Friday, December 18, 2015

How to end the Year at Work

The office doors are locked; the school is closed until the new year, and soon my Christmas vacation will begin.

In the meantime, the bosses and I are indulging in a little bit of Xmas spirit as we tie up all the loose ends ...............

Homemade salted toffee truffles and a wee dram of Grand Marnier in the coffee.

Isn't this what the last day at work before the holidays is supposed to look?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Eating to Lower Potassium

I'm counting down the days here at work up to my 2 week Christmas break. Fortunate, I know, to have such a long period of time off. But I do not get paid for it; so I budget accordingly.

I've got a lot planned for my week before Xmas off.  There's the usual cleaning from top to bottom, of course; things that are forgotten (aka dusty bathroom fans and tops of picture frames) will be wiped clean of any evidence that I don't often look up! Weather permitting, the girls and I will trek to the u-cut Xmas tree lot this weekend and spend the next day decorating. And then there's the baking.

I just found out that I have slightly higher than normal bad-cholesterol levels as well as potassium levels. Potassium? You hear so much about making sure you get enough that it's a shock to know you've got a little too much and its dangers.  Once we ladies reach a certain age, heart disease and stroke are dangers we constantly have to beware of. So, I'll have to be careful; I can't "eat whatever I want and deal with it later" as I've done in other years. 

Knowing what to avoid and moderation in all else shall be my mantra. Thankfully, turkey is one of the things that I'm encouraged to eat. Once I'd visited the doctor, I began to think proactively. 

But before that visit, AnnKatrin and I visited the Gingerbread Haus Bakery in Halifax and bought some German Christmas cookies. 

I have shortbreads and Baklava (in honor of the Turkish guest who'll be at our table). And there's dough for Rugelach and orange gingerbread in the freezer which will be made up next week with my students. Christmas dinner dessert is a pear pie with a pecan 'n' cheese crumble crust -- not too sweet. And I'll make sure there's plenty of low-potassium fruit in the house so I can reach for those. Thank goodness I'm such a snob when it comes to chocolate! These days, it has to be my perfect kind for me to indulge.

And grapes are on the list of go-to fruit for me; but I shall remind myself over and over again that it should NOT be in liquid form.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Room at the Inn!

This is the airport at my nation's capital this morning.

And this is my Prime Minister, greeting my new neighbors and handing out winter coats to some of the families.

I am so proud to be Canadian!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Chutney

Having international students during Christmas season means that I sometimes get to incorporate their traditions into our time together. Here are 2 of Annkatrin's Xmas traditions:  an advent candle that is burned each evening during the meal and a "smoking" wooden shepherd. He "smokes" incense which unfortunately means that I can't use him because of my sensitivity to scent. But he is pretty cute on my table. And I have the satisfaction of conforming this staunch German into a non-smoker!

One of my annual traditions is the making of the cranberry sauce. But I've accumulated a number of different recipes for chutneys; and with the great price I paid for a large bag of cranberries, I decided to give it a go.  I made three different recipes. (I like to give some as gifts).

The first -- and my favorite -- is a citrus/cranberry preserve: cranberries, orange, lemon and lime chunks flavored with the zest and a touch of cinnamon and allspice.

The color here is gorgeous.

And the flavor is wonderful! 

This could easily be used as a regular cranberry sauce. (Think of how delicious this would be on a cold turkey sandwich!) Or you could just spread it on your toast. Yum yum!

Next we have a cranberry/apple compote: tangy Granny Smith apples, fresh & dried cranberries, both white & brown sugar, finely diced onion, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon & ginger. 

This has a marvelous flavor and would be perfect on top of a baked brie, I think. 

Look at those lovely little chunks of apple and again, that rosy glow from the fresh cranberries.

The last chutney I made is a dried apricot, date and ginger chutney. This has the addition of garlic, a touch of cayenne, golden raisins and what was supposed to be red wine vinegar. Alas, other than 1/4 cup of the necessary 1.5 cups, I was out of red wine vinegar. So, I substituted a little Japanese wine vinegar and an amazing Black Cherry balsamic that I have and topped it off with good old regular vinegar.

This is thick and rich and utterly delicious. The recipe says to top meat, chicken or fish with this chutney. I'm looking forward to trying it tomorrow night with my pork chops.

And, of course, these will become even more tasty as they mature a little.

If anyone would like a recipe, just send me a note.

In the meantime, tell me what you've been cooking up for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rabbit, Rabbit.

Imagine:  December already! 

I'm sorry for the month long delay in posting:  I've been doing some extensive house purging and dealing with some other things that have left me with little time and no energy.  But I enjoy you all so much, I shan't give up blogging just yet. 

Isn't it marvelous that December is here again. The countdown to Christmas is on.My three daughters will be home.  The gifts are purchased; the menu is planned and cupboards are being stocked; the hoarding of goodies is well underway; thrifted festive duds have been procured; and cheesy music has already rung out in the halls of my wee mansion.

My German student comes from a country where so many wonderful Christmas traditions began AND probably the best Christmas markets in the world happen. I'm sure she's curious about how Canadian Xmas differs, but she knows the drill. I'm looking forward to her teaching me how to bake some German Xmas cookies. (And to her parcel from home coming! Will there be marzipan do you suppose?)

But my Japanese student is so excited at the thought of Canadian Christmas. This, of course, makes the whole thing more fun for me because it's almost like having a child in the house.

  • A tree larger than her? Oh joy!
  • Turkey with stuffing and the wearing of funny paper hats round the table? Great!
  • Upwards of a dozen different kinds of Xmas cookie and squares? Bring them on!
  • 2 weeks vacation from school (and work)? Ahhhh, rest!
  • Boxing week sales in the city with time out for sushi and meet-ups with school friends? Happiness!

And me?  Well, never mind Santa; I'VE got a list that I check twice. Scheduling for three people at this most busy time of the year and making time for baking and Xmas movies and such requires precision and a well placed calendar. 

But I'm also smart enough to not do what would over-do me. Moderation and enjoyment together. Also, in between the moments of near-madness, I'll make sure there's resting with my feet up and a cup of eggnog or mulled wine. 

Let the Christmas season begin!


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