A FRIEND WRITES OF REMEMBRANCE DAY AND HER FATHER

This morning I returned from Remembrance Day Services at the Cenotaph in Ladner Village.  Ours is a small village but the  parade route was crowded with people.   We were there to  honour and remember those men and women  who sacrificed their lives for their country.    No matter the ethnic diversity or religion we wore the red poppy and sang O Canada.  The wreaths were laid.  The honour guard departed.  The Cenotaph was given back to Ladner Village.   It was our turn to remove our poppies and place them among the Remembrance Day wreaths.

We have our remembrances on this day and I share one written by a dear friend of mine.

“The respect which remains in far away places for our Canadian soldiers warms my heart for so many reasons; most important among them is that my dear father was one who chose to serve his country as a Navigator in The Royal Canadian Air Force.

As a child I found carefully stored boxes in which were remnants from his service: reconnaissance photos, pieces of shrapnel that entered his plane from many directions and bits of a rosary mom had given my non- Catholic father in hope of keeping him safe.  The rosary in bits because it had obviously been closely held.  I asked mom about this find but never my father.”

Dad never spoke of his experience and I somehow innately knew not to question him.  If asked anything  about his service by a guest in our home his answer would be short and non- descriptive. I can only imagine his experience while being in the midst of the horrors of war.

I thank my dad and all others who sacrificed so much, including their lives in many cases, in order to represent Canada in assisting a part of the world in its time of great need. Words I so wish my father could have heard coming from me.”

 

REMEMBRANCE DAY . . . We Remember Always.

 

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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

 

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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 is one of bitter sweet memories.    We remember those who never returned, and are grateful for those who returned.

 

 

My father-in-law  grew up in a quiet town in Southern Ontario.  He enlisted and his training as a flight sergeant took place in an equally small town in Saskatchewan.  This is where he met and married.    He returned from the war to live in   Saskatchewan.

 

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My uncle,  Bertram Henry Henderson grew up in my home town, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  He and his two brothers all enlisted in the Regina Rifles.  He died in action October 27, 1944.

 

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

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This document shows the location of his grave in Belgian.  It also identifies the family who would be responsible for the maintenance and care of his grave site.

 

 

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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 grew up in a small village in southern England.  He fought in the war to end all wars (World War One).  When war ended he immigrated to Canada to join his older brothers in Northern Saskatchewan.  The only time he mentioned the war was to tell us how  he had befriended some Turkish prison of war soldiers and they had taught him  to make Turkish coffee.

 

 

(  poem  … The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

UNDERSTANDING THE RED POPPIES OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

My husband and I  lived in Amsterdam for a brief while.    This is a city and a people where the second world war is still very close and very personal. We lived on Gerrit van der Veenstraat .  Following  the war the street was renamed after the resistance fighter Gerrit van der Veen .   He was executed by the Gestapo.   On this street there is a monument honouring him.  I walked past it every day and always, always there were fresh flowers in the niche of the building.

At noon on the first Monday of every month the defence air raid siren would sound.  Pedestrians would pause.   Cyclists would dismount.  Men would take off their hats.  All were honouring those who gave their lives during the war.

To be a Canadian in Amsterdam is to be frequently thanked by strangers.  The  Dutch have not forgotten it was  the Canadians who liberated Holland.

I discovered the red poppies.  The poppies that grew in Flanders Field.  The poppies    despite the war ravaged land bravely showed their colours.    I found them in vacant lots and bits of forgotten land.  Anywhere these  glorious flower could take root.  It is understandable why these  symbolic flowers are so important.  We wear them over our hearts to show we remember.

I returned home with packages of Dutch red poppy seeds and year after year the poppies bloom in my garden.  Of all the flowers in my garden it is the red   poppy dearest to my heart.

 

DECIDEDLY DECADENT AND UTTERLY IRRESISTIBLE . . . CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART

 

Chocolate dark as midnight.  Caramel sauce –  toffee-like  with just a suggestion of burnt sugar.    A superb marriage of flavours.   CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART is a very indulgent and very very French dessert.   One sees it on the menu of discerning French restaurants.   One adores eating it.  But faced with the complex demands of making the perfect crust, the silky smooth chocolate filling and the smoky rich caramel sauce the perfect hostess pops into her favourite patisserie and picks up this tart.

This recipe takes the tears and pressure out of putting this dessert together and you can do it in about twenty minutes.  It is an uncomplicated recipe.

Chop up some roasted nuts, chocolate and oat digestive biscuits in the food processor.  Mix it with melted butter and press it into a loose-bottomed tart tin(a must).   The can of dulce de leche is opened and two-thirds of it are poured over the chilled crust.  Use the rest of the dulce de leche and pour it over cake or ice cream.  Chocolate and cream are stirred together to make an unbelievably smooth and creamy sauce.  Pour this over the dulce de leche and tuck the tart into the fridge to chill.  Sprinkle the top of the pie with the finest flakiest sea salt in your pantry.  Malden salt would be absolutely perfect.

Keep the tart refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.  Cut narrow slices (it is incredibly rich) and quickly slide the tart onto the plate.  The dulce de leche will immediately slip out of the cut tart to form a fantastic sauce.

If you are an enterprising cook you could turn this into your own personal production by making the oat digestive biscuits and caramel sauce yourself.  Uncomplicated CHOCOLATE AND SALTED DULCE DE LECHE TART’s recipe awaits you in the  kitchen of MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

BANANA BREAD … a circa World War Two recipe

 

Growing up during World War Two almost everything was rationed, or simply not available.    If you were very young during the war years you would never have tasted marshmallows or chewed bubble gum.   Gas was rationed.  We lived in the small town of Prince Albert, in the northern part of the province of  Saskatchewan.    A National Park and dozens of beautiful lakes were a short drive away.  Our Dad cycled several miles to work  saving  his gas ration coupons  for the occasional family outing.

The annual Pet Parade was a much anticipated event. Cats and dogs were coerced into sitting in small baby carriages, propped up in decorated, polished wagons or coaxed along with a leash.  Patriotic costumes were expected.    I felt quite smart dressed in a red, white and blue crepe dress.  Fortunately it didn’t rain.

This photograph of my sister Mona and myself was taken shortly before our Uncle Bert left for war.  He was one of the many who did not return.

It was important for everyone, young and old,  to do ones bit for the war effort.  We collected string, tin foil (from cigarette packages) metal and even fat.    Once a week the women in our neighbourhood met and knitted socks or rolled bandages.   Tea and only  one kind of cookie or cake was served.    Food was rationed.   My Mother came home from one of these projects with this recipe for Banana Bread.   It was the talk of the afternoon because it didn’t contain nuts, but looked like it did.  Nuts of any kind were simply not available.    This is my Mother’s world War Two  Banana Bread.   The only change I have made is to add nuts.

MRS. BASSETT’S BANANA BREAD

1/2 cup butter ( or very good quality hard margarine)

2/3 cup scant or white or brown sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp each salt and baking soda

1 1/2 cups generous of VERY VERY ripe bananas.  They should be soft and squishy in the skins

1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Have all ingredients at room temperature

Cream butter and sugar until soft and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time.

Combine the dry ingredients and mix alternatively with the mashed bananas.   Start with one-third the flour, when this is mixed add half the bananas, now add another third of flour mix just until the flour is assimilated, add the rest of the bananas.  Mix briefly, then add the final one-third of the flour.  Add the chopped walnuts and mix briefly.

Pour into a loaf pan and let stand twenty minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.   Test by sticking a cake tester or a very thin knife, into the centre of the loaf.  It should come out clean.

Banana loaf, like most loaf cakes or breads freezes well.

IN MRS.BUTTERFINGER’S KITCHEN …. BUTTERMILK BISCUITS AND SOUL

I warm my soul  in my kitchen.     Cooking replenishes my soul  when the events of the world leave me feeling sad,  exhausted and drained.    It is pleasure to  cook for my family and friends.    My kitchen is the heart and soul of our  home.    We prepare food because we must eat.   True.   When we bake  we  bring more to the table.   More of ourselves,  more soul.   We fill our home with the fragrance of baking.   Making luscious cakes, rich brownies, flaky pies we indulge our selves, and we indulge  those we love.

Our  grandchildren, Kate and Andrew,  indulge their family and friends  when they bake biscuits served with honey to accompany a roast chicken.  A lovely idea I have taken to heart.  Golden, crisp roast chicken served with mounds of delicate, flaky biscuits and sweet honey.  A delicious alternative to the ubiquitous bakery baguette.

I recommend you make these frequently.   Repetition will make you a better cook, and it is so very, very good for the soul.    It should take just twenty minutes or so from start to finish to make biscuits.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour,     1 tsp salt,     4 tsp baking powder,     1 tsp baking soda,      3/4 cup cold unsalted,     1 1/4 cups buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 450degrees F  Makes about 16 biscuits

Mix your dry ingredients then cut in the butter.  Use two knives, a pastry cutter or your food processor.   Don’t over process you want some tiny lumps of butter to remain.  This makes your biscuits flaky.

Dump the flour mixture into a large mixing bowl, and make a hole in the middle of the flour

.  Add the buttermilk and mix using the handle end of a wooden spoon.  This little trick stops you from over mixing your dough.  Mix just until  the flour mixture starts to come together.

Now( still in the bowl)  knead it lightly six or seven times gathering it into a large rough ball as you do this.   Do this quickly.    Have a light touch.

Put this rough mixture onto a lightly floured board and pat the dough to the thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Cut with a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet about one inch apart.   Gather the left over scraps together to form rough biscuits.  Don’t press or kneads these pieces, it will toughen them.   Bake 15 minutes.

Serve immediately!   Slather on butter and honey and indulge with your lovely roast chicken.

Chefs notes:  You can do some prep ahead of time.  Mix the flour mixture and butter and store  in the fridge until needed.  Then all you have to do is just add the buttermilk and bake.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ICING ON THE CARROT CAKE . . . a cake for celebrating birthdays!

This is not your usual carrot cake recipe.   This is a carrot cake made sublimely rich with butter replacing the oil.   The results are a fine, firm crumb that holds and slices beautifully (so necessary in a layer cake). The cake is not complicated.  If you wish you can stir it  up in one bowl without using your mixer.     Refrigerated, the cake holds well so you can  enjoy nibbling cake over a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

And then there’s the frosting.  It is outrageously wonderful.  Rich, creamy, buttery and exquisitely flavoured and enriched with cream cheese.  It is the light as air volume that takes this cake creation over the top.   There is absolutely no doubt.  The frosting is sublime.  It’s uncomplicated and foolproof.  You simply beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until is fluffy and smooth.  Lavish the frosting  between the layers and on the top of the cake.  Don’t frost the side of the cake.

This is my special occasion cake.  The cake I make for family birthdays.    This summer my younger sister celebrated her 80th Birthday.  I baked the cake in my kitchen, then drove  two days to our home town in Northern Saskatchewan.  The cake kept perfectly in our travelling Koolatron (refrigerator).     This cake cut beautifully into twelve servings.   I like to gild the lily so we served the cake with a generous scoop of ice cream.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has this scrumptious recipe CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING.  Bon Appetit.