Saturday, 22 February 2020

Epiphany 7

It truly seems as if Christmas was just a few weeks ago and here we are looking in the coming week towards Ash Wednesday. I think the fact that in these parts Winter is so protracted contributes to a disconnect as Easter and Spring rarely seem to coincide 😊
It is bitterly cold this morning with piles of fresh snow after a couple more unexpected “mini-storms” over the past few days. Thomason is curled up in a small ball on a chair nearby and I’m wrapped in a blanket trying to keep warm with a mug of coffee and also trying to type in fingerless gloves. Ugh!
The week got off to a good start with our monthly Day Camp committee meeting. Mae Anne was unfortunately absent due to sickness and Brenda was swamped with evening chores and so didn’t make it either. But the rest of us had a productive meeting kicked off with an excellent devotion by Gillian based on a modern twist on the Beatitudes  by Nadia Bolz- Weber. I first heard this piece when watching the funeral of Christian author Rachel Held Evans, who died so tragically in the Spring of 2019.
After one of our committee meetings I always spend a good portion of the next few days doing follow up on the many points raised and this week was no exception. Of necessity that work was interspersed with several bouts of shovelling, but I have survived and no doubt have stronger arm muscles to show for the workouts πŸ˜Š
We are now missing only 2 small sections of the 2020 Program Manual. I am VERY anxious to be able to send the Supply List to all the host communities who have already applied for Day Camps but am held up because one of those sections “Warm-up Games” may require a few supplies that do not already appear on the list. Sigh. I have badgered the person preparing those games and he knows I’m pressed for time so I guess I have to try and be more patient.
Wednesday was a CTM Board of Directors meeting, the final one prior to the 2020 Annual General Meeting. Much of the meeting was taken up by discussion about the AGM and taking minutes was a bit complicated. So Thursday and Friday I spent quite a while typing up the draft copy.
Thursday evening Jenna came for dinner and we continued the tutorial I have been giving her on the subject of making and embroidering altar linens.
After his usual enthusiastic greeting Thomason did calm down sufficiently so that we were able to make progress on the vagaries of chain stitch and stem stitch πŸ˜Š Jenna is a quick study!
As previously mentioned my long-time former boarder Steven have been back living here this week, having arrive last Monday morning. Thomason was overjoyed to see him and jumps gleefully onto Steven’s lap whenever the poor man tries to sit down (I think Steven is actually enjoying Thomason’s enthusiasm πŸ˜Š)
Today we will be enjoying for Saturday lunch some delicious flaky chocolatines from the local organic bakery, a treat I have not indulged in since Steven moved to Halifax last November!  Then afterwards it will be time for Saturday baking.
Apart from a bit of progress on the ubiquitous Nfld Mittens there has been zero time for crafting although, in the next few days, I do need to squeeze in the sewing of birthday gifts for two dear friends.
I had better wrap this post up now and get started on lunch prep as Steven has gone to the bakery to procure the treats. 
For the Day Camp Committee dinner I made a Vietnamese slow cooker beef stew with Fluffy Steam Buns and for dessert a Macha Swiss roll.
Jillian asked for the stew recipe so here it is for anyone who would like to give it a try πŸ˜Š

Vietnamese Slow Cooker Beef Stew 
2 lbs. stewing beef cut into 1” cubes
5oz. root ginger, sliced
1 small can tomato paste
3 Tbsps.  vegetable oil
1 beef stock cube
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. each chili powder, smoked paprika, anise, powdered ginger, garlic powder & salt
½ tsp. 
6 small carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cups water

2 cups coconut water
grated rind of 1 lemon 

In a large bowl, combine the beef, crumbled beef stock cube, spices and 1 Tbsp. of oil. 

Heat the rest of the oil in a large skillet, add the garlic and stir until fragrant. 
SautΓ© the beef, stir occasionally, until browned. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute. 

Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Add the ginger, lemon rind, coconut water & water. 

Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6 ½ hours. When the time expires stir in the chopped carrots and cook for another 90 minutes. 

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over rice or with steam buns.
Serves 4-6.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Epiphany 6

        Here we are once again at the end of another week. There has been yet more snow over the past few days and now the temperature has dropped way down. Yesterday morning when Thomason and I walked to the bank it was 
-29ΒΊC with a bitter wind. Today is slightly more temperate so first thing I tackled shovelling off the deck; nothing like the 50cms of the last big storm but I didn’t want it to melt and leak through the garage roof.
      It has also been a week of meetings, oh my goodness πŸ˜Š
      There was nothing but snow on Monday but then on Tuesday I needed to attend 2 different Diocesan Meetings and ended up having to join both via Zoom as no puppy-sitters were available, all together I spent about 5 hours of that day staring at my laptop screen and was somewhat dazed by dinnertime πŸ˜Š
      Wednesday Jessica and I had a lunch meeting about various pieces of Day Camp business, mostly concerning plans for the Training Retreat. We were able to cover a lot of territory, which was most encouraging. As mentioned last week, BILLETING of the Teams for that week is going to be the biggest hurdle we will need to overcome but there is a possibility that Jessica and her husband Tyler may even be willing to take one of the Teams, which would be fantastic. 
      Wednesday evening Pippa (mother of my Godson Tighe) dropped by to receive her birthday gift and also to have me do some mending of her older son, Malachi’s school uniform. Pippa was the CTM secretary for 2 years when our office was still at St. Matthew’s Church so we worked closely together. She had previously been a Day Camp Team member and leader and her Dad, Nick is currently CTM’s President. I have a special place in my heart for Pippa because, during the time we worked together, my Mum died and she couldn’t have been kinder or more supportive during those months when I was dealing with some pretty deep grief issues. It was great to spend a couple of hours together over some tea and cookies. Her life as an elementary school teacher with 3 school-aged children herself, doesn’t leave much time for social calls but we try to carve out a visit every couple of months πŸ˜Š
      Thursday Sarah and baby Serena came for lunch. She and her husband Alexander are both Day Camp alumnae and live in an apartment just round the corner from me but they are currently considering purchasing their first home so I got to hear all about that while Serena kept a wary eye on Thomason πŸ˜Š
      Then yesterday committee member Mae Anne arrived mid-morning to begin work on the Team Binders. For the past few years Jessica has taken on this very big task so this is Mae Anne’s first stab at the job and she wants to get an early start. For her first session she went through the 6 thick binders removing all 2019 specific documents and began making a list of what will be needed for 2020. It is good to know that this important piece of work is now underway. During Mae Anne’s visit Mario the carpenter also turned up having been sent by Brian (my house advisor). Thursday morning I had had a nasty experience of getting locked out of the house with Thomason inside. This was not because I had forgotten my keys but because the 112-year-old brass doorknob refused to turn, which is what releases the latch to enter the house. I had to get an emergency locksmith, who took half an hour to come and who charged a huge fee for forcing the door open with some sort of pump gadget. He was  not able to actually fix the knob and so put some highly inadequate plastic tape over the latch telling me it would not hold for long. Thus I was petrified to leave the house in case I could not re-enter.
     Mario also was not able to fix the door knob but thinks he may can find a piece to replace  the broken part. He  removed the latch mechanism from the door frame so at least I will not get trapped again. It was quite a harrowing experience!!
I’m going to hold off baking until tomorrow afternoon as this coming Monday will be our Day Camp Committee Meeting and that includes dinner😊 I’m  making a Macha Cake for the dessert plus I need to bake some bread and bagels since my recent boarder, Steven, who is currently working in Halifax is going to be arriving Monday to spend a week here as he hopes to have a few meetings and an interview. I have not yet mentioned the visit to Thomason as Steven is one of his favourite people and I’m afraid Thomason’s level of enthusiasm might be a bit overwhelming if he gets hyped up too far ahead of Steven’s actual arrival!
       There hasn’t been much time for crafting much week, although I did finish another pair of Nfld. gloves and then sewed a gift bag for them and I have chosen the designs for this Easter’s Pysanky gifts as Ash Wednesday and thus Lent are quickly looming on the horizon πŸ˜Š
      This post seems to be getting too long so let’s close off with our recipe-

I seem to be a bit of an Asian Food junkie this month; I think it is a reaction to having eaten more traditional foods over the Christmas Season πŸ˜Š

Hoping you try Bok Choy and Mushrooms with Noodles!

 2 Tbsps.  olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes
 1 tsp. ginger

1 head bok choy, chopped
 ½ cup kale, chopped

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

8 cups chicken broth

12 oz. brown rice noodles

 Tamari Soy sauce 
In a Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add red pepper, ginger, bok choy, kale and mushrooms. Stir to combine them while cooking for 2-3 minutes until the greens wilt. Transfer to a bowl. 

In the same pot bring chicken broth to a boil. Add brown rice noodles, cooking as instructed on package. When the noodles have 4 minutes left, add vegetables and stir.
Ladle into bowls and serve accompanied by Tamari. Serves 4

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Epiphany 5

Today’s post will likely be shorter than the usual as yesterday Montreal was hit by a severe winter storm so all my time today is taken up with trying to shovel out😊.
Kelvin, one of our Day Camp Training Leaders, kindly volunteered to come and help for a while last evening, which was great, however we have had a total of over 50cms of snow since Thursday with high winds that have caused a lot of drifting and the city is practically at a standstill. I am so thankful we have not lost power as that often happens when there are high winds.
All the schools were closed yesterday so today a massive dig-out is happening everywhere.
I hope to do a bit of baking later on but even that may be postponed since shovelling has to take priority.
After last weekend’s Retreat meeting much of my work during this week has been around contacting the many people who we need to lead workshops, speak at evening worship, billet etc. It was also decided that I make some enquiries about church hall rentals that are just a bit closer to my home as the Teams found the 40 minute walk here at the end of each day to be a bit overwhelming particularly in +30ΒΊC heat.  I have made contact with another church that is a 26 minute walk away and they are very open to renting to us but I’d like to run the plan by the Day Camp Committee before coming to a final decision.
It looks as if finding billets for the Teams during the Retreat week will be the hardest task. Last year we ended up with 5 billets (we needed 6 but one family took 2 Teams-thanks Jillian and Victor!!!). So far I have contacted 4 of last years’ billets only to discover they are ALL going to be out of town the week of the Retreat. Sigh. I also tried one other household who said they cannot manage it this year. So things are looking pretty bleak. I have sent emails to several other possibilities, no answers yet.
On a brighter note 2 people have agreed to be evening speakers, which is encouraging.
I guess I need to pull on my parka and boots and head out to deal with the huge pile of snow on my deck.
Before I go let’s have a recipe…

One evening this week I made a Banh Mi Bowl. It was really yummy and came together surprisingly quickly. If you like Vietnamese food do give it a try 😊

 Banh Mi Bowls
 Pickled Carrots
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup turbinado sugar
1Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. salt
6 carrots, cut into thin ribbons (I used a peeler to make the curls) 
1 lb. ground beef or pork
1 Tbsp. finly grated lemon zest
2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Sriracha 
1 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

2 tsps. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup crushed peanuts 
½ cup spicy veganaise (mix plain veganaise or mayonnaise with 1 tsp. sriracha)             
Pickled Carrots: Whisk the rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and salt together. Soak the carrots in the mixture for one hour.
 Meatballs: Mix all ingredients. Roll into small meatballs with your hands (place in the fridge for a few minutes to get them to hold their shape a bit better). Heat a little bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked (not pink) inside, approx. 5 minutes each side.

Bowls: Layer the carrots and meatballs over rice. Top with cilantro, peanuts and spicy mayo.  Serves 4 

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Epiphany 4 &The Team Gathering

     Finally we are actually going to hold the Epiphany Team Gathering (TG) this evening. This event is usually held early in January but the committee had decided to schedule it a bit later in the month and then there was a blizzard on the original date so here we are holding it at the beginning of February πŸ˜Š
     I’m going to hold off publishing this post until tomorrow in order to include photos from the TG along with a couple of pics from the Team Retreat planning meeting, which happens this afternoon, just before the TG.
    It has been a very full week around here. I am surprised and (mostly) encouraged by the amount of activity around Day Camps 2020. We have heard from more potential host communities and from one community that has decided not to have a Team back this summer πŸ˜’ so I have been contacting more of last summer’s host communities to check on their status for 2020 and am beginning to build our ‘big picture” schedule.
    Manual content continues to come in and be sent on to Arnee for proof reading. There are still about 4 outstanding sections but it is good to have about three quarters of the content already submitted so this aspect of planning is almost on track.
I’m hoping for an opportunity this evening to encourage prospective Team Members to start filling out applications. Last year we instituted a submission deadline of March 15th and the number of forms we received on time was most encouraging. We are hoping for similar results this year!
Next week I would really like to get the Liturgical Dance choreographed and begin some serious work on the supply lists, which are promised, during February, to the host communities.
With the Retreat meeting scheduled to begin in a couple of hours I guess I’ll close off now with recipe then tomorrow I’ll add a few words about the rest of today.

With Chinese New Year happening this week I celebrated with Sesame Fried Rice, a simple weeknight supper πŸ˜Š

3 Tbsps. Sesame oil

2 cups cold cooked Jasmine rice
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 bunch scallions, diced
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 cup green peas
4 eggs
3 Tbsps. Tamari
2 Tbsps. sesame seeds
 In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside.  Drain all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from the pan, add 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and sautΓ© the scallions, pepper strips and peas for 5 minutes. Stir in the cold rice, breaking up any clumps and cook until the rice is heated through. Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk together then pour over the rice mixture along with the rest of the sesame oil, cooked bacon and Tamari. Fold the mixture together with a wide spatula until the egg is just cooked. Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Serves 2

The Team Gathering-
As you can see from the photos we had a really great evening. 17 people attended, Randy did a super job as Speaker, Miriam organised the Worship Team and there was yummy food and good fellowship😊