Tag Archive | Food

Pollyanna Has Been Doing Time

It has been some time since I have taken the time to sit and regurgitate my thoughts to the ether.
It is not that I do not have anything to state, just uncertain of the direction I wish to set my keys to sail.

In the vast world of blogging I believe it is important that one should have a clear voice with a goal.

Over the past couple of years I have been exploring my soul and its reactions to art, cuisine and life in general. Somewhere along the line my inner Pollyanna was locked up and gagged.

When did I become so stoic? I don’t believe in such a lack luster approch to viewing life.

How does one convey such musings in a way that it is worthy of reading by another? I will attempt a hand a less structured but still focused blog with a bit of everything within the Art and Cuisine world.  The world I find delightful.

A simple one woman perspective on culture while working on regaining all the wonder and positivity she had for life.

I hope a few of you like it and gain something from this. Even my little snapshots as they are my silver lining.  The beauty in our world as I see it.  I suppose this blog will become about my soul searching through the superficial to find the beauty of our world.  Freeing my inner Pollyanna.  IMG_1091

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Accouterments of Time


It is really rather simple, all I have to do is gaze upon one, and the vivid emotion filled imagery comes flooding into my mind’s eye. One does not even need to physically hold one of these objet, although I sometimes do.

Some of these rare treasures I have found, some have found me and some have been passed down though my family as heirlooms.

They are precious time travel devices, to not only my past, but links to my elders and their life stories.

There are people who call these treasures, and those of use who curate them, by disrespectful names. (Tchotchke, bauble, Knick-knack, trinket, dust collector, and worst of all clutter or junk)

These stoics simply do not understand the power these beautiful time capsules possess for those of us who know how to connect with them.

With each one of these accouterments, I am taken back to the memory it possess’. Not only the moment acquired but the emotions and happenings of that bygone day.

For instance, when I was about 14, on a class trip one of my teachers offered to buy my group of students anything we wanted from the candy store. When I chose a porcelain figure instead of candy my teacher proclaimed I was silly to use the money to buy a dust collector. However, because of that little treasure I remember not only the purchase, I remember the who, the where, the light, the temperature and the joyous mood of a day filled with laughter.

It does not mater what they look like, or what they are made from, as they come in many different shapes sizes and materials. Some are even in the form of subsistence. (Science tells us the most powerful are the ones that contain scent. I quite agree.)

When ever I use a recipe of my grandmothers my kitchen smells like her kitchen and all the memories of that most love filled room.

No matter what the philistines and the minimalists say, I will protect them and hold them dear for as long as they are in my charge. Because when it comes to these cherished memory keeper’s “more is more”.

Regale Reasonably

One of my absolute favorite activities is to host an intimate dinner party for four to six friends. Entertaining friends in one’s home is relaxing, fun, and a great way to socialize if you are on a budget. I learned very early on that I am able to feed four or more people depending on the dish for the price it would be for one or two people dinning in a restaurant. Perhaps even less if your guests bring the wine.

Start with a tried and true recipe. It need not be haute cuisine. Choose something that you enjoy making. The company and conversation at the table is what is most important.

When I was learning to first cook, the first recipes I wanted to attempt were my grandmothers. A true chef in her own right I would follow her recipe to the letter. Never did the dish taste as delicious as when my grandmother created it. How nettlesome, and what was I doing wrong?

It was simple, aside from being a new cook, I had yet to find the fun and passion of the preparation. My focus was on the destination, the end result and not the pleasure of the journey. The knowledge that I am cooking a dish that will connect me with my grandmother, as well as share such a favorite with my friends was forgotten in the nerves and exceptions I had set for myself.

As soon as I adopted the mantra, “I can always order pizza, I can always order pizza” as well as the encouraging words of my grandmother that she too has had mishaps with meals. I began to relax, have fun, and the food began to taste better and better.

Then one day after numerous dinner parties my cookery came close to tasting like my grandmother’s, but not exactly and I realized that I would never cook exactly the same as Grandmother. She was a different person, her pinch and my pinch could never be the same, and her experiences with food in life have been different then mine. Her perspective and pallet were slightly different. After all, I love sushi and my grandmother does not. My cooking became just that – mine.

My confidence grew and I felt the freedom of experimenting and trying new cuisine. I am still no where near as an accomplished cook as my grandmother but I have confidence and a true passion for food.

Next choose plates you would like to use. I believe strongly one eats with ones eyes first. Actually studies have confirmed this. Think of the table as the stage on which you set the mood for your dinner party.

The price and where one purchases plates is inconsequential. What is important is that they bring joy to one when looked upon. This basis holds true for the cutlery, glasses, table linens and accessories.

Since this is an informal dinner party, I will only need place settings for dinner and dessert. I like for my plates to have continuity throughout an evening, so I will stay with my favorite colour blue for the two courses.

I have decided to use my whimsical maritime plates. The color and the theme set the tone going forward.

Following the plates choose the glassware. I will be serving wine with dinner, and, of course, one must always have a water glass.

In keeping with the theme, and the casual easy ambiance I would like to achieve, I will use my cheap, cheerful, and hand blown glasses. The bubbles remind me of old glass lobster buoys.

The only cutlery needed is plased standardly, napkin and fork on the left, knife, blade iron the right. I could place the desert spoon at the top, just above the plate but I will bring them out with the dessert at the end of the meal instead.

The plates have touches of green. Thus, I pull the green color as an accent and use a green majolica pitcher for the wine, and some green and blue cloth napkins.

I love to decant wine. No one is ever concerned with the label when wine is poured from a lovely pitcher or decanter.

Then the fun bit, setting and accessorizing the table! Candles are a must! Everyone and everything looks better in candle light. I adore mixing and maching tapers and votives.

Have fun using your imagination to add accessories. Simple blue glass sea shells catch the light and bring another layer to the table scape. All set upon a blue table cloth.

I want to share with you one of my own recently and favorite recipes:Kale and carrots, sauce panwith lidKale, ripped up into bite side peaces, no stem, one big handful per person. It cooks down much like spinach

Carrots, chopped into disks, one good handful per person

Garlic, minced approx two teaspoons

Butter, tablespoon per handful or to taste

Lavender, teaspoon

Sea salt, a couple good pinches

Thyme, teaspoon

Lemon, teaspoon

Water to cover the bottom of sauce pan

Toss together cover, and cook down over low heat. You may also cook down like a spinach or other greens nice and wilted.

While the Kale and Carrots cooks, sauté the fish.

Simple provincial style fillets (as easy as chicken) Skillet

8 wild snapper fillets (bones removed)

Flour, enough to lightly dust fish

Butter, two sticks

Olive oil, a good swirl in the pan. Olive oil cooks at a higher temp and will help the butter not burn.

Herbs de provence, to taste

Garlic, at least three Hefty teaspoons. Minced

Lemon, half of a small lemon, to taste.

In a large skillet on med high, heat olive oil, butter, garlic and herbs. As soon as the butter has stopped frothing add the lightly flowered fillets. Let them cook until there is a light gold color and the edges have turned opaque white. Then flip over and cook the other side being sure to baste with the butter and herbs. I like to do this often. It will keep the fish moist. This does not take very long a few minutes each side.

All served on a plate along with some good quality crusty french bread.

A nice glass of white wine and some lovely company.


Burns night

Today is one of my favorite days of the year! The birthday of the great Scots national bard Robert Burns.

Born on January 25, 1759, Robbert Burns or Robbie Burns as he is affectionately known, was an amazing poet and crusader for social reform. He was against any political or religious organization that condoned inhumanity.

Many people in the U.S. may not know his name but they know at least one of his poems. “Auld Lang Syne” sung at midnight every New Years.

One of the wonderful traditions around the world is to celebrate Burns Night. This dinner may be formal or informal depending on the Scots who are hosting. One year I was lucky enough to invite a friend who happened to also be a Military Piper. How is that for a host gift?

The other great thing about a Burns night is, you may host one anytime of year, although traditionally it is held on Robbie Burns Birthday.

Aside from pipers Burns night traditionally have a toast to the haggis in which the poem “Address to the Haggis” is recited as the Haggis is brought out on a silver tray. “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chiefftain of the puddin’ race!”

Then of course there is the reciting of another delightful poem “Scotch Drink”

“Let other poets raise a fracas

‘Bout vines an’ wines, an’ drunken Bacchus,…”

Robert Burns wrote many other poems of love and beauty as well. One of my all time favorite poems was written by Burns “My Heart’s in the Highlands”

Many cities world-wide will have a Burns suppers hosted by Burns Clubs, Freemasons and expats as well as some consulates.

Every Burns night I have had the pleasure to attend has been joyously fun.

Happy Burns Night Everyone!



Mobile Dependent

As I wait for FedEx to deliver my shinning new iPhone,  I realize a couple of interesting reality tid bits.  Today, in addition to being a slightly trying lesson in patience, it has also shown me how much I rely on my mobile phone.

After all, it is more than just a phone. It is mini computer connecting me with my contacts, my calendar of appointments, all the information the internet has to offer, my gosh, it is my connection to the outside world.

I am truly amazed at how much I rely on this small piece of technology.  I feel absolutely naked!  Somewhat vulnerable without this transmitter/receiver I keep by my side day and night.

Do not get me wrong there are times I am phone-less, when I turn it off for dinner, meetings, to work out, go on a hike, or a ride.   I love these times.  In fact, I relish them as much as I love going off the grid by getting back to nature. It takes me back to that simpleness I love  and cherish so very much.

This time is different, without control over the when and where, I am adrift.

I sit on the edge of my chair, waiting to hear the rumble of the truck.  Since I have no phone, the driver cannot call me from the call box.  I am chained to the seat nearest the street view. How did Rapunzel do it? Yes, it is a bit chilly, no, I cannot close the window, what if i don’t hear the truck?

As my day grows closer to the time I must run out, I grow more and more tenty. Any low grumbles from mufflers, or heaviness in sound from the weight of a vehicle slowing, catches my attention.  I fear I will have the nerves of a chihuahua by the end of this day.

I also realize this reliance annoys me.  I do not like to be controlled or too dependent on anything.  One could say I keep my list of vices very short.  Yes, I do look upon the reliance of a gadget, a habitual, albeit trivial defect in character.

My goodness, this habit has been going on for 17 years!  I was hooked the night my dear friend and I lost our way in Alligator Ally.  Gosh, was that really 17 years ago?!

My trusty Motorola Brick, never did that beauty drop a call, connected us with information, who then in turn, guided us to the proper exit.  All the while a toothless weathered man, kept driving , in a car with one headlight, along side us yelling for us to pull over.  I had heard too many stories of people being killed or worse in the swamp, I was not about to listen.

The 411 operator apparently had heard the stories as well, she instructed us to drive as fast as we could to the exit.  With her fellow operators in the background at the ready to contact the sherif, should we be in more dire straits.

As we turned off Alligator Ally to connect with I-95, and said our thank you’s to the cheering operators, I knew that I could never go without a mobile phone again.

I digress

Off I must run in my car to an appointment. To do so I must now write a note so that FedEx  will ring my neighbor.

Driving, I think of at least three different people I need to call, it will have to wait.  I feel that vulnerable feeling again. How would I phone AAA if my car should brake down.?

Driving back traffic is dreadful. I know I will be late to my 5:30pm appointment. With no way of phoning from the car I must wait until I return home.

Arriving home, I am sure the package with my phone will be waiting for me. With a smile on my face I bound up the stairs, two at a time.  Only to be disappointed.  I learn from my neighbor that FedEx has not come.

I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and take matters into my own hands.  I phoned FedEx; they track the package using my address.  The pleasant sounding young lady explains to me that the package should arrive at my doorstep tomorrow morning; no there is no guarantee of time, and yes it was sent out overnight. However, due to a “mechanical error” ( whatever that means) it was delayed by a day.  She asks me to hold while she transfers me to a different department where they will issue my company credit.   The phone rings and rings, finally a recording comes on and says that there has been an error in the call and that I must hang up and call back.

What I must do is ask, why does anyone use FedEx? Does anyone else have bad FedEx karma? I never have this issue with UPS.  The only way FedEx is consistent is in their inconsistency.

Enough, it is out of my hands.  I will have another night without a phone.  Worse things have happened.
I have bubbly and an episode of “Downton Abby” is on the DVR.
That should sooth my chihuahua nerves.   C’est la vie!

My Blissful Habitude

 

After my Jack Russell alarm clock wakes me for my early morning walk,  I begin my morning with a simple ritual. A ritual done the world over by millions of people.

The women of my family have been performing this sacred ritual for multiple generations.  I dare say at the very least five generations, but I suspect more.

The ritual is centered around an elixir capable of sustaining the women of my family through an entire day, if need be, and made more powerful if accompanied by buttered carbs of some sort.  Most often in the form of toast.  Not just any toast, but I will return to the vehicle for butter and preserves later.

The elixir, my morning fixer, is of course Tea.  For me, it is the most perfect drink. Hot or cold. However,  I prefer hot.

I once had to go a month without a drop. Know that I do not exaggerate when I say if the dogs did not require my assistance in the morning I would have wished to stay in bed.  Without the ritual I had performed since childhood I did not feel my day was set.

To make a perfect cup of tea one must first be present.  Not just physically, mentally.    Each step is just as important as the final sip.   In brief for me it is as follows, fill your loved kettle with cold fresh water.  This is more important then many would know.  Then of course heat to a boil.

In my family, we have always used many different cups and mugs.  It really depends on mood and occasion.  All with their own personality and memories attached.  But even on the most simple morning, tea for one is set for the eyes as pleasingly as it is for two.

I like to use one of my antique platers, nothing too special but pleasing to me, they are the perfect size.  Other tea drinkers will agree with me when I tell you different mugs or cups brew a better tea.  The same goes for pots.  Some swear by Brown Betty others sterling silver.

 If you love tea daily, and, in copious amounts, I recommend a Brown Betty.  By the way, I have found a wonderful place to purchase Brown Betty tea pots, among other wonderful delights.www.brownbettyteapot.com

Most mornings I go the simple rout. I try to fool myself into thinking I will have one cup.   A buxom cup is placed on the plater along with a little bowl with sugar and a wee pitcher for milk.   I must insist on milk. Never cream and you may as well go to coffee if you are going to use some sort of fake creamer.

After the boiled water has wrested for at least three minutes pour into cup to steep for at least another three minutes.    If you are like me, and you like it strong then it can steep a bit longer.  Now I know other drinkers call this builders tea; and I suppose that is correct but strong women need strong tea to build their day.

All this is easily transported to my desk or kitchen table.   Once brewed I savor the first sip take a deep breath and ready my mind for the beautiful and full day ahead.

Oh, the toast!  Well to be perfect it must be toasted golden brown and buttered as soon as it is out of the toaster.  Timing is everything.

I wonder how many others in North America come from long lines of tea drinkers?