wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


25 Comments

The Treasury Board

Today I put dry chopped up leaves into my garden to keep the winter weeds down and add organic matter to my sandy soil in the spring.  I noticed that some of my strawberries had leapt overboard from the raised bed and were looking for a new home. To dig them up I moved the long board that lay alongside the raised bed (this board once helped to anchor the netting I had over the strawberries).

I pulled the board forward and found hazelnut shells, all empty, and all opened from the top (not cracked and left in two halves).

The stash of hazelnuts went down the whole length of the raised bed.

Each one was empty. Each one opened the same way, with the top eaten out, presumably by something with a small jaw and sharp teeth.

Not my Lincoln then. That squirrel would have hidden and stashed the nuts, possibly buried some near the trees where he sleeps, and the shells would have been cracked lengthwise.

Some weeks back I had seen a mouse in the strawberry bed, but this was a huge stash for a little mouse.

“It wasn’t me. Really, it wasn’t.”

My main suspect is Templeton (E.B.White’s rat). Since Charlotte’s Web, every rat in the world is named Templeton.

He is very brazen, but he’s cute, don’t you think? Once he tried to build a nest in our old truck. That was not so cute. He even went for a ride in it and came back without falling out. We had known he was in there but couldn’t get him out (until much later). After the Captain drove to the wharf to check the boat and came back home, Templeton was still hidden in a space  in front of the door hinge.

“How do you like my new digs?”

So tomorrow I’ll go out to the strawberry bed and see if there is a tunnel dug through my  newly added leaves that I put over the entrance at the side of the treasury board.

And then … we’ll see.

 


43 Comments

Sticky Business

On a whim. I decided to bake some sticky buns today. These are not buns you’ll find in a recipe book but they’re easy to make and even a beginner could make them. I didn’t follow a recipe, but made it up as I went along. If you’d like a taste, you’ll have to make some and try it out.

Whenever I cook or bake, I might start with a basic recipe but I always end up substituting things depending on what I have in the house.dscn6476

Anneli’s Fennel Hazelnut Buns

First I make a sweet dough. I doubled the recipe today but I’ll write down the basic one here – and you must remember that everything is approximate. I just throw things into the bowl according to what I feel is right.

A basic bread recipe is 2 cups of milk and 5 cups of flour. Based on that, I used:

2 cups warm milk

3 Tbsp. melted butter

3 Tbsp. honey (or use sugar)

2 scant tsp. salt

1 tsp. fennel seeds (if you like them – they have a licorice taste)

Add some of the 5 cups of flour before adding the

2 tsp. fast rising yeast (bread machine yeast).

I put all this in the mixing bowl in my Kitchen Aid mixer and let it mix using the bread hook. When the batter is thoroughly mixed I add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until the mixer is struggling.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it (adding more flour if needed) until the dough is smooth and elastic but not dry and hard. It should be just at the stage where it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore.

Put it in the big bowl that you’ve warmed up in the oven and have rubbed inside with melted butter. I put the dough into the bowl upside down to coat the top with the butter and then flip the dough over so the top of it will stay moist and not get dry and cracked as it rises. Cover dough with a towel and leave it in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours. I leave it in the oven which is not turned on but has been warmed.

When the dough has risen, take it out and roll it into a rectangle about half an inch thick. Maybe about 10 inches by 15 inches. Spread melted butter on the rolled out dough. Sprinkle it with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle it with raisins or currants. Lastly sprinkle it with ground hazelnuts (or you can use chopped nuts of your favourite kind – soft ones work best  – pecans, walnuts ….)

For baking I use a  rectangular glass baking dish – the kind you’d make lasagne in. I put a syrup in the bottom of the baking dish.

To make the syrup, put about a quarter cup of water in a pot, add a big spoon of butter and about a cup of brown sugar and let it all come to a boil. Stir it as it bubbles and be careful not to let it boil over. It will want to froth right out of the pot. After about a minute of boiling, pour it into the baking dish and spread it all over the bottom of the dish. I sprinkle ground hazelnuts on the layer of syrup, or you can sprinkle other kinds of chopped nuts on it.

Back to the dough with all the goodies on it. Roll the dough up tightly and cut the roll into twelve one-inch pieces. I cut the roll in half and in halves again, and then into thirds. That gives me twelve rounds. Lay the coiled up buns in the syrup which should be only lukewarm by now. Let the buns rise for about half an hour and bake them at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Turn them out onto a platter while still warm so the syrup from the pan will stick to the buns.

Now go put the coffee on and call your favourite person to share a sticky bun with you.


27 Comments

We Must Tell the King

The other day I was picking up hazelnuts that had fallen on the ground. My dogs have taken a liking to them and Ruby has taught Emma to crack them in her teeth. Not a good thing to do unless you want cracked teeth, too. So I’m trying to keep a step ahead by gathering the nuts as they fall. It’s a bit disheartening when, after I’ve shaken the trees to make the nuts fall, and cleaned the whole area under the trees, a breeze comes along and more nuts fall. Impossible to keep up with it all.

021

But as the nuts are falling, so are the apples. I’d picked up the ones on the ground and had gone back to raking up the area under the hazelnut trees, when a strong gust of wind knocked a beautiful, big apple out of the tree next to me. Thonk! It whacked me on the head and thudded to the ground.

008

How brainwashed we are! In that split second, I was six years old again, listening to stories on Uncle Leroy’s radio show, “Kiddies’ Corner,” on a Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. Uncle Leroy played the recorded stories,  and as clearly as if it had been only yesterday, I heard Chicken Little say, “Bockbockbock! The SKY is falling! And WE must tell the KING! BaBOCKbock!”

I shook off the memory and chuckled at how these stories, like  Pepsodent and Brylcreem jingles are imprinted into our brains by the media.

Then I glanced up from my nitpicking and nut picking, and looked towards the neighbours’ house. Our back driveway is only sometimes used, but for a day or two it wouldn’t be used at all. In the previous night’s huge windstorm that caused havoc all across southwestern British Columbia, a part of the huge maple tree that stands beside the driveway had broken off and landed across it.

005a

Now if you’ll excuse me, BaBOCKbock! I really MUST go tell the king! (And ask him to bring his chain saw.)