HOW TO PEEL THE PERFECT HARD-COOKED EGG . . . a.k.a. HOW TO COOK A WOLF

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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.     This simple recipe bears repeating.   It’s  a simple trick we sometimes forget, go back to hard boiling eggs the old way and  end up dealing with a frustrating mess of egg shells and pock-market eggs

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 oxymoran 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.

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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.

 

APRIL BIRTHDAY IN PARIS

It was  early when I returned from shopping the market at the end of my street.  My basket was filled with two day old eggs (the best for baking), cream, chocolate and flowers.  Purple irises with deep golden throats.  The colours of spring.
The note was hanging from a red ribbon fastened to the door of my little house in Paris.
Place Émile-Goudeau,  11:59 p.m.  April 10th.  Bring cake.   (The Tin Man)

Tinny knows I spend April in Paris.  And that on April l0th I will be in my kitchen baking layers of delicate almond meringue in the La Cornue stove.    Filling the layers with espresso flavoured custard and topping the creation with chocolate ganache and pillows of whipped cream.

This creation  – this Dacquoise cake  must be started early in the day.   I whip the egg whites and sugar into shiny peaks then gently, every so gently fold in the crushed almonds.    While the layers are baking I make the  custard cream and tuck it into the refrigerator to thicken.  I will spread the custard cream carefully on the delicate meringue  layers . Next the ganache.   I chop dark chocolate into fine pieces and stir in the boiling cream.    It will rest, too.  It must be just the right thickness to enrobe the cake in all its magnificent glory.      The cake will rest  – until midnight.

Place Émile-Goudeau.  Trust The Tin Man to plan a birthday celebration in this unusual setting.   On Theadora’s favorite park bench. With her favorite cake,  and of course with our favorite tipple –  champagne.

Happy Birthday  darling Theadora.

 

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE . . . hums to a new tune.

This cinnamon scented layer cake.    This  dense cake of banana and pineapple.  This spice cake with sumptuous cream cheese icing.  This Humming Bird cake with retro origins has become the favorite of all cake recipes on MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

It’s a joy to make.      It doesn’t require a stand mixer.    Just two mixing bowls, some very ripe bananas, pineapple and the usual suspects when making a cake.   I’ve made  some changes to the recipe.   The most important one is the pineapple.  I’ve replaced the crushed pineapple with chopped pineapple tidbits.  The quality of the pineapple pieces is superior to crushed pineapple.   Now when you nibble your way through a gorgeous slice of Hummingbird  cake you encounter brilliant bursts of pineapple flavour.

Tuck this recipe for HUMMINGBIRD CAKE into your apron pocket.  It’s the perfect cake for the cottage.  It’s large enough for big family gatherings.  And best of all its wonderful goodness  stays fresh for the several days.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the new, improved and slightly changed recipe.

 

I READ TO LIVE

Can you remember when you were four years old?    Some of the children at Froggy Pad Day Care are four years old.  Some are younger.  Some are older.  Some need to be read to.  Others can read.    The postcards from Mr. Nobody are important to every single child.

I remember my fourth birthday  gift.   A school bag, red plaid edged in brown leather.  With a big strap to go round my neck.  With flapped pockets closed tight by shiny buckles.  With pockets where I  store treasures.   My Pinocchio book.  Pine cones I hold close to smell the forest.  A tiny pink stone.

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My Mother reads to me.   From thick pages close printed with tiny letters.  From books  with dark covers smelling of  leather that captures and holds the flavours of the book.  These books have no pictures.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”  Her voice became David Copperfield.  The words tumbled into my mind where I would turn them over not always understanding, not caring, simply lost in the joy of  hearing the words.

More than anything else I wanted to read those books.  Thick, fat books without pictures.   Books with  close square  print holding secret stories.

“When can I read?”

“When you are six.  When you go to school”

“But I will be old when I’m six.  With white hair”.

I am six.  I go to  Cottage School.  Two rooms, one up one down.    The school smells of  wooden desks deep carved with initials.  The desks have circular openings that hold bottled ink.  Mine is empty.  I am not old enough to use a pen.  I write with a thick, broad, flat pencil.    The black boards are gray with old chalk.  There’s a map of the world so enormous it covers an entire wall.   I am going to learn to read.   I am given a book  words worn thin by countless eyes.  DICK AND JANE.

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I am six.  I am furious.

I tell my mother “I am NEVER going back to school.   Nobody says “Look  Jane look, look.  See Dick.  see see, see Dick” .  That’s not a real book! Where are the words from The Old Curiosity Shop,   Oliver Twist? The words from Gulliver’s Travels and A Christmas Carol?  Where are the words from your books?”

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I am more than six.  I am a compulsive reader.  I read the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table.  The fine print in advertisements standing in line at the grocery store.  I cannot pass a bookstore even  when the books are in another language.  My silver memory box holds library cards from Edinburgh,  Amsterdam, Calgary, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver.  My oldest card, dated 1941, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan,  the place where it all began.

This holding a book in my hands.  The feel of the pages.  The smell of the ink.

This cadence of the prose.

This losing of one’s self to another place and time.

This reading of the beautifully written words.

This utter delight of being able to live a thousand lives.

I read in order to live.

SEND A POST CARD FROM MR. NOBODY . . . To Froggy Pad Daycare

There is an enchanted house  on the top of a very long hill.  Tall trees sway and sigh and stand guard.   The garden has a small wooden house and a small wooden bridge.   The children have delicious adventures,  play games, sing songs and listen to stories read from a magic book.  The enchanted house is called Froggy Pad.  It is a happy place where children stay while their Mummies and Daddies go to a place called Work.

Everyone is very polite, and so very well behaved at Froggy Pad.  Occasionally a hat goes missing.  The crayons are tossed out of boxes.  Milk is spilt.    Who did it?  Nobody.  It was Mr. Nobody.  A mischievous sprite.   Lately it has been very quiet at Froggy Pad.   No one looses their mittens.   Books have not gone missing.    In fact it has been absolutely boring at Froggy Pad.  That is until the other day a card came in the mail.  It was from Mr. Nobody.  He had gone walkabout.  Traveling.  Visiting friends far away.  Mr. Nobody had taken his mischief and disappeared.

The children missed his games. They were just a little sad until the post card arrive.  Now each day they watch with great anticipation for the mailman.    If you would like to play Mr. Nobody send a card to:  Froggy Pad Group Daycare,   4367 Ruth Crescent,     North Vancouver, B.C. Canada  V7K 2N1

 

EXTINGUISH MY EYES, I’LL GO ON SEEING YOU

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Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.

Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.

And without feet, I can make my way to you.

With out a mouth I can swear your name.

Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you

with my heart as with a hand.

Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.

And if you consume my brain with fire

I’ll feel your burn in every drop of blood.

 

(from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke)