SURPRISED BY JOY . . . a Siberian cat becomes part of our life

It began with a phone call from a dear friend. Would we foster a senior cat until arrangements could be made? Her mother was ill and could no longer care for her beloved companion of eight years . We were happy to have a cat in our home once again.

Her name is Pepper. The biggest, most beautiful, magnificent and angriest of cats stepped our of her carrier into our dear, sweet home. This was her second foster home and we were told she could be difficult. Pepper was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reincarnated as a cat. By day she snarled and growled, scratched,slashed and bit and challenged anyone who dared to pat her. But at night she became a different cat and snuggled close to me. She purred, nuzzled into me and covered my fingers with cat kisses as I stroked her silky fur, and at night Pepper slept at the foot of my bed.

The weeks passed. She seemed to improve. She asked for more attention. But she couldn’t be trusted not to strike out at you. I Googled SIBERIAN CATS. We needed more information to help us understand Pepper. In the domestic cat world Siberian cats are considered the largest cat (18 to 22 pounds). The most intelligent of all domestic cats. They are cats that require stimulation, entertainment, play. They dislike being left alone for any length of time. They demand respect. They mature slowly remaining kitten like for five years and living up to 18 or 20 years. They enjoy being around people, children. dogs and other cats. They frequently mate for life. They are intensely loyal to their owners.

I had my answer. Pepper had been taken away from the person she loved. She was remaining loyal to her. In her foster home from necessity Pepper was left alone all day. She didn’t have an opportunity to bond and replace her loss. We asked Pepper’s owner that we become the forever people in her life.

It has been seven months of Pepper understanding us and we in turn understanding her. We know she requires respect. She doesn’t like to be disturbed when she is sleeping, and she doesn’t always want pats. She signals her wishes with a twitch of her ears or a turning of her head. We are very careful to be mindful of her and she in turns watches us. We are getting to know each other.

Pepper has become entertaining, loving and quite funny.. She likes to play and expects us to participate with her. She is respectful of us. She asks permission to sit on our laps or jump on my bed. Entering a room Pepper comes to each of us and acknowledges our presence. She is no longer angry. We believe she is happy. And I am so happy we did not give up on her. She has surprised us with joy.

CARROT-COCONUT SOUP . . . SIMPLY SUPERB

Every once in a while one encounters a recipe that completely captivates you. You find yourself thinking about it again an again. This soup recipe is all you can imagine and then more. You’ll find yourself savouring again the luxurious richness of each glorious spoonful. Enjoying the earthy flavour of the carrots. The lushness of the coconut milk. The ever enticing exotic flavour of red curry paste.

This recipe is respectfully easy to prepare. Even the shopping is simply. All the ingredients can be found in most supermarkets. Look for the coconut milk and the red curry paste in the Asian Foods Section. Add carrots, onions and chicken broth and you are good to go.

Of all the soups I make this is my number one favourite. This recipe is wonderful to serve to friends and family when you want something impressive, completely different and absolutely delicious. The recipe is beautifully spicy but you can easily adjust this by the amount of red curry paste you use. The recipe is easily adapted for vegetarians. Simply replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Join me in MR.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.

OLD FASHIONED MEYER LEMON NUT BREAD . . . hold summer in your hand.

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When you harvest fresh fruit from a Meyer lemon tree in the dark of winter you hold summer in your hand.   The fragrance of the blossoms.  The glossy leaves shining in the gray light.  Your fingers caressing the finely textured skin.  Then the heavenly taste of the juice –  at once sweet and sour.

You can do many wonderful things with these delicate lemons, but I was  yearning for something classic,  simple,  old fashioned.

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I have a cookbook that is a particular favorite.  I have been baking out of it for more than forty years.  A World Of Baking by Dolores Casella has provided me with dozens of quick and yeast bread recipes.  The ingredients are readily available.   The instructions are always brief.  It is expected you already know the basics of baking.

Meyer Lemon Nut Bread  has a fine crumb.  It’s rich tasting,  studded with walnuts and finished with lemon syrup.   When Meyer lemons are not available regular lemons are more than acceptable..  Be lavish with your lemon rind.  This old fashion recipe calls for just a teaspoon but I scrape every bit of rind from the lemons into the batter.

You’ll find the recipe in MRS. BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

MEYER LEMONS . . . thirteen plus ways to use a Meyer lemon

 

Meyer Lemons arrived today at our local grocery store.  Their season is brief.   You have just a few weeks to to create  culinary heaven from this queen of citrus fruit.

Meyer lemons have a  heavenly juice – at once sweet and sour.    A more floral scent and taste and a thinner peel than other lemons.   You can put slices of lemon under the skin of roasting chicken.  Cut into quarters,  toss it with olives and chicken pieces and roast to  heavenly caramelized  perfection.  Make Meyer lemon sorbet or lemon tart for glorious dessert treats.  There is no end  to the addictive and intoxicating ways you can use Meyer lemons. 

l. Whip cream with a little icing sugar.  Add grated Meyer lemon rind.   Mound it on slices of pound cake.

2. Arrange thin slices of Meyer lemons on a pizza crust with goat cheese, fresh rosemary and olives.

3. Drop a few slices into a pot of Darjeeling tea.

4. Put a twist of Meyer lemon into a martini. Think of James Bond.

5. Add Meyer lemon zest to French toast.

6. Slice Meyer lemons and put them into your bath with a sprinkle of lavender.  Light a few candles.

7. Throw the peel of a Meyer lemon on the grill before cooking shrimp.  Grill it golden brown and top with the cooked shrimp.

8 Perfume your sugar bowl by stirring strips of Meyer lemon peel into the sugar.

9.  Put a Meyer lemon studded with whole cloves in your lingerie drawer.  Dust with orris root as a preservative.

10. Top pancakes with a little butter, a sprinkle of sugar, a squeeze of lemon,  and grated Meyer lemon zest.  Add another pancake, repeat until you have several layers.  Slice and serve like a layer cake.

11. Rub a Meyer lemon peel around the rim of a demitasse of espresso.

12. Make sandwiches of thinly sliced Meyer lemons, smoked salmon and sour cream on pumpernickel bread.

13. Roast a combination of green, black and cured olives with olive oil, some Meyer lemon peel and fresh rosemary.

If you would you like to add to this delicious list I would love to hear from you.  You are always welcome in the kitchen.

 

REMEMBERING THOSE WE LOVED THIS VALENTINE DAY . . . The words of Dheeraj Haran

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A single rose to lane

A single rose to  slain

A single rose to hide my pain

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A single rose to turn the tide

A single rose to make roads wide

A single rose as my guide.

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A single rose to raise my soul

A single rose to widen the hole

A single rose to achieve a goal

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A single rose to melt the heart

A single rose to force the start

A single rose to cult

 

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A single rose to freeze my body

A single rose to mourn this memory

A single rose to short a life

A single rose to end the strife.

(Dheeraj Haran – poet extraordinaire )

 

Remembering those we’ve loved  this Valentine’s Day

REMEMBRANCE DAY IN THE TIME OF THE PANDEMIC

WORLD WAR TWO ended September 2nd, 1945.   That year winter came early to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  On November 11th with my classmates we walked in bitter cold  the two miles from school to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies at  the Armouries.    For the first time in seventy five years I will not  attend a Remembrance Day ceremony.  We will watch the laying of wreaths on television and then my husband and I will place our poppies on the Cenotaph  in our village of Ladner, British Columbia.

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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.

 

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 t he rest of his life in    Saskatchewan.  He is survived by his two sons.

 

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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.  His last letter home was dated October 27, 1944.  It was written in the dim light of a candle in a bottle.  The letter was in his effects returned to the family.

 

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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 talked about 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.

Today we fight a grim and different war.    There are no battlefields.  The enemy is unseen.  If we follow  the health protocol that has been given us we will win this battle.

 

 

 

(  poem  … The Soldier – Rupert Brooke)

I DIDN’T MAKE THE BED FOR YOU

 

There is nothing more wonderful then curling up in bed with a good book.  And when your bed is outside surrounded by  quiet green fields this is my idea of   paradise.     I  plundered the linen cupboard for everything French.   I wanted this to be a place where I could escape  for just a while.  A place of calmness.  A place where I could put aside for a brief time the uncertain realities of our present world.  I wasn’t expecting to find a rabbit who thought my bed was the perfect place for an afternoon nap.

We have a relationship with the rabbits.  Their burrow is under a large cedar hedge .   Through the years the hedge has grown in size and now it is very close to the patio.    It is not unusual to see  small bunnies noses pressed against the patio door looking into our home.

We love rabbit watching.  We have a rabbit who walks on his hind legs eating  the tops of high grass.  Another rabbit who eats only clover and ignores grass completely.     Then there is the rabbit  who likes to curl up in a basket beside by my outdoor bed. I have marvellous and rather esoteric conversations with him.   His name is Oswald, and he quite famous in the rabbit community.   I write about him in  A GLASS OF WINE AND CONVERSATIONS WITH A GENTLEMAN RABBIT.

This will be a summer of drifting through the days reading about exotic far away places.  There’s always pleasant work in the vegetable garden.  A place we also share with a tiny bunny.  Not by choice, but bunnies will be bunnies.      And I am hoping Oswald rabbit will join me on the patio again this summer.   A glass of wine and his take on world events would be most interesting.  Take care and be safe dear friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO SEW LAUNDRY DRAWSTRING BAGS FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

The Delta Hospital Auxiliary  was asked to sew 100 laundry bags for health care workers.     These were  bags to go into the washing machine – contents and all.     The most readily available material was sheets.    A laundry bag is a large, roomy drawstring bag .   Sewing the rectangle is easy .  The tricky part can be sewing the channel for the drawstring.

One of the long sides of the bag  is sewn in the following manner.    From the top of the bag seam line measure down 3 inches from the top.  Sew to this point.  Leave a 3/4 inch gap then continue sewing the seam.  (do back stitches where you finish and then start this gap).  This gap is where you will insert the ties.

Press this seam open  and overcast the edges.

 

To make the casement that will contain the ties fold over the top raw edge 12-inch all around and press the fold in place.  Then fold over a further 2 1/2-inches evenly all around lining up the side seams.  Press.

Unfold the pressed casement and insert the two ends of the drawstring into the gap in the seam.  Tuck the drawstring into the top part of the casement and pin in place.  Fold the pressed casement down and machine stitch the bottom hem in place.  Watch you don’t sew the long ends of the draws string into the hem.

 

 

 

To machine sew  the folded top edge  give the ends of the ties a little tug.  This will ease the cords away from the top fold.    Do this occasionally  when you are stitching the seam to ensure you don’t catch the ties.  Top stitch the casement about 1/2-inch or so away from the fold.

Right side will look like this when finished.   Knot the tie ends together.

It was originally thought when using sheets we could utilize the finished  edge of the top sheet for the casement.  This could work on smaller drawstring bags but I found  it created too much bulk.    I will  eliminate that part of the sheet in future bag making.    Our Delta Hospital has requested an additional 200 bags.

 

 

SEWING PROTECTIVE CLOTH MASKS FOR HOSPITAL WORKERS

Dear, dear friends,

My blogging friend Gayle of GUSTAVANDGAYLE  posted  a blog about sewing protective cloth face masks for hospital workers.  There has not been a call for these masks where I live but they are urgently needed in  many areas of the United States and other countries.

If you have a sewing machine these masks are easily and quickly made.  They require  elastic and two layers of 100% tightly woven cotton.  The inside layer should be soft.  Comfortable to the face.  The material is washed in hot water and the highest dryer heat setting to shrink the fabric.  The completed masks are sanitized before being used.

I followed the instructions from SEWGOODGOODS (link below).  The instructions are CDC compliant approved patterns (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  I ran up a dozen in about  30 minutes.  I deviated slightly from the instructions by  first sewing the elastic in place with a strong double machine stitch.  You don’t want the elastic to pull off the mask.  If the request comes out for these masks I’ll be ready.

https://www.sewgoodgoods.org/face-mask-covid-19

Please take care of yourself and all you love.

Virginia.

 

 

LIGHT UP OUR WORLD . . . NOW!

My dear friends, my so very dear friends.

These are desperate times and our world is looking so dark and frightening .  Now is the time to shine light on the darkness.   Now is the time to show we are not afraid.   Now, right now, is the time to say we are standing strong together.

Defy this darkness.   Do it by shining a light in to the dark.  Please,  now, right now put a light in your  window.   In every window.   Any light.  A single candle.  A lamp.   Every Christmas light you own.  Then text, phone, e-mail a friend and ask them to do the same.  Ask them to call a friend.

I care so very much for you all.

Love   Virginia.