 minutes until nicely browned and crisp on the bottom.

Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes. Drizzle some tomato vinegar over the top and sprinkle with some torn basil leaves before serving. Delicious!

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, a velvety Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms!

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