A Good Home, Canadian life, Cooking, Floral Arrangement, Hospitality, Humour

Hospitality Advice From the Undomestic Diva

My best advice for Staying Alive if you’re Undomestic:

Marry a man or woman who can cook.

Not that you have to marry him/her. Just beg the person to live with you – especially at mealtime and most especially when guests come to visit.

If you’re resolutely single, make sure that all your close friends are chefs living nearby.

blog-photo-hostas-and-clematis

Advice on Arranging Flowers:

Grow hostas. Not for the flowers, but the leaves. Grow hostas in pots or in a garden bed, but do grow them.

Their large green leaves make an easy centrepiece on your dinner or lunch table.

Should you feel aspirational, you may want to arrange them: place flowers in the centre of the vase. 

Advice on Inviting Guests to your Home:

Never invite tall people to your house. They are bound to see the dust of ages in spaces where you can’t reach/have never thought of cleaning. If you’re tall, then the same advice goes for very short guests. They’ll see the dust-balls in the corners of every room.

Advice for Guests:

Ask questions. If an Undomestic Diva invites you to dinner or lunch, there’s only one question that needs to be asked: “Who’s cooking?”

If, for example, I tell you I’m doing the cooking, you must instantly remember a previous and very urgent commitment for that date. If, however, I indicate that my husband is doing the cooking, you’re safe. Just show up on time, with a bottle of wine.

Blog Photo - Dinner on Plate

If, per chance, you are determined to visit me, then do what my close friends and relatives have done over the years: phone back and say, “We know how busy you can get, so we’re going to bring part of the meal.” That way, you’re guaranteed to have something edible or at the least, unburned.

Listen, friends — it’s not that I can’t cook at all. It’s that everything I’ve ever cooked for guests turns out badly. As for flower arrangements: the photo above was my best ever. I decided to quit while I was ahead!

 

 

A Good Home, Cooking, Food

Sprouting Feathers

 

I’m known for my cooking. How I wish that were not so.

I burn things, forget half the ingredients, forget what I added then put them in again. It’s right there in my books, on my blog, and in the memories of everyone who knows me.

And now nobody trusts my cooking.

Take Marilyn.

“Do come for lunch”, I say.

“Oh, great,” she says.  “You choose the restaurant.”

What’s the point in visiting a person at home if you’re going to go out for lunch? But I was so glad to see Marilyn, I didn’t fight.

Then there’s Elaine.

“You make the tea,” she said. “But I’ve read your book. So I’ll bring something for us to eat.”

Then Jane took sick.

“I could make you a roast chicken”, I phoned Jane and said, not revealing the thing was already roasting in the oven. 

But Jane declined immediately. “I have pneumonia,” she said. “Don’t want you to get it.”

“I didn’t know you could catch pneumonia from someone else,” I argued.

“Well, with your luck, you just might,” she replied.

So there’s a roast chicken sitting in my fridge. Or lying on its back, as roast chickens are wont to do. In a freezer bag. Surrounded by lovely roast potatoes.

But the real reason I’m not pushing the chicken is because, since I’d have to deliver it whole, I’m unsure how it tastes.

“How ‘bout I bring her half of the chicken we roasted for ourselves?” I suggested to my husband. “We know it turned out well.”

“You can’t bring half a chicken!” he replied. “It’s like giving someone your leftovers.”

~~

What to do?

Muriel to the rescue.

My friend Muriel is in her 80’s, her husband Michael in his 90’s. Michael’s been ill and in hospital. Muriel, meanwhile, needs all the help she can get. She spends almost every day at the hospital, returning home exhausted.

What could I do? Well, I’d considered giving her a roast chicken too, but then I started to worry – what if I’d over-seasoned it? Worse, if Muriel got sick anytime in the next 10 years, I’ll know it was my chicken that did it.

Then Muriel called to say Michael’s health was improving. I was so happy, I offered both roast chicken and butternut squash soup. My soup – pureed butternut squash, made with apples and onions – always turns out well. I said so.

“I’d be glad for the soup, Cynthia. Thank you, dear.”

Thank God. Thank Muriel. 

So today I brought soup for Muriel. Then for Jane and Allen.

I’d planned to leave it at Jane’s door, run away, then phone to say, “Check your front door!” But she opened the door  just as I was about to do so, thanked me, and said they’d be glad to have my soup.

Hooray!  I’ve finally become one of those women who bring food for their friends.

Meantime, my poor husband claims he’s sprouting feathers.

“Chicken again?” he groans.

Yes, dear. Until that roast chicken is all done.

A Good Home, An Honest House, Cooking, Family Moments, Floral Arrangement, Garden Humour, Gardening, Giant Pumpkins, Humour

I Deserve a Prize, I Do

I was once the proud recipient of the Pumpkin Princess Prize – awarded by Scotland’s pre-eminent herb-blogger, The Hopeful Herbalist.

Was Miss Hopeful smoking her own herbs when she did so?

Don’t know, don’t care. I took the title seriously.

Pumpkin photo of our tiny pumpkin and peach

Actually, what my lovely blogger friend said was: “Award yourself the pumpkin princess crown!”

Which to my deliriously happy state of mind, meant much the same thing.

And now I wonder: if my tiny imperfect pumpkin could win me that regal honour, perhaps the next thing is my cooking? Or baking? Or floral arranging?  

Let’s face it: It takes tremendous effort to be really bad at something.

blog-photo-christmas-arrangement

A lot of trial and error is required. Mostly error, mind you. 

Take my cooking and baking (please — someone has to).

I famously made a two-ingredient dish – cauliflower and cheese – and forgot the cheese.

The harder I tried, the worse my cooking got. I forgot half the ingredients, or doubled them — or burned the dish. Husband added ketchup, salt or spices to everything I cooked. Yegads! Ketchup!

I’d  perfected the art of  truly bad cooking.

But do you hear anyone giving me the title for worst borscht?

Perfectly pathetic pie?

Instead, they flock to stories of delicious dishes and beautiful bouquets. I’ve never understood it.

blog-photo-flowers-with-alium-closer-e1403881941537

 Meanwhile, we lesser folk never give up trying.

And still, our creations are catastrophic.

But consider this:

It takes a lot of work — and maybe even a strange type of talent — to turn out truly awful stuff.

So I think it’s time our efforts were acknowledged. Don’t you?

(Tee hee….)

 

 

A Good Home, Cooking, Ontario Root Vegetables, Recipes, Vegetarian dish

Idiot-Proof

“John”, I asked, “Can you send me one of your simplest recipes?”

“Yes, of course,” John replied. “As long as you’re fine with vegetarian. That’s what I cook.”

“I’ll cook anything, as long as it’s idiot-proof.”

I’d forgotten John’s famous attention to detail, evident in the grand home he’s restoring in Prince Edward County.

Blog Photo - Picton House Exterior 2

Painstakingly captured in photos….

Blog Photo - John's living room with sofa

Like this recipe he sent me:

JOHN’S RELIABLE ROOT RECIPE

“First, Locate and gather a selection of your favourite Root Vegetables . . .

Blog Photo - Root Vegetables1

Then Select a Nice Covered Baking Dish . . .

Take the Lid Off . . .

And see What Fits into the Dish . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Root veggies in dish unpeeled

Then Empty the Dish, Rinse it with Water to remove any Dirt . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Dish and Veggies

Begin with the Onions, which are essential . . .

Peel, and Cut . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Onions sliced

Dice . . .

And into the Dish they go . . .

Three Diced Ontario Onions . . .

(From Prince Edward County) . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Onions in dish

Next the Ontario Sweet Potatoes . . .

Cut the Ends off . . .

Peel . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - sweet potatoes sliced

Dice . . .

Add & Mix by Hand . . .

Two Ontario Parsnips are Next . . .

Lop the Ends off & Peel . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Parsnips peeled

Cut into Rings . . .

Add & Mix into the Dish . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Parsnips sliced

Next up are Three Ontario Carrots . . .

Ends Off . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Carrots unpeeled

Peel . . .

Cut into Rings . . .

Add to the Dish . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - carrots sliced

Mix by Hand . . .

Two Wonderful Ontario Yellow Beets . . .

Lop the Ends off . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Yellow Beets sliced and unsliced

Quite Pretty . . .

Even the Ends Look Good . . .

Peel Carefully . . .

Cut into ¼’s and Slice . . .

Add Slices to the Dish . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Yellow beets in dish

Mix Again by Hand . . .

Next up, Two Ontario Potatoes . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Potatoes Unpeeled

Peel . . .

Cut into ¼’s and Slice . . .

Add to the Dish . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - sliced Potato

Note that the Level of the Root Vegetables . . .

Is Level with the Rim of the Pretty Dish . . .

Mix by hand One More time . . .

Add 2 Cups of Cold Water . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Mixed vegetables in dish

Pouring both into the Dish of Course . . .

Then add 1/3 Cup of Sesame Seed Oil . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Oil pouring on veggies

Pouring it all over the top of the Vegetables . . .

Now for the Seasoning . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Salt Hen

From my Salt Hen, 1 teaspoon of Salt . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Black pepper mill

And from my Pepper Mill, 1 teaspoon of Pepper . ..

Now Place the Lid on the Pretty Dish . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Veggies in dish with seasonings

Turn the Oven on Bake & set the Temperature @ 350 Degrees  . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Oven shows temperature

Then Place the Covered Baking dish Into the Oven . . .

Close the Oven Door . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - dish in oven

And Set the Timer for 90 Minutes . . .

Then Start the Timer . . .

Set another timer for 45 minutes . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Phone set for 45

And Start It Too . . .

At the 45 Minute Mark Remove the Dish with Oven Mitts . . .

Look Inside and Things should Look like this . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Dish after 45 minutes

Make sure there is still some water in the dish!!

Then Place the Covered Dish Back into the Oven . . .

Then 40 or so later come back into the Kitchen . . .

Notice the Primary Timer is Nearly Done . . .

When it Sounds Off . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - dish and Gloves 2

Remove the Dish and Place it on a Heat Friendly Surface . . .

Take the Cover Off and it should look like this . . .

The Vegetables should be cooked and just a bit soft . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - root Veggies done

I test them with a sharp knife . . .

Then Place the Lid On . . .

Wait for the Dish to Cool Down . . .

Blog Photo - Recipe - Dish and Gloves3

And Place it into Refrigerator . . .

Then in 24 Hours it’s Ready to Eat . . .

It is Sooooooooooooo  Good . . .”

Thank you, John!  This idiot will report back.

Photos and recipe by John Garside.

Postscript from John: “Heat it up before eating! I forgot that!”