Category Archives: Baking

Welcome, stars of the New Year

If you were to look at a New Zealand calendar, there’s a good chance you would see 18 June marked as Matariki ~ 18 June being the official start of Aotearoa’s New Year. I have written previously about Matariki, the traditional Maori New Year and its connection to the star cluster, Pleiades, as well as its connection to  my life.  You can find the post at this link.

https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/matariki-and-my-mothers-birthday/

This New Year, instead of a re-hash of my own limited knowledge of Matariki,  I  invite you to join me over at Juliet Batten’s  blog, http://www.julietbatten.co.nz/musing-on-matariki/ , where you can see the wonder of one of New Zealand’s own seasonal events through a different pair of eyes.  Juliet is the author of  ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Rituals for Aotearoa’. In her book, she writes with wisdom and clarity about our inherited ( Pakeha )  festivals, and how we can attune them to the seasons of New Zealand, and the traditional observances of the Maori calendar.

Despite Juliet’s clear instructions  on locating Matariki in  our southern skies ( “start with Orion, move diagonally down to the left, past Taurus and look low” ), I have failed to do so: mostly because I am functionally illiterate when it comes to reading the stars, but also because, this year, the weather has, so far, been distinctly unhelpful. Like this, in fact, ~soggy ~

Soggy boggy rhubarb

Soggy boggy rhubarb

with both night and day cloaking themselves in the same dark, dense, water-logged fabric.

Now, whilst I may be failing at star-craft and Pleiades-tracking, I have  spotted the return of another visitor, this Matariki. It’s none other than SOFIA, the ultra sophisticated and ultra modern star-gazer, from afar.

Sofia, a stratospheric observatory, is a joint venture  between Nasa and the German Aerospace Centre and will be based in Christchurch until July 24th. There will be 18 missions during the six-week deployment, each lasting ten hours. Although the main focus this year is Pluto, I am sure the crew on Sofia will get some fine glimpses of the Pleiades.

This is a photo I took of Sofia during her visit in July 2013. My old post on Sofia can be found on this link. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/2408/#comments

Sofia

Sofia

If it weren’t for the dripping state of the landscape,

Dripping Nandina

Dripping Nandina

I would have been out getting you a new photo of Sofia. But, as it is, I  prefer being indoors,    salivating over   gazing at the stars of my kitchen laboratory:

Tarte Tatin ( the first I have made );

Golden Tarte Tatin

Golden Tarte Tatin

Apricot and Feijoa Cobbler;

Sundrop Cobbler

Sundrop Cobbler

Poached Quinces;

Celestial festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Celestially arranged festive quinces in honour of Matariki

Piping hot pumpkin soup;

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup.

A little sunshine dips into the pumpkin soup. (Do you see the pink monster at the window waiting for her turn at the soup bowl?)

Hmmm……looking at my kitchen creations, does anyone else get the impression that I am hungry for the sun? Thank goodness, the solstice and the rebirth of the sun are nigh. 🙂

Happy New Year. 😀

© silkannthreades

 

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If it’s dreich, try pot to plate

Dreich  ~ yes,  dreich, that’s the right word to describe today.  Dismal, dreary, bleak, a winter’s day at the end of May.  Outdoors, the colours are first dulled by the grey wash of sky, then smeared by the gloom of the atmosphere. Dreich, it is; maist dreich.

What’s a body to do but wrap up warmly and take a solid meal of soup, served without fuss or finery, straight from pot

Pot of barley vegetable soup

Pot of barley vegetable soup

to plate. Slop and dollop.

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

Plate of soup to cheer the dreich of day

A dear friend showed me how to make this soup-stew. There isn’t a defined recipe. What goes in, aside from the barley and broth, depends on what is in the cupboard. In this case I have potato, pumpkin, two kinds of sweet potato, peas, broccoli stalks,  parsnip, carrot, onion,  celery, and bacon. The flavourings are salt, bay leaves and tarragon, and lots of black pepper.  The soup takes time to cook but time = very satisfying fodder. Even more satisfying, as an accompaniment, would have been a wee dram of that other time-dense barley concoction,  whisky.   Alas, there was none of that in the cupboard. 😉

© silkannthreades

12.51 ~Holding On

12.51 pm ~

that dreadful moment, 4 years ago, today, that ripped apart what was left of our quaint, quiet world.

I am remembering it.

My heart doesn’t want to anymore, but my brain and my body  insist.  12.51, and all the other moments, beginning Sept 4, 2010, are imprinted on my being ~ indelibly. They have leached to my very core. Part of who I am and what I will be, forever.

Four years on and I still stiffen at any unexpected movement in the house, even if it’s only the wind, or a shake caused by a truck rumbling  on the road.   I startle easily. And, then, there are those moments that come, out of the blue, and screech through my head for an intense few seconds, saying, ” Is it going to happen again, NOW?  Is it, is it? What will I do? What will I do? Will I make it? How will I hold on? Can I hold on? ”  I am standing again in the bathroom doorway, holding on to frame and fear. Indescribable fear.

Then it’s over. I survive, and move on. Slowly. On shaky legs.

I set the table, in some trepidation, with my great-grandmother’s china. (Please no shakes, please no shakes.) I remind myself it has survived more than a 100 years. It is chipped, cracked and crazed, but its beauty and value remains.

A friend brings apples.

What would my Bramley ancestors make of these apples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravenstein in her serving dish?

What would my Bramley ancestor make of these  apples in her serving dish?

 

She has gathered them from an abandoned, earthquake-damaged property in her neighborhood. She calls them gravestone apples. I like that. They are, in a way. The property on which they grow is like a forlorn graveyard.

I eat the apples. I bake them. They are given new life, new form.

Crostatahttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/apple-crostata-recipe.html meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg

Crostata meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg at my table.

 

I bake bread, to share.

Bread to share

Bread to share

I want to feast on life, not fear.

Join me. Take a slice,

Take a slice

Take a slice

a spoon, a fork, “dig in”.

For keeps from Kerry. :) featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother's cutlery set.http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

For keeps from Kerry. :), featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother’s cutlery set. The tiny teaspoons belonged to my paternal great-grandmother Alice. http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

Something to ponder as you digest :

The china used in this post is a metaphor for continuity. The  Flow Blue  semi porcelain plates which belonged to my maternal great-grandmother were produced about 1912. The pattern is Vermont. They were made in England by Burgess and Leigh. The small blue plates, which I purchased just prior to the earthquakes, are also Burgess and Leigh. They are made in the same way and in the same factory as the Vermont china was all those years ago. One pattern is Felicity, the other is Chintz. Felicity is a small, delicate flower pattern reminiscent of elder flowers in a gentle pale blue originating from the 1930s. Burgess Chintz is a delicate blue chintz  pattern dating from the early 1900s, derived from the wild geranium. How any of this china survived the shaking, I will never know.

 

© silkannthreades

Hop to it

Four months ago, Nath at  Beautycalypse invited me to join her Blog Hop. I didn’t hop to it immediately because I needed to first complete a similar Blog Hop for  Sheri de Grom.  I completed Sheri’s Blog Hop in October and posted it as Finishing What I Started……then this happened, and that happened, and…w.e.l.l…..skippity hop, hop, here I am, weeks and weeks later, with still no proper response to Nath’s lovely invitation.

So, it’s time to knuckle down, RSVP, and, thus, put my  ‘blogging house’ in order .

Dear Nath, ~explorer of beauty as a philosophy of harmony, creator of BEAUTYCALYPSE, an ad-free blog about ethical excellence~

I accept your invitation to blog hop. Please enjoy my response.

Let’s hope that together we will continue to strive to live wisely and well, and with love, in 2015.

Sincerely Gallivanta

 

WHY DO I WRITE?

Why I write hasn’t changed much since I stated the purpose of this blog on my  About page in 2012.  However, for the next little while, this blog will have an additional purpose;  to keep track of myself, in practical ways, but also in practices of the soul, such as gratitude ~ and love, as epitomized in this quote from St John of the Cross.  “In the evening we shall be examined on love.” ( thanks Clanmother for bringing this quote to my attention  🙂 )

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

That is the big question! And this is the big answer.

Last time I answered this, I said I was working on growing younger. I still am. It has taken me a long time to reach my numerical age, so it will take a considerable number of days to de-age all my decades. As I work on resetting my spiritual age, I am also, as you are no doubt weary of hearing,

Oh, not that story again. Do I really have to listen? I would rather go outside..... please?

Oh, not that story again. Do I really have to listen? I would rather go outside….. please?

rearranging and sifting and sorting through and decluttering my physical environment.

It’s a huge task, often tedious, and always challenging. Readers’ supportive comments as I intermittently blog my way through the process are wonderfully sustaining.  And Nath, bless her, has offered sterling decluttering inspiration through her  Blog , too.  I am in awe that, in 2014, she managed to achieve her goal of discarding/giving away 5 old items for every new one bought. That’s a high standard to attain and maintain.

I would like to equal it but, currently, this is how the numbers stack up in my abode. In December and January, 22 items came into my home, either as purchases or gifts; some were new and some second-hand. All were delightful, of course, and welcomed with joy.  Here’s a sample of the acquisitions.

During the same period, I dispatched about 25 items to one of our city’s handy  Ecodepots   and to friends/neighbours/strangers. Before the end of this month, I hope to have a few more items, such as our second car, out the door, possibly via NZ’s  Trade Me online auction  site.

Not quite 5 to 1, but not too bad for a start. 🙂

 

HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THIS GENRE?

It doesn’t really, so I am going to recycle the answer I gave on Finishing What I Started.   ( Check the link in my opening paragraph, please. 🙂 )

WHAT IS MY WRITING PROCESS?

Again, I will reuse the answer given in Finishing What I Started.

Is this The End, you ask? Not quite.

I would like to invite Miss Marzipan to join the Blog Hop, but only if she has time in her hectic-creative-working woman-mother of two-marathon runner-schedule. Miss Marzipan, like Nath, cares deeply about sustainable and ethical living. Her choice of giveaway gift of Moonbear make-up bags reflects her commitment to helping the plight of the Moonbears via  Animals Asia. And the product she chose is from the Italian eco, cruelty-free, fashion label  Miomojo.  Miss Marzipan your caring lifestyle  makes a difference to me, as well as to all those creatures who cannot speak for themselves.

"In the evening we shall be examined on love." St John of the Cross.

“In the evening we shall be examined on love.” St John of the Cross.

Right, that’s enough cluttering of the page with my words and photos.  It’s back to work for me, filling up the de-acquisition box.

 

* Final Note

I am deeply grateful to Angela Namoi and  David Bateman Ltd for the heart-flutteringly beautiful Dawn Chorus. If we fail to live as caring eco-citizens of the world, the Dawn Chorus will become a song confined to history and legend.

© silkannthreades

Keeping track of myself

As a slow-moving, slow-thinking, stay-at-homer, living without the aid of  a Fitbit to keep track of myself, I am inclined to fall into the habit of believing that my day’s achievements equal little more than  washing out and washing in; and that’s on a relatively well-organized day. 😀 However, if I stop for a moment and put on my old-fashioned  considering cap , I slowly  begin to understand that I have been achieving. Indeed, almost over-achieving 😉 .

For example, in this past first week of the New Year, I have, amongst other things, baked two  delicious cakes, a loaf of yogurt bread, and two hearty desserts.  I have been on some favourite  summertime walks. I have caught up with most of my blog reading and commenting. And I have decluttered the inner workings of my faithful old Toshiba laptop so that it performs faster and more efficiently than it has done in years. Hooray! Oh, and, let’s not forget, I  have given my husband a handsome haircut. ( It’s taken me more than thirty years to get up the courage to take on the haircutting! )

But of more importance, and beyond any of these achievements, has been my week of keeping tabs on my BEING; specifically on my Grateful Being.  Many people write a gratitude journal but this is the first time I have done so. It was much harder work than I expected, but I am pleased I persevered with it.

So, if you have a moment to spare, draw up a chair, put on your considering caps, and make what you will of my 7 days of random gratitudes.

Here I go….. grateful for

and grateful, too, for my new  Nextbook, for my ability to sleep soundly  through the Wilberforce earthquake, and grateful for the fact that our  Christmases don’t all come at once.

My final gratitude is reserved for the wonderful weeds that grow like flowers in my garden.

Self-sown beauties.

Self-sown beauties.

© silkannthreades

The Night is Black

At this time of the year millions around the world are preparing for the triduum of  Allhallowtide, which encompasses All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. For many the preparations will include stocking up on candles for the rituals and  traditions that involve candlelight.

Millions more have begun another celebration, today, which also requires light; light to vanquish darkness and evil and despair. This celebration is the annual, five-day  festival of  lights, namely,  Diwali.

Having grown up in Fiji, where Diwali has long been an honoured occasion (and now a public holiday), I have a love for Diwali which outstrips any affection I have for Allhallowtide.   Seeing the houses decorated with beautiful Diwali lights was a yearly highlight of my childhood.

So, this week, in accordance with  my family’s customs,  I will light a Diwali candle (candles if I can find more than one).

Light a candle

Light a candle

I will listen again to the gentle singing words of Rabindranath Tagore’s Invocation to Diwali 

and consider the significance of Diwali, so eloquently expressed here:  “The night is black. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life and devotion.” (Rabindranath  Tagore)

Until night falls, however, I will keep watch with the dear, little lights that are ever present , and need no darkness to make them shine.

Little Charlie, a  new  (de) light  to brighten our lives

Little Charlie, a new (de) light to brighten our lives

 

Candelabra

Candelabra; shining light on the shadows

And, if I can organize myself sufficiently well, I may even make a special sweet treat for Diwali;  a rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden.

Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.

© silkannthreades

Saturday Satisfaction

To end the week, as I began it:

Come sit awhile with me,

Come and sit at table

Come sit at table

and celebrate another birthday

Gift of Friendship

Gift of Friendship

for a special friend who lives nearby.

Let’s ” tak a cup o’ kindness yet”* and a tasty treat,

and feel satisfied that we have spent the week as best as we were able.

*Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

 With healing and love and many thanks for keeping me company during this week of daily posts,

Gallivanta

© silkannthreades