Friday, October 27, 2017

...On the (in)convenience of blinds....

A few years ago I changed the window dressings of the upper front rooms in the house - these rooms would be the bathroom and the front (our) bedroom.

Actually, if the truth were known, I would gladly have left the windows bare - all the better to see you with - no wait - all the better to let all the light in - I am a morning person!!

However, I decided to respect the family nature of the neighbourhood and have a blind or two, on the upper windows.

Enter my son. It seems that the blinds I had chosen from Ikea, let the light in, but did not screen out the activity in the effected rooms. One could actually see, through a haze, towels, shower heads and maybe the odd body part or two - sigh.

My son opted to shower in the dark. So, am I the mother/decorator from Hell?



We discussed the problem over dinner. It was at this point that I realized the transparent nature of the blinds was not the real issue. The problem was actually more of a sociological one.

He said, " Look at all the people on the street. They all have curtains or blinds on their windows."

This is where I knew I had failed!! Failed, not in following the everyday conventions of other people, but failed, in my communication, of the fact, that you don't have to be like other people, all the time. Yes, it's important, to follow the main rules, most of the time, however, where, let's say, taste, art, and/or individual preference is concerned, it is important to be yourself.

My answer was, "I have spent most of my life (as had my parents before) not doing what other people do." This is not a purposeful statement to stress, that "we are different - so there". It is just that we have always followed our own instincts - right or (hopefully not) wrong. Yes, I do love what other people do. It's just that I have to do what's right for me/us - well, maybe not all of us!!

The picture - for those who would see through the darkness into light - just sayin'

Have an unconventional day.



Monday, October 09, 2017

Tomato Soup for the Soul...

......I know the book is "Chicken Soup for the Soul," but our area of Toronto has not, as yet, been designated a "live chicken" area, so I didn't have any chickens alive or dead to make chicken soup. However, I did have lots of tomatoes!!

I have become increasingly wary of mass produced food, delicious, as it may be, with all those additives. As a result, I've been trying to get as much unadulterated food as I can into my cooking, on my table and subsequently into my body!!

I'm not yet at the point where I want to move to a farm and house livestock, however, this year, I turned my front lawn into a market garden. I planted tomatoes - big and small, red and yellow. I planted aubergines (eggplants) all long and tubular and I planted peppers, red, green, yellow, sweet and hot. Beans and peas were varied in their output and Zucchini needs to learn how to grow in shade!! Did I mention that cucumbers disguise themselves and are only noticed when they turn yellow and Romaine lettuce, a little tough at times, is my knight in shining green armour.



I have always had herbs in pots, however, this year, I was able to increase my basil plants in the garden, thereby freeing up more space, in the pots, for parsley, chives, thyme, sage and rosemary - I feel a song coming on!!

Now, I have the 10 foot diet, better than the 10,000 mile diet. Ten feet from my front door, I have the ingredients for pasta sauces, soups, almost any vegetarian meal, gifts for neighbours, food for raccoons, etc. etc. Fortunately gardening and cooking are chores I don't mind, which is lucky, indeed, because there is always too much of everything in September and lately October. This is how it came to pass that I spent my entire Thanksgiving weekend cooking. It was, however, very therapeutic. I not only fed my body, I fed my soul, reaching Nirvana with my tomato soups.



Here is how it went.

1. Our friend, Brenda, came for Thanksgiving dinner on Friday night. Brenda knows everything about cooking and mentioned that she often made her own tomato soup. Wow, was I impressed!!

2. I searched on-line for some easy tomato soup recipes and adjusted one I found from the UK to my style of cooking. It was very easy to start with, but I made it even easier.

3. The recipe called for 2 pounds of tomatoes - about 10 tomatoes. Well, in my haste, I confused the numbers and thought I needed 10lbs of tomatoes. After coring and chopping 5lbs, I re-read the directions. My husband thought this was hilarious, until I mentioned that he could be eating tomato soup for breakfast!!

4. I hauled out my cast-iron casserole, which was the only pot big enough for all the tomatoes and I began cooking. Did I mention that I love using this heavy but beautiful pot. It takes me to rural France, every time I lift the lid.

5. To two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil, I added two chopped onions and sweated everything over low heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes. I then added 5 cloves of garlic crushed and half a teaspoon of sea salt.



6. To this mixture I added 5lbs of tomatoes cored and chopped. Yes, I could still get the lid on. After the tomatoes had softened and disintegrated into a watery mass. I took the lid off and added 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme and about six leaves of fresh basil. I added some black pepper, a little more salt and two whole dried chilli peppers. I did not add a spice such as nutmeg, cinnamon or cloves. The UK recipe called for Garam Marsala, which I skipped.

7. Everything thickened nicely, so I didn't even add the two tablespoons of rice called for in the original recipe as a thickener and skipped the extra cup of water and two more tablespoons of butter - whatever was she thinking!!

8. After using my immersion blender, I pushed the whole pot (contents of the pot, that is) through a sieve and ended up with a very creamy - no cream added - mixture. That tasted wonderful!!

This was a soup with the only chemical addition being sea salt. The tomatoes were organic, of course, as were the basil leaves and thyme sprigs. The onions and garlic were commercial and the butter and olive oil may have been doctored, but I didn't add water (city water) and no extra flavour enhancers.

I loved it so much, I took all the tomatoes I had cored and frozen in the small freezer of my fridge and made another batch - make that 3 batches, I had another 5lbs of tomatoes.

Nirvana, thy name may also be Big Boy or Bonnie Best. Next year, all I'm planting are heirloom tomatoes, to avoid any that may be genetically modified.

Have a slurpy day!!



Saturday, October 07, 2017

Would that everything were as simple..II

Door knobs to doughnuts....or something like that. In a previous post, I mentioned that I was thrilled to solve, what I thought was the mysterious shifting of the house, with the simple answer that my son had oiled all the hinges in the home. As a result, doors stood awkwardly open or closed inappropriately, when they should have done the opposite. But at least it was not the fault of a seismic leap of the foundations and a similar seismic thrust of money from our bank account for repairs. I am ever grateful for the simple things in life!!

Well, last week, we had a similar situation. OK, it wasn't the house, but is was our bikes and, although it didn't cost a lot of money - $17.50 to be exact, it was the difference between life and death, maybe. Let me explain

My husband and I get out to cycle 20 kms - more or less - once a week from April to October. Well, lately the cycling had become significantly more arduous. I didn't "get it." This should be easier. Weren't we building muscles, endurance, stamina? With a sigh, I resigned myself to what I thought was the steady aging process. Only I wasn't keeping it a bay. It was maybe, not so slowly, taking over - sigh!!



Enter the flat tire. We had actually taken a few days to cycle a favourite trail - Le p'tit train du nord - in the Laurentians. On the last leg of our trip, and maybe that of my body, my husband's front tire went flat. Uncharacteristically, we had packed a hand pump in the panniers. We began to pump - not easy and no one stopped to help, either!! Finally the tire was pumped enough to get us the last 3 kms to a village, where we knew there was a bike repair shop. Voila! the inner tube had a puncture, which was fixed for $15.00 and the shop owner, pumped the tires on both bikes for another $2.50.



It was then I discovered, to my great delight, that I wasn't slowly dying from exhaustion. The stamina problem was the fact that I had just 3lbs of pressure in my tires, when I should have had 60lbs. Needless to say, our last 10kms, were a dream!! I was "pumped" so to speak. I felt as though I had shed 10 years from my aching body, which miraculously didn't ache anymore. Tour de France here I come!!

Would that I could solve all those nasty life threatening problems with just a hand pump.

Have an exhilarating day!!