Rex Murphy frosts my barnacles

You know, I don’t often vent here. Unlike several other blogs I follow, one of which is truly cringe inducing  (it’s someone I know and it’s like an accident scene, I just keep going around the block) I really don’t think my opinion is of any interest to anyone. But this weekend I watched Rex Murphy’s feeble attempt to hide his xenophobic egg head opinion by  “rationalizing” a slow down in bringing Syrian refugees to Canada. Watch this train wreck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f9l-33VS6E. 

Then I listened to Michael Enright’s editorial this morning on the Sunday Edition and burst into tears because he is so SANE!!  So sensitive!!  So human!!  Read it here: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/muslims-against-terror-starving-isis-of-and-arms-pope-francis-s-climate-letter-radical-divesting-1.3326005/the-truth-about-syrian-refugees-and-how-they-ll-get-here-michael-s-essay-1.3326072   .

My father, conscripted into the German war machine at 18, had clipped a poem from a newspaper and saved it in his photo album. This is the album that we were never allowed to look at as kids and it was only once my father’s dementia had progressed to the point where he had forgotten why we couldn’t look at it, did he show it to us and explain who the people were in the pictures. (There were a lot of girl “cousins” which I took as code for girlfriends.) 

The poem exists in various forms but the meaning is very clear. 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

 Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

 Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me..

Written by Pastor Martin Niemöller after the second war about the “rationalization” of people who witnessed atrocities and did nothing because it didn’t affect them, it perfectly illustrates why we have to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves. Donald Trump would have people wearing yellow stars. Shame!! Shame!!  Shame!!  The people who bombed Paris were French and Belgian nationals. They could have travelled to Canada without even a visa!! Beating a woman picking up her kids at school cause she’s wearing a head scarf?!?  Spitting at others on the subway?!? Torching mosques?!? Really?!?  What kind of a country are we living in??  Think about it.

Rant over–even though I could go on. I prefer to talk about food. 

Today I roasted rabbit legs.  

 There’s lots of meat on the front legs but they are fussy to eat. After roasting, I deboned and shredded the meat for taquitos.  I added cream cheese, juice from the roasting pan, cumin, jalapeños, and garlic.  

 I rolled the meat mixture up with cilantro and cheese then baked them till crispy.  

   
 Served with diced avocado in lime juice, red onions, home salsa and sour cream they were both light and satisfying.  
Dessert was a Tarte Tatin.  Apples slow cooked in brown sugar caramel, covered in butter pastry and baked till golden.  
Flipping it out of the cast pan was the hardest part. 

  
Again this something I’ve always been scared to make and now that I’ve done I’m wondering why I hadn’t made it before. 

I am so fortunate to live in Canada and live the life I do. My father was a refugee of sorts after the war and my mothers’ father left Russia in 1907, in the lead up to the revolution. We are all refugees.  We have so much and we can share. 

Last day of summer

Yes I know it’s the middle of November. But Sunday was such a beautiful day. I got lots of outside work done. Put the damn tiller away-don’t ask-that’s another story. Put away my garden tractor and put out the Christmas lights. I gave Romeo a lesson in personal space-he has issues-did I mention he stinks?? And trimmed the girls feet. They haven’t been done for a while and the soil here is so soft and sandy they don’t wear down.  

  

 Here’s a before and after shot. Very nice feet now, so soft and easy to trim. Not like the damn pigs feet. And best of all was no screaming. I had made bread dough earlier, I wanted to make a tray of beetniks with the last of the garden beet leaves.  A small walnut of dough, wrap a leaf around it, roll and repeat.

  

  

  

  I also made a plate of burnt grapefruit. I can’t walk by a bag of those beautiful ruby red Texas grapefruit without snagging a bag to make this treat my son and I love. Peel and section the grapefruit.  

  

  

 Squeeze all the juice out of the guts.  

 Put them in the fridge to get good and cold for the next step.   

 Melt a cup of sugar. My son and I like it very very dark, almost burnt caramel, then take out your icy cold grapefruit and pour the molten sugar over the top.  

 You have to leave the sections all rough and pointy so the caramel gets hard and crackly. That’s it!!  How hard is that??  Back in the fridge. Then I made the cream sauce for the beetniks and totally forgot to take pictures of it. Basic white sauce with lots of garlic and chopped dill. A healthy grinding of pepper and lots of salt. It needs to be salty before you pour it in.  

 Once the beetniks are all golden brown the hot sauce is poured over the hot rolls and slipped back into the oven for another ten minutes or so. Who doesn’t like saucy bread rolls with a beet leaf so you can pretend it’s health food?? (I can hear my sister saying, me!! I don’t like it). Suck it up buttercup. My son also came for supper Sunday as always. I’d been wanting to make Vietnamese salad rolls for ages and finally decided to be brave and just do it. I thought that trying to stuff individual items into the rolls would be too hard so I took a page out of Gordon Ramsey’s book and mixed all the noodles, cilantro, bbq’d chicken etc in a bowl and wrapped that.  

  

 It worked really great. Soaking the rice paper wrappers was interesting. After I totally destroyed the first one and the next two were sloppy I got the hang of it. The salad dressing was so tasty with rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, jalapeño, cilantro–and the peanut sauce was also good–thinned out with some of the dressing and lime juice.  I’m making these again.  I can’t believe how easy they were and how I intimidated I was to make them. We were stuffed. What a great day. 

I am a criminal?!?

So last week  when I brought Romeo home I also transported an illegal substance. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Not porn. Something infinitely worse. Raw liquid milk. 

I’m so ashamed!!!

Yes, it is illegal to transport raw milk. This is how powerful the milk lobby is. It’s for my own good. Or so they say. I can go to the store and buy a box of Twinkies. Or a pound of carcinogenic bacon. Or pesticide covered fruit picked by children. But transport and consume raw milk??? Eeek the horror!!

I wanted to make yogurt. My first experience with homemade yogurt was in Quebec City about 30 some years ago. I was on an exchange with my French class and we stayed in a youth hostel. Breakfast was homemade granola and a huge bowlful of yogurt to ladle over the top. It was delicious. I couldn’t get enough. Fast forward to my misspent youth. Backpacking in Europe I used to buy a litre of yogurt and wander around drinking it from the jug. The locals thought I was so uncouth. I didn’t care. There were varieties and styles of yogurt I had only dreamed of and I was going to try them all. Then back home and an Iranian friend of mine, a vet, would bring home this illegal liquid too and make big vats of yogurt in the oven. Tart and rich, it was perfect in a garlicky cucumber salad (think Iranian tzaziki).  This is what I wanted to make. I had made yogurt from goats milk before but I always tasted goat. My neighbour showed me it wasn’t my technique but probably the goat, who just had goaty milk. It never tasted goaty to drink, only in the yogurt. But now I had cows milk. So I made a big vat of yogurt.  

 You can see the cream line here on the gallon of milk. 

   I heated it to 180 degrees then cooled it back down to 115. Added the culture, just some store bought yogurt with live culture, wrapped it up in a towel and left it in the oven over night.  

 I wanted the longest culturing time possible because I wanted it tart. The next morning I put it it the fridge and after my bus run I opened it up.  The whey was such an amazing color. (I used it to make the bread dough for my beetniks yesterday).

 So thick!!  I filled a bowl and poured some cherry jam over the top.  

 It was amazing!!  But not tart. I wanted tart. Very rich like Greek yogurt. I scooped about half into a colander to drain off the whey.  

  

 I’m making Liptaurer cheese and draining the yogurt makes an almost cream cheese product, labneh. The rest I transferred into glass jars and am enjoying with the various jams in the pantry. I will also make some cucumber salad. Yes, my foray into the illegal world of dairy products has been very intoxicating. Maybe even addicting. I will have to wait for my own dairy products till spring but I may find another dealer before then. 

Romeo

  Actually, I’m not really sure what his name is.  I just call him Romeo.  

 It’s that time of year again. I’ve given Momma Goat a good long break from her last batch of babies–she had six!!  One was born dead but she raised the other five with no problems.  One of my Goat Lady friends (and I count myself as a Goat Lady too) had a billy I could borrow. He’s mostly Saanen, a large white milk breed, which is what Momma Goat is. I’m hoping for some replacement doelings as Momma Goat is getting up there in years. Romeo is friendly (too friendly) cause he stinks😖 and wants to rub his stink all over anything/one he can. But I hope he will throw some nice babies. I lead him to the back (with a stop at the salt block). He is a little salt hungry.  

 I made sure I put some loose salt and mineral out for him in the back. The ponies were confused.  Just what is that weird creature?!? 

 Momma Goat was equally unimpressed. She had shown considerable interesting his stink on my gloves the other day (Romeo visited my neighbours’ little goat first) and she must have heard him across the valley. She called and called for him, staring across the valley, but when confronted with the real thing it was a different story. More like , “beat it you creepy stinky bastard, leave me alone!!” 

 Momma Goat is much larger, therefore more Saanen I think. Pure Saanen, in fact. But Romeo will win her over. I hope.  

    
 See, she’s starting to come around already.  

 The results of this little tete-a-tete should make an appearance in about five months. 

Something scrummy 

One of the breakers in the panel box has been flipping itself off. I called the electrician yesterday and he came out this morning to check it.  In the panel box it said “heat tape”. Well, there was only one way to find out what that was and that was to suit up and get down on my belly and slither around under the trailer. Of course it turned out to be the septic tank. I had just asked my daughter the other day if she had noticed if the pump-out was working. The pump was drawing an incredible 41 amps on a 15 amp breaker. No wonder it was flipping off. It should have exploded or burst into flame or something at that amperage. But anyway out to the tank and of course the pump-out isn’t working. Water right up to the neck of the tank. Snazzelfratz.  At least I have no basement to flood. Well that mystery solved. The service man will come out early next week and there goes that portion of my Christmas budget. So after my bus run tonight I did chores quick so I could have a glass of wine before supper.  My daughter texted and said she wanted “something scrummy, like extra delicious!!” So I made crepes cause I wanted something scrummy too. And for good measure I fried up a pound of carcinogenic bacon to go with it. Oh my goodness, what a meal. I had mine with apple jelly I’d made this summer and my daughter had maple syrup we buy from the Amish harness makers in Ontario. She asked, what are the poor people having for supper and I said crepes and bacon, we’re  the poorest people I know (especially after I pay the electrician and the septic service man). Oy!!! 

    
  
 

Baking the Christmas cake

So yesterday I gave the fruit a final mix and dredged it with a cup of flour. I added in the nuts, equal amounts of hazelnuts and almonds.  

 I like the skin on the almonds, all that fiber and when the cake is sliced all you see is the beautiful white of the inside of the nut. Then I mixed up the batter and stirred in the fruit.   

  

 This is a job for a sturdy spatula as the mixture most resembles concrete. But oh so much tastier. I prepared three pans with a smaller one in reserve but the batter filled the three pans perfectly. Because I over filled the pans, (the extra would not have made even a small cake) I started the oven off at 235 degrees for the first three hours. Then I increased it to 250 for the last hour. The cakes came out beautiful. 

  

  I bathed them in brandy, wrapped them well and put them in a corner  of the pantry to ripen. I sliced the end off one for a taste, cooks’ privilege, and it was very good. Now if I can just keep from dipping into them before December!!

Christmas pudding

Hallo. A great deal of steam. The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.Oh, a wonderful pudding. Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.   Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol 

We never had a Christmas pudding in our house. My mother always made Christmas Cake and as a child I hated it. Horribly full of big chunks of candied fruit and nuts, it was the most despised thing on the Christmas goodie platter. Oh what a difference a few years make. I think I began to come around in my teens and began my love affair with the humble Christmas Cake. Dark, rich, and full of big chunks of candied fruit and nuts. Mysteriously moist with only the barest mortar of batter holding it together. Perfect with a cup of tea after skiing, or before bed, or for breakfast, or really anytime.

There was a ritual of preparation for the cake. In early November, all the fruit was combined in the roaster and a healthy sploosh of some fragrant alcohol was poured over and left to soak. Then the paper bags our grocerys came home in from Safeway were trimmed and liberally greased, layered into the baking tins. The next day the spiced batter would be prepared and carefully folded into the fruit. Tins would be filled and the cake baked in a slow oven for hours. The spicy smell filled the air. Once cooked the cakes would be cooled in their tins, bathed again in some fragrant alcohol and wrapped to ripen. A special cake would be packaged up and sent to my father’s family in Vienna, Austria. Surface mail, about six weeks on the boat was enough time for the cake to ripen and arrive to be sliced for Christmas visitors–a taste of the new world and my grandmother always proudly reported to my father how everyone loved it. I have made my own Christmas cakes since the kids were small. I don’t have my mothers’ recipe, I suspect she may have used one to start but as the years went by she just ad libbed. I never use the same one twice either although I really should narrow it down to some base formula. I like a recipe with molasses, heavy on the spice ( I always add more, regardless of the recipe) and always candied ginger in with the fruit. I dislike prunes and dates so they are never part of the mix but candied cherries and pineapple are always included. Lots of nuts too, for texture. After rolling the egg rolls yesterday I emptied all the fruit into my biggest bread bowl. image image imageI needed 8 pounds of fruit and nuts combined, plus the candied ginger. Then I poured on a cupful of cherry brandy, stirred it all, and carefully covered it with plastic wrap and a tea towel to keep the moisture in.  Today I gave it a stir and all the brandy has been absorbed but the raisins still haven’t plumped enough so I added more.    Tomorrow I’ll prepare the tins and mix the batter and bake the cakes. The proof of the “pudding” will be in the eating.

Rainy Sunday

I could hear the rain this morning before I even opened my eyes. And smell the wet leaves. And the water running thru the culvert in the valley. It was still dark when I let the dog out, the rain had turned into a heavy mist. It was a glorious morning.  

  I had planned to till the garden today but it was too wet. My son came yesterday and got the tiller going for me but it was pony parade day. The forecast was only 30% chance of rain for today and I was sure I could till but nope. So I made egg rolls. My son always comes for supper on Sundays and I try to make things he likes. We haven’t had egg rolls for ages. And I haven’t had a GOOD egg roll since I made them the last time. Way back in high school I used to frequent a restaurant in the old bus depot. It was called Peter’s Cafe. They were a Chinese family restaurant and they made their own egg rolls. My girlfriend and I would go and get an order of rolls each. They were huge and three of them covered the old style oval platters that were so common at Chinese restaurants. So so good. I don’t think anyone makes their own any more. They seem to be mass produced, frozen, bland, greasy shadows of their former selves. So I make my own.  

   Chopped onion, garlic (can you really have too much garlic??), grated carrots, sliced cabbage, mushrooms, and crunchy bean sprouts. Some fried ground pork, heavily peppered with fresh ground pepper, and liberally soused with soy sauce and oyster sauce. 

  

  I use a flat pan, not a wok, for frying because there is so much moisture in the ingredients. I want the moisture to steam off and my electric stove doesn’t get hot enough for a wok.  Things steam more than fry. The large surface of the fry pan ensures that the moisture burbles away and leaves crunch in the veggies. Then the filling must cool. Wrapping is always fun. 

    
    
    
   The sharp eyed amongst you will notice a difference in the rolls. Two different types of wrapper. I had filling left over and had to scrounge in the bottom of the freezer for another packet of wraps. Slightly larger and a little dry from being frozen, they worked anyway. This batch was so tasty we were down to the crumbs before I remembered to take a picture.   

 Perfect end to a misty day. 

Happy Halloween 

Today was the pony parade. My daughter has been planning for this event for weeks and it all came together beautifully.   

  

  The weather was great, clear, blue sky, but just a bit of a nasty wind. It was a pretty respectable turnout as well. 


    This year they opened it up to dog walkers too, and as it was Halloween, there were many costumes. This little guy looks like someone cut his legs off.  

 There was even Eunice, the pot belly pig.  She was pushed the whole way in her cozy stroller. 

 Our neighbour hauled Louis to town and home again. And Louis gave rides at the end of the day. A fun time had by all.