Saturday, 22 April 2017

Easter Week

This has been a “short” week as Monday was a holiday however, since we held our Committee meeting there was still plenty "Day Camps World" work to do!
Easter Day was cold and rainy and most of our little house church group was worshipping elsewhere with family so only two of us met for our Gathering.
 That afternoon I delivered some Easter Baskets and baked Tropic Aroma Cake for Monday evening’s dessert then watched the 2016 Easter Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge.
Monday morning I had a lovely visit with Pippa and Tighe as they came to pick up their Easter gifts and brought me a gorgeous Easter Lily plant. In the afternoon I set the table and assembled an Asian Coconut Rice Salad as the main course for the dinner preceding our meeting. Although a couple of members were away at family functions we still had a productive meeting and discussed Program prep, potential Team Members and Leaders and of course the Schedule of Host Communities.

  The next morning, as is usually the case, was spent dealing with working on responses to all the suggestions and making copious to-do lists, which I have continued to plough through for the rest of the week.
Both Wednesday and today were designated as “Baking” days and I am happy to report that the Retreat Week Baking is almost completed with just a batch of biscotti still to make. Since tomorrow evening is Crossroads and our Board Meeting will be happening in the afternoon the plan is to make a triple batch of biscotti although it is doubtful that will be enough for the Retreat crowd too!! On Thursday and Friday I squeezed in various Office bits and pieces in readiness for the Board meeting and continued to try and sort out both the empty slots in our schedule and ways by which we can  recruit many more Team Members and Leaders. Sometimes it can get super discouraging now and over the next couple of months but Thursday I received a second response to the bunch of emails I had recently sent to England and it was the sort of lovely piece of communication that jolts me into remembering why I choose to dedicate myself to this work and am so passionate about Day Camps. The message lifted my spirits and truly blessed my day.
I’m not going to divulge too much about it because my plan is to approach the writer and ask if I could use his email as the basis of a Wednesday Words post but essentially the message I had sent was to a long ago Team Member. I had doubted he would remember me or much about his experience in Canada and thus his response blew me away as he spoke about the impact Day Camp Team had (and still has) on the person he is today. Yes, those sorts of things make the stress and worry and struggles all TOTALLY worthwhile!!!
  With rain nearly every day this week there has been little opportunity for garden work apart from some basic sweeping and picking up debris but indoors I undertook the fairly big task of painting the basement floor. It has turned out super nicely but of course I now feel I also need to paint the floor of the furnace room and the small storage area adjoining it! Thus spring-cleaning continues both indoors and out.
Well I need to deal with some dough that has been rising as I’m squeezing in baking  buns for myself along with all the biscotti, 3-dozen Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins (for a Bake Sale at the school of my eldest Godson) and a large pan of Brownies towards the May Clergy and Spouses Retreat for which I’m doing the catering. So I had better get our recipe down.
 The buns I’m making are from my Mum’s handwritten cookbook, she always made them for  hamburgers, hotdogs or just about any kind of sandwich.

Crusty Whole Wheat Burger Buns

1 Tbsp. yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 Tbsps. melted butter or oil
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup white flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Add all the other ingredients, reserving a little egg for brushing the top of the buns. Knead to make a soft smooth dough, adding more white flour if it is too sticky. Place in a clean bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for one hour in a warm place. Divide into 8 equal pieces and shape into either round or long buns.

Place on a large parchment lined baking sheet and let rise until doubled. Brush with the reserved egg, beaten with a little milk and bake in a preheated 375ΒΊ oven for 15-20 mins.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Weekend

Once again, I’m getting an early start on this week’s post but hoping to send it out this evening after our Liturgical Dance Recording session, taking place @ 4pm this afternoon. It would be nice to include a couple of photos is possible although we may be using my phone to play the music track so things could get complicated. 😊

Note:- Sadly no photos of the Dance Recording as my phone was used to play the track most of the time and I was crazy busy trying to teach an African Dance to first seven and eventually THIRTEEN young people. AGH!!!!! Hoping to have a film clip to share with you before too long.
 This is the song, in case you would like to listen to it.

Holy Week, like Christmas Week, is not really the optimum time for much progress in the world of Day Camps.  Obviously most people working in churches have a lot of other priorities and summer ministry drops lower on the list! However I have been very happy to speak with 2 clergy in my effort to fill some of those missing Team slots and it looks as if a possible location has been found for the Alberta Camp. Yay!
Still very little response to all the UK emails sent out although one person asked for a “blurb” about Travelling Team and agreed to put it in some sort of newsletter (not too promising).
Thus, from about Wednesday on my focus has turned to spring-cleaning and the on going baking for both the Training Retreat and the Clergy Couples Retreat. With great weather yesterday I decided to tackle the humongous job of window cleaning plus washing ALL the curtains. There are 30 windows and 8 doors with glass panels to clean on three levels of the house but I always like to pick a difficult task for Good Friday since a focus on discomfort and pain helps me not to forget the ultimate in pain and sacrifice made by Jesus on that day. Last evening I had hoped to attend a presentation of Stainer’s  “Crucifixion” but an unexpected visitor just before dinner delayed my meal and since the church where the concert was to take place is a good 40 minute walk from home I threw in the towel and listened to an excellent recording on CD!
 During the week I’ve baked Pound Cakes and Cupcakes for the Training Retreat and Tortillas, GF Tortillas and Greek Pita for the other Retreat. I also completed sewing a wedding gift for some dear friends who will be getting married this summer during Week 1 of Day Camps so it was really important to know that the gift was made and wrapped well ahead of the chaos!
   Now it is time to get the raspberry icing on the Easter cupcakes and then hop on my bicycle. I’m praying it doesn’t rain before I get home again, as it is forecast for this evening πŸ˜”

Cupcakes with raspberry icing make a very pretty spring dessert (with or without the organic jelly beans!) so here is the recipe

Cream Cupcakes
1 cup cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsps. baking powder

Beat the eggs then add the cream, vanilla and sugar and beat again. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and gradually add to the mixture, beating after each addition.
Line pans with cupcake papers, fill 2/3 full and bake at 375ΒΊ for15-20 minutes. Makes 18 cupcakes.
Frost with Raspberry Icing and decorate with Jelly Beans (organic of course!!)

Raspberry Icing

Place ½ cup raspberry in a sieve over a small bowl and press down on the solids to obtain ¼ cup juice.

In the bowl of a food processor combine 2 cups icing sugar, 2 Tbsps. butter ½ tsp. vanilla and the raspberry juice.  Process until well mixed, adding a little more icing sugar to obtain and good spreading consistency.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Palm Sunday Weekend and a Team Gathering!

    WOO HOO!!! I saw my first robin this morning, a sure sign that spring is actually on the way in this cold northern region!
   Although I’m getting started on this post early Saturday it may not be published until tomorrow since I would love to be able to include some photos from tonight’s Spring Team Gathering!
 As I write, I’m roasting some vegetables with feta cheese for Hearty Barley and Vegetable Salad, my contribution to the Pot Trust Supper that will kick-off the evening.
We are excited to be having a House Eucharist, which we try to do at least once a year but which doesn’t always work out. Thursday afternoon I sloshed through a downpour (at least it wasn’t SNOW!!) and borrowed vessels and some basic linens from the chapel @ Isaiah 40 and then baked some communion bread from the Day Camp program recipe. Not wanting to miss an opportunity I also baked Giant Ginger Snaps and Millet Breakfast Cookies for the Retreat Week stash.
Last Monday was the semi-annual “defrosting of the freezers” so now everything is super organized and listed and the advance baking for the Retreat will soon be completed. After that the plan is to cook 2 main course dishes, which freeze well.
Tuesday afternoon I met with Alex @ Isaiah 40 to discuss the catering for a small weekend retreat in mid-May that he is organizing for clergy couples. It will be a bit of a challenge since there seems to be a high percentage of food allergies to navigate so I shall be doing some experimenting over the next few weeks πŸ˜Š
This week there has been plenty of activity on the “Host Communities” front.  On Thursday it was FANTASTIC to receive the Applications from 3 First Nations near Regina. All three communities are Pastored by Rev. Vicki and two of them have been hosting Day Camps for a number of years but the third only joined on last summer so it is super exciting to have them back.
Hopefully this evening some TEAM APPLICATIONS will be submitted. Mae Anne was with me for lunch last Monday and as one of the youth leaders at her church she has also been badgering and assures me that at least some forms will be forthcoming. It is good to live in hope 😊
After becoming increasingly anxious about the lack of Team applications I  have appealed to my mentor, Brett, for suggestions and a few days ago he sent me quite a long list of UK contacts to try in the hopes of luring some university-aged young adults to come to Canada this summer. I penned a compelling plea for assistance and sent copies out into cyberspace-no responses yet. Sigh.
On a brighter note-the Wedding Outfit is finished. YAY!!!  Last Sunday’s fitting went smoothly but I was slightly apprehensive to discover they had chosen some small shank buttons for the blouse since the buttonhole attachment on my sewing machine is only workable with regular flat buttons. Thus it was necessary to make the buttonholes by hand. Snipping through the fabric on the front of a wedding blouse is pretty nerve wracking but happily all went well and after sewing on all the buttons and then ironing the blouse and skirt it looks really nice. Jessica will see it this evening as she is coming to the Team Gathering.
Well the veggies are out of the oven but there is a lot more to do for this evening so I’m about to call this a “wrap”.
Regular readers may have noticed that I did not get around to a special post with the Soft Pretzel Recipe so here it is today…better late than never!

(adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

2 Tbsps. yeast
2 cups warm water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
6½ cups unbleached flour
2 Tbsps. coarse salt
½ cup butter or margarine, cut into small bits
½ cup baking soda
½ cup pale ale beer

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water with ½ cup of the brown sugar. Add the flour, salt and butter or margarine and mix first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands until the dough comes together. Knead to form a smooth dough. Place in a clean, greased bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Next day combine the soda, beer, and remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar and 8 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle approx. 12x14inches. Cut into 12 strips. Roll each strip into a 24” long rope and form into pretzel shape OR cut each strip in half and roll into a 15” rope and form into smaller pretzels.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place two or three pretzels at a time into the simmering liquid and allow to float to the surface, skim out immediately with a large slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each pretzel with additional coarse salt and bake in a preheated oven and bake for approx. 8 minutes or until puffed and deep brown. Cool on racks and serve with mustard dip.

Mustard Dip
3Tbsps. hot mustard powder
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup pale ale
1 egg
2 Tbsps. sugar
½ tsp. coarse salt

In a small non-reactive metal bowl combine the mustard and vinegar and allow to sit for at least an hour. Whisk in all the other ingredients. Place the bowl in a shallow pan of simmering water and cook, whisking from time to time until thick, approx. 20 minutes. Cool and serve with pretzels. Will keep for a week in the fridge.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Lent 5

It’s late in the day to begin this post but the “Baking” had to come before the “Blogging" this Saturday as I set myself an ambitious list of Retreat Week baking on top of some essentials for our immediate consumption!
It has been a good week in terms of Day Camps. The best news was from Rev. Vicki who has once again, lined up Camps in the three First Nations where she Pastors. We also had news that two Ontario communities were on board after some initial hesitation 😊
Then a Police Check arrived from one of our two Team Members applying from Toronto plus reference letters for both girls. This means I can now set up a Skype interview with Lauren (the newbie) and hopefully get acceptance packages sent out next week.
Jessica sent in more documents to add to the humongous zip file of Pdfs we will be sending to Henry as the job of assembling the Team Leaders Binders continues.
Mid-week, as I was  looking over the list  I realized that because I had recently retooled the Clergy and Coordinators Planning Guides it would be necessary to do the same for the Team Leaders and Members Guides AGH!!!!!
So Thursday and Friday much time was spent this extra job.t I’m not quite done yet but should be able to add those refurbished files to the “Henry” list on Monday or Tuesday.
I also got the lyrics of the LiturgicalDance transcribed into a file, printed it and am in the process of drawing in the dance notation before scanning it back into the computer, ready for printing. I know I’ve said it many times before but it is really challenging to pull together every single tiny (but VITAL) component of this program.
It is just as important to bake enough blueberry muffins for a Retreat Week breakfast, as it is to make sure the dance choreography is accurate or to design special Team Crosses or to type up a host church’s invoice.
Fortunately I’m a huge fan of multi-tasking and do find moving from one type of work to something completely different is actually quite invigorating πŸ˜Š
  Mind you starting my Saturday (the first day of APRIL) with an hour of snow shovelling is not the sort of invigorating work I’m thinking of!!!!!!!

 Meanwhile, afternoons I’ve sewn a few new spring tunics for myself, the Pysanky were  all completed and the challenge of crafting some sort of baskets to give them in is now a high priority. Three “Bunny Nuggets” have been knitted along with a dozen eggs for the Godsons and their siblings and that is just as well since, despite the fresh snow, we are now only two weeks away from Easter.

 Tomorrow’s “restful” Sabbath has morphed into another super crazy CTM Sunday- Morning House Church with a visitor from the Synod Office (EEK!!)
Lunch with Chelsea, followed by the long anticipated “Wedding Outfit Try-on” with Jessica and her Mum. And while we are doing that in the studio a Senior Camp Staff meeting will be happening in the living room with supper for the Huyer family rounding off the day!
 Before I head back to package up all the baking for the freezer we need a recipe.
 At our AGM I had a request for the recipe for the Soft Pretzels and Mustard Dip I had made. Since it is quite a long process I’ve decided to put that up as a separate bonus post (sometime this week ) and end off today with a recipe sent to me by my dear friend Michelle. Although she and her husband and four delightful children now live in Exeter Devon, a couple of years ago they spent several months living in Kyoto.
Last evening I realized I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this delicious dish; although I did substitute a trout filet for the salmon.
Here is the recipe in her words, because they make me smile πŸ˜Š
Do try it; it is simple, quick and VERY yummy!!!!!

                                               Michelle’s Japanese Salmon Dish

My culinary triumph is modest but the kids were watching Japanese children's television in the afternoons and one time there were some kids cooking a dish, which I have successfully replicated. SO simple and delicious.
Here it is:
Salmon fillet
Soya sauce
Vinegar (I used apple... another vocabulary triumph as I asked a random lady in the supermarket where the "su" was... turns out it was an entire section in front of my nose)
Greens (these are long greens something like long spinach, but I guess spinach would work)
Nori (those small strips.. I should send you some..)
Toasted sesame seeds

Boil water in a frying pan, and put the fish in it until cooked. 
Take it out and flake it. 
Boil some more water, chop of the bottom and hold the stems of the greens in for a count of ten (I show off and count in Japanese), then stick the rest in just to wilt them. Plunge them in cold water, and squeeze them out. Chop them up and mix them in with the fish. 
Mix some soya sauce and vinegar in a small bowl, and pour over the fish/greens. 

Turn a small bowl of rice out onto a dish, and top with the salmon mixture. Top that with a bit of nori and sprinkle on sesame seeds.