Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve 1927. A sweet little New Year's Greeting card all the way from Flushing, New York, addressed to my father, seven year old Master Bobby. Don't you wish little children today were addressed Master and Miss? Charming. It is from his older cousins Harry and Bob Fuller. I had to tinker around with the computer to get the script to show in this photo below. It says, "We not only wish you a Happy New Year But wish we could spend it with you."
Pizza dough is rising. I plan on making a Greek style pizza with feta and sun-dried tomatoes and spinach and black olives. Movies on tap tonight are "Superman" and "Tale of Two Cities". Last night we groaned through "In Old Arizona"..."Your flirting days are over, time to settle down." Poor, poor, Tonia Marie. What can I say? GG brought it home from the library.

I can only suppose some enlightened librarian choose it for historical value based upon the title. I couldn't figure out what the heck time period it was suppose to be...the accents...the costumes...the music. In case you are wondering it is about the Cisco Kid and Tonia Marie is his two-timing wooo-man. A quick Google reveals it was nominated for five academy awards in 1929. Hope Dickens and Superman and the pizza are better. Happy New Year's!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Murphy's Law of Averages

The Law of Averages basically states, given enough time events will even out. It's sort of like a socialist view of Murphy's Law but not just for bad stuff. And because I live in Canada, I can use the S word without fear of...well...fear of anything. Rightly or wrongly, I've always equated The Law of Averages to Murphy's Law. If bad stuff can happen it will and everybody usually gets their fair share and if it looks otherwise well...they aren't telling the truth.
So. What's up here? Ohh, just another little flooded basement thing which Buff discovered the other night at say, ohh, twelve at night when he went downstairs to pump a little iron and instead ended up having to pump a basement. However, on the bright side, this time there were no dogs in heat, nor warped kitchen flooring. Oh, you want to hear about that? Another time.
What is the probability that one's basement will flood for say, the umpteenth time in umpteen years and all the carpet has to be pitched and the furniture moved around and all this happens at Christmas time when the house is full of more people than usual and all the upheaval of shop vacs and dehumidifiers and other unidentifiable guy stuff being carried in and being carried out and other weird junk appearing from nowhere when one has to empty a basement in the middle of the night in the dead of winter?

I don't know. I am not mathematically inclined and could care less to try to figure it out. I do suppose though that Geek Guy will tell me, unaided by any technological devices, after he reads this. However, methinks we have had more than whatever The Law of Averages allows.
At least the oven didn't fail this year. Nevertheless, I type here with one hand as my other has fingers crossed. I'm not superstitious, however, we still have New Year's Eve to go. In the past, it has been the oven that fails at Christmas. I noticed the oven repairman just the other day driving by in his little orange van. Nasty orange. Somebody else collecting on their Murphy's Law of Averages no doubt.
Twice I had to pull buns off pans and toss them in the freezer. Twice I finished cooking a turkey at the in-laws. I thought of running the bird over to my mother's oven, but she would not understand. The Law of Averages, at least the Murphy's part, never seemed to visit my mother. She never understood my daily calamities. The three other times, I just took the bird in roaster and chucked it into a snow bank. Let it freeze. I can eat beans. I'm a farm girl. No pretention here. Anyhow, back to the basement flood. Seems the sump pump got a little temperamental...again. And then fulfilling the Murphy's Law part, we have had some mild weather melting all the snow and then rain on top of that. Speedy's efforts at a backyard hockey rink is presently more that of a soccer field. Of Course! Of course the sump would fail. It's Christmas. It's melting. It's raining.
At least it's ground water. I have that consolation, as I pull another sleeping bag from the washer. I love washing sleeping bags in winter. One gets to watch them line steam, slowly transpiring into icy sails while contemplating when this year's January thaw might come by, lest it be spring before the bags can come back inside. It also sets my sights on July - mosquitoes - squirrels invading the tent because GG likes to eat shelled peanuts in bed - temperamental camp stoves.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Queen's Christmas Speech 2008

Speedy is out making a hockey rink in the backyard. Fun is off to The City braving Boxing Day at the mall. I heard him creep out at six this morning and found a lost bit of Toblerone at the doorstep. Violinist is boxing a Wii in the living room. It's safer than real boxing - the hands, always think about the hands. GG is wandering around looking for Poppy Seed Roll and trying to drum up enthusiasm for potato pancakes.

GG makes incredible potato pancakes but everyone seems a little lethargic this morning. Buff still sleepeth after two long days of eating, drinking and being filled. Decadent has another batch of Sourdough Potato Starter started. So, it is time for a peek at Her Majesty's annual Christmas Message. And how cool is this? - The Queen broadcasts via YouTube.
Actually, I peeked at it last evening, stealing an undisturbed moment in a houseful of teen boys and twenty-somethings. Between bites of Hummingbird Cake and sips of Aleksander Estate Winery, Raspberry Wine (I wanted some Peach too, but it disappeared during the evening meal) it was delicious - the cake, the wine, the music room...not my music room...the Queen's music room. Gorgeous red claret drapery - I long for red claret drapery.

Mais, my music room is an upright, sulking alongside a hallway, a bright hallway but with stacks of violins and music stands and boxes of music spilling out from beyond. My grandmother had thick ruby red carpet and claret drapery in
her music room. Anyway, the Queen is her usual lovely, gracious self. And I smell bacon and potatoes wafting from the kitchen. Time to pour a glass of cider. 'Tis a lovely Boxing Day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Greetings for Christmas

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

(Another early 20th century Christmas postcard from family papers. Have a good one everyone!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Star

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright;

Glorious now behold him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice;

Graphics are that of an early 20th century Christmas postcard, one of a many found in a box of family papers.

Off to the kitchen now! Have yourselves a merry little Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Poppy Seed Roll

What happens when a Canadian farm girl of British descent marries a Canadian town boy of east European descent? She learns to make Poppy Seed Roll. As much as GG actually likes my traditional English Fruitcake, (I leave all those icky-boo weird fruit bits out), this stuff disappears far, far faster.

As a matter of fact, I was up late, baking Poppy Seed Roll last evening, left the room for a split second and returned to find half of it gone. I had to swat away the wolves and stand guard over the remainder until it cooled and then hide it. That never happens with fruitcake.

The Dough
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (cold)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast or 1 small packet of yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar, 1st amount
  • 1/4 cup sugar, 2nd amount
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
The Filling
  • 2 cups finely ground poppy seed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
Directions: Boil water. Mix half a cup of boiling water with 1/2 cup of evaporated milk. Pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the teaspoon of sugar. Add 1 Tbsp. of yeast or 1 packet of yeast. Stir and set aside.
Mix the ground poppy seeds with a cup of white sugar. Beat an egg until just mixed and mix it into the poppy seed mix. Set this aside.
Separate three eggs placing the yolks into another bowl. Stir vanilla into the yolks. Stir in the second amount of sugar. And add this to the yeast mixture which should be frothy by now.
Whisk this together and set aside.
Measure out flour and salt into another bowl. Yeah, there are a lot of bowls in this recipe. Cut in the butter.
Once the flour is quite fine in texture, stir it into the yeast and egg mixture.
It will form a stiff dough. Scrape it out onto your lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times.
Form it into a cute little log and divide into three equal parts. Let each of these rest for ten minutes, covered with a tea towel.
Now after the dough has rested, roll the dough out into three 8 x 10 rectangles. Spread with the poppy seed mix.
Roll each rectangle into a log pinching the ends to seal in poppy seed mix. I rolled these from the long side which made smaller slices but more of them, an important factor when feeding a bunch of men. Rolling from the short side makes a plumper, prettier roll...see the photo of Saucey Chef's Poppy Seed Roll in the side bar. Grease the pans or use parchment paper.
Let them rise until almost doubled. Bake x 20 minutes @ 350 F and cool on racks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy Wisdom, Love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls, aspiring,
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying, round Thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings!
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

Johann Sebastian Bach. Composed 1716. Not usually thought of as Christmas music, I think it speaks beautifully to the occasion.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rice Pudding

Yesterday, while the snow came down and the drifts came up, Decadent puttered about her kitchen making comfy things like, rice pudding and bread and praying that the power not go out lest I be tempted to head out to The Shop from Hell and do all this stuff the old-fashioned way like Mother Brown did amongst a plethora of cats and on a wood stove. So who is Mother Brown? She was my maternal grandmother. We only ever called her Mother Brown. She was plump and jolly and eccentric and always smelled slightly of steak sauce and had a huge wood burning stove in her ancient house.

This is Mother Brown's rice pudding recipe. I have altered her recipe somewhat because I don't raise goats and therefore have no ready access to their milk - especially during snowstorms. Mother Brown also used cream in everything, contributing no doubt to her lovely plumpness. I substitute evaporated milk for the cream. My mother too made this pudding and it always appeared on the snowiest of snowy days.
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 T. flour
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 - 370ml. can evaporated milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup golden raisins
Place the cooked rice and raisins into a deep casserole dish. Set aside. I cooked this rice in the micro-wave and you can see a bit of the cooking residue on the casserole sides.
Pour the milks into a large measuring cup. Add the sifted flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla and whisk this together.
In a separate container beat five eggs. Add and whisk this into the milk mixture.
Add the milk mixture to the rice and raisins in the casserole dish.
Mix together and put into preheated 325 F oven for 45 minutes. Stir every ten minutes throughout the bake time and remove when the pudding begins to thicken.

To cook in the microwave, cook on high for five minute intervals about 4x's. The pudding will begin to thicken and will need to be whisked at each five minute interval.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin,
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh bring us some figgy pudding,
Oh bring us some figgy pudding,
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer!

We won't go until we get some,
We won't go until we get some,
We won't go until we get some, please bring some out here
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Graphics from the British magazine"Our Darlings" for "young folks", publisher: The Musson Book Company, Toronto, Canada. The book, a compilation of stories, was a 1915 Christmas gift to my grandmother. The artist is not credited.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cats and Prime Ministers

Decadent has found herself looking after two abandoned young kitties, sisters. Just like Prime Minister Steven Harper, I now am a foster parent...of abandoned cats.
This creature here is The Cat. She is not real happy with the new neighbours, so I found The Cat a thicker piece of pink insulation upon which she can sit her royal self and hold court from a sunny window in The Shop from Hell.
The abandoned kitties are smart and have relocated to The Cat's vacated yellow insulation bed. Unlike Mr. Harper, Decadent does not foster abandoned kitties in her house. No. Makes people sneeze.
The snows are deep now and two nights ago the little pets all had ice pellets stuck to their fur when they ventured out for more food from my kitchen.
Meanwhile, The Cat has become quite possessive and every time I venture out, she bee-lines straight to me complaining incessantly
about the new accommodations, mattress thickness, food quality, mouse deficits, cats in the next room.
Blah, blah, blah. I suppose Steven Harper gets the same and not all from the kitties.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Jesous Ahatonhia'

'Twas in the moon of winter time when all
the birds had fled,
That Mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel
choirs instead.
Before their light the stars grew dim, and
wand'ring hunters heard the hymn
Within a lodge of broken bark the tender
Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped His
beauty round.
And as the hunter braves drew nigh, the
angels' song rang loud and high;

The earliest moon of winter time is not so
round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless
Infant there.
And Chiefs from far before Him knelt with
gifts of fox and beaver pelt.

O children of the forest free, O sons of
The Holy child of earth and heav'n is born
to-day for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy, Who
brings you beauty, peace, and joy.

'Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born; in
excelsis gloria!'

Canada's first Christmas carol, "Jesus is Born" or "Noel Huron", attributed to Father Jean de Brebeuf, circa. 1642.