I haven’t posted for a while because my Mom was in and out of the hospital in the last month, and on January 16 she peacefully passed away. Free at last from the many years of struggle with her health.
It is strange how we create a routine out of the obligations of life. A pattern is shaped from necessity and reluctantly overlaid. Eight years ago my father died, and my mom asked me to come see her more often. At first it was every other week. Somewhere in there it became a weekly visit. Usually on a Saturday, I’d be up by 6am and on my way. The 2-hour drive a quiet pleasant meditation through lovely Ontario country-side. A stop for a coffee. Sometimes a pause for walk on a trail.
I’d stop at the grocery store along the way and get what was needed, And arrive at my Mom’s usually before 9AM. We would have breakfast, discuss what was new and news, make a to-do list of what needed doing, Check the sump-pump, change the filters, light-bulbs, garden, lawn…whatever. Somewhere in there the PSW would arrive and help my mom with her personal care.
Then my mom and I would have lunch, and we’d cook something extra for the fridge and freezer. Sometimes we would bake – tea biscuits, cake, cookies – so my mom would have goodies to offer her many guests through the week. Her local church/community was simply amazing for how they took turns visiting her each evening.
Sometimes I’d stay for dinner, but usually by 4 pm I’d be heading back on the trek back the other way to my own home. Back to my own to-do list that was waiting for me.
Yes there were times I would feel trapped by the pattern of obligation. Times I just felt too tired, too overwhelmed…
And still I would go – maybe shifting the visit to a Monday…
I am not writing this to grumble and brag. I did what I did because I was available and I could. It was my choice. I am writing this because it became such a part of my life that today, this morning, In this here and now of quiet reflection, I realize and I feel the empty space that is here and now. It feels odd not planning a shopping list, gathering the tools to bring, creating a menu, finding a recipe…
I am writing not to say what I did, but to say how much it is missed.
Okay I am a wee bit late for this one – but really is it ever too late for a drink that can contain alcohol?
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk (or replace 1 cup with heavy cream)
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipped for serving)
NOTE: Use a double boiler if you have one as it is easy to burn the milk and eggs unless you watch your heat and keep stirring!
1) In a bowl beat 1/3 cup sugar with egg yolks until well mixed then stir in the salt and 2 cups of milk.
2) Put this “eggnog custard” in a saucepan or double boiler cook the custard over medium hear *stirring constantly* until the custard thickens and coats spoon evenly.
3) Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool. Whisk in remaining 2 cups of milk ( or 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream).
4) Beat the eggs whites until foamy then gradually add the 3 tablespoons of sugar – keep beating until soft peaks form. Gently add the egg whites to the cooled custard and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Chill for 3-4 hours.
5) When ready to serve pour eggnog into punch bowl. Add run to taste if desired and stir with whisk. Grate fresh nutmeg over the eggnog, and dot with the fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!
Secrets of success: Low heat, a heavy saucepan, constant stirring and patience are the keys to making custard sauce. If you increase the cooking temperature to try to speed the process along, the custard is likely to curdle. Stirring constantly, making sure to cover the entire bottom and the corners of the pan, prevents scorching and ensures that the mixture heats evenly.
Apparently I enjoy my tea biscuits! Here is another Tea Biscuit recipe I found in my collection. I’ve been writing them up and posting them here so I can find them – and share them with the world! This one is a fairly standard version of a tea biscuit and fairly quick to make!
4 cup white flour
8 level teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Lard (at room temperature!) (or shortening if Lard doesn’t suit your life choices!)
1 1/2 cups milk (or half&half cream to give a richer feel!)
1) Use parchment paper for baking and easier clean-up!
2) 1 egg with 1/2 cup sour cream – reduce milk to 1 cup and replace 2 teaspoon baking powder with 1 teaspoon baking soda!
3) Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese! Reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon (since cheese is salty..)
1) In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
2) If using egg and sour cream in a separate bowl mix the sour cream with the egg until blended. Add milk to this mix.
3) Drop the room temperature lard in the dry ingredients bowl, then using a pastry cutter blend the lard into the flour mixture until the mixtures has a course even texture.
4) Add the wet ingredients and mix well into the dough.
5) Using clean dry hands knead dough in bowl 6 to 8 strokes; if dough is too dry and not binding together, slowly add a bit extra milk a teaspoon at a time. This tea biscuit mixture should be moist without being too sticky! The dough should pull easily away from the sides of the bowl.
All of the above should be done fairly quickly to avoid over-working the flour and activating the gluten! (which would make the biscuits tough…)
6) Form into a ball and cut the biscuit dough. Place in fridge for 20 minutes to make it easier to work.
7) Preheat oven to 450°F
While the oven is heating roll out half the dough 1/4 inch thick. Lightly dust with flour if it is sticking to the rolling pin. Fold in half, and then fold in half again. (Yes that would now be a quarter – but this is cooking not math class!)
Now roll out once more to about 1/2 inch thick and cut biscuits (no bigger than 2 inches wide!)
8) Place biscuits on parchment paper in a cookie sheet. The biscuits should just be touching each other – this will make them puff upwards more than then expand sideways!
Brush the top with any left-over milk to make the tops brown evenly.
Bake for 12 to 17 minutes (or until golden brown on top)
I had forgotten about this recipe! I used to make these back in my student days when I knew I should bring a treat to visit. The beauty of these cookies is the work is in preparation – the cooking you get to walk away from! Of course there have been a few times when I forgot the cookies the next morning. The people sharing my house took care of them for me…
2 egg whites
OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (Cream of tartar helps “stabilize” the egg whites when beaten so they keep their froth. It is not required.)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2) Using a mixer beat the eggs whites. If you are using cream of tartar add when eggs are frothy and bubbly. Beat eggs until just softly forming peaks.
3) Slowly add the sugar. When all the sugar has been added beat on high for 5 more minutes to create stiff shiny peaks of meringue!
4) Using a spatula fold in the vanilla, chocolate chips and pecans until evenly mixed
5) On a non-stick cookie sheet (use parchment paper on cookie sheet of you have it) drop by the teaspoon full evenly on sheet. You can use tablespoon for bigger cookies but they may not set inside.
6) TURN OFF OVEN
7) Leave cookies in oven overnight (or at least 8 hours)
Makes about 3 dozen cookies (depends on how big you make each cookie!)
No Cream of Tartar and the egg whites won’t peak for you?
Rule one is never add salt to egg whites. If you did then just start over!
Since Cream of Tartar is essentially an acid – you can use 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice for each egg. It will give the eggs a bit of a lemony flavour so your meringue will be fluffy with a hint of lemon!
Be prepared to have fun! This is an incredible summer recipe to keep every child pre-occupied for a good 30-minutes or so AND they get a nice creamy cold reward for their efforts! Can you say win-win-win?
Ice Cream Ingredients
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons soft fruit
1/2 cup of whole milk
(if you don’t have whole milk use 1/4 skim milk and 1/4 table-cream)
1 small zip freezer bag (about 1 pint/.5 litre – roughly 5 inch by 7 inch)
1 large zip freezer bag (about 1 gallon/4 litres – roughly 10 inches by 10 inches)
1/2 cup rock salt
ice cubes (enough to fill large bag half-way)
1) Make sure your hands and are clean! (And make sure any children helping also wash their hands!)
2) Open the smaller bag and add the sugar, vanilla and fruit ingredients to the bag. Seal the bag and mix the ingredients together by squeezing and squishing the bag with your fingers.
3) Open the smaller bag and now add the milk. Squeeze out as much extra air as you can and seal the bag tight! Mix ingredients by squeezing and squishing the bag with your fingers.
4) Open the larger bag and add the ice so large bag is half-filled – and then add the rock salt. Hold the top together and give a light shake.
5) Place the sealed “ice cream” bag in the larger bag with the ice-salt mixture.
6) Shake the “bag in a bag” combo for 10 minutes or until the liquid has changed to ice cream.
Try a variety of different fruits. Ripe bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and cherries all work well! Be warned: if the bags are not properly sealed you will have a mess. Doing this outside can reduce the scale of the disaster! It takes a lot of shaking to get the chilling effect going and the ice-cream to set. Be prepared to take turns to get this done. Remember the ice-slat mix will get very cold. Wearing your winter mitts can be a good solution – and is a bit of a laugh for the kids!
This is a cold recipe – no cooking! So make sure all your ingredients are clean and kept clean!
Before opening the small bag rinse the bag under cold water to remove any salt clinging to the bag.