THE TRAGIC TALE OF THE EASTER TULIPS . . . a tale for lovers of rabbits and chocolate

This morning I went out to  my fence garden.  Last autumn I planted dozens of tulips.      I envisioned a glorious mass of breath taking colour.  Magnificent tulips swaying elegantly against a background weathered fence.  Instead I was presented with damp, black earth scattered with the guillotined heads of tulips.    At first I thought the high wind of the previous evening was the culprit.    In a Holmes like manner I examined the scene of the heinous crime.  Rabbit prints.  Rabbit paws.  Small rabbit paws.

“I’ll catch those maundering rascals.  And I’ll do what I always do with rabbits.  I’ll nibble their ears off.    I am so angry”, I muttered under my breath as I stalked off.  I heard a quiet clearing of throat.

“Excuse me”.  I turned to see Oswald, gentleman rabbit.  “You have planted a garden dangerously close to our burrow.    And you know how rabbits like to taste everything, at least once. Chewing a bunnies ears seems a bit excessive”, he quietly pointed out.  “How else are they going to learn about this wonderful, green, growing world we live in”. I had made a rather vocal faux pas .  Now I must confess to Oswald my guilty pleasure.  I do indeed nibble rabbit ears.

“Oswald, dear Oswald.  I would never nibble off bunny ears. If I have to choose between flowers and rabbits I would choose rabbits every time.    When my children were young I always made sure their Easter baskets were filled with the finest of chocolate bunnies.  Bunnies made from the very best Belgian chocolate.  Bunnies with very big, solid ears.  And my children obliged me by sharing their chocolate bunny ears with me.”   My secret was out.  I was a closet eater of chocolate rabbit ears.  Tomorrow I would go to Jarry’s Market in the sweet, little village of Ladner.  I would buy an armful of tulips, and perhaps a chocolate rabbit or two.

 

 

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ESCAPE TO SUNNY CLIMES with SPICY TOFU AND RED CURRY COCONUT SOUP

When it’s not quite winter.   Not quite spring.    When dingy snow piles up in dark corners.   When thoughts of exotic get a ways  dominate your day.     This is the time to ladle out the exotic flavours of  Thailand and Malaysia.  And this is the soup that borrows from these cuisines  and fills your soup bowl with its  spicy taste balanced with sweet and sour back notes.

I like this recipe for its ease of preparation and the readily available ingredients.   The only fiddly  part of the recipe preparation is the  julienned  carrots.    Think of it as   good time to practice you knife skills. The recipe calls for green beans.  When they are out of season I substitute tiny frozen green peas.    In fact I have come to prefer these sweet little darlings.   The recipe is easily doubled.  Step into MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe for SPICY TOFU AND RED CURRY COCONUT SOUP.

 

HOW I MET OSWALD GENTLEMAN RABBIT

This is the time of year when we believe in magic.    We sing about a  snowman who dances  and a reindeer whose red nose  saves Christmas.    We read fairy tales to our children and watch “once upon a time” movies.

I write about a gentleman rabbit called Oswald.    I came upon him quite unexpectedly in my garden.   He was enjoying sun and taking pleasure in the day.  I apologized for disturbing his peaceful moment and turned to walk away.    He raised a paw to stay me.  Introduced himself and told me this story.

Rabbits have the stewardship of all growing things .  This is an enormous responsibility for the rabbits.  It was made especially difficult  for many refused to believe our planet was in grave danger.    And that is how the tales  of Oswald began.    The story of Oswald’s celebration of the winter solstice has been told before, but like all good fairy takes it is lovely to revisit.

 

THE MANNEQUIN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY . . . a fairy tale for all sewers and unorthadox fashion mavens

  • Fairy tales are wonderful to tell and retell, especially at this time of year.  It seems now more than ever the world needs to believe in magic.   I have a mannequin I call Muriel.  She has been my alto ego for over fifty years.  We are very close.  I whisper secrets to her.  I regale her with stories as I  sew  my way through life.  And so the story begins:

The heavy cream parchment envelope was addressed  to  Muriel the Mannequin.

It hung from a scarlet  silk ribbon tied to the atelier  room door.

“You appear to have mail, Muriel.”  I said with great excitement.

” Would you like me to open it for you?”  I asked my mannequin.    Muriel really didn’t receive much mail.

Muriel has been my close companion as I have threaded needles and  welded my flashing silver scissors cutting out classic suits, little black dresses, evening gowns and once a wedding dress.   She has stood  uncomplainingly  as I have pinned fabric,  draped ruffles and adjusted collars and hems on her patient form.

“It’s your invitation to the annual mannequin’s holiday party. ”  I read when I opened the envelope.

“Miss Virginia, this year I must be  outrageously gorgeous.    May I carry the sparkling purse The Tin Man sent from The Emerald city?”

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“Of course, darling Muriel.  I am sure Tinny would want you to look outrageously beautiful.”

“And your feather boa.  I ‘ll fling it over my shoulders and it will drift around me when I dance?”

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“Dear Muriel the feather boa is absolutely you.” I exclaimed.  ” It’s very flirty and more than a touch romantic.”

“I want to sparkle like the stars in the winter sky.  Do you think  your crystal necklace  would light up my night?”

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“The crystals will shimmer and shine and light up the night.” I replied.

“Last week when you were visiting your little house in Paris you brought me back a  red silk rose.  I would like to wear that too.”

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From deep within my closet of happy memories I took out a scarlet silk tunic I had worn  to a Diwali party and buttoned  it on her.  Again I reached into my closet for a sapphire silk jacket.  You can never have too much silk or two many jewel like colours when you dress outrageously beautiful.  I draped the jacket over her shoulders.  Adjusted the feather boa and pinned the single rose to my sweet Muriel.

“You are ready for your party, Muriel.”

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Muriel twirled and danced around the room.  The feather boa floated.  The crystal necklace sparkled.  The Tin Man’s purse glittered.  She was outrageously beautiful.

“Miss Virginia, do you this is all too much?”

“No my wondrous Muriel.  You look perfect!”

 

 

 

GLAMOUR ART GOWNS MODELED BY THE MOST GORGEOUS CHICKLETS DAZZLE THE FANTASY FASHION WORLD

The fabulous. The fantastic.  The Fantasy.  The magical world of art gowns  created by  Resa of Queen Street West, Toronto.  The unique catwalk presentation had the audience of thousands on the their feet cheering and applauding.

Virginia  flew in from Paris to participate in this one of a kind COOP event.  Resa’s  Empress d’Amore gown, created for Virginia, opened the gorgeous parade of gowns.  Ooh and aah over the dazzling art gowns and their wonderfully unusual models.  Read all about this one-of-a-kind fashion event on   RESA’S ART GOWNS.

THE JEWELED FRUIT TARTS OF PARIS . . . Caramelized Plum Tart

caramelized plum tart

It is at this time of year when the days shorten and dusk creeps quietly into our lives.  When we put away the warm whispers of summer.  When we scuff through fallen leaves removing the silver dust of Paris.  This is my favorite season in the city of light.

 It is at this time of year I return to my little house in Paris to pack away the summer memories.  To take down the linen  curtains that dance at my windows and replace them with  enveloping rich dark green velvet.  To cover the stone pavers of my kitchen floor with a faded and warm carpet.

And it is this time of year, market basket under my arm, I raise very early and head for the markets.   I am abroad even before the street cleaners.  Searching for the last stoned fruit of the season to make just one last plum tart.

The Paris pastry shops beguile us with dazzling displays of fruit tarts.  They are perfectly imperfect with simply arranged seasonal fresh fruits made even more irresistible with sugar-studded , heavily caramelized, crunchy rims.   This is pie perfection!  Honest pies that promise you everything and deliver.   My alter ego happily shares her dreams of Paris and her recipes with you.  Bon Appetit, dear friends.   MRS BUTTERFINGERS

LUSCIOUS LEMON BUNDT CAKE . . . A stunning cake with three layers of lucious lemon

If dreams were make of cake it would be this stunning  LEMON BUNDT CAKE.   I love any dessert made with lemon  – tarts, bars, loaves, cookies.   This cake is at the very top of my list of favorites.  This recipe (with a tweak or two) is from a favorite source of no-fail family recipes – Canadian Living.    This heavenly creation has three layers of fragrant lemon.  The tender delicate cake. The lemon glaze.  And the lemon icing.    Indeed,  an unforgettable citrus-infused show stopper of cake.     It’s spectacular in its simplicity and generous size.  It is the cake to serve at a big family gathering.  It cuts beautifully into twelve generous slices.   For a beautiful presentation one could add fresh berries in season.  And to really put the icing on this cake a great dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

You can make this cake a day or two ahead.   Store the glazed and iced cake in an airtight container.  The lemon glaze and icing help keep the cake fresh and moist.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the recipe.  Bon Appetit.