Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Salad

We have several apple trees of many varieties on our property and we usually harvest a lot of apples.  We also have a good cold storage building to keep our apples and other harvested produce cool enough to keep it in good shape.  Here are the very last apples for this year, in a box in the fridge.

This fall there was one apple tree that split under its load, although we did see that the crotch of the tree had rotted earlier, making it susceptible to this stress. I used the apples from that tree immediately by juicing them in the Omega.  They made such tasty juice that I started a carboy of wine from it.  That wine turned out very well, and because I left it in the carboy a long time, it is a lovely, clear yellow.

I use apples in a breakfast "coffee cake," in muffins, and in salads.  We like the traditional Waldorf salad, and recently I came across another interesting and easy apple salad.

We buy season tickets to Rosebud each year and attend at least three plays there each season.  They are always excellently produced and enjoyable.  The tickets include a buffet meal (either at noon or at 6 p.m.) and their food is as good as their performances.

The last time we went to Rosebud there was a new salad on the buffet, sliced apples with some other ingredients, so I gave it a try.  It was delicious!  When we were home again I tried to duplicate it, and it turned out well.  So we have a new salad recipe in our "cookbook."

apple slices
chopped nuts
cinnamon sugar

The first time I made the salad there were no grapes in the fridge, so I softened some dried cranberries in water and used them.  They were fine!

Today we did have grapes and they are also fine.  I think that raisins might work just as well.

I always use pecans, not walnuts, because bought walnuts are so often rancid.  I also always keep the nuts in the freezer, not the closet.  Also stored in the freezer: flour and coffee beans (that is, in addition to the usual contents of freezers: blanched vegetables, berries of all sorts, baked goods and meat and fish.)

CoolWhip is not my usual ingredient.  This is the low fat version.  I feel quite compromised by such a "fake" commercial product, but that was how the salad dressing tasted when I met this salad.  Some day I'll try to come up with a substitute.

The cinnamon sugar is stored in an old spice container with a "shaker" top.  It's simple to fill it with sugar, add about two teaspoons of cinnamon and, presto, you've got cinnamon/sugar for your baking needs.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Back from B.C.

B.C., as in British Columbia, where Dear Son #2 and his family live.  We flew into Abbotsford on the 16th, also, coincidentally the 74th birthday of the Dear One, to spend some time with DS #2, DDIL and two Dear Granddaughters.  It was a lovely, relaxing visit, and we actually did have one sunny day there.

DDIL and I like to knit together, and spent a lot of time finishing two of her projects that had gotten stuck for one reason or another.  I taught her how to knit a few years ago, and she does very well, but because of lack of experience sometimes gets stuck when a problem arises.

The one project stalled because it was too tight, especially under the arms.  We fixed that by knitting a gusset into the underarm/side seam.  The other project had a finished skirt for the younger granddaughter, but the sweater/top was about 1/3 bigger than it should have been.  The only cure for that was to "unknit" the entire top and reknit it at a smaller size.  She had some bad advice from the person who sold her the pattern and yarn, as the yarn and needles obviously gave a bigger gauge than the gauge the pattern called for.  But she was game to reknit.  I give her lots of credit for that!

There was one other project, a very interesting shrug-like top for herself that only needed to be picked apart at the seams and resewed with a much looser seam treatment to be useable.  We both worked on these projects, and it was very satisfying.

Abbotsford is a lovely small airport.  With the new Golden Ears bridge this airport is just a forty minute drive from their home.  What a difference compared to driving all the way from here--dealing with the snowy mountain passes, possible delays for avalanche control, and even more scary, possibly dangerous road conditions.

We returned this past Wednesday, but I took a horrendous cold home with me and have been totally out of it until today.  I'm thankful to feel human again!  The sun is shining, the house is put back in order and I'm planning to make a succulent chicken breast with stuffing, cranberry sauce, oven-fried sweet potato and green bean casserole for our Christmas dinner.

We come to the end of this year full of thankfulness for our continued good health, the blessings of children and grandchildren, the love of friends and relatives, and most of all the love of God expressed in his gift of his Son, our Saviour.

May the blessings of the Christmas abound in your life also!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Met That Deadline!

Since September when I started teaching violin again I've felt that I just managed to keep up to what needed to be done day by day.  One reason for that was that a lot of odds 'n ends needed to be "manufactured" or music needed to be printed to meet the schedule.  In October we three violin teachers chose December 8 as the date for our violin students' Christmas party, and I volunteered to sew up a little gift bag for each student.

Monday I cut and sewed the bags.  They need only a nice gold ribbon in the casing to  be finished, and then filled with a variety of small treats.  That was a full THREE days ahead of time!  They turned out very well, about 4 1/2" wide, and 9" long, just big enough for an orange, some chocolates, some taffy, a "Happy Face" pencil, a tiny wooden snowman to hang on the Christmas tree and some notes (sticky notes).

We had our party Thursday night at which we played several pieces of Christmas music for the parents and grandparents.  Each student (and some of the parents) received a bag with a "Thank You for your hard work!"

Now I have three weeks without lessons and that feels quite luxurious.  I know the time will whiz by and seem very short but at this end it stretches out before me with all sorts of possibilities.

First on my list is a pair of handknit socks for dear grandson #2 whose birthday comes on the 20th of December.  These were knit from the toe up.  What you see here is the sole of the sock facing up with the heel in the triangle formed by the top two needles,  The side two needles hold the sides of the heel gusset, and the bottom two needles hold the instep of the sock.

The original pattern was formulated to knit two socks on one extremely long circular needle.  I do start the sock on two circular needles, using Judy Becker's magic cast on.  But pretty soon I like to switch to dpns.  There just seems to be less strain at the cross overs from one needle to the other.  When I get to the heel gusset, heel cup and heel flap I like to use lots of needles, just to keep things feeling open and easy.

The first sock took me one week to knit.  The second sock I started on Wednesday and finished this evening.  The yarn is from Mary Maxim, 75% wool and 25% nylon for strength.  This wool has a good "hand" and knit up very much easier than the fancy yarn for DD#2 and her daughter (the pink socks shown earlier).  They look kind of blue here, but are actually army green, brown and black.

Lacking a model, I put on the socks myself for this photo.  I'm very happy with the way they turned out, and am thoroughly converted to knitting socks toe up, rather than top down.  I like the way the heel turns out much better, since you knit the heel stitches together with the gusset stitches, rather than picking up gusset stitches along the heel flap.

These go into the mail tomorrow, with hopes of reaching Ontario before next weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Super Pea Soup

A cold, overcast day calls for a pot of soup!  Pea soup is one of our favorites, and I like to use the big crock pot to make several quarts at once.

Super Pea Soup
8 cups of water
2  (450 gram) bags of green split peas
1 onion chopped
2 good sized carrots chopped
3 (mild) Italian sausages cut into rounds,
   and then the rounds are cut in half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 large or 2 small bay leaves.

Pile all ingredients into crockpot.  Set on high.  After a few hours when it's really boiling, turn down to medium or low, whichever works on your crockpot.  Let it simmer for hours.  Have a bowl while you watch the evening news.  Feel warmed and filled.

A slice of homemade whole wheat bread rounds this out nicely.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dutch Salad

I call this Dutch Salad because this is the only salad my mother-in-law ever served.  I've never encountered it anywhere other than at her table.

Hard boil an egg for each person.  Shred lettuce onto a salad plate for each person.  To each plate add some chopped onions. Sprinkle some sugar over lettuce, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Grate one hard boiled egg over each plate of lettuce.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.

That's it.  Simple but a nice change from our usual menu of salads.

My mother-in-law lived a rather hard life, with many difficulties to endure.  She was born in 1900 in a small village in North Holland (the Netherlands).  Before she was a year old her own mother died.  There had never been a photo taken of her, and as long as she lived Moe (pronounced Mooo--short for Moeder) felt that lack.  She never knew what her own mother looked like.  But I have the impression that her father kind of made a little pet out of her to make up for the lack of a mother.  Moe had seven older siblings, three girls and four boys.

A few years later her father married his housekeeper and they had three little girls together.  So I guess Moe was about three or at the most four when that happened.

She was a teenager during the First World War.  She never talked about that at all that I know of.

When she was twenty-four she married my father-in-law.  She became pregnant the first month she was married.  Her father-in-law was living with them until he died some years later.  There were four children in quite quick succession: first a boy, then a girl, then a boy, and three years later another girl.  Those were the years of the world wide Depression, and in a small Dutch village there was no money to spare.  They raised much of their own food, but when it came to luxuries there simply were none.

Then the Second World War started and Holland was invaded and occupied for the duration of the war.  That meant even more deprivation and having to try to make ends meet in the middle.  My Dear One was born in '37, before the war and his younger sister was born during the war in '40.  That made seven children to care for.

Also during those war years the family took care of several young men, called "onderdijkers" who had to hide from the Germans lest they be shot or shipped off to Germany to work in the war factories.  In retrospect those years seemed good because of the camaraderie of the young men, and some of the ingenious devices they rigged up to provide light--the electricity had been cut off.  If they received word that a raid was coming, the young fellows fled by boat along the canals.  My husband can recall cowering in bed as a helmeted soldier looked for these hidden boys.

One good thing during the war years: they always had enough to eat, mainly potatoes and brown beans (dried beans).  In contrast there was much starvation, especially the last year of the war, in the cities.  People from the cities would walk for miles to beg some food from those living in the country.  Moe would give them a sandwich, but require them to sit and eat it in front of her.  Otherwise, there was the possibility that they would turn around and sell it.

On one occasion they slaughtered a goat in the back entryway.  If the Germans knew they had it they would requisition the meat.  On another occasion my father-in-law walked for miles with a cow on a leash that he had bartered for.  A few time during that trek he had to dive into the ditch to avoid being strafed by enemy aircraft, and the cow ran away and had to be caught again.

The family all survived the war.  But soon after the war my father-in-law fell from the hayloft of the barn and impaled his leg on the wooden handle of a rake.  He spent almost a year in the hospital and forever after limped badly from that injury.

Even before the war Pa had in mind to emigrate to another country, but the war and his injury postponed those plans, until finally in 1949 the family emigrated to Canada.  Their oldest son was already there and their oldest daughter and her husband also came along.  So Moe was 49 when she moved to a completely strange country with a completely strange language.

For the first few months they lived on a doctor's estate and Pa was one of the gardeners.  But there was a German fellow living there, and Pa got into a fight with him.  The doctor said that Pa and his family had to leave.  So in the middle of the winter they bought a 40 acre farm near Hamilton, Ontario.  They raised the downpayment by selling a ten acre plot to another buyer.  They became flower growers who marketed their flowers in the Hamilton Farmers' Market and in the Toronto Wholesale Market.

Over the years, with lots of hard work from the whole family and typical immigrant frugality they made good on that stony little piece of ground.  Toward the end of their life they sold the old house on the highway and built a cozy brick home on the sideroad.  Their youngest daughter lived next door with her family and helped look after them in their last years.  I think that those last years of their lives were the most peaceful.