Monday, January 31, 2011

The BBC...Bungalow Basic Curry

I have a basic curry recipe which a friend shared with me years ago...
I keep returning to it and have made it with a variety of ingredients.

It is a great potluck dish...
we attended a 40th anniversary potluck recently and this is what I took along.
I thought it might be one to share...


I made a vegetarian version
and doubled the ingredients
to feed a crowd!


It is simple and very forgiving
I love it served over rice with Major Grey's Indian chutney.

you could also serve it with shaved coconut, chopped peanuts, raisins
as toppings.


saute the vegetables until soft
add the spices
slowly add in the flour blending as you go
add the stock (vegetable or chicken)
then add the milk
simmer
and
cook until the veggies are soft
(add chicken or prawns if you like them)
I cook and ladle this out of my Le Creuset if I am at home
but for a potluck
I put this in a corningware covered casserole
wrap it in a towel and place it in a large basket
for ease of transport in the car.


As I put the towel lined basket on the floor in front of the oven
Pepper decided it was playtime and she hopped in...
Mr. HB had to help as she was resistant to vacate
and I was mitted and holding the hot casserole dish!

Domestics are calling my name...
yoo hoo...
Hostess


Not much cleaning or tidying happened on the weekend
the Bungalow looks dishevelled
as do I
so I must away and get it sorted!


Bye for now!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I have been moved and shaken...

I have not seen a play of this quality or magnitude EVER.
I hadn't expected to be so moved or to be so shaken by such a powerful performance on stage.



Schindler's List had a similar effect...
and it took me several years before I could see it.

(I'd read every WW ll book available on the holocaust in High School)

I wept salty tears and lay awake for many nights after viewing it.

Things stay with me...I cannot forget
like a sponge soaking up all the pain
and only time lessens the effect,
the visions blur a bit and I can put it in a perspective that allow me to function but not forget.

Mother and I saw The Laramie Project...
go here for the background....

We have seasons tickets to a local Theatre Guild and are usually entertained by classic plays which are light and cheerful...mother feels refreshed and optimistic and chatters on and laughs on the drive home.

Today...you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre...it was an intense and brilliant production and the actors were gifted and committed to bringing home a true story...
a story that was both horrific and brutal but needed to be told... cleverly crafted and with such raw emotion by the performers ( a cast of 33) I was moved by what I saw.
I sat ever so still in my seat hanging on every word...and breathing quietly trying desperately to control my desire to weep...as loudly or sniffle as others close by were doing...kleenex was making an entrance.

Suffice to say...if you EVER get a chance to see this play...
RUN don't WALK...as this run here at our small theatre was SOLD OUT for every performance.

I now know why...

So here I sit, rocked to my core...
(goodness only knows what my delicate mother is doing right now)
she felt very distressed and confused at intermission
and started relating how she had been sheltered from the horrific events of WWll and only later did she realize...
she looked shell shocked as she uttered these words

as I dropped her off she intimated to me that she was going to have a large glass of wine as soon as she got in the door...

I've come home early from a party
preoccupied with thoughts and images
that I cannot get out of my mind...

It might be a night of tossing and turning...
I am having a Gin and Tonic...
I know it's late
and I have a brunch tomorrow.

the dishwasher is humming though it's cycles
Pepper is playing in a basket on the floor that transported my curry dish to the potluck
Mr. HB is reading the 3rd Steig Larsen book in the Bungalow Living room
it looks like a "normal" night...
hah!

I am sitting alone in near darkness,
I can hear my heart beating
and it feels like it's beating in my ears
here I sit at my computer
looking for some solace
and find none
I struggle as I am trying to type something that conveys even a little bit of how I feel
the words are not coming easy to me...
they sound pappy and mushy and juvenile
some sound like I am pontificating
others show how sheltered my life has been.

I want to say something profound
something that might be significant enough to open some eyes to what is happening to so many
and I fear that I cannot...
these words ellude me
so I'll stop now and reflect...

I am so troubled by man's inhumanity against man...
one positive has come out of this tragic event a law has been enacted

and now go here

I think...what can I, as one single human being, do to make the world a better place...
I forsee many sleepless nights ahead.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Simple deconstructed dressing...

Salads are one of my favourite ways of getting nutritious and healthy greens into my diet.


A salad can be made with a very few simple ingredients that you have on hand or be chock full of assorted tasty treats.



I think homemade dressings are the best because they are the freshest alternative and contain no preservatives. They are cheaper and can be mixed in a jiffy using a jar...no need for fancy gizmos here, just keep it simple.


You'll need a jar, some good quality oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for a basic dressing.
I like to add garlic, and dijon mustard...
you can add whatever herbs or flavours that appeal to you.

A friend of mine likes to add a couple of spoonfuls of whatever jam she has on hand.



Jamie Oliver...superior cook and visionary who has trained youth at risk by teaching them cooking skills and employing them in his restaurants. He also was the instigator responsible for redesigning the meals served in the UK schools with a new focus on healthy food choices. He trained hundreds of school dinner ladies by introducing them to a variety of healthy vegetables and lower fat alternatives to chips and chicken.

He has a new show on that follows him as he cooks his way across the USA. I watched the Los Angeles episode recently and was very impressed. He has a strong sense of humanity and empathy and feels that cooking can break through ethnic, political, and racial barriers.

It was a very powerful show...thank you Jamie!

I'm thinking that most of us believe that all families should be able to sit down and enjoy eating a meal together in peace...don't you agree?

Now, let's move on as I have slightly gone off on a tangent!

Here's what Jamie Oliver has to say about salad dressing...



Simple Salad

Hostess Style...


Washed romaine lettuce spun dry in a spinner or gently pressed between a clean tea towel.
Tear into bite size pieces...one does not need a knife when eating this type of salad.
Cheese wafers homemade or store bought
I love this brand, made in small batches...a bit dear, but extremely tasty.
(these can be crumbled or left whole to pick up and nosh like a cracker)

dress with homemade vinaigrette...

1 large clove of garlic minced
1tsp. dijon mustard
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil

make and shake just before serving
toss 
 enjoy!



If you feel that you need some help in the imagination department
here is a great book of salads where the guesswork has been done for you.

I received this wonderful book from my BFF 
she is a fabulous cook...and a dear dear friend.

So now... 
your job is to action some salad and dress it as you see fit!

My social calendar is chock full this weekend
hope you have a lovely one.
Cheers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Friend and artist...Cheryl Fortier

Cheryl Fortier is a BC artist and a personal friend
she spends time in her Vancouver BC studio
and in Auvilar, France as a host for the VCCA

She lives aboard a classic Chris Craft in False Creek
she has a lovely husband, dear friend to mine...
a skilled I.T. guy, photographer, navigator, scotch drinker and wine connoisseur...

Seen here about to partake in fresh Dungeness Crab Cakes...
caught by Mr. HB one of the the best crab hunters and catchers I have known.

The Humble Bungalow Hostess's specialty at anchor...
crab cakes served with my BFF 's amazing ginger dip.


Cheryl is at home on the sea


prawns anyone?


Mr. HB and I have enjoyed many a cruise together with Cheryl and her hubby
theirs is the large Chris Craft 
originally powered by 3 motors
we are the smaller vessel
powered by two
sharing an anchorage 
tied together
going nowhere
and somewhere
sharing time
bobbing
and ebbing
on the tides

Cruising is all about the journey
and we are steering a course
of friendship


                                          We are fortunate to have a few pieces of her work....


Cabbage Island, BC 


I commissioned her paint the Humble Bungalow
 a gift to my husband a few years back for Christmas
she has captured it brilliantly.


                                                         She has been very generous...


 watercolour of a totem 
 Queen Charlotte Islands, BC
which has a place of honour in our dining room

and 
fresh from France
circa 2011


Poppies painted on antique French linen
framed floating in glass
with the Humble Bungalow green paint in the bathroom as a backdrop!


I fell in love...
"still life with apples"
and
wave pattern china
(which we both have and use on our vintage Chris Crafts)

I purchased this on a surprise visit to her studio during the Vancouver Eastside Cultural Crawl.


here she is cooking in the Humble Bungalow
French cuisine
naturally

she's so beautiful...


looking very chic
on a cold winter walk

her smile is bright and genuine
she has a passion for colour 
evidenced in her art
clothing and accessories

she embraces life with zest 
I find that trait enviable and admirable
balanced and strengthened with the practice of Yoga
she embodies grace
and
her spirit is light
 she's started a new blog 
please go visit and say hi 
it's her birthday...

say that I sent you!

Happy Birthday Cheryl
Hugs from the Hostess!

Thrifty thoughts and looking down the road...

I have been thinking of thrift, savings and retirement after reading Living The Savvy Life.
Curious about what others do to stretch their after tax dollars... if rational and conscious thought regularly factor into the equation....living paycheck to paycheck seems to be very common.



Retirement is nudging closer  (I will be 56 in March) and thoughts of modifications to the "budget" do worm their way into my reality, rather more frequently. I do not focus on money, I am not "obssessed" with it, it has a purpose but beyond that I don't dwell on it....maybe I should...at this stage of my life I might need to be more proactive in my financial house.

I am not a big spender, maybe because I am not a big earner.
Working part time, by choice, I have taken a cut in pay but the trade offs are much to my liking...
less stress and time to do what needs to be done and what needs to be enjoyed.

Money must be managed or it manages you.

Spending without thought = trouble.
Debt can mount up quickly if one is not mindful...
a healthy balance is the goal...

I have an obvious weakness for luxuries...
and splurge now and again.


Bubbly beverages, Hermes scarves, clothing, shoes and bags....


I also like to get away where sightseeing, dining out, and shopping, all play a major role.


There was a recent report released in the news about how ill prepared Canadians are when it comes to planning for their retirement...and as unbelievable as it sounds most people polled said "winning the lottery was their retirement plan."


I am not sure how well prepared we are for the future but I do not think that the lottery will be our plan, it would be nice but that's just absurd!

I can and do economize in certain areas...
we had a bad patch back in the 80's when there was a slump in the economy. We managed to pay all our bills and a large mortgage payment and we did without frills so that our children could still enjoy lessons and that "most things" remained unchanged...we made our own fun.
The children still remember drinking skim milk and eating the bumper crop of zucchini and rhubarb that year!


Our lifestyle will be affected as our pensions will be smaller than our current salaries
and the RRSP investments will need to be carefully guarded.
Medical and dental plan premiums will increase....other things will disappear...professional dues, parking fees and work clothes, for a start.


I will re-evaluate my personal expenses and think that things I "take for granted" now will have to be prioritized on a scale of what is most important.

Things such as my hair regime, which involves a trim every other month and highlights which I cannot do myself....this is #1 now and I cannot forsee this changing.

Seasons tickets to the two local live theatre productions might need to be replaced with "seniors seats" for matinees which are less expensive and by then we will have met the age requirement!

Our boat and boathouse are expensive and I cannot envision boating in my late 60's or beyond!




Thoughts of choppy seas and me slipping and falling onboard and possibly breaking my bones does not sound very attractive. Sea legs, agility, quick thinking and balance are vital for safe cruising.


More than likely we'll sell one of our two vehicles as this would amount to a very large saving considering there is maintenance, insurance and gas. We are close enough to walk to the city or hop on a bus... besides which, that's the greener option.

I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, so dining at home is what I am used to and would not expect this to change.
Hostessing and entertaining casually for friends could definitely increase when I do not need to get up early for work.

I may host a weekly bridge group. I played for many years until one of our key players passed away from cancer. It's a wonderful game that requires concentration, counting and strategy. It can be very social depending on the skill and seriousness of the players.


My wardrobe is smallish and colour co-ordinated for maximum versatility and wearability....
so I do not forsee a drastic change here either.


If you are nearing retirement what thoughts or considerations are you wrestling with?
Have you planned for every eventuality?

What does retirement look like for you?
Are you planning to travel, move to a new place or stay put?

Are you confident with your plan and feel that you will have enough to live on and still have some money left for luxe treats?



 I hope we have planned adequately for the future...
and if not, 
there are plenty of lottery tickets...
 available every week.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strategies to rise above the bleak and dreary..

January feels like a long month to me...


It is dreary and damp 


I think it has a lot to do with our weather here in the Pacific Northwest...
I am passionate about the contrast of black and white,
whilst the muddy grey of the skies borders on tedious.



We get a huge amount of precipitation and when it's not raining, the clouds and fog hang around.
It feels cold because of all the moisture...makes one feel like cocooning in a shell...or given the opportunity Hibernating!



There are many people who go south to escape...to warmer climates.





This is not an option for me at this time so I have developed some strategies for coping.


I like to see the light when dark is all around..
I seek out bright with every facet of my being...
I turn on lights,
I light a fire to create a spark within to chase away the dim.


I yearn for and seek out colour
in my wardrobe
and more.


I dress in layers and wear cozy cashmere to keep the chill at bay.
Cashmere feels like a soft caress, a wooly hug that snuggles and blankets the skin.



A long scarf works well here as I like to wrap it twice to keep my neck warm...
my neck and feet are the most vulnerable to the damp and feel chilled if they are exposed.

Cashmere socks are wonderful
and I wear them all winter
and often on a very cold night I'll keep them on when I go to bed!


I indulge in baths filled with scented salts and warm water
I close my eyes and breath deeply.


I exfoliate my skin
I love the fresh feeling of softness
and then slather on a rich moisturizer
or I dab on an oil or serum for a "spa effect"


I leisurely peruse magazines while sipping a blended tea...
loose tea leaves add that little extra punch of flavour...
and a little goes a long way.


I like to window shop the sales
and look at new stock for spring and summer.

Taking in an art exhibit or a gallery showing.

Listening to music while actioning domestics 
dressed in my Yoga gear 
for ease of movement and comfort.



Sadly the Bungalow garden is rather dormant at this time of year
so the roses are asleep...their bushes bear rose hips.

I purchase flowers and bring some sunny cheer indoors...



Primulas are plentiful and very inexpensive
and can be planted outside in the garden after they have finished blooming.


I dig deep in the recipe box for comfort food recipes
 a delicious way of nourishing ones self and ones soul.


The joy of preparing a simple meal and the anticipation of the taste
sustain and nurture my core.


Dinner of roasted veggies and a free range organic chicken with gravy
smells good while cooking and tastes even better from the plate!


Trying new recipes from cookbooks borrowed from friends or the library...
online sources are plentiful too.


I like to start the day with a warm breakfast 
something with "staying power"
I top mine with a small amount of Canadian maple syrup.


Pay attention and add some colour to the everyday routines
a pretty cup and saucer for taking tea
makes it taste better 
eye candy
goes a long long way.


I like to reread this book as I garner strength and wisdom through another woman's journey
her desperation and the solace she seeks
eloquently described using simple props from nature.

Anne Morrow Lindberg's A Gift From the Sea 

if you haven't read it 
please do...


Maintain and engage in friendships
a telephone call, 
a walk 
 sharing a coffee
going to the cinema
shopping
connecting with others is paramount for ones health
 friends enrich and elevate my days
and I am grateful for them.


Plan to bring some joy into your day
and get to know what makes you happy

Embrace, radiate and shine 
spread light
so others can see.

If you are feeling blue, get outdoors for a walk
or volunteer your services at a local agency in your community
there are so many people in need.

What strategies do you employ to brighten and illuminate your days?