Monday, 30 November 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook . . .

FOR TODAY, November 30th, 2009 ...

Outside My Window...

It is dark and very, very still. It's also very, very cold. I think the rain has stopped for the time being. What a dismal month, November has been, with more rain than I have seen in years and years. One day it was just bucketing down and I texted Todd from work to look at the rain. He said that he had never seen it rain so hard, even when he lived in Singapore during monsoon season. It's been horrific. If all this rain had been snow . . . we'd be up to our necks in it!

I am thinking...
About the great talks in church yesterday that were given about the Scriptures. Oh, how I love the scriptures. They are like the "Owner's Manual" for ourselves. Everything you need to know about living and, indeed, about dying is within their pages. I just could not get along without them. I know that no matter how I am feeling, happy or sad, fulfilled or in need . . . I can go to their pages and find something to suit . . . Quite often I just allow them to open up wherever the pages fall and that is where I will read. Amazingly, they always fall open at just the page that I need to see for whatever my needs are at that particular moment. They speak to my heart in a way that nothing else ever has, and like nothing else ever will.

I am thankful for...
My cup truly does runneth over. It is not half empty or half full even, it is filled to overflowing. No, I did not win the lottery . . . I have not come into a windfall of money at all . . . but I have what I need and who could ask for any more than that . . . to be satisfied with what we have is the greatest gift of all.

"Whatever your God has blessed you with, take it with a grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that, in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily."

From the kitchen...
Ohh, there's some yummy goodies. A tasty blueberry jam filled jelly roll and the leftover apple cobbler from yesterday (both of which you'll see at the end of this post) I also found a recipe for Gingerbread Brownies the other day that I am wanting to try at some point this week.

I am wearing...
Black and white jimjams . . . I discovered that word at the weekend and could hardly wait to use it! Don't you just love it!! Jimjams!! Jimjams!! It's my new favourite word!!!

I am creating...

I am finished my ploppers, so here is a pictureof some of them for you. I think they turned out quite nice.

Every year I also give a special handmade card to my boss as well, and here is this years. I think that it turned out quite nice as well:

Not as nice as Julie's cards are, of course. Her's are beautiful! I have also been working on a comissioned doll and my art course. I am looking foward to the holidays when I will have a bit more free time for these things!!

I am going...
I have another busy week in front of me. I have work , of course, and then Seminary on Thursday evening. I had to postpone it last week, because of Thanksgiving and having to work, so we've got extra to work on this week!

I am reading...

Our Ward has been challenged to read the Book of Mormon again this year. We were last challenged several years ago to do the same by our Church Leaders in a World Wide Program. This time we have been asked by our Stake Leaders to do the same. There were so many stories of wonderful changes in people's lives that had been wrought by doing this when we were asked to do so the last time and it is exciting to think about where this might take us this time around! I do confess that I have never read it from the front cover to the back cover, although I have been doing so since September this year as we are studying it in Seminary and it is a truly fascinating book! The more I read and study it, the more I come to see it as the miracle that it truly is. I know, some of you may pooh paa at that statement. But think about it. This book was translated (note that I didn't say written) by a relatively un-educated man in the span of only a few months. These words from Elder Jeffrey R Holland from our last church conference speak volumes about this book:

For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in anyreligious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”

These words ring true to me. I think that this was the most profound talk that came out of our last church conference and if you have a few minutes, and would like to see it in it's entirity you can do so here. I promise you it is moving and inspiring, and will be time well spent.

I am hoping...
That we have seen the last of the rain for now, but somehow . . . I think not! Wouldn't it be lovely if we had a white Christmas? One can dream can one not??

I am hearing...
I am hearing nothing but the ticking of the clock, the humming of the refrigerator, the clicking of my keys and Jess's gentle snores from over in the corner. It is so very quiet in here. I have the fire going as it is very chilly in here this morning, and as per ususual . . . Jess is stretched out in front of it!!!

Around the house...
I have one more package to post for Christmas, to my mom and a few for some good friends, and then I have all my cards to do. Same as last week! (as you can tell, I didn't get it done!) It MUST get done this week!!!

One of my favorite things...
Is writing this day book post each Monday morning. I think it's good to reflect on all these things in my life and sort them out . . . plan a bit, and organize . . . ponder on all that is good and filled with joy in my life. I write this more for me than for anyone else!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...
I don't even want to think about it!!!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Yes, they've been given their phones back and my son managed to post another photo of himself at Bootcamp onto Facebook. That's him on the right in the blue beret. He looks happy and like he's coping well with things, so that is a relief. He has three weeks off for Christmas, when they shut down the school. He'll be going home to his father's for those three weeks. I am going to try to call him when he is there and am looking forward to speaking with him. It's his birthday on the 7th of December. It is hard to imagine that my baby will be 21. Where has the time flown??? He is not a baby anymore . . . or even a boy. He is a man, and a good man and I am very proud of him.

And there you have it, my Simple Woman's Day Book for today. Don't forget to hop on over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries! (Or better yet, do a simple day book entry yourself! It's not that hard and I am betting you would enjoy it!)

And now as promised, some delicious goodies. I am not overly happy with how these pictures turned out. They don't really do this tasty dish justice! Imagine an apple cobbler . . . all sweet and syrupy and nestled beneath a bed of Cheddar Cheese Cobbles . . . . cheddar cheese??? Don't knock it. Cheese and apple have to be just about the best combination on earth!! I kid you not!!

This was incredibly yummy! You can successfully cut the recipe in half. I did and we thorougly enjoyed every morsel.

*Apple and Cheddar Cheese Cobbler*
Serves 8 to 10
Printable Recipe

I am not sure why it is but apples and cheese are one of the tastiest combinations. Once in a while my mother would serve us warm apple pie with a small wedge of cheddar on the side and it was a real treat. This delicious recipe combines the wonderful flavours of a traditional apple cobbler with the innovative twist of white cheddar "cobbles" scattered over top. Delicious!

For the filling:
1 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
8 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
(About 3 1/2 pounds prepared)
the juice of one lemon
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into bits
For the Cobbles:
2 cups flour
2 TBS white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups of cold buttermilk, or more as needed

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and then butter a 3 litre baking dish. Set aside.

Measure the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and cardamom into a bowl. Mix together. Add the apples and toss all together to coat evenly. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with the pieces of butter and then cover tightly with foil. Bake in the pre-heated oven tof 20 minutes.

While the apples are cooking make the cobbles. Whisk the flour together along with half of the sugar, the baking powder and the salt. Add the grated cheddar and toss to coat evenly. Stir in the buttermilk with a fork, just until the dry ingredients are moistened, using more buttermilk, adding it a tablespoonful at a time, if needed. The mixture should be shaggy and moist.

Remove the partially cooked apples from the oven, take off the foil and discard, and drop the cobbles over top by heaped spoonful's, distributing them evenly over top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 TBS of sugar and return to the oven. Bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are tender, the juices are bubbling and the cobbles are golden brown. Serve warm with some ice cream, or pouring cream, or even some creme fraiche. This is just wonderful!!

If you are into jelly rolls and blueberries, make sure you check out The English Kitchen this morning! There's a really delicious one posted over there!

Happy Monday everyone!!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Marie's Sunday Six Smilemakers

Welcome to my Sunday Six Smile Makers post for today, the last Sunday in November, 2009! I thought I would do it a bit different today, shake things up a bit you know. They say a change is as good as a holiday, and I'm all for holidays! Today I'm going to share with you six things about England that make me smile! I hope you'll enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed thinking about them and telling you about them!!!

Anytime you get a bunch of men in silly dress, tie bells around their knee caps, pop flowered hats upon their heads, give them sticks to bang together, and then a license to dance in the streets, it makes me smile! Yes, Morris Dancers make me smile! How could they not!

From Wikepedia:

A morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.

I just love to watch them!! I had never seen anything like this before I came over here and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching each and every time! I think it's a wonderful tradition, and I hope it never dies out!

It's English, but not as we know it! Yes, I am talking about the language over here and I just adore it! Peppered with strange words and idioms, I find it quite, quite entertaining and charming, and it goes without saying that one could get themselves into quite a spot of trouble very easily over here just by speaking English! There's phrases like "Mind the Gap", which means be careful not to step over the edge or into the gap between the train and the platform, or the elevator and the floor, etc. Words like aggro (aggressive or irritating), berk (fool or other silly person), fanny (female body part and I don't mean the butt here), bloke (male), cotton wool (cotton batting), gaffer (old man), Punters (customers), jumble sale (rummage sale) boot and bonnet (trunk and hood of the car) . . . I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea! It's wonderful and charming, and very entertaining! It does make me smile!

I just love the tradition and history over here. Everywhere you look, it surrounds you and I find it all fascinating. It's really pretty wonderful!

The scenery. Once you get away from the cities, you are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, and you don't have to go very far for it to change from rolling hillsides full of cotton boll sheep to flat plains and waving fields of wheat and corn, and then back again. Hedgerows, beautiful flowers, quaint villages and country cottages . . . it's all so very special and unique and I just adore it!!!

The Monarchy makes me smile. I know they have made their mistakes and sometimes they can be a bit of an embarassment, but all told, they are a part of what helps to make this country quite unique and interesting. I have always loved the Royals and everything to do with them . . . Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard . . . Windsor, the Queen . . . They bring a lot of tourist dollars into the country and add a lot of colour. I think they're pretty wonderful!

Castles make me smile! I love them and there are tons over here! (This picture is one I took of Scotney Castle which is not too far from where we live) Each one is quite unique and steeped in history and I adore walking through them and thinking about ancient times, ways and customs. They're just beautiful . . . even the derelect ones . . .

I know this makes seven, but it would be quite remiss of me not to mention the one thing about England that makes me smile the most and that is my husband Todd!!! He's the main reason I am here and the reason I came over here!! I just love him to pieces and he has brought so much joy into my life and continues to do so daily! I think everyone should have a Todd, but you can't have mine . . . You'll have to find your own! Good luck!!

And there you have it . . . six things about this wonderful country I live in that make me smile!

Today's recipe is one of my favourites. I just love swede (rutabaga) and potatoes, and when you throw some bacon into the mix and call it a pie . . . well, I'm there like a shot!! This is comfort food, plain and simple and very, very tasty!!!

*Swede and Bacon Pies*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I just love Swede, or rutabaga, as it is often called. It has such a natural earthy sweetness to it and goes with just about anything. In face Swede and Bacon are perfect partners!

8 slices of back bacon, trimmed of all fat and cut into small bits
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large swede, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
400 ml of chicken stock
1 tsp of summer savoury or mixed herbs
a small handful of chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
For the topping:
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 ounces strong cheddar cheese, grated
2 TBS butter
a little warm milk
salt and black pepper to taste
2 TBS melted butter
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

Put the bacon into a non-stick pan along with the olive oil. Brown on all sides and then remove from the pan. Add the onions and saute them in the same oil until soft and berinning to brown slightly. Return the bacon to the pan along with the swede and carrot. Season with some black pepper and the summer savoury and some salt if need be. Add the chicken stock, cover and cook over medium low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the parsley and then divide the mixture evenly amongst 4 individual pie dishes. Set aside and keep warm whilst you make the topping.

To make the topping put the potatoes into some boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and then mash along with the first lot of the butter, and a little warm milk. Add the cheese and stir it in until melted. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Loosely spoon this mash onto the swede mixture in the pie dishes, dividing it equally amongst them and piling it up a bit in the middle. Don't smooth it out too much, you want a bit of rough texture.

Pre-heat the oven to 205*C.425*F. Melt the second lot of butter and then stir in the bread crumbs, mixing together well. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over top of each dish. Place the dishes on a baking tray and bake in the heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned in places and the filling is bubbling away. Eat and enjoy!!

Over in The English Kitchen today there's some Pounded Pork Tenderloin with Lemon, Sage and Mushrooms on offer! Delicious!!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Sometimes I get goodies!!!

A week or so ago, there was a knock on the door about mid afternoon, which sent our Jess into a real tizzy. It's so wierd, she is such a meek and mild dog, but let the post man or a delivery person knock on our door and she turns into White Fang . . .

Anyways, Todd came back through with a huge black box, saying . . . "What have you ordered now???" ( Todd is so funny. He says I am like a Magician because I am always turning money into things, tee hee)

I was so excited because, just a week or so before I had been told that I would be getting a lovely Christmas Hamper from the folks at InterFlora for free! (and just for writing a little blurb about them too!) It was a win/win situation really, because I have been using InterFlora for years!

It was the lovely Christmas Festivities Hamper and I was just thrilled! Todd was all excited too, as I opened up the box. He couldn't believe that the lovely people at InterFlora has sent this to me for nothing. Inside was a sturdy wicker picnic hamper just brimming with a tasty assortment of festive indulgencies . . . from fine wines, luxury mince pies and a Maxwell & Frank's Christmas pudding to clotted cream fudge, lovely chocolates, and some tasty preserves and chutney's. I have always wished that someone would send me a hamper at Christmas time, and what a beauty this one was! I was most impressed with the quality and variety of the goods enclosed, and after seeing it, I would readily buy one of these for gifts was I ever so inclined.

The funny thing is I have been an InterFlora customer for years now. Because I live so far away from my family back in Canada, when I first came over here I did a search to find out a good way that I could send flowers and gifts to my family back home. I discovered InterFlora, and have been using them ever since. Each holiday occasion during the year, be it Easter, or Mother's Day, my mom's birthday or Christmas I order a lovely arrangement from them to be delivered to my mom, and I will most certainly be ordering some Christmas Flowers through them in just a few weeks time, to be sent to her again this year.

It's so wonderful that they deliver internationally, and I have to say, not a word of a lie, that my mother has always been thrilled with the flowers she has received from them. They have always arrived in wonderful shape and are just beautiful. I take my hat off to them, I really do. I have also used them to send flowers to a few friends on different occasions as well as to my two daughter's in law when they each told me that they were expecting their first babies. (I think an occasion such as that deserves a special gift don't you?) Anyways, this company is just wonderful . . . reliable, trustworthy and very, very good at what they do! I highly recommend them for all your floral and gift needs!

It was a gorgeous if cool day here yesterday, although to be honest Todd and I passed it in a bit of a funk as we were so tired after the day before! I thought a bit of an indulgence was due and so I made us this delicious Gingerbread Pudding Cake for our dessert after our dinner. I just love pudding cakes . . . you get a delicious moist cake along with a tasty sauce all at the same time! This one is one of our favourites, as we are real gingerbread nuts in this house!!!

*Gingerbread Pudding Cake*
Serves 12, (but can be successfully halved)
Printable Recipe

I just love pudding cakes, and this one is a spicy delight! Serve warm with ice cream for a realy tasty treat!

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup molasses
(mild and in the uk you can use 1/4 cup dark treacle mixed with 1/4 cup golden syrup)
1 cup water
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/3 cup butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom together in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg. Mix the molasses and water together and then beaet that into the creamed butter, alternately with the flour mixture, beating only until blended. Do not over beat. Pour batter into an ungreased 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over top. Stir together the hot water and melted butter and carefully pour this over top of the batter. Do not stur. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes, or until the gingerbread looks all cracked on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Serve warm with some ice cream. Delicious!!

I made some good use out of some leftovers yesterday in the way of a Beef, Bean and Bacon Casserole. It's absolutely delicious and works well with leftover Turkey as well! (I'm quite sure there's a lot of that hanging about just now!) Check it out over on The English Kitchen!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Sometimes you get diamonds . . . sometimes you get dust . . .

I've had to do some hard thinking lately. I'm a big dreamer and sometimes my dreams get me into a spot of trouble. I just love painting and creating as you know. There is always some sort of little character playing around in my head . . . all I am lacking in is time to get them down onto paper. I live in hope that one day I will be able to do nothing more than create, but in the meantime, I do what billions of others have to do to get by . . . I work. ☺ Drawing and painting is just so much fun for me, it always seems like play.

Anyways, sometimes my dreams lead me down dark alleys and I get in over my head. Last year I sold a fair amount of my Christmas Cards, but I couldn't help thinking that in a world of greeting cards cheaply printed in China on shoddy paper and sold for a thruppence . . . they were a bit dear for most people. I just couldn't sell them for cheaper though, after the time involved in creating each one and the ink and supplies etc. (Isn't computer ink a *rip off* people??? Costs a bomb and lasts only a twinkle!! ) Anyways, this year I thought . . . I'll have the lovely people at Moo print out some cards for me, and then I could sell them for half the price. So, being the dreamer that I am, I ordered a hundred of them, and I was ever so pleased with the quality of them when they came. Beautiful card was used to print them on, much nicer than any you would find in a box of cards and the colours are stunning. The two people that purchased a set from me were well pleased with them as well.

Todd was a bit miffed at me though, coz they cost a mittful, . . . but I assured him that I would be able to sell them all and make a small profit as well. This is where my dreams let me down. I have sold only 12 of the one hundred . . . and Todd is rightly annoyed with me and my dreamer's folly . . . as he said, and quite rightly, Moo Cards have made a bomb off of my hard work, and I have paid them to do so. To try and redeem myself in his eyes I am now offering them for £1 a piece plus postage to anyone who wants them, which is what I paid for them. I apologize for the two people that bought a set from me and paid more. I'll be more than happy to refund them the difference in price. If you would like some of these lovely cards, just leave me a comment, or send me an e-mail at MarieAliceJoan at aol dot com and I'll be happy to post them off to you, and Todd will be happy too.

I am thinking of completely re-working this art thing of mine in the new year. The prints don't seem to sell well (read not at all here) and I am pondering what I can do that will be different and that people will want. I had sold a rubber stamp design, and did get paid for it . . . but where is the stamp??? I don't know! I have yet to see it! . . . The publisher in Utah that said they were working on a Card deal for me has disappeared in a whiff of smoke too! So here I am at nearly the end of the year thinking that . . . in the new year I shall have to take a different direction. I just don't know which way yet!!!

Also, if anyone wants to buy my little Christmas Character Doll, Emily . . . make me an offer and I'll see what I can do.

Got home really late last night, or err . . . early this morning, but the Thanksgiving Dinner I cooked went really well. Everyone really enjoyed it and I was rather pleased with myself. Today I expect they will really enjoy the leftovers!! In the meantime here's a tasty dish that is not turkey, or even leftover turkey, but I hope you'll enjoy it all the same. It comes from my Big Blue Binder, and we all know what a treasure trove that is!

*Beef Stroganoff*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Who wouldn't love tender strips of beef in a light and tangy mushroom sauce? Named after a nineteenth century Russian Count, this dish was very popular in the 1960's and 70's. I think it should come back, back, back and enjoy a delicious revival, as it's really very good and very easy to make! Another one from my Big Blue Binder!

2 pounds of beef round steak, trimmed of all it's fat, and
cut into 2 by 1/2 inch strips
salt, black pepper and garlic powder to taste
2 TBS olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
3/4 pound of fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups dairy sour cream

Season the steak strips with some salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When it is hot add the steak and cook for several minutes, just until they are no longer pink. Reduce the heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes longer. Pour the beef btoth over to just barely cover the meat. You may not need to use it all. Pop on a cover and simmer over low heat for 40 to 45 minutes, until the meat is very tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Whisk in the sour creaqm and allow to heat through WITHOUT boiling. (This is important. If it boils the sour cream will curdle) Serve at once with some hot steamed rice or buttered noodles on the side and a green vegetable. Delicious!

PSSTT!! If you haven't done so already, don't forget to enter my Christmas Giveaway! I'll be drawing a name on December 1st, which is fast approaching!!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Thursday's Ponderings . . .

A Thanksgiving Day editorial in a newspaper told of a school teacher whom had asked her first graders to draw a picture of something that they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children, which came from a very poor neighbourhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of them would draw pictures of turkey's on tables filled with food. However, she was in for a surprise, for when a young lad named Douglas handed in his drawing, on the page was . . . a simple childishly drawn hand.

But whose hand was it?? The class was captivated by the abstract image.

"I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food." said one child. "A farmer," said another, "Because he grows the turkey's."

All sorts of ideas flew back and forth through the classroom. Finally the teacher decided to as Douglas whose hand it actually was.

"Why, it's your hand Teacher." was his reply.

The teacher then recalled that frequently, at recess, she had taken Douglas, a scrubby forlorn child by the hand and walked about the playground with him. She often did that with a lot of the children, but . . . a simple kindness that had obviously meant a great deal to Douglas.

Perhaps this was everyone's Thanksgiving . . . not for material things given to us . . . but for the opportunities, in whatever small way, that we each have, to give something to another . . . the gift of being able to serve . . .

It need not be a grand gesture . . . small and simple ways often count the most of all.

Wherever you are, and in whatever circumstance you find yourself, I hope that you will give pause today to be grateful for something, no matter how small or how simple . . . there is always something to be thankful for.

Here's a simple recipe that is quite old. I've had it kicking around in my big blue binder for a lot of years now. It's one of my tried and trues. Sometimes these old recipes are the best ones of all. Pure and simple ingredients, easy to put together, and just filled with delicious flavours!

*Potato Pudding*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Tasty, old fashioned and, it uses ingredients most of us have to hand a great deal of the time. This is a real people pleaser!!

2 cups peeled and coarsely shredded potato
1 cup peeled and coarsely shredded carrot
1 cup peeled and coarsely shredded swede (rutabaga)
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp summer savoury or marjoram
2 TBS cream
2 TBS softened butter

Pre=het the oven to 180*C/350*F. Generously butter a 9 inch square baking dish. Set aside.

Mix the vegetables, salt, pepper, summer savoury and cream together in a bowl, mixing them all together well. Spoon into the prepared baking dish and press down a bit to smooth it out. Dot the butter evenly over top.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. UNcover and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until golden and crusty on top. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting in to squares to serve. Delicious!!

There's a delicious Mincemeat and Marzipan Tealoaf over on The English Kitchen today!!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Today . . .

My thanks comes easily when all is going well, and the sun is shining down upon my world and all those that I love . . . when joy is easy to hold and to touch, and right within my grasp . . .

Yes, it is easy to be thankful when all is right . . . but wait . . . today I wish to reflect upon those times and the thanks which is not so easy to express . . . which does not come easily . . . for the things and times that put my thankful tongue on hold . . .

Today let me remember to give thanks not only for the sunlight, but for those darker hours, and the rain which falls in my life from time to time . . . the things that teach me fortitude.

Let me profess today a grateful heart, not merely for all the things that I do, and do well . . . but for my many failures that have taught me humility.

Let me express my gratitude for all the things that create inner turmoil, but which once resolved help to bring me serenity . . . and for my fears which have a wonderful way of building hope.

Let me breathe in appreciation for all those things that I see that tug on my heart strings and that teach me to be thoughtful . . . and for the wrongs that teach me to be fair, and for each violated trust that leaves loyalty in it's wake and as the core of it's lesson . . .

And today . . . let me not forget to whisper a thanks for these . . . contempt that teaches pity, the tear that continues to teach me joy, the pain that teaches me mercy and the loneliness that helps to teach me love . . .

As I reflect upon these things, may I be truly grateful and may my thanks come like a cup that runneth over, and over.


I thought I would give you a few Thanksgiving recipes this morning that you might find will come in handy for your celebrations tomorrow. First will be my turkey recipe, which I will be cooking tomorrow at work, and then a tasty side dish, which I know you will love.

*Herb Roasted Turkey*
Serves 12 to 14
Printable Recipe

This really is a moist and flavourful way to cook a turkey. The smell alone, when it is roasting, lures everyone into the kitchen. You can hardly wait for it to be done so you can tuck in to it. I have done this with turkey crowns as well with lots of success. I hope you will try it and like it as much as we do. This recipe was a grand prize winner in a Taste of Home turkey recipe contest.

14 pound turkey
(I like to use a free range bird, myself)
1 TBS salt
1 tsp pepper
18 sprigs of fresh thyme, divided
4 medium onions, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
3 bay leaves
1 TBS peppercorns
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tsp finely chopped chives

Pre-heat the oven to 160*C/325*F. Get out a large roaster. Remove any giblets etc. from your turkey and rinse it well. Pat it dry with some paper towelling.

Rub the surface of your turkey with salt and pepper and sprinkle inside the cavity with some salt and pepper as well. Place 12 sprigs of thyme in the cavity. Place the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns and the remaining thyme sprigs in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the vegetables. Drizzle the butter all over the turkey and then, sprinkle with the minced herbs. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer, basting every 20 minutes. The turkey is done when the juices run clear when you prick the turkey with a fork, and when the drumsticks are loose when lightly twisted. Remove from the oven to a heated platter and lightly cover with foil. Allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.

For gravy, skim off any fat from the pan drippings. Add a couple of cups of stock to the pan and vegetables and bring to the boil to deglaze and loosen up any tasty bits from the bottom. Strain this into a saucepan. Put some cold water into a jar along with a few TBS of flour. Shake it really well and then strain it into the saucepan, whisking it in very carefully. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking the whole time and cook until bubbling and thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Place in a gravy boat for serving at the table.

Serve the turkey sliced and pass the gravy boat around!

*Cheddar Cauliflower and Carrot Gratin*
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, or 4 as a main course
Printable Recipe

This is a tasty vegetable gratin, just perfect as a side dish for those holiday meals that are looming. Served on it's own with a side salad it also makes quite a delicious lunch or light supper! Take note of my variations at the end!

1 cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
For the Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
3 TBS flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
pinch each of freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese grated
Gratin Topping:
2 ounces strong cheddar cheese grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Butter an 8 cup gratin dish and set aside.

Bring a saucepan of slightly salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and cook only until crispy tender. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, and place them into the gratin dish. (Don't get rid of the water!!) Add the carrots to the same water and cook them until crispy tender. Scoop them out with the slotted spoon and scatter them over top of the cauliflower.

Measure and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Melt the butter for the sauce in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes. Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid and the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and thickens and bubbles. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Blend in the cheese, stirring until it melts. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Pour this over the vegetables in the gratin dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F.

Mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle this evenly over top of the casserole. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Pop under the grill for another 2 to 3 minutes to crisp up the topping. Serve immediately.

Variations: You can substitute any combination of vegetables for the ones suggested. Some tasty convinations are Brussels sprous and broccoli, Parsnips, celery and onions, Potatoes and rutabaga, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, parsnips and carrots, jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Cook a total of about 2 1/2 pound of vegetables and proceed as per recipe.

I'm doing Mince Pies over on The English Kitchen today!

Oh, and if you have not entered my Christmas Giveway yet, make sure you pop over HERE to do so! The more the merrier! The winner could be YOU!!

Pssstt!!! Breaking News!!! Donny Osmond has won Dancing with the Stars 2009!! Yayy!!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Short but sweet . . . hopefully!

"Train your minds and your hands that you may be equipped to serve well in the society of which you are a part. Cultivate the art of being kind, of being thoughtful, of being helpful. Refine within you the quality of mercy which comes as part of the divine attributes you have inherited."

~Gordon B Hinckley

I just love these words by our late Church President. They help to remind me of why I am here. We are not here on the earth by accident. We are here to learn and to grow and to become more like our Heavenly Father. What better way can we do this by serving others and doing what little we can to help to make the world a better place. I truly believe that in doing so, we become a better people, that in the simple act of giving our life away . . . we begin to truly live it, that service to others gives our lives purpose and meaning . . . and joy.

Not a lot of words to share this morning, but I hope that they have struck a chord somewhere with someone, as they have with me. I slept in, which is very rare and so I don't have a lot of time to spend, so this morning, my words are short but hopefully sweet!

This is a recipe that I had posted a while back on my old journal on AOL. This is one of my sister's favourite recipes of mine. I have not made it in a while, but I think I shall have to dust off my cake tin and bake one today. Everytime I bake one, I think of my friend Leona, from whom I got the recipe years ago. What a dear friend she was and still is. We have shared many good times and recipes with each other throughout the years. It also makes me think of my sister and the wonderful hours we have spent together. Isn't a recipe wonderful when it helps to generate beautiful thoughts of such special people and your times spent together? These dear memories help to make the things you cook taste all the better I think.

*Chocolate Chip Cake*
Makes one 8 inch square cake
Printable Recipe

This is a tasty amd moist white cake, just stogged full of delicious milk chocolate chips. If you are feeling really indulgent you can replace the chocolate chips with the same amount of good quality milk chocolate cut into bits. My favourite it Green and blacks. The icing does call for raw egg yolk, so if you are making this cake for the elderly or the very young, I would replace it with a plain vanilla buttercream icing.

for the Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg whites, beaten stiff along with 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
3 ounces milk chocolate chips (Or an equivalent amount of good quality milk chocolate,
such as Green and Black's, chopped into small bits) (Remove 1 TBS of the flour before mixing it with the
baking powder and stir this into the chocolate chips so that they don't sink when baking)
for the Icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease an 8 inch square pan and then line it with parchment paper. Grease again and then set it aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add them to the creamed mixture, alternately, beginning and ending with the dry. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. Fold in the chocolate chips, along with any flour residue. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and then bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the centre springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake it. Let sit in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it completely to a wire rack to cool before icing.

To make the icing, cream the butter until light. Beat in the remaining ingredients, beating until light and fluffy. Spread on top of the cooled cake.

I've got a delicious French Onion Soup on offer over on The English Kitchen this morning.

PS - just as an offside, Laurie from Sault Ste Marie asked yesterday why I was cooking a Thanksgiving dinner at work as people in the UK don't traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving. You are correct Laurie, Thanksgiving is not a British celebration, but because I work for an American family over here, I get to celebrate it with them, or errr . . . cook it for them at any rate! (One of the parts of my job that I really enjoy I hasten to add!!!)