Easter Egg Redux

I have had such a busy last few weeks that I totally forgot to post this blog entry that should have been uploaded on Easter Sunday! Back in the UK it’s a tradition to give chocolate Easter Eggs as gifts on Easter Sunday. Over here in the USA they have been very hard to come by and only recently have I started to see a few more of these for sale. As an aside, I find this odd, as it’s unusual for confectionery manufacturers to miss a new marketing opportunity, but there you go.

Last year I managed to get a mold and make a chocolate egg for my wife, as detailed here. This year I thought I’d do something a little different so I used the same mold but instead made a ceramic two part egg and glazed it in white with blue and yellow highlights, in the style of a faux Faberge Egg. As a finishing touch I filled with some of her favorite chocolates, Wilbur Buds, from Lititz, PA.

170428_LateEaster1

170428_LateEaster2

~Richard

#r2bcheerful17 – Porridge Oats

I don’t know that porridge (aka oatmeal in US parlance) would necessarily be one of my top 65 reasons to be cheerful. It’s not that I don’t enjoy this healthy breakfast staple, it’s just that it’s a bit “meh,” as the kids would say.

Recently, my daughter was in hospital and this formed part of the standard institutional breakfast.  Perhaps being served this is an indication of recovery, who knows? Either way, Ian and the Blockheads thought sufficiently highly of this ancient grain to include it in the list and who am I to argue, especially as it has cholesterol lowering properties too!

170405_r2bCheerful-17PorridgeOats

~Richard

Haiku: High Flying Food

After seeing this remarkable story this morning I felt inspired to commemorate the occasion with a simple haiku:

~ High Flying Food ~

Epicurean

meat and potato pastry?

It’s pie in the sky!

pieinthesky

52 Week Challenge: Week 36

WEEK 36: Artistic: Food – Take your food photography to the next level. It’s not lunch, it’s art.

I’m going to give myself a break on this one too! A few weeks back my daughter made some really cute fruit sushi which really was artistic. So here goes (again):

160820_Sushi2

~Richard

If we had some ham…

Our new chickens haven’t started laying yet, but when they do we are expecting some pastel colored eggs from the ladies. In the meantime we stumbled across these beauties at a local market.

160805_BreakfastEggs

This also got me to thinking of  a great phrase my father used to say on occasion:

“If we had some ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.”

It always bemused me, and apparently it is attributed to Groucho Marx but, to be honest it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s funny and about as relevant as all the parables and platitudes that are routinely flung our way, except this one makes me smile.

~Richard

How Does Your Garden Grow?

A late blog entry today as I was busy in the garden (or “yard” as my colleagues insist on calling it!). This year I finally got my act together, built up a few more raised beds, filled them with topsoil, compost and a little vermiculite and then, most importantly, added an leaky hose irrigation system.

So far, I am pleased with the results. We are on our third crop of broccoli florets, having realized that just removing them causes the plants to produce more; our potatoes, squash and cabbages are doing well; and our tomatoes are starting to plump out. The fruit on the raspberry canes and blackberry bushes we planted two years ago are starting to ripen and even the asparagus bed has taken off, although that will be a long term project! The only thing that has been a disappointment is our strawberries, which we cannot seem to get to thrive 😦

I am looking forward to getting outside in the cooler morning weather tomorrow to harvest some of this bounty before the temperatures hit the mid 90s °F again (~ 35°C) but I did manage to wander the estate (!) and get some pictures to remind me how fortunate we have been.

~Richard

 

Grace

The Sunday Sermon – well not really. Traditionally, today is the day of the big Sunday Dinner as we used to call it when I was child. Usually around 2pm or so (after the pub closed), it was an opportunity for the family to get together once a week around the dinner table and eat an unnecessarily large feast – which we all enjoyed thoroughly.

I do not come from a religious family, but having moved to Pennsylvania I am now surrounded by those so afflicted and who insist on “saying grace” before getting down to the hard work of scoffing every single meal and, these days, throwing away a significant amount of uneaten food afterwards.

So, as I am having one of my “down” days, brought on by the rainfall,  I offer my perspective. I am not expecting this to be popular.

 

~ Grace ~

Thank you, O unseen one for showing us Favor

Providing your bounty as something to Savour

As we feast on this Meal we praise our good Luck

That you care for US greatly as you don’t give a Fuck…

For those Others abroad in places far Flung

That are ruled by the Heathen and governed by Gun

But though many there Praise you, it seems not Enough

To calm Your huge ego so I guess that it’s Tough

For millions of Believers have only a Diet

Of promise of Heaven and so dare not to Riot

Against the Controls that are put into Place

To continue this Construct that plagues Human Race

So thanks once again, God, for sharing your Grace

And I’ll try not to Think of a starving child’s Face

Or ponder or question your Omnipotence

As I go through this daily Rite of pretence.

 

~Richard

 

Easter Eggs

As British ex-pats living in the US one of the quirky things we miss from our immigrant tradition at this time of year is the chocolate easter egg. The supermarket shelves are fully stocked with colorful, but ghastly, marshmallow peeps in a variety of shapes and sizes, there may be myriad easter-themed other chocolates, and mounds of chocolate bunnies, but alas, no hollow eggs. I do see mini-eggs and creme eggs, but where are those large hollow confections we used to love as a kid in the UK?

When easter came round we would usually get a couple of these from family. Displayed in their quirky half-boxes so that you could see the bright foil that encased the chocolate, they were a welcome treat for all children. In fact in the UK there are still around 80 million sold each year, which has to be about 3 per child!

In the “good ol’ days” the eggs would also contain a surprize of some sort. Usually in the form of more chocolate goodies, or other candies, but sometimes a small toy or a keepsake. Over the years, this seems to have changed, with these “extras” now being included in the box rather than the egg itself. I don’t know if that’s because of production costs or some kind of “health and safety” directive, but either way it’s a shame in my opinion. It spoils the fun of cracking open the egg.

So, what’s a man to do? Well, only one thing for it – get some molds from eBay and make my own, and what’s more this has the added benefit of me being able to choose the chocolate too! (I won’t bore you with my rant about the concept of American ‘chocolate’ here…).

A quick trip to purchase the last 3 bars of the increasingly elusive Scharffen Berger Milk Chocolate (the best American chocolate there is) at Wegman’s and a few hours later, my handmade gift is ready for my wife:

160326_EasterEgg

Happy Easter (egg) to all!

 

~Richard

Wake Up and Taste the Food

Today I inadvertently left my phone charging at home and didn’t realize it until I was halfway to work. I toyed with the idea of going back to get it but then thought better of it. As one of those people who often complains about modern society’s need to be permanently tethered to the internet (and yes, I do include myself in that statement) I thought I could manage the day without the little box of joy in my pocket for the duration of the workday.

All went well throughout the morning and suddenly I realized the time and had to grab a late lunch before the cafeteria closed its doors. All my usual lunch companions were unavailable so I popped to the cafeteria to fly solo. To be honest, this does seem to happen quite often, and I really should do something about my time management skills. However, as I sat down with my food it was only then that I realized how reliant on my handheld companion I have become – no, not as a phone, but as a source of “amusement” during such solitary periods. It’s not that I was being particularly anti-social; the cafeteria was very sparsely populated at this time and most customers were doing similar to what I had intended, namely browsing the web, anyway.

“OK,” I thought, time for a moment of quiet reflection. It was during this brief interlude that I also made the decision that , for today I must really taste my food. I admit this idea was sparked, in part, by the memory of consuming a few strawberries last night that were some of the most delicious I have eaten in a very long time. So, combined with an attempt to keep to my self-imposed policy of healthy eating (at work, at least) wherein I had made up an eclectic mix of items from the salad bar which included a strawberry and spinach leaf salad, I commenced to consume my carefully collected comestibles.  

160204_WakeUpandTasteTheFood

Now, it may seem like a trite thing to say but, in all honesty, I wonder how often we do really taste what we are eating? I can only speak for myself when I say that rarely do I truly appreciate the nuances of flavor and actually savor the subtlety of the food that I eat, although I will hypothesize this also applies to many diners with whom I have shared a restaurant, at least from their outward behavior. Eating slowly and actually trying to appreciate the textures and flavors of each of the components of a forkful of food is quite an eye-opening experience. Or perhaps it would be better to call it a tongue-freshening experience.

The upshot of this exercise was that I partook of a relatively simple meal, in solitude, and actually took my time to truly enjoy it. It’s quite interesting trying to slowly taste each mouthful to the full and, in some ways and interesting, almost meditative activity. I invite you to slow down and try it too!

~Richard

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