Saturday, 21 October 2017

21/10/17






















It has been a sort of “up and down” week around here.
Last Sunday was our special CTM Board meeting to discussion the future of Crossroads (our monthly Youth Service). It was quite a long discussion as we all shared ideas about various options for this gathering that has really been in a “struggling” mode for several years. We did agree that it should be kept in abeyance for the moment and that the Board members should spend the coming month praying and reflecting on the options we explored.
 Monday we had an excellent Day Camp Committee Meeting, starting with a supper of Salade Niçoise, Sourdough Loaf, Hot Apple Cider and English Currant Cake. Appropriately fortified we then launched into a productive business meeting focusing on the progress being made on the 2018 Program and also listening to a report on planning for the Fall Coffeehouse, which is coming up in just 2 weeks!!
Tuesday my morning was interrupted as the arborist arrived to radically prune our Silver Maple that was damaged in the microburst last August. He and his helper worked all morning and did a fine job. It was a very expensive undertaking but had to be done. Unfortunately he told me that the tree has trunk rot and he is not sure how long it will last. It is 111 years old and the thought of losing it is very upsetting. He is going to come back and install a sheet of tin over a previous pruning cut that should have been covered at the time it was made, he is hoping that will help to slow the damage. Sigh.
Throughout the week I have been spending quite a lot of “office” time writing the Creative Connection Chapter of the Program Manual.
Contrary to many peoples’ understanding of the purpose of this part of the Program, this chapter is NOT, firstly, about “crafts” but about incorporating the creative arts in worship. The idea is to encourage congregations and Christian community groups to think about the inclusion of children in their regular worship services and gatherings and to do so in new and creative ways such as Liturgical Dance, having children compose and lead prayers, make banners or altar cloths or even vestments for use by their clergy etc.
It is challenging because, obviously the campers also want to take some “treasures” home from Day Camps as memories. Being passionate about saving the environment and using natural, long-lasting and/or recycled materials adds another factor to the mix.  It is also very important to remember that one third of our Camps take place on First Nations or in other rural areas where sourcing supplies can be a huge difficulty and lastly, 4 of our 7 Teams travel to their destinations by air, meaning that we have to consider the cost of excess baggage, which we hate to have to pass on to these far-flung communities 😞
By starting early (the deadline is December 31st) I can devote plenty of time to wrestling with these knotty problems 😊
Meanwhile Christmas projects are coming on apace. I finished sewing gifts for 3 of my Godsons this week and yesterday cut out the laptop cover I’m making (by request!) for Jillian, my Boarder (I’m super-excited that she chose “Cat in the Hat” fabric for the exterior 😊
 This afternoon I also  sewed up a big batch of fabric gift bags and will next tackle a couple of chef's aprons for some special friends. 
Every time I have a baking session I also try to make one more variety of biscotti to add to my Christmas Baking stash; this afternoon will be Peppermint Biscotti with a dark chocolate dip and Orange/Pecan Biscotti. Once those two are made I will have 6 types completed.
It being mid-October, the raking and sweeping of maple leaves is also a daily chore. The weather has been quite glorious all week with temperatures up to 20 degrees, so this last job has actually been quite pleasurable. I’m even still hanging my laundry outside to dry, amazing!!
Well it is time to get down to baking so I had better close off with a recipe.
Since it is apple season around here I thought I would share a simple recipe, my Nana’s Apple Pudding: -

Nana’s Apple Pudding


1 cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
pinch of salt
2 -3 cups homemade chunky applesauce (unsweetened) OR
6 cooking apples, peeled, cored & sliced

Preheat oven to 350º. If you are using raw apples place them in a shallow round baking dish and bake for 20mins. while assembling the crust.
Otherwise place the pre-made applesauce in the dish and set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork. Bring the soft dough gently together and on a floured surface roll it out to fit the top of the dish.

Place the crust over either the partly cooked apples or the applesauce and bake for approx. 30 minutes or until the crust is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature either with yoghurt for breakfast or with ice cream for a dessert. Yum 😊

Saturday, 14 October 2017

14/10/17











As the autumn draws in I find myself back to “Bake & Blog” Saturdays! Mind you, this morning did include an early raking session followed by an hour-long Wil walk into Westmount where we chose two 2018 calendars at the stationary shop.
But it is a dark cloudy day so, once home, baking began and now just after 2pm the cooling racks on the dining table are full J
Tomorrow we have an extra CTM Board meeting (normally we meet every second month) at which we are going to address the “Future of Crossroads”(CTM’s monthly Youth Service). It is hard to squeeze in a long discussion on a single topic at our regular meetings so it was thought wise to hold a separate one in the hopes that we will be able to come to a consensus on this important subject.
But I should have started with a quick review of the past week: -
We received our first 2018-Day Camp Application YAY!!!! We also received final 2017 payments from 2 communities and promise of another so I think that only leaves 3 still outstanding. Good news both for CTM’s finances and also for getting us closer to  finally shutting the door on all the work of Day Camps 2017 so that we can concentrate on next summer J
The week also included more progress on the 2018 Program Manual Chapters and preparation of the agenda for the Day Camp Committee Meeting, coming up on Monday. Two mornings started super-early with the Brady children and guests were here for  lunch on two days, afternoon coffee once and dinner on another evening.
Happily, despite some rainy weather, I have now completed cutting down the perennial plants in all my flowerbeds (a VERY big task) and can concentrate on raking many many maple leaves! The arbourist still has not come to prune the tree that was damaged in the microburst. Annoyingly one day he did arrive but only to find there was absolutely nowhere to park his truck on NDG Ave. Grr!
A small amount of progress has been made on Christmas gifts and next week I really hope to complete the fleece pullovers I’ve been sewing for  three of my Godsons. I did cast on for the Thneed for my fourth Godson so; with Christmas baking also underway I’m feeling fairly confident that preparations are on track.
It is hard to believe that Jillian has been living with me for almost two months J She slept here last evening (she normally goes back to her family’s house on Friday and Saturday) because the school where she is now teaching was having its Open House today and all the staff needed to be on hand to help out. Last weekend, with the Thanksgiving Holiday, she was at her home until Monday evening so it sort of worked out. She is super busy with work and wedding preparations but we try to carve out one or two evenings a week to spend together and since she is also very involved in the work of Day Camps it is great to be able to bounce ideas back and forth over dinner J
Well the baking must have cooled off by now and so I should head off to get it all packaged up. Today I made 2 more types of biscotti, for Christmas, 2 currant cakes (one for the Day Camp Committee Dinner, the other also for Christmas) and a batch of Cream Crackers that with cheese and hot apple cider will serve as refreshments at tomorrow’s Board Meeting.
Before I head off to put it all away we need a recipe.
The currant cakes I made come from my Mum’s handwritten cookbook. This cake is a favourite with several friends; maybe you would like to try it tooJ

   Farmhouse Currant Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 ¾ cups flour
¼ tsp. each mace, baking powder & salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups currants

Grease an 8” tube pan and line with parchment paper. With an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and continue besting until light. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
 Whisk together the flour, mace, salt and baking powder. With the mixer on low, very gradually beat in the flour mixture, just until it is incorporated. Fold in the currants.
Carefully spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet in case any of the batter leaks out!
Bake in a preheated 325º oven for at least 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when the cake is tested at its deepest point.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes then turn out and cool completely on a rack. If well wrapped the cake will keep in the freezer for several months.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

07/10/17











Although this post is being composed early Saturday afternoon the plan is to wait and publish  tomorrow since it would be nice to include a few photos from tonight’s Harvest Team Gathering J
The week (and the month of October!) began with a pretty crazy Sunday that started with the Huyer family at breakfast, as they had stayed overnight. That was followed by House Church, an early afternoon tea party with the Irish family, a quick visit from Bishop Mary who came to dig a bunch of Lily of the Valley plants  I had promised her and that ended with a dinner party for Joanne and Chris, my boarder, Jillian’s sister and brother-in-law! Whew, quite the Sabbath.
On Monday I began sending out a series of reminders to Day Camp host communities who have not yet sent us their final Day Camp payment. This is a tedious task that requires a lot of cross-checking of invoices, deposits and receipts, since no one should receive and extra reminder if they have already paid their bill J.
With that dull job out of the way another chunk of “office” time has been spent beginning to write the Creative Connection chapter for the 2018 Program Manual. So far I’ve only made it through the introduction but am hoping to get into the “meat” of the project in the week to come.
Since this is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, this Monday will be a holiday so we  have a four-day workweek ahead. This is the only National holiday until Christmas so most people  take advantage of the long weekend to do special things with friends & family; I am blessed that this evening will be spent with a number of Day Camp Team Members! We decided to have a Taizé evening without a guest speaker and instead will break into small groups for a short Bible Study/Discussion on Deuteronomy 26:1-11, a  fitting passage about  gifts of the Harvest.
It is currently raining outside but I was able to spend 2 hours in the garden this morning cutting down plants in the largest flower bed. We have had an extremely dry Autumn so far and many perennials were looking very straggly so it seemed a good time to get started on this big job. There are 4 other beds to tackle and unfortunately the forecast is rain for the balance of the weekend  but I’m hoping there may be a couple of clear breaks in which I can do a bit more. Of course the leaves are also beginning to fall in earnest so “raking” has also been added to my list of daily chores.
This week I finished the baby gift I have been working on  and am super happy with the results so now it is full steam ahead on Christmas presents!!!
There is a long list of things to sew including embroidered felt key rings for some special friends, a laptop case for Jillian (special request!!) and fleece pullovers for 3 of my Godsons.
It always seems a shame to work indoors while the weather is still warm and sunny but I guess afternoons on the porch will not be a temptation for much longer!
Well I seem to be getting “the look” from Wil who, despite the rain, thinks it is time for his afternoon walk. So before we head off we need a recipe J
Last Wednesday evening Jillian’s fiancé, Victor, joined us for dinner so I made Harvest Quiche.
The original (smaller!) recipe comes from this lovely cookbook, but since Wentworth (our CTM Director of Communications) was also in the house on a conference call about Camp registration platforms I knew we would need an extra-large pie to feed everyone so here is my larger version of-

Harvest Quiche
Pastry for a 10” deep-dish pie plate
1 bunch each of Broccoli and CauliflowerRomanesco
½ lb. Italian sausage
9 eggs
1½ cups light cream
Black pepper, to taste

8oz. grated sharp Cheddar
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbsps. Olive Oil

Roll out the pastry and line the pie dish, refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the quiche.
Break the broccoli and cauliflower heads into 1” florettes and blanch for 4mins in boiling water. Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.
Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the onions over medium-low heat until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Remove the casings from the sausages and brown them in a small skillet, breaking up into small pieces.
Place the eggs and cream in a large bowl with a pouring spout and whisk together, season with pepper.
To assemble the quiche:- Spread the onions over the prepared crust. Layer on the broccoli and cauliflower, the sausage and then ¾ of the cheese. Carefully pour the egg mixture over all and  sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

As a precaution, stand the pie dish on a large rimmed baking sheet in case the filling boils over!
Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 50-60 minutes or until set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 hungry people J













We had a super Team Gathering with 14 people attending. The music, led by Emmanuel, Kelvin, Donna, KC, Miriam and Miguel was outstanding! Everyone very much enjoyed the Taizé Bible Study and Discussion, plus the prayers, read aloud by Donna from small Taizé boards, just like the larger ones we used at this year’s Retreat.





The evening was certainly a real blessing to me and I trust also to all who were present! We shared, together in great food, community fellowship and meaningful worship.