GRATED CARROT SALAD . . . in the French manner.


Carrot salad is on the top of my list for nostalgic food.   In those long- ago- by- gone days fresh produce simply wasn’t available in the bitter winters of Northern Saskatchewan.     However, hiding away in our dark root cellar in boxes of sand were carrots and parsnips from our garden.    We ate carrot salad, liberally sprinkled with raisins, almost every day during the winter months.

It’s late November and these outrageously orange and deliciously sweet carrots were pulled from my garden.   I will continue to harvest carrots from our winter garden until we get a killing frost.   I added a few tender parsnips to my basket because they were growing next to the carrots and called my name.

This minimalist French recipe for carottes ràpées is a sophisticated version of the old fashioned carrot salad.  It’s one you can vary every time you whip it up.  You take some grated carrots.  Organic carrots are a must but from there the variations are endless.  Then a couple of generous handfuls of various herbs, add a few nuts or seeds, and lavish it with different oils and vinegar.

The deep orange coloured  grated carrot salad combined with a sandwich or even a perfectly boiled egg makes a lovely lunch.

The recipe is in MRS BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.


The most loved and used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.   It has perhaps twenty pages.    More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.  It contains the recipe for Wicked Wonderful White Bread and my stand by cinnamon coffee cake.  Every recipe is tried and trued and absolutely delicious in a wonderful old-fashioned way.    The recipes don’t call for exotic ingredients or special equipment.  They are stress free baking recipes perfect for almost any occasion.

I adore anything  baked with cherries.  This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is from the small Robin Hood Cookbook.  It is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.  It makes a generous cake.  Wonderfully generous.  You can cut,  slice and slice and nibble away to your hearts content.  It is a splendid cake for entertaining.  Large enough for second or even third slices.  What could be more perfect. You’ll find this  recipe on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.




Last week I had lunch with Michael Ondaatje.

Lunch in a warm, comfortable  pub in Toronto’s  Cabbagetown.  House On Parliament is the kind of place where old friends linger and talk into the quiet after-noon.  Across from our table tucked into a corner sat two elegant white-haired gentlemen.  One looked very familiar.    “That’s Michael Ondaatje”, said my dining companion.   My heart skipped a beat.  Sitting just a few feet away from me was a writer who had written books so extraordinary, so evocative their imagery has become part of me.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them.  Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” -Michael Ondaatje, THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

Set in Tuscany THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the tale of a passionate love affair during the brutal conflict of the Second World War.  It was awarded The Booker Prize.   The movie received nine Academy Awards.

Lankan-born Canadian Michael Ondaatje is a poet, novelist, filmmaker, editor.  He is five times winner of the Governor General’s Award, The Giller Prize, The Booker Prize, the Prix Médicis étranger.  He is an office of the Order of Canada, making him one of Canada’s most celebrated living author.

“He came to this country like a torch on fire and swallowed air as he walked forward and he gave out light.” -Michael Ondaatje, IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

In l989 I was riding the ferry to Salt Spring Island.  Desperate for something to read I searched the book store shelves for a novel to fill the hours of travel.  IN THE SKIN OF A LION – the title intrigued me.   A love story and a mystery set in the turbulent 20’s and 30’s in Toronto.  I began to read and  left behind the boat passengers, the flapping sea birds.  I was IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

I passed by his table as we left the pub.  I stopped and quietly said “Thank You”.  He smiled and replied “Your welcome”.

On my bookshelves a few of the novels  by Michael Ondaatje – The Cat’s table,  In the Skin of a Lion,  Anil’s Ghost,  Divisadero,  Running in the Family,  The Collected works of Billy the Kid,  Coming Through the Slaughter.  And …

“If I were a cinnamon peeler

I would ride your bed

and leave the yellow bark dust

on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek.

You could never walk through the market

without the profession of my fingers

floating over you.  The blind

would stumble certain of whom

they approached

though you may bathe

under rain gutters, monsoons.”

– Michael Ondaatje THE CINNAMON PEELER


REMEMBERING ….. November llth, 2016

Remembering …

Our Uncle Bert died in Belgian in a truck accident shortly before the end of the war.  A Belgian family still maintains his grave.

Remembering my Father …

My Father fought in the second  battle of Ypres, and sustained  injures from a gas attack.

Remembering… My Father-in-Law

Carl, my father-in-law,  was a flight Sargent  stationed in Yorkshire, England.

We shall not sleep,  though poppies grow in Flanders  field.






If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England.  There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

Gave,  once,  her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home


remembrance day 3 soldiers


And think, this heart,all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given,

Her signs and sounds; dream happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends;  and gentleness,

In hearts at peace,  under an English heaven.



remembrance day many soldiers




My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson.  Killed in action October 27, 1944.



My older sister and myself with my Uncle shortly before he was shipped overseas.






Our Uncle’s grave continues to be looked after by the Belgian Family entrusted in their care more than 70 years ago.  Member of that family continue to maintain contact with our family.


( The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

BLUEBERRY SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE and the secret to baking with frozen blueberries


We are surrounded by fields of blueberries.   In season  they are delicious eaten out of hand, sprinkled over home made ice cream  and  baked into muffins, pies and crumbles.  Our blueberry growing neighbors generously  share their bounty with us.  The season is short so I fill my freezer with bags of frozen blueberries.   Frozen blueberries juice turns cake and muffin batters an extremely unpleasant purplish green.    To avoid this simply rinse your frozen blueberries several times until the water runs almost clear.  Then dry them well – top and bottom – between several layers of paper towels.  Use immediately in your recipe.  I baked this sour cream coffee cake with frozen blueberries.  They are true blue.

Most recipes using frozen  or fresh blue berries suggest dusting them with flour to  keep them suspended in the batter.  In this recipe  you simply scatter them over the struesel topping.     The flour used in the sour cream coffee cake is cake flour.  If you don’t have it in your pantry  remove two tablespoons of flour from one cup and replace it with two tablespoons of corn starch.  Mix and sift well several times.   The cornstarch lowers the protein in the  flour and gives you a tender, lighter crumb.

This is a generous sized recipe.  It keeps well covered with a cake dome and  I serve it with an extravagant scoop of home-made vanilla ice cream.  Bon appetit dear friends.  The recipe awaits you in MRS BUTTERFINGERS’S  kitchen  –         BLUEBERRY SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE