Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Tree

The sky was a cloudless blue. He looked at her and knew that she was just what he had been waiting for. He could hear the birds calling, "What a great Creator we have. Let us give him the glory due his name."

He nodded, his heart too full to speak. And then he looked to the centre of the garden.
"Eat your fill. But do not touch that tree." No worries. Easily done. He gave it not another thought.

But, the snake was present and the woman listened.

God’s wrath descending. Laying blame. Passing the buck.
Kicked out of all they ever knew. Experience pain, sorrow, anger, murder.

Lord, is this the end?

"As a tree has cursed you, so one will save you."

And through the ages, they looked to the promise.

And in Bethlehem, a babe was laid in a manger made out of wood. Splintery, cold, dirty, filled with straw and cow dung.

Lord, is this the conqueror?

No, this is not the end of the story. If it was, would Christmas be something to celebrate? What can a baby do to rule the world and crush the serpent’s head?

The answer comes later. A tree is cut down for the most horrible use of all. Blood spilled, a thief is saved. And the hoarse cry, "It is finished."

Finished? The death of a miracle worker, an illegitimate baby from Nazareth? What does this mean? Scoffers laugh. Disciples despair. Yet, the answer is clear. So sin came through one man, so we will be saved by one man. So Satan used a tree to undo man, so God used a tree to make all well again.

This Christmas, you will probably sit in front of your evergreen tree, dazzling with lights and decorations. But, as you celebrate, do not forget the tree shaped like a cross and the babe, grown man, who died for sinners such as us.

- Millie

Friday, 23 December 2011

Let the Season be Bright.

Don't worry. Nothing too deep here. Just some pictures...

 say Merry Christmas.

Enjoy the good things Christmas can bring!


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Of Madcow and Mincemeat

Mincemeat was the order of the day here.

And in the stuff's honour, I've decided to share an incident from our past which involves mincemeat, a heroic quest, and an evergreen tree.


Living two miles from an international border has its perks. A twenty-minute drive finds you in an American town, a sort of twin companion to your own belonging place.

That town ‘over across’ the border has been part of my life since I was a baby. I remember the evening ice cream runs to Drakes Dairy Bar, with wet hair and a nightgown on. I remember border guards barely asking your citizenship before they waved you on. I remember the tightening of security after 9/11, the longer lines, the strange questions about your work or sharp objects in your car. And of course, the mad cow scare.

The last is the most memorable of any border phase. Citrus or wood products faded out of importance, but the mad cow fuss touched our mincemeat and us personally. And you don’t play around with mincemeat in our family and than just forget about it.
Mincemeat is an intensely traditional food in our family, and one that seems to be dying everywhere else in the world. Each fall, just as the winds start to get that snap of winter to come, Mom pulls out the huge cooking pots and fires up the wood stove. Dad is sent to dig out the ancient metal food grinder and we start to concoct. Ground beef, minced apples, raisins, brown sugar, molasses, orange juice, a pound of butter, and all the spices that smell of Christmas. I’m not sure if the original recipe still exists. We cook by smell, with Mom’s direction. As we are fond of saying, "Are we gonna measure, or are we gonna cook?"

We all have our eating preferences too. Mom and I eat it straight out of the bubbling pot. Aimee prefers it with ice cream on top. Owen is only happy when it is baked into a three-inch thick pie. Dad agrees. "Mincemeat pie," he says, "is the perfect food. One of those quintessential all-food-groups-in-one-dish." I believe this thinking also justifies mincemeat pie for breakfast, scooped from the cold pie plate with one hand. This is the type of thing mincemeat is. Wholesome. Comfortable. Cherished.

And it was a pie of this hallowed stuff that we bore aloft one evening, as we traveled to supper at our American friends’ house. A pie is close to the best thing you can do for someone, and Mom set it lovingly on her lap for the trip, still steaming hot.

Maybe it was that steam, or the rich smell that made the border guard perk up when we came to a stop beside him.

"How many on board?" He asked. "Citizenship? Where are you headed? What’s the purpose of your trip?"

Then he leaned forward for the clincher. "Anything to leave?"

"Just a pie" Dad said glibly.

I’m not sure that the guard didn’t lick his lips.

"What kind of pie?"

And for the first time Dad faltered, "Just mincemeat…"

"Meat?" The guard was definitely interested now. "As in beef?"

"Oh…" Heavy realization hit Dad. "Yes. As in…exactly."

"Well, I’ll have to take it then." Border guards love their job.

Dazed, we all watched it transfer from hand to hand. The border man moved and straightened his garbage can with one toe. He bent forward, in my mind it seemed like he moved in slow motion, hands tipping the pie plate forward.

But before he could, before the bottom crust had started to slip, Mom’s half shriek rang out.

"No! Wait – can we turn back?" Her arms were actually outstretched like she was pleading for a baby’s life.

I’m not sure Mr. Border Guard had ever seen such panic or devotion to food in his line of work. He must still have had a few drops of milky human kindness pumping underneath his blue uniform however, and obviously felt a weeping woman was far out of his comfort zone.

"Sure…You can turn back. If you want."

"OK!" Mom said and received the pie to her lap again. She waved for Dad to drive forward, astounding us kids with her confidence.

But our troubles were hardly over. The Canadian border wouldn’t hold our pie in safe keeping while we went to our friend’s house and we were already late.

We poked along the road, everyone suggesting and hypothesizing at once.

I don’t remember who thought of it first. We all take collective glory for it now, that idea born of sheer genius…the inspiration to hide our mincemeat pie under a safe looking evergreen tree.

If there is one thing in abundance along New Brunswick roads, it is trees; lonely stretches of patchy highways, with only shades of green along each side. Our pie would be safe.

"Unless a coyote finds it." Owen said.

"Better a coyote than that man’s garbage can!"

We headed to the border again, feeling Mom was entirely right in her opinion.

The border guard looked more than a little surprised to see us.

"You’re back…" It was a half question, so Dad responded.

"We hid the pie…" (The man’s eyes lit up,) "…under a tree back there."

The guard looked almost stunned – his eyes followed Dad’s quick point and then stayed there, looking blank.

"You’re kidding right?" He said in a faraway voice.

"No, indeed," Mom said.

The man lifted one hand and waggled it vaguely.

"Alright," he said it in a voice that meant I give up. "Have a nice evening."

"Thank you," Mom and Dad said together. And we drove onto American soil with heads held high. We didn’t have dessert for our friends, but there are things more important.

On the return trip home, we found our pie tucked safely where we had left it. We had kept part of our tradition safe. Mad cow scare might come, and the easy rules of a country’s border might tighten over time. We would have to use passports on every trip, eventually, and officials wouldn’t know you by sight. But mincemeat and its treasured part of our family heritage would not fall victim to the marches of time.

At the very least we had given that border guard something to tell the guys during break.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

How Young Families Get Ready to Go Out

I have never heard of anyone who hasn't had a nightmare like this: you need to get somewhere and are trying to get ready, but things keep happening. Your clothes won't stay on, your friend keeps stopping to talk to people, and you drop, or lose your car keys. And that's only the beginning. You wake up sweating, with your bedclothes wrapped around your legs, breathing a sigh of relief that it was just a dream

However, sadly, for a certain demographic, this frustrating scenario is a sobering reality.

I have never seen the list of rules that dictates what preparation for a young family outing looks like, but I have noticed such little variance between households, that there must be some secret book of directions that harried parents and nonchalant children are forced to follow. Or perhaps it's just human nature.

1. Naivete. "There's plenty of time." Mom leans back and sips her coffee. Dad takes another cookie and bites into it leisurely, seeming to have wiped last week's mad rush entirely from his mind. Ten minutes later the tune has changed. Mom's voice is less sweet and Dad's honking the horn from the driveway.

2. Missing shoes. It's scientific fact: children's pairs of shoes are polar opposites. The right shoe is magnetically driven away from the left and finds solace under the livingroom couch. Children's shoes never sit demurely together, laces un-knotted. Unless, of course, they're the ones you don't want.

3. Dirty clothes. In her head, Mom has her outfit all planned. As she's shoving applesauce in the mouth of the six-month-old and buttoning up five-year-old's shirt, she runs throught the oh-so-chic list. "I'll wear my white linen skirt and my blue blouse. Then, I'll accessorize with the silk scarf that my sister gave me. I'll just get dressed last minute to prevent mishaps." What she doesn't remember is the time she sat on a chocolate chip cookie in the aforementioned skirt, that there is a white dribble line on her beautiful blouse, courtesy of six month old, and she doesn't even know that hubby used the scarf as an emergency cleaning rag. Two minutes before they have to be at church, Mom's still digging through her clothes pile, looking for a clean, non-ripped piece of clothing that fits her. And then, hubby walks in wearing nothing but his shorts and says, "What should I wear?"

4. Forgetting something really important. She sinks into the head rest. The children murmur quietly in their car seats. Strains of music soothe her aching head. For once, they're going to be on time. Then Daddy says, "Um, hon. I think we forgot something." Her eyes open and she slowly scans the rearview mirror. One, two, three, four. She nods. Daddy turns the car and heads for home, to find the three-year-old happily playing in the sandbox.

There are many opportunites for sanctification in one's life. Things like famine, drought and pestilence. But there is no greater trial than to take part in the everyday ritual of a young family getting ready to go out.

-  Millie

Friday, 9 December 2011

When it comes to sewing clothes I usually defer to Aimee. Everyone has their talent, and I've always seen mine as anywhere but a close proximity to that terrifying pattern paper. Seriously, it tears if you breath on it the wrong way.

Nope, I've never seen the advantage of the mental excercises a sewing pattern requires, and have always been happy to see Aimee whiz off skirts and baby clothes with nary a thought. (Or so it appears.)

But then I realized you can't buy some styles at the mall. At least, not just the way you want them.

Like these pants...

Aren't they the best?

I'm kind of digging the sweater too. Hehe.

So...after a few months of pining and looking in thrift stores I finally just took the plunge. I bought some fabric. I bought a pattern. I waited for a snowy day.

And then I sewed...

and sewed...

and sewed!  I even put in a zipper and waistband. No small feat, I can tell you!

It took me all afternoon and a few ripped seams, but at the end of it I'm glad to say I had a pair of pants. Voila!

And you know what? The best part of the whole thing is the ridiculous sense of empowerment I feel as I zip them up. It's mildy pathetic really, but whatever...I feel a whole new world open up and all those vintage things I've been loving seem within reach.

Maybe a Petticoat Junction dress next?

Or these pants!

In other words, I'm armed and dangerous. Stand back folks.


Friday, 2 December 2011

Children and the Mouths Thereof

I love kids. I mean, what else can you do with them?

Some of the best moments are when they blurt out a deep thought that has clearly been discussed with their parents – all pleased and confident with their knowledge.

Like this…

I’m babysitting and a rousing game of make believe was in progress with stuffed nativity figures of Joseph and Mary. The story came to a climax when Kid #1 made "Jophes" fly off the handle and attack Mary. Everyone broke out in high giggles except Kid #2, who looked up from her book and said, "He is not respecting his wife like he promised in the wedding. God will not be pleased with him." And a nod for emphasis.

Or like this…

Landon was doing his classic gulpslurp, that’s-how-he-eats routine last night at supper. At one point he must have stopped to actually chew some chicken, because he had time to announce. "We’re all sinners." We all agreed with the ‘saved by God’s Grace’ clause. "Yup," he said, "God has more power than anything else. Even a dragon."

Of course, things can sometimes get a little off the track.

"The only thing dragons can do that God can’t, is blow fire," Landon says.

Yeah. Well…nobody can deny that growing in knowledge of the Truth is always a work in progress!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Real Life Cooking in 9 Simple steps. here's the thing.  Life doesn't follow a recipe and neither should you. Whatever that means.  Here are 8 simple steps to creating supper without a recipe.  Obviously you shouldn't follow every step EXACTLY the same everytime, or you will have very bored tastebuds.  It's the principle of the thing.

Step 1:  Put a little oil and butter in a dutch oven.  Coat some beef in flour (insert other meats here) and sear it.

Step 2: While you're searing your meat, chop some onions and smash some garlic.  I'm pretty sure everything I make has onions and garlic in it.  They make food taste that much better.  It's the truth.

Step 3:  Pick up unhappy baby. Wipe up blip mess...make his world happy again.

Step 4: Take meat out of pot and throw the onions and garlic into those yummy juices.  Saute a bit.

Step 5: Chop a few veggies.  I used diced portobello mushrooms and whole button mushrooms for tonights special.  Throw 'em in the pot.  Stir them around nicely.

Step 6:  Add some broth say a cup or so. I added veggie, but beef probably would have been lovely.  If you're using chicken, go for chicken.  Add a little extra water too, maybe half a cup.  And add a little something else, too.

Step 7: Throw the meat and any juices in the bottom of the bowl, into the pot.  Add some salt and pepper and perhaps some sage and basil.  Whatever spices are moving you at the moment.  Let that bubble away for a while, until it looks ready.

Step 8:  Mix up a little flour and water (not too crazy much...just a bit) and stir it in your pot to thicken the juice up nicely.

Step 9:  Serve over buttered noodles or rice...or just eat it straight out of the pot.

My crowd can be hard to please sometimes, but this generally does the trick for them.  I guess I should have added a Step 10. Step 10:  Eat it all up. Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Words of Wisdom and Wit from the World Wide Web

I love alliteration!

And I love days like today, with our first real snow coming down hard. (I don't say that too loud around here, for fear of being walloped by winter haters.) It seems just the kind of day for writing profound things...but my mind is failing me. I think it needs sugar. So instead of scratching my head bald, I'm going to give the platform to others who've said it all better and go bake apple bars.

Have a great day, everyone!

And last, but not least, my own personal motto...


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Middle Aged Love

I saw them at Marden's while waiting in the car for Olivia to buy her Hilroy scribbler, and stop perusing the book section.

They pulled up beside me in a small, forest green car. The words of the woman, as she climbed out of the passenger seat, caught my attention immediately.

"You're going to buy me a locket? That's awesome!"

They weren't glamorous and young. They weren't old and cute. They were middleaged.

She was wearing stretch pants and a windbreaker. His teeth were brown and crooked. But, when a cheesy smile broke out all over his face, I could see why she fell for him.

She said again, "You're going to buy me a locket? That's awesome!" He grinned again and locked the car doors.

Then, they set off across the parking lot. The woman reached out her hand and grabbed his. Their fingers interlocked and their arms swung back and forth.

Then, just as they reached the store's entrance, she leaned forward and gave him a swift peck on the mouth. And my heart melted.

Forget the fact that he was buying her a locket at Marden's. She didn't seem to care about his cheap choice of stores. He was buying her something. Not practical. Not sensible. He was buying her something pretty, cheesy, and just plain frivolous. Because he can. And because he's in middleaged love.

- from the usually nonsentimental Millie

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Pumpkin Scones

I have a new favourite recipe.  I was craving something pumpkin this morning and even though it took ALL morning for me to finally finish these (due to homeschooling, babysitting and a cranky glued to the hip baby), they were totally worth the persistence!

Now...a big part of me wants to keep these my little secret, but alas, they are just too yummy not to share with you all!

  • 2 cups all purpose flour ( I used whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (we used turbinado)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (we used our fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half (I used full cream)
  • 1 large egg
Mix the pumpkin, cream and egg in a small bowl.  In another large bowl, combine all the other ingredients and work them together until the butter is crumbly.  Add the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. Roll into a circle and use a pizza roller to cut into triangles.  Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 425.

Mix a cup of powdered sugar, 2 tbsps of milk and a tsp of maple extract (optional).  Brush over warm scones.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Combine 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 3/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp maple extract and just moisten with some milk.  Put in a plastic bag, cut off the bottom corner and pipe over scones. YUM.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Taste and See That the Lord is Good

I was sorting through pictures today and came across the 190 Aimee and I took one day this past summer. We got together to make cupcakes, Root Beer Float and Red Velvet…we read the recipes, used the whole bottle of food colouring and invested in red raspberries out of season.

We went whole hog, I guess you could say.

And we had fun. Aimee got out her frosting piper and I couldn’t stop gasping like a lunatic every time she finished another masterpiece.

There was icing sugar everywhere, bowls in the sink, and our bare feet were sticky. It was good. And suddenly Aimee looked over at me and said. "What are we doing this for, anyway?"

I think I said, "Um."

We kind of stared at each other for a second, and I could feel and see the guilt starting to creep in. I mean, what were we doing? Wasting an afternoon? Spoiling our suppers? Just making something because we wanted to gorge ourselves silly?

We started to talk, and it took a few minutes to reach our conclusion…the reason for believing that the day was actually well spent.

It boiled down to the respect we have of pretty things. And a love for the God of them.

On my shelf I have three books right beside each other. 1000 Beautiful Things, The Book of Awesome and One Thousand Gifts. Every single one reminds me of the Gifts we have around us…the very good things. Poetry, new socks and high tens, sunsets and soap bubbles. They remind me just how gracious God is, a God of the little things as well as our Salvation, but (and here’s the crux of the matter) do I always really know this in experience?

My mind tries to know the goodness of God, but all I see when I get up is a dirty kitchen and the clock telling me I’m late for work.

Sometimes I need to touch and taste the life I have, and see it is good in Him – filled with the blessings of pretty. Which brings me back to cupcakes.

Of course, I don’t pretend every day is well used in baking to satisfy your sweet tooth, but maybe it’s a good start to celebrating the gifts we’re given. These things that might seem frivolous, the ‘trimmings’ of life, can sometimes be the best things to refocus our attitude.

With all this in mind…don’t feel guilty if you bake a layer cake on Wednesday. Or wear sparkly shoes. Or fall asleep in the sun.

Just give thanks for these things, the sentient tips of God’s iceberg of Grace.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Lie Number Four...

I know...I was supposed to do this last week but I was busy and couldn't come up with a good post. I still haven't but I got a kick out of this one so I'm going to use it.

Lie number four...

Breastfeeding Prevents Pregnancy

(Does anyone really believe this anyway?!)


  This picture makes me feel cheesy because at 14 weeks not much of the belly is actually baby but anyway...

We are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our third baby in the spring!

...and 14 month old big sister is still nursing...    :P

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lies They Tell Us Part III: I need [insert coveted item here] so I can be more hospitable.

 My post isn't a long one today and to be honest it isn't about a lie someone else tells us.  It's a lie I've told myself.  Six years ago, living in our little town house I used to dream of our big farmhouse in the country where we could entertain and welcome friends and family into our home.
  We have spent the last 5 years renovating that big farmhouse in the country and it continues to be a work in progress.  A few weeks ago I caught myself thinking, "If we could build onto the house and have a bigger laundry room and then when we have people over...."  And then I thought about how many times I had coveted a nicer dishwasher, a bigger dining space, a new couch, a bigger pantry, a nicer floor...and justified such thoughts with the idea that with such things, I could show better hospitality.  Hospitality is biblical right?
  Sure...but what about always coveting nicer and better and bigger, and justifying it by telling myself that I could be so much more hospitable if I had these things?
  Is it wrong to upgrade your couch if it's ratty, or make a bigger laundry room?  Is it wrong to enjoy a "perfect home"? Absolutely not, but be honest with yourself about your motives.  Hospitality is not about impressing people with the size of your kitchen, or the colour of your walls.  Hospitality is about showing Christ's love and mercy to those around us.
  If you want a prettier light fixture, fine...but be honest with really just want a prettier light fixture.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lies They Tell You Part II : "Exercise is Good for You."

You see them everywhere: running down Main Street, bobbing up and down in the pool, starting their cars in the early morning to go to the gym before work. They are believing the lie they're told every day by friends, family, media, and culture: that exercise is good for you.

I mean, any way you look at it, it's just not logical. Take running, for instance. Before people started to run because of a lie, why and when did people run? They either ran because they needed to catch something or because someone was trying to catch them. Either way, it was a stress-riddled pursuit (no pun intended) and only done when absolutely necessary. It was never meant to be a hobby, as it has now been turned into. I don't understand why people would want to spend their lives pretending that someone's chasing them, unless they have a persecution complex.

Another concern is that exercise is expensive. It is common knowledge that anything that wallet thinning just can't be good for you. Because you can't go to the gym in a pair of ratty cut-offs and an old t-shirt, you have to have trim, matching sportswear, a snazzy visor, Nike sneakers and not to mention loads of ankle socks. And, then of course some sort of device to listen to music while exerting yourself (we won't even mention the gym membership). Too bad your pretty outfit is rather marred by a red, sweating face as you go through your tortuous routine.

Which brings me to my next point. Do you know what sweat is? It's a salty liquid that, in moments of extreme exertion, comes out through your pores. How can that possibly be healthy?

Another little sign: You know the day after you do fifty push-ups...that feeling? I think you could call it feeling sore. It's your muscles screaming to you, "For heaven's sake! Enough, enough already!"

See? When you think of it logically, exercise just can't be good for you. Don't believe this troublesome lie and have true freedom from guilt.

Add some whole wheat flour to the pie pastry, vaccuum through your house once a week, wash the windows vigorously, and throw your visor in the garbage can. You'll live a happier life, I promise you.

- Millie

Note: The author of this post does not consider walking to be exercise and therefore indulges in the activity a few times a week. Also, the beliefs expressed in this post are not necessarily endorsed by all other contributing members of this blog. Please pray for Abigail. I hear she's been jogging...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lies They Tell You

It has occurred to us here at Burnt Suppers, that there are certain lies we each are susceptible to swallowing. It’s different for each one of us – a concept that is widely accepted, and hits us where we are at. But thankfully, our obsession with analysis comes in handy now and then, and we are able to identify the lies we are told and believe. This week we are each going to share one with you and perhaps help you to overcome the certain lies in your own life.

It’s fair to warn you before hand, that some will be more serious than others…but I’ll let you decide which are which.


Lies They Tell You Part 1

 …That crafting/sewing/re-purposing is thrifty.

This is an overwhelming topic to me, as it is false on so many levels.

First: Crafting, sewing and beautifying projects are often unnecessary. I personally think loveliness in the home is important, but with zeal born of frugality-loving, we often go overboard with purely decorative things. I agree that the pillow made out of old ties is fascinating – but do you really want to add it to all the others already piled on the couch?

Second: No matter how hard you try to only use things you have – old shirts, old glue, leftover beads, you inevitably have to buy something else to complete the project. And let’s be honest here. Does a run to the Dollarama ever stay limited to one item? What about the fabric store?! And *cough cough*, Mardens anyone? These dens of crazy-eyed spending are going to suck you in and you are practically predestined to stagger out with oodles of surplus supplies. Let’s admit it. This is just gonna happen.

Third: Any time you enter into that crafting/sewing phase…that hazed, filmy eyed zone you have to get into, some other things are bound to slide. And that frequently costs money. Didn’t have a chance to make supper? Going out to eat is pricey. Forgot to pay the phone bill? That little rap on the knuckles they give you is disgruntling. Looking at your husband and not recognizing him? Divorce settlements are so distressing.

Just kidding!

Fourth: If time is money, I reason that space is money too. And it’s a realistic reality that a lot of projects require collecting stuff over time, before you can complete it. Popsicle sticks, toilet paper tubes, juice can lids, fabric fat quarters of a certain colour. I know this. I’ve been here.

Wait, who am I fooling?

 I AM here.

And all these collected items, stowed cozily away in totes, baskets, boxes and behind doors, take up space. And this space is worth money when translated into mental health, sore toes from endless stubbing, and general sanity.

To illustrate some of these points, I’m going to point to an instance in my life, where I realized with clarity, just how much of a lie this lie is.

Here is an apron.

It started as a thrifty project when I bought a sheet at Value Village. But here is a breakdown of the eventual cost.

Sheet: $3.00
Coordinating fabric: $6.95 per yard.
Rick-rack: $2.97
New sewing machine (because the old one choked on a straight pin): I draw a veil over that price.
Time: At $10 an hour – about $30 in total. Plus, if I’m sewing I am not doing anything else that I might be getting paid for – so that results in a loss of $30 or more.

So essentially – this apron cost me $872.92.

And I’ll probably wear it once every couple months.

Oh yeah. Soo thrifty.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Potluck Politics

It's inevitable. Sooner or later, if you contribute to any sort of organization or social community, you will have to attend a potluck dinner. Some look forward to such occasions as an opportunity for free food. Others dread the ordeal more than running the gauntlet. But the fact remains, if you don't want to sell your possessions, kiss your family goodbye and go live in the middle of the deepest, darkest forest you will have to participate in a potluck. Don't be downcast. You CAN survive, and even learn to enjoy them. In the interests of such an event, I have brought together some rules for you to follow. These will help you maneuver, survive and enjoy the potluck experience.


-If it has a strong, un-foodlike odor. You know the kind I mean. Think burnt rubber, ammonia, etc.
-If you are unable to identify ANY type of food in the dish. If at all possible, avoid the dreaded casserole in which everything is merely a brownish, bubbling mass. Look closely at its surface. If you identify a piece of carrot or celery, you're probably OK. Otherwise, put down the serving spoon as unassumingly as possible and move on.
-If you see large amounts of it left untouched on other people's plates. This is one of the advantages of not being the first to go through the line. You can rest on others' experiences. If your fellow church members, friends, co-workers, etc. are especially nice, they may give you hints on what to avoid. Keep a lookout for the person who, before running to the bathroom, whispers in your ear, 'Don't eat the casserole in the blue dish, second from left.' Take his or her warning, poor thing. It's probably in earnest.
-If you know it was brought by the local half-unhinged hillbilly who has squirrel tails nailed on his cabin door. Yeah. Self-explanatory.
-If you can see fingerprints on it. In other words, avoid devilled eggs and squished sandwiches.


-Do not just take a pound of butter if you happen to be a family of nine. If you are a person who does this, please STOP! You are a great source of torture to children everywhere whose Mothers obsess about the amount of food on the table. If there's not enough, they will be given the dreaded acronym: FHB. Meaning, of course, Family Hold Back. So, don't bring a pound of butter. Bring a side of beef, instead.
-Do not vigorously wash dishes throughout the entire meal with the air of a martyr. Chances are, no one wants you to do the dishes. Everyone else will feel guilty that you're in the kitchen washing dishes and they're out there trying to have a good time. Just come out and talk with a few people. They probably won't bite.
-Do not be the first to go through the buffet if you are a fast eater. You'll end up with an empty plate before everyone else is half done. You'll spend the rest of your time looking at people eat, a sickening pursuit and not very good for your mental health if they eat in a gross manner.
-Do not examine the food as if you suspect it to be full of arsenic. If the food actually does look questionable, feel free to pass it by. But, if it's perfectly good and you're just generally suspicious or hate mushrooms, then you must try to conquer such paranoia.
Most people aren't out to get you. And mushrooms don't taste as bad as you might think. Just. Eat. It.
-Do not, after having seen your child take another cookie from the plate and lick it, tell him to put it back. If necessary, wrestle the cookie from the child's hand and eat it yourself. Germophobes will thank you. And, just as a good rule of thumb, don't trust your children alone beside a dessert table. Not until they're at least 18.


-Do NOT say, 'Well, that was gross,' as you push away your plate. The cook may be lurking near by.
-Do not say, 'Who made this?' Unless you're prepared to say it was good. Never ever ever, ask who made it if it was bad, except if you enjoy lying. In which case, you have some problems.
-Do not say, 'Well, I was cleaning out the fridge and just threw it all together.' On second thought, don't DO that either. That's just gross.
-Do not say, 'Did you like what I brought?' This just puts people in an awkward position if they hated what you brought. Or worse, if they didn't dare to eat it. That's called tempting them to sin. For, only the bravest or most foolhardy person in the world would tell a cook her food was rotten, even if it was.
-Do not say, 'The kids were puking all yesterday. I barely had time to pull these devilled eggs together. Hope you don't catch the bug.' Don't feel offended if the person you were talking to abruptly leaves the table and heads for the bathroom.

I've often thought that one could become an experienced psychologist by just studying human behaviour at potlucks. I'm sure love languages and birth order factor in there somewhere. I myself have identified five types of people who surface at a potluck. I call them...


-Picky Patricia: This lovely lady seems to subsist on crackers and cheese alone for fear that her minions of hated foods lurk in every dish. Things like red peppers, celery, tuna and even olives.
-Snobby Bobby: A close cousin of Patricia's (you always find them sitting together), Bobby only eats food she herself brings. I don't know whether she has some sort of paranoia, or whether she thinks her cooking is more sanctified than everyone else's. Both of these ladies need major 'get over youself' therapy.
-Gluttonous Greg: This guy is a well-known potluck personality. Going far beyond just the good 'knife and fork', this man shows an exorbitant appetite. He's the one going back for seconds before some people have gotten their first helping. He's also the one still eating at the end of the meal like there's no tomorrow, while everyone else is cleaning up. Poor Greg does not mean harm, but a few hints might be in order.
-Wasteful Wendell: Making the penny-pincher's heart ache, this person loads his plate up with more than anyone could ever eat in one sitting (with the exception of Gluttonous Greg). And, he only eats about half of it! I have seen many an agonized look in the eyes of fastidious cooks as their precious creations are scraped into the garbage. The dirty looks that poor Wendell undergoes can't be topped. If only he knew...
-Kind Kathy: My brother and I both admit to being a 'Kind Kathy'. She is usually one of the last people to get some food and she keeps a close eye out for the dishes that have hardly been touched. Then, she takes a large, virtuous helping. She does this because she feels sorry for the cook. There is nothing worse than having to take home an untouched dish that declares you to be a failure. A 'Kind Kathy' is every bad cook's dream. And, sometimes Kathy gets a pleasant surprise. For, the dishes most unappetizing in how they look, are often the most delicious. Beauty is skin deep. But good taste lasts all the way to the bottom of the crock-pot.

I hope that this quick and easy guide to potlucks has helped you. I trust that, next potluck, you will be more mindful of what not to do, say and eat, as well as how to deal and identify with the five potluck personalities. It's really not as hard as it looks! Be strong and be sure that it really is possible to thrive and survive in the potluck world!


Monday, 17 October 2011

The Monday Blues

There is nothing like this food...

eaten with this person...

while looking at this view...

and working on this story... fix any case of the Monday blues.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Necessity...the mother of new recipes?

I'm sure that's how it goes, right?  Have you ever accepted an invitation to dinner with a "Sure! What can I bring?" while your mind is thinking, " you HAVE anything to bring?"  I have...dozens of times and it generally all works out fine.

Here is the result of one of those moments... Pumpkin loaf, turned into Pumpkin Cake...with a little pizzazz on top. =)

What recipes have you re-invented?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Puree Cycle

The time has come. The time is now. Fall colours are at their peak, scarves and sweaters are being pulled out, everyone is sick of turkey and cranberry sauce….

Yes, the time has come to dig down deep in the freezer and pull out your frozen pumpkin puree from last October.

I swear I do it every year. With intentions good, I chop and mash a huge pumpkin and bundle it off into the deep freeze. You know – to make pies all winter long. I never appear to remember that no one in his or her right mind, makes pumpkin pie after Christmas (possibly not even after Thanksgiving). Thus my puree sits. One big block of wasted space.

And not to accuse or generalize, but I suspect there are more people out there who do this too. It’s all right to confess…I understand. We should have a support group.

I don’t usually have any qualms about chucking last year’s stuff before I start on a new batch, but this Fall I decided to rebel against my own worst failing. I was going to use all my puree up – and I wasn’t getting another pumpkin until it was gone.

So last week I took my defrosted puree to task and made…




                         and cake.

There. I think I might have this cycle of puree waste licked.

And that small container of orange stuff I found the next day, under a pork roast in the freezer? I firmly deny its existence.