Monday, November 28, 2016

Chihuly and Teasel

Have you ever heard of Chihuly's Glass Sculptures?
We went to see his exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto
and were blown away (no pun intended).

Such incredible talent and so thankful that we got to see it.

The first time we ever saw any of his work was in Las Vegas 
in the lobby at the Bellagio Hotel - we were amazed.

Then - we saw another piece recently in Nashville in the lobby of the beautiful
Gaylord Opryland Resort.

Here are some pictures from our visit to the R.O.M. yesterday.....

... a perfect way to spend an afternoon with dear friends!
Totally worth the drive to Toronto.

Thanks so much to our friends Karen and Ron,
who told us about this a few months ago.

Wouldn't it be fun to travel the world to discover all the Chihuly installations!!!?

Meanwhile back at the homestead I got busy today,
(inspired by Chihuly?)
(nice weather?)
to get my outside Christmas decorating done.

The teasel, dogwood, and greens were snipped and before I knew it,
the containers and window boxes were filled.

Now to start on the inside decor - what will inspire me for this?

Till next time .... don't miss an opportunity to be inspired.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Walnut (no walnuts) Cake

The Walnut (no walnuts) Cake

This is the cake that my mom so often made as a birthday cake!
Her children and grandchildren remember this cake well.
It was called Walnut Cake but she never used walnuts,
in fact, she often decorated the top with pecans!

I have her hand written recipe which says it came from "Mrs. D. Schwartz",
her sister-in-law - Dad's sister Esther!
I wonder sometimes if my cousins, Laura Ann, Irene, Florence, David, and Wayne
remember their mom making this cake and if so how it was different.
Did Aunt Esther actually use walnuts or raisins???
Did she put brown sugar icing on it like Mom did???

My daughter, Becky, turns 33 today - I simply can't believe it
and this is the cake she requested - eek!
I know that my sister Evelyn has mastered the recipe (with it's scant/no instructions)
but I will give it a try.
After all, it has been so long since I've been able to bake a cake for Becky
on the day of her actual birthday.
In the past years, her birthday was celebrated by telephone or FaceTime while she was living in Alberta!
Sometimes I would bake a cake anyhow for the farmer and I - 😏

I began bravely, after consulting with my sister, putting together the ingredients.
On one of the recipe cards she had written "mix in order and alternate milk and flour".

First I greased and floured the actual cake pan that she always used for this cake.

Somewhere I found a recipe for greasing cake pans that is used by professionals so I mixed up a batch, greased the pan and floured it.

Cake Pan Grease:
Equal parts vegetable oil, shortening, and flour.
Beat till well blended and store in fridge for up to 5 months. This stuff really works well.

The cake baked beautifully (much to my surprise) and came out of the pan perfectly.
I didn't know what temperature to bake it at or how long but used 350F and baked for approx. 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean.

Now the icing (the cake with the "brown" icing) as requested by my birthday girl....
I wonder if this is why they all loved this cake?

Mom's Brown Sugar Icing (as written by her)

1 Cup Brown Sugar - packed
½ Cup Sweet Cream
“Boil till it forms a soft ball in bottom of a glass of cold water.  Add vanilla and a nice (walnut size) piece of butter.  Take off heat and stir till cool and creamy.  Lots of luck, Sarah”

I believe a walnut size of butter is about 2 Tbsp. - I used a heaping 2 Tbsp.

This is the actual depression glass cake plate that Mom always used to serve her Walnut Cake!

With a little fiddling and much needed practice with the icing technique,
it's iced and ready to go.

Pecans - no walnuts in the house, and Mom's apron
Just maybe she never had walnuts around either and used pecans instead? Who knows?

I'll come back later and let you know how it tasted and whether the "Walnut Cake"
 made the grade....

I think it was a success ...

The cake was a tad too sweet - but not as sweet as this girl of ours!
Happy Birthday Becky!

Oh, and one more thing - exactly 5 years ago I posted my very first blog post - Wow!
Here is the link .... (for some reason the pictures did not show up except for one)? 

Till next time ......... Thanks Mom for being the wonderful mother you were and for making amazing memories for us all!!!! I miss you always.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Planting Garlic and The Disappearing Nine Patch!

It's time to plant the garlic!

We purchased some amazing seed garlic from a local humble grower,
Shallot Hill Farm.

This producer, James Harrison, works his fingers to the bone, 
growing shallots, amazing garlic, kale, celery root, sunchokes, a variety of onions,
and much, much more.
He supplies many high end restaurants in our area who feature locally grown produce!

Look at the size of this seed garlic!

We cracked  and planted these beauties just before the rain this morning.

I can hardly wait till next summer to harvest this deliciousness!

Another item he sent home with us was a celery root.
I have never eaten this but it is apparently very good used fresh in salads or roasted and made into a creamy fall soup (I might try that).

He also sent us some "sunchokes" aka Jerusalem Artichoke.
I have never even heard of this but apparently you can also plant this in the Fall.
It grows very tall with yellow flowers and the root can be roasted and eaten as well.
It sort of looks like ginger?

So - we planted a few of these - at the end of our strawberry patch.
(I am noting this here so that I remember what is growing there next summer - eek).

It's fun trying different things.
Perhaps, however, I should have read this article before adding this exotic vegetable
to our garden?
Oops - too late.

On another note - 
I had the privilege this week of being part of a quilting project
at the college where I formally worked - what a great bunch of quilters!
I learn so much from these talented ladies.
The project they are working on for the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale next May is
called "The Disappearing Nine Patch".
I love the pattern and especially the colours that are being used.
Here are a few pictures I snapped as the blocks were being created ...

Nine patches are sewn together, then cut into four, rearranged and sewn back into one patch - cool!

This has me going through my own stash of fabrics and is inspiring me to recreate this pattern too.
The quilt blocks will be sewn together before Christmas and then set up in the college
library atrium for hand quilting in January and February.
Hope I will have some chances to join in on the finishing of this project.

Till next time - have you done any Fall plantings or quilting projects?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Play Dough and Bulbs

A dreary November day calls for some fun ...

It's easy to make ...

2 Cups Flour
½ Cup Cornstarch
1 Tbsp. Powdered Alum
2 Cups Water – Add Food Colouring to Water for Easy mixing 
1 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp. Oil
Heat in a sauce pan, stirring constantly until mixture thickens into a dough consistency. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add a few drops of essential oil for nice smelling dough (optional). Knead till smooth.  Store in airtight container.
I made a half batch this time.

She loved playing with it as Elmo looked on.

Today on November 3rd I finally got around to planting the
special tulip bulbs developed to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017.

They are in the ground on either side of the arbor.
Here's hoping for a nice showing in the Spring of 2017.

A great way to celebrate Canada,
our "home and native land"!!!

We have so so much to be thankful for ...... 

Till next time .... how is your November beginning?

May and June 2022

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