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Archive for March, 2008

gangs all here Sis carves the turkeyCottager’s dinnerA visit from Gypsy

Another milestone was reached as we hosted our first dinner party at the cottage last weekend. My sister and her family, plus Gypsy the dog, arrived on the noon ferry for a first look at our new place. Luckily, the weather was a little bit better than forecast: We managed a chilly walk along the beach to the village for gelato, and spent a little time on the deck and in the garden before the wind and rain set in.  My sister was even able to identify some of my plants.  That tree in bondage?  A really well-established peiris is the verdict

In honour of the occasion, I agreed to set aside a long-standing, self-imposed prohibition on the cooking of festive turkey dinners.  I wish I could say this edict – known in the family as my ‘Turkey Fatwa’ arose from some deep compassion for the birds, but in fact, I just find preparing a turkey a huge hassle and the resulting meal generally over-rated.  

Trying to ‘time’ the bird – it always does a lot faster or a lot slower than one expects – with side dishes, extraction of stuffing, gravy prep and carving  – well the only thing that ever seemed to arrive hot to the table was me.  And dealing with the greasy carcass afterward. . . !

Now a ham. . . that is what I call a fine festive meal. I buy a large bone-in butt portion. There is no washing, drying, removing nasty parts from cavities or lengthy massaging (a family turkey tradition – don’t ask!)

Almost impossible to mess up – I just baste my ham a few times with a mixture of dijon mustard and apricot jam. Carves in a jiffy. Next day, there are rashers of fried ham for breakfast, and later in the week, a divine pea soup.

Still, Easter is a time for making peace and for renewal.  So I renewed my efforts, and with a few short-cuts, made peace with turkey. A quick rinse, foregoing the ritual massage and the use of a stuffing bag made the initial prep pretty painless, though I spent about half an hour decontaminating the kitchen from imagined pathogens afterward. Gravy was made from a mix, side dishes were kept to a reasonable number, Sis carved and plates were filled from the kitchen. And it tasted pretty good.

So what if I forgot to remove the giblet bag from the neck cavity? If I’m not mistaken, discovering it midmeal is actually considered ‘lucky’ in some cultures. 

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Here is just some of the stuff we have pulled out of the garden over the past few weekends. And there is lots more to come. As we were considering how to dispose of it, new neighbour Doug leaned over the fence to tell us about the nearby Community Green Waste Depot. 

We have already delivered one load, but unfortunately, no-one was present to fill me in on where the green waste goes, or what it is used for. The town website doesn’t say either, but have no fear, I will find out. For now it is enough to know that it is open 7 days a week and free to use.

Things like this just make me feel better and better about choosing this great little town. Now if I could just get the spiders out of my van!  

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It isn’t a style of furniture. It’s how my kids describe our family’s M.O. 

When new friends ask them if they have a playstation or a game cube, the answer is “Neither, we’re Modern Amish.”

No game system, no plasma, no HD – but we did get cable on trial last year. Still not much worth watching. The lads probably don’t realize that only my fascination with Euro-origin HGTV shows stands between us and a cablectomy. 

Big Urchin wants a cell phone. He says he is the only 13 year-old he knows without one, and I tend to believe him. We are both lucky and unlucky enough to live in that kind of neighbourhood. I sense that he aspires to a phone with ‘features’ – the bells and whistles that his dad and I, with our Free-with-Contract non-flip phones, don’t even aspire to. 

BU is increasingly out and about, and I do want to be able to keep in touch with him, so there may be a sort of mini-Rumspringa in his future. I have suggested that he use his considerable computer skills to find the best deal he can, then bring it to me, along with a cost-sharing proposal. That was last week, and I haven’t heard a word about it since. 

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castiron-switchplate.jpg

I loved this cast iron switchplate the moment I saw it, and started calculating the number and sizes I would need for the cottage.

Bad news: Only this size in stock. Good news: More on order.

Bad news: Discontinued. Good news: Our other store…? 

But today, switchplate hope was crushed.

I’ve looked at other castiron products on-line but don’t see any I like as well. And I’m still going to use this as a one-off. Who needs matchy-matchy anyway?  I am moving on.   

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A pretty nice weekend, weatherwise, but since both urchins had tickets to a dance on Friday night, we were trapped in suburbia. Seemed like a tragedy, but by Sunday I was entirely reconciled to the situation. Doesn’t this sound like a nice day? Sleep in; swedish waffles for breakfast; bike ride to a nice cafe for coffee; afternoon spent reading a great book (Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer – recommended); afternoon ‘debrief ‘ over beer and guacamole with the neighbours; a quick dinner of quesadillas and early to bed.

But today came the reckoning: Costco and Save-On shopping in driving sleety rain. Uggh.

So I stopped into the nursery for a browse around and bought some seeds to start indoors and remind me daily that this winter will end. I bought some lavender, which I hope to get going on the edge of the driveway. I imagine it in such quantities that you can’t help but crush some underfoot as you arrive at the cottage. Not likely, but a pretty picture.

To teach myself patience, I bought true lavender, which will not flower until next year. I am already regretting this. I am not patient, nor is there much prospect of my ever learning to be so.

I also bought two types of sweet pea: Galaxy Mix and Astronaut Mixed. The latter advertises that since this variety “does not produce tendrils extra effort is put into creating show quality blooms.” I am not entirely clear on how these plants will climb without tendrils, but I am game to find out. By growing two different kinds of sweet peas, I am hoping to stir the competitive nature of each to outperform the other. It works like that, right?

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