Saturday, January 24, 2015

On a Mission

When I waken in the night and the dark cloud of worry descends what is it that causes me the most dismay???

Well, I will tell you....

It's STUFF - all the STUFF we accumulated in almost seventy years of marriage,

Starting with just our wedding presents, my trousseau and Charles' uniform, and look what I have arrived with!!  My darling chickened out on this one......

Just a small birds-eye view of the shelves of genealogy information, baskets of wool, pictures on the wall, pictures in boxes because there is no more room on the walls, remnants of cones of weaving cotton, warps and spinning fibres, thirty years of Handwoven and Spin-Off magazines, to say nothing of the Knitting mags that are my passion and folly.

And then there are the files, the music tapes, the DVDs and VSRs, the CDs, purchased and homemade - hundreds of them (it seems) - and the BOOKS!!!  And the snapshots!  Oh, thousands of them,  neatly divided chronologically into families, waiting to be dispersed.

To say nothing of the china and the silver plates and teasets we received as wedding gifts, there being no electrical appliances on the market yet after the war.

And so I am 'on a mission' to simplify.

I started with the books, - gathered up a great box full and a smaller box full of books that I thought others would enjoy and that I will probably never read again, - books that arrived on a whim because they had an inviting cover and books that really have no relevancy to my way of life right now.....(Milton Cross's Complete Stories of the Opera which I purchased from a book club even before I was married).

I put the boxes out in plain view and family bookworms came and inspected them and now I only have a bagful left!!!!

Most days in January have found us in an inverted bowl of fog and mist, so this is a good project, but today I must venture out to the bank and the grocery store and renew my supply of Orange Brandy!
And go to the Church to do the Pew Bulletins for tomorrow's service.

As I go I am planning to dig around in the snow to see how the Hellebores are doing, and if they are sending up little green stubs to bloom in Lent.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ABC Wednesday
The letter is B
for Brulee, - the Creme de variety!!


Dining is never really complete for me without a sweet and coffee to round it off,

and the dessert that fills me with delight (anticipation and the actually devouring of!) is 

Creme Brulee!!!

Wikipedia tells me (if I must get technical about such a delicious culinary treat) that the earliest known reference to creme brulee as it is known today appears in Massialot's 1691 cookbook, and the French name was used in the English translation of this book, but in the 1731 edition it was called "creme anglaise".

In Britain a version of creme brulee was known locally as Trinity Cream, or Cambridge burnt cream, and was introduced at Trinity College in 179with the college arms impressed on top of the cream with a branding iron.

Creme Brulee is usually served in individual ramekins.  Discs of caramel may be prepared separately and put on top just before serving, but it is much more exciting to have the caramel formed directly on top of the custard immediately before serving, or at the table where the sugar mix is caramlized with a butane torch.  I associate this method with a lovely dinner Charles and I had while in England, attending a Squadron Reunion, and it brings back such delicious memories....


Creme Brulee is available in small ramekins in grocery stores, but somehow it is not the same!

I looked at the heel of my homemade bread this morning, as I cut the last slice for toast, and thought about Bread Pudding, and then wondered if I could turn it into a version of Creme Brulee, - it has the same ingredients.

If you have a yearning for Creme Brulee, here is what you need.

8 egg yolks
6 tbsps of white sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 tbsps of brown sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then beat the egg yolks, 4 tbsps of white sugar and the vanilla extract until thick and creamy.

Pour the cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it ALMOST comes to a boil.  Remove immediately from the heat and stir the cream into the egg yolk mixture, beating until combined.

Pour the cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler and stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon (about three minutes).

Remove from heat and pour into small shallow heat proof dishes.

Bake for thirty minutes in the overn - cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you are ready to serve, if you don't have a butane torch handy, combine the remaining 2 tbsps of white sugar with the brown sugar and sift the mixture evenly over the custards.  Place under broiler until sugar melts and carmalizes - watching carefully so as not to burn.

If you do have a Butane Torch, or a Salamander broiler, take it to the table and do your thing!
Extravagantly and with flair.
Very impressive.

For more Bs visit here at ABC Wednesday, with thanks to Roger, Denise and all Busy helpers.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Out and About




After a quiet week indoors that involved a little weaving, a bit of knitting, some baking and a new book it was lovely to get out two days in a row. 

Yesterday the weather was glum and gloomy, but today there was blue sky and sunshine as I went for a drive and a wonderful lunch at the Hooded Merganser with my one good friend from early days who is close by, and her kind and attentive daughter.  

We are lucky, both of us, to have daughters and daughters-in-law who are sweet and caring.



Saturday it was my regularly scheduled monthly day to go to Penticton with my DIL from Summerland.  It mattered not that the clouds encompassed the whole valley, skirting the bottoms of the mountains.   

We carried on, - found a new restaurant that serves an exotic collection of Bennys (Eggs Benedict) and lunched with our oldest son.  This was immediately after having coffee and muffins with a granddaughter who lives close, so it was a full-filling morning!

 A little shopping  sent me home with a new coffee pot that makes a steaming aromatic brew, pre-programmed the night before,  I can see that it will be inclined to influence the time I rise if I want that first hot cup before I am really wide awake.  Maybe I will pass on the pre-programming and go about morning ablutions while the magic happens......

The weatherman forecast great drifts of snow overnight in the Okanagan
and I feared it would cancel today's outing,
but the snow only fell on the ski hills, which made everyone happy!

As the morning wore on the clouds began to disperse and by late morning, 
time of departure, the sun made a rare and welcome appearance.

We had seen great numbers of ice fishermen on Yellow Lake yesterday.
Easy chairs, bonfires and the lake dotted with bright red tents
around many of the fishing holes.  Christmas presents perhaps?

No red tents today, but still lots of enthusiasts out for the day.

Along the Channel Parkway going into Penticton I saw a lovely sign of spring -
the sap rising in a willow tree,
the colour brilliant against the blue sky!


A last delightful outing - a shower for the new great-grandson, who was passed
around the room and slept in everyone's arms,


 while the next smallest
GGSon entertained all the ladies  with his sweet smile and
adventuresome ways.  A true Finch!




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ABBA

ABC  Wednesday
Off on another jaunt through the Alphabet
The letter is A

A is for ABBA




Wonderful background music when our family was full of teenagers

And now I find great pleasure listening and reminiscing.

Hope you enjoy this favourite

"Fernando"

or this.....



"Take a Chance on Me"

Life goes on and the Band broke up
but their songs are still popular and familiar
and make one want to Dance!!!

For more interesting As visit here at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to all the Able souls who energize this meme

Sunday, January 11, 2015



The hothouse Hellebore

brightens my window
and speaks to me of early spring.

Its cousin, in the garden
pulls the white blanket of snow
even closer....

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Sunshine, blue skies, whispy clouds



Blue skies and sunshine
Lift my spirits
and delight my heart
and send me scurrying
for dustmop and broom

Beautiful day.  I am banishing dust, but as I work my eye is drawn
to shadows on the snow, whispy white clouds
and water dripping from the evergreens
as those great drifts of snow disappear.

As I tidy and dust I also listen to a new David Garrett CD
"Timeless" - the music of Brahms and Bruch
played with the Israel Philharmonic and conducted by
Zubin Mehta !!!!

Beside my chair lies the latest Alan Bradley novel
following the adventures of Flavia de Luce .

When Alan Bradley first started this series he lived just miles away,
in Kelowna, B.C.  It tells the tales
of eleven year old Flavia's detective skills as she lives
with a most eccentric family residing at Buckshaw, the old and fast
deteriorating family estate.

Well, I find it charming and I can hardly wait to open the book,
forsaking Wallace Stegner and Loren Eisely for a romp
through a thoroughly relaxing read.

These delights, along with a desk diary that provides an awesome fact
for each day of the year
are the result of a lovely Amazon Gift Certificate birthday present
and I have to say, my son-in-law Frank's kindness
in going to get my mail on the icy roads.

Here are a few more pictures of a nice winter's day in the Similkameen!
If you look closely you can see that the pussy willows are starting to swell,
but alas, no small bits of greenery where the bulbs were planted, and the Lenten roses 
are under a foot of snow...






Off to catch the last rays of the sun before it falls behind the mountain.

Have we advanced more than three seconds a day 
as daylight increases, nearing spring?

Surely.......


P..S.    I forgot to mention the name of Alan Bradley's new Book

'As Chimney Sweepers come to Dust'

quote from Shakespeare....

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A rather indolent day.

I woke, enclosed in mist and fog and darkness

and more or less confined to barracks because of snow and ice

These great drifts of snow that engulfed us on the week-end are piled high beside driveways and sidewalks, as folk try to clear a way through.

The temperature rises, and occasionally it rains, and then freezes.

My son, on the Chilcotin Plateau, told me last night that there were at least five levels of ice buried in the snow drifts there, which makes snow removal by hand treacherous on the heart and muscles, but not too bad if you have some heavy equipment handy (which they have).



  I have a video to show you just how easy it is up there in the Caribou!!  A piece of cake.....

video

I spent the first part of the morning devising a makeshift bird feeder that I could hang from the railing on the porch, there being too much snow for me to reach the regular feeders which now look like a cross between a ski chalet and an asian pagoda.

A long length of linen from my weaving stash and a deep aluminium pie plate that I could use the hole punch on, and the little birds were once again frequenting the food bar.

That finished, the fog began to lift a little, and as I had mid-morning coffee
I could see trees on the mountain, outlined faintly.  The air a quarter of a way up the mountains 
is a pretty blue, but beyond that all is overcast in grey.

The rest of the day I have been spinning. disciplining myself to finish the 
brilliant green roving before I start on the last indulgence
at the Naughty  (Knotty)  Knitter, - 
a plait of varigated mauves and greens and rose merino that I hope
someday will be a lovely lacy pair of socks.

Wallace Stegner's early book, Remember Laughter,
sits on the table beside my chair along with my knitting,
and so January will idle its way into a February thaw
and eventually Snowdrops and Lenten Roses,

and I will give up indolence and begin to poke around for first green shoots....