hard pears and honey.

Red is my favourite colour, and when I see it on pears it always feels like a bit of a bonus, simply because I normally think of pears as being yellow. In any case, I saw some pretty ones in the grocery store about 10 days ago and brought them home. I set them in a dish on the sideboard to finish ripening, but to no avail. We’ve covered them for a few days to see if the dark would help. Nope.

They remain almost as hard as apples to this day. Occasionally this happens where we live. Fruit that normally softens at room temperature simply refuses to do so. Alot of the fruit here is picked before it ripens in order to travel to Alberta from some milder climate where it began its life. I can almost relate. I, too, was transported from Southwestern B.C. before maturity, and have dealt with some of my own reservations about resettling in this colder climate. (This could be another post about blooming where one is planted.) Naturally, some fruit will fail to cooperate.

But last night I was reading in Encore Provence, By Peter Mayle. He mentioned simmered pears he’d eaten for dessert once in a local French restaurant, and now I’m eating lovely simmered pears for my own dessert right here… Voila!

Just like that, problem solved.

Hard pears are a problem, albeit a very small, and pretty nice kind of problem to have. And like so many other such perplexities, there are solutions. Simple solutions. Solutions we can learn and adapt (In the book, the pears in the Provencal restaurant were simmered in wine. I just simmered mine in water with a spoonful of honey) from people all around us. Including people we’ve never met, who write or sing or talk; who find ways to share what they know and love.

Not all of the challenges life presents us with are as easily surmounted as making lemons into lemonade or dessert out of non-ripening fruit. Some of our troubles are very big, and some can’t be fixed; they must be accepted and dealt with as best we can from one day (or one moment) to the next. So when we can handle the little bumps in our life’s path with ease and sweetness, I think that’s something to celebrate.

So blessed,

Leah

food.

We have enough to eat. Every single day.

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Whether it’s a simple loaf of homemade sourdough bread or a delicious family dinner, we don’t face hunger we can’t solve. Not only do we have enough food to eat; we have variety, we have options. Our fridges, freezers, and pantries are so full that we have to be careful to use fresh spinach, frozen meat, and jars of olives before they sit too long and ‘go off’ or get freezer-burned (while we’re busy eating other food from our well-stocked kitchens).

It’s pretty easy for us to get ingredients or meals delivered, pick up our grocery orders at the store, or shop around supermarkets and farmers’ markets for everything we want and need- and then some. How many times have I gotten to the till with a full basket and had the cashier politely ask me if I found everything I was looking for today, only to respond sheepishly that I found plenty more than what I came in for. And I know I’m not alone.

On top of what we buy to eat, most of us can grow even more food. I grew up in the country with parents and grandparents who were avid gardeners. We all helped out with planting, weeding, harvesting, and preserving vast quantities of vegetables and fruits- whether we felt so inclined- or not. It was ‘all-hands-on-deck’. And we raised our children the same way. We had some great times and some hefty harvests over the years. (Enormous zuchini, anyone?)

This spring we’re growing all the veggies we can, plus some herbs and strawberries, in garden boxes at our friends’ places and in containers on our apartment balcony. And thanks to COVID-19, lots more people in lots more places are growing their own food in 2020! Here’s a great news article I found about this ‘silver lining’ on the pandemic cloud.

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~buckwheat & berry muffins adapted from a favourite cookbook~

Not only do we have the means to buy and grow as much food as we can eat, but so many of us in our prosperous society find we can spend a small fortune on cookbooks, diet books (to advise us on various ways of not eating too much food), and dozens of helpful kitchen gadgets to make it more quick, easy, and fun to prepare our food!

We’re inundated with advice on how and why we should build healthy eating habits, as well as warnings about the negative functional impacts (on our energy, mood, and ability to learn, concentrate, and problem-solve creatively) of poor nutrition. All we have to do is follow through with our good intentions to eat well.

We don’t have to live with chronic hunger-induced brain fog, empty shelves and plates, or crying children whose hunger we can’t resolve. (click this link to see a compelling article from the World Food Program…)

“Every day too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 821 million people – one in nine – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.”

There’s something most of us can do about this. We can find ways to share. And it starts with recognizing what we have and feeling gratitude for it…

So blessed,

Leah

white chocolate craisin cookies.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. What we had planned was a visit to this dreamy nearby destination: Kananaskis Nordic Spa.

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-what we had in mind-

However, this is not to be. (Once again, thanks, COVID-19.) Instead, we exchanged cards and gifts at home, and we’re ordering in from our all-time favourite restaurant (NOtaBLE), which is now very local to us, since our move almost a year ago. I’m sure the dinner will be delicious, even though we’ll be enjoying it as take-out. Better not complain.

In the meantime, I wanted to make a treat for Kirby today. I asked him what he’d like, and he replied, without hesitation, that he’d love these cookies. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit, and here’s how it goes now:

White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

Cream 3/4 cup butter with 1 & 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, and a teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir in 2 & 1/2 cups flour, then 2 cups combined craisins and white chocolate chips. Bake in 1 tablespoon lumps on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, at 350 degrees F for about 9 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes before lifting them off the pan with a thin metal flipper. 

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-real life-

So, this isn’t quite the romantic spa getaway we had in mind. But, all things considered, it’s a pretty sweet anniversary anyway. Celebrating at home, yeah. But so grateful for what we have to celebrate at all. Plus, cookies. Mmm.

So blessed,

Leah

sourdough.

I first cultivated my rambunctious ‘starter’ culture years ago, and it’s still going strong. I haven’t named it until now, but I think I’ve just hit on the perfect appellation for this happy and healthy little creature; I’ll call it Baby.

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This is hardly an original thought, now that I think about it. My family and friends have teased me about my ‘bread babies’ for a few years. I can see why; both are soft and squishy, smell delightful, and are ever so satisfying to nurture. Both babies and Baby like to be touched and need to stretch, and grow especially well when tucked up in a cozy warm place for frequent naps. Both have within them innate qualities; given the right conditions and enough tender loving care, both turn out more wonderful than the mama or the baker can really take credit for…

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When my children were in high school and my house was full of my little dayhome children, I baked 2 loaves a day. At lunch hour, the house seemed to fill up with teenagers who obligingly devoured homemade sourdough bread, helped heartily by the half dozen cute little people who populated it all day with me. Those were the days…

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Sourdough baking is an addictive behaviour, as many will attest. I once saw a man’s twitter account introduction in which he described himself as a ‘pathological sourdough baker’. I could write an entire blog on the subject; many enthusiasts do. But I’ll stick to an occasional post here and there on the topic of my wild-yeasty friends and their exploits.

Again, this is another sweet and simple thing that enriches my life every day, including now, during the pandemic. It makes me happy; making it, seeing it grow, baking it, eating it, and sharing it.

So blessed,

Leah

 

easter egg nests.

If you are going to see any small children at Easter, and would like to make sure they love you forever, I highly recommend this very quick and simple (no-bake) recipe. Here are the ones I made yesterday…

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In fact, my adult children have openly confessed that they make and love to eat vast quantities of these fun little treats, even now. Little people may be the best excuse to prepare these crunchy and chocolatey delights, but they are by no means the only excuse.

So here’s the recipe:

Easter Egg Nests

Melt and stir together:

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons (corn) syrup or honey

1 1/2 cups pure chocolate chips

Mix in 4 cups of corn flakes. 

Spoon into muffin pans (with or without paper liners- they don’t stick either way).

Chill, pop out of tins (with a butter knife or small fork if you don’t have paper liners).

~No need to keep them cold once they’re set~

Serve to little people (or any people you have on hand)

Alternatively, you could try it the way I did these ones. I don’t recommend it, since it was a mistake, but we’re making the best of it and these are the richest ones ever…

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Unofficial Version

(for those ill-advised enough to want to replicate my yummy error):

Attempt to do it with milk chocolate chips, and slightly overheat it while doing other things in the kitchen. Try to stir in the corn flakes, with limited success. Melt a cup or two of pure chocolate chips and pour over to make it all stick together.

Clearly, even the original recipe is not for the faint of heart; nutritionally speaking. In these terms, this adaptation would be deemed a necessary evil. But no one’s complaining. Easter comes but once a year, and nobody here minds indulging in a rich (if childish) treat on special occasions.

So blessed,

Leah