THE ROUGH MALE KISS OF BLANKETS . . . Rupert Brooke 1887 – 1915

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These I have loved:

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,

Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;

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Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light;

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The strong crust of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;

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Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;

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And radiant raindrop couching in cool flowers;

And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,

Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

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Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon

Smooth away trouble;

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And the rough male kiss of blankets ;

grainy wood;

life hair that is shining and free;

blue-massing clouds;

the keen unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

the benison of hot water;

furs to touch;

the good smell of old clothes; and other such.

I have been so great a love: filled my days

So proudly with the splendour of love’s praise,

The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,

Desire illimitable, and still content,

And all dear names men use, to cheat despair.

These few exquisite lines are from the poem THE GREAT LOVER by Rupert Brooke.   Rupert Brooke was a handsome, charming and talented English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War.   He was only 28 years old when he died.

Nine years ago I began a battle with breast cancer.  The poetry of Rupert Brooke’s took me to worlds away, and inspired me daily to  quietly add words of my own “to cheat despair”.

ZEN AND THE ART OF PICKLING DILLY GREEN BEANS

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Pickling is a state of mind.  Ask anyone who pickles.  There is something rather atavistic about preparing food to be stored away for the coming winter.  There is a strong feeling of accomplishment as you tuck away jars of preserves.  Once you’ve made your first batch of pickles it could be the beginning of a wonderful, addictive relationship with all kinds of pickles and relishes.

It’s really not complicated.    You prepare your vegetables.  Wash and sterilize your jars.  Fill the jars.  Process the jars,  That’s it.  If you don’t have a canning pot with a rack – no worries.    Simply follow the processing instructions in the recipe.

This recipe for oh- so -mouth-puckering pickled green dilly beans is quite simple.  You cut your beans to fit into the wide-mouth canning jars.  Mix up your vinegar, water and salt.  Then you put a little red pepper flakes, some mustard seeds and lots of dill seed into each jar.  Tuck in the beans.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over.  Seal the jars and process them in boiling water for 15 minutes and you’re done.  You can cut the recipe in half if you just have a few beans picked up at the farmer’s market.

The very, very best part of these pickled bean – they make the best ” nibbly” appetizer along with some crackers and a little cheese.The recipe for PICKLED DILLY BEANS is on my food blog MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

HOT TORONTO HAS THE COOLEST STREET . . . QUEEN STREET WEST!

The weather report says temperatures in Toronto are going to hit 40°Celsius (with humidity) today.      The really cool dudes, the hipsters – those so cool they never say cool hang out in the second coolest street in the world – Queen Street West.  Little has changed on Queen Street West since  Vogue Magazine called it the second hottest street world wide . Read about it in my following reblog  QUEEN STREET WEST . . . SECOND COOLEST NEIGHBOUR HOOD IN THE WORLD

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Sadly my favorite coffee hangout Clafouti has disappeared.  However, we aficionados  of Trinity Bellwood sip our coffee  a block or so away  at The Lucky Penny Café – General Store.

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The Lucky Penny sits quietly on the corner of Shaw Street right across from the Artscape Youngplace.  Away from the hurly-burly of Queen Street we  sip our café lattes, catch a few rays on the patio,  then stroll across the street to the 100-year-old school building that is now Artscape ,  in search of budding Picasso’s.

Toronto is all about neighborhoods like Trinity Bellwood .  This is the fabric, the warp and weft, that binds Toronto together.

QUEEN STREET WEST . . . SECOND COOLEST NEIGHBORHOOD IN THE WORLD!!

 

 

 

THE SECOND COOLEST STREET IN THE WORLD

QUEEN STREET WEST

TORONTO, CANADA

 

 

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All things hip and wonderful and so completely cool one doesn’t even the utter the word cool  … This is my favorite street in Toronto.  QUEEN STREET WEST.

I didn’t need Vogue Magazine to tell me  that.   Queen West is a two minute walk from the place I call home in Toronto.  Vogue September 2014 issue listed the ten coolest streets in the world and Queen West was Number Two.

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My day in Toronto frequently begins at Clafouti’s on Queen West. A little worn, a bit shabby and totally delightful Clafouti’s is so totally unassuming, so beautifully French one looks for a copy of L’Express to read with your morning croissant.

 

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The Spice Trader and The Olive Pit – oh the wonders of this perfumed exotic shop.  When I first discovered this purveyor of organic spices and oils it was a tiny shop.   Like Topsy it grew and I filled my spice cupboard with their small square green tins and fine extra-virgin olive oil.

 

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I never walk Queen West without popping into Châtelet .  Another tiny shop filled with irresistible objects that speak of France.  The small Eiffel tower in the outside display called my name.  Now it shares a place of honour in my French butler’s pantry.

 

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Then there’s one of my favorite corners.  It has three shops.   The first store – Artists’ Material  – long and narrow and crammed with paints, papers, artist brushes.   Everything you need to create  your own work of art.  Mokuba is in the centre and it is the centre of my sewing universe.  Mokuba with a preposterous amount of magnificent ribbons in every colour, texture, width and pattern.  On the corner a place I call “the magpie store”  brimming over with a collection of items you didn’t know exist and absolutely must have.

 

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The very finest oysters in Toronto.    Oyster Boy –  a two minute walk from home.  Can life get any better than to have these briny bivalves a hop, skip and a jump down the street.

 

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My fav pizza restaurant – Terroni on Queen West.  I love the aroma of baking pizza.  The  buzz of conversations that fill the room.   You linger over a glass of wine and simply people watch the evening away.

This is just a little bit of my Queen West.  I have walked every block and investigated practically every shop, art gallery and restaurant.

Queen West ..  a street that is more than a little outrageous.  Totally cool.  Enormously hip

Queen West … a street with so much presence and absolutely no pretension.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO PEEL THE PERFECT HARD-COOKED EGG

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This is one of those Ah-Ha moments.  We’ve all encountered the recalcitrant egg that absolutely refuses to come clean from its shell.   But, do I really need to be told “how to peel an egg”?   This sounds suspiciously like an excerpt  from M.F.K.Fisher’s book HOW TO COOK A WOLF.

I strolled down the road to Home Farm to pick up eggs early  this morning.  Now I am peeling the shell off perfect, alabaster hard-cooked eggs.  The whites must be flawless smooth to make “deviled eggs” .

In the fields outside my kitchen window my neighbor is laying down heavy, thick swaths of hay.  The air is fragrant with the sweet perfume of the cut grass.  It is one of those perfect mornings when all is right with the world.  And,  my very fresh hard-cooked eggs are perfection themselves.  This  sounds like an ox y-moran for fresh eggs have a well-earned reputation for being famously difficult to peel.

Instead of boiling eggs the traditional way steam your eggs in a steamer basket suspended over boiling water.  If you don’t have a steamer basket use a colander that fits your saucepan.   Bring water to the boil.  Put your eggs in basket or colander and put a lid on the pan.  Cook for 15 to 16 minutes then pop into very cold water or an ice bath for another five or ten minutes. The shells slip right off.

Now isn’t that easier than cooking a wolf?  Bon Appetit dear friends.

ONE POT PASTA COOKING!

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There are those who believe it is written in stone  you absolutely must cook your pasta in plenty of generously  salted water.   There is an alternative to this boiling  of water and using a colander to strain your pasta.    It makes easy one-dish pasta creations with minimum kitchen prep and cleanup .  This cooking method is perfect for summer camping  or anytime you have limited stove top space.

You can adept most recipes (including the following  MRS BUTTERFINGER’S  Bacon and Tomato Penne)  by eliminating the pot of boiling water altogether.  You simply combine pasta, liquids and aromatics in one pan.  The pasta will cook al dente as the liquids, aided by the starches in the pasta reduce into a creamy sauce.

You start with a large high-sided sauté pan and prepare your sauce mixture.   Be sure you have a generous amount of liquid – at least 4 cups.  You  can augment the sauce by  using chicken stock, milk , vegetable stock, strained tomatoes and even water.   Prepare your sauce.   Add the pasta and bring it  to the boil and simmer vigorously for around ten minutes or until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.   Stir in your finishing ingredients such as kale,  fresh herbs, olives , capers, Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper and toss to combine.

Experiment and find which of your favorite pasta dishes work the best  with this easy  method of  cooking .  Bon Appetit!

THE BEST SUMMER COMFORT FOOD … TOMATO BACON SAUCE WITH PENNE

This is a gorgeous pasta dish to whip up when you  want an alternative to yet another barbecue.   It  is comfort food at it’s very best.     It’s easy to make.   You probably have all the ingredients in the kitchen.     You combine the simple flavours of a great tomato sauce with irresistible bacon.   If  you are fortunate enough to have a vegetable garden you can toss in fresh tomatoes and big handfuls of basil and oregano. You can use any type of pasta and any type of canned tomatoes.  But to really enjoy this dish try and make it with the best quality bacon you can find, and canned tomatoes from Italy.     For a decadent treat and a richer flavour, you can leave all of the bacon fat in the pot.   If you don’t have any fresh herbs, l teaspoon of dried oregano or basil will work well too.   For a final flourish top the pasta dish with a very generous grating of Parmesan  Reggiano. This is a  reputation-making pasta dish, and I am so happy to share it with you on  my food blog MRS BUTTERFINGERS.   TOMATO BACON SAUCE WITH PENNE