Bits and Pieces

Chewing the Fat

When They Were Young




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October 2007

going to bed

Sorry, so tired.  This will short.  Got a call yesterday morning had to fly to LA.  A dear friend in the hospital.  Arrived at 6pm.  Stayed the night in ICU, no room for cots.  Got a couple blankets, made a makeshift pallet on the floor next to his bed.  Didn’t sleep much though, 2 1/2 hours tops.  The woman in the bed next to him died in the night.  A lot of alarm bells and then nothing.  They spent forever disinfecting the bed and space that she was in.  Don’t want to even contemplate what she died of, all alone.  The doctor made me leave finally tonight.  Didn’t want to go.  Going to sleep now.  Probably won’t write for a couple days.  Just didn’t want anyone to wonder, worry.  xo

Home again…ahhh!

I slept so well last night, in my own bed, my husband beside me.  7 1/2 hours, straight through has become an unexpected luxury.  I find at forty-seven, sleep has become a little finicky. 

Anyway, it was a peaceful day.  Catching up on my emails, opening the mammoth stack of mail that has accumulated over the last two weeks.  And whoohoo!  I had ordered some chocolates from my all time favorite store for champagne truffles.  Now normally I only indulge in these for real special occasions, like Christmas or my birthday as they are rather costly.  But as any author will tell you, when you’re having to do a lot of public appearances, one gets the need for some sort of comfort.  Hence the need for Charbonnel et Walker “Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles.”  To be honest, I was planning on ordering one wee little box of them…but when I got to their website (which…ahem…I have bookmarked as favorites) my fingers ran away with me. 

You see, what happened was, first I thought, perhaps I’d better get a large box (275 g) of them rather than the small.  Just in case Don needed the comfort as well.  And then I scrolled down a bit and saw their regular “Milk Marc Champagne Truffles” that are quite good and thought, ‘They aren’t as good as the Pink Marc ones…but they’re damned good…I’d better get a box of them as too.’  And so I did. 

Then I noticed that they had TWO NEW KINDS!  “Bucks Fizz Truffles, Lightly dusted milk chocolate truffles with a Marc de Champagne and an orange centre”  Well…what if they were really good.  They sounded kind of weird, but I had been reluctant to try the Pink Marc ones and now look at me.  Making up all kinds of occasions so I’d have an excuse to splurge. 

I figured to be on the safe side, I’d better buy a box of “Bucks Fizz Truffles” as well.  I was just about to hit check-out when “Chocolate Truffles Port & Cranberry” popped out at me.  Chocolate filled truffle ganache (not actually sure what ganache is, but I bet it’s tasty) made with port and cranberry.  Now I really didn’t know about these ones, but Don likes chocolate with little bits of dried things in them, so I clicked on a box of them as well.  My thinking was he would eat these and leave all the “Pink Marcs” for me!

Anyway…MY TRUFFLES ARRIVED!  They had come while I was in Toronto, and were waiting in a brown box on my desk, screaming “Eat me!”  And I am nothing if not an obliging sort.  It is lucky I am wearing stretchy drawstring pants!  I have to admit though, I haven’t been very democratic.  I’ve made a rather good sized dent in the Pink Marc’s and the Bucks Fizz (which are quite tasty) but I haven’t opened the other two. 

So I’ve had quite a wonderful day.  Writing, sipping tea, and nibbling on terribly expensive but I try not to dwell on it, chocolate truffles. 

Then to top it all off, for dinner I made a huge feast of comfort food.  Oven fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, and fresh sweet corn that I cut off the cob, parboiled, and added a blob of butter, salt and pepper.  And for dessert…my favorite cake of all.  Sponge cake!  I could eat that cake until the cows come home.  As a matter of fact, I think I’ll post that recipe sometime later this week.  Bye for now!  Love, Meg

p.s. I just read this over and thought it rather sounded like an advertisement, so I hasten to add that my greedy taste buds, expanding waistline and thinner wallet is the only connection I have to their company.


Toronto done.  Yesterday, so full, busy.  Started at 4:30 am PST.  My first library visit was at the Parkdale branch.  I arrived 40 minutes early.  (Of course!  After skidding in 7 minutes late the night before, I shall be embarrassingly early for the next little while.  Paranoia in full bloom)  I introduced myself so they’d know I was here and then found myself a comfy chair, tucked into a corner and tried to wake up.  Pamela (Tundra publicist) arrived and it was really nice to see her.  It’s funny how that happens.  When I first met her, I was surprised as we’d only interacted over the email and I’d had a very different image in my head.  You are thrown together, a cautious sort of formal/informal business kind of thing.  Polite questions, eyes not quite catching.  But at Parkdale, after sharing the evening before, it feels like there is something more, a possible friendship starting, a warmth, a letting in.  I can’t remember what was said, but I remember the laugh, the happy feeling in my belly.  The children arrived and watching them file in, I knew it was going to be special. 

I read several pieces, they wanted me to read more.  I did.  When I was finished I started the usual, “Any questions?”  A boy’s hand shot into the air.  “Yes,” I asked.
“Could you read that again!”
I couldn’t have felt more loved. 
We talked and laughed and talked some more.  These kids, I just wanted to gobble them up.  Their enthusiasm and delight.  When we were done and the children were crowding around, hugs from kids you’d never expect one from.  One boy, “Are you going to write more books?”
“Good!” His face, excited, determined, something he needs to get out.  “Will you put me in the next one?  Joey.  My name’s Joey.  Please write about me.”  And I’m oddly moved by this request.  By the expression on his face.  I can’t promise, but I store it in my mind files because maybe I can.  I LOVED those kids.

Lunch with Kathy, Pamela, Cary and Rebbecca.  We go to a restaurant that my daughter had discovered when she’s lived here.  I recognized it as we walked up and was happy.  It was like I was there with these people, but memories of Emily were at the table as well.  I had Hungarian Goulash and ordered a raspberry soda.  Another little Emily hello, because she’d ordered one when we had come and I had taken a sip.  It was a happy thing, this restaurant, the raspberry soda, the past and the present mingling. 

The subject of brain scans came up.  A close friend of someone had just gotten one with a bad result.  Brain tumor.  And I thought about this last month, my own health scare, going for my first colour contrast cat-scan.  Trying to keep the worst case scenario at bay.  The relief when the doctor told me, it came back clear.  And now, sitting in the restaurant, hearing of someone else, imagining them going through what I did, with different words coming out of the doctors mouth.  I felt for her.

Time for the next reading.  Cary navigated the subway system, I followed, relieved not to have to be vigilant and in charge.

A huge library.  A ton of kids.  A little bit older.  These teachers, not so interested, chatting among themselves.  So unlike all the other teachers I’ve met in the last few weeks.  It was a real mix.  The conversation turned unexpectedly serious.  Not like my other talks at all.  But it was a good thing.  And I think some of those kids will be thinking about some of the things I said for a long time.  Hopefully some of them will make different choices, different lives will spiral out in front of them, good lives, not lost ones.  I hope. 

Back on the subway.  Tea with Rebbecca and Cary in Rebbecca’s garden.  Peaceful.  Silences and conversation. 


To Type bookstore for the evening reading.  A beautiful bookstore.  A warm welcome.  Faces I remember from reading Gemma around this time last year.  Thank you to everyone involved.  It was a wonderful ending to my Toronto time. 

No wait.  The wonderful ending was the email that was waiting for me when I got home.  It was from Emily.  Now is that a perfect day or what?

A series of mishaps

It had been a very busy day, a reading this afternoon, swung by Tundra (the publishing house) a zillion conversations.  A quick dash back home (B&B “Your home away from home” Rog likes to say)  A scramble to answer my emails, problems with the movie rights contract.  Stalemate.  Do we blow it off.  Move on.  Google map the location of the evening reading.  19 minutes away it says.  I’m anal about being on time so I give myself 45 minutes to be safe.  Dash back downstairs, lucked out and got a cab.  Hopped in, gave him the address…. and then…every traffic snafu there was on the streets of Toronto, we found and embedded ourselves in. 
“How much longer?” I ask the cabbie, because 19 minutes have passed and we aren’t moving much.
“Oh, ten to twelve more minutes,” he says. 

I call the library.  Let them know not to worry, that although I won’t be there with the twenty minutes to spare that I usually do for readings, I will definitely be there before 7. 
Cut to.  10 minutes to 7.  The cabbie is now sweating as profusely as me.  He is darting down side streets, back tracking in what seems to be the opposite directions.  “I’ve never seen it like this!” he tells me. 
“Don’t worry,” I say, but I’m worrying too.  I hate, hate, hate being late. 
“What’s the cross street?” he asks.  I call the library again, they tell me.  They are calm, they aren’t worried, they are kind.  I apologize.  No problem. 
FINALLY we get to the library.  The cabbie (so sweet) turns around in his seat, eyes worried.  “I will take less money,” he says.  “You pay me less money, okay?  Don’t pay me what the meter says.  It’s okay?” 
“No way,” I say, throwing a fistful of money over the back of the seat.  “It wasn’t your fault.  You did a valiant effort!”  Funny how life is, he feels bad I’m late, I feel bad that he feels bad.  He tries to make me give him less money, I insist of not only paying him what’s on the meter but including an enormous tip as well.  (He has three kids for crying out loud.)

I sprint in through the door, realizing as I run past a surprised library goer that I accidentally ran in through the out door. 
“I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!” I say.  Apologizing to anyone with a face.  And then I notice the t.v. camera, and photographers with those huge camera lenses from my old days.  Oh crap!  Not only am I seven minutes late (You have to understand…This NEVER happens!)  But I have a t.v. crew and photographers there to memorialize this momentous occasion.  I can think of a few people in my life who would pay good money to get their hands on a copy of this footage.  Meg late?

So here I am, I was already tired.  Now I’m tired and agitated, because there are unexpected cameras in my face, and I have that hunted feeling that I used to get, that remove that people aiming cameras at you can make you feel. 

“The reading is taking place in there.”  Someone points, I run over to the door, the cameras doing that thing they do, running backwards and with you, big black boxes in your face.  I turn the corner, into the room… And the room is practically empty.  Okay, well it wasn’t empty.  There were rows and rows of orange plastic chairs lined up nicely and seriously, maybe 7 people, in their overcoats clutching their bags.  Other than that time in the blizzard, this small a crowd has never, ever happened.  “Nobodies here,” I hear my voice say.  I’m really surprised, not only because there really is almost nobody there, but even more by the fact that I thought I just thought it… but I didn’t.  I said it out loud. 

And here’s the gift.  This lovely gentleman with white hair and a tanned weathered, angelic sort of face, turned in his chair and said with a half smile, “The important people are.”  And there was something about it.  What he said, the way he said it, that made so much sense, and I thought to myself, damn straight and I took off my coat and my scarf and stood at the podium with this tiny handful of people, and I thought I’m going to do the very best reading I possibly can.’  And I did.  It was like magic happened, and we had so much fun, and we laughed and talked.  I was telling them about my ballet days, and guess I gestured a little too wildly, and the Styrofoam glass of sparkling mineral water, (Yes they actually had refreshments set out, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, mineral water with lemon ) went careening wildly in the air.  I squawked like a chicken, levitated around a foot, as the cup tumbled down and doused all of my books.  (Yes, me and Audrey Hepburn with our queenly elegance and dignity.)  And then to make matters worse (or better, depending on who you ask)  I was keeping a firm grip on that cup and the tablespoon of water left in it, but then I got excited about something else that someone had asked and I forgot I was holding the cup, so when I waved my arm in the air, that last bit of liquid went flying up in the air, nearly landing on my head!  Oh my, what a glamorous impression I made indeed. 

Anyway, I had a wonderful time!  I’m still excited by it.  Hence the blog at 11:37 at night.  I love when what would be considered an embarrassing disaster turns out to be one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in ages.  Much love to all you “important ones” who showed up.  We should make it a tradition.  Do it again next year!


Here I am in Toronto again.  Seems odd to be here and not see Emily.  Funny how much I associate this place with her.  Flying down to see her, walking her dog Bella, eating, shopping.  Her forcing all and sundry to attend my book readings for Gemma.  Helping me pull together an outfit.  I remember once a friend called up all excited and said that “Wasn’t it great!  Even the University students were talking about Gemma!  That’s how you knew a book had caught on.”  He forwarded me the link and I saw that it was a University of Toronto student, and then I looked closer and I don’t remember what the give-away was, but it was clear that the person who did the posting was my daughter.  And I have to say, I was excited by an anonymous student supporter, but as a mother, to find out your daughter has been doing her own guerrilla publicity machine, for your book.  Well, all you mothers out there can imagine how big that would make your heart feel. 

So here I am in Toronto, missing Emily.  Even more than usual.  The streets seem to be incomplete somehow.  It’s like they know she’s not here anymore and have lost some of their zip and energy.  Holding their breath for her return.  I wonder if she will?  Where will my children finally settle?  And with whom?  (Cary, by the way, gave me two of his children’s books!  I read them, and now I have them tucked away.  No pressure for my kids, because I didn’t buy them for my someday-possible-grandchildren.  I was given them.  And I love Cary’s writing so I didn’t want to donate them to the library, hence my someday stash. )

I get to see Rog & Jim (of the rotted fruit muffins) though.  I’m staying with them.  So cozy.  They met me on the street, big bear hugs, then ushered me into the lobby, the elevator and down the hall to their new condo.  Beautiful, elegant with homey touches.  Out came the fabulous cheese tray, dripping with cheese, crackers, fresh fruit, olives, and a tray of sushi to boot.  They tried to ply me with their deadly lemon drop martinis which once in a great while I will throw caution to the wind and sip on one, discreetly working my way around the martini glass until I have nibbled all of the delicious rock sugar coating off.  I tell myself no one knows what I’m doing, but they probably do.  It’s my favorite part.  The bitter of the alcohol, the sour of the lemon tempered by the sweet of the chunky sugar bits.  But tonight I said no.  First off, I’m pretty tired and would just have to smell a lemon drop martini to be flat on my back.  And second, I had an interview for Toronto paper and reeling in clutching a sugarless martini glass would definitely not be the thing to do. 

When you have to do an interview, you never know who your going to be sitting opposite.  No worries though.  The minute I saw Judy, I felt good inside.  First of all, I liked the way she dressed.  A very superficial thing for me to say, especially since I’m Miss-throw-whatever-together.  But the thing is, I might not be good at it, but I can still admire the talent in someone else.  Besides, it wasn’t that kind of high-fashion-don’t-talk-to-me type of dress.  It was more warm and cozy.  Sort of like the feeling of Autumn leaves and fireplaces and a good book by the fire kind of thing.  That’s how she looked.  And beautiful eyes.  I found that I had to keep reminding myself that it was an interview, not a chat between two friends.  That’s how it felt though.

Tomorrow I have two library readings.  The evening one?  I don’t know if anybody is going to show up or not, but for the afternoon?  Big smile.  It’s one of the ones where they are bringing children from schools in.  I have bookmarks for the ones who don’t have books.  That way whoever wants will have something to bring home.  Hmm.  I just thought, why did I do bookmarks?  I should have CANDY!  That’s what I would have liked when I was a kid.  I remember as a kid, sitting on hot pavement, suffering through hours of badly thrown batons and kids riding decorated bikes just on the off chance that I would catch the eye of one of the clowns in the parade and he’d toss me a piece of sticky candy.  But I guess giving out a piece of candy is not very bookish thing to do.  And kids aren’t supposed to accept candy from a stranger, and I am a stranger.  So I guess I better not.

On Thursday I did a reading at the Strawberry Hill Chapters in Surrey along with a few other authors from the conference.  (Jack Wyte was very gracious and inclusive.  Such a charming man)  And one of the staff pointed out that Porcupine was on the (oh dear…I can’t remember the name) but it’s this table that where they have the recommendations from the kids that Chapters/Indigo have reading and recommending books.  I was quite surprised and happy to see it there, but to tell the truth, I thought it was just a staff member who ran and placed it there because they knew I was going to be in the store and were being kind.  BUT…I just talked to Don (a.k.a. wonderful, loving husband) and he was driving by Chapters on Robson street and thought, ‘I’m just going to check’ (See he had come with me to the other reading and heard my explanation as to why Porcupine was on the fancy table)  So he braved the rain and dashed into Chapters…and lo and behold…Porcupine was on their fancy table as well!  Very exciting!  So maybe it’s on that special table in the other Chapters stores as well!  Maybe lots of them!  Eeee!

drawing to a close

Today is the last day of the SIWC.  I have one more panel to be on, and then I go home to my boys.  I am so ready.  I’m used to having enormous chunks of solitude, alone time, and am feeling a little emptied out from so much interaction.  A woman I met in Calgary, while I was still fully me, told me about a Jewish term that she felt applied.  “Wide,” she’d said.  And I knew what she meant.  I do feel, in most of my life, full, wide, grateful of all the blessings, am able to sit and hear what my heart and belly tell me are true.  But I don’t feel wide now.  It like everything is tucked up inside me as far as it can go.  It’s not a sadness or anything, it’s just a been-public-for-too-many-days and I need to go home sort of feeling.  I long for my normal day-to-day. 

Tomorrow I go to Toronto.  I’m tired, but the thing about Toronto is I am going to be reading in the libraries and I am really quite excited about that.  When I was a girl, every weekend, we’d take the ferry over to the main land to get our groceries, then we’d swing by Buckerfield to get the chicken feed, and the grain for the cow, and finally when all the chores were done…we’d go to the library!  We would always check out the maximum books allowed and when we’d go home, we’d read all our chosen books and then swap and read all our brothers and sisters books as well.  And the books that we read.  The places we travel.  The things that we experienced through the books that we borrowed, really helped shape me and my vision of the world.  So, although there is a part of me, that longs for home, there is another part, the little girl inside that is dancing around, because these next few events I will be talking and reaching and sharing myself, my stories, my writing with children who are bused in.  Children who, like me, use the libraries to grow and stretch and understand the world beyond the walls of their own lives and homes and that is a wonderful thing. 

Ahh… writing about it just now, has lifted my heart already.


Well, I wasn’t stunned and amazed.  The portion of Surrey I’ve seen looks pretty much how I imagined.  A little bit more upscale I imagine from the Surrey of old.  With a ton of condos and new looking malls.  I was stunned and amazed however at yesterday mornings announcement that the city of Surrey was (okay, I’m going to mash this up a little, I’m not quite sure of the phrasing, ) voted the arts capital of Canada (or something like that, I wish I’d been paying more attention)  What I do remember was the person saying that Surrey was awarded $2,000,000 dollars!  That is sort of a hard figure to forget.  So looks can be deceiving!  And when you think about it.  The Surrey International Writers Conference, with over 800 attendees, was started 15 years ago by one person (name and gender is not coming up) in one room and now it’s this huge thing with over 70 workshops and blue pencil cafes (I’m doing that.  Sort of odd holding people’s precious scrap of writing in my hand and I’m supposed to tell them how to fix it.  Humbling actually.  And I sit there praying that I don’t steer them wrong.  Tell them to take everything I say with a fistful of salt as I am no expert) 
Anyway, it’s crazy busy, I’ve got up at 3am to try to get some pages in.  Made myself a makeshift desk in the bathroom with the ironing board as my desk and the loo as my chair.  Felt pretty resourceful coming up with that, finding it all in the dark, my husband sleeping peacefully in bed.

Yikes!  They stop serving breakfast in 10 minutes.  Have to get dressed and skaddooodle.  Bye.

Whoa Nellie!

I just clicked on metals…November gold is up $7.60 today!  Spot price for November gold is $766.30.  Now I know what gold prices do during the day doesn’t mean anything, what matters is how it closes, because there are a lot of speculators out there.  But…my goodness, gold has been on a tear lately.  I’m really surprised that you don’t hear more about it, read more about it.  That the general population is unaware of the metoric rise in the price of an ounce of gold of the last few years.  Inflation anyone? 

Not to mention that yesterday or the day before (when you get to my age the days start blurring together, sort of like ones eyesight) oil hit $88 a barrel!  Lets just pray for the people who live on the East Coast that it’s a mild winter.  For those of you in the States, if you think you are going to have difficulties managing to heat your house this winter, I was reading about this program called “The Low Income Home Energy Program.”  LIHEAP that help lower income families pay their heating bills.  Look it up.  Maybe you qualify.  Check into it.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.

According to this report I read
-Heating oil fuel expenses will be up 28% from last year
-Propane costs are to be up 30%
-Electricity is expected to be up 7%
-Natural gas up 5%

Plan ahead.  It sucks being cold in those freezing winter months.  I should know.

Yikes!  Be right back.

Well, that was close.  I almost forgot the butter drop cookies I had baking in the oven.  Got to them in the nick of time!  Nice and golden brown soft and spongy with crisp crunchy edges.  Yum!  I made them for Will to have when he gets home from school…but I think I’d better go taste a few…just to make sure…

Bye for now.  Next time I blog, I’ll be slooshing around in the rain enjoying the beautiful metropolis of Surrey. (Actually, as far as I know, Surrey is not considered one of Canada’s more beautiful cities.  Just don’t want to mislead anyone into taking their honeymoon here.  I’m not dissing Surrey, I’m sure it’s quite nice and the people who have chosen to live there like it well enough.  It’s just when one says Surrey, I guess it’s the way it rolls out of the tongue, well it just doesn’t conjour up the most picturesque images.)  I am hoping to go there and to be suprised and amazed.


Hi Everybody. 
Sorry I missed yesterday.  There might be another one or two of these missed days over the next two weeks.  I’m writing like mad on the screenplay for Rosie because of the possible looming Writers Guild of America strike.  The literature we’re getting from the guild and reports from other writers we know make it seem like it is positively going to happen.  But I talked to my lawyer yesterday, and he said it would be crazy to strike, and that he’s talked to a lot of writers and it is very doubtful the strike will happen until the actors contract is up.  I think he called it financial suicide, or something like that.
“Oh great,” I said, feeling very much relieved.  Because he should know.  He’s based in LA.  His whole business is negotiating contracts. “So I’m worrying for nothing,” I said happily.  “I can slow down on this mad dash to get the script finished before the Writer’s Guild goes to a vote at the end of the month.” 
“No,” he replied, without even the decency of a moments hesitation.  “You need to finish it.” Or something to that ilk.
“Oh…” I said, crestfallen.  “Darn.”  Because it has been a crazy busy month, with WordFest, the Surrey’s Writer Conference, a bunch of readings in Toronto next week.  The good thing is, Halloween is rolling around and I have lots of miniature Halloween candy bars and so forth to keep me company.  (I don’t know why, but I’ve fooled myself into thinking that those little tiny packets of happiness are too small to contain any calories!)
So that’s where I’ve been.  Holed up in my writing room, fingers flying, drinking jasmine tea like it’s going out of style.
Not sure how I’m going to manage getting my allotted script pages written at the Surrey International Writers Conference.  We’ll see.

I’m trying to get my sister Becky to do a guest blog!  I think it would be fun.  Hey, Becky if you don’t want to do a chatty blog, you could post a poem.  That would be good.  (Psst…I don’t know if I’m going to be successful in convincing her to do it.  But I’m nothing if not persistent!  Hee..hee!)  Love you Becky.

An Open Letter to Woodstown Farms

I am writing this blog with the hopes that someone reads this who either works at Woodstown Farms or knows somebody who does.  I tried finding them on the Internet.  I did find a Woodstown Farms somewhere in mid-west America.  I called them, but they were a different Woodstown Farms (handled grains and fodder)  The Woodstown Farms I want to get a hold of are the Woodstown Farms that make the delicious “Thick Sliced Seasoned Side of Pork Smoked.”  They are a product of U.S.A. and sell this truly sinful bacon at the over-priced, albeit fabulous Whole Foods, for all the organic product they carry. 

This bacon is truly my favorite bacon in the world.  Not only that there are no nitrates added.  The ingredients are just: pork, sea salt, raw sugar and white pepper.  And a couple of slices of this bacon are a meal in itself.

HOWEVER, there is a matter of great concern with regards to this product!  On the package they have:

To pan fry, place in cold frying pan.  cook over medium heat.  Turn frequently.
Approximate cooking times:
1 slice - 45-60 seconds
2 slices - 1-1.5 seconds

This has worried me greatly!  It is fine for someone like me to pick up this package of bacon.  I’ve been cooking all my life and KNOW bacon needs to cook longer than that.  But for the novice cooker.  Someone just married, or a child attempting to surprise a parent with a breakfast in bed…DISASTER!  They might not know that the Woodstown people meant if you are microwaving it. (Not that I would ever, ever use a microwave.  I just don’t trust them.)  But they don’t mention the word “microwave” anywhere on the package.  Just tells you to place in a cold frying pan!  When I read that I envisioned droves of people being raced to the hospital with gastronomical ailments. 

So WOODSTOWN FARMS you have wonderful bacon.  PLEASE change the cooking instructions on the package so I can get a peaceful nights sleep!  Thank you.  (I’m saying thank you like it’s already been done, that way the Universe will know I’m expecting it.)

my yummy corn bread

I lost 5 pounds while I was away.  It’s funny, when I’m away from my family, eating is harder somehow.  Not so much fun.  Anyway, the minute I arrived home I was suddenly ravenous and have been indulging my belly ever since.  And tonight, rather than make a bit of pasta to serve the pot roast over, I had a craving for my yummy corn bread.  THIS IS NOT A RECIPE FOR DIETERS!  If you are trying to lose weight, don’t walk, RUN away from this recipe! 

For those of you who are not on a diet, feel free to continue reading.

I am posting this recipe because my husband said, “What did you do?  This is my favorite corn bread you’ve ever made!” 
“Um…I’m not really sure,” I said.  “I better go write it down on my blog so I don’t forget.”  See that’s what happens to me.  I play with recipes, find a mix of things that everyone loves and then, the next time I go to make it, I have no idea what I did.  Either that, or I forget the recipe entirely and it never graces our table again.  So this posting is as much for me as for you!

my yummy corn bread

ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, bacon, ham, onion, Parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, fresh rosemary, 9x13 glass baking pan.
-pre-heat oven (if you have convection, use that for this recipe.  If not, no worries, plain bake will do) to 425 degrees
-fry 5-6 slices of thick bacon in a pan over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides.
-Remove from frying pan and dice.
-pour bacon grease into a mug for later.
-dice 1/3 an onion and fry in the bacon pan on low.
-strip the rosemary off a sprig, mince and add to onion in pan.  (It should be around a tablespoon, don’t bother measuring, just eyeball it.)
-grate sharp cheddar cheese, so that when you cup both your hands together both hands are full and it heaps into a gently sloping hill in your hands.
-grate Parmesan cheese, until it fills both your hands cupped together but is flat like a plain instead of rounding.
-remove onion and rosemary from pan and set aside to cool.
- dice 4-5 slices of ham.
-pour some of the bacon grease into the baking pan.  Make sure you grease the bottom and sides well.  Pour excess grease back into the mug.
-put the greased pan into the oven.

mix together in a bowl
- 1 cup of flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
-1 tablespoon of white sugar
-1 teaspoon of salt
-3/4 cup of cornmeal (Make sure you use cornmeal and not cornflour!  Big difference in the texture.)
-mix the above ingredients well.
-mix in the cheddar, Parmesan, onion & rosemary, diced ham and bacon.

mix well in another bowl
-1 1/2 cup of buttermilk
-2 eggs
-around 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. (Just eyeball it.  I just poured a dolp in and am guessing as to how much it looked like.)

-Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture.  And blend just until all the dry mixture is moist. (Don’t over blend, it’s supposed to look a little lumpy.)
-take the piping hot pan out of the oven (Don’t worry if it’s smoking a little that’s good) 
-Pour the cornbread mixture into the hot pan and spread it out so it’s sort of even and pop back into the oven.

It should take between 20-25 minutes to cook.  Take it out at 20 min.  and poke a fork, or a little wood skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean, cut corn bread in to squares and serve pipping hot!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did tonight.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I ate three huge squares of it and I was trying to be restrained!

(And for all you vegetarians out there.  Just delete the bacon and ham.  Maybe jack up the onion and use 1/2 instead of 1/3.  Use an oil to grease the pan, and when you take the hot pan out of the oven, throw a tablespoon of butter on it before you add the batter.  And use 3 tablespoons of melted butter in the liquid mixture instead of the 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.  Also I bet you could chop up a little jalapeno pepper and throw that in as well, if you wanted a bit of a zing.)

home again

I’m home from Calgary.  Happy and tired.  Porcupine sold out which was nice, but I felt bad for the people who wanted to buy it at my last two events.  Felt sorry for the bookstore too though.  Must be hard to know how much to order of any one book.  Especially when you’re dealing with 80 authors!

My boy and husband are at the Canucks game and it’s the end of the first period and the Canucks are ahead.  They called me in the break and sounded really happy.  The dogs did a crazy celebration dance when I walked in the door.  You’d think I’d been gone for way longer than five days!  Funny dogs.  Sure make you feel appreciated.  They are still dancing about, squeaking their finest toys all around my writing room even though I’ve been home for 45 minutes.  Oh, now Molly’s collapsed on the floor by my desk and is pretending she’s a rug.  It’s funny how they do that sometimes.  Flatten out, seem to lose all their bones.

Well, I suppose I ought to unpack, take a nice hot bath and climb into my bed.  I really am happy to be home.

Dream Pie Update

I got back from my reading with Richard Scrimger (author of Into the Ravine, and a million other books) and there was a little white plastic bag resting on my bed like a present.  Hmmm… I thought, what could this be?  Felt kind of like Christmas.  It didn’t even enter my mind that it was Maureen’s dream pie.  When she didn’t show up at the theater, I figured life ran away with her, as life is apt to do and there simply wasn’t time for dream pie.  But no.  There was, two containers, lids and all, encased in two ice packs so if I came back late I wouldn’t get botulism.  Another example of Maureen’s thoughtfulness.  Inside was a note saying that she forgot to say in the recipe that instead of regular cream cheese she uses light cream cheese and skimmed milk.  I stood over the hotel bathroom sink and scooped out fingerfulls into my mouth, thinking “I can’t believe something that taste this rich, could be so low in calories!”  And the taste of the Cool Whip brought back memories of my grandmother, who passed away in 1988.  And how I visited her when I was 7 and she served me oatmeal, but she didn’t have any milk because she was was allergic to it. 
“What about Cool Whip?” I said.  “You eat that.  We had it last night on our Jello.”
“Oh,” she said “Cool whip isn’t made from dairy.  It’s an oil product.”  And I was flabbergasted! 
“So…“I said tentatively, “If you wanted you could eat Cool Whip on your oatmeal” 
She laughed. “I guess so.”
I paused, working up my courage.  “Grandmother?”
“Could…I… would it be okay if I had a spoonful of Cool Whip in my oatmeal?”
She thought that was a real funny idea, but then after thinking about it for a while she said, “I don’t see why not.”
So we both had Cool whip on our oatmeal and she wrote to me when I returned home and told me that she eats Cool Whip with her oatmeal every morning and thinks of me.  And I felt so proud.

And I was thinking as I was eating Maureen’s Dream Pie that this is a perfect recipe for someone who is trying to lose weight and yet still craves rich, fluffy desserts.  And if somebody else wants to say, “Calories be damned!”  Then they could substitute butter for margarine, use regular cream cheese, whole milk, and real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip.  What a versatile recipe!  I was also thinking sliced bananas on top would make another delicious addition.

Thank you Maureen for your thoughtfulness and the memories of my Grandmother. 

Dinner at Cynne and Jack’s house

Okay, lets get one thing straight.  If you ever, EVER, get lucky enough to be invited to Cynne and Jack’s house for dinner…GO!  This was no big pot of stew Cynne made. (Which if it had been, you can bet your guzungas that it would have been the best pot of stew your mouth had the good fortune to meet.)  The woman is a gourmet cook of the highest order and Jack, her sous chef is no slouch!  I walk in and there are these beautifully laid out tiny pancakes with tasty Peeking duck morsels, elegantly laid out.  Each one has just the right amount of duck, plum sauce (which was way better than any plum sauce I’ve ever had in a restaurant) and every single one had a bit of crispy skin for texture.  DELICIOUS!  Apparently Jack was responsible for the pancakes that were soft and tender with crispy edges and you could taste the hint of butter that he had used in the pan.  A glass of red wine slipped into my hand.  I tried not to make an absolute pig of myself and failed miserably.  Then Jack walks in with barbecued prawns on little wood skewers.  I don’t know what they basted them with…but YUM!

We chat, David arrives bearing wine, then Betty with a gift of lovely white serving plates in a reusable Christmas bag.  And bless Cynne’s soul, not only is she an amazing cook, but she’s wonderfully thoughtful as well.  The doorbell rings.  “Oh, it’s David,” she says.  Then she goes to the door.  “Hi David!”  Then when they arrive in the kitchen, “Meg, you remember David.”  What a dear sweet woman she is.  Same thing when Betty arrived.  She found a way to work Betty’s name in to the conversation three times in the course of a minute.  Now I remembered both of them, their faces, the things we had talked about at dinner the other night, and now…I remember their names.  With a hostess like that, you feel in safe hands indeed. 

Then into the dinning room we went.  Accompanying these beautifully laid out bowls of…well I don’t have the words to do it justice and to say, “soup” just doesn’t seem right.  A mix of savory, subtle spice, a blop of something dairy with a sprinkling of tiny chives, the accent, a tang of green apple perhaps?  And I’m eating and trying not to dance in my seat.  So happy that I’d told her of my secret desire to do an eating tour of France.  Now I don’t have to, Calgary is so much closer!

Then rack of lamb, on a bed of orzo pasta, a yellow and green peppers that I usually avoid, but these were so delicious I gobbled every last scrap up!

And finally…THE DESERT!  A concoction of ice cream and the best…THE VERY BEST chocolate sauce I have EVER tasted!!!  I’m telling you, I am an expert on these things and this was, without a doubt THE BEST!  It was so good that if I had been at home I would have tipped the dessert cup to my mouth to get the very last drops and I might have even had to indulge in sliding my finger around the inside for the bits around the sides.  You will be happy to know, dear bloggers that I managed to restrain myself, but just barely!  But that was only half of the dessert, also on each plate was a banana and caramel tart.  Homemade and fantastic.  All complemented with a pipping pot of tea in the most darling teapot I have ever seen with a painting of a clothing line, and socks and knickers and what-not hanging by wood pegs. 

The conversation was real.  Genuine.  Nobody posing, or trying to be more-than.  A home in which one feels instantly welcome, warm and incredibly fortunate to be in.  It made me wish I lived in Calgary so I could have the opportunity to talk more, laugh more, be irrelevant with this wonderful group of friends.

Maureen’s Dream Pie

Maureen’s Dream Pie has arrived!  And even better in her note, she said she is going to drop some off at tomorrow’s reading for me!  How lucky is that?  I think what happened is she read my blog this morning and thought, “She sounds a little bit sad.  I think I better whip that girl up some of my Dream Pie!  That’s just the kind of comfort a woman needs.” 

I’m feeling wonderful now, but the good thing is, the fax was already delivered, the promise made.  So even though I’m feeling jaunty…I still get Dream Pie!  Yes.

Maureen’s Dream Pie

1 1/2 C. graham wafer crumbs
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. margarine
Mix and pack on bottom of 13” x 9” pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 mins.  Let cool.

1 - 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 litre cool whip
1/2 C. icing sugar
Whip together well and spread over layer #1.  Cool completely. (HINT: dip knife or spoon in hot water)

2 large pkg. pistachio pudding (Jello)
2 1/2 C. milk
Whip together and let set for 5 mins.  Spread over layer #2.  Cool

Spread remainder of Cool whip over layer #3.  Garnish with shaved chocolate.  Let set in refrigerator over night if possible.

** Cool Whip 1 large or 2 small.

Thank you Maureen.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow with a smile!
Now I’m off to a home cooked dinner at Cynne.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

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