Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve!

The ducks would like to wish you all a very happy New Year's Eve!

Please be careful if you're out on the roads, and don't drink and drive!!! (The ducks are all about safety!)


Need a special calendar?

If you're looking for a calendar for the new year, might I suggest the most excellent Fancy Chicks calendar put out by the Poultry Club of Great Britain?

They even ship to Canada! (Just email the club to ask for details.) The calendar features 12 lady club members displaying their chickens in the buff (make of that statement what you will!) It goes from weird to wonderful and will definitely get attention if you hang it on the wall of your office cubicle, or perhaps the barn door...

Nice, original calendar design too.  Highly recommended, the proceeds go to the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Get your calendar here!

For the record, no, I will not be producing my own calendar although come to think of it, that could be a way for me to raise money for duck feed...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back on Christmas eve...

(Told ya I was behind on blog posts!)

We have a tradition for Christmas eve: we have cheese fondue and listen to Alan Maitland reading The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

They broadcast the reading on CBC radio's As It Happens every Christmas (unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case they run it on the Friday.) I bought it on CD about a decade ago. I don't know what graphic design idiot thought red type on red was a good idea, but he clearly failed his college typography courses.

Gordon usually makes the fondue while I make a salad. It's pretty simple:


Booze (we use wine too!)

I found the fondue very alcoholic this year and couldn't understand why. Gordon was denying my reality! But the next day, said husband found a large chunk of Gruyère still in the fridge. Turns out the chef, aka Captain Oblivious, forgot to mix in half the cheese! I am a very lightweight drinker and wondered why I was getting a buzz from my meal.

Voilà! The cherry tomatoes and salad are missing from this photo. Sometimes we make more dippers but we were lazy this year. Bread, shrimp, and tomatoes, and...

...crushed potato chips. Someone suggested we try this! Roll your cheesy item in the chips. It wasn't bad! Calories don't count on Christmas eve anyway.

And I saved a shrimp for Julius, who is fixated on seafood...

If we are eating fish for supper, he'll sit and stare at us. I always save him a little piece.

 For dessert, we had leftover stained glass cake from Ronna's Chanukah supper!

It got a little mushed up on the drive home but was still tasty!

And here are some outtakes from Alex's photo session with Christmas hat...


"Hmm, the cord is kind of tasty!"

"Get it off! Get it off!" (Tristan the dog is laughing in the background.)

"Ah, sweet relief! Maybe I should punish you by peeing on something you love. Nah, it's Christmas!"

And this year, I insisted on buying a balsam fir, rather than cutting down some Charlie Brown tree from our woodlot. (Last year's tree set a new record for ugliness!)

We won't get any prizes for tasteful decoration, but the tree itself is lovely and smells good. That's Naomi zooming by on the lower right.

Me, I go for the 2011 manicured balsam fur over the 2010 Charlie Brown white spruce. Balsam smells great. White spruce smells like cat pee.

Tomorrow night is New Year's eve, when we have our traditional CHOCOLATE fondue. This year we're taking it on the road and going over to Ronna's. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

More holiday celebrations

Last Friday, we went to our friend Ronna's for a Chanukah celebration and meal. Gordon got to light a candle on the menorah...

I had issues lighting mine. Fortunately there is no photographic evidence!

Ronna's cousin and husband drove up from New Hampshire and brought very delicious...

...brisket! Mmmmmmm!

 Ronna and Richard made latkes. 

I could eat latkes until I explode.

Bring 'em on!

Ronna has lots of cool stuff at her house.

And three wonderful cats! Here's Oreo enjoying the gas fire.

The latkes were not as dark as they look in this picture. They were PERFECT! I like mine with apple sauce AND sour cream.

For dessert, Ronna made a retro Stained Glass cake, from an overly-complicated Ottawa Citizen recipe.

Gordon and I got to take home the leftovers! I loved it. Brought back childhood memories. My mother served a LOT of Jell-o in many variations.

Ronna made us Chanukah gifts, too...

Hand-painted napkin rings with DUCKIES!  Lucky us!

It was a lovely mellow evening with great food and great company.

Now we're gearing up for New Year's eve. Last year I fell asleep at 9 pm. I'll try to do better this year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chickenly goodness

The definition of "awesome" is someone who has never met you in person, but has been your American email friend for about 15 years, and knows you so well that she sends you the following PERFECT gifts for Christmas...

A fabulous chicken calendar!

And a totally fabulous chicken change purse...


EXTREMELY awesome chocolate, all my favourites! (We don't have Symphony bars in Canada, so Denise sends me some every year!)


...a very cool cigar box from Nicaragua! (Because I like cigar boxes a zillion times more than any wretched cigar!)

 And the repulsive but still awesome...

...chicken feet dog treats! (How this got through customs is beyond me!)

It does make me wonder why I spend time in the coop massaging Bag Balm into the legs and feet of chickens with scaly leg mites. I could just perform some amputations and sew these onto the affected chickens instead!

And the pièce de résistance...

Crafting with Cat Hair! I love crafts, I love cats... it's the perfect combo! And the projects are really cute. I laughed my butt off when I opened this on Christmas morning!

Thank you for the GREAT gifts, Denise. You rock!

Quest for Fire!

On Boxing Day, we went for a nice walk in our woodlot and engaged in a quest for fire. Let's just say that if we ever got lost in the woods in winter, we'd die in short order.

(PS: Like Gordon's Christmas mittens? I got them here, at For My Darling on Etsy!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Knittin'

I have a backlog of stuff to post about. Let's get the knitting out of the way! For Christmas, I knit this scarf for my friend Judy with this pattern and Twinkle Cat yarn from Wandering Cat Yarns on Etsy.

After I finished, I noticed two %$#@!!*! mistakes that it was too late too fix. I doubt Judy will care, but it bugged me. The boo-boos aren't in these photos!

I did block the scarf, but I am far from God's gift to blocking...

Judy was very pleased and I had fun knitting it! It was easy and fast, but still interesting to knit.

We have a winter storm warning on and are supposed to get up to 15 cm/ 6 inches of snow tonight, which is the biggest storm of the season so far, but hardly record-setting for around here. We'll see what everything looks like in the morning! The ducks will not be amused.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

For you American types, Boxing Day is what we in the Commonwealth call the day after Christmas. It's a statutory holiday here, but stores open and people go nuts shopping at Boxing Day sales. I have a firm rule about never setting foot in a store on Boxing Day. I prefer to relax and enjoy the holiday. Shopping has never been my idea of fun!

We have a very nice Christmas yesterday at my mother-in-law's house, just the three of us.

Here's Gordon carving up the turkey (which led a happy life on my friend Judy's farm until it gave the ultimate sacrifice) with his Mom keeping watch.

Mom's wee Christmas tree in the window! As you can see, we had a white Christmas. It snowed yesterday and the roads were slippery. Yay for snow tires!

Yay for camera timers!

Here's Gordon with the  Caramel Apple Trifle we made together. The recipe is at the bottom of this post if you're interested. It was VERY yummy. Gordon made the poundcake from scratch the day before.

Yummy caramel-apple topping on whipped cream!

No pineapples were harmed in the making of this trifle.

While the turkey was being carved, I made use of the fabulous wrinkle-erasing mood lighting in the living room.

Do I look as smug as Santa?

The poor sap driving the salt truck had to work on Christmas day!

Whatever you did yesterday, I hope you had a great time. Santa was exceedingly good to me and brought me a Macbook Air!


Caramel Apple Trifle

Tender apples, enveloped in an irresistible amber caramel sauce, give this trifle a seasonal twist. Golden Delicious apples are ideal because they keep their shape when cooked.
This recipe makes 16 serving(s)
Nutritional information available online.


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Vanilla Custard recipe* (below)
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg
  • 1 frozen pound cake, thawed
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) Calvados, brandy or apple juice
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
  • Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) apple juice


Caramel Sauce: In heavy saucepan, heat sugar with 1/3 cup (75 mL) water over medium heat, stirring, until dissolved. Bring to boil; boil vigorously, without stirring but occasionally brushing down side of pan with pastry brush dipped in cold water, until rich amber colour, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Holding saucepan at arm's length and averting face, add apple juice; whisk until smooth. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup (175 mL), 3 to 5 minutes. Let caramel sauce cool. Set aside 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the sauce in small bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat; sauté half of the apples until light golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining butter and apples; let cool.

Strain any juice from apples; stir juice into custard along with nutmeg. Set aside 8 apple slices in bowl; cover and refrigerate. Slice cake into generous 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick slices. Line bottom of trifle bowl with one-third of the slices, overlapping slightly; drizzle with one-third of the Calvados. Top with one-third each of the apples, caramel sauce and custard. Repeat layers twice, ending with custard. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.
(Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

In bowl, whip cream. Spread over trifle. Garnish with reserved apples.

Reheat reserved caramel sauce in microwave at High until runny, 10 to 15 seconds, or in saucepan over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Drizzle over trifle.

Source: Canadian Living Magazine: December 2003


Vanilla Custard

Alone or with a flavour add-in, this five-ingredient custard is the delicious, creamy base to all our trifles.

This recipe makes 5 serving(s)


    8 egg yolks 4 cups (1 L) milk 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar 1/2 cup (125 mL) cornstarch 1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla


In bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the milk, the sugar and cornstarch.

In heavy saucepan, heat remaining milk over medium heat just until bubbles form around edge; gradually whisk into yolk mixture. Return to pan and cook, stirring, until mixture is thick enough to mound on spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

Strain through fine sieve into clean bowl; stir in vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.
(Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)