wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Rich Without Money

Having money can help make life easier, but wealth need not always be measured in dollars.

After supper, a quick trip to the beach, just five minutes away, is a rich experience of another kind. The Sleeping Princess presides over the valley. Looking down on the bay, this glacier, unfortunately,  is melting a little more every year, but it is still unique and beautiful.

If she turned her head, the Sleeping Princess could see the beach I’m standing on. She would see the morning glory, or field bindweed, in bloom. It is invasive and tenacious and widespread. Just ask me!!  I want to hate this flower because its vines tangle up everything in my garden. But it has a beauty of its own. I imagine this bell flower holding rainwater for Tinkerbell to drink from.

Here are more of these morning glory flowers popping up among thorny blackberry vines. How tough must it be to endure the pain of those prickles?! And yet how daintily these two invasive plants complement each other.

Glory be! Look at those blackberries! They want picking. I ate a few of them. Sweet, sweet, sweet! But my arrangement with the Captain was already made. We have a lot of blackberries at the back of our own yard and the deal was that if he picked the berries (and endured the thorny scratches and spiders and wasps and stickiness), I would make jam.

I didn’t know he would be so enthusiastic. I had a challenge to use up those berries. But now we have enough blackberry jam to last the rest of our lives. So we’re rich! Rich in jam.

I think I have the sweetest pantry in town.


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Eating Local on Canada Day

On this Canada Day, what could be more appropriate than a basic Canadian meal made from local (very Canadian) ingredients.  The banana doesn’t count. It’s only there to give a comparison of size so you can be assured that the trout are not anchovies on a mini hors d’oeuvres plate.

Potatoes from the garden – first of the season.

Spinach and a couple of cucumbers from the garden will add to the mix of fresh veggies on our plates.

This bounty, among many other things, makes me very grateful to be living in Canada.

Happy 152nd birthday, Canada.

To our Americans neighbours to the south, your 263rd birthday is close enough to ours that I can wish us all a happy celebration of our collective good fortune.

Did you know that Americans are 111 years older than Canadians?


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Seafood Hits the Spot

Three girlfriends went out for lunch today to a restaurant we had been to twice before. Each time we all ordered the same thing – calamari. We didn’t even know that we each loved squid so much.

This restaurant is by the water, near the wharf in the town of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. It was an easy 40-minute drive for us and well worth it.

We talked about making calamari at home, but our problem was the lack of available squid. Yes, we live by the sea, but the only squid I know being caught is used for bait for other fisheries. I would gladly eat fish bait! If only we could buy it.

We went to a tiny fish shop at the town wharf to see if they might have squid. No luck. They had all kinds of seafood, even lobster from the east coast (we are on the west coast), but no squid. We just don’t have enough of a squid culture here to support a commercial fishery for squid.

But while we were at Crabby Bob’s fish shop, now run by Crabby Abby (who is really sweet – not crabby at all), we had a look around. The seafood was fresh and clean. We were impressed and will probably come back one day to buy some of her product.

Outside the shop on a little patio not in use today because of the rain, we saw a great crab made of wood, a perfect mascot for Crabby Bob’s (or Abby’s).

 

Here he is from another angle.

Watch out for those pincers.


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“I lied, Miss Scarlett!”

“I lied, Miss Scarlett. I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout  taking a break from bloggin’.”

Okay, I’m a dog.

I can’t help but blog.

While taking a break,

I started to bake,

I thought it looked good

And I’d share if I could,

But this photo for you

Is the best I can do.

The loaf on the right

Is a terrible sight,

But the scrap piece of pie

Was consumed with a sigh.


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Easy Plum Squares

List of ingredients is at the end of the post.

Don’t be fooled by this butter picture. I tried to use less than the recipe called for and it didn’t work. You need the full cup of butter for the crumble to stick together.

So! Put one full cup of butter into the food processor. Then add the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Give it a few pulses until the butter is finely mixed with the flour mixture. THEN add the sugar and rolled oats and give it a couple more very short pulses – just enough to mix it all in.

Why not put it all in together? If you put the sugar in sooner, it makes the butter smear a little, and if you put the rolled oats in right away, the blades will cut the flakes up into a fine oat mixture. I like to see the flakes and keep them coarser, but if you want them to be smooth, you know what to do.

Pour about two-thirds of the mixture into an ungreased pan and press it flat with gentle pressure using your hands.

Now for the plums. I have plum trees in my backyard so in the fall, I wash, cut and freeze the plums, 24 to a bag because that’s how many it takes to make a cake. They thaw easily in warm water  for use in this recipe. If you have plums available in the store you can buy them to make this cake. If not, you may want to substitute some other fruit at this point. Apples, pears, apricots, and dates should work well for this dish. I wouldn’t try it with berries as they would make too much liquid, but most other fruit is very forgiving as a substitute.

I’ve tried it with apples and pears and they work very well. With pears, I’ve used powdered ginger instead of cinnamon.

Notice that the plums are placed skin side down, so the juice doesn’t soak into the bottom layer of crumble.

Sprinkle the last third of the crumble mixture over top of the plums (or whatever fruit you use).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Usually when the fruit starts to bubble, it’s time to take the cake out of the oven.

When the cake is cool, cut it into squares and top with ice cream, whipped cream, or have it just plain. It’s good no matter how you serve it.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar (I cut this down from 1 cup)

1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats (large flakes)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon (or ginger if using pears)

24 plums (or enough of whatever other fruit you use to make one layer)

Bake 350 for 40 to 45 minutes.

 


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Scones

Some people call these tasty biscuits “scones,” to rhyme with “bones.” I prefer to call them scones to rhyme with “prawns.”

I found out today why they are called scones (my way). It must be because as soon as they are out of the oven, someone “absconds” with them.

They are very easy to make if you have a food processor to mix the butter with the flour. The old pastry blender method is just too much work.

I did a post about scones two years ago, which you can visit if you like: https://wordsfromanneli.com/2016/10/31/scones/

Since then I have made many batches of scones and have stopped looking at the recipe.

Some changes?

I only use the baking soda if I add a squeeze of lemon.

I use two eggs if I have them to spare, rather than only one. One time I completely forgot to put the eggs in and they still turned out okay. The biscuit is very forgiving that way.

You can add grated cheese instead of currants. Probably there are a lot of things you could add if you wanted (chopped nuts, dried cranberries, raisins), but preferably not all in one batch.

One thing you don’t want to do is handle the dough too much. It makes the biscuits tougher if you do.

I will repeat the recipe here, but you can substitute and change things without fear of doing too much damage. One change I like is to use a lot of sour cream and less milk, but it depends what’s in the fridge that day.

Scones

All the dry ingredients go into the food processor:

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda (if using a squeeze of lemon for flavour)

3 Tbsp. sugar (optional)

Then add about 3/4 cup of butter and pulse the food processor until the butter is cut into the flour mixture evenly.

In a measuring cup, stir an egg  with a fork, or use two eggs, but reserve some of the egg white to mix with a drop of milk for a wash on top of the batter before putting it in the oven. Add enough milk to make a cup. At this point I also add, as part of that one cup of liquid, whatever I have on hand – yogurt, sour cream, or a squeeze of lemon or lime – just to get the baking soda working well. You may have to add a drop more liquid if you use sour cream or yogurt.

Pour in the liquid and give it a few pulses, add a handful of currants (or whatever you’ve decided on), and pulse again. You don’t want to mash the dried fruit so this goes in last and is just barely mixed in.

Pat the dough together and flatten it on a buttered cookie sheet. More directions are given in my previous post (use the link given earlier in the post).

Today’s scones baked at 400 degrees for about 26 minutes.

But I still wonder … who absconded with that scone that is missing in the photo?

 

 

 


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Apple of my Eye

I was disappointed to read that “apple of my eye” probably refers to the pupil of my eye. It has been used in many Biblical quotations, usually in connection with protecting someone. For example, in Psalm 17:8 7:8: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings”.

I prefer to think of the expression as meaning someone you like very much.
“She’s the apple of my eye.

As I peeled many, many apples, the wheels turned in my head.

“What a silly expression! Do I want to be the apple in someone’s eye? How dumb is that?”

But old expressions are often like that, and the meaning changes over the centuries.

Luckily, the apple hasn’t changed much. It is still tasty enough to tempt anyone to risk being tossed out of the Garden of Eden.

In my little garden, far from Eden quality, I have lots of apples. Too many to eat all at once, even after sharing many with friends (without tossing them out of the garden).

It is time though, to do something with the last of the apple harvest. I have enough frozen apples, and I’ve eaten all I want for the moment. I can only bake so much before we have to go to Weight Watchers. So what to do?

Last week we had friends over for a visit and they brought us apples they had dried in slices. The light came on in my dull head. Didn’t I have a dehydrator in my pantry? I hauled it out and got busy.

The dehydrator has five trays that sit over a little heater and fan.  Load the trays with fruit, stack them, put the lid on, open the vent on top, plug in the dehydrator, and then go read a book while they dry (for several hours). You might want to choose a nice long book like “War and Peace” or “Gone With the Wind.” It takes a while.

I peeled my apples, but it’s not necessary. Personal choice. As the bottom tray had some dried  apple pieces ready, I took them out and put them into a bowl and re-filled the empty space on the trays with some banana slices.  I suppose you can try drying just about anything. Herbs from the garden, for example.

The dried fruit makes a delicious and healthy snack when it’s done.