When I should be asleep

I should be in bed.  Maybe not sleeping just yet but in bed.  I'm tired, really tired but somehow inspired at the same time.  I love that life provides this strange mix, both stress and joy, tension and relief, exhaustion and energy.
In the midst of rain and cool temperatures,  too much work and too little sleep, overwhelming housework and guilt around not seeing my friends enough, here are some things that have inspired me enough to keep me going over the last 7 days.

This little parsley plant came out to say hello this week.  Typically parsley is not a perennial in this part of the globe.  It may come back if the plant has flowered and spread some seed but this little guy is growing right out of the same plant that was his parent last year.  By rights he shouldn't be here... but he is.  Huge sigh, warm heart.

Who doesn't get a little smile on their face at the sight of this?  I've always preferred the in-your-face yellow of the traditional daffodil.  I managed to get two of them this year after the squirrels sampled a couple to see if they were edible.  It's like a seasons worth of sunshine packed into a little tiny flower.

These are the faces that meet me every morning.  They ask me when I'm making waffles or pancakes.  They hustle along with me when we have to be out the door early.  They rely on me to make sure that they are taken care of and in turn they bring me a lot of joy and give me a lot of love.  These faces help me find motivation to move out the door and do it for another day.

This week's food box.  The colour, the choices, the fact that I can feel good about what we're all putting into our mouths.  I'm supporting local business, local farmers and sustainable practices.  I have to remind myself that this is happening and it's inspiring... it does make a difference.

This is my sister and for a 36 hour period we got to be together almost exclusively.  It's the first time in about 4 years that this has been the case.  She is now just 45 minutes away but I won't see her again before she heads back home, half-way across the country.   We're holding each other pretty tightly here in this picture, just drinking in having a sister again.  Fingers crossed, we won't wait another 4 years to do it again.

This book has been putting a spark of excitement in my mind and my heart.  I sometimes wish that I could do what this family choose to do.  I honestly don't know if I'm 'man-enough' to be able to do it although a half century or so ago I might not have had a choice about that.  You'll have to check it out to know what I'm talking about here... We've decided though that we have some decisions to make with regards to all this food stuff (if that's not a bizarre sentence then I don't know what is)... our next step.

Take a moment to think of some things that have touched you this week.  It's important.

Trinidad Buljol

I'm cleaning out my freezer.  Don't worry, it's not a monumental task or anything.  I'm not a freezer-stuffed-full-of-crap kinda person.  I'm just making some room.  Getting rid of stuff that been forgotten about or simply will not ever be used.  It's a great feeling.  The freezer space will get filled, I know that.
What I found in there though was weird and fun.  I found a chicken carcass that I didn't know I had.  Yes.  I found some cream cheese.  Yes.  I found some rhubarb from last year.  Yes.  I found some banana leaves.  Weird and Yes.  I found some salt fish.  Salt Fish.

I like salt fish.  When it's done well, I LOVE salt fish.  I first had salt fish in Trinidad.  Friends and family convinced me that I had to try this salt fish dish called 'Buljol' for breakfast.  Yeah, so you know how here in Canada weekend breakfasts are often homemade pancakes or waffles smothered in Maple Syrup?  Well, in Trinidad weekend breakfasts are salt fish and bake (a bun).  Arguably, this is a healthier way to approach breakfast (even though we now have huge green checkmarks on Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops - I know it's hard to think of anything healthier).  Still, this born and bred Ontario girl wasn't sure about this fish for breakfast thing at all.  I didn't want to offend though.  So I took a bun and put the tiniest amount of salt fish imaginable. Hesitantly, I put the tiny bit in my mouth.   Oh my... it was AWESOME.  Which figures, 'cause I'm damned if I can tell you any food that Trini's make which bites.   It was seriously like the green eggs and ham thing.  'I like them. I like them Sam I am.' (or whatever)
As with many things Trini I have trouble duplicating it.  I've tried tons of ways.  I can't seem to get the right balance.  Something is always a bit off.  I think though that I've finally found the magic formula with this one.  Don't cook anything, just heat the oil until it quite hot.  That's it.  Done.
I'm seriously pumped because I saw some chives ready to be used in the garden.

So my first garden harvest of the year is in the salt fish.  The chives kinda helped me feel better about the fish.   This fish is Canadian but it's probably not 'sustainably' caught and for that very reason I don't make salt fish often at all.  In fact, I've stopped buying fish as a rule.  At least the chives were local and sustainable... right.
Serve this awesome stuff on crackers, bread, buns... whatever.

Buljol (salt fish) adapted from 'The Naparima Girls Jubilee Cookbook'
serves 4

1/2 lb or so (1 pkg) dried Salt Fish
small onion sliced thin
1/2 cup green pepper diced
1/2 cup tomato diced
1/4 cup celery diced (optional)
4 tbsp green onion or chive diced
1/3 cup oil
3/4 tsp black pepper (optional)
3 tbsp green seasoning (optional)
squeeze of a lemon slice (optional)
pepper sauce to taste (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Soak the salt fish in the hot water for about 15 minutes.  Drain and repeat 3 times in total.  Set the salt fish aside.
In a bowl combine the onion, green pepper, tomato, celery and green onion or chive.  Mix and add in the black pepper, green seasoning and lemon juice.  Break the salt fish apart into little pieces and add to the veggies.
Heat the oil in a pot just until it barely starts to smoke.  Pour the hot oil over the fish and vegetables.
Mix well and serve.

Brown sugar caramel glaze with some cake and ahhhhh Sunshine

We were supposed to get a crappy Easter weekend.  All week I was anxiously checking the environment Canada website to see if things had changed.  Rain... all the time.
But then on Thursday a wonderful thing happened.  The forecast changed.  Suddenly we were in for a weekend of not bad weather at all.  In fact, the way things have turned out, it's been a damn good weekend.
We were out in short sleeves.  Jackets were optional.
These are out in full force.

And I've got a bush full of these happening soon too.

The real bonus is not working and therefor being off to enjoy it fully.  THE BEST.
I got so energized that I actually called people.  This is a big deal.  I don't call people.  I don't like using the phone.  I didn't even love it that much as a teenager.  Trust me, I had my fair share of long calls but it wasn't my first choice.  And at this point in my life being on a phone for more than 5 minutes is right down there with root canals on my 'things I love to do' list.  So for me to pick up the phone and call someone to see if they would like to come over and hang... yeah, big deal... I got their voice mail.
We did connect later though and arranged a time.

All this was important because I really wanted to make this cake.  As soon as I saw it I wanted to make it.  That oozy glaze candy thing dripping down the sides made me want to lick the computer screen.  The recipe makes a lot of cake.  I needed an excuse to make this thing.  Honestly though, with that glaze who even cares about the cake.  The cake is only there as a prop for the stupid glaze really.  That why, even though Dana calls it 'Brown sugar cake' I'm calling it 'Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze... with cake'.  That pretty much sets it straight I reckon.  Make this glaze.  Don't even bother with the cake if you're not a baker but make this glaze.  Serve it on ice cream.  Drizzle over bacon. Use it to cover up other stuff you've made that is middling to average... whatever... don't serve it with anything else... just make the damn glaze.  The cake... is optional.  Seriously a yawner.
I choose to make this in a tube pan because I seem to be the tube pan queen or something.  Worked beautifully but by all means do what Dana did and make it in two loaf pans and extend the experience.  For all you out there who observed Lent, this could be your kick off cake.  Happy Easter all...

Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze with cake (adapted from Dana Treat)
makes 1 tube pan or 2 loaves

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature (Honestly, I might use a smidge less than that)
3 cups lightly packed brown sugar (I used dark but Dana used light - go with her)
5 lg eggs (if you're feeling like a super-hero then I would whip the egg whites separately)
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Grease and flour a tube pan (or the loaf pans)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl combine the vanilla and milk and set aside.
In a third bowl beat the butter until it's very light and very fluffy.  Add in the sugar little by little and continue to beat.  Beat until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.  I took about 4 rounds to get it all in.
Pour the mixture into the tube pan or split between two loaf pans evenly.
Bake the cake anywhere from 1  - 1 1/2 hours (I took about 1 hr 20 min).  Check regularly after 1 hour.  The cake should pull away from the sides of the pan and the tester should come out with light crumbs.  The top of the cake will feel springy.
Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a baking rack.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 - 1 1/2 cup icing sugar

In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter.  Continue over med. heat and add in the brown sugar.  Cook the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes.  Add in the milk or cream, turning down the heat but continuing to let the mixture bubble.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the salt and vanilla.
Cool for about 10 minutes.  Add the icing sugar and stir until completely mixed.
Pour the heavenly mixture over the completely cooled cake.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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