A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.
I took a short trip down memory lane with this one… Okay, that’s not entirely true as I had this very lunch just last week…
Is an Aylmer’s cream of tomato soup with a side of sandwich.
The choice of sandwich is important. Plain will work in a pinch, but toasted is always best.
Some will swear by baloney (bologna) – plain or fried, thin or thick. Salami, ham, pressed chicken work
! But oh! A grilled cheese? That’s the best!
The magic happens when you dunk your sammie into the soup and savour!
Add The Flintstones and you are ten years old again.
“I try not to make plans. Because, even the best laid plans etc. etc.”
– Author: Brent Spiner
My plan for Sunday was rather easy. Get up (always a good way to start the day), have a coffee, eat some breakfast, have a second coffee, then get my heinie outside for a good walk. Upon my return will deserve a nice bowl of my veggie soup, take a shower, prepare supper, pick up my mother, enjoy our meal, drive her back, relax and go to bed.
As Sundays go, it started off nice and slow. Slept in until 9 (never mind I was awake from 2 till 5). Stoked the fire and made myself a cup of coffee. Got onto the Interwebs to catch up on my readings. Ate my bowl of Raisin Bran by 10, continued reading and next thing I knew it was past noon. Well, dang.
If I was going to walk for any reasonable time, I’d have to eat sooner. Continued reading and commenting and whatnot and then around 1:30-ish, had a small bowl of soup, then dressed up to go out.
Shovelled the back porch and along the back of the house up to the side gate (must have all exits free from snow, in case). Once that was done, grabbed my camera and was off.
After the cold we had on Saturday, Sunday felt positively balmy! Off I went in the direction of my willow, planning to keep walking until I reached the discovered secluded walkway. I got to the first park and decided to take a pic of the play area as this week’s theme in my photo group is “a touch of blue”, and there is blue on the monkey bars. I slid-shuffled across the skating rink, passing by a lady who was clearing the snow off the rink. I took a few pictures then noticed a flash of something on my camera….
“No card in camera”.
What. The. Fuck? What an amateur move! I completely forgot that I had taken a few pics of the sky from my living room window the evening before, uploaded them into my computer. Where I left the card. Sonova–
I grumble and take out my cell phone to snap a couple pics. Would have been a grand day with the camera as the day was beautiful, for sure.
However, there was no way in hell I was lugging my camera bag without being able to take pictures! Get a sore back for nothing? No. So I turned around. As I crossed the park, I thought, hey, all is not lost, I have lots of time. I shall go home, change and go back out for a run. Once I turned on the next street, the wind in my face determined otherwise. The day was bust. I just wasn’t feeling it, anymore anyway.
So I took my shower then slowly started preparing my supper. It was nice to not feel rushed. Chopping and sautéeing and browning. It’s when I feel the most zen. Just as I was putting my coat on to leave to pick up my mother, Iain’s CAA arrived to boost his car (dead battery). I told him that, since he had to drive his car to get his battery full, it would be a wonderful idea if he could go and get his grandmother. He agreed.
We had a lovely and simple Sunday dinner. To be repeated! I made my “Chicken à la Tuscan à la Dale” – one of those recipes that I actually wrote down. (Years and years ago, Mick asked me to please stop winging it and write things down so that I could potentially repeat the good stuff.) Of course, I never follow it, but the fact that I wrote it down means that I potentially remake it sorta-kinda the same way (ish). It just so happens I was looking for this recipe to share with someone else – and ended up not doing so coz I never did get around to sending out Christmas cards in which I was supposed to include a recipe on a 3″ X 5″ index card; said index cards that I actually bought for the occasion and will be potentially used next year – so it was top of my mind when I asked Mom if she wanted dinner.
Ready for the oven
Dinner is served
Plans are great and all but hey, when they are broken, doesn’t mean all is lost!
As many of you who read me know, I’ve been sick since Wednesday night and since then whining, whinging, sharing my woes with you. You have all been remarkably kind and patient and your get-well wishes have been more than well-received. I promise I’m on the upswing and will no longer bore you with my sickies!
I have missed my last two days of work at the club because of it. Yay! I mean, I’m so sad… Yes, I am very sad about it. I believe the worst is over but I took no chances and decided to NOT go to a comedy show I had tickets for tonight and that way ensure I not share my germs with anyone else. Besides, even if I were to sit isolated in a corner, every time I would laugh, it would be guaranteed to be followed up with a coughing fit and no one wants to be THAT person! So here I am.
I am completely chicken-souped out. Seriously. Don’t show me another bowl. First I made (coz, yanno, I’m the mom so no one makes it for me, right?) the chicken broth, most of which was frozen but some kept to make Chicken with ginger and rice. It was pretty darn good, I kid you not – enough for one of my kids to sneak a bowl or two…
Then yesterday, that first batch finally done, I remembered seeing a Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup box in my cupboard! YES!!! THAT’s exactly what I wanted. I was gonna make a batch, and stracciatella it by adding a beaten egg or two. Woot! Open the cupboard. Damn. Gone. Sigh.
So, I made my own, of course. I had the broth, I had the noodles. I had the eggs. But of course, I decided to add a few itty-bitty veggies to it, coz, I just can’t help myself.
Now that is all fine and good. And between the lemon-honey-ginger teas and chicken-variation-soups, I needed me something else tonight. Plus my throat could take something with more texture by now. I could have heated some leftover pork tenderloin but meh.
I’m still on an empty-the-fridge mission. However, on Thursday, despite my feeling like crap, I had a hair appointment I did not want to miss so on my way home, I did a mini-get-only-the-necessities purchase spree. This has given me a few more options.
I was in the mood for my take on Pol Martin’s “New York Style Croque-Monsieur”, which, to be honest, is a grilled cheese plus extras.
It should start off with decent bread, ok, I had some multi-grain sliced bread that was gonna be just fine. It needs cheese, preferably a gruyère or Swiss – I had Jarlesberg, black forest ham, bell peppers (both purchased with this sandwich in mind) and fresh cracked black pepper.
So, the first step is, one must cook the bell peppers in butter (I prefer the yellow, orange or red as they are sweeter) till they are soft but not mushy.
You then build the sandwich very specifically: bread, cheese, ham, peppers. lots of cracked pepper, cheese bread. Don’t forget to butter the outside of each bread slice!
You then fry up this delicious sammy like you would any grilled cheese.
Once perfectly toasted, cut in half and try not to eat too fast…
Why the black pepper, you ask? Adds spice to the sweet of the peppers and ham. The cheese needs to have some personality to come in and give a slightly tangy bit to hang with both the sweet and spicy. All I can tell you is the flavours play with your tastebuds in a most delicious manner!
“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living…”
― Dione Lucas
As this is a post about food and Italy, here’s a little dinner music to keep you company as you read 😉
I thought for sure that this morning I would be suffering from dysania, but no. The alarm clock went off for François at 6:25 and I was wide-awake. Dammit. I had been planning on sleeping in and being totally lazy today.
For those of you who don’t know, in September 2016, I went to Tuscany all by myself. BEST. TRIP. EVER. My first week of that trip was spent with the fabulous Cook in Tuscany group, created by the wonderful and irrepressible hosts, Linda and George, and 13 other fantabulous participants, learning how to cook Tuscan food and experiencing a lot of what the area had to offer. A dream of mine since forever.
Fast-forward to last night. Okay, maybe not so fast. It has been one and a half years since said trip. It was about bloody time I had my sisters and their hubbies over to show off what I had learnt. (Thank you, Tracy, for nudging me…)
I warned them to come bellies empty because I had a lot to show them!
“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work. Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.”
― Robert Farrar Capon
To get us started on the right foot, I served Aperol Spritz – did I take a picture? No. So right. With our cocktails we had two kinds of bruschette. Bean and onion and the classic tomato. I only cut and toasted so many slices so that no one over-exaggerated…
Once they had a little food in their bellies, I put them all to work! To truly appreciate Pici, one must roll with the dough 😉
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin
Having worked for their supper, they were then allowed into the dining room for the first course, a Tuscan tomato and bread soup. Now. I may have screwed up a bit. I had toasted my bread ahead of time and was supposed to add it to my soup in bits and pieces till I felt there was enough. In my usual over-zealousness, I dumped the whole bowl into the pot. Um. Can we call it Bread and Tomato soup instead? No one seemed to mind and hey, Tuscan cooking is all about stretching out what one has…. All around, it was declared delicious.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child
As I had not quite finished preparing my crumbs for the pici, I had them all come back, with their glass of wine, into the kitchen to keep me company (next house, OPEN CONCEPT). This was a very interactive meal, in case you’ve not noticed 😉
When in Sienna, I went to visit one of the Frescobaldi vineyards, Castel Giocondo, in Montalcino. I splurged (BIG time) and bought two bottles of their Brunello. These I kept for this special night. We decided to decant each one and oh wow. They were both fantastic.
Pici now cooked and sautéed, it was back to the dining room! Before Tuscany became the “go-to” vacation spot, even for Italians, they were quite poor. Salt was used sparingly on food, kept mostly for preserving. Not everyone could afford cheese, so they “cheated” by cooking stale bread crumbs in olive oil. It truly gives incredible flavour. Everyone loved their pasta – it was theirs, they rolled it, after all!
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
― M.F.K. Fisher
While we were enjoying our pasta, the pork tenderloin and grilled veggies were being warmed in the oven so there was no longer a need to dance between rooms.
I did, however, remember that I had a bottle of Grappa. Instead of sipping it as a digestif after the meal, we used it as a “Trou Normand” – a shot which, as they say, serves to make room for the next course.
This was a cheat in the whole Italian evening and I may get a frown from a true Italiano but I’m willing to take my chances. Besides, the deed is done.
We’re still smiling. Certainly not because we are overstuffed. Yet.
You still with me?
The meal is not quite done! Time for dessert. I made panna cotta with two sauces, chocolate and strawberry. Pick one, pick none or pick both!
“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ”
― James Beard
Coffee was served and one would think that it ended there, right? Wrong.
A little Vin Santo and Cantucci to cap it all off… hoping no one would be feeling crapulous after such a feast!
“I lurched away from the table after a few hours feeling like Elvis in Vegas – fat, drugged, and completely out of it.”
― Anthony Bourdain
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust
It’s funny. Every time I start something, it eventually falls through the cracks. I guess it’s just the way I am. I am blaming my Aries personality. We are notoriously known for starting projects. You want to get something going? Get one of us involved. You want to finish said project? You better have back up because we will be off on a new project.
or is it Shiny Object Syndrome?
Either way, I am guilty.
Last week I was doing the Costco thing – you know, where you have a list, you will absolutely abide by it and somehow end up spending $200 more than planned? Anyhoo. I came upon the flower section and saw pussy willows! Do you remember when you could see those all over the place? Why don’t I see them anywhere anymore? So, of course, when I bought them, they looked like a bunch of sticks with only one or two pussies – don’t even! I got mocked by the men in my life. Whatevs. Iam a happy camper. I should have taken a “before” pic but didn’t. So trust me. They did look like sad sticks. However, lookit ’em now!
Totally unrelated and yet is. Way back when, my mother had Nat King Cole records – you know, the vinyl kind – and on the back of the jacket of a double-album, was a lovely text about Nat and his “pussy-willow voice”. I always thought that was the perfect description and it has stayed with me since. Was hard to pick a favourite, but here you go. Enjoy.
On Monday, Zeke and I went for a walk. The sky was glorious, the sun was shining, it wasn’t “freeze-your-butt-off” cold… We made our way to “Teletubbie Park”. We’ve been calling it that since we moved to the ‘hood and the boys went to elementary school right beside it. Funny the things families do or create or say.
One house, two nests
Enjoying the breeze
Smeone’s getting old
On Sunday I had made mussels – they are my “fast food” and I almost always make two flavours, which I did this time. I then keep the left-over broth to make a soup.
Moday’s was a Thai-style shrimp and noodle
and Wednesday’s was a sorta chicken noodle with Fennel-Marinière base
They may look similar but were world’s apart flavour-wise. I have to admit I was quite pleased. Firstly, the Thai one got my Pepper-head’s (Iain) approval for spiciness and the Marinière was no basic chicken noodle soup! Will I be able to repeat it? Probably not.
I also had taken out chicken thighs for Wednesday – “no, Aidan, I cannot make Chicken Parm every time I take out chicken!!” But I did made a casserole thingy with my left-over Frenched string beans (yeah, I parboiled, and split them apart by hand then sautéed them with some shallots and red peppers) and left-over boiled potatoes that I sliced and used as a topping with a sprinkling of cheese. Not overly pretty to look at and simple, yet tasty. I was surprised by a visit from François as I don’t usually see him during the week, lately.
As Wednesday was also Valentine’s Day, I made the trek to visit my mother-in-law, bringing her a stuffed dog to cuddle, a small rose plant and some chocolate. She loved the dog, decided to call him Harry (will see if she remembers next time I see her!)
On my way back, while stopped at a set of lights, I looked to my right and burst out laughing. Apologies for the quality but I had no time to open the window and was being honked at!
My favourite British cussword and pretty much how I feel every time I return from a visit with Jean.
On Saturday Iain bought a car, thanks to help from Andre, Mick’s best friend. He’s pretty pleased to have wheels again!
Iain agreed to be my date (after inviting himself) to Andre’s birthday celebration. I was more than happy to have him take my place in the Vodka Shot Foolishnessthat takes place every year. You see, it was always, Lorne, Bill, Andre and Me…. while the “girls” Dorothy, Phany, Tammy and Mick refrained. After Mick died, I no longer had my D.D. so I would sleep over. I have since lost the taste for vodka thanks to these over-indulgences. I don’t care how much the bottle costs, it all tastes like rubbing alcohol to me now! Iain, you may take over the mantle and play with the big boys in my stead!
I may not partake in the vodka shots (okay, maybe two) but I will always bring the cake.
Chocolate Mousse & Caramel
But before making said cake, I helped François collect my friend Andrea’s wood. Ironically, after writing a Friday Fictioneer about the Emerald Ash Borer problem, she had three of her trees cut down. Wood is wood is wood, and François’ mother heats her house with it so he was more than glad to help her get rid of it! After it has properly dried, he’ll cut it down to size. He figured he got a good three cords of wood out of what he took! Talk about a savings…. going price is easily $125 per cord, if you’re lucky.
Some of the wood
Once François felt the truck could take no more, off he went back home; and I, to finish the cake, shower and, along with Iain, make it to Tammy and Andre’s for 5:30.
The Trouble Starts
Me, Tammy, Iain, Lorne, Dorothy, Phany, Bill and Andre
I’ll not embarrass my son by including a shot of him snoring on the couch and missing dessert… because that would be mean. I’ll save that for a more opportune time! These boys – especially Lorne – are a tough crowd to keep up with. The birthday boy himself was blinking his eyes for long periods of time at the table 😉
A slice, to see the inside
Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but there was still more wood to collect; which we did, and once François returned from delivering it and returning the truck, we each had a different left-over, vegged on the couch and watched the Olympics. Okay. I watched, he snoozed!
I know it’s already Tuesday, but do have a fabulous week! Maybe this weekend I’ll manage to post on Sunday. Who knows? I make no promises.
A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful
21. Mick’s friends – still keeping me in their group
22. Being able to include my son in this get-together
23. Blue skies, crisp air
24. Pussy Willows – just because
25. Being the official birthday cake supplier
Taotalk is a forum for the discussion of both the academic and pragmatic aspects of dao and Daoism, with participants expressing themselves on Daoist writings and pragmatics from their unique perspectives. It serves as a community for Daoists, and those interested in Daoism, to gather and talk dao.