Friday, November 22, 2013


 Christmas past . The homestead in Bethune, circa 1930. Snow mostly. Depression era. Cold.
Bundlinig up for a ride in the cutter..........Furs, blankets, hats, mittens. The jingle of bells.

Christmas 1941. My dad and mum visited the homestead for a month. Horses in the snow.
 More rides on the cutter. Looking more like city slickers than country folk. Still the jingle of bells.Warmth of the fire in the house, after a ride.
 1941 out on the snow with Grandmother and their favourite dog, Jessie. Isobel on the left , mum, Nessie, on the right.
   And a poem.The War.  Kept for years in a book. Kept from the light. A Christmas poem about a boy. Born in Bethlehem.....
 1950. A new era. Victoria. More snow than it has seen in years. The house my parents lived in.
 And the grandparents. Older. Quieter. Not working as hard. Living with them. The small tree strung with one strand of lights and a few baubles. Baubles that jingle like horse harnesses in the snow. On a Christmas day.
 1960. Same sort of tree.Another quiet Christmas. And yes. that's me.
 1968. Snow on Government Street. Victoria really did not know what to do with all that snow.....
                             1979. Older not much wiser. But working on it. Youth group. Christmas plays.  Christmas changed. But still can hear that jingle of the horses the music of the Christmas play. We were a great bunch. All so serious. Perhaps wiser at the end of it, for the reason for the season.................

Thursday, November 21, 2013


MRS. HERFORD’S 1930’s ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING (Powell River 1930. Original recipe circa 1911) (Mrs. Herford was a good friend of  mum’s, from Bethune Saskatchewan. One year, when Mrs. Herford was a child, she caught her hand in a grain auger, and lost a finger. But she still made puddings……) Updated recipe for 2013….

¼ lb flour, ½ lb brown sugar, ½ lb fine bread crumbs, pinch salt
½ cup crumbled margarine ( this would formerly have been beef suet)
3 eggs (eggs used to be preserved in straw, and doled out, as if they were gold)
12 oz dark raisins, 6 oz golden raisins, ½ lb cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice and peel from one orange
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup Napoleon brandy, or other good booze ( no sampling!)
1 apple chopped fine and 1 carrot shredded
¾ cup chopped almonds
1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp each nutmeg, cloves, allspice,
Enough MILK to make a moist sloppy  batter

Soak fruit and nuts in booze, orange juice, lemon juice and peel

Grease pudding bowl/ or metal bowl.Line with parchment.
Beat rest of ingredients  together with  milk, to be  slippery
Put into greased basin.I use a pudding basin. It is wonderful! Steam in stock pot, for about 6 hours.  Do not let batter get wet. When done invert basin.

Add more boiling water as water evaporates. Kitchen will get steamy…….Serve pudding with cream or hard sauce.


                               Parchment paper ready to be peeled off.
 Peel off. Resteam, or heat in microwave if pressed for time to serve hot to company.  Put a spring of holly on top for  presentation. You could also douse it with more whiskey, adn set it ablaze. I'm rather scared to do it as there is always a cat nearby......and they are rather flammable I must imagine. So to keep things safe, safe the fire for the candles...... Pour cream ( not whipped cream, just whipping cream) over top of each serving. Magnificent. Mum made this ever year, for many years. She always talked about her friend Mrs. Herford. I like to think that Mrs. Herford always spoke of my mother fondly.......they were great friends.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Weeks Till Christmas.....

 I love Christmas stories. One of my favourites is from a children's book called "Pussycat's Christmas" by Margaret Wise Brown ( of course...anything with a cat). I couldn't resist using a few  parts from the story....worth finding and reading. It's very sweet....definitely a children's story. But I have to admit I love reading them off and on......
 "It was Christmas. How could you tell? Was the snow falling? No.The little pussycat knew that Christmas was coming. The ice tinkled when it broke on the frozen mud puddles. The cold air made her hair stand straight up in the air. And the air, oh the air, it smelled JUST as it did last year......"
        Gingerbread house making time. Morgan and  Rebecca Bos ,who now lives in Florida, and came a long ways to see us.  "And tangerines. White tissue paper. And red tissue paper. Tissue paper rustled. Nuts cracked. Scissors cut...." Gingerbread under construction.
 "Brrrrrr. there was the dark smell of winter air before snow. And then, the street lights clicked on all over town......She stood very still and stretched her ears there in the whitened darkness. She heard it from far away....jingle jingle jingle.....She saw the sleigh go jingling by....."
 "In the silence of the frozen night, in the silence of the bright stars high in the sky, all was calm all was bright......"
 "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright....." So much ice. So much cold.
 "The wind rattled the black branches, and rattled it well....."
                                It has been a very cold day ( for B.C.) But in the afternoon the neighbours cats came out and lolled about in the warm sun. Spencer was very happy.
                             And Smokey was very happy........of course he was. He had just consumed a bird. And batted about a rat. Which I had to bury in the garden. I just hope it decomposes over winter so I don't get a nasty surprise when I  go digging about in the summer. Rat carcasses. Yuck.
  And then there's the gingerbread house . Freshly iced. Covered with candy. Drying in front of the three wise men . I didn't know where else to put it, so our own cats wouldn't gnaw on it. It will be covered in cellophane. Given away to someone. And there will be a manger again, waiting .......

Monday, November 18, 2013

JAM JAMS! ( Yum Yum)

JAM JAMS ( I always double recipe)
( Will disappear in a flash…..zoom)
2     cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch salt
½ cup margarine
1 egg, beaten
½ cup ( and a tad more) milk
Topping: Raspberry jam ( or whatever kind you like best)
In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut in margarine. Make a well in the centre. Beat together wet ingredients. Then plop all together into bowl and stir lightly to form a soft dough. It should not be overmixed or the Jam Jams will be stiff.The less you mix the light the biscuits will become.

In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut in margarine. Make a well in the centre. Beat together wet ingredients. Then plop all together into bowl and stir lightly to form a soft dough. It should not be overmixed or the Jam Jams will be stiff.The less you mix the light the biscuits will become.


Pat or roll out to ¾ inches. Cut with cookie cutter. Place on silpat liners or greased cookie sheet. Stick thumb in centre of each. Place a dollop of jam in the hole.

Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn if oven gets too hot. Least amount of time is best. Should just be brown and the biscuit starting to separate into layers.

Serve HOT! Oh yum yum those Jam Jams!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Cranberry Cherry Christmas Cake


(I double this)


4 ½ cups  dried cranberries      1  cup butter

1 tbsp baking powder               3 Large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar                        1 cup almonds

3  cups flour                            2 cups green/red cherries

1 tsp vanilla                             1 tsp almond flavouring

1 ½ cups cut up dried apricots   1 ½ cups golden raisins

2 cups wine or brandy

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease 8 small parchment lined pans and 1 long loaf pan ( double recipe) or 2 loaf pans.
Beat butter with sugar then eggs, then vanilla and almond. Beat in baking powder, flour, and all of the fruit.  Add wine or brandy to help mix into cake batter consistency.
(Bunny sees the glitter)
Mix by hand to mix well.
Divide into pans and smooth tops. Bake in oven for about an hour. Need to test at 40 minutes to see. The larger loaf pans will take longer. Lovely scent as the cakes are baking…..
(Bo squashes the townspeople that belong on the village)
Cool on racks. Wrap in freezer bags and store in freezer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

FRUITCAKE and WAR.......goes back to 1941

 It's Remembrance Day in Canada. And it is also fruitcake making day. The two go hand in hand.
 My uncle Stuart, whom I only met once, a few years before he died in the early 1970's, joined up in 1940. He's the one on the left.  Thumbing rides, for fun, with his buddy, outside the farm in Bethune, Saskatchewan. A warm day in May. Before you knew it, he was at Aldershot in the Maritimes.
                            He trained to be a Signaller with the South Saskatchewan Regiment. He didn't know what he was in for. It was a lark to him. He was in the Raid of Dieppe, Aug 19 1942. He was shot up badly, survived, and came home a hero. But not to a heroes welcome. His family couldn't understand the war, or the complexities. They couldn't understand why he couldn't just stay at home and work on the farm.
Letter excerpt to my mum, in Victoria, Sept 9 1942 :"I am OK. Excuse writing as I am in a cast from hips to neck adn out to fingers of right hand. Had one bullet just iss back bone,and go thru seat about 5 inches deep. Another hit centre of right back but glanced up smashing shoulder and have a neat hole through the humorous. I took a prisoner and fetched him back, after being shot up, so you can judge from that the injuries are slight. When we evacuated amid a hail of bulelts, shrapnel and dive bombing we could see green waves of Jerry pouring in for miles back. The official score was 5000 dead and wounded for them, and 3350 dead and wounded and prisoners from us. Believe you me, they have a healthry respect for Canadians. Will write as soon as right wing is working. Love, Stuart"

 This is May 1941 with my grandparents and his brother, Bill. In November, 1941 my grandmother made fruitcake and a pound of butter to send to a friend in Regina. It would have been an expensive enterprise at the time. She also had knitted socks and underwear to send to Stuart. well, she got the packages mixed up. Stuart and his pals got the fruitcake and butter ( which they enjoyed immensely), and grandmother's friend in Regina got woolen socks and  long johns..........
          Waterloo Station, or what is left of it, in WW2
 The women who worked at Yarrows Shipyard 1942. My mum was one of them.
   There she is. Probably sitting on the steps of their house on Cook St, in Victoria.
 Stuart on left, the one that got the fruitcake, with his brother and pal and Jessie-dog.May 1940
                           Sturt taking this picture at Portobello. Looks like a store. I once thought it was a pub.
                       German Army. Heinrich Reutmann, my mother-in-laws brother on far left. Artillery. He did right after this pic was taken.
                         Stuart on right, seated, with his pals. 1943. Just boys.
                           1941 in the signal office, before Dieppe, before he went home for a visit.
         Mortorcycles in the compound.
                           Bren gun carrier in the compound. All of these photos were illegal at the time.
                                Bethune, Saskatchewan war memorial.
                                HMCS Crescent Destroyer Class. Launched July 1944
And here is on the right with his friend Lynne. "Just another days work". When he came home from the war he held odd jobs, finding that most places of employment did not know what to do with a war vet. He didn't live long enough to see the changes. But I make fruitcake on Nov 11th and remember the story of 1941.......