Saturday, 24 October 2020

24/10/20

  









 

       My goodness!! Even though October can sometimes seem like quite a long month, it has flown by so quickly this year despite the narrow focus of life in partial lockdown. Montreal and other regions of Québec still remain in the Red Zone but after so many months one does manage to get into a daily rhythm.

       It has been a full week, beginning with a slew of meetings, which always bring a pile of follow-up work. The CTM Board meeting lasted 3 hours with the main focus being work on revisions to our By-Laws, a project that is scheduled to last until next February. AGH!!!! 

Monday I tackled the minutes of that meeting and then in the evening moved on to the work of the Day Camp committee. We had some productive conversations at that meeting and have laid out plans for pre-Christmas events as well as looking at various aspects of 2021 programming. Miriam and Mae Anne are going to film the Liturgical Dance video.            We want to create something flexible enough for one Camper to dance alone in a backyard or for a small in-person group who will still need to practice social distancing. Mae Anne has been our Liturgical Dance videographer for several years and her sister Miriam served as a Team Leader in 2019, I’m delighted they are up for the challenge!

       At the DC committee meeting we also fleshed out plans for “Carols & Cocoa-Coast to Coast” a virtual Carol singing event which will be open to all Team Alumnae and which will also be promoted as a family activity for recent host communities. Over the past few days I have begun work on an information poster and also started approaching potential musicians and other key helpers. There will no doubt be  a number of tech challenges but fortunately we have a few experts willing to assist 😊

It has been great this week to have several one on one video chats with current and former committee members, (all of whom I also count as dear friends) who I so miss having over for lunches, tea parties and dinners!

      All in all a lot of time has been spent on the computer as there were a couple  of Diocesan committee meetings too! Outside work has included plenty more leaf raking and sweeping and on rainy afternoons I have managed to sew a number of fabric gift bags for packaging Christmas presents. There os one more  upcoming sewing project to tackle as Jenna has asked me to make her a cape. She brought the pattern and fabric when she dropped by to pick up some more of the catered dinners I have been doing for herself and her husband, now we are just waiting for thread she ordered and once that arrives I will be able to get to work.  There is even a chance she will be able to drop it off today so I may be able to put in a few hours  of sewing this afternoon.

      At the moment I have a giant pot of dog food simmering on the stove so Thomason is supervising my kitchen activities in case I need a “taste tester” 😊.

Since it will soon be ready to ladle into freezer containers I had better close off now with a recipe.

      One of the dishes I made for Jenna  and Nicholas was a Butternut Squash Galette. It is a Fall favourite of mine so I made second one for myself as I had a particularly large Butternut Squash on hand 😊

 

Butternut Squash & Sage Galette

3 cups butternut squash, cubed

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 cup grated sharp cheddar

2 Tbsps. fresh sage, shredded

¼ cup olive oil

pastry for a single crust pie

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp. cold water

 

Roll the pastry out to a 12” circle on a floured surface. Chill while assembling the filling. Combine the squash, onion, cheese, sage & olive oil. Toss mixture thoroughly.

Place the pastry circle on a parchment lined baking sheet or pizza pan. Mound the filling on the pastry leaving 2” free around the edge. Fold the 2 inches of pastry up over the filling crimping as necessary. Beat the egg yolk and water together and brush over the pastry rim.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in a preheated 375º oven.

Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

17/10/20

  












 





This week has seen a fair amount of preparation in anticipation of both the monthly CTM Board meeting (tomorrow) and the Day Camp Committee Meeting (this coming Monday evening).

Both meetings require that I compose draft agendas. The Board agenda is then approved by our President, the Rev. Chris Belle, after which I email it, along with other documents to the rest of the Board members.

The Day Camp committee agenda is of course in my purview so I look carefully over last month’s minutes and try to decide which issues will need detailed discussion this month, plus adding in any new topics. I then email that to my fellow committee members.

There is always a bit of correspondence back and forth for both meetings as we add in additional information, comments and suggestions. Since I will be taking the Minutes at the Board meeting I also prepare a typed template ahead of the meeting. As all meetings currently take place on line I also need to jot down the template on scrap paper, as I have to write the minutes in long hand in order to also be able to see everyone on my laptop screen.😊 This isn’t so awkward for the Day Camp committee as one of the members takes minutes for that meeting. Combined with the fact that this past week also included a meeting of Diocesan Council, for which I am Lay Secretary, it has been a week with an awful lot of “Minutes”!

The world of Day Camps can be full of glitter glue craft samples and Liturgical Dance practice but likewise there are other times when much more mundane tasks seem to be the focus 😊Fortunately, once office hours are over, I can apply myself more creatively working in the garden, sewing and of course cooking & baking! In these challenging times I do sorely miss the almost daily visits from Team Members and others involved in CTM but I was blessed this week to enjoy FaceTime “visits” with 2 of the Day Camp committee members, both of whom are also Team Alumnae! Another morning my friend Jenna stopped by briefly to pick up five containers of Ratatouille that have been sitting in my freezer since last spring. They were originally intended to feed hungry Team Members during the Training Retreat, which of course never happened. I was happy to be able to sell some of the other Retreat foods to Jenna for an outdoor “volunteer appreciation” event she was holding at Innovation Jeunes and so recoup some of the grocery advance I had been given last spring before COVID struck. However no one seemed to want the Ratatouille, as people are not able to gather in large groups to eat together so Jenna offered to deliver it to a homeless shelter that serves hot lunches so it seemed best to donate it and know it was being put to good use.

Other afternoons, after completing an order for masks, I was able to make myself a pair of warm woollen overalls and also to sew 3 “Newsboy” tweed caps as Christmas gifts for my Godsons. I still have one more to make and hope to put some work into it this afternoon, once my baking is done.

I’m afraid this has been a rather boring post so perhaps it is best to add a recipe and be done with it 😊

Thursday evening I made a large pot of Tomato Basil Soup, partly in preparation for my next catering order and partly for my own dinner!  It was so tasty I have decided to continue this month’s “soup theme” and share the recipe with you. 😊 I’m sure it would still be nice made with dried basil, but the fresh basil made it super tasty.

 

Tomato Basil Soup

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsps. butter

2 28oz. cans fire roasted crushed tomatoes

5 cups chicken broth

¼ cup shredded fresh basil

1 cup heavy cream

salt& pepper to taste

 

Heat the butter in a large soup pot and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant then stir in the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded basil. Cool slightly then purée in batches either in a blender or food processor, until smooth. Pour back into a clean pot and stir in the cream. Heat gently then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8-10 servings and freezes well.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

09/10/20

 

















Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers! 

       We have much for which to give thanks, despite all the COVID-19 challenges being faced in many parts of Canada. In comparison to the situation in countries whose citizens do not enjoy national health services we are so well cared for but for many families it is very hard not to be able to gather for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. By mid-October there are few parts of this country where an outdoor celebration can be held and here in Québec indoor gatherings of more than 6 people are currently taboo.

      It has been a full week. CTM’s quarterly “Networks” newsletter was finally assembled and will be published this weekend.  I have also completed reworking the email contacts and have compiled a new group list of “friends of Day Camps” to whom we will be sending 2021 application forms and other information. 

     No updates yet regarding the new blog site so I may have to send out the first round of information minus that new addition. 

    Outside of office hours I am slowly beginning to shut down my gardens. The herbs have all been harvested and hung to dry in the furnace room although I always continue to cut fresh ones outdoors until snow finally covers the herb bed. I am also about two thirds of the way through pruning the largest perennial bed after which there are still three more fairly big sections of borders to cut back. The Bearded Irises need dividing and I’ll try to get that job done this autumn if it doesn’t freeze too hard.

     Thursday afternoon I picked up my Thanksgiving CSA box, full of lovely fall veggies, which will be featured in my dinners over the next couple of weeks. Yum!

     Rainy afternoons have seen me back sewing MANY more masks. This week I have completed 18 for my 3 Godsons (6 each) and am part way through 10 more Liturgical silk masks, ordered by Bishop Mary as well as two more cotton ones, also for her.

    It’s a good job I finished the fabric Christmas gift “buckets” last week since other gift projects and sewing for myself are currently on hold 😊.

    I’m not baking today, as Sue hasn't ordered any GF bread this week but I do plan to start baking Christmas cookies on Monday, since it is a holiday. For many years my Mum and I started the Christmas baking on Thanksgiving Weekend and I like to keep the tradition even though the quantity of baked goods is drastically reduced from that of the past 😊.

   Today I’m sewing masks with the fond hope of completing all the orders so I can make the woollen overalls for myself that I cut out last weekend. Thursday night we had our first frost so today I regretfully turned on the furnace and went around “bleeding” all the radiators. It is a fine furnace that was installed for me six years ago at a great saving by my sweet friend (and plumber!) Phoebe. She and her Mum were members of my long time home Parish of St. Matthew’s. Sadly her Mum died at a very young age but Phoebe has made her way in the world and now has two kiddos of her own and is a master plumber, way to go girl!!!!

     Well this post seems to be getting rather long and the pile of partially made masks is sitting on the table waiting for me so we had better close off with a recipe.

    As we are now officially in “soup season” hopefully another soup will be of use to you. Last week my friend Sue brought me an amazing Pink Banana Squash. I had never seen one before but thankfully “Mr. Google” was able to provide me with information. This soup can be made with any type of winter squash. I always peel, seed and slice the squash then roast it for about 30 minutes in a 400° oven. After it cools off I purée it in batches, pack it in containers and freeze it for use in all sorts of recipes.

 

South American Squash Soup 


1 Tbsp. butter or oil

1 onion, sliced

1 lb. pumpkin or squash, roasted and puréed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp. ground chipotle

1 bay leaf

2 cups tomato juice

2½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

chopped cilantro for garnish

 

Heat the butter or oil and sauté the onion until translucent, add the garlic and chipotle and stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the pumpkin, bay leaf, tomato juice and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You my need to add more stock or water as the soup will be quite thick.

Cool slightly, then purée in batches. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro.

Serves 3-4, freezes well.

I served mine for supper with a bowl of cheesy hot buttered popcorn on the side!

Saturday, 3 October 2020

03/10/20

  












 

 

It has been quite a full week around here. We are still on hold regarding our new Day Camp blog but some progress has been made and several people are working on the "behind the scenes" technicalities so there is hope things will soon come together. We would like to wait to send out the 2021 application forms until the new site is ready to launch so that we can share it with the wider Day Camp community, butI am determined to distribute the forms this month and so am anxiously awaiting further updates from the “techies”.

CTM's  Harvest/Fall Newsletter is also getting sorted out, although I still have not received content from a few people. It should be ready for publication in time for Thanksgiving so I need to do more badgering over the next couple of days.

I am also updating the list of contacts to whom we want to send news of our 2021 Day Camp programs. The main CTM contact list on this laptop has about 400 names, this week I got as far as “Q” so I've almost finished checking through that main list and compiling a comprehensive one for Day Camp contacts woo hoo!

The revised Community Planner has been sent back to Jessica for reformatting, which is another step forward so  it won't be long before all the core documents are completed in the hopes host communities decide to apply.

Of course the uncertainty of the future looms large and this week Montreal and several other areas of Québec were placed in the “Red” zone so we are back largely to a lockdown situation for the next month.

Outside of office work I seem to have a growing pile of sewing projects to tackle. I wanted to get started sewing fabric buckets in which to give Christmas cookies but have now been diverted by ongoing orders for masks! The fabric finally arrived the masks for my Godsons in Ottawa. I washed and ironed it yesterday and plan to cut them out this afternoon. Bishop Mary also called yesterday and has ordered 5 more Liturgical masks so I may need to lay aside  Christmas projects for a while.

The Bishop has also ordered a blue Advent chasuble, then there is the cape I’ve been asked to sew for my friend Jenna, “Newsboy” caps I plan to make as Christmas presents for all my Godsons and a pair of warm wooled overalls for myself. EEK!!! that sounds like a lot of sewing 😊.

When Jenna brought over her cape fabric  she also brought me a Reishi mushroom, which she had harvested on a foraging excursion. I was super excited to receive it and processed it one afternoon and it is now ready to turn into immune boosting tea.

Although garden work will soon be winding down the next few weeks will include a lot of leaf raking, then comes cutting down all the perennial plants and harvesting herbs. Never a dull moment. It was overcast this morning as I did my garden work but the whole while my chores were accompanied by the honking of geese above the clouds, it was magical!!Everything  in the garden was pretty soggy  as we have had a fair bit of rain during the week. 

Soon I need to get Sue’s bread into the oven, along with a miche for myself, a a large pan of pink banana squash to roast and a skillet pizza for dinner😊.

 Before I head to the kitchen we had better have a recipe. Last evening I made one of my favourite types of Gyros- 

 

Chickpea Gyros


 4 whole Greek Pitas

½ cup hummus

½ tzatziki


1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

½ cucumber, diced

½ cup tomatoes, diced

½ cup feta 


¼ cup sweet onion, diced 

1 avocado, diced


Salt and pepper to taste


Fresh lemon juice

 

Cut 4 rectangles of aluminium foil and lay out a pita on each. Top each with ¼ of the hummus and tzatziki. Divide all remaining ingredients into fourths and top each pita with a  portion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice to finish. Roll each filled pita into a cone shape using the foil to hold everything in place.