Category Archives: food

A Silly Little Story

Jillian here. Welcome to November. I have been reading about everyone’s travels and wishing I’d been winging away to somewhere fun. Alas, I am working, working, working. I actually have to have another surgery (appreciate some prayers on the 14th) and so I’m trying to work hard to clear my decks before being out for a bit. I am also doing NaNoWriMo- yes, I am crazy.  Just lock me up!

Since it’s been dullsville here in the Florida panhandle, I thought I’d share a silly little piece of flash fiction I did about a year ago. The writing prompt was a picture of breakfast so I wrote this little ditty called Bacon and Eggs:

Bacon and eggs

The bell over the door of the diner tinkled announcing a customer. Tom, the short-order cook, didn’t look up. He was tired of glancing at the door and being disappointed. If only she’d come. Desperate to see her again, he forced himself to focus on the pancakes on the griddle and the sausages in the pan. Keeping everything going at the same time was a challenge when he first came to work at the hole in the wall joint. It wasn’t what he was used to but it was honest work.

“Tom?”

He couldn’t believe it. It must be his imagination. Was it really her voice? One word—his name—and he recognized it?

Afraid to turn around and have his hopes dashed, he ignored the sound and kept his attention on the food orders.

“Tom?”

There it was again. His broken heart must be working overtime to taunt him. He could swear it was her but she was gone. She’d left him long ago. He’d even moved and gotten a job in a place she’d never think to search for him. It wouldn’t be her if he looked. He was sure of it.

“Tom. Please.”

Inhaling deeply, he turned to face the person who relentlessly spoke his name.

Stunned to see the woman he loved and lost, he couldn’t find words. He stared in amazement.

“I’ve found you at last.” She smiled and held her hand out. “Won’t you come home?”

“But you said you couldn’t love me.”

“I was wrong. I see that now.” She stared at the griddle. “What you’ve done is beautiful.”

“I have learned not to burn the bacon and scald the eggs.”

“Please come home. I never meant you to leave. I only wanted you to learn to cook.”

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Moving On

 

The Big Birthday has passed amidst great celebrations that lasted over a month! Guess what – I feel so lucky still and mysteriously the same person inside as I did at 69! Maybe a bit wiser!!

Food played a huge part as I dined in “different countries” from Spain, France, Mexico, America as well as Britain. Cuisine I mean of course. I’ve eaten fish, tapas, burritos, vegetarian, pizza, pasta and delicious deserts. I have tasted some wonderful wines, cocktails and gins. Now back to reality, lose extra weight and think about the next decade.

Moving on is necessary for many reasons. One year on from my breast cancer I  had my first check up and all seems well thank goodness.  I have had time to reflect on the events of last year helped by a week house sitting in Bristol, which remains one of my favourite cities. Peter stayed at home so I had lots of time to think and work out what next.  I made a list of priorities which I hope to tick off as I put them into practice. Number one is to use what time I have left (who knows what time any of has?) to live my life to the full but in ways that may not seem to be achieving all the time. Small things like walking, seeing friends, yoga, my choir and my family are valuable experiences in my tapestry that I weave and expand daily.  Some of you might wonder why I talk about these as achievements but it is easy to take things for granted so I plan to improve therefore achieve. I realise I was in danger of being in a rut. Fatigue is a lasting side effect of radiotherapy and it has become easier at times to say to myself I feel so tired I can’t be bothered but when I try I always feel better – small steps maybe but good.  Not great achievements but an important lesson. Learn to value what one has particularly oneself.

So in Bristol I did some things I have wanted to do for a while. I took a trip around the Docks in the sunshine and viewed the city from a different angle. The Matthew replica of John Cabot’s ship that sailed the Atlantic in the 15th century and “discovered” Newfoundland, now part of Canada, was especially interesting from water level.  The Docks, many converted to museums, galleries, cafes and apartments echo with the bustling commercial wealth the city.  Now technology rules but a sense of community was essential for daily life and is part of the area just different. The SS Great Britain, one of Brunel’s great developments, is now a museum but it was huge when viewed from water level.  An interesting commentary was provided by a young man in charge of the boat which brought past events and people to life.  One thing that was pleasing about the trip was the number of different nationalities just in a short hour who shared the experience with me.  Despite some of the awful events over past weeks we all enjoyed being together sharing a good time.  I revisited Bristol Gallery to see a few of my favourite paintings, also the Red Lodge parts of which are Tudor with a replica knot garden. I walked back through the city streets, multicultural, busy, varied and interesting.  A fascinating cityscape.

One guilty secret of my time: I “binge read” a series of crime books by Peter May known as the Enzo Files, 6 books! Home now I look forward to the challenges ahead.

Gallery

The Story of Old Blue

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Jillian here. I thought I’d share a bit of fun this month just because I laughed so hard at my husband over this. He and I disagree on what we like to drink out of. I like glass and crystal, … Continue reading

Gallery

Is It Me?

A conversation with a friend the other day brought up the subject of pet hates, especially in respect to the modern society as opposed to, say, 50 years ago. After several moments pondering what I hate most one matter sprang … Continue reading

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Lots of Things Afoot at Chez Chantal

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Jillian here!  It’s been a busy time here at Chez Chantal. One of my staff had a stroke on Christmas Eve and, even though she is on the road to recovery, it’s been pretty stressful at the office since things … Continue reading

A treat for Christmas

orange-almond-cake-3Merry Christmas to you all on this special Christmas Eve.  It has been quite a year for many of us and I am sure this Christmas will be full of memories as well as creating new memories and traditions. We are gathering together on Christmas Day at my eldest son’s house with his wife, my grandsons, my other son and his wife.  It is becoming a bit of a new tradition for us as in the past everyone came to our house. Now I sit and sip champagne, play Lego and relax whilst my daughter in law spoils me.   Christmas Lunch is always a tasty vegetarian feast which takes about two hours to enjoy whilst chatting around the Christmas table.  Later we have coffee and cake, a favourite has become a bit of a tradition, a  Spanish Orange and Almond Cake I first made when living in Spain. In those days I picked the oranges from the tree in the garden then made the cake so lots of memories there including of the friend who gave me the recipe.  I’ve made it so often I rarely use the recipe but have found it for you to try yourselves. Apologies for mix of measures which can be adjusted to taste but it is foolproof!

Ingredients  (Serves 10)

2 Oranges, about 280grms (10 ozs) total weight, scrubbed and roughly chopped (with skin on)

5 eggs separated

200grms/(7 ozs) caster sugar (approx 1 cup)

225grms/(8 ozs) ground almonds (approx 2 cups)

2 tablespoons flakes almonds

Sifted icing sugar to decorate

Preparation Method: Prep: 1 hour. Cook: 55 minutes

Put the chopped oranges in a small saucepan, discarding any pips. Add 1 tbsp water then cover and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the oranges are soft and excess liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4. Line the bottom and sides of 23cm/9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment. Finely chop the cooled oranges in a food processor or with a large knife.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in half the caster sugar, then whisk for 1 minute. Using the same whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar in another bowl for 2-3 minutes or until pale and quite thick.  Whisk in the finely chopped oranges, next carefully fold in the ground almonds. Stir in 3 spoonfuls of the whisked egg white to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a large metal spoon.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 20 minutes and again at 30 minutes, and cover lightly with foil if it is browning too quickly.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then turn it out, peel away the lining paper and transfer to a serving plate (delicious warm). Dust with icing sugar before serving. The cake can be kept in an airtight tin for up to two days.

Whatever Christmas treats you at planning enjoy yourselves. I hope to have a few new books and some good wine.  Happy Christmas and good luck in 2017.

 

It’s That Time of Year Again

So, here we are again at that time of year when everyone seems to go crazy, often completely overboard just because it’s Christmas. A special time of year, yes, but Christmas is only 1 day. One day, not 3 months, which is how it now seems to be. It was back in August when I first spied Christmas cards and mince pies for sale in the supermarket; mince pies with a use-by date of 31 Oct 2016! And as we hit December running, I can’t find my usual things in the supermarket, because shelves have been reorganized for Christmas stock – row upon row of chocolates and sweets and all the good things to eat. Horrendous queues at checkouts; one would think we’re going to be snowed in for 6 months with the amount people buy “just in case unexpected visitors arrive!” The stress and worry, never mind cost, usually on credit cards that take over a year to pay off, of buying gifts for everyone including neighbours, the cat, and anyone else who happens to pass or ring the doorbell. Houses in our town decorated since October with icicle lights blinking from the guttering, and Christmas trees on sale in November, which will have shed all their needles by 25 December.mr-mrs-snowman

I may sound a bit of a grouch, a kill-joy, Scrooge, a person who hates Christmas, but I am not. Quite the contrary. I think it is a magical, wonderful time of the year. I just wish it didn’t start so early, that the commercialism wasn’t so intense because nowadays, that sparkle, that anticipation has been killed. It just isn’t the same any more.

In my childhood home, the Christmas tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve, long after we kids were in bed so that in the morning, there it was in all its glittering glory with our presents – mostly handmade by my parents: clothes and toys, just a few each, stacked underneath. As children in the 1950s and early 1960s we were extra lucky, although we didn’t realise it at the time.

Every year my German grandmother would send over a large parcel to us in England. It would be packed with all the lovely, delicious treats of Christmas that were then unobtainable here: glittering Advent calendars, iced gingerbread hearts and Lebkucken, and Pfeffemusse, marzipan filled Stollen, and so much more. I think it was smell of that parcel I remember most, that wonderful spicy cinnamon and ginger smells that said “Christmas is coming.”

tree Christmas in the Domino house is a very quiet affair now. We do have a tree, an artificial black one with gold baubles and one two other little sentimental decorations. We stopped doing presents years ago, except for the littlest children, and how much simpler and more enjoyable it has become. We’d rather folk spent their money on themselves, not on us. We don’t have turkey to eat, we don’t like it. We might indulge in a Christmas pud and a few mince pies, but no crackers to pull on the table. No fuss, no hassle, simply a large enjoyable meal in good company in an atmosphere of calm serenity to relax in.

Don’t get me wrong. I love large family gatherings. The noise, the laughter, the company, and I do so wish I could have all of my family at mine one year, but we are many and scattered far afield. Thank goodness for the telephone and internet so we can at least speak to each other even if we can’t share a hug and a kiss. The thoughts are with family. With friends. With those we have lost and those who are new to the fold. With memories. To me, this is what Christmas is all about: Family. Not the gifts, not the food, not the decorations, as much as I love seeing them. It’s also about magic. Father Christmas and sleigh bells, and the Christmas movies to make you laugh and perhaps shed a tear.

I’ll leave you with what is one of my favourite Christmas carols. Apologies if you’ve heard it before but I’m sure many haven’t. Whatever Christmas means to you and whatever you do this Christmas, do have a good one. A safe one. A warm one, from the heart.

Silly me: I meant to include the English lyrics. These are the closest and best I’ve come across for translation.

The Bells Never Sound Sweeter

The bells never sound sweeter
Than at Christmas-time.
It’s as if angels would sing
again of peace and joy,
How they sang at blessed night!
How they sang at blessed night!
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!

Oh, when the bells ring out,
As soon as the Christ child hears them,
He swings from the sky
Hastily down to earth.
He blesses the father, the mother, the child
He blesses the father, the mother, the child.
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!

It chimes with a sweet sound
Far across the seas,
So that all will take delight in
The blessed Christmas-time.
All rejoice with beautiful song,
All rejoice with beautiful song,
Little bells with their holy ringing,
The earth chimes along!