THE BEGINNING OF A SLOW CHRISTMAS

 

My Christmas begins the third week of November.    I appreciate the rituals of Christmas.   Decorating our home.  Baking traditional Christmas treats.    The wrapping of presents.  Life is to be enjoyed and I remove the pressures of the season by starting early.  Armed with secateurs and large wicker baskets I prune  the  row of cedars across from the cow barn.  I  snip the fragrant cedar branches accompanied by the gentle mooing of cows.  A perfect start to my slow Christmas.

It is my tradition to make the front door Christmas wreaths for our home and for my good friend and neighbor.  Every year it is different.  We live close to the ocean so this year it seemed appropriate to embellish the wreath with  shells I have collected.

The music of Charlie Brown’s Christmas plays in the background as  I brush the shells with glue and then sprinkled them with fairy dust.   It gives the shells a frosty glitter of snow.  To fasten these treasures from the sea I hot-glued florist wire to the backs.

Add a white satin bow and voila!!  Christmas begins at our front door.

In the early weeks before Christmas I polish the silver and lovingly  wash the crystal.  Everything must be shiny and bright.  Then I create more magic with lights.

It gives me pleasure to celebrate the season in this quiet, calm way.    There is much history in this display.   The crystal and silver is a collection of gifts and family treasures.  It is important to me honour them in this manner.  My last task –  fill the crystal decanter to welcome guests into our home.

 

 

 

Advertisements

REMEMBRANCE DAY . . . We Remember

 

IMG_1223

 

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 father-in-law World War Two.

 

IMG_0005

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

 

image0

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

IMG_0004

 

 

 

IMG_0007

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

 

My Father – World War One.

 

( The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

THE TOP BANANA CAKE . . . a delicious doodle to make!

Cakes lavished with icing appear to be attending a party.    They sashay onto your plate with a come-hither look, and you swoon with delight.  There’s banana muffins. There’s banana loaf.  But the top banana is this old-fashioned banana cake by my favorite cook-book writer, The Barefoot Contessa.

This is a no nonsense, never fail type of cake.  A doodle to whip up even if you don’t have a mixer.  It has a fine, moist crumb flavoured with orange zest and studded with walnuts.    And the icing is definitely “the icing on the cake”.   Cream cheese frosting  and banana cake is a marriage made in kitchen heaven.

This is the cake I make when bringing a dessert to a pot-luck supper.  It travels well.  It keeps well.  You can whip it up a day or so before serving.  And it slices beautifully.  Pop over to MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.   Bon Appetit, dear friends.

 

 

 

THE SECOND COMING . . . W.B. Yeats . . . an anthem to our age

 

Almost a hundred years ago the Irish poet William Butler Yeats published a poem  that  references Armageddon and political upheaval.   It is a message of hope.  It is a message of warning.

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(GYRE:  A gyre is a spiral that expands outward as it goes up.  Yeats used the image of gyres to describe the motion of history towards chaos and instability.)

(William Butler Yeats   1865-1939 –   Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer.  Yeats is widely considered one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th Century.)

(Falcon Photograph  Smithsonian Magazine)

 

 

THE MAGIC OF OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES . . . Capturing the joy of summer all winter long.

Through the halcyon days of summer I plundered the garden for the fattest, juiciest,  reddest of red tomatoes.  The days shortened.  Marine fog drifted across the fields poking destructive fingers into the garden.    Time to harvest the tomatoes, ripe or green.    The heady fragrance of tomato leaves surrounded me as I  filled my basket with these last jewels of summer.

The green tomatoes were tucked single layer in closed cardboard boxes.  As they changed colour out they came to sit in a bright window.  Taking the sun.    I had already frozen tomatoes for soups and stews.  These tomatoes were to be oven roasted and frozen.

I cut the little cores out.   Sliced the tomatoes in half.  Placed them in parchment lined pans ( saves scrubbing pans ).   The tomatoes were sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt and freshly ground black paper.  Then  with a breeze  of olive oil and graced with whole sprigs of fresh thyme.

Roast the tomatoes at 275F for about five hours.  Then increase the oven temperature to 300F for the last hour.  Watch these little darlings.  The smaller tomatoes will brown faster and should be removed.  You don’t want them to become dry and brittle.  Toss the dried thyme.    Store the tomatoes in plastic freezer containers with layers of parchment papers between the slices.  Five pounds of fresh tomatoes will reduce down to about one pound.

It really is like magic!   Oven roasted tomatoes on pizza are  nothing short of divine.     Tossed in pasta dishes they are brilliant shots of colour and flavour.      Roasted tomatoes in the humblest of sandwiches takes the sandwich to delicious heights.  Or try coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes  and goat cheese on a baguette.

Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRANBERRY, APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE . . . the pie that became a cake.

 

This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not.   It’s baked in a pie plate.  It looks like a pie.   But it is a delicious,  easy peasy cake.    The inspiration comes from  Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame,  one of my most favorite cook-book authors.

This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.    It’s an absolutely doodle to make.  It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee.   It is rewarding.   Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.    Could you ask for anything more?  Of course.  Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Waltz over to MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.

 

THE COLONY OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS

There is a dark, sad place where books end their days.    Pencil scribbled school books.  Encyclopedias wealthy with knowledge.    Battered books with fragile thoughts.  No one lovingly turns their pages.  Their words drift away.  Their covers remain closed.  They have no stories to tell.     They are The Colony of Forgotten Books.

She rescued the unwanted books.  Cut deep inside them and released their tales.  Stories of courage and  remembered fields of poppies.

 

No longer cast aside these book whispered of intrigue and romance.

Theirs was a brave new world  where troubadours sang  and soldiers marched.

A world where beautiful creatures gathered together in enchanted forests.

‘”The friends and pleasures of which you speak cannot compare with the joys of which I speak.”  Pilgrims Progress John Bunyan.

She rescued the rejected books .  Saved their words and told their stories once again.


(I dive into the recycling bin at our local Thrift Shop to rescue  books.  The most difficult ones to find are sets of  encyclopedias.   They have long ago gone the way of the dodo bird.  A cut book takes me about two months to put together. )