Saturday, 8 December 2018

08/12/18





















Here we are on the Eve of the second Sunday in Advent and despite my best efforts at “quiet reflection” time, each day seems to be jammed with a ton of “to-do” list items. Sigh.
I am making sure to include some extra Advent devotional readings each day, which do force me to sit down for 20 minutes or so at some point!
Still waiting for 2 more pieces of copy for the CTM Newsletter and since one of them is the President’s Message we really cannot publish it without that article!
Work is also continuing on the Day Camp “Planners” and I have been sending reminders to the people who are editing chapters for the Program Manual, since December 31stis (supposed to be) the deadline 😊
We have set a date for our special committee meeting to completely rethink the Training Retreat and I have sent a letter to the Corporation of the church, which is our number 1 choice of venue for our new plan. Once we have held that meeting (at the end of January) I shall probably write a special post on the topic as several blog readers have already asked for details, but it is still rather nebulous, so the “reveal” will need to wait a while. 
Over the next 2 weeks I fear there will be rather less to report on the Day Camps front as communities hunker down and pour all their energies into the final preparations of the Advent & Christmas Season. Few people are currently fixated on plans for their summer Day Camps and so I too will need to confine the planning to the topics that can be dealt with “in house”.
Today is bright and sunny and there has already been plenty of activity around here although it is only 930 a.m.!! Yesterday I received a plea for a last minute catering order and since I knew the person asking has been going through a very rough patch, I couldn’t say “no” so on top of plans to bake- a Japanese Cheesecake, mince-pies, Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Christmas Cookies and 2 loves of Gluten-free bread, I added on making a frozen peppermint cheesecake, Angel biscuits, a large salad with toasted pecans and cranberries and a jar of honey/balsamic dressing!!! Of course there was also the small matter of preparing dinner (Danish Fishcakes and Garlic Oven-
Fries 😊)
All of that to say that my friend picked up her order at 840 a.m. just as the man arrived to measure our fireplace for retrofitting with a wood-burning stove. AGH!!!!! My dearest friend Michelle has always referred to this sort of situation as “a quiet day at the Taylors”, wait until a puppy is added to the mix 😊.
Earlier this week we had a lovely Advent/ Christmas Pod Gathering with 12 people in attendance, all ages from a 6 year old to seniors. We enjoyed a delicious shared supper and then were led by Nick Brotherwood in a simple House Eucharist, which included the making of Danish Paper Hearts as a special Advent activity. I also managed to persuade my boarder, Steven, to be our musician and he played viola, which was so beautiful. After it was over a whole gang pitched in to wash the dishes and help clear up for which I was extremely grateful. The evening was such a blesséd way to bring Advent into this home.
There will now be a short pause while I bundle up (it is currently -17ºC) and dash to the CO-OP as we are out of coffee beans, quite a serious situation!
Back again, with just a bit more time to finish up here before making Saturday Lunch. 
Tonight some former neighbours, who are still dear friends are coming for dinner and I have decided to make Nabemono, (hence also the aforementioned Japanese Matcha Cheesecake!) so as soon as lunch is done I shall need to launch into making Dashi and cutting up all the chicken and vegetables for this dish, which I always think of as Japanese comfort food, so good for a freezing night 😊
In a season with so many calls upon one’s time it is good to focus on meals that can be quickly pulled together. One night this week Steven and I enjoyed Carrot & Bulghur Pilaf with Broiled Halloumi as this recipe is a good candidate for tasty and speedy dinner.
Here you go!

Carrot & Bulghur Pilaf


1 ½ cups bulghur
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
4 medium carrots, grated
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. tamari
black pepper,to taste
1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small bits
8 oz. halloumi, sliced ¼” thick

Rinse the bulghur in a sieve under cold water. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over, to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well, gently pressing down to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
In a cast iron skillet heat the oil over medium-high; add the garlic and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and basil and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the bulghur, tamari, pepper and butter and toss well. Place the slices of halloumi over the top of the skillet and place under a hot broiler for approximately 5 minutes or until the halloumi is browned and melting. Serve immediately.
Serves 3-4

Saturday, 1 December 2018

01/12/18




















     This post is coming to you a bit later than usual since I have just waved good-bye to Victoria and her boys who spent last night and most of today with me.
     As we enter into the season of Advent it is SO difficult to take time to be reflective and to really “soak” in this lovely time of preparation. Everyone is terribly busy dashing around and the calendar keeps filling up with more and more important but time consuming commitments. Sigh. At least the only shopping I ever do is for groceries so I am able to completely avoid all the stores with tacky decorations and towering piles of merchandise that feed people’s insatiable consumerist urges (end of short rant).
    Most of my commitments do entail buying more food! Not for myself but for several catering jobs, that need to be fitted in between the work of Day Camps, CTM in general, shovelling snow, feeding cats for friends who are away on vacation, walking the Brady children to school etc.
   One of the vlogs I like to check in on is about a homesteading family in North Carolina, I’m not sure where the dad got the adage “Too blessed to be stressed”, but he uses it frequently when rushing through farm chores, wrangling chickens and pigs, as well as 4 small children and I have found myself saying it too when I’m frantically cooking a ton of dishes, or baking 5 things at the same time while trying to sew gift bags or arrange the candles on the Advent wreath 😊. It really is a truism and I need to be reminded that God has given me a ton of energy, good health and a community in which I can be useful and serve others, so I need to actually enjoy the chaos!!
    All of which is a good thing when spending time with my Godsons, Ha!
    This week we completed the HUGE job of emptying all the CTM paraphernalia from our Supply Room. Thursday evening Mark (co-Director of Senior Youth Camp), Alexander (also on SYC Staff), Steven (my current Boarder) and I brought over to my house all the tubs of Day Camp Supplies, plus a couple from SYC. The three men dismantled the wooden shelving and Jessica’s husband Tyler came and took another huge load of stuff to Innovation Jeunes and to their church from where the Rector’s wife plans to take it on to the inner-city elementary school where she teaches. WHEW!! a huge job done. We still need to remove the shelving and the big blue table but Mark’s work van was being repaired and so he didn’t have a large enough vehicle to transport those items. I’m still confident the job will be completed in the coming week. 
Over the past few days I’ve also been trying to put together CTM’s Advent/Christmas Newsletter. We are still missing several pieces of content but I’m hopeful we can get it emailed out next week. Our constituency is made up almost exclusively of church–going people ALL of whom will be swamped with pre-Christmas activities and would be unlikely to have time to read the Newsletter if it is sent out after December 15th. AGH!! (Too blessed to be stressed!!!)
     Well I suppose I can no longer put off the task of stripping beds and starting to clear up from the recent visitors. I also need to get some of my baking in the oven, which makes a good segue for a recipe 😊
     Last Tuesday evening we had a dinner of East Indian food, the main dish being Cauliflower Parathas. They are not hard to make and SO good, do try them!

Cauliflower Parathas

Dough-
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup warm water
Filling-
3 cups grated cauliflower (I do mine in the food processor)
2 tsps. grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. garam masala
2-3 Tbsps. butter

Whisk together the flour and salt. Gradually add enough water to make a firm but elastic dough. Knead thoroughly then cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Combine the cauliflower, ginger and garam masala.
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Roll each ball into a 4” round and top with a large spoonful of filling. Gather the dough up around the filling to completely contain it and form again into a ball. On a floured surface, carefully roll out each ball into a 6-8” circle, trying not to press too hard, which will expose the filling.
Heat a cast iron frying pan on medium-high, add about 1tsp. of butter and when melted place a paratha in the pan, coat it on both sides with the butter and fry, flipping once, until browned. Keep warm while frying the rest of the parathas in the same way.
Serve hot accompanied by a salad and raita.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

24/11/18

































It has been another very full week around here. Against a backdrop of FREEZING temperatures and TONNES of snow the work of summer (ha ha) Day Camps continues apace!
Tuesday evening was our monthly committee meeting and 5 members were able to attend. We covered a lot of territory. Especially focusing on all the work being done in reconfiguring our current Planning Guides and Program Manual. Jessica and Anna have already done some great work on the Guides and Christopher has invented some super flowcharts for use in the new Manual. Day Camps will have a whole new look in 2019 J
Of course we might not have been quite so ambitious about revamping EVERYTHING if we had known that we would also need to move out of our supply room and build a whole new plan and location for our Team Training Retreat.
Anyone who reads this blog will already know that the Retreat is a HUGE component in training our Teams so it is vital that we do our very best to create a new scenario that will allow us to continue to provide a top quality experience that will equip each Team Member to serve their mission. 
We have decided to try and hold a special meeting in late January devoted to this one topic since it will require a total rejigging of the schedule and a vast amount of logistics to pull off a new plan. AGH!!!!
We also talked about recruiting of Team Members as we are making a push to try and get more people to apply buy the March 31stdeadline. It is always so difficult to get people to commit early but it could make so much difference in our planning if we knew who was going to be on Team.
Our next group event will be the Epiphany Team Gathering, which falls right on the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) this year. Before then I shall do a lot of badgering via FaceBook and email J
Outside of Day Camps work there is another issue of CTM’s quarterly newsletter “Networks” to assemble. The deadline for submissions was November 15thand at present I only have one piece of content, which makes things a bit difficult to say the least. Yesterday I sent outa plaintive plea to the Board so I’m hoping over the weekend someone will take the time to send in some text.
When not madly typing away on the laptop a huge portion of the last few days was devoted to “The Changing of the Decorations”. As I walked around the house yesterday morning taking some photos for this post it was very hard not feel terribly sad that my dearest companion, Wil was not sitting on a chair or sofa looking elegant in one of his read Christmas bandanas. Living without him for the past 6 months has been a struggle and as we approach the festive season it seems harder than ever not to have his exuberant company. I am looking forward to the arrival of a puppy, probably in mid-February and he is sure to bring much joy but I know there will be a lot of work in training him so it will be a mixed blessing at first J
As usual in the colder weather I am doing some baking today, especially as I had no time for midweek baking in the past week.
This afternoon I plan to make some Angel Biscuits, Cornmeal/Cheese Scones, Gluten Free Bread/Apple Hand Pies and a pizza for dinner, so I guess I had better close this off and get to work! But first here is your weekly recipe: - 

Apple Hand Pies

Pastry for a single crust pie
2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 Tbsps. butter
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg & cardamom
¼ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsps. flour
¼ cup dried currants
1 egg yolk & 1 Tbsp. milk, beaten together
¼ cup sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  
Roll out the pastry and cut into 16 4” circles. Place the rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets and chill.
Melt the butter over medium het and sauté the apples for about 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice, salt, brown sugar and spices. Continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and currants and cook until the flour is absorbed and the liquid has evaporated.
Place 2 Tbsps. of the apple mixture on 8 of the pastry rounds, leaving a ¼” border. Top with the remaining rounds and seal with a fork. Brush the top of each hand pie with the egg wash then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden.