Showing posts from March, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Rosemary Parmesan Coins

When we have guests, I like to serve a drink and some nibbles while I finish the dinner preparations. I shared this recipe last summer on my recipe blog. It's one I've made many times. These little crispy bites are full of buttery, cheesy, herby flavor with a hint of lemon. Not difficult at all to prepare, the rolls of unbaked dough can be well wrapped and frozen, then pulled out when needed and baked. Beware - these are addictive.

Rosemary Parmesan Coins

1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup lightly packed grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a food processor. (See note below if you don't have a food processor.) Pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Stir together the egg yolk and lemon juice. Drizzle over t…

Pink Inspiration

Clouds barely holding themselves together ,weighted with impending rain.Not, perhaps, the best day to visit a garden. No matter. It's the last weekend of the indoor display called Spring Prelude at Butchart Gardens. The Blue Poppy Restaurant is transformed into a garden complete with spring flowers, winding pathways, trees in bloom and architectural features. These photos, however, were taken outdoors.

The Spanish language has a lovely word describing the relationship between mothers-in-law.  We are "consuegras." Joint mothers-in-law. We get along well with all of our children's spouses' parents and enjoy visiting with them. Yesterday I visited the gardens with one of my three consuegras.

We both thought of Anne of Green Gables as we viewed the blossoming trees - remembering her penchant for naming things like "The White Way of Delight" and the "Snow Queen" cherry tree outside her bedroom window. 

The graceful arching branches of delicate pink …

Five on Friday

1. Mister F. came by for a visit yesterday and stayed alone with me while his mother took Miss A to a gymnastics class. We had a good time, just the two of us. Posing for photos wore him right out and he fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair. This Nana won't complain about holding a sleeping baby.

2. I've mentioned the naturalized lawn I pass walking. It's gone from snowdrops to cyclamen to croci to daffodilsand now to these pretty blue flowers whose name I do not know.

3. Sewing projects. I seem to sew a lot but finish little. Time to stop that. Finishing things is my goal for the next little while. 

4.  Happiest of Birthdays to my wonderful husband - we celebrated with the family last weekend but today is the day. He asked for a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I haven't made one of those for years, but dug out the recipe and succeeded. Just for fun I cut it into pieces and assembled a boat cake, complete with lifesavers and candles. The little girls loved it…

That Time of Year

It's that time of year - when the hyacinths bloom curly and blue under bare rosebushes

...when dry grasses stand in front of bushes just beginning to leaf out. 

...when pink is the colour of the day and blossoms float on the air

...when vintage cars and trucks are carefully unwrapped and driven proudly on sunny days. 

...when one never knows what might come in for a landing beside the water.

... when sailboats motor by because the sea is flat calm

... when blue skies and bright sun beguile one into thinking that a warm jacket might not be needed

... when an afternoon stroll turns into 90 minutes of "let's go a little further" to take advantage of the spring day

That was Sunday. Today is drizzly, but definitely warming. Is it that time of year where you are, too?

Apple Crisp with Custard Sauce

Spring might be on the way, but the air is still chilly and winter seems to be lingering like an unwelcome guest in some parts of the country. This dessert is welcome in the fall, winter, or on cool spring days, and great for using up apples that are softer now than in October. 

Apple crisps are often served with ice cream, but a Custard Sauce, also known as Crème Anglaise, is mellow with vanilla and can be served warm or cold. I like it warm. Pools of mellow vanilla sauce, soft apples, and a crisp topping meld together for a dessert that is warm and comforting.

I'm linking this to Penny's Tasty Tuesday, at her blog The Comforts of Home. There are lots of yummy recipes shared each week. Check it out!

Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced pared apples
2/3 - 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I use the lesser amount)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1/3 cup butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place apple slices in 8 inch s…

Elusive Spring

The shy sun hides behind clouds. Rain spatters the windows. 

What to do? 

Pull on a sweater. Make a cup of tea. Settle into some virtual gardening. Find spring in colorful photographs, in seed packets, in planning for sunnier days ahead.What do you do when spring eludes?

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden.

Five on Friday

Days tumble upon each other, filled with activity. A drive to the ferry on Monday morning. Wednesday at the pool with Miss A. Boating class. Errands and grocery shopping. Planning. Cooking. The moments end up in a heap of time at the end of the week. Sorting through them is an exercise in thoughtfulness that brings to mind the Psalmist's prayer, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12) 

A Monday walk on the beach counts as my first favorite thing this week. 

Second is the time spent at the pool with Miss A. Oh, the energy! She delighted in pouring bucket after bucket of water on this Nana's head. Then she tilted her own head, looked at me and said, "Nana, your hair doesn't look normal." I guess not. More like a drowned rat.

Third, the book I'm reading, seen above. Travel. History. France. Three of my favorite things combined. It's not a book to dash through. Instead, I find myself setting the book down and I…

Not my Favorite Season

It's here! Or will be tomorrow. I always thought that seasons began on the 21st of the appropriate month, but here's Google saying Happy Spring to me today, the 20th. When did that change? 

A view from the deck, above. We he mowed the moss grass once and I began cleaning out the raised vegetable beds.There's a trailer of dirt to shovel in. Last week I sprayed the fruit trees with dormant oil. What a messy job that was. Forsythia in bloom tells me to get my rose clippers out.  Clean, fresh air. Invigorating. Once I get out there I don't want to return indoors.

Spring is here. It's not my favorite season. It's perhaps the most highly anticipated, but for sheer delight I'll take summer please, or perhaps early autumn. I like it warm and the temperatures rarely climb high enough for me on the west coast.

Ranunculus like it cool. I like looking at them through the glass doors as I eat. 

A fat bead of water nestles next to the barest beginning of a tulip bulb, still…

A Bit of Spring Cheer

It's time once again for Vee's Note Card Party. This is such a fun event. I chose spring flowers as a theme and all of these flowers have been seen recently on my blog, although I chose different images for some.

I collect quotations and had fun paging through my book where I keep them. Some of them are written on scraps of paper and lie loose in the pages. I keep meaning to glue them in before I lose them. Do you collect words?

And finally, the "box top" for the set of "note cards." For all of these photos I used the Vignette option in Picasa and then the Polaroid option. Some of the Polaroid borders turned out larger than others and I can't figure out how to make them all uniform. Anyone have any ideas? 

Join the party at Vee's - pleasant, interesting and kind people attend. You'll be made very welcome.

Endive Ham Rolls

Several years ago I found this recipe on a French language site, Les Fruits et Les Legumes Frais (Fresh Fruits and Vegetables). Actually, the site was then called 10 par jour or 10 per day. Regardless, I've enjoyed making this classic and simple dish from time to time. 

At the deli, I ask for the ham to be cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Thinner slices could be used, but you may want two or three per roll. The dish can be prepared ahead, refrigerated, and baked just before serving. As I prepared this dish today, I thought that two or three stalks of asparagus would make an equally good vegetable to roll up into the ham. I've adapted the recipe slightly from the original

Endive Ham Rolls

6 endives, washed, with outer leaves removed and ends cut off
6 slices ham, either from the deli or from a leftover baked ham, about 1/8 inch thick
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly …

Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies

Faced with a quantity of egg whites in the fridge, I made these meringue based cookies. They are light, but addictive. I think it has to do with the way they melt in your mouth, with the added flavors of almonds and chocolate. Easy to make, and they are gluten and dairy free (depending on the chocolate chips used.) 

Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies

2 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate (I used a combination of both)
1 cup sliced almonds, blanched or not

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Begin adding the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate and almonds with a silicone or wooden spatula. 

Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined ba…

On a Beach in the Morning

This morning. 6:28. I awaken to the sound of a neighbor scraping a car window. Frost again. I smile inwardly. A sunny day ahead. And so it is. I drive my parents to the ferry at 8 am. On my way home I stop for a walk on Island View Beach. Come along and see what I see.

A luminous hour. Clear sky. Crisp air. White gulls. White wavelets rushing on the rocks. Ebbing tide. White gulls wheel and cry. A pair of Canada Geese lift off the water in synchronized motion.

A weathered and twisted tree trunk provides a peek hole. Frosty logs. Sun will soon melt that. 

Gulls and geese on a rocky islet. Are they enjoying the morning air as much as I?

Returning homewards I see the tide has ebbed to reveal the islet is connected to the shore by a rocky bar. The sea. Always dynamic. Never static.

Home again to upload my photos. I left my phone at home and discovered that my parents' ferry sailing was delayed due to high winds in the strait. Hard to imagine when I look at these images. Now the sun stream…

Blossoms for Sunlit Sunday

Memory. It can make me laugh out loud, or bring tears to my eyes. Remembering things like dental treatments isn't pleasant (I have one coming up in 10 days.) Remembering the sunshine earlier this week is pure delight. Although the rain pours down once again, the memory of a few sunny days during the week reminds me that spring is not far off. Blossoms of palest pink fill the trees. Ethereal tinted clouds line the streets. Spring. Not far off.

Linking to Sunlit Sunday, hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden.

Five on Friday

Sunny days mid-week saw this gull in a mellow state of mind, allowing me to approach near. He/She flew off just after I clicked the button.

Bright daffodils bloom on roadsides and in sheltered yards. These came from the grocery store. Their cheery yellow heads add cheer to the kitchen table. The wind is picking up, clouds are moving in and rain spatters the window as I type. 

Two mothers, two little girls, one sleeping baby boy and a very happy Nana spent a couple of hours at the park this week. Such busy activity of running, sliding, running, running, sliding. Nana went down the big slide with the big girl and down the little slide with the little girl. Double slides are so much fun.

That's three things - for the fourth - we're looking forward to the first meal on the outdoor grill tonight. Good thing we have a sheltered area. Fifth - my parents are here for the weekend. Visiting, eating, drinking tea and chatting. It's all good. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sidney by the Sea

Sunshine warming my back. Eyes squinting into the light. Brilliant water. Spring. Ducks swimming, gulls wheeling and calling. Children running. Flowers opening to the warmth. Lightness in the air. Sailboats dancing. Impossibly blue sky. 

An errand took me to Sidney by the Sea this afternoon. Sea glass beckoned and I filled my pocket with white shards worn smooth by the waves. It was all so lovely.

Thank you for all your comments on my previous post. Further to some of the comments - I don't remember who said what, and I'm not going back to check. Casting blame on anyone was never my intent. Thumper, of Disney's Bambi movie, was told by his mother, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." That's particularly true of blogging, I think, where facial and tonal expressions are missing from the conversation.

Bogeymom/Carrie - I have no way to contact you. If you read this post, thank you for your kind comments - they are always welcome. 


Bavarian Apple Torte

Apple desserts - yum! I first tasted this torte at the home of my cousin Caroline and was happy to see it show up in a family cookbook a few years later. Not overly sweet, but just sweet enough. Apples, cream cheese, cinnamon, and almonds on an easy crust. This really is easier than apple pie. 

Layer One:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour to make a soft dough. Spread or press on bottom of 9 inch springform pan.

Layer Two:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Pour onto pastry in pan.

Layer Three:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used three Spartan apples and had just the right amount to fit on the pan - I didn't measure them)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Combine the sugar and cinnamon, add the apples and toss together. Arrange on crea…

On the Giving of Advice

Do you blog about controversial subjects? I don't. But that's about to change. Just a little. With this post. 

I am not a professional decorator, cook, seamstress, travel guide, or gardener. I enjoy learning new things in all of these areas, and more. The blogging community is so great - a grand sharing forum where I can read, learn, apply, adapt or ignore ideas and actions. The wealth of combined expertise is staggering. Such a great resource.

So who better to turn to for a little advice? A couple of years ago I asked a specific question about a specific feature in my living room - the window coverings - hoping for an "aha" comment that would solve my dilemma. 

What I got in the comments was advice on wall color, on furniture arrangement, on what to hang on my walls, a few window covering comments plus a comment that my room looked cold and uninviting. Well. 

I've not asked for decorating advice since. In fact, I haven't posted a photo of a room in my home sinc…

Tulip Mileage

The heart of a tulip, blushing pink with a golden center. Although it poured rain most of the day, cut flowers bring a little sunshine indoors. 

I spent a few hours today cuddling with Mister F who has his days and nights mixed up and two very tired parents. There's nothing like holding a sleeping baby for utter coziness. 

I'm hoping you are finding some measure of sun/joy/happiness during these last lingering late winter days. 

Linking to Sunlit Sunday hosted by Karen of My Little Home and Garden.

Words and Letters

It's time for Donna's Personal Photography Challenge. Each month, Donna, an accomplished photographer, sets a challenge for those who want to join in. She provides links to sites that offer advice and inspiration for the particular topic.  It's fun! Perhaps you would like to join in next time.

This month, the challenge was Words and Letters. Here are my interpretations:

Last November, my mother gave me an old hymnal that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother, Agatha Rempel, born in 1897. The book was given to her by her father in 1903, in Chortitza, now part of the Ukraine. Agatha came to Canada, married, and later gave the book to my biological grandmother, also named Agatha, who married my grandfather. She died about 6 months after the birth of her 10th child. My grandfather then married Agatha's sister, Mary. In reality, Mary was my great-aunt, but I knew her and loved her as my grandmother.

The book is in German, although, oddly, printed in the United States in 1…

Five on Friday

Whoosh. Where did the week go? Are you noticing the way the light lingers in the evenings? I hardly know when to start cooking dinner! 

For the first of my five things - have you heard of The Great British Sewing Bee?  Season One ran last spring and now the second Season is playing. Not in North America. Inkstain, a novelist and sewist, puts up links to the episodes each week. Last year I found them on YouTube, but haven't been able to this year. I really enjoy watching the contestants cut and stitch and use their creativity under time constraints. 

Second, last weekend's tulips have opened and faded to a lovely blush colour. I love their pale reflection in the mirror.

Third. Our front porch for the last couple of months. Prior to pouring a new driveway last November we (aka Tim) removed the small and sinking porch. He framed up a new one, providing access to the front door until the rest of the project could be done. One little grandgirlie asked, "Why is there a hole in you…