Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Tail and Other Things

I had a horrible scare the other day. I was stuck working an afternoon, so was home in the morning and had let Elvis outside for a bit. He knocked at the front door to come back in. He doesn`t really knock, but one of the stones are tippy and he steps on it and thumps it to let us know he wants in.
I opened the door only to see in horror that he had a tail in his mouth. A big bushy beige tail. I quick closed the door in his face and paced, shocked, thinking "Elvis has brought the tail of Angus home. Something has killed him and he`s brought it home to show me." You can imagine how upset I was. I was shaking and fretting and feeling quite sick. I called hubby and he said to be brave and go outside and have a look around. Finally I gathered up enough courage to face what I might face out there and went out the back door. There was no way I was going out the front. I looked around, still feeling sick and saw blood on Elvis` feet. I rushed back in fretting again. Called hubby and said " Elvis has blood all over his feet and I just know that was Angus` tail!. I don`t know what to do" He said " Do you want me to come home?" "Yes" says I.
Meanwhile I forced myself out the back door again, avoiding the front and watched Elvis wash his feet in the pond. I decided to face it and look at the front door and this is what I saw ( I`ve cropped it because the other end of it was really gross) Hubby took this picture while I was at work. He was left to remove it from being stuck under the screen door...

I realized it wasn`t quite like Angus and with unbelievable relief, I ran back inside to call hubby before he left. "So, you mean I can take all my tools back out of the car again?" say he. "Yes" says I.
There are bloddy hunters in the woods that like to chop the poor deer up that they shoot and leave the useless parts behind. At the horrified split second glance I took I was sure it was a cats tail, but and as you can see here, Angus still has his....

As usual I`m slapping loads of pictures all up at once. The Delphiniums are looking lonely and refusing to die yet...

I may actually get "roses round my door" :)

Things are looking very barren....

Elvis comes back from a wander on the frost covered grass this morning....

"I think I`d like to go in now Mum, where it`s cozy and warm"

My Dad gave me this tree that was off to die for the winter in an unheated greenhouse at work. They don`t much care there about some of the plants left over from sales so he was given it. I may get my garden room look yet.....

I moved the couch for the winter so it would be closer to the fire and as you might have noticed, I removed the red curtains. It looked to colourful if that makes sense LOL....

Teddy`s all toasty inside.....

I just had to snap these while I was sitting here preparing this post. Teddy and Angus want to get to the tea cup food dishes and Isobell is intentionally blocking the way...

And of course with sweety-pie Elvis lying beside me, I had to take one last picture of him....

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend. Autumn is certainly here now!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Last of the Garden Bounty and Bringing in the Herb Pots

It seems I`ve ended up only blogging once a week for the past while and for now, I think I`ll stay with that. Life gets busy and I`ve found that I haven`t even been able to visit all the blogs I like to visit. Maybe I can work on that one soon. Slow connection makes it really hard with using dial-up. It takes forever to load anything and trying to comment takes three attempts usually :(
Below is the last of the garden bounty. Sad to see summer gone. We`ll sure miss those sweet tomatoes....

I brought the herbs inside last week. They look a little worse now than here. Some are still hanging in, so we`1l see what happens. I don`t really expect them to live because the only big window available is to the West and I`ve read one needs a North or South facing one. Here`s the Italian parsley and Oregano.....

Sages and mints and rosemary....

More mints and sages and the white pot ....I thought "what the heck, it`s nice a green" is sweet woodruff. One of the easiest plants to grow outside and gets tiny amazingly sweet smelling white flowers. I`ve got tons outside and have many a time pulled some up and plopped it down somewhere else and it carries on as if it`s never been disturbed...

Hubby snapped this pic. Elvis is trying to eat and someone is trying to sneak a bite. Elvis wouldn`t snap at Teddy, but I did move him away anyway. That little stool, my Mum gave me and it`s Teddy`s at the moment, to aid the old guy in getting to his own dish that`s out of hungry dog`s reach. I`m going to re-cover it when I get a chance....

Tonight we`re going to a party that`s helping to raise money for juvenile diabetes. The tickets are sold out and there`s going to be 5 bands playing. One of them is Helix, a Canadian band from Hamilton that made it quite big in the 80`s. Should be fun!
I tried looking to see what the Royal family thought of that statue of Prince Harry, but couldn`t find a thing. Maybe silence was what they chose for that one.
Yesterday was the day immigrants became Canadian citizens here in Canada and I listened to some of it on the radio at work. They named off the countries and it seemed there was someone from practically every country in the world! Amazing. Hearing how they pledge allegiance to Canada and our Queen Elizabeth and listening to some of the stories of why they came here.
We`re all immigrants here. The only true Canadians are the North American Indians. A shame they aren`t respected better throughout North America. They deserve to be.
Anyway, hope everyone has a fantastically fun or wonderfully relaxing weekend!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This is Truly Disgusting and I`m Gonna Rant........

While watching Entertainment Tonight last night I was shocked to see that some New York artist has created a life size bronze statue of Prince Harry as a dead soldier. I couldn`t quite believe it so I went off to look on the internet only to find it`s made headlines everywhere. While he is an extremely talented artist, this boarders on being sadistic. No matter what message he is trying to get across, this is inexcusable. As someone who`s Mum is rather anti-royalist due to experiencing food rationing in England while the royals ate well during the war and a Dad who lived in Canada on a farm where food was abundant and has a fascination with this family, I`m somewhere in between.

No matter how hard this guy tries to explain his intentions, they remain to me, a violent message. Poor young Harry, regardless of his heritage must be horrified inside, much less his family. Imagine gazing down at yourself, rendered dead. And have a notice that one can lay flowers around you!!!! Truly twisted and I`m stunned that even "in the name of art" this was allowed to be exhibited to the world. An anonymous figure of a young soldier or a mother Iraqi cradling her dying son. Or both? It would have been so much more appropriate if it`s true why he says he did it. He could have done something stark and bare and heartrending. Something to slap people in the face and wake them up. Unfortunately the nesessary ones still woundn`t.
This war and the never ending tragic loss of lives is horrendous, but this isn`t the
right way to get a proper message across....this is just wrong. Obviously he`s looking for shock value and fame. Sadly he`s getting it.
I`m can`t feel right about even putting a picture of this statue on my blog but here`s a couple of links if you haven`t seen it already.
Hope everyone has a great weekend. I know this family won`t be though. Imagine if the same rules didn`t apply that did a few centuries ago. This dude would be one sorry sucker. Whatever happened to human decency...yeah I`s a thing of the past...if it ever really existed at all......

This got me thinking of a tragic story I heard on the radio and a woman in the Sadam. It was unmaginable to me. How she could still carry on each day. The genocide that`s happening there. It`s so easy to forget the horrors happening in countries we`re blessed not to be experiencing personally, when we can come home at the end of the day`s work, to a cozy safe home in our cozy safe world.. Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan ,Palestine and Israel, parts of South America, I`m sure many others that the media doesn`t report...where people are surrounded by turmoil, injustice and death each day. Hearing first hand stories makes it real. Unreal to us. If only there could be an end to all this fighting about greed and land and power centuries over. If only. Everyone deserves to be able to live a safe and peaceful and prosperous life. There is enough for everyone in this world. Everyone in every corner of this planet. But when and how can this ever occur? Will it? Can man become friend with man and forget about different walks of faith. Leave alone each other about that and just be humane and lose the power-tripping and greed? Honour each others faiths and let it bloody well go? God is God and we all just use a different name for Him and most of the rules were man-made.
Okay, I`m done :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner, French Recipes, Anniversary and The Great Big Bumble Bee

Happy Thanksgiving To All Who Celebrate!
Yesterday was the best day for us to have a dinner and it was also our 7th anniversary. Not wedding, but when we met. I got a beautiful card and this gorgeous rose :)

Set the table ......

Seared the beef in olive oil.....

Gathered up the vegetables....

Went out back and picked the herbs I needed for the Herbes de Provence seasoning...

Plopped it all together with the meat and liquids into the crock pot......

Baked two tortes because I burnt the first one. Wasted 5 eggs and mounds of chocolate!

The potatoes were roasted last....

But the end results turned out much better than I`d expected considering this was a first time experiment. Yes, I actually used family members as guinea pigs :) The meat practically fell apart and the sauce was delicious....

This Chocolate Torte was the richest and most decadent desert I think I`ve ever had. Excellent recipe, thanks to the Domestic Goddess and some homemade raspberry puree and warm fudge sauce ( recipes all below)...

This was the biggest, fattest bumble bee I have ever seen, sipping from the butterfly bush. Just had to get some pictures of him, even though you may not be able to see how big he was. The pictures are all clickable....

Now for the recipes....

Raspberry Purée

8 oz (225 g) fresh raspberries
2 level tablespoons golden caster sugar ( or corn syrup or I used just plain white sugar.)

Place the raspberries for the purée in a bowl, sprinkle them with the sugar and leave for 30 minutes. After that, purée them in a processor and pass through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds, then place in a serving bowl, cover and chill till needed.

Warm Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
Pinch salt

6 squares unsweetened chocolate

Place the cream, chocolate and butter in a heavy 1-quart saucepan over moderate heat. Stir until the butter is melted and the cream just comes to a low boil. Add both sugars and stir for a few minutes until they are dissolved.
Reduce the heat. Add the salt and stir briskly with a small wire whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat.
**** It seemed coarse and odd looking to me and the butter or something separated from the rest so I just drained it off and added another half cup of cream and it became nice and smooth. Added just a pinch more sugar too.

Serve immediately or pour into a straight-sided glass jar to cover and store in the refrigerator. To reheat slowly, spoon the sauce into the top of a double boiler over hot water, or in a heavy saucepan over the lowest heat.

Decadent Chocolate Torte from the Domestic Goddess

This torte, made with just a hint of coffee liqueur goes great with coffee (obviously), tea or even a nice glass of red wine. It has a lovely robust flavour that melts in your mouth and leaves a sly smile on your lips.


¾ Cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ½" chunks
¾ Cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
1 ½ teaspoons coffee liqueur
¾ Cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
¼ cup cake flour, sifted
1 tablespoon cocoa
5 large eggs at room temperature, separated


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9" cake or springform pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over low heat. Stir until smooth and then set aside and allow to cool slightly.

3. Sift together flour and cocoa. Using a stand mixer, beat egg yolks with all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the coffee liqueur, until smooth and pale. With the mixer running add the melted chocolate and mix to combine, then fold in the flour mixture.

3. In a second bowl, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium-high until they start to foam. Add the remaining sugar and pinch of salt and continue to beat until the whites form soft peaks but still look wet. With a large rubber spatula fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs clinging to it.

5. Cool completely on a wire rack - cake will fall! Loosen cake from sides of pan and remove to serving platter. Serve with a sprinkling of Maldon salt, whipped cream or caramel sauce.
*****or raspberry puree and warm fudge sauce :) Also watch carefully not to burn like I did!

Beef Provencale From Food Network Kitchens Making it Easy, Meredith, 2004

1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juice ( I used garden tomatoes)
1/4 cup cognac or brandy ( I used 1/2 cup of dry sherry)
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (recipe below)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces ( I used almost full carrots with tops partially left on)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced ( I used 21 pearl onions)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the oil to the skillet and heat just until beginning to smoke. Brown the meat all over and sear the roast, turning as each side turns a deep mahogany, about 10 minutes. While the meat browns, put the flour into a medium bowl and whisk with about 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth until smooth.
Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; stir in their juices, 3 tablespoons of the cognac, herbes de Provence, and the 2 teaspoons salt.

Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth to the skillet; let it bubble for a minute and then stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour over the meat, then scatter the garlic, carrots, fennel, and onion over and around the meat. Pour the flour mixture over. Cover the cooker, set it on HIGH, and cook for 4 hours. Set the cooker on LOW and cook until the meat is very tender, up to 2 hours more (for a total of 6 hours). Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Skim any excess fat off the top of the sauce in the cooker.

Herbes de Provence
By Brenda Hyde

Herbes de Provence is a blend of herbs native to the Provence region in southern France where the fresh herbs are gathered from the mountain sides to use in traditional dishes. Rosemary, thyme and bay leaf are the base for the blend-without these it is not herbes de Provence. From there basil, lavender and fennel are added. In France, lavender is only added in very small amounts and sometimes excluded, which was a surprise to me. Lavender is so much associated with this region in France that it is assumed that it is the main ingredient, but it's actually optional.
Here is a very basic blend that can be mixed, although each cooks adds her or his own touch to the blend which changes it slightly.

Dry herb Ingredients:
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon summer savory
1 tablespoon thyme
1 crushed bay leaf
1 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon fennel

Mix together and keep in a covered container.

Mini Potatoes Roasted in Garlic and Olive Oil
by me :)

24 mini potatoes

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Rosemary and Basil

Mix in a lidded bowl, the herbs and spices in the oil and plop in the potatoes. Shake container so that each potatoe is covered all up with oil and place in a roasting pan, pouring any remaining oil over the potatoes and leaving the lid off.

Bake at 350 until tender and crispy, stirring them up once inwhile so that more then one side gets browned.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Inside and Outside

It`s Thanksgiving long weekend. Hurray....three days off :) Sunday I`m doing up a meal. A sort of Beef Provencale but not stew with tiny potatoes maybe broiled in olive oil and garlic. For desert, a rich chocolate torte with warm fudge sauce, raspberry puree and a scoop of Haagan Daaz coffee flavoured ice cream on the side. If you`ve never had Haagan Daaz ice cream, you`ve never tasted real ice cream. Made with all cream. The coffee and the Caramel Cone Explosion are totally out of this world! Expensive but worth it for a treat. I didn`t feel like doing the traditional turkey dinner and I can`t wait for that desert! I made the raspberry puree a few minutes ago and stuck in in the fridge.
I ended up putting my old kitchen sheers back up because the other were too dark a beige for the fabric and making curtains that went with the two blue side chairs. What do you think? I like it :) Would prefer less dense sheers but I`m using what I already have.

The chicken picture went above the sink.

Put an old lace runner on the table....

Had to make cushions to accomodate Teddy and all his fur he leaves behind. Easier to keep clean rather than spoiling the chair.

And you remember this guy.....

Recovered this in scrap fabric and it`s where the pull out bed couch used to be. Those two tiny pillows were $1 at Value Village, a huge used goods store ..

Look at all these leaves. I really need to sweep them up. That book is called " The Sisters Mortland" by Sally Beauman. Really well written and I`m almost finished it. She`s a good writer and I`ve read a couple of others. Got carried away at the library and I`m glad I`m able to re-new books online from there...

The roses don`t have anything on them at the moment but they are getting tall. Next year I`ll train that one to go above and across the door. Then I`ll have "Roses Round My Door" :) That was a good book too. Sweet and thought provoking. By a Welsh lady who`s name I would have to go and dig up. And I`m not at the moment because I`m taking forever to post this due to leaving it and coming back....multi-tasking you could say LOL

Some of these pictures click bigger and this one does below. The Delphiniums died out and now seem to have resurrected themselves in this balmy October weather...

The herbs are still looking fairly good. The purple basil is slowed to a halt though. I sooooo want to have these pots in the kitchen. Whwn I can`t leave them out any longer, I`m going to haul them in. I know they won`t live in here, but I`m going to try anyway....

Hope everyone has a great weekend and Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.
** On a side note if anyone had any fancy recipes that they`d like to share, my hubby`s has a spot in the forum part. And I`d like to say thanks Sara at!!! She added a Roast Guinea Fowl recipe. You can also add and link your blog or web page url :)