Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2008

Plum Clafouti - Warm from the Oven

Plum Clafouti - Warm from the Oven

Quick!  While Italian (prune) plums are still in season, try this easy dessert that you can get into the oven in ten minutes. Clafouti is very popular in France, where it is frequently made with pears or cherries. It is a dense, not-too-sweet custard that really lets the flavour of the baked fruit shine through. I often make it with frozen cranberries during the winter, adding one or two extra tablespoons of sugar to compensate for the tang of the berries.

INGREDIENTS

8 Tablespoons white sugar, divided

14 Italian prune plums, halved and pits removed

3 eggs

1 and 1/3 cups milk

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

METHOD

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a large (9 or 10 inch) deep dish pie plate. Sprinkle 2 T sugar into pie plate, then arrange plum halves cut-side down on sugar. Sprinkle another 2 T sugar over plums.

In blender, combine remaining 4 T sugar, eggs, milk, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.  Blend until well combined, about one minute. 

Slide middle oven rack out a few inches and place pie plate on rack. Carefully pour contents of blender into pie pan. It will be very full.  Gently slide rack back and bake clafouti for 50 – 60 minutes, until firm.

Serve warm, with a sprinkle of icing sugar, or with a dab of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. If you have an excess of prune plums, stew then down with a bit of water and 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, then sweeten to taste and served with vanilla ice cream over clafouti.

Read Full Post »

Considering that it is a tiny part of a tiny cottage, we have invested a lot of time in the hallway between the bedrooms. A previous owner had removed drywall and framed very shallow (4 inch) raw shelves right into the studs along one wall, then built a frame around it, and installed very heavy wood sliding doors. Ugly, impractical and awkward.

So way back in February, Cottager tore this monstrosity apart and repaired the drywall.

Removing an awkward cupboard

Removing an awkward cupboard

 He then shopped salvage for a 5 panel door for the gaping storage room, and spent hours sanding and repainting it. Even installing the door proved a challenge, since the moldings around the door were akimbo and had to be removed and straightened.

Salvaged door needed a lot of work

Salvaged door needed a lot of work

Then it was my turn.

I was sure that a Leksvik (Ikea) hat rack would be just the ticket for this area. At 48 inches long and 9 deep, it would just (or just about) fit and would give us 16 hooks and four cubbies for seasonal items; scarves and toques in winter, hats and sunglasses in summer. Rattan baskets on top would provide additional storage for unsightly miscellaneous items one likes to keep close at hand. Best of all it would all be out of sight from the main living areas of the house.

But I didn’t want to spend 99$ (plus tax) and exhaust all of Cottager’s good will on the assembly of a new hat rack, and they must be popular, because it took 4 months of intermittent searching on Craigslist to find a used one.

It all came together this weekend. With a few modifications (both to hat rack and door moldings) we managed to MAKE that hat rack fit. One piece of molding is still missing – needs attention from scroll saw.

An ugly plastic light shade was replaced with a hand-crafted shade made of rice paper and bamboo leaves and featuring one green paper frog. This came from one of my favourite shops – The Craft Connection – In Nelson B.C.  A wood-framed and partitioned mirror handed down from Cottager’s much-missed mom really lights up the space. 

The new hallway

The new hallway

 On Sunday morning I started filling gaps between the walls and ceiling. There is a lot of filling to be done but I am highly motivated because the next step could be painting!  Yes, of course the paint normally comes first, but I bear the psychological scars of bad paint choices from my past.  Now that we have essentially finished furnishing the whole cottage and its personality has emerged, I feel more confident about choosing the right colour. I am operating on the belief that the  minor inconvenience of taking down pictures, moving furniture and taping around a hat rack are nothing compared to the risk I would have run by choosing paint first and assembling furnishings later.

Hand-crafted rice paper light shade

Hand-crafted rice paper light shade

Read Full Post »

Uninviting, no ambience

Bedroom Before: Uninviting, no ambience

You would be forgiven for thinking that my bedroom update has fallen by the wayside. You may recall that after a stay at the Indigo Hotel in Ottawa, I resolved to seek a similar feel in my own bedroom – not at the cottage, but at my city home – and posted photos of the inspiring room (A Hotel-style bedroom – Part 2, The Indigo Photos.)

Neither Cottager nor I are big on summer home projects – there are more than enough rainy months on the West Coast for painting and improvements. Still, a bit of progress has been made. I have only postponed taking some ‘after’ photos because it looked unfinished without something on the wall over the bed. A large Ikea print of dogwood blossoms that I had planned to put there proved too large, but looks great on another wall in the room.

Owing to the low light in the room, I painted just two walls and small jog in a third wall with Benjamin Moore Violet Mist. The remaining walls are being done with a harmonizing grey shade called Tundra (also BM.) 

The headboard is a salvaged swing door from a demolished home. The bed linen is all Ikea, with the exception of the bed skirt, which is marked for replacement when something more suitable offers.  I am not normally a fan of lots of pillows, but the goal here was to create a retreat, and a comfortable and quiet place to read or study.  The three large square pillows make the bed a comfortable spot to do either. The bedside lights are also Ikea cheapies.

After some paint and a few little tweaks

After some paint and a few little tweaks

After months of looking for the right something to go over the bed, I finally decided to frame some of our own photos. These are pictures of rocks that are stacked by some patient soul along the seawall at Stanley Park. I’ll change the frames over as soon as I can find some of a similar size with a finer, more modern vibe – preferably in two-tone black and pewter. But for now, they are up, and I really like them. They are personal, inexpensive and kinda zen. 

The frames are temporary but I love the pictures

The frames are temporary but I love the pictures

 Over the winter — time and finances allowing — we will probably put an inexpensive laminate into this room. I am still looking for just the right armchair and footstool to fall into my lap. These things can’t be rushed when one is on a budget.  Considering how neglected and awful this room was, I’m pretty happy with what has been achieved with paint and a few inexpensive updates. It is restful and, at this moment, beckoning. And so to bed.

Read Full Post »

Every mom knows that September marks the real New Year. After gorging on guacamole and Nuttin Butter ice cream for two weeks, I am filled with brave new resolutions. We will eat grains and legumes! (Chili is on the stove and granola bars are in the oven as I write.) I will walk every day, get organized, clean out under the bathroom sink, review our insurance policies…. 

Along with this surge of energy and enthusiasm is that familiar sad feeling that it all went too quickly. I think of summer as a shotgun shack: Step up onto the porch and you can see right out the back door. Things are left undone. I didn’t ride my bike as often as I wanted. I haven’t made any jam. People I hoped to see for drinks or dinner never got those invitations. But I did spend lots of time with my kids. They both grew a couple of inches in as many months. 

At the cottage, I hoped to plant some grapes, complete a transformation of the hallway, and have many more visitors. Here on my blog I planned to post recipes for crispy caramel ice cream bars and for my mom’s guacamole – the best ever! But just now it seems like the time for those has passed. Perhaps we will have a spectacular September and some of these things will still get done, but I know that once September hits, we generally find ourselves right back on our hamster wheels. Ready or not, Happy New Year!

Read Full Post »