Tag Archives: strawberries

Convalescence

After several days of procrastination,  my ‘apology’ for a real Christmas cake is finally in the oven, baking gently and moderately. That done, I can now take time to celebrate my mother’s homecoming from hospital which happened this past Saturday morning. And what a cause for celebration that is. The past few weeks have been full of pain and struggle but, at last, thanks to the loving care of my sister and brother, she is home again; home to convalesce.

To convalesce ; to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness; to spend time healing; to grow strong….no busying and  bending to a hospital routine; no poking and prodding and monitoring and measuring; no scrutiny from doctors and students and x-ray machines; only rest, deep rest,

How to rest and recuperate

How to rest and recuperate

food that pleases, gentle movement, and time, to heal the pain and weariness ; that is ‘to convalesce’, from latin, valeo, be well.

Convalescence, a forgotten way of life, perhaps, in a world that constantly sells us the idea  of eternal wellness and vigour  and exhorts us to either be healthy or healthier; that urges us to grasp ease without acknowledging dis-ease; that disallows our physical and spiritual need for times of frailty, by plying us with pills and potions and remedies for a  rapid ‘cure’.

In older times, when illness, and home-based care of it, were more commonplace, recipe  and household books often had sections  with special dishes for invalids or occupants of the sick room. It’s hard to imagine someone like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay producing a  best seller containing  recipes for the ‘InValid’, but our best-selling New Zealand   Edmonds Cookery Book used to offer helpful hints like this…

Needing validation; here's a hint.

Needing validation; here’s a hint.

And our famous  Nurse Maude, founder of our community nursing service, suggested, in her book, oatmeal drinks and gruel for the patient’s sustenance.

I am not sure how well I would do on Nurse Maude’s diet but  I would love a tray, such as this one,  to arrive, in the early light,  at my place of convalescence. Fresh flowers from the morning garden, blackcurrants from the home bush, creamy yogurt and strawberries, to nourish the body, and  blessings and calm to nurture  the soul.

A tray for being well

A tray for being well

What more could a patient ask for..oh, just one thing….a moment of grace read to me from one of the most beautifully photographed books of my  childhood world,  A Child’s Grace by  Constance Bannister.

Grace of a Child

Grace of a Child

Amen. Amen.

© silkannthreades

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Light-hearted

My previous  post was, on the whole, written in a sombre tone. I don’t like to dwell too long in darker spaces so, today, I want to lighten the mood and switch, in a rather mercurial fashion, to a relatively light and fluffy topic….. Spanish Cream……a favourite dessert, from yester year, which is probably no more Spanish than Canadian War Cake is particularly Canadian. Or French fries, truly French.

This is Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

Spanish Cream

I am not sure how old-fashioned a dish is Spanish Cream ( Google and Wiki are unhelpful in this regard) but I first encountered the creamy, silky-smooth, mousse-y deliciousness of this jellied  custard when I was at boarding school; decades ago!  It was one of the few items on the boarding school menu to which I looked forward.

This is the recipe  I use. It is from my very old Edmonds recipe book.

Old recipe in an old book

Old recipe in an old book

As with most of my recipes, this one is very easy to make. How easy is illustrated by the young man in the embedded video. Although  his method is slightly more carefree than mine, I love his relaxed approach!

And, there, you have it. Ready to eat , either on its own, or with any fruit of your choice. I prefer slightly sharp-flavoured fruit, like rhubarb or berries, to complement the sweetness of  the Cream.

Sweet and simple

Sweet and simple

Now, although I adore Spanish Cream, made to the original recipe, I am sure it  would work extremely well, (and would be better for me and kinder to the world), if it were made  using a vegetarian setting agent and coconut milk/cream or almond milk .  I have yet to try making a vegetarian alternative but thinking about doing so makes me realise that, in our rush to industrialize/ rationalise/commercialize food production,  we have condensed the fascinating art of jelly making to a convenience food that comes in a small packet of garishly coloured crystals . For much of history,  a banquet (think Henry VIII) was no such thing unless it came with elaborate jellies, and, in Victorian times, every well-dressed table required a jelly, to be considered properly presented. And even the more humble home table, with Northern English or Scottish origins,  may, long ago, have enjoyed  a simple type of jelly or flummery called Sowens, which was  made from strained oatmeal.  For more on the history of Jellies and Creams, take a look at this fascinating site http://www.historicfood.com/Jellies.htm

Then, come back here and enjoy a few more moments of light-hearted fluff.

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© silkannthreades

Be still….and listen

My recent posts have been noisy and busy, by which I mean full of details and links and information. Today, I made a promise to myself to quiet my loud mind and try, try to be still with my thoughts and my post. (But it’s  hard to restrain myself; so hard…..)  Here goes; be still…….

I adore the work of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

I adore the work of nature along my garden path.

Blue pathway

Blue pathway

And did I mention that I adore the paintings of  Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres; the rich fabric, the colours, textures, details, the sweet plumpness of the curves….. every moment my eyes linger on this painting of Madame Moitessier, I discover new delights…

And did I mention that I adore Nature’s Canvas too, with its myriad textures,

Details

Details of Ajuga the Bugleweed

soft folds, jewel-like colours, tiny, ever-surprising details and

and silken opulence.

Be still…… and listen; do you hear Spring singing in the garden? Can you see the music playing?

Still

Still

“When the chamber of the scarlet-clothed Hours is opened
And the nectareous flowers usher in the fragrant spring,
Then are scattered, then, on the immortal ground
The lovely petals of violets; roses are wound in our hair;
Loudly echo the voices of songs to the flutes,
And choirs step in procession to dark-ribboned Semele.[69]”

Pindar

© silkannthreades