Thursday, April 29, 2010

"The Limit of Suspension"

On three small scraps of paper
grandmother writes

     how the suspension bridge
     fell down

     how the cotton wool
     pulled her from
     starched sheets to the
     lung-stopping chill
     of the january night

     how her shoes squeaked
     in the snow

and looking at the
suspension bridge
broken-backed against the ice
like an injured dragon

must have wondered at
each of her magic crossings

but writes here
the suspension bridge
                                      fell down
and it did make a noise

Jane Urquhart
False Shuffles, 1982.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Grandmother Crosses"

I have long loved Jane Urquhart's novels but only recently disovered her poetry.  This poem is the first of a grouping about "the undertaker's bride", who is also "grandmother".  Jane's real grandmother?  Who knows, but this is definatley the same character -- the undertaker's widow -- in the novel Whirpool.  In this poem she rides her tricycle over the suspension bridge that once crossed the Niagra river, just below the falls.

Grandmother Crosses

Grandmother crosses
the suspension bridge

she is seven years old
in the process
of eliminating

she watches amazed
as the loaf of bread
                             she has carried
from the american side
slips from her hands

somersaults gently
to the rapids below

       as an angel's gold brick

eighy years later
the streetcars passing
on mainstreet
will bring to her mind
                                this bump of

rubber wheels
on wooden planks

as she rides her tricyle

thinking of home

Jane Urquhart
False Shuffles, 1982.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

smoked salmon strata & warm radiccio salad

Supper this evening didn't start out to be a blog-worthy affair.  In fact, I made the stratta last night because I knew that I'd be tired after a particularly busy day at work.  The salad took no more than 5 or 10 minutes to prepare and voila!  One of the tastiest suppers of the month.  The strata was smooth and satisfying with just a hint of richness from the cream cheese and eggs, while the salad combined flavours and textures of all types:  bitter and bright, crunchy and smooth.  Both went down easily.

The photos, as you can see, were an after-thought.  My husband waited patiently to clean up the scraps while I dashed off to find the camera.

Warm Radiccio Salad

1 head of radiccio, finely chopped
about 15 or 20 red grapes, halved
a handful of raisins
a handful of cashews, chopped
a sliver of blue cheese, crumbled

Set a small frying pan with some olive oil over medium heat while you chop the radiccio and half the grapes.  Throw in everything but the cheese and saute for about 5 minutes until the radiccio is tender and  a little wilted.  Stir in the cheese at the last minute and serve warm.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Strata

a day-old baquette, sliced on the diagonal
cream cheese
200 g lox
2 leeks, sliced and washed
4 eggs
1 cup of milk
about a Tbsp of dijon mustard
about a Tbsp of dried dill
salt and pepper

Start by sauteing the leeks with a little oil until the wilt.

Meanwhile, slice the bread and spread each slice with cream cheese.  Top every other slice with lox and leeks.  Salt and pepper.  Top with another slice of bread to make little sandwhiches.  Arrange the sandwhiches in a casserole dish.  (We're just two people, so I use two small casseroles and freeze one.  I also like to stand the sandwhiches up on end so I can see hints of the salmon and leeks; it's pretty).

Whisk together the eggs, milk, dijon mustard and dill.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture over the sandwhiches. At this point you can cover the strata and refrigerate overnight, or just bake it.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

meatball and white bean soup

I found this recipe in a Racheal Ray magazine and, intrigued by the unusual ingredients, determined to try it. The meatballs are done by the book, but I swapped a few ingredients in and out.  The result is warm and flavourful -- perfect for a windy spring day.

Meatball and White Bean Soup
1 package ground pork
a handfull of grated parmesan cheese
a handfull of dried currents
3 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
11/2 tsp fennel seeds

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head rapini, washed and finely chopped
1 box chicken broth
1 can white beans, rinsed

MEATBALLS -- Mix together all of the meatball ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Roll big meatballs -- about 11/2 inches in diameter -- and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until they are browned.
SOUP -- In a soup  pot, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil.  Add the rapini and saute until witled -- just a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.  Add the chicken stock, beans and meatballs.  Simmer for a few minutes to ensure that everything is hot and cooked through (especially the meatballs), then serve.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010


It's a dark and rainy night -- windy too -- but I'm comfortable and warm. The wood stove humms behind me as I sip Earl Grey from my cherry teacup and sew buttons. Stitching has become a refuge -- quiet and slow -- at the close of a busy day. It's the last day of the 39 Square Challenge and, though I didn't stitch 39 squares, I finished my sampler today. 

I added a second paisley for good measure because the first one turned out so well.

My initials fill the bottom right square.

My sampler is a little different from some of the others in that I created a checker-board pattern by filling alternating squares. Most of the buttons that occupy the in-between spaces come from my grandmother's button jar (which I inherited along with her sewing machine and table when she downsized). There's nothing fancy about them, except that they have history.  All in all, I'm pleased with the final product.  It suits me.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

small sparks

Things have been rather busy lately, but I'm looking for small moments of beauty and creativity and fun. 

This is a print of one of Leanardo daVinci's anatomical drawings.  I saw the real deal at the Vancouver Art Gallery recently and admited the detail of his sktches, annotated in daVinci's backwards, left-handed scrawl.  The prints are intriguing and beautiful, but where can I display them?  The bathroom! 

We felled a holly tree and most of a plum tree in our little back yard this weekend.  What a pile of tree!
I haven't had time to make anything lately, but my husband designed and built this maple cabinet for his fish tank.  The DVD player and what not are stored behind the doors and the aquarium is eye-catching -- full of colour and movement.
I've been meaning to photograph this apple all winter.  It's a good think I finally did, because just yesterday it fell to the ground and nestled along-side the lavendar.  I like the spray of sharp green leaves, visible behind the rotting apple -- death and new life.  Very appropriate for Easter.
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