Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Pancake Day

It's Shrove Tuesday today, the traditional feast day to use all the eggs and fats in the larder before the penitential season of Lent starts on the following day... Ash Wednesday.  Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter.

When I was growing up in England, Mum always made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day. I don't mean the thick fluffy flapjack style that are eaten in North America with bacon and sausage and maple syrup. When I first arrived in Canada, I always thought that particular taste combination was very strange, however I quite like it now. Perhaps I'm used to it.

The pancakes that Mum made were very thin and light and lacy, just a little bit crinkled and browned on both sides. Once on the plate, the pancake was sprinkled with caster sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and then rolled up, and always eaten in rolled slices. So good, I remember licking the plate!

The pancake has a very long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).

In Britain, pancake races form an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations – an opportunity for large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, to race down streets tossing pancakes. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first, carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping the pancake as you run. Possibly Mr. Covid will put a stop to the pancake races in 2021!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Marmalade Season

At this time of year, I'm usually making a nuisance of myself by bothering the produce managers in the local grocery stores, looking for Seville Oranges.  Luckily, I found some for sale on my first visit to the big grocery store at the other end of town.... I don't usually shop there. They are small, wrinkled, bumpy, and very bitter oranges. Rather nasty looking. Why would anyone want them? Well.... they are absolutely essential to make lovely yummy home made Marmalade.

I bought 8 Sevilles (pretty pricey at $2:99 lb, oh well, I needed them) 2 lemons and 2 sweet navel oranges.  Squeeze out the juice and remove the pips and membranes, and slice the peel into thin strips.

For every cup of peel and juice, add 2.25 cups of water and soak overnight. Boil the pips and membranes in a separate container and strain out all the liquid... it's full of pectin to help the marmalade set.  Add the juice to the peel and then for every cup of fruit add 1 cup of sugar. Boil it up for 30 minutes or so. As I stirred it I could feel it get thicker and starting to set.
Stir for a while to cool it and to make sure the peel doesn't float, then it goes into jars that have been warming in the oven, pop the lids on, and let them cool. The jars all give a satisfying "pop" as the lids seal.

According to a Scottish legend, the creation of orange marmalade in Dundee occurred by accident. The legend tells of a ship carrying a cargo of oranges that broke down in the port, resulting in some ingenious locals making marmalade out of the cargo.

I could buy marmalade in the store, but it's always far too sweet, and doesn't have that tang that home made marmalade delivers. I'm looking forward to some on my toast at breakfast.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Winter Weekend

I was able to spend a few fun days with YoungerSon and family at their country property despite the Covid.... yes, it's February and it's COLD! Temperatures at night were around -17C, that's 1.4F, definitely chilly. And I was sleeping in the bunkie!

There's a small pond fed by a stream at the low point of the field, and the kids have been skating on the ice. They are missing their hockey at the moment due to the Covid lockdown. YoungerSon is out there at all hours smoothing the ice. We call him the Human Zamboni.

This is what the same pond looked like in the middle of July!

In the evening there was a fierce game of Monopoly.... I was doing really well at first, but I crashed when I rolled a double and landed on a very expensive hotel, then rolled again and scored a 2.... I had to pay up for a visit to the next very expensive hotel..... I never recovered.  Bankruptcy was inevitable. 
Advice: never trust the banker when she keeps dropping the money under the table. There's definitely something dodgy going on.
All three of my grandies have been teaching themselves to play the ukulele using a teaching CD and song book, and various YouTube videos. They were using two ukes, one was a Christmas gift to Emma, the other was a used one bought by Max from Kijiji. So I found a couple more for sale from a neighbour, both used, so now they have four, one for each ukulelist (what a great word!), and one for their Dad (who is playing and singing at the same time.... awesome!). 

I'm looking forward to the summer singalongs around the camp fire!

Tuesday, 2 February 2021


I have to admit that this is a rehashing of a post from a couple of years ago..... but always worth another look, especially as I haven't much else to offer during this lockdown when I seem to the confined to the house every day with no excitement to report.

Today is February 2nd..... 40 days after Christmas. The ancient celebration of Candlemas.

Candlemas is a Christian holy day commemorating the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Some Christian communities bring candles to church, where the candles are blessed and then used for the rest of the year.

In France and Belgium, crepes or thin pancakes are a traditional Candlemas treat. Each family member cooks a pancake while holding a coin in the other hand, thus ensuring wealth and happiness for the next year. The pancakes are round and golden in colour, and are a symbol of the return of spring sunshine after a cold winter.

In Mexico, the presentation of Jesus in the Temple is celebrated with family meals of tamales. Whoever finds the bean in the king-cake at Christmastime is responsible for cooking the Candlemas tamales for the whole family.

There's a theory that Candlemas derives from pagan celebrations as it occurs halfway between the December solstice and the March equinox, winter's halfway point while waiting for spring.

Many people believed that Candlemas Day predicted the weather for the rest of the winter. A bright sunny Candlemas meant more winter to come, and a cloudy wet stormy Candlemas meant that the worst of the winter was over. This is the basis for the February 2nd tradition of North America.... Groundhog Day. Will the groundhog see his shadow? I wonder.......

If Candlemas Day brings snow and rain,
Winter has gone, and won’t come again.
If Candlemas Day be clear and bright,
Winter will have another flight.

or another version....

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.