Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Dinner #1

I am going to have multiple Christmas dinners this year, starting with yesterdays. The guys who live here saw the 17 pound bird on the counter thawing on the counter on Friday and couldn’t help noticing the price. “Where did you get that much turkey for $17?”, they asked.

“A Red Hot Deal at the Coop this week,” I answered, “and we are going to have Christmas dinner on Sunday.”

Kelvin requested turnips and sweet potatoes. And I had planned to use up that last of the 10 cabbages with an Asian coleslaw salad.

I did a fancy cut on some carrots and added potatoes, gravy and home made buns. That was the meal. I never stand at the counter and roll dough into buns without thinking of the day Billie Bates came to my house and taught me how to make perfect rolls and Nanaimo squares.

Connor passed through the kitchen and I passed the talent on to him, first demo-ing and then letting him work on some of the hand rolls. I added a lesson parker house rolls for him as well, something bakeries don’t sell anymore – too labour intensive.

Remember, those rolls Wyora would make for quilting luncheons, the ones that would break open with just the smallest bit of pressure? Well, we served them at our house yesterday.

Hard not to pull out the Italian antipasto olive mix or the garlic stuffed olives for the table in some divided dish and think of Glen saying, “Where are the dill pickles? Wyona always puts those on.”

As well we started out with Costco’s new blueberry covered feta (do buy some ... divine) as well as some boursin and jalapeno havarti with crackers on the side as appetizers.

When the hot buns were on the counter by noon, Mati was lured out of his room with the smell. “Start the dinner five hours early and have one of the mini-loaves of bread while it was hot”, I said.

“Just one,” he said. I later heard him tell the other guys, “I started the meal early. Arta said to have just one, but I couldn’t stop until I have eaten four. It is evening now and I am still not all that hungry.”

Deviled eggs is the most untraditional of items to serve for Christmas dinner. I do it for those who don’t eat meat, the vegetarians – kind of like serving them mini-chickens.

I am always having trouble figuring out if I should be saving the extra turkey I buy on special or using it up and freeing up freezer space (for deer meat, since the third one is now hanging in my garage). Hard call.

Next Sunday, I am just going to cook a turkey and salad. Just that! I don’t have to do the dinner that takes a whole day to prepare just because I know how to throw a turkey in the oven and come back 4 hours later to it being cooked.

In two weeks, I will be having to use up the turkey in turkey salad, turkey pot pie, turkey a la king, turkey sandwiches, and the turkey soup. By then the soup will be half turkey and half vegetables because we will be slowing down our great powers to eat turkey meat.

I always boil the bones, a habit from so long ago. Just getting one more meal out of the turkey. Now I know that the broth is so absolutely scrumptious that I have moved the reason for the boil from being thrifty to wanting that delicious flavour.

I have the method down to a science. While my meat cutter is taking the meat from the carcass, I have him put the bones right into my boiling pot. In less than a minute I can add 12 peppercorns, 2 carrots and 2 onions. There is nothing in the way of preparation for the soup pot than skinning the 2 onion and quartering them (as well as remembering where I put the peppercorns last. ).

I then put the pot on the back burner with a low simmer and let things go while we eat a leisurely dinner. It only took me 50 years in the kitchen to learn how to get that pot boiling early. Three hours later when the food is all put away in the fridge, and the dishwasher is going, the broth is ready to strain. If I have been really good at getting the turkey off of the bones, I don’t even go after the bits of meat that are in the pot – save time, get the bones in the garbage, that broth into the fridge and lay down for a nap – because I, too, have over-eaten, everything was so delicious.

So ... Christmas Dinner #1 is down and I am counting.

What is the holiday season for, if not for feasting in the company of friends?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Greg talking about his Holiday.

Greg talking here:

As any of you have been to Edinburgh know, the city is built on hills and bluffs which together with its many historic buildings, make it unique amongst European cities and well worth a visit. This is from someone who never visited, despite living for four years only a few hundred miles away.
We are visiting Scotland during the worst early winter in 17 years. Taking advantage of the weather, Wyona started
a snowball fight. Actually, she just threw one snowball which the camera caught in mid-flight.

The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish parliament, Holyrood. The gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse welcome the visitor to history in the making. Devolution as it was called by the Labour government which granted Scotland self-government, perhaps was

not fully aware of the implications.

The view under the North Bridge of the skyline of Calton Hill is typical of Edinburgh. Calton Hill includes the National and Nelson's Monument, St. Andrew's House and the Old Observatory.

Edinburgh Castle is the dominate site of the city, visible clearly from everywhere, that is, except when the fog roles in. Then it takes on a haunting quality, as it does in this photo. The monument in the foreground is to the Royal Scot Greys.

The last photo is of the "patron saint" of all business people, Adam Smith. His seminal work, the Wealth of Nations, was published in 1776 was the foundation of modern economics. Some have speculated that it had a major influence on the development of the United States for which 1776 is also an important date.

Explorer Quotient

The federal government created the Canadian Tourism Commission in 1995 to help promote Canada as an international destination, encourage Canadians to travel in their own backyard, and to promote Canada as a place for conventions, business meeting, etc.  Their website is quite interesting and worth gander.  More importantly to all the travellers on this blog is the EQ or quick quiz you can take to see what kind of traveller you may be.  Some of you may already know but now you can have a label (we all know how much we love labels in this family, 7's ROCK!)  It is a short quiz and will help you find the correct and appropriate places to travel in Canada, with the right number of people, with the correct type of people.  Enjoy!

Moiya and David in San Diego and at Point Loma


We got up to Point Loma and saw the statue of Cabrillo. The view was spectacular. We were able to see Coranodo Island, the Pacific Ocean all around the light house, San Diego, the harbour, many sailing vessels, a VERY LARGE container ship, and some small boats that might get crushed by the other ships if they got in the way. At certain times of the year you are able to see the whales too.

They closed all the doors to the many museums up there at 5 PM. It was starting to get dark.

As we were going back down the hill towards San Diego, I saw the most brilliant show of lights on one of the streets we passed. I exclaimed, "You must turn back Brandon!" I took a lot of pictures.

Several of the homes have dedicated the rooms with windows at the front of their homes to decorations ... so if you can just imagine how it might look to ... see a three dimesional picture with a frame around it; the window being the frame and they had Mr. & Mrs. Santa claus at work in the shop with all sorts of other elves, bears, etc that were all animated.

You could also see the lights of San Diego in the background as we were still at the top of Point Loma. Absolutely incredible!

Sarah and Curtis have been down in Lethbridge with Dan and Marina. I think they go to Medicine Hat on Sunday. They will then come back to Lethbridge when their immigration papers arrive on Monday or Tuesday. It will then be time to start their journey back to their new home in Fort Polk. You should see the beautiful homes on some of the bases here in San Diego. Tthey don't even look like a base. They are just in the communities.

It only got to 63 degrees today.


Moiya and Dave

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scotland, a "Winter Wonderland".

Sunday, 2 a.m. Nov.28
On Friday we arrived in Edinburgh. Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. we walked to the train station to catch a train. Walked out the door and there was snow on the ground with black ice under the few inches of snow. I grabbed Greg, hung on tight as we left.
We never ate until we got on the train. Then I brought out the blueberries. Greg put his claw in the blueberries and then shifted the blueberries

into his other hand before he popped the lot of them into his mouth. Twice he dropped some blueberries. I demonstrated to him...use your pinchers, two fingers, pick one berry and pop it in your mouth. It works! Then you don't have to wash clothes in the laundromat so often.
After the third station stop, I saw Greg rubbing his hands together and saying, "This is fun! Only 22 more stops to go. I'll travel with you anytime. I just love trains."
There you have it Gabe, your grandfather loves trains and he is 68 years old. Our train section was very cold so I brought out a couple of extra large scarves and put them on my legs but Greg seemed to want to share my scarves. I brought plenty to go around.
I am still not good at the writing and picture thing so I am just going ahead. Please fix this Arta before anyone sees it. The world was a Winter Wonderland! Snow, colors, lochs, trees, craigs, mountains and such different scenic views. This is the second time I have taken this trip in 7 months and it gets better every time.
We saw many groups of deer and moose through the moores.
There were pine forests which the government has planted. It even looked like there were pine beetles at work.
It took just over 7 hours to get to Mallaig, Scotland. It was a little chilly. Notice my nice new leather coat bought in Turkey. Oh that's right. You can't see it for the scarves I have wrapped around me for warmth.
One of the guards as he walked by told us there was a great view coming up and there was just a 2-3 second window to take the picture. We tried! Then the guard invited me to step outside with him at one of the stops. He commented on the train ride being the most beautiful in the world. And then he said, "I get paid for doing this job and seeing this view every day. I get paid well!"
The streak that you may see going right through the photograph is a streak of ice on the window. We ate cheese, crackers, yogurt and even bought a sandwich at Mallaig.

We also bought a litre of orange/juice drink for Greg. He tasted it and said it was so sweet and the label said no added sugar. So I took a small glug. It was strong, sweet and sour. So Greg continued to drink the orange until halfway through the litre bottle I read the label. It was suppose to be mixed 1 part to 4 parts water. That accounted for the strength. Next time we will read the labels.
I commented to one of the conductors that it was a lovely day. He said, "Aye, it's nice, eh?"

And yes, it was a most beautiful day!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bates Go to Mallaig

We are off on our 22 day journey through England, Scotland and Wales (Whales to you Arta) only we already lost two days because we leave before 22 days. When I phoned the hotel from Calgary, I was told we could leave our luggage at the hotel while we travelled to and from London. Now the hotel wants 10 pounds a day to store the luggage. So we left dragging 6 bags, 3 too many. Greg is going to contact one of his women at the office to store two of the big bags before we go on our next trip out of London. We took a cab from our hotel to Kings Cross.

I waited in the ticket line with my three suitcases in order to activate our passes. I was100 metres ahead of Greg. An official looking worker approached Greg and told him to jump the line and he work activate our Britrail passes.

I backtracked my steps. Then the man escorted us and took a piece of luggage to the 9:30 a.m. train leaving in two minutes for Edinburgh. We got on the train; I zoomed in to stake out some good seats while Greg lagged behind sorting luggage. Another conductor told Greg it would be better if he got off and took the 10:00 a.m. train which was direct to Edinburgh, rather than changing trains at York.

Again, I backtracked. That train left as Greg went to secure a luggage cart which we did not need. I asked him for the Britrail passes as he returned. He felt his pockets and did not have them. I checked my purse and pockets, no passes. So my mind was working trying to get back our Britrail passes which I had perhaps left of the train table of the 'gone away' train. I double checked everywhere including Greg's pockets. There were the Britrail passes. Now I am the guardian of the Britrail passes, just like I was when travelling with Arta.

Once the train started and we had our four seats, Greg rubbed his hands together, a grin on his face and said, "We made it. A perfect holiday." Our passes are in first-class where there are some freebies given out. When the steward came by I asked for hot chocolate which was free in the spring in first class. He told that it would be 4 pounds. So I told him we would take anything that is free. He offered us water, coffee and biscuits. Then he asked if we wanted ice because it was free, also. I took it!

Today is the coldest day in London for 17 years. Great day to start a trip.

Our hotel room in London was smaller than our state room on the cruise ship. However the shower in London is bigger and recently finished. One of our suitcases is just full of food we never finished in London. Greg finished off some pastries in our hotel room but I did not start eating until on the train. I brought out blueberries and bananas. I eat one blueberry, Greg drops a handful in his mouth. I place the blueberries out of his reach. I begin eating a shortbread cookie, put it down, go to take another bite and the thing has been nearly finished. Shades of Arta. She was always taking my biscuits.

Last night we saw La Boheme. It was so exquisite! I must get out my I Pod that Marcia loaded and listen to it. Greg went out with me one morning in London to get show tickets. Then he did four shows in two days plus the wash. He was exhausted afterwards and wondered when the holiday would start. It started this morning when I never insisted we get up at 5 a.m. in order to catch the 6:00 a.m. train to Edinburgh.

Oh, here comes the trolley again with some freebies.

Love to all of you and wish you were all here!


P.S. Now, 10 hours later. I composed and wrote this message while on the train. But it would not save or send. Luckily, I copied it and pasted it in a microsoft document. It seems I can read and write but not save or send. We are checked into our hotel in Edinburgh, gone for a walk, Greg an extended walk and we are ready to knock out but it is 8:30 p.m...too early. We are up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the 7 a.m. train to Mallaig. Remember Arta and Tonia? I just read on line that this RR trip is rated the best in the world...better than the trip through the Canadian Rockies. I reported that to Greg and he said, says whoa!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Deader than a Door Nail

I made some beautiful whole wheat bread that did not rise, yesterday. Neither did the cinnamon buns rise last week. And two weeks before that, my white bread was heavy and dense – the loaves would have made good doorstops. Today I did an experiment with the yeast. I put some in a cup of water with some sugar and watched it over the period of an hour. In 10 minutes it should have been bubbling, but it wasn’t. Two hours later I swirled the water and the best I can say is ...that is the first time I have had DEAD yeast.

I read once that some Egyptian archaeologists pulled some old yeast out of a pharaoh’s tomb and they were able to activate the yeast. That made me think that yeast never dies. I wonder how the scientests did that, how they got the yeast?

Tomorrow I am going to Costco to get a large can of yeast and then use it faster than the last can, the residue of which I threw out. Three failures with bread dough is two to many for me.

Frank's Hot Sauce

David Pilling left me two litres of Frank’s Hot Sauce when he moved to northern Alberta, a place where someone could really make use of hot sauce. One day at a time I try to think of a new place to use it, either teaspoons full of it, or just a few drops. I read that a couple of tablespoons into the mixture when making hamburger patties deepens the flavour of the burgers.

I over-bought cabbages a couple of weeks ago (only by 6 extra, 6 large ones), and seeing that the hot sauce is going down slowly, I began to use it on the boiled cabbage. Yum, even if you don’t like cabbage. Tonight I wondered if I could heighten the flavour of the chilli I was eating, and sure enough, Frank’s Hot Sauce is good there as well. By the time David gets back to Calgary, I will have become a Frank’s Hot Sauce addict myself.

Happy American Thanksgiving to all who pulled out turkeys today.

Mmm. Wonder if that could be improved with some Frank’s Hot Sauce.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cold in Alberta

I can create some fictions, but not one that will trump having my two sisters either on cruises or anticipating a cruise in the next two weeks Fiction is what I would be reduced to, to make my life sound more interesting than theirs. To tell you the truth, -30 wind chill is cold and that is what is facing Albertans today. One of my kitchen windows had the Jack Frost ice crystals all over it. The guys who live here don’t know (yet) that you have to close the outside and the inside window when winter comes. My handy hair dryer took care of melting the ice so that I could take care of being able to move that window. Rebecca told me this morning that there is snow in Victoria. Snow closes down Victoria, at least a few inches of it. Commerce keeps chugging along in Calgary, even at the deepest, darkest temperatures.

When Lurene lived here, and she wanted to know what temperature it was outside, she would put her hand out the door as she came up from downstairs. She wouldn’t have to do that today, for the door knob on the inside of the house is frosted. Temperature control is variable in the house. The basement is always a number of degrees colder than the upstairs. As I run from upstairs to down, and even from room to room, and thirdly, depending if my activity is at a vigorous level or if I am sedentary, the gloves, heavy sweaters and scarves come on and off, then off and on around here.

I went to have a hearing test at the Health Science Centre, one scheduled since early spring. I rescheduled once when the timing wasn’t good for me. They rescheduled once when the timing was bad for them. I was there ½ hour early yesterday, barely out of my scarves, woolly black hat and lined ankle-length coat, only to have to put them back on again, for the fire alarm began to ring. When all was said and done, a broken water pipe was flooding the area called 5B, the one where the test was scheduled. “I am not authorized to tell you how long it will take until you can go up to that floor, but from the look of the firemen running back and forth with the hoses and clean-up material, I don’t think I would wait,” said the woman at the Information Desk downstairs.

Back home I went to re-schedule. The bus driver’s don’t check your transit passes when it is this cold. They just tell you to get on the bus so they can get the doors closed as fast as possible.

I could tell that Richard had been over here yesterday, earlier than I got up. When I was outside to take a look at my car, it was plugged into a new electrical cord. Not just any cord, but a fluorescent green cord with a light on the end that lets me know electricity is going through the cord when I plug it into my block heater. Richard warned me that it would cost $15 more, a modest expense, compared to what I would be spending if I were on a cruise. I went for the top of the line equipment for my block heater. Small extravagances. Why not?

Speaking of Richard, I went to get into my email and had to close down a couple of windows: “Cam’s Taxidermy” and “Ryan’s Meat Processing”. I am pretty sure I was not the one out googling those sites. As well, I have gone to the garage and checked out Little-Whitetail Doe. Matriram Pun was the first one who told me that the animal was stunning, hanging there, antlers, head, skin and all -- gutted from stem to stern, and then he made an imaginary cut down his own body to show me what to watch for.

I may not be on the cruise, but still, every day in real life is one I would not want to miss.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Santorini, Greece...Snow on the mountains

It took me about a week eating breakfast before I learned how to make a Shuswap waffle.

Here we are, looking like we are having so much fun. It was a glorious day weatherwise. We walked our feet off in Santorini.

We took the cable car up the side of the mountain. It is a long way down. The cable car moves quickly.

A breathtaking view of Santorini, Greece from the boat. The Rocks come right out of the sea. And at first the top of the mountain looks like it has snow on it. Really, it is the houses. Greg passed on riding the donkey up the path,then he was going to walk up the path and meet me at the top. He was happy he took the cable car up.

Just shopping way back in this store. The sidewalks are laid with rocks into all sorts of patterns.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hunting, not for the faint of heart...

I've wanted to start typing since about 9am this morning. I'm going to write, and we'll adjust the story line another day.

1. I caught my first animal.

2. I'm going to start using dash's, because numbering will imply linear thought.

-I caught a white-tailed deer this morning. A buck. Nice set of antlers.

-It is sitting in my mom's garage tonight. Hanging from the ceiling.

-My renter, Juan, and my father-in-law, Chris, helped me lift it to the
ceiling. ( not easy with 3 men, even for a 'little white-tail')

-I shot it by accident.

-I had to drag it about a mile through the bush to get it to the truck. Not easy

-I had a little moment with it where I thanked it, and evaluated my intentions and the 'rightness' of it all'.

-It was much harder to hit then a paper target at the shooting range.

-My father-in-law is much more picky about what he shoots. I'd take anything: he'll only take the best.

-I met a native man. At one point i asked about what he'd bought for tags, and he said "I'm sorry to say, but I'm native", (which means he doesn't have to buy tags, he just hunts what he wants... lucky) to which I replied, "Don't be sorry about that, that's awesome". An interesting interaction. I really liked the guy.
He and his friend shoot 300 caliber. Same as Doral Pilling. One was shooting Win Mag, the other Ultra Mag. Doral shot 300 H&H. All very similar.

-I was sure I'd gag and vomit while cutting a human-sized animal open to gut it. I'm a very delicate person. I didn't gag once.

-Hanging a deer from Arta's garage gives me pause on hanging something 3-5 TIMES as big.... like an elk or moose.

-Some people find their peace in yoga, or church, or reading or painting. I have found mine in the forests of Alberta.

=Chris's bone-saw broke while I was cutting the breast bone. Funny that you buy something once for a specific job... and then it breaks.

-Watching U-tube videos did help prepare me for gutting

-I still love my dog, and he still loves me after killing something.

-Out out damn spot... the blood washes off pretty easily.

-You catch things when you don't go out expecting them.

-Doe stare at the buck. If you see doe in the distance, and you think that they're looking at something, they're probably looking at the buck. So don't bother with them. Just look to where they look and you'll find the big buck.

-Four pair of socks isn't enough at -25.

-Three pairs of skinny finger gloves isn't as good as 1 pair of fingers, and 1 pair of wind-proof mitts.

-Hunting with a ridiculous mustache makes you look silly when you're ready for your picture with your animal.

-Hunting is exhausting.

-The worst day of hunting is still wonderful.

-A forced 8-12 hours of sitting in the mountains with binoculars is very centering.

-If you don't have moose tags you'll see a million moose.

-Coyotes will sit in a field for hours. We saw one, went for lunch for 2 hours, and it almost hadn't moved when we came back. Cute little field dogs.

-Three hundred caliber that Doral used is good enough for moose (good enough for the biggest animals), and is good to 1000 yards if you've got a sweet custom rifle set up. The guy with the native was sporting the sickest rifle EVER!!!! a 6x18 leopold, with a glass bedded long action 7mm, converted to a 300 ultra mag... so sick. unbelievable. Probably $3000 worth of rifle and glass.

-Arta's great. Using my freezing hands after 12 hours of the cold on her, I woke her up, put my cold hands on her face, and she smiled the most beautiful smile.

I didn't think this would end up sticking so well for me...I haven't felt a hobby feel so natural before.

-We hit an elk on the way out at 5 am for this hunt. It ran across the road as we were driving out of the city. We hit it's butt with the corner of the car. It was fine enough to jump over a fence. So it was ok, but I'd have loved it if we could have taken it home. Road kill by us i'm willing to tag; just not old roadkill that I don't know how long it's been dead. Did some reading and that's the way it is. Meat is delicious if you field dress right away. not if you don't.

-I have almost as much familiarity with the area we're hunting as the street that I grew up on. We knnow that area.

-I'm not sure if I'm going to fly my butcher friend Mike out to help cut up this one, or wait for something bigger. This one's pretty big.

-Cleaning my father-in-law's old rifle turned it from crappy accuracy, to laser accurate. Just takes a little love and care.

-This animal won't last the year, so I'll need more meat then just this one.... will have to go out again.

An old pile of rock, marble and history!

The magic of Ephesus, Turkey. When Margaret was at Shuswap she told us to take an excursion to Ephesus so we did. What a lovely day! Ephesus was an abandoned port city 1500 years ago due to disease. It lies underneath a mountain of rock, dirt and growth. Below are some of the restoration pictures. There are blue plastic boxes full of small rocks, marble pieces etc. which are recovered and then put back together. A couple of the houses under excavation were covered with a roof to protect them from elements and you could walk through them on constructed plastic walkways.

Greg's favorite shop sold the fake watches. Silk scarves were four times the price of those we could buy in London.

Greg in Rome

I ordered room service breakfast for Greg the day he went to Rome. I checked 3 for the number of pastries. However, it was pastries for 3 people, and the rest of the breakfast was the same; doubles or triples.

Greg took the camera with him to Rome. The Forum and Tiber River of two of his choices.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toasted-Marshmallow Coconut Squares

This story shouldn’t be here in the candy posts, but thinking about making candy was at the back of my mind today. I shopped at the Coop and passed, well, I didn’t pass it, I put it in my cart – “Toasted Coconut Marshmallow Squares” that were displayed on the top rack of those circular displays at the side of one of the main isles. There they were looking just like the ones my mother used to make when I was a child. I have no memory of these tasty treats being around for more than a day. They were always fresh, and who far could they have gone with ten of us in the house. In fact, I think Wyora used to hold back the older ones to make them wait until the squares were fully set and she had dredge the still white sides of them with that final touch of cocoanut.

Enjoy the recipe read. I am not suggesting anyone has the time to try to make it, since it takes more than 15 minutes, the generally allotted in our lives to make a full meal for five or more people. I looked through the family Manna From Heaven cookbook for the recipe, and didn’t find it. Thank you, for giving it up to me. As well, I do remember Aunt Elmoyne Johnson saying that she always made these for Jack – they were his favorite treat. I also remember that she did layer them between piece of wax paper so that they didn’t run into one another as they sat in the container.

In our house, that would have been a waste of a piece of wax paper

Toasted-Cocoanut Marshmallow Squares


• 2 cups unsweetened dried coconut

• 3 (1/4-ounces) envelopes unflavored gelatin

• 1 cup water, divided

• 1 1/2 cups sugar

• 1 cup light corn syrup

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

 a 9-inch square metal baking pan; a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment; a candy thermometer


Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Toast coconut in a shallow baking pan in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes.

Oil 9-inch baking pan, then sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while making syrup.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring, washing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Put thermometer into syrup and continue boiling, without stirring, until it registers 240°F (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl. Increase speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat 1 minute more.

Spoon marshmallow over toasted coconut in baking pan and press evenly with dampened fingertips to smooth top (it will be very sticky), then evenly sprinkle top with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.

Run a sharp knife around edge of marshmallow and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips, then cut each strip into 3/4-inch squares.

Put remaining toasted coconut in a small bowl and dredge marshmallows in it to coat completely.

Cook's notes: • Marshmallow squares keep, layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container, in a dry place at cool room temperature 1 month. • To avoid stickiness, try to make marshmallows on a dry day. Arta's note: In Alberta that is easy.  Every day is a dry day.

Thanks to for the recipe.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Sweetest Thing I Ever Tasted

In an email, Catherine Jarvis told me that her best home made candy memories are about caramels.

“The sweetest thing I ever tasted,” she said.

She can remember caramels wax-paper wrapped as well as chocolate dipped, though while she was eating them (as a child and as a teen-ager), she forgot to learn to make them.

I would like to fly down there and spend a day in the kitchen showing her how. Given that impossibility, I am going to blog some caramel candy recipes, and maybe even make a batch or two myself, to see if I still have the knack.

One person in the family did not forget to learn to make caramels: Rebecca, the most unlikely of all of the possible suspects: They are a regular of her cooking repertoire and she makes them year round.


2 cups white sugar           1 ¾ cups white syrup
2 cups heavy cream         1 cup butter
Pinch salt                         1 tbls. vanilla

Put sugar, white Karo syrup, salt and butter in heavy large kettle. Add cream. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Put the lid on the kettle and bring to a rolling boil. Take lid off and lower the heat. This boils over easily. If using electric stove, turn down to medium heat,. Also turn down a gas flame, and continue cooking without stirring for about 35 minutes.

With the candy thermometer, test for 245 degree to 248 degree Fahrenheit. When testing in cold water, candy should form a firm soft ball.

Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Remove from heat. Add one or more cups chopped walnuts, almonds or Brazil nuts. Pour into a well buttered pan, 8” x 8” and cool. When cool to the touch and almost hard, turn the pan upside down, and with your fingers gently bend the mass out onto a slab. Then cut into desired squares. Dip in chocolate or wrap in wax paper.

Alerting you to possible problems:

1. The caramels are going to burn if you are not making them in a heavy bottomed pan. Bonnie, there is a nice heavy bottomed pressure cooker downstairs in the cabin, if you want to try the test. I think on this front, Rebecca told me she has a special Teflon coated pan so that the mixture slips out of the pan and into the 8” x 8” pan like a dream.

2. The perfect temperature on the candy thermometer is variable, given the altitude at which you are living (this statement is actual and not metaphorical). It is better to do the firm ball test until you get a take on which is exactly the right temperature on your candy thermometer for the place you are living. Besides that, it is fun for the kids to taste all of those soft ball candy-tests-in-cold-water along the way.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Landlord-Tenancy Relationship

70 and counting

I am looking for a new label for my blogging posts.

Though every experience a person writes about calls out for a new title, still I want to have one large category: thus, 70 and counting. That is going to be my new blog label as I try to write my heart out.

Tonight, for example, having nothing better to do and feeling far less than 70 years old, I went to the university to enjoy one of the public education seminars presented by the law faculty: The Landlord-Tenant Relationship.

The presenter asked, “I presume you are all tenants here?” but not all raised their hands.

Then he asked, “Landlords?” A few hands went up.

“Law students?” That was about half the group and I noticed some of the law students were also landlords.

There we were, a strange mix: landlords, students, tenants, a few law professors. From the sound of it, more than a few of the landlords and the tenants had already been to court.

“Not that you might be the one in the situation you describe,” said the lawyer to one question, “but it is not in anyone’s best interest to go to court and tell the judge one has an illegal basement suite.” That line gave me the biggest chortle of the evening. The lawyer continued, “But to try to answer your question more broadly, when I was a student, I was in the predicament you describe and I will tell you what happened....” Ah, what fun!

I am a slave of my pen. People say interesting stuff and my hand grabs a pen (it doesn’t even have to be mine) and I start writing. I ended the evening with five pages of new information – typical for me. And I will probably read my notes over before I go to bed tonight.

I have no idea who I am going to tell all of that stuff to, since I would probably have to hog-tie someone to get them to listen, or even knock them out cold to get them to stay in the same room if I started reading my notes out loud.

Tonight’s speaker does commercial real estate litigation for a living, but he started at zero for us, and then told us the tenant’s and the landlord’s side of lease contracts, highlighting common issues: what happens when a lease violates the landlord tenant act; what happens when the landlord wants a tenant to leave; what are the consequences of not paying rent; how and when can Alberta landlords increase the rent. (Yikes! It is legal to increase someone’s rent from $500 a month to $4,500 a month in Alberta.) As the landlord, you might really want your tenants to leave in that case.

All of that fun, and cruellers and a selection of soft drinks as well.

The 8 pm walk home through the new fallen snow was beautiful, an extra bonus for the evening.

70 and counting.


Cruising Athens

Now my pictures are out of order but I am trying. This is Greg talking to a staff member as we go through the Mesina Straight. Even though the straight is wide, by law a pilot boat must go beside to guide the way. The guide boat is a small boat.
The above is a photo of the Italian shoreline from the ship. On the other side of the water is Stromboli, a volcano that is still active. We could see smoke coming from the middle of the crator.

Hi again. Here our ship is docked in Piraeus, a suburb of Athens. The ship is magnificent. Some different musical group playing in three different places on the ship at one time, a live show in the theatre every night, games of all sorts, a grand casino and food lounges everywhere.
It is a long way down!
November 17, 2010

I happen to have lost track of time. However, I do remember that today we docked in Piraeus and then Greg and I took the metro/train into Athens to visit the Acropolis. Upon entering the tube, Greg again, was surrounded and pushed by two men while the woman brushed up against him while feeling his pocket. Greg just flung his hand hard down by his side and the three of them just looked like they did not know what they were doing. Now I here that Moiya lost her wallet. But nevertheless, we continue to travel.

Just a stunning panoramic view of Athens from the Acropolis.So many uneven stairs to walk up to get to the top of the Acropolis but such a wondrous sight; a panoramic view from all sides when you get to the top.

We got taken by the Sunshine Express Train. We paid 5 euros each to take this hop on hop off thing which we only hopped on once; never did we see it again but the one 45 minute ride we took was a hoot, including hitting a man on a motorscooter.

The sea is beautiful. Yesterday we went through the Mesina Straights, between Sicily and Italy. Today the ship is floating back and forth, more than ever.

Greg did Rome on his own for 7.5 hours. I did eight days in May in Rome so I stayed on the ship.

Greg also did Florence with an excursion group.

Tomorrow we are in Turkey and go on an excursion together to see more old rocks and ruins. We are having a holiday of a lifetime!

300 Miles to Annis Bay - Golden to Revelstoke

From Wednesday to Monday last week, Kelvin Jr. and I took the beautiful, fall return-trip to Annis Bay. There was no snow on the roads, nor by the sides of the roads. The needles on the tamaracks have been blown to the ground, and only a residual burnished colour is left on the trees. Both days were lovely driving days.

We were talking about the number of times we have travelled this road, and discussed our favourite parts. He loves the long ribbons of roads between Golden and Revelstoke, the spaces that are enclosed by the trees. I have a favourite part every 100 mile, though I told him that the ride between Golden and Revelstoke is a hard one for me. I can never remember what is coming around the next corner.

He agreed that it is the longest stretch. He took out a pen and helped me make pneumonic device. I noticed Doral did that for his kids on one journey: a nice map with many curves and pictures of what would happen next along the 300 miles.

Recognize any of the road markers Kelvin Jr. and I found along the way?

Golden to Revelstoke
0 km Golden and the drive along the north side of the Columbia River, observing the Bergenham Wetlands Reserve
(at 10 km) Silver City / Donald and crossing the Rocky Mountain Trench
(at 26 km) 10 to 15 kilometre Hill alongside the Purcells
(at 49 km) Kinbasket Lake
(at 56 km) Heather Hill
(at 59 km) Beginning of Glacier National Park
(at 83 km) Beaver Valley
(at 68 km) Entering Roger’s Pass
(at 82 km) Top of the Pass - Tourist Centre Snowshed under renovation
(at 94 km) Rock Garden
(at 97 km) Hemlock Grove
(at 100 km) Bostock Trail
(at 103 km) Slide Path - Picnic Site
(at 105 km)End of Glacier National Park
(at 109 km) Albert Canyon / Canyon Hot Springs
(at 123 km) Beginning of Revelstoke National Park
(at 128)Giant Cedars
(at 130)Skunk Cabbage
(at 136 km) End of Revelstoke National Park
(at 150 km) Revelstoke

A lovey drive, with, or without a pneumonic device.

The weather was perfect

The weather was perfect for a morning walk. Snow had been forecasted, but none arrived. I made sure to walk across the Little Canadian Stream since those walks are numbered. The sheet of ice has not yet started to form there. The waves on the water were topped with foam.

On the road back to Arta's house I was sure I could smell strawberries, even though that season is long past and any unpicked fruit is now frozen.

Moiya and David begin their Caribbean cruise

One hour before boarding the plane I discovered I had misplaced or lost my wallet. I made some frantic phone calls to no avail.

Still, we are having a great time already.

If someone else got that money, I hope they were able to pay their heating bill or to pay down some of their debt. Maybe it will be in Desiree's house someplace when we get back there in January.

So not worry about it as I am ready to let it go.

We are already having a great time.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just as I was getting in the car to drive back to Calgary Bonnie Wyona said, "Quick, grab a coat. We are going to take our last walk and find a place where we can take a picture every season."

A hard to choice to make. Should it be by the pear tree so that over the years we will know when the picture was taken by the size of the tree (which by the way, has yet to bear a single piece of fruit)?

I thought the Meadow Reach of the Stream would be a perfect place -- in the winter there will be ice hanging from the rocks, in summer, ferns growing along the edge, ... and now? Well, now the grasses have lived out their life cycle for this year, but it is still beautiful there, if you like meadow reaches.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Greg in Toulon France

We are in Toulon France now. How long were you here Trent? Just a few pictures to follow. Still just practicing. Pictures are from Day 6. Wrote the post yesterday. Wishing you were all here!!

101111Day5 Doral or Arta, I think I may be writing too much so should you set up my own blog within this blog? I don’t want to hog the space.
So much can happen in one day. Greg retrieved his new WHITE temporary passport for $250.00. Now that would buy about four excursions from the ship into Europe. I did hear Greg say he needed it to happen to him because he used to loose patience with other Canadians who came into his office having lost their passports. I was happy we both got on the ship. Greg came on with me and then walked back into Barcelona for one hour to retrieve our laundry, not to be finished until 1 p.m.
After seeing him off, I decided to get a drink, (we each bought the unlimited soft drink package) and then the lunch buffet looked wonderful so I tucked our two refillable cups into my purse and got myself a plate to take back to the room and enjoy. I got to the room and remembered I left my key card in the room. Dropped my plate of food and two glasses by the door and went down from ninth floor to fourth floor and the other end of the ship to get a new key.
Ran back up to the room because I did not want anyone stealing my refillable cups. Whee! The food and drinks were there. I opened the door put my purse and drinks in the room. Went back out into the hall to retrieve my food and cutlery and Wham! The door shut on me. Locked out again. I felt too stupid to go get another key so I just took my food and walked to the middle of the ship, got a book from the library and I ate and read, waiting for Greg to let me in. Two hours later I got the bell boy who was putting our luggage in the room to let me in. Greg walked in twenty minutes later.
So far, we are just loving it! Stood on the bow of the ship deck to watch the boat leave harbour. I don’t know which was colder, the top of the hop on off bus or standing waiting for the boat to leave the harbor. Dinner was at six, I had prime rib and Greg had pork medallions, along with appetizers and dessert. Greg sat down at the table for 10 people and there were only six of us, looked at me queerly and asked if we had to eat with these people every night. Yes, you are assigned a table! Greg was amazed that after dinner he did not have to pay. I downed three drinks while eating and then we headed off to the Pacific Theatre for the live show. Tomorrow is a live Broadway Show but I don’t remember the name. Stopped in the lobby on the way back and did some dancing to the live group playing; not too many people up dancing but we did anyway. Then the Latin American band began at 10:00 p.m. and people came out of the woodwork; hips a moving everywhere. Greg sat on the bed, put his head back and was snoring in one minute.
Tomorrow is Toulon France. I think Greg said he was going to get up when he felt like it, go into Toulon for a few hours and then come back. Internet costs 65 cents a minute, but if you buy a package, the price goes down. Don’t know what I will do yet.
Greg is happy, we have BBC world in our room. Doesn’t seem like we are going to spend much time in the room. Moiya and Dave, you will love your cruise. Most people on the ship have cruised many times before.
Pictures here from the ship in Toulon France.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Family Film

Teague and Cheri have been making films with their kids for about 10 years now.  They have been posting them on YouTube for the last  years and we thought we would share them with you.

Here is the most recent one created on the Larch Haven property.  This is a mock-u-filmary of Blues Clues, Sherlock Holmes and Twilight.  Due to the business of the school year, at this time only part one is complete and posted in YouTube.  Here is a link so you can enjoy the creativity, stellar costumers and award winning acting:

Take and look and let us know here or on YouTube what you think.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Barcelona (different time of year...)

Well.... why should we have to give up on Barcelona, just because Wyona and Greg are heading off to the cruise? Ah, sweet Rambla.... and the little fountain in the square at the end (where the bus from the airport goes).

Our hotel (well... actually, we rented a two bedroom apartment for a three day visit last March) was just off the Rambla, though closer to the harbour end. I wonder how close Greg and Wyona's hotel was to where we stayed?

The place we stayed in was on the top floor of the apartment block. Walking up and down the stairs made me feel like I was in a Hitchcock movie... and our window looked right out onto part of the old gothic city wall.

And the Sagra Familia? Loved it!

And then what about that fabulous gaudi park?

Not only that fantastic park bench of broken tiles, but also the incredible rock pillars that seem almost extensions of the palm trees growing above?

So..... do we ALL just keep posting on Barcelona even though those two are leaving?