Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Barrista and Bagel Maker

"How do you like your toast?  Brown or black?  Just scrape to desired doneness."  

You would hear those words come out of my mouth if ever I were to make you breakfast.  Say a prayer that situation never happens.  Or excuse yourself quickly and head for the hills.  

I am descended from a long line of fabulous cooks, but sadly I cannot count myself among their ranks.  

I suck at cooking.  Badly.

But how lucky for me, my husband is a fantastic cook!  Not only can he cook and bake, but he is a marvel at many culinary endeavours.

He imports and roasts his own coffee beans.  (Mind you, he nearly burned our house down last year when he left the roaster unattended for a long time in our garage.  But that's another story for another post.)  I think he makes the best damn cup of coffee this side of the Atlantic Ocean.  I never want to go out for a coffee now, because they all pale in comparison to a cup of Joe's java. 

One of Joe's lattes (with a foam heart) in my beloved cafe au lait bowl.

The newest addition to his repertoire is that of bagel maker.  We can't get a decent bagel here in Squamish.  Not for love nor money.  So he went to the internet to research a recipe this weekend and voila!  We had bagels sitting on our countertop a few hours later.

Joe's first batch of bagels.

As soon as the bagels were cool enough to eat, we slathered them with cream cheese and topped them with smoked salmon, onions and capers.

A classic.

Have I mentioned how much I love a man who cooks?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mother and Child Reunion

Big Mama and Harper

I first met Harper close to ten years ago when he was a Grade 6 student.  He and my daughters were members of the local swim team.  We all felt an instant bond with this boy and were devastated when we learned he was moving to Victoria after knowing him for only a couple of months.

To make sure the girls stayed connected with this fun-loving kid, Joe and I invited him to join our family on a two week road trip to San Francisco and Disneyland that summer.  Suffice it to say: that wacky vacation to California cemented our love for one another.  Harper jumped into our crazy family dynamics with a smile on his face, and happily took his turn sleeping on a therma-rest mattress on a series of hotel room floors.

Even though he lived on Vancouver Island, he became a permanent fixture in our house at Christmas, New Years, Easter, Spring Break, and summer holidays.  Many a night found me driving to and from Horseshoe Bay to either pick him up or to drop him off at the ferry terminal.

Harper returned to Squamish to finish high school and I saw him more often.  But like most kids around here, he quickly left this one-horse town for the bright lights of Vancouver as soon as he graduated.

Our paths had not crossed since then.  Until last Sunday.

Harper is currently living in Calgary and was recently in Vancouver to visit friends.  One of which was ME!  

Six of us met for lunch on Commercial Drive.  It was wonderful to see him.  He is tall and handsome.  He is quick to laugh and to make a joke.  Until then, I didn't realize how much I had missed him.    

I've learned that it really doesn't matter how often we see one another.  Because when we do meet up, the years seem to melt away.  I am instantly transported back to a time when Harper is 11 years old, and I am outside mowing my lawn for the fifth time that week when he and Paige bound in the door from school laughing hysterically about something ridiculous.

That boy holds a special place in my heart.  It was wonderful to see him last Sunday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Surrounded By Love

Fencepost Heart

A friend of mine collects heart-shaped rocks.

During the first week of last summer's vacation in Europe, I noticed a bunch of pebbles in a heart formation sitting on top of a fence post in Montserrat, Spain.  I took a photo of it for my friend and decided to keep my eyes open to look for more hearts throughout our trip.  

Stone Wall Heart

And whaddaya know!?  I found them everywhere!  Heart-shaped rocks nestled in stone walls, in cobblestone streets, on baptismal fonts in ancient churches, etched into limestone quarries, and on the feet of marble statues.  

Cobblestone Heart

Baptismal Font Heart circa 1672

Etched-In-Limestone Heart

Sandal Heart

I also found heart shapes cut into shutters, on building walls, and in the dirt.

Shutter Hearts

Dirt Heart

As I said, I found hearts everywhere.  And I still do to this very day.

After our recent Burns Supper I lifted off the red tartan cloth from my dining table and was totally taken by surprise to see a heart-shaped red wine stain on the bottom tablecloth!  (You can't really call it a successful dinner party unless some wine is spilled.) 

Like I said, hearts are everywhere.  So is everything else.  You just have to look.   

Red Wine Stain Heart

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Life As A Couch Potato

Daisy keeps me company on the couch while watching TV.

After spending a very cold and wet morning helping Joe prune some of the trees in our backyard (which was a waste of our time because the trees don't look any different than they did before, except now they are probably worse), I ran for the comfort of the family room couch and decided to spend the rest of the day indoors.

I enlisted the help of: Daisy, a Hudson Bay point blanket, my most recent lover whose initials are PVR, and Joe's new electronic gadget Apple TV.

I don't think I've ever spent as much time in front of the 'boob tube' as I did yesterday!  I laid down around 2pm and didn't get up until 9:30pm!  Joe delivered dinner to me (Reuben sandwiches made with his homemade sauerkraut along with a glass of red wine) at 7 o'clock.  And now that I think of it, I don't even think I got off the couch to go to the bathroom!  Such laziness!

Here is a complete list of my television viewing:

  • 1 movie ('Never Let Me Go')
  • 2 episodes of 'What Not To Wear'
  • 2 documentaries ('Good Hair' and 'The Weird and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia')
  • 1 episode of 'An Idiot Abroad'
  • 2 episodes of 'Glee'
How I love my lazy days.......

Friday, February 4, 2011

Och, Aye

A tea towel tacked onto my front door greets the guests.  
Ceud Mile Failte means 'A Hundred Thousand Welcomes' in Gaelic.

For the past thirteen Januarys, our family has gotten together with the McClements' to celebrate our Scottish ancestry and the birth of Robert Burns.  Actually, it is just a thinly veiled disguise for an excuse to eat rich foods, drink heavily, laugh lots, and to recite terrible poetry with an even worse brogue.

Bruce's delicious Scotch Eggs

We take turns hosting this yearly event and 2011 brought the Burns Supper to our place.  The menu is a potluck affair with dishes supplied by both families.  Bruce's Scotch Eggs are a highly anticipated appetizer.  Just think of it: hard-boiled eggs covered in seasoned sausage meat fried in oil.  Now THAT is my kind of food!

Candles and tartan for Robbie Burns

The 'farin' (meat in Gaelic) is always a prime rib roast accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, Yorkshire pudding, turnip puff, salad, some kind of vegetable, and the venerable haggis.  Now I didn't grow up eating haggis but as a result of these dinners I have grown to like it.  I like it a lot.

"O Chieftan o' the puddin' race"

Each gathering brings new and different activities.  In years past, the McClements girls would entertain us with their highland dancing, or the Sotham kids would play the piano.  One year we all had to tell Scottish jokes.  Another year we had a piper come to adorn our ears with tunes from his bagpipe.  

You can see what a good dancer I am

To aid with digestion, we occasionally leaped up from the dinner table to dance a little fling.

Good friends, good times

The evening often ends with a brisk walk around the block so that we have room in our stomachs to stuff dessert into upon our return.  

Thank you everyone for making this beloved tradition so highly enjoyable, not to mention artery-hardening and liver scleroserizing.