Sunday, September 30, 2007

vine maples

Yesterday I had to run (meaning . .get in my car and drive) into town (meaning . . the grocery store) and pick up a few (meaning . . .$80 dollars worth) of groceries for the impromptu (meaning . . "do you feel like having some one over after church" . . . "I don't know, who were you thinking?") dinner party we had last night.
This excursion allowed me the opportunity to capture a few glorious vine maple bushes.
A few days ago we were heading to one of our kids homes and I saw some beautiful vine maples starting to color and I quickly pulled my camera out of my bag and tried to take some pictures at breakneck speed. This is the reason I need a camera that takes pictures quick. I cast a disparaging look at my good man and said . . ."I don't think I caught them" . .(meaning the vine maples) . .and he said . ."nope, I'm sure you didn't".
He suggested to me that real . .(meaning . ..people that make money from taking pictures every few moments) photographers go out driving just for the purpose of stopping willy nilly when every they see something that warrants a picture, rather than trying to take pictures from the freeway.

So . . .yesterday, I stopped not once but three times to take pictures . . .
all by myself. The vine maples are the first to color and drop their leaves. They are just so beautiful.

Well, I'm off to warm up the Green Bean Soup for our lunch. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Green Bean Soup

Fall typically means its time to bring out my soup pot and fill it with the last of the Summer Vegetables and then enjoy the aroma throughout the home on a drizzly day. Terry was out cutting the lawn and said that every time he went by the kitchen window that was open a crack, he caught a whiff and his mouth kept watering. The leaves on the oak tree are not at all colored yet, this is a cheatin' picture from last fall. I didn't think you'd want to be met with my ham hock upon opening my blog today.
Ah, there you are. I went to the butcher and asked for a smoked ham hock. You can also use a small ham with a bone in it, or the bone that is left after you've had a ham for a dinner is perfect. Cover the ham just barely with water. Okay, I confess this is one of those recipes that are a little loose on exact measurements .. .just pretend you're an Mennonite Oma and start cooking.
Simmer the smoked bone or ham hock for a few hours.
Chop up some green beans. I used about 6 cups for this pot of soup. Now this made a big pot of soup so if you want to make a small pot save some of the broth for the soup and put the rest in the freezer for the next time you need some soup.
I also added about 4 potatoes, cubed and a chopped onion.
If you don't like your spices floating around for decoration, find some cheesecloth.
I used a bay leaf and about 5 whole allspice and 8 black peppercorns.
You will need a handful of fresh parsley and some summer savory. Summer savory is papakrut (German). You'll need a few teaspoons of the summer savory. If you have fresh summer savory, all the better. You would need a small handful of it.

I also added about 5 chopped carrots. Simmer all the vegetables for about 1/2 and hour and then add the spices. Simmer for an hour and then taste it and decided if you want to add some salt. I added a good teaspoon to my large pot of soup.

Serve it with a dollop of sour cream. Okay, now I'm looking at my instructions and again wondering how you make yours. I know there are many variations of Mennonite recipes and I'd love to know if you have more specific quantities. If you do, please leave them in the comments so that others can benefit from them. I'm sure they would be appreciated.
Thank you so much for all the kind comments and emails yesterday. The funeral is being held today in Germany.
Have a wonderful day my friends.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

seeing each other again

This week my Uncle Bernhard passed into the presence of his Lord and Saviour. He was born in Russia in 1914 and lived to be 93 years old. I know really very little of him and never had the pleasure of meeting him. He was child number 12 with only my dad being younger. He was born in a time of Russia that was very difficult for Mennonite families. They struggled to keep their homes safe and their children fed. My dad was born in 1918 and his mother passed away in 1920.

My Dad was invited to live with his Aunt and Uncle who lived quite close by. They had not been able to have children of their own and welcomed little Aron into their home. When the opportunity came for them to immigrate to Canada, little Aron went with them.

They never spoke freely of his adoption and he only learned of it when he was in school from some other children who had heard it from their parents. Even though he lived in a loving home he longed to know more about the family he left behind.

Years later the contacts slowly began and the rare and treasured letters from Russia to Canada were read over and over again.

Several years before my Mom and Dad passed away my parents travelled to Germany to meet his two surviving siblings. In this photo you can see the two brothers looking into the eyes of one another for essentially the very first time. The emotions of the room can be seen on my mother's eyes as she witnesses a little bit of heaven.

When my parents arrived home from Germany we had many questions and so did they. It seemed that the experiences that the family survived in Russia had been too difficult for them to speak of. Even the memory of little Aron going to live far away when Bernhard was six years old, still brought the old brother to tears.

When we received word this week that Uncle Bernhard had passed away an odd sense of quiet took hold and my heart clenched in emotion as I imagined the reunion for my Grandparents and their 13 children.
So, now the tears are dried away and the rejoicing has begun as the table of Oma and Opa is full once again.

My Dad often spoke of his desire to have all his children around the table with him in heaven. Well Dad we're not there yet but count me in . . .I'm coming. In the meantime give Mom a kiss from me . .your little girl.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

lillie and cohoe

Bad hair days . .. bring them on. I have my new Lillie and Cohoe "coquette". It's made of wool and cashmere with velvet trim. I decided my first serious millinery purchase should match my coat, my mom would have no doubt approved as she sewed me several matching coats and hats when I was a little girl.
These hats are made in Nelson British Columbia where they clearly must understand about Canadian winters. The inside band has a bit of fleece that can be folded down for really blizzardy weather. If you are interested take a look on the link to Lillie and Cohoe by clicking here.
Perhaps you'd like your own.

While I wait for the inclement weather to arrive, I'll wear it with a turtleneck and jeans. We're deep into fog today and I have a hankering for Green Bean Soup.
I recently updated my label list putting the recipes in some semblance of order so that they can be easily found. I hope you find that helpful.
Have a wonderful day my friends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

leaf lined walk

One afternoon we went for a drive to a small hamlet and walked about the village. We poked through the stores admiring the fall displays.
We strolled down the leaf covered walks.

I loved these bird houses . ..

I wondered whether these little peppers tasted hot or were they merely ornamental.
I love the colors of fall. I'm sure I say this every season but I do. I love color.

We poked through a toy store and we were amused to see that you can buy PADDED wagons now. OH my.

And then . . . .we saw this store down the alley and then the fun began. Maybe tomorrow I'll show you what I didn't leave without.
Have a great day my friends, today . . .I'm aiming to get back to my 30 minute walk.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my men go out to the bush

Baking up a batch of cookies for my men . . . a couple of bucks
3 chest protectors for my superheros . ..(Terry took a long time to heal from his last incident)

One superhero model . . .priceless

This weekend my menfolk took away my toy . ..(aka . ..our camera).
For weeks they've been planning to take their quads and dirt bikes up to the mountains with a group of guys.

The weather didn't completely cooperate so the campfire to eat the lunch I packed them was very welcome. Stuart took off his boots to get some feeling back in his toes.
These are the pictures they bring me. Take my word for it . ..they're in there.

Terrence . . . .Terry . . . .Stuart
Our superheros came back unscathed and the womenfolk back home couldn't have been happier.
Have a wonderful day my friends, I'm going to be sewing up some receiving blankets today.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm ready for fall

I'm always up for a redo. It seemed fitting to put away the summer decorations on my blog just as I've been putting away the summer things in our home. I'll be experimenting over the next few days with colors and fonts and pictures so for those of you that like things the way they used to be . ..sorry.

This also seemed to be a fitting day to don the new vintage hat that Jill brought me when she came in summer. Her friend Marie has a little head like me and so I was treated to a few new hats. Thank you Marie. I found this jacket that matches just perfectly and so I'm ready to go. I'm waiting by the phone for a call to tea.

Don't you just love new beginnings? I sure do. I look forward to the new windy weather, and the fall crunchy leaves. Today is a bit drizzly here and I'm sure the first day of autumn tomorrow will be about the same. No worries here . . . I've a new hat, and I'm ready to go.

Have a wonderful first day of autumn . . .where ever you might be.

Oh goodness, the phone just rang . . .we have an invite. . .. .

How fun.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pear Custard Pie

Today I have another recipe for you from my friend Dorothy. Her Pear pie is just so yummy and fall is the perfect time to make it. The pears from this pie are from her yard and so this really is a Sweet Dreams Pear Pie.
I'm going to give you the half recipe for her pastry. She makes double of this is her big food processor but my bowl is smaller and so this makes enough for two pies.

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 pound of lard
In a one cup measuring cup
Beat one farm fresh egg
add 1 tablespoon of vinegar
and fill to the 1 cup line with ice cold water.
Stir this together really well, and pour half out. I know this seems wasteful but how do you measure half an egg? This is how I did it for half a recipe of pastry and you can double it using the full pound of lard, 5 cups of flour and all the liquid if you like.
In the food processor, put all the dry ingredients. Add the cut up lard, pulse this until the big pieces are all gone. Add the liquid quickly while the machine is going. Stop it as soon as it starts to come together. Dump it out and form it into a ball and knead it a few times until it has no more loose flour bits.
Divide my recipe into two pieces and put one in plastic wrap for another pie in a day or two or put the one piece in the freezer.
On a floured surface, gently roll it out. Turn it a quarter every few rolls to keep it even.

Roll it up onto a rolling pin, using a bench scraper to peel it easily off the counter.

Put it into your deep dish pie plate.

Do a simple flute around the edges or push with the tines of a fork to make a decorative edge.

Peel and quarter the pears and fit them into the pie plate in a circular fashion.
I used 4 pears.

Custard for the Pear Pie
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine these ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Pour the custard over the pears.
Bake at 350 for an hour . ..I did mine on convection for an hour . .. so you may need a bit longer than an hour for regular baking. I might even bake it a little hotter at 375.

Next time you are treated to an invitation to dinner, offer to bring the pie.
You'll want to stop on the way to pick up some fresh vanilla ice cream to add a scoop on top of the pie. Who knows . .. you just might be invited back.
Have a wonderful day my friends, we're off to order up a 383 hot rod motor for Miss Ella today. That girl's getting a bit spoiled.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The MCC Relief Auction

Every September we look forward to the annual Mennonite Festival, Auction and Relief Sale. (click here to learn more)Thousands of people come together to eat, shop, visit, listen, bid, and give. This year almost $700,000.00 was raised for the peace projects worldwide.
The money goes to help people who have been affected by violence like Uganda and Bosnia. Some of the money goes to help work for justice among the people throughout the world, providing food,water, material aid so that they may know some degree of peace.

The auction is always started by the sale of a loaf of homemade bread. This year the loaf of bread was sold for almost $200,000.

We indulged in a bit of ethnic food, sampling the wareneki and farmer sausage. Though I don't have the pictures to prove it, we also enjoyed new years cookies (posted on January 1) and some Rollkuchen and Watermelon, posted some time this summer, and also some plumi moos . .(cold fruit soup).

You can almost guarantee that if you have relatives living in the nearby region, you will run into them at the sale. HI Auntie Mary and Auntie Frances. When we occasionally see each other we feel a little teary. They see my mom in me and I see my mom in them. It's like little glimpses from heaven.

The quilts that are made throughout the year by the MCC quilters are displayed and auctioned off. This year the quilts brought in over $20,000. The Ladies give demonstrations to those passing by. It always amazes me what a labour of love this is.

Terry looked at the long boards that a couple made and donated. The craftsmanship and art on the boards was amazing. Click here to see Lisa's blog and for a closer look at the boards and the process in making them. I lurk on her site just to see her amazing photography.
There was a large booth set up comprising of crafts made around the world and then sold here at fair trade value.

It's amazing how beautiful many of the crafts are that made throughout the third world countries.
There were tables set up with boxes and boxes of stamps to sell. The colors of the stamps were a feast for the eyes.

The posters set up throughout the sale encouraged generous shopping and giving. If you couldn't find anything you wanted to buy, you could just stop at the donation booth. This year, people just gave $170,000. cash at the booth.

There were booths set up where jean picnic blankets had been made out of discarded blue jeans.

There was a penny power table where folks counted and rolled pennies. This year $31,900 of PENNIES was brought to count and roll.

And what did I bring home? Well, I bought my yearly supply of knitted dishcloths. And then . .. .I found myself drawn to the children's toys for the first time in many years. I found this Thomas the Train set for $35. I snapped it up with a smile. Good times.