Blog Archives

Ah, it’s October. That’s why I feel out of sorts.

I can’t believe my last post was in mid-August. It’s not like I haven’t been around or been thinking of anything. In my defence I did make a few posts on Instagram and Facebook . But I could never seem to come up with a whole idea that warranted sharing.

I will admit that 2021 has been a tougher year for my mental state – and consequently, my cooking – than 2020 was. Last year we were just on pause. It was frustrating but we stuck it out.

This year we have had to weather the storm AND make some kind of regular life (I refuse to use the word “normal”, as we will not be going back to what we called normal. The works is a different place now. )

We took advantage of the beauty at home. That was about as much advantage as we could manage.

Spring dawned full of hope that the year would be busy and we would be out-and-about again. But then, hope is not a plan. I was busy making plans and trying all kinds of things, but that’s as far as it got.

It has been a roller coaster of a summer. Here in the Okanagan we had a heat wave, heavy smoke in the air and then actual forest nearby . All that was amidst ever-changing Covid regulations that limited activities, not the least of which was our work catering events and gatherings.

This was a good day with minimal smoke but that orange sun gave an ominous tone to the summer skies.

Autumn is a season of transition, one that often brings a sense of melancholy. The metamorphosis of spring brings new life and fresh growth, but autumn heralds the end of the growing season and entry to winter.

I feel my losses heavily at this time of year. Last October, the Chocolate Lab who had been my unwavering companion for 14 years passed away. My beautiful Ella was the one friend I still had close through the pandemic. Losing her was devastating.

In October of 2007, (the same year we got Ella as a puppy) my father died. He had been ill a long time but actually losing him was still a horrible shock. I was so fortunate to have a happy creature reminding me daily that love and joy were very much alive in the world.

This year, we have not been working. We made the best of things, building memories. We camped and paddle-boarded and trained our new puppy, Freyja – all lovely pastimes we were grateful to experience.

The colours of the leaves this year have been
more spectacular than I remember
in all our 17 years in the Okanagan.
Perhaps Mother Nature is telling us something?

Our momentum with new work ideas is growing as we work our pivots to create new livelihoods. All that is in contrast to the falling leaves and shorter days, but following the divergent nature of the season with its striking colours against pale skies.

I have spent October in a blue funk for the past 14 years. This whole year has been topsy-turvy but suddenly here I am in a space with energy and direction. It feels electric.

Does anyone else out there feel like this might be an important corner on their road of life?

The full moon arrived this week, and it seemed to herald a new phase. For the last few weeks it grew in the night sky, and each day our pantry shelves filled us as we dried grapes and plums, made various compotes, a plum torte, pumpkin pie and some lovely sourdough loaves.

Thanks for reading my rant, if you’ve made it this far. I suppose I rambled on to say that for me, food is central to my focus in life. I always feel fueled not just by eating but by working with the ingredients in my meals. There is a synergy between the circle of farm to fork and the circle that makes a balanced life.

Coming back to the garden and the kitchen has grounded me again, so that I can pull the other pieces into place for my life. Is this what is meant by “from the ground up”?

I’m so grateful that we are heading into the season of warm foods that draw us around the table. Perhaps a few cozy meals will help is all heal the wounds of the past two years.

smell of happiness.

Thanks to Beth at “I didn’t have my glasses on” for sharing this post.

At the moment, most of what I smell right now is smoke from the nearby forest fires. Each time I enjoy a “new smell” like this author mentions – fresh-picked berries or carrots or arugula from the garden, sticking my nose in the sunflowers or in Freyja’s furry puppy neck – I am thankful to still be at home having those experiences, and not evacuated because the fire has crept closer.

Your house smells. Don’t feel bad—it’s not just you! Your neighbor’s house smells, as does the White House. Even Martha Stewart’s abode has a …

smell of happiness.

Wistful Memories

I posted a picture this morning on social media, and it made me remember other things… do you ever go down the rabbit hole that way? Today is one of those days that finds me falling through the tunnels like Alice, my mind all a-tizzy with memories that are locked in the past. They are all memories of my Daddy, who has been gone for 14 years now. He would have been 78 today.

There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of my dad. There are numerous mementos in our house that came from him, so he is all around me. And I was his Princess growing up; we were close. Not as close in later years, as I moved away and his health deteriorated, which meant he couldn’t travel.

I do wish I had visited more – even to show up and go for coffee with him. I have learned that lesson now – that’s what credit cards are for. If you want a moment with a loved one, make it happen in whatever way you can. You might be sorry it wasn’t exactly how you imagined, or that it cost more than you planned – but you won’t regret it, especially when they are gone and you can’t do it anymore.

But enough wallowing – I can hear him saying, “Don’t let the bastards get you down, Kricky”. I am grateful for so many happy memories, and wonderful things he taught me:

  • one of my earliest memories is sitting on a couch, eating peanuts out of a shell with my dad (the shells went in a paper grocery bag at our knees). I could swear we were watching the Apollo Moon Landing (I would have been 4 years old.) Years later, we would compare notes about CBS Sunday Morning stories, another bit of TV we watched together when I was a kid.
  • he travelled for work, so my mom was our “rock” in everyday life, but my parents were a close, intimate and loving couple. I remember one trip he gave me instructions for notes to write. They were to accompany roses that I got each day for my mom, from him. I thought that was the most romantic thing ever.
  • Music was a big part of my childhood – growing up in the 70’s meant there were lots of classics. One of my best musical memories, though, is a family parade through the house, marching along to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. We even went over the beds!
  • he sent me to basketball camp so I could learn how not to be such a klutz on the court. I was never an all-star, but at least I could feel more like one of the team. Years later, we watched Michael Jordan play against the Vancouver Grizzlies – he had season’s tickets.
  • the cup I posted this morning was from a resort in the British Virgin Islands. I got it on a summer sailing trip – one that I managed to get a spot on because he thought I’d have fun when he heard about it at a dinner with friends, so he saved me the spot! That was how I got the travel bug. I was 16. Years later I got to return the favour while working for Fairmont Hotels when we spent 5 days in Maui at the Kea Lani Resort. It was an epic vacation.
  • he sent my Mom to spend 2 weeks with me two years later when I was in Europe. We still talk about the crazy times we had together!
  • he bought me the sexiest dress I ever owned, a stunning 3/4 length, long-sleeved backless purple wool number with a swishy skirt that I couldn’t twirl enough. He always made me feel beautiful, inside and out. Every time I stand up straight I think of him and smile.
  • we used to have Friday night dinners at “The Treetop Bistro” when we both lived in central Vancouver. The Treetop Bistro was his corner window table in his West End apartment. He would cook something adventurous and I would bring dessert from the gourmet food store and café where I worked. We would sit in his director’s chairs, drink wine and solve the problems of the world. I have those chairs now, and I smile every time I sit in one of them.
Daddy in Maui, sampling gourmet nibbles on our private lanai – Isn’t life grand?

My dad was a passionate fellow. He was a hard worker, and he passed that work ethic on. He loved to laugh. He loved to learn. I am so grateful I got all those things from him, so that I can remember him well.

I wish there were more pictures. I really wish there was a recording of his voice. It’s ironic, given that he was in the media business – occupational hazard, I suppose. He was always the one behind the lens.

I will send out the message I always do when I think of him: “Thank you, Daddy, for always sending out your love to me. Thank you for helping make a me strong and passionate and happy woman. I sure do miss you, but I hope you’re riding the waves with a smile and that glint in your eye!”

Well, if you’re still reading, thanks for letting me share my memories. Maybe it will inspire you to go and create one with a person in your world. You won’t regret it.

Groundhog Day – this idea is getting old

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”

Bill Murray said that in the movie, “Groundhog Day”. You remember the story – he got stuck in the same day over and over again. Sound familiar?

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being fatigued. Time to spin this on its head. Whether the rodent sees his shadow or not, I’m moving forward without looking back.

Let’s treat Groundhog Day as a celebration, and think of what we love to have in our lives repeatedly.

As a start to my positive outlook, I thought I’d start with a food experiment. If I was stuck in the same day, what would I want to eat… over and over again?

In the movie, Bill Murray’s character Phil samples just about every kind of breakfast – my kind of heaven. If I had to choose though, I might well go with his original choice: a sticky bun. I’m a sucker for cinnamon, and going as far back as childhood I have memories of deliciously messy buns warm from the oven.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, at least by this movie’s standards, but that’s not to say snacks should be forgotten.

If we are talking about timeless food, what better example is there than Angel Food Cake?! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to stuff a whole piece in my mouth just like Bill Murray… I’d it like marshmallow?

Phil mentions a memory of a heavenly dinner at one point:

“…eating lobster and drinking Piña Coladas”

There is something wonderfully decadent about seafood and tropical cocktails in what is by definition the dead of winter. Those foods taste even better when one’s feet are in the sand, but who says we can’t imagine the sand and have the real food instead?

Ultimately Phil figures out that the real magic in life comes from the little things – those unexpected moments or mundane tastes that attach themselves to our memory. It brings to mind the old adage:

‘Life is What Happens To Us While We Are Busy Making Other Plans’

– Allen Saunders, in Readers Digest 1957

Whether I eat all my favourite foods and drink the cellar dry or I randomly enjoy a myriad of flavours, I plan to make the most of the results. As the past year has drummed into us, Plan A never works. That doesn’t mean we have to live Plan B begrudgingly.

When you think about it, perspective is the key. If the groundhog just looked the other way, he could change seeing his shadow – or not.

I can sip the same cup of coffee every morning, even draining the pot. If I choose a new perspective for the day, then the possibilities are endless, even if the coffee is not.

Good and sticky

This weekend we celebrate a Canadian food invention. I wonder if you know what it is…

It was the quintessential sandwich filling of my childhood, and also the main ingredient in a favourite cookie. As a grownup(or should I say “big kid”?), I enjoy it in cheesecake with chocolate or to make a satay out of skewered meat.

Yes, it’s that delectable stick-to-the-roof of your mouth stuff that comes just like life, chunky or smooth – peanut butter.

Peanut butter was first eaten by the ancient Incas and Aztecs, but was not adopted by later civilizations. Modern peanut butter was invented by Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Bedford, Quebec in 1884. He patented a machine that milled roasted peanuts to create a paste.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes, that Dr. Kellogg) was the man who took care of the marketing. His machine made peanut butter from raw peanuts; his suggested audience was people who could not chew much solid food. At his Sanitorium (combination spa, medical centre and hotel) his other invention, Corn Flakes, was also served. It was marketed as an anaphrodisiac (the opposite of aphrodisiac), for Mr Kellogg was all about temperance.

Dr. Kellogg

Peanut butter was put on the map as a snack food at the Worlds Fair in St. Louis in 1904, and it featured strongly during WW1 when meat was rationed. It was a favourite alternative on the first Meatless Mondays.

The real modern innovation came in 1922 when Joseph Rosefield came up with the idea of using hydrogenated oil to stabilize peanut butter so it would not separate. That increased the shelf life and meant it could be shipped further.

Mr. Rosefield was a peanut butter king of sorts – his brand Skippy is still one of the biggest in the U.S. today. He came up with churning the mixture instead of grinding to make it smoother. He also invented chunky, or crunchy, peanut butter. He even pioneered the wide-mouth jar we all use.

This stuff is a North American phenomenon. I remember trying to get my English students to taste it years ago when I was in France – they were disgusted. My British friends would much rather put Marmite on their toast, thank you very much.

Sunday January 24th is Peanut Butter Day. Do we need to do extra celebrating? Apparently the average North American child eats about 1500 peanut butter sandwiches before they graduate high school. Then there is peanut butter on toast, peanut butter ice cream and cheesecake, Reese’s cups… you get the idea.

Whether you are a smooth or chunky fan, regardless of your preferred brand, I think you will admit that peanut butter is something that binds us all together as North Americans.

Peanut butter seems to defy pomp and ceremony anyway. It is the glue of everyday life. Perhaps that is why it deserves to be lauded. Where would we be without a jar of this wonderful stuff in the cupboard to sustain us?

I’m off to make myself a piece of toast and slice a banana, so I can pay proper homage to that delicious spread. Later I might even whip up a batch of Criss-Cross Cookies

Homemade goodness!
%d bloggers like this: