Wednesday 30 November 2011

The season of blah???

Imagine what the world would be like without the varying hues of it's colour . . . . the purples . . . the yellows . . . the crimsons and the blues . . .

How very dull and drab it would be without the colour tones that surround us each day. Oh, we may feel like we are in the season of blah . . . dull, sodden . . . cold. But there is colour there . . . if we perchance to look . . .

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Nature paints the dried seed pods and leaves that cling to bare branches . . . different hues of brown and gold . . . the odd flower that blooms in confused splendor. Has it forgotten that winter is upon us?

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

So too has nature painted the shells we find strewn along a deserted beach front . . . the stones that lay all smooth and polished by the waves of the sea . . . the lichen on the rocks and drying bits of seaweed . . . the water all dark and glinting off in the distance, the tide having carried it out.

Gemstones . . . dug out of the earth and rocks . . . they are coloured in a myriad of ways . . . even pearls come in many hues, each one soft and warmly glowing . . . sapphires of dark and light blues . . . turquoise and silver . . . coal black and purple amethyst. The beauty of a desert rose . . . in many colours . . . gypsum formed into unique and flower-like crystals between the grains of sand . . . miracles of nature.

Even we are not the same . . . each of us bearing a different hue and colour, according to our race and genetics . . . black and white, dusky brown, blonde and brunette . . . gorgeous reds and auburns . . . freckled or not. Tall, thin . . . short and round, and everything in between.

God carries out His colour schemes throughout the earth . . . nothing is forgotten, not even the tiny feathers of a sparrow's wing. Is it not all beautiful?

I think so . . . and I so enjoy and give thanks. There is no such thing as a season of blah . . .

Latest news on my father is that he is now home and resting well. Apparently he called my brother to let him know he was still alive. That's great news and I just know that the prayers of you all and more throughout the world helped carry him (and us!) through this latest episode. I think I will call him myself later today just to hear his voice. I am so happy to still have him with us.

We went to post our packages at the post office yesterday and they wanted £60 for one of the packages! Outrageous. I went out and bought smaller boxes and broke it all down and in 4 smaller boxes that one box ended up only costing £20 altogether! When you are talking about the Royal Mail, size DOES matter! Lesson learnt and all the other boxes have been broken down into smaller ones as well.

This is one of Todd's favourite supper dishes. We are both potato people and so I confess to having a soft spot for it as well. Simple, comforting and warming on a cold night. We always enjoy . . .

*Potato Pie*
Serves 4 - 6
Printable Recipe

This has to be my husband’s favourite supper dish. I just can’t make it for him enough. Simple, yet hearty…there’s no need for meat. I like to serve it with buttered slices of a crusted and hearty whole wheat cobb and pickled beets. Sometimes simple really IS best.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
½ cup milk (¼ pint)
1 ounce butter (2 TBS)
4 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
2 to 3 ounces fresh white bread crumbs, lightly crisped
Melted butter to brush on top

Pre-heat oven to 205*C/425*F. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.

Drain well and mash with the milk and butter until smooth. Stir in the cheese and seasoning to taste.

Butter a square 1 ½ to 2 pint casserole dish and sprinkle with the crisped bread crumbs, pressing them to the base and sides with the back of a spoon.

Spoon the potato mixture into the dish….there is an art to this…I spoon 9 large dabs into the dish along the sides and then the rest of it into the middle…that way I can spread it into the dish evenly without disturbing the crumbs too much.

Rough up the top with the tines of a fork and brush with melted butter. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Sometimes I make a basket weave pattern on the top, depending on whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

Over in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Pear Ginger Streusel Muffins, oh so moist and spicy good!

Tuesday 29 November 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book . . .

FOR TODAY, November 29th, 2011...

Outside My Window...

It is cold, dark and damp. It's also really windy. I am wondering what the odds are on having a White Christmas. Probably not very good, although last year we did have one, which was most unusual!

I am thinking...
I am thinking about my father. I haven't heard anything concrete yet, and am assuming that no news is good news. From what I can make out from the note my Aunt left on my brother's facebook, he has had the pacemaker fitted successfully, but for some reason they don't want him to use his left leg. (Perhaps they did an angiogram at the same time?) I don't know. In any case he is in a room with two other patients (I think) and was not allowed home yesterday??? (I would think that would be natural after heart surgery.)

This is the problem that you get when people who speak two different languages get married, and then don't make sure their children can speak both languages. My brother, sister and I are groping around in the dark here as we just don't understand what's going on. We are using online language translators, but they leave a lot to be desired at times! If you could keep up the prayers I would very much appreciate! Thanks! (I think today was the day he was supposed to have a biopsy done on his prostrate. I don't know if they are going to go ahead on that or not.)

I am thankful for...
The tender mercies of my Heavenly Father. I experience them every day in big and small ways. I know He has never forgotten me and never will, even if I don't always like His answers.

From the kitchen...
There are some tasty Cinnamon Scrolls (see English Kitchen) but not a lot else. With this darned cold I haven't really been doing a lot of cooking!

I am wearing...
Pink nightie (M&S), Pink jim jam bottoms, pink slippers, aqua robe. Layering for warmth and comfort. I wish I could wear my night clothes all day, but alas . . . I do like to leave the house occasionally and so I must get dressed.

I am creating...
I did this yesterday afternoon:

It's about sisters. I quite like how it turned out. It's just in time for anyone who may want to give their sister a special Christmas gift of a print. It is also available as a card for that special sister in your life. Just send me a message to find out how.

I am going...
We have no plans for this week at all. I have no meetings and we will just concentrate on getting better. Todd went to the Doctor yesterday and is on anti-biotics as well. I am feeling somewhat better so here is hoping that he soon will be as well. The Doctor felt he also had a touch of Bronchitis. Of course we both saw totally different Doctors and got two slightly different diagnosis. We have exactly the same symptoms . . . but mine told me I had blocked eustacian tubes and a post nasal drip and Todd's told him he had a cold and a slight case of bronchitis. Go figure.

I am reading...

The American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House . . . and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.

I have only just started this book, but so far it is a can't put it down type of book. I've had it in my bookcase for a couple of years and have only just now picked it up to read. I wish they had a Kindle version as it is a thick book and my arthritic wrists struggle to hold it in bed, but I shall persevere as it is that good!

I'm about halfway through this book and it is still holding my attention brilliantly!

I am hoping...
That Todd and I will be able to shake these germs and get back to feeling normal soon! Christmas is almost upon us and we want to be well. Mostly though, I am hoping that my father recovers well and will be ok. Keep those prayers coming! (thanks!)

I am hearing...
Early morning sounds as the world
wakes up around me. Every day sounds. Peaceable and comforting. My everyday sounds in any case. Our Mantel clock makes a noise as the hands move around it's face . . . not a tick tick, but a low rumbling. I miss old hand wound clocks. These modern battery operated ones are just not the same. I would love to have a Grandfather clock, but one might look a bit out of place in this small house . . . the dancers on our cuckoo clock don't work anymore either . . . I wonder if a clockmaker could fix that?

Around the house...

I just love a good old fashioned screen door. I know this isn't the time of years for screen doors, but I do miss them in the summer time. There is something about the sound of a screen door opening and closing that is so homey and comforting. They don't do screens of any kind over here. When your doors and windows are open . . . they are just open and any insect can fly right in. If I ever had the money I would have my doors fitted with screen doors . . . good old country wooden ones that creak when you move them and that snap shut! All gingerbready trimmed and beautifully painted white.

I am looking forward to...
I am looking foward to Christmas! It is my favourite time of year. Not the shopping part of it . . . I hate to go in the shops this time of year, they are so crowded and crazy . . . I just love the music and the old Christmas films . . . the food and the decorations . . . and the true meaning of the "Holy" days we will be celebrating. It is all so very wonderful and magical to me.

If I could change one thing it would be ...
Everyone would come to know the peace, power and the saving Grace that the knowledge of the Saviour brings. What a different world it would be were everyone to embrace this truth and live it.

One of my favourite things...
Watching old American Sitcoms. We have a few and whilst they are old hat to me, they are all new to Todd. It's interesting to note how many American Sitcoms were based on British ones, taken over there and Americanized for the North American taste. Take "All in the Family" for instance. It was based on a British Sitcom entitled, "Til Death Do We Part." Similar characters, slightly different format. I find it all very fascinating.

A few plans for the rest of the week...

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

I have always loved reading and always will. A good book can take us to places only dreamt of and inspire feelings in us we could never imagine. Inspirational, uplifting, enlightening, mind expanding, entertaining, educational . . . all these are the hallmarks of a good book.

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

"The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now." ~Gordon B Hinckley

I guess that is why patience is considered a great virtue. The best things in life ARE worth waiting for.

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!

Have you ever seen the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat, The secret of eating for pleasure???” Well, I don’t want to get in a debate about whether French women get fat or not (let’s just say I have been to the continent, and um . . . I did see a lot of fat women, and they weren’t speaking English) but anyways, this salad could have something to do with the reason they may or may not get fat. Oooo la la . . .

*The French Wedge*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

It couldn’t be simpler and you can have it on your table in less than 10 minutes. What can be tastier than a crisp wedge of Iceberg lettuce, sliced avocado and baby plum tomatoes with a tasty French vinaigrette? One with the addition of toasted walnuts and crumbled Roquefort cheese, that’s what!!!

¼ cup walnut pieces
1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 TBS sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
½ head of iceberg lettuce
4 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
½ hass avocado, peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices
8 baby plum tomatoes, cut in half

Heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Place the walnut pieces on a small baking tray and carefully toast them in the oven, tossing them regularly for about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Set aside.

Whisk together in a small bowl the mustard, sherry vinegar and the salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking to emulsify the mixture.

Cut the lettuce half into two evenly sized wedges. Place each quarter on a chilled salad plate. Arrange the avocado slices next to the wedge and scatter the plum tomatoes over top of the avocado. Rewisk the dressing and drizzle it over top of each wedge. Sprinkle on the walnut halves and the Roquefort cheese. Enjoy!

Baking in The English Kitchen today some deliciously flakey Lemon Glazed Cinnamon Scrolls!

Monday 28 November 2011

Lessons from a father that loves me . . .

This is my dad. I love him with all of my heart. I last spoke to him one afternoon last week. We spoke for about an hour. It is always nice to hear his voice and pass some time with him . . . even when he is thousands of miles away.

My father has always been my biggest fan. Always. He's always terribly interested in what I'm painting now and in seeing the ones that I have done. I gave him a winter landscape painting I did when I was a teenager and he still has it, framed and hanging on his wall. He loves it and I love that he loves it. When I look at it now, I think to myself . . . it wasn't really all that good . . . but he thinks it is and that's special to me. I am grateful that he is my biggest fan . . . you couldn't ask for a better one.

My father taught me that men can cry. I remember the first time I saw my father cry . . . it was when his own father had passed away. His father died the same day as President Kennedy . . . so there was double sorrow in our home. I was 8 years old, and so I remember it vividly. It broke my heart to see my father sobbing . . . but it taught me that men can cry and today I am proud of a father that showed me that it's ok for a man to cry. My father cries at sad movies and whenever his heart it touched. I am grateful for a father who is not ashamed to show his feelings.

My father taught me how to laugh. My father has the nicest laugh. I have fond memories of him watching Jerry Lewis movies when I was growing up and he would laugh himself right off of the sofa. My father's laughter is a beautiful sound to me. I am grateful for a father who laughs.

When I was a child my father always told me that:

1. It takes two to tangle. Fights never get started or stay started on their own. It always takes two.
2. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Being nice always gets you further.

I am grateful for those lessons.

I can remember one time when I was a teenager and I had had my heart broken. My father cried along with me. He was not afraid to show me that when I was hurt, he was hurt too. I am grateful for a father who cared enough to show me that.

My father taught me how to ride a bicycle, play the clarinet and how to spell. When we were children and we would ask him the meaning of a word or how to spell a word . . . he would always tell us to look it up in the dictionary. I am grateful for that . . . and for the hours we spent playing word games together as a family. He always picked the hardest words and made us work hard to discover what they were. The name of that particular game eludes me now . . . but I'm sure I will think of it later on.

My father has always been a voracious reader. I am a voracious reader. I guess I get that from him! I cannot remember my mother ever reading a book, but my father always had at least one or two on the go. Sadly because of his cataracts he hasn't been able to read these past few months . . . and once his eyes were operated on, he still couldn't read because he was waiting for new eyeglasses. I hope that he is able to get them soon, because he does love reading so very much. I am grateful for a father that taught me how to love reading.

My father taught me how to love music. All kinds of music. That is a love that we share. My father always played in the RCAF Station Band wherever we lived and I can remember going to watch him march and play in lots of parades as a child and being so very proud of him as he would march past. He could play the clarinet, trumpet, saxophone and harmonica and when I learned to play the clarinet in later life . . . we spent many hours playing together in two parts. It was so much fun and I am grateful for those memories. My father loves Susan Boyle. I always send him the latest Susan Boyle albums and I have one sitting here waiting to post to him . . . her latest one. I know he will love it. Today I am wishing I had posted it a few weeks ago when I first got it . . . instead of procrastinating . . .

I had a message from my sister this morning to tell me that my father had been taken in to hospital, and that they are going to fit him with a pacemaker today. I would ask please if you could all pray for him. His name is Tony. He is 77 years old and not the greatest of health, overweight, diabetic, etc. and he has a bad heart. (Obviously worse than we thought.) I hope sincerely that the last time we spoke was not the last time . . . our last words in that conversation. I love you.

My father taught me that he loved me. I am grateful for that.

This is my latest piece that I did yesterday afternoon. I hope that I have a chance to show my dad. I know he would love it. I thought the apples in her basket turned out perfectly and I love her little red shoes. When I was a little girl I would have loved to have a pair of red shoes. As always it is available as a print or a card.

We love potatoes in this house. You can take away my sweets, and my meat . . . but don't ever try to take away my potatoes. I think they are the one thing I could never live without. These ones here today are fabulous. Boiled potatoes, crushed whilst warm on a pan, sprinkled with herbs and spices, baked until the crags and crannies get all crispy and then topped with cheese and spring onions. Oh my. Some good.

*Dressed Road Kill Potatoes*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Everyone always loves these potatoes. They aren’t really road kill, but I guess they resemble road kill somewhat, only a lot more delicious and appetizing! People can’t get enough of these! You can really make as many or as few as you want, but I am thinking you will need more instead of less!

2 medium potatoes per person
Garlic granules, sweet paprika, mixed herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil for drizzling
8 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese
4 spring onions, chopped fine

Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until just barely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain well and set aside to cool.

Pre-heat the ovento205*C/425*F. Line an oven tray with parchment paper or grease it really well.

Take each cooled potato and smash it down onto the tray (hence the road kill) with a potato masher, without totally obliterating them, but leaving them with a nicely roughed up texture. Sprinkle them with the spices and herbs to taste. Drizzle them liberally with olive oil and place the tray in the heated oven. Bake them for 35 to 40 minutes until they start to get all browned with nice crunchy bits. Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the grated cheese and the chopped spring onions. Serve.

Over in The English Kitchen today a soul warming Creamy Sweet Potato Soup . . .

Saturday 26 November 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake,
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
~Robert Frost

You know the last few stanzas of that poem are so familiar to me. I've heard them many times . . . but I've never known where they came from until today! I love it! It got it from a little book I picked up one time called "Best Loved Poems." Edited by Neil Philip and Illustrated by Isabelle Brent.

I love the way the earth feels when the snow has been falling fast and deep. It is like a wonderland . . . silent, mysterious. You can hear the snow falling, but nothing else. All larger sound appears muffled. It's quite beautiful really. I don't do much walking in the snow over here though . . . not that we get it in any huge quantities very often. I just don't have the boots or other things to wear in the snow. I think if we ever travelled home to Canada in the Winter we would both be ill equipped to deal with either the temperatures or the terrain!

This is one of my favourite Winter/Holiday songs. It's Believe by Josh Groban. It's the theme song from Polar Express and is quite, quite beautiful. That Josh Groban can really sing. His voice is just gorgeous.

I went to the Doctors yesterday and I am on anti-biotics now, so that's a good thing. I think I can feel a difference already! Fingers crossed that this knocks this chest infection on the head for good!

This is a delicious smoked salmon appetizer that I often made when I worked in the Manor House. It's quite elegant and would be great for a holiday meal. It doesn't have to cost a bomb either as you can use the packets of smoked salmon bits that you can buy instead of the slices. They're always a lot cheaper, and work just as well!


*Smoked Salmon Tartar with Horseradish and Dill*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Serve this delicious tartar with crisp slices of grilled bread and thin slices of cucumber.

8 ounces cold smoked salmon
2 TBS minced red onion
1 TBS nonpareille capers, drained and rinsed
1 TBS coarsely chopped fresh dillweed
1 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/8 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
2 TBS sour cream
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
thinly sliced English cucumber
Frisee salad leaves for garnish
Tomato vinegar to drizzle on the salad leaves
thinly sliced bread, grilled

Cut the salmon into small dice. Combine with the onion, capes, dill weed and horseradish in a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and the sour cream. Add the Tabasco sauce and pepper. Fold all together gently, taking care not to over mix it.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When ready to serve pack into individual molds. Place some of the thinly sliced cucumber on the edge of a chilled salad plate. Unmold the salmon just slightly overlapping the cucumber and arrange some frissee salad on the other side. Drizzle the salad leaves with a little tomato vinegar and serve with a few slices of the grilled bread on the side.

Over in The English Kitchen today there's a delicious Pear and Ginger Trifle!

“When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer—no matter how eloquent the oration.”
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Friday 25 November 2011

Making every day count . . .

“Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.” ~Anne De Lenclos

I’ve often heard it said, that you should live each day as if it were the last day of your life, making every moment count. We shouldn’t squander one thought, one moment, one sunrise . . . we should try to live each day in every single way that will make us feel good about it, so that even if it were all over tomorrow, we’d be content and say to ourselves . . . well done.

Right now I am sitting here in front of my computer, and all around me the earth is awakening to face a new day . . . it first started as little chirps and peeps, invading the darkness that was beginning to creep away as daylight crept in along the horizon, and now is a cacaphony of the sound and music of birdsong, that is echoing thru the early morning light. It is my favourite time of day.

My head has not long left my pillow, and the whole day stands before me . . . fresh and clean, like a new page waiting for me to write upon it. What words will I write today, what new things will I find to cherish? Will I spend it wisely, or will I waste it in a frenzy of activity and fog, not stopping to cherish all the small blessings that are mine to experience and appreciate . . . Will I take every luminous moment that is mine, each “everyday epiphany” and see them for what they are, precious gifts not to be taken for granted, small pockets of joy and awakening?

Will I stop to cherish the ones I love, and the ones who love me back, and even the ones I don’t love so much? Will I try to do my best in all that I do? Will I sing a little louder, a little stronger, the song of my heart and weave a song of promise and joy around the fibres of my life today?

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Will today be not only the first day of the rest of my life . . . but indeed, the best day of my life thus far?

This is what I tell myself each morning. Today is the best day of your life. Today you will stand a little taller. Today you will rise up and conquer every challenge that comes your way. Today you will cherish every moment, every smile, every heartbeat, every teardrop . . .

Know what? It works . . . coz every day is, indeed, the best day of my life . . . and every day counts as never before. May you today recognize the poet within your soul and register every precious moment of your life, before this too, passes . . . and it is once again, too late.

Here's our precious little Maryn enjoying her first snowfall of the year! Isn't she a sweetie pie! Nova Scotia got a lot of snow day before yesterday and it was dig the shovel out time again! I haven't spoken to my mother, but I am sure she had to call out the man to plow her drive according to the weather reports that I saw.

It seems hardly possible but Christmas is one month from today!! I think I may be able to start decorating the house, do you think? Surely one month ahead is not too early! Todd may have other ideas though . . .

Speaking of Christmas. I always like to do a special card to send my close friends at Christmas time. This is my card for this year. I painted it yesterday afternoon and then printed out a bazillion of them and spent a good couple of hours putting them together and glittering them. They turned out really nice I think. Not sure if you can read the verse or not, but it says:

From home to home,
and from heart to heart,
from one place to another.
The warmth and JOY of Christmas
brings us closer to each other.
~emily matthews

I better get cracking on writing them out and getting all my parcels ready to send. I only have about a week to get the ones out for Canada. I am so late doing it this year. I think it's because I have been battling this rotten cold for going on six weeks now. I am going to go to the Doctor today because this cough is really dragging me down. I think I need anti-biotics.

I guess I've nattered on long enough this morning so I will leave you with my recipe. I hope that all my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday and were able to enjoy the warmth and love that comes from having family close. I expect there's lots of leftover turkey going today! Here's a delicious mayo that would go very well with that turkey sandwich I think!

*Lemon and Basil Mayonnaise*LinkMakes 1 cup
Printable Recipe

Next time you are desirous of a toasted bacon and tomato sandwich try using some of this lovely mayonnaise. Full of the subtle flavours of basil and lemon it really heightens the flavours of the tomatoes and lifts the simple up into the sublime. Delicious! It’s also very good with fish!

1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
2 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I buy un-waxed)
2 tsp lemon juice
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients with a small wire whisk. Store, covered in the refrigerator until ready to use on sandwiches, salads or with cooked chicken or fish. Absolutely lovely!

I've used it here on a Toasted Bacon and Tomato Sandwich. This is a really delicious way to use it. Try it on a Turkey Sandwich! (Use up some of the Thanksgiving leftovers!) It's really tasty on those too!

I'm cooking Macaroni Peas over in The English Kitchen today. Very colourful and delicious too!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

A few of my favourite things . . .

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

I’m not really a person that puts much value on things, preferring instead to place my value in things that are not of this world, things seen and touched with the heart. Nevertheless there are also some things that I have that I get a great deal of pleasure out of and enjoy having around . . . like raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens . . . these are a few of my favourite things . . .

The feel of the sunlight on my face on a warm summer’s day. I love to sit out in the garden for a short, mostly in the shade, but occasionally I do get great pleasure of sitting out at the picnic table, face upturned, eyes closed, while the warmth of the sun cloaks me face in it’s passion. Have you ever noticed that it has a smell . . . I have. It’s not easy to describe though, and I don’t think I’ll try . . . try it someday for yourself and you will see what I mean.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Holding a baby up on my shoulder so that it is snuggled in under my chin and close to the small of my neck . . . that has to be heaven on earth. I could sit there for hours gently rubbing the contours of its tiny back and feeling it’s warmth tucked up into me . . . until it starts to cry that is . . . when that happens it goes back to it's mum.

The feel of our Mitzie's soft furry tummy as she rolls on to her back to let me have a scratch or a rub. Along with that goes the way she lovingly glances up at me while I do it . . . all trusting and so full of pleasure and gratitude it just oozes out of her liquid brown eyes and melts my heart . . . (She is feeling ever so much better. She wasn't sick at all yesterday. Crisis averted! She is on scrambled egg or rice and chicken for a couple of days though.)

Stepping out of a shower on a cool winter’s morning and into a huge fluffy bath towel that I have popped onto the radiator just before stepping into the shower . . . warm and cosy and enveloping . . . it is just like a welcome hug . . . (We are getting ever closer to having our shower here at our home. We have gone through all the interviews now for the Council grant and are just waiting now for final approval. Construction companies have put in their proposals, and everything is a go thus far. It will be nice to have a shower and not have to struggle in and out of the tub with my arthritis.)

Crawling into bed with my socks on, and only after I am settled, taking the socks off . . . I just love the way my feet feel. It’s a pleasure that’s really hard to describe . . . you'll just have to take my word for it.

While I’m thinking about bed . . . crawling into a freshly made bed with crisp clean sheets that have been hung out to blow in the wind all day. I snuggle right into my pillow and breathe in the freshness of the outdoors and the smell of sunshine . . .

Walking into the house and smelling freshly baked cookies or bread. Actually I just like to smell food cooking period. It’s funny . . . when you are cooking it yourself…you rarely smell it in the same way, unless you go out of the room and come back into it. I always love the smell of other’s people’s dinners cooking as I walk down the street or sit out in the garden . . . somehow it always manages to smell delicious and inviting . . . and it almost always makes me hungry . . . just like the smell of frying onions does. Oh my . . .

My good morning hug from Todd . . . I am usually up several hours before him, but when he does wake up and come down stairs, that’s always the first thing we do, give each other a big hug and cuddle and kiss. On the rare occasion we have forgotten ie. because the telephone has rung or something else has interrupted our routine, the day just seems to get off on the wrong foot for some reason . . . but, here’s the good part . . . sooner or later one of us realizes what’s been missing and we always get the hug in then . . .

Sitting in my chair, quietly listening to my favourite music, with my eyes closed. I love gospel and Christian music and I could sit and listen to it for hours. When I do, I feel closer to God and in communion with him . . . kind of in a way similar to when I am praying, and yet different . . . it’s always a good feeling . . .

Watching kittens and puppies waddle around . . . indeed watching baby anything . I think God made baby animals and birds and people cute on purpose . . . that way he knew someone would take care of them and love them. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can be deliberately cruel or mean to any of them . . .

Cooking . . . just cooking. I love to cook and I get a great deal of pleasure from it. It’s not so much in the eating . . . (trust me I get plenty of pleasure out of that as well…) but I don’t really even have to be the one who’s going to eat it, I just really enjoy the cooking aspect of it. To me it’s like solving a puzzle or putting together a jigsaw . . . the more complicated the better. I get a real sense of satisfaction when I have accomplished what I have set out to do, and people are happily eating it and enjoying it . . . that’s where the satisfaction comes . . . the satisfaction of a job well done . . . a feeling that can’t be beat, well almost anyways . . .

Listening to the laughter of a child. It always swells my heart and brings a smile to my own face. Is there anything on earth more contagious or infectious? I think not! I once found this laughing baby somewhere on the internet . . . it was attached to an elastic . . . as you twirled it around with your mouse the baby laughed and laughed. You just could not sit down and do it without coming away with a smile on your own face . . . children’s laughter . . . soul medicine . . .

Sitting down at my computer every morning and putting down my thoughts and fancies for you all to read . . . and then, later on, hearing that little ping when someone leaves their comments. That’s one of my guilty pleasures, and an intrinsic part of my day . . . it’s a selfish thing really . . . but a writer has to write and the words must be read . . . I like to think it’s a win/win situation . . .

I could go on and on . . . there’s just so much I get joy and pleasure from in this life. I guess I’m really lucky . . . I love the smell of the pavement after a heavy rain, and the smell of the soil after digging in the garden, warm soft freshly baked white bread with butter melting into it’s fragrantly yeasty goodness . . . I’m just a person that loves and enjoys the small things in life, and thankfully I’ve been really blessed . . . with tons of small and simple things. Life is good.

Here is my latest offering. I created her yesterday afternoon whilst Todd and our landlord were fixing an electrical plug downstairs. (I like to stay out of the way when that kind of stuff is going on.) At any rate I think she turned out quite cute. What do you think?

Here's something else which always brings a smile to my face, but isn't something I get to eat very often. Chocolate cake!! Todd hates chocolate cake (I know he's completely bonkers!) so I only ever bake one when I know I will have the opportunity to give most of it away. Enjoy! I know I did!

*Double Chocolate Layer Cake*

makes 12 servings
Printable Recipe

Can you say "To Die For"? Repeat after die die die for...deliciously moist chocolate cake with a gorgeously rich and delicious chocolate ganache coating....

3 ounces fine quality semi sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (well shaken)
3/4 tsp vanilla
16 ounces good quality semi sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 TBS caster sugar
2 TBS golden syrup (or corn syrup)
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Pre-heat the oven to 150*C/300*F. Lightly grease two nine inch layer pans. Line bottomms with parchment paper and grease the paper. Set aside.

Finely chop the chocolate and put in a bowl along with the hot coffee. Let stand, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Sift together the dry ingredients, stir in the sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are thick and lemon coloured, about 5 minutes with a hand held electric mixer. Slowly beat in the oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, mixing only until they are combined. Divide batter between the two prepared baking pans and bake in the centre of the oven for one hour up to one hour and ten minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. When cold, run a knife carefully around the edges of the pans and invert onto the racks. Carefully remove the paper.

For the frosting chop the chocolate finely. Bring the cream to a boil along with the syrup and sugar, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate pieces and whisk until melted. Cut the butter into pieces and whisk in a bit at a time, until melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is of spreading consistency.

Sandwich the layers together on a plate with some of the ganache and then spread the remaining frosting over the top and around the sides of the cake. This cake keeps well, covered and chilled for 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Wonderful!

Over in The English Kitchen today, I am baking My Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chunk, Raisin & Macadamia Nut cookies!

“God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived are those who will never appear in the chronicles of history. They are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.”
~ Dieter F Uchtdorf