Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cornmeal Sour Cherry Upside-Down Cake

He who likes cherries soon learns to climb.- German Proverb
Earlier this week we had  snow....So, I am still in the mood for warm food.  For dessert today I made Cornmeal Sour Cherry Upside-Down Cake.  It is delicious served warm.  If you are unable to find sour cherries, this recipe could also work well with frozen blueberries.  I made my recipe with a 12 inch cast iron pan (if you do not have a cast iron pan, you could make the cherry topping with any pan on the stove top, then pour the topping into a greased 12 inch cake pan, add batter and put into the oven).  I have also served this for breakfast.

Cornmeal Sour Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Cake Batter:
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup butter
zest from one orange
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pecans
4 Tbsp. milk
2 cups prepared sour cherries

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.
2.  The cake batter will be prepared in two bowls.  In the first bowl combine the cornmeal, hot water, orange juice and melted butter.  Set aside.
3.  In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 4 Tbsp. sugar, salt.  Set aside.
4.  To prepare topping first, melt 1/4 cup butter in a cast iron pan.
5.  Then stir in orange zest, 3/4 cup sugar, milk and the pecans. cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.

6.  Then stir in the sour cherries.  Continue to cook for another 2-5 minutes, until heated through.  Remove from heat.
7.  Pour the flour mixture into the cornmeal water mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Stir in eggs.
8.  Gently pour cornmeal-cake batter over the cherry topping, taking care not to mix batter into the cherry topping.
 7.  Place cast iron skillet in the oven.  Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Invert.  Serve warm  Serves 8-10.



Thursday, 26 April 2012

Simple things

We were invited over to a friend's house last week.  Her family of 7 lives on a small country farm. They have dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and goats.  Near their house is a small pond with an island. There is a makeshift bridge joining the tiny island to the mainland.  There is mud and lots of it.
There are paths...
homemade rafts...
and forest fortresses...

There are buckets, pots, shovels, slides, sticks, and visions of childhood everywhere I looked.
In our fast paced lives, sometimes we miss the simple things that make life beautiful. 
I enjoyed our day on the small country farm....
Here is our world today...

The End!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Parliament Hill

May you live all the days of your life. - Jonathan Swift
Scene of Parliament Hill from across the Rideau Canal

We just had an unplanned adventure.  My children were not very excited on leaving the beaten path...and taking a jump.  They thought I was wasting their time, and forcing them on a needless car ride.  But what can I say, I like to be spontaneous.  So, sometimes you just need to buckle up and hold on for the ride (and I promise not to disappoint).  
My mother in law had a business meeting in Ottawa, the Canadian Capital ( My American friend's please jot that down in your notes...Ottawa, Canada's Capital...Canadians will be impressed if you know that fact).  She was to leave the next day.  I asked if she had room for my family.  Delighted to not be traveling alone, she instantly agreed.  The trip is three hours each way.  We live much closer to Ottawa than we have ever lived before. And to me, every child needs to visit their nation's capital.
So before the sun rose, I woke my sleeping children.  None had a smile.  None were impressed. (But of course I greeted them cheerfully...enjoying every moment of my sinister plan). 
First stop Parliament Hill...
Centennial Flame
  Beside the entrance to the Parliament Building
 Still they were warming up to the idea of taking this adventure...But slowly, ever so slowly, they were beginning to smile...But, I needed some extra help to cheer them up.  A stop at The Cupcake Lounge was just the thing...with wall to wall delicious cupcakes to choose from...their adventure, just got a little more exciting...

The Cupcake lounge, located just a block from Parliament Hill

My children's selected favourites

The Canadian Capital boasts a stunning array of museums...all of them worth exploring.  With only three hours left...and my children finally agreeing to try to enjoy the day....we decided on  the Canadian War Museum. (What can I say...I have one teenage boy, one preteen boy, and a six year old boy...I think the art museum would not impress).
From start to finish...they were in heaven.  Reading every sign, studying every display.  I have to say, this was one of the nicest museums, to which I have ever been.  There were even volunteer WWII vets who were throughout the museum to answer questions.  In addition, there were many hands on activities and display tables set up throughout...encouraging children to ask questions and find out more...

By the time we finally reached the exit door of the museum, somehow, the sun was shinning brightly.  Lack of sleep did not keep them from smiling....and they were happy to have taken this unplanned adventure (I am glad I did not listen to their complaints).  I do think that life is full of possibilities and adventure...but many times we close the door...thinking we don't have time...or we will do it tomorrow.  But today only comes once...and "Tell me,what is your plan to do with your one, wild, precious life...( Mary Oliver)."

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Jamaican Meat Patties

Happiness is found along the way- not at the end of the road. - Sol Gordon
put the finishing touch on our masterpiece

My second son has become a bit of a food connoisseur.  He got this trait from his father...who I suppose got it from his mother...who got it from her mother before...and so it goes.
Consequently, if he is served toast with butter for breakfast, he will feel like a neglected soul.  He does not like spaghetti three times a week...but he loves variety...and will not shy away from most foods....(he will even eat snails!)
He enjoys asking," What's for dinner?"...and suggesting what he feels will be appetizing.  For the past week he has had his heart set on Jamaican Meat Patties.  I am not good at making pastry...or pie crusts from scratch.  I have tried several times....and hmm...
But, finally I gave into his request just as long as he promised to be my sous chef.  We took on the whole recipe...pie crusts and all....and the result was well worth the effort!
(But my most favourite part of all....was seeing his excitement....all the way through!)
If you would like to try this recipe, here is the link:  Jamaican Meat Patties.  It is from Emeril Lagasse.
some of the ingredients needed...
Jar of Turmeric...hand grown and crushed  by my sister in law's father
trying to get the ginger root as fine as possible
Tomatoes, one of the main ingredients...they really added a lot of flavour to the patties
We placed the tomatoes into hot order to help remove the skins, as the recipe called.
tomatoes, peeled
my son helping with the pie shells

we used a bowl to measure and cut the dough

the completed filling
Our Jamaican Meat Patties, fresh out of the oven

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Spring Pictures part 3

Listen can you hear it?  Spring's sweet cantata. -Diane Frolov and Andrew Scneider

Cows on a nearby farm
small bouquet
spring flower
spring flower
my niece with her first picked flower
fiddle head
the beginning of a canopy of leaves
willow leaves
my front yard...grey skies and sunset.