I began this week in a dead run, and “puff”, I’m still hitting the trail. What a crazy beginning to April. Hope this isn’t any indication of what the rest of the month is going to bring! Monday was just off the charts. Between the phone, packing for our trip, last-minute cooking, organizing the animals and generally pulling the house together I was ready to draw the Mad Hatter’s hat over my head, sign up on a tramp steamer, and head for ports unknown. I’m not lying here. Sometimes life is just too much, and I need to take a step back and prioritize. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time so had to pencil in an hour May 18th at 3:00 a.m. Let me know if you’re up, I’ll put on a pot of coffee.
Going to my mothers is at the same moment stressful and pleasurable. At times it feels like my little body is being pulled in all directions and keeping everybody happy and moving forward an insurmountable task. At this age you would think that I would have opened the chapter in life’s books titled “The impossible task of keeping all beings in your immediate sphere happy”, but although I’ve read it several times before and thought I had it down, it seems I need to refresh my memory.
Families are such a delicate balance. To me they are like white water rafting. Sometimes you are becalmed and drifting lazily along without a ripple in the water and other times you are propelled willy nilly into the tumultuous rapids bouncing off rocks and hanging on for dear life. I like the tide pools and gentle ripples, truly I do.
Blended families add a little cha-cha to the mix as well. With the addition of new families to old families, and families of exes and exes ex families, and their significant others, life can become ridiculously colorful. Sort of like adding a downhill grade to straight on rapids and throwing in a major electrical storm on the way down river.
Often I am the peacemaker, the catalyst which keeps the formula stable. Should I trip and fall the whole house of cards would very likely come down on top of my head. This is a great deal of responsibility, I’m thinking, for one small blonde woman from Nova Scotia, so I believe I will surrender my “good neighbor badge” and try out for the “ornery but cute” badge I’ve been eying for the last decade. My other half said he’d already nominated me with the committee that approves such things. Yea!
We’re heading out for dinner tonight which I’m looking forward to. No matter how old you get, to your parents you are still wearing smocked dresses and dragging your raggedy Pooh the Bear behind you. So, when we visit we are always treated to a lovely dinner out at the club inside of the golfing community my parents live in. During dinner I will be enthusiastically introduced to twenty people they are acquainted with socially, none who care one wheedle that I am my mother’s daughter and would be far happier to be left alone to concentrate on their meat loaf or lemon meringue pie. For me, it is still nice to know that my mother thinks I’m special and leaves me to ponder if anyone ever considers you that special again once your mother is gone.
Tomorrow we are piling in the car and pointing its nose south towards Monterey. This is a treat for me as the Monterey Peninsula definitely ranks high on my endorfen chart for pure pleasure. I have packed my camera so will get plenty of pictures to share. There is a wonderful restaurant there where we are hoping to catch a meal. Originally owned by Clint Eastwood, I believe, it sits on the bank of a beautiful little cove with the ocean showing it’s face just beyond the sandy beach. Flocks of sheep roam the grassy knolls and white wooden beach chairs are set out in the patio area, weather permitting, to provide you a spectacular view to enjoy with an appetizer and perhaps a martini in a pencil stemmed glass. Delicious. Behind the restaurant is an inn with beautifully appointed rooms. I have never stayed there, but definitely heard the buzz.
When my other half and I were still blooming on the vine, he invited me to spend the weekend at this very hotel. He could tell you more about the rooms as this was not to be his first visit, but I was most enthusiastic about sharing his second.
At the time he had a red corvette convertible with red leather interior known more familiarly as Lucille. The day proved to be golden and luscious and the drive down the coast with the wind streaking through our hair exhilarating. Hungry, we stopped in Monterey for a bite of lunch at one of our favorite restaurants there boasting a large outdoor patio which dominates the front of the building.
Our destination was Carmel, the next stop south. Carmel is a toney, painfully quaint ocean side community, largely populated with well-dressed people leaning toward retirement. Along the tree-lined streets your will find neat houses surrounded by picket fences and colorful gardens, that come complete with exorbitant price tags. Tourists come in droves to Carmel in the summer months to browse the artistically appointed shops and dine at the excellent restaurants along the main drag. Artists flock there to sit on the sandy beaches and recreate the lovely cypress trees the area is known for on their sketch pads and canvases.
Driving past the mission we pulled into the parking lot at our hotel and my other half went in the door marked “office” to register and gather the key. Not long following, the happy man entering the door came back the same way this time wearing a frown. Oh-oh. As it turned out, there were two hotels in the immediate area both with extremely similar names. Having a 50-50 percent margin for error it did not lean towards the plus side for us as this hotel was booked. In the end we stayed down the road and opted to at least enjoy dinner at our original hotel of choice. Because we wanted to, and because our hotel was hosting a huge group of teachers who had posted a sign in the lobby inviting everybody to join them for dinner that night in their pajamas and curlers. Sigh. It was still so much fun and such a nice memory to laugh about.
I am at my mom’s at the moment and we have been going through cookbooks that date back to before she was born. Fascinating. I cannot vouch for the Braided Easter Bread as I have not made it, but it came from St. Mary’s Polish Church in Sydney, Nova Scotia and I just have a feeling it might be something special. The second recipe is from my mom, who is always something special.
My friend and reader Anne has nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award which I want to acknowledge at this point. I am going to pass it on tomorrow but wanted to thank her ahead of time and point you in her direction as she is well worth finding your way there. These are a mish mash of a great recipe from a very old Nova Scotia cookbook and one of my mom’s.
Braided Egg Bread (Polish Easter Bread)
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast
Heat milk and butter in small saucepan until quite warm. Blend warmed liquid with 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast and eggs at low speed until well moistened. Beat 3 mins. at medium speed.
By hand, stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Knead until smooth, about 5 mins. Place dough in greased bowl, greased side up. Cover and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours.
Grease cookie sheet. Punch dough down and divide into four equal parts 20″ long. Place side by side on cookie sheet and pinch together at one end; braid, and let rise in warm place for 6 mins. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 35-40 mins. at 375 degrees until golden brown and loaf sounds hollow. Remove and cool.
Mom’s Seafood Casserole
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup green pepper diced
2 1/2 oz. blanched almonds
3/4 cup cream of mushroom soup
1/2 lb. lump crab or canned crab meat
1/4 lb. cooked shrimp
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Combine all ingredients in pre-sprayed 13x9x2″ casserole. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 mins.