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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

SILLY SQUIRRELS . . . and zippy ZUCCHINI



These sweet babies were absolutely fearless even though we had a dog with us.  They sniffed our hands and we were even able to touch and stroke them.



******

Zippy ZUCCHINI with MINT  (serves 4 to 6)

2 medium zucchini
¼ cup olive oil, divided
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt
½ cup chopped fresh mint

·        Slice zucchini lengthwise into 4 inch long planks, about ½ inch thick.
·        Put 1/8 cup olive oil in a glass or porcelain serving  dish.
·        Brush remaining oil onto both sides of zucchini planks.
·          Without adding more oil, sauté zucchini over high heat until browned and tender.  Test by sticking a fork into a plank.
·        Sprinkle zucchini with salt and put in serving dish.
·        Pour over balsamic vinegar.
·        Sprinkle with mint and serve. 

Hot or cold, they're delicious.


To reheat, put on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for 10-15 minutes.  It will still have a good texture!


I served them as a side dish with Greek stew and the Russian dark rye bread Bryan made.

*********************
                                 


P.S.  I'm wishing my niece, Naomi, a very Happy Birthday, today!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Salmonberries, GEORGE & DONNIE, and . . . Duck with CRACKLINGS

Rainy day: best place to walk is in a forest: you don’t get as wet.   Additional reward:

Salmonberries!

They taste a bit like pincherries . . . which reminded me of a wonderful day long ago when George and Donnie brought us younger kids a special treat.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see a BIG green, leafy branch loaded with pincherries.   You might think that was not a good thing to do, but little kids could not go tramping off into the woods to find their own, and we didn’t get very many treats those days . . . so this was really SPECIAL.

George and Donnie . . . it may have been only one of them who brought that branch home, but, in those days, I thought of them as almost one person because they were so inseparable that, if I was talking about them, I didn’t say one’s name without the other.

George and Donnie . . . thanks for the pincherries and other treats like chunks of cow salt, and the chocolate bars you brought us on Saturday nights. 

George


Donnie

I miss you guys!

********

Every fall, Mom roasted many a wild duck shot by George & Donnie.

The problem with roasting ducks is that if you roast them long enough for the legs to be tender, the breast is overdone. 
That’s why I like to cut a duck up and braise everything except for the breast. 


Just before serving, I sauté the duck breast and cut it into pink medallions.


Serve the breast separately so that everyone will get some!

The problem with braising ducks is that you don’t get that lovely crisp roasted skin. 

Enter Julia Child!  She suggested peeling off as much skin as possible, trimming off the fat, cutting the skin into thin strips, and roasting it to make cracklings.  I tried that once and didn’t like the result.

SOLUTION:  This time I cut the skin only off the back and the neck but left the skin on the legs, thighs, etc.  Do NOT cut up the skin or trim off the fat.  Preheat the oven to 400.   Put the skin on top of a grill pan.  The fat will render and go into the bottom.   Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until brown and crisp. 

BE CAREFUL when taking the pan out of the oven or the fat will slosh out.


Cut up the skin into small squares, toss with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and serve on top of the braised duck. 


                                      Oh WOW!  so GOOD!

                                           ******


              

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Quotes from Einstein . . . and another BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD


“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”


“Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”


“It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”


“One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.” 

-         Albert Einstein

                                                       *******



And,  with all my special Texans in mind, here's another terrific salad recipe:

SALAD of BRUSSELS SPROUTS and GRAPES  

20 brussels sprouts
25 large seedless grapes
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp coarsely ground pepper
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

·        Shred the sprouts finely in a food processor.  Transfer to a bowl.
·        Cut the grapes in half.  Add to the sprouts.



·        Shake oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a jar.
·        Stir into the sprouts and grapes.  Refrigerate until serving time.

·       Put toasted almonds on the table in front of your plate so you’ll remember to add them to the salad just before serving.
·        Sprinkle with slivered almonds before serving.


Yum!

 P.S.  The recipe was clipped from a magazine, probably CHATELAINE.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

BIRTHDAY on the FARM . . . and Sesame Seed Cake




The birthday girl wanted to have her birthday party on the farm so that Granny and Doug could be at it.    


Daddy, Auntie Diana, and I helped her with decorations, including a fir tree on Granny’s lawn.






We played:
          Ring Around-a-Rosy
          3-Legged Race
          Wheelbarrow Race
          Here We Go Looby-Loo
          The Farmer in the Dell
          Bag Race
          Piggy Back Race
          Simon (Kathleen) Says



************


SESAME SEED CAKE

            From THE SPICE COOKBOOK by Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckey

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup sesame seeds (sautéed in 1 ½ tablespoons butter):  divided
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup soft butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

*Melt 1 ½ tbsp. butter in a skillet.  Add ½ cup sesame seeds.  Stir over moderate heat until golden.
*Grease well and flour a 9 inch square cake pan.
*Start oven preheating to 350.
*Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together.
* Add ¼ cup of the sautéed sesame seeds and set aside.
*Blend sugar and vanillas with ½ cup butter.
* Beat in eggs, one at a time.
* Add flour mixture alternately with milk.
* Beat batter ½ minute.
* Turn into cake pans.
* Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
* Cool in pan 5 minutes.
* Turn onto wire rack to finish cooling.
* Spread top and sides with Sesame Seed Frosting and sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of sautéed sesame seed.

SESAME SEED FROSTING
2 tbsp butter
1 1/3 cups icing sugar
about 2 tsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
3 tbsp sautéed sesame seeds

*Heat butter until golden.
*Remove from heat and stir in sugar and enough milk to make frosting the right consistency.
*Add vanilla and sesame seed.

The birthday girl loves this cake !  When I make it again, sometime, I will include a picture.  (It's not the one in the pictures above.)

*******

Poppyseed & Marzipan Babka:  another delicious birthday cake!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

WEDDING ANNIVERSARY . . . and SLOVAKIAN STYLE EGGS


In February of 1974, Bryan and I went to the Administration Centre of St. Ignatius Church in Winnipeg to see Father McGillvray. 

Underneath a sequined mouse on the door of the office was a cartoon of a wedding.  The caption read, “I now pronounce you man and equal.”

 Along one wall in the office stood a table covered with photographs – most of them being of weddings.  On another wall, a felt Snoopy announced that “Happiness is Sunday at 9:00.”  (That was the time for McGillvray’s very popular folk mass.)

Father McGillvray came in wearing an orange T-shirt decorated with a small black jaguar. 

Bryan got Father McG going on a discussion about the Flying Fathers.   Likely I was glazing over because it ended with Father McG remarking that I was probably thinking, “Why don’t they get down to the wedding?  That’s what we came for.”

One of the good father’s favourite words was “beautiful” which he stretched out into ‘buuuuuuuuuuuuuutiful.’



Which really summed up our day!

*************


If you’re planning a beautiful day, you might want to start with a beautiful breakfast!  


SLOVAKIAN STYE EGGS  (to serve 4, but you easily can double the recipe)


            Thanks to Time-Life’s THE GOOD COOK:  EGGS & CHEESE

4 eggs
4 slices white bread
¾ cup milk
Salt & pepper

·        Start oven preheating to 350.
·        Butter a large baking sheet.
·        Toast the bread and set it on a wire rack to cool.
·        Separate the eggs.  (I put each yolk on a separate small dish.)
·        Whip the whites until stiff.
·        Stir ¼ tsp salt into the whites.
·        Pour milk into a 9x13 pan.  Soak the toast in the milk for one minute, then put the slices on the large, buttered baking sheet.
·        Spread the egg whites over the toast slices.
·        Make a depression in the center of each toast.  Slice an egg yolk into the depression.  Sprinkle the egg yolks with salt & pepper.
·        Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the egg yolks are set and the whites are nicely browned.


·        Serve immediately with tomatoes or a bean salad on the side.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

May, 1966 . . . and . . . Spicy PORK STEW by request!

  


May, 1966:  I had just completed my second year of university and was having trouble finding a summer job in Winnipeg. 

A desperate phone call to Anastasia resulted in an invitation to stay with her in Edmonton where she would help me find work.


On May 30 I wrote to Mom:
“It was a very interesting trip on the train.  As soon as I got on, the conductor was very helpful.  He made sure I didn't have to sit with Billy.  A lady, Mrs. Kennedy, took the seat beside me.  She told me about her operations, children, & husband & mother & father.  Then when we reached Edmonton at 6:00 a.m. (8:00 Manitoba time) she & her husband drove me to Anastasia’s house. 
As soon as I got off the train, the elastic strap on the back of my shoe broke. . . pretend everything is quite all right when your shoe is flopping.  
Carl isn’t home & probably won’t be until October.  Lisa is 6 and is starting school in the fall. 
I am working at a steak restaurant near the airport.  My uniform is supplied.  I am starting at $1.00 an hour plus tips and am working a day shift.  It is a very nice place, so you needn’t worry about me any more.
I haven't met anybody interesting here in Edmonton yet, but maybe that'll come. Anyway I'm going to be very busy sewing, typing & studying music.
Anastasia took me to have my tea cup read.”

                                          ********
          Anastasia also wrote to Mom:

“Your daughter arrived here and is looking well.  I will try and take good care of her for you.
Received your letter and was shocked to hear about Uncle Matt.
I don’t know when we will be out to see you now, but I will try August.  Carl is away for the summer & fall; therefore, he will not be coming out with me.  It will be nice to see you in a new house.  Nestor told me about it.
The children are all doing well, growing, growing. 
 Lisa was in school one day – so she’s looking forward to going in the fall.
Eleanor’s very happy and she likes the place where she went to see about work.  It’s a beautiful place; a place where only rich people can afford to go.”

********
The very first time I went camping was with Anastasia and the kids that summer when they all went up to Peace River to see Carl.


On the way there, we passed a young man who was hitchhiking so Anastasia picked him up.  Who does that now?



I have a foggy mind picture of the big canvas tent we stayed in.  It looked like the one I stayed in with a university friend the next spring. 
Those days it was just sleeping bags (no air mattresses) and chilly mornings and the camping bug definitely bit me!

                                             ********

I've started to collect my favourite camping recipes in a binder and this was the first one in!

PORK STEW

     From:  CHATELAINE MAGAZINE, Feb. 1992

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs pork cut into cubes
2 onions
1 green pepper
4 garlic cloves
3 tbsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp oregano
½ tsp dried chili flakes
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
2 cups frozen corn
19 ounce can chick-peas, drained and rinsed

·        Coarsely chop onions and green pepper.  Set aside.
·        Mince garlic and set aside.
·        Heat 1 tbsp oil in Dutch oven.  Add half the pork cubes and cook until all sides are well browned (about 6 minutes).  Transfer to a small bowl.  Brown remaining pork, adding more oil, if needed.  Set aside in bowl.
·        Start oven preheating to 350.
·        Reduce heat to low.  Add more oil, if needed.  Add onions and pepper to Dutch oven.  Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
·        Stir in garlic, chili powder, oregano, and chili flakes.  Cook for 2 minutes.
·        Add broth.  Stir to scrape up browned bits.
·        Return pork.  Bring stew to a boil.
·        Cover and cook in oven for 45 minutes.
·        Stir in parsley, corn, and chickpeas.  Cook 5 minutes and serve (with rice if desired).

*This stew freezes well so it’s perfect for taking along on a camping trip to serve on the second day when it has thawed in the cooler.


Monday, 9 May 2016

Windles and Ships . . . and Downton Abbey's Irish Stew


Browsing through Jessica Fellowes’ book, I came across a recipe in honor of Tom Branson, the Irish chauffeur who won the heart and hand of Lady Sybil.


I plan to make the lamb stew for our next Friday Family Dinner.  I’ll let you know how it goes – last week I served Irish Trosc Bake (trosc is the Irish word for cod) and it was a disaster.

Nothing can stop me, however.  I am determined to find and share  good Irish recipes as a salute to my husband’s Irish heritage.

Both sides of Bryan’s family emigrated from Ireland in the 19th century. 


In the case of his mother’s side (the Windles and Bradleys), they came to Canada before Confederation (1867).

I dug up some more pictures of our trip to Ireland and asked Bryan to write something about them.   Here’s what he gave me:


Some of my relatives may well have crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a “famine” ship similar to the replica seen above. 

They were often called ‘coffin’ ships for good reason. 


Such sea voyages were hard on those anxious to find a better life but who were not in the best of health because of their impoverished circumstances.

Many Irish, along with German and Polish Catholics, settled in the hill country of what is now Renfrew County in the Ottawa Valley. Love, being no respecter of ethnic differences, resulted in plenty of mixed marriages. 


My late Aunt Patsy (Windle) and Uncle Bert Blimkie were no exception and they have a large family to show for it.


My grandparents, Patrick and Mabel Windle, had a farm on one of those high hills. They and their large family attended church in nearby Mount St. Patrick that boasted a “holy well”. 

My cousin, Velma and her husband Jack O’Shea, stand in front of this “storied’ site where people still visit to take some of the supposedly miraculous water.


*********

Verdict’s In:  The Irish Lamb Stew was VERY GOOD!

The potatoes sit on top of the stew while it cooks, covered, for 1.5 hours.

Before serving, it was easy to remove the potatoes.

I served the potatoes separately and they were DELICIOUS.

Fantastic dinner!

You should be able to find the book in your library.

Bryan also made the Parmesan straws on p.242, but the dough didn't roll out well so he made Parmesan rounds.

Diana loved them.