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Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

The icicles twinkled as the morning light shone across the deck. It had been a rough night. An ice storm had ripped across Ontario and left a path of destruction. We were reminded once more of the power of nature. The beauty of the ice crystals masked the scars of ripped branches that were strewn across the back garden. I opened the back door to examine the debris of trees and twigs and gasped as the cold wind rushed in. Ice crystals cracked and popped in the branches as the trees swayed to and fro…..a phenomenon I had never observed before. It was like the distant sound of rattling gunfire!

The iced leaves on our emerald cedar hedge.

The iced leaves on our emerald cedar hedge.

My morning kettle purred on the stove as I awaited that first sip of satisfying sustenance. All is well with the world when there is a cup of steaming tea! Suddenly everything electrical stopped…..the internal fan, the furnace and my beloved kettle. The world was silent. The next 24 hours were reminiscent of our regular power outages in South Africa. The only difference was that I was unprepared for this debacle and it was minus 10 outside! My first thought was that we needed to think of a way to stay warm. The reports were that ice storm had wreaked havoc with the local power lines. There goes my cup of tea!

The telephone broke the silence. “Are we still on for tonight?” The reality hit me!  I had been so taken by the force of nature in my back garden that I forgotten I had 30 people arriving on my doorstep in a few hours for some ‘Christmas Cheer.’

I asked myself the question: Do I go ahead with this? I have always been partial to a social gathering and allowed myself a 30 second rethink of the situation.

The cupboards were raided for supplies of candles. Thank goodness this household loves this waxy standby……festive reds, icy whites and angelic creams! So out they came and were strategically placed on every surface around the house. A pyromaniac’s delight! Some smart thinking had also resulted in a couple of long life torches. What a win! I felt pleased with the result. The Christmas decorations twinkled in this soft lighting and it looked festive and ready to receive our guests.. We had light and ambiance. Great! We were almost there. What was next on the agenda? I suppose we needed some FOOD!  

This proved to be more of a challenge as we could not deliver any ‘hot food.’ All the dainty phyllo pastry morsels would have to take a back seat.  Fortunately the larder was bursting with an array of snacks …it was Christmas after all! I was grateful for my passion for exotic cheeses as this would have to satisfy the more discerning pallet. So that was the menu sorted! Of course the fridges had loads of liquid ‘Christmas Cheer!’  There was also a pot of aromatic Gluwein which I managed to heat on an emergency hot plate. The aroma of the cloves and cinnamon wafted through the air and soothed my jarred nerves.  It was going to be just fine…..there were even a few bottles of bubbly firmly planted in ice buckets filled with the snow. As they say in the classics…..’n boer maak ‘n plan.

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As I walk around and switch on my lights, turn up my music and sit by my flickering fireplace, I am grateful to have the power back on.  In the brief 24 hour period that we were off the grid, we certainly went into survival mode.  We were reminded of our essentials……we needed to eat and keep warm. Somewhere in between all of that we also managed to throw in a party! Ingenuity and the underrated little ol’ battery saved the day.

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                                       Let us celebrate and roar…..it is a new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was 4am in the morning and I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. It is always a special time of the day as I can sip a cup of tea quietly and just contemplate. It feels like the whole world is asleep and I am the only one who is watching the dawn break.

It could not be further from the truth as the whole of Canada would be watching the sun come up today. It is Groundhog Day today and legend has it that the groundhog can predict if spring is on its way. A festival is held in Wiarton in Ontario to honour this day and this includes dances, pancake breakfasts and parades. News reporters from all the local channels cover these events and it was reported that the shadow of the groundhog was NOT seen this year so we will have an early spring. Hoorah! Not that we deserve one as we have not paid our dues. Even us newbies know that this winter has been mild and not what we were expecting.

Weather is such an integral part of our daily lives here as it defines how we dress, get to work and spend our spare time. It comes as no surprise that the weather channel is the most watched one in Canada! We have new words that have become part of our vocabulary like wet snow, dry snow, freezing rain and cookie dough snow. Each of these snow types requires different apparel anything from track shoes to water resistant snow boots. I even packed in my green Wellington boots from South Africa. No chasing over green fields with a Labrador at my side or trout fishing, these are my big guns! They take in the squelchy roads with ease. One then understands why the Eskimos have over a 100 words for snow. The word ‘kripya’ means snow that has melted and then frozen and ‘pactla’ is snow that has been packed down. I am adding these words to my repertoire of experiences as I land on my rear in one of the 100 snow conditions. This takes place when my over zealous Jack Russell gives a sudden burst and chases a squirrel up a tree. It is a humbling experience!

A family of groundhog

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Watch this just to get into the ‘gees.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjnhjM80rjU by Briana Haynes 2010

Ontario’s rich harvest has tempted me back into the kitchen, much to my family’s delight! The supermarkets are full of the summer produce as nature churns out the last of its season’s bounty before it shuts down and rests for the winter. It is the time for apple picking, corn roasts, hay rides and more!

Comfort foods start to beckon as the nights become longer and cooler and as we start to plan the Thanksgiving Dinner or just a soup and sandwich evening with friends. Free magazines and newspapers abound with recipes reflecting the glow of Fall, like roasted garlic and pumpkin soup and toasted almonds and quinoa pilaf. I have to study the recipes intently as some of the ingredients are totally foreign to me; it is almost as if there is a gap in my culinary exposure.

In the past I had to churn out in the shortest time a high carbohydrate meal for hungry men! There was no time to fiddle-faddle, it was just good wholesome food that was required! What can I say? It has been a long time since I have really been able to put some thought into what I serve up to my crew of in-house food critics! Watch out, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

It is definitely pumpkin time. This colourful vegetable appears on front door wreaths, graces table decorations and is in every recipe you could imagine. There is my favourite, roasted pumpkin soup with heaps of garlic but I am also keen to try pumpkin cupcakes with brown sugar frosting and pumpkin pecan bake. My mouth waters at the thought of this!

I still have to get my head around a cocktail made with pumpkin! It does tempt me as it is made with rum and amaretto and the warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Yes, after a long day in the kitchen, one of those might just go down well. Cheers!

Josh is a willing participant in the Thanksgiving preparation….he loves the scraps!

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