Making sense of the world by making more of it
This weekend, along with his parents, The Boy and I took a little trip out east for a special occasion indeed: the 60th wedding anniversary of his godmother’s parents! That’s a diamond anniversary for folks keeping count and oh! what an honour and an inspiration it was to be celebrating the love of a couple who have not only stood by each other — and who still look at each other like newlyweds even after all those years — but also supported countless others in their community through their joint efforts.
You won’t know this (yet) because I have been woefully negligent, but The Boy and I attended 5 weddings this summer — it’s been a long stretch of busy, wonderfully full months that I’ve neglected to keep you up to date on! — but somehow… this celebration seemed like a better way to kick off my (theoretically soon-to-happen) summer wedding recap.
Weddings are wonderful things; they are joyous and hopeful occasions, full of dreams and good intentions and happy wishes from friends and family. They are also beginnings. Without downplaying the wonder and beauty of the wedding, I’m also aware of the fact that… most of the time, after that initial rush of flowers and glass-tinking, we never really stick around the celebrate the love of the couple. It’s not every day (at least in my life) that a couple takes the time to reflect on their years together, and to gather together their friends and family to celebrate that, and I think that’s a little bit sad. Needless to say, to have a couple celebrate a union that’s lasted 60 years is a first in my experience, and one I’d venture to say is pretty rare in general.
To have spent the day with The Boy’s family, hearing the stories about the couple, and watching them basking in each others’ glow was just amazing. Aside from being such warm-hearted people, filled with gratitude for family who had traveled in from all over, just watching them with each other was awe-inspiring. Every wedding ceremony I’ve attended has a section where the soon-to-be-couple are reminded that love is work, that the vows are meaningless without constant effort to keep their love present and growing with them. Seeing that kind of love, renewed in the presence of those closest to them, brought that home for me in a whole new way.
(Are you wondering if I cried? Do you even know me, Internets? Of course I cried. I started tearing up when the couple walked in to the same piece I’d chosen for my entrance as a bride. I might have been okay if the Father hadn’t made everyone take the time to keep listening to the music “to really allow yourselves to turn inwards” even after the couple reached landing.)
I feel lucky pretty much every day that The Boy and I are embarked together on this adventure. Watching a ceremony like this, however, was a very good reminder to keep that gratitude in mind more often… because the days when I don’t think of it are probably the ones when I’m the luckiest. I don’t know what our lives will look like 60 years from now, but I do know that having role models in the family, living beacons of love-filled live shared, is a wonderful thing.
Not pictured: the couple feeding each other pieces of the (delicious! red velvet) cake. Let it be known: even after 60 years of marriage, people will still expect you to behave like a newlywed when you’re celebrating, and there’s cake involved!
Congratulations Conrad and Doris! We hope to spend a lot more time with you in the future: we have much to learn, and would be honoured to have such caring and sincere teachers!
The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!
This challenge came at an interesting time for me. Despite the fact that I have oft stated that I can not start my day without yoghourt and granola… I’ve recently been experimenting with non-yoghourty breakfasts, so my consumption has been way down. Couple this with the abysmal failure of my last few batches of yoghourt (I’m going to blame incubation temperature, but honestly am not really sure what happened) and it was a good spur to shake off my culturing failure and try again.
One thing that Cher’s recipe included that I hadn’t tried before was milk powder. I’ve seen many recipes online that call for it, but the idea of powdered milk kind of squicks me out, so I’d never used it. Given that this was a challenge, however, I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s what happened!
Step One: stop being squicked out by the powdered milk. Then:
One quart (4 cups / 1 litre) whole milk – Note: I used 1.3L
¼ cup (18 gm) non-fat dry milk (optional, but recommended)
Sweetener (optional – 1 tablespoon of agave nectar, honey or sugar)
¼ cup (2 oz) plain yogurt
- The suggestion is to use a double boiler, but I always just heat it up in a pot.
- Using my extremely unreliable candy thermometer (* shakes fist *), I heated the milk+powdered milk up to 185°F. The directions state to stir frequently. I was… somewhat laissez faire about that part.
- While the milk is heating up, make ready your ice bath. (The suggestion is 4 cups of ice and 2-4 cups of water. Personally, I get some cold water in the small half-sink and put a few freezer packs in it, but if you’re in a hurry, more ice would definitely be faster.)
- When the milk mixture reaches temperature (185°F), take it off the heat and plunge into the ice bath (careful not to get the water into the milk!). Watch the temperature: when it reaches 115°F, pull it out of the ice…
- …and stir in the starter. I find this part works best if you mix your starter yoghourt into a small amount of the milk, and then stir that into the remaining milk.
- Cher’s instructions suggest ladling into 1/2 pint jars, but at this point I poured my mixture into a cast-iron pot (keeps the heat in longer), cover it, and put it into a slightly-warmed oven.
- With the light on, I let my yoghourt incubate about 8 hours (overnight), and the results were great! The ideal temperature is around 122°F, so if you have a more precise way of achieving that, go for it.
- Once the yogurt is done incubating, carefully transfer the containers to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. This step helps to thicken the yogurt and lulls those ravenous friendly bacteria back to their sluggish state.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone (also: I much prefer thicker yoghourt), so I then strained my yoghourt:
It was delicious! Creamy and tangy and a complete non-failure: a much-needed confidence boost in the yoghourt department! Of course, since I’m currently not really snacking on yoghourt, and what with it being Deep, Hot, July… an obvious extra step presented itself!
Starting with the wonderful strained yoghourt, I stirred in some lime zest and juice, a little sugar and threw it in the ice cream maker: voila! Lime fro-yo! (Dare I say it? Even better than the plain yoghourt.)
Thanks Cher for this timely challenge — it was definitely high time I jumped back on the yoghourt wagon!
Marveling at the nasturtiums this year — it seems that all I was missing to have them take off and thrive was a month of neglect. Noted for next year! I am very excited for when the blossoms are done — I’ve always wanted to try pickling those nasturtium “fruits” to make peppery pseudo-capers. The experiment is on!
(Sadly, the marigolds seem not to have come up at all. Ah well. Possibly my seeds were a little ancient. I’ll buy some new seed for next year. Lastly, a note about my garden. Awhile ago, my amazing neighbour gifted me with some wooden snakes, in an effort to scare away the local rodentia. It seems to be working, though I have to say they still give me the creeps when I walk out there to water the garlic, thinking about something else. Nothing to keep you in the moment like dollar store snakes!)
Panicking when we got out of the car after a visit to the farmer’s market, to find this particular critter on my headrest. (The Boys comment? “Whoa. That one looks venomous.” Me: “…!!!”) After some googling, it turns out the crab spider is venomous, in the way that all spiders are… but as it turns out they rarely bite humans.
If you’re going to trust the Internets on this. I’m still glad we got her out of the car!
Dogsitting. Our friend is in the tropics* this week, so we have a small, furry houseguest who has been playing very well with the Smelly, and has much-improved reactions where the kitties are concerned. He’s still very much a puppy, but he seems to have learned that Cats Do Not Want To Play. He’s been calm enough around them that the Princess even deigned to go up and sniff at him. Well done!
* WHY?! Granted it’s not been hot every day here, but on the days it has been? It has been hot. Aside from escaping the ubiquitous mosquitos, why would you go somewhere even warmer? …I think I just answered my own question, there.
Weekly bento boxes. Despite being a slacker when it comes to posting pictures (which I have been taking), I have managed to keep up with my weekly bento “assignment”. Saw Marisa’s post about these, and am now totally coveting one. (Although given that my favourite wide-mouth jar is the pint, that would only leave 2oz in the jar itself? Hmm…)
Lest you all get the impression that I’ve been a photo-taking maven, however… uh, no. I have definitely missed days here and there, which makes this year 3? 4? I’ve lost track where I failed to stick to the p365 thing. I’m not too upset; frankly there’s been a lot going on*, and not all of it is conducive to lugging a camera around.
* So much, I never even made my Canada Day cake! Instead, I settled for berries and cream. Way less work, and still totally delicious.
Reading. Despite being woefully quiet on the WYDBR front**, I have been keeping up with the books, and I even finished July’s book for our local ladies’ book club. The book was A Complicated Kindness and… yeah. It was a struggle to get through it. I’m not going to lie: one of my main motivators for finishing that book was the shame that I hadn’t finished Gone Girl for the June meeting. I didn’t want to be That Girl, you know? The one who always shows up to the book club meetings without having read the book? So I finished it. (And brought cake with strawberries and whipped cream for good measure — summer really is here!)
Having hashed it out with the others at the meeting, my opinion of the story isn’t quite as poor as it was when I first finished reading… but I still wouldn’t recommend this book. Frankly, it’s a huge time- and energy-suck (the mental energy required to get into the book, because it’s so bleak and heavy, is tremendous) and I’m still not sure I got anything out of it. Additionally, every one of the women at that table (all 7 of us!) agreed that they finished the book feeling totally depressed.
Final thoughts: it’s not a bad book, per se, but there is so much out there that will uplift, inspire or delight that I see no reason to recommend this one.
** Part of the reason I didn’t post this month is that I feel like I’ve ranted a million times over about Ender’s Game to any and all who will listen. As a story it is incredible (and actually I’m going to recommend it as a sci-fi offering for the ladies’ club book next month)… but the ending is like Shogun’s: it feels cheap, and rush and tacked on. I am disappointed every time I finish the book, and subsequent re-readings don’t make that better. The Boy asked (fairly) how I thought the book should end instead, and I admit I don’t really have a good answer to that. It doesn’t change the fact that it still irks me though.
The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.
Although I was sorely tempted by the Swedish and Spanish meatball recipes posted in the challenge, I figured that this was my chance to finally tackle something I’d wondered about for years: falafel.
It’s no secret that The Boy and I love Middle Eastern cuisine: the only “mehn” experience we’ve ever had was with some kibbe I made, and we’re both game for me to try again with a different recipe. We love the contrasting textures and temperatures of the foods, the flavourful spices, the unabashed overdose of garlic. It’s delicious! So, when I saw this challenge, I decided it was time to soak some chickpeas, and get cracking. So I did!
I used this recipe, with a couple light modifications* (and no tzatziki because we’re not really into it) and they turned out really well! Light and crispy, tender and flavourful. (Also, totally scoop-able with my cookie dough scoop. W00t!)
* I had no mint, so it was just a whole whack of cilantro. And I used green onions instead of yellow. Also, I used a flax egg — vegan falafel! Just don’t tell The Boy. (His verdict of them? “Tasty.”)
Not my favourite part, but definitely something I found strange and interesting? The green grease left by the little patties. I don’t think I’d ever really realized how “green” they were till I made some!
Overall, dinner was delicious! I made up some hummus and cucumbers (plus asparagus because it’s spring! asparagus season!) along with nuts and bread, and The Boy added the cheese. (He is not a nut lover; fair enough.)
It was a strangely simple, but very satisfying dinner — I don’t know why I don’t do it more often!
Perfect dinner for a summer evening! Thank you so much to Shelley and Ruth, without whom I might never have faced this little pattie! Delicious!
(Next up: all the other meatballs…)
Well, I had written out a whole smattering of thoughts about the new Star Trek film… but then the bit demons ate it. So instead you get another food post. (Sorry?) Happily, I can report that this lunch did not disappoint.
I had been eyeing all the veggies in the fridge, and wanted a way to cook them that didn’t involve stir-frying. I love kinpira, but sometimes you just want something not-fried, you know? So I peeled some parsnips, carrots, broccoli stems and asparagus (O Spring!) into ribbons, steamed them, and tossed them with a little dressing. (I had used a garlic mustard vinaigrette, but if I were doing it again, I’d make the dressing sweeter.)
I stole The Boy’s last two mini-cheeses, tucked some pickles into the corner and loaded up my rice with my beloved spicy, nutty furikake. So good.
It seems strange and slightly sacrilegious to say it, but I’m kind of enjoying the cooler, rainy weather. Being outside kind of sucks, but it’s nice to have an excuse to break out the comfy flannels and curl up with warm drinks again. Our poor Smelly got skunked last night, which was no fun, but hopefully tonight will be a lot less eventful.
Our local fauna were out nibbling on the lawn yesterday morning. Thus far I’ve not seen them in my garden (although I already feel like I’m jinxing things by saying that)… we’ll see if it holds up. This year might be the year The Boy actually gets to eat one of the 8, 462 carrots I plant!