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Thanksgiving & Pumpkin Pie


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How was your week-end? J and I had a lovely couple of days relaxing here in Halifax. This was probably the first time ever that we spent a long week-end and home, so it was definitely different for us, but really nice. It felt like all of a sudden, time was nicely wrapped up and handed to me as a gift – it made me realise how much of our long week-ends we normally spend on the plane or in the car. So, with our nicely wrapped time, we did a hot yoga class together on Friday (J’s first! He survived and loved it!), and we also went shopping and out for dinner here on Saturday. On Sunday, we combined our efforts to make our first ever pumpkin pie and it turned out delicious!

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I was going to just share the pictures with you, but then I thought it wouldn’t be very nice to do that without sharing the recipe, so here you go!

Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Pie

The original recipe said that this recipe would yield one 9-inch pie, but we were able to make 2.
Ingredients:

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh Pumpkin Puree Pumpkin Puree, or canned
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
Pie Dough (we used this recipe)
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit pastry into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim dough evenly along edge, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch to form a decorative edge. If the dough begins to soften, chill for 15 minutes.

Make the glaze: Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream. Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell. Fill pie shell with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2000

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Picture of the week – Back from a Hiatus


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I’m not gonna beat around the bush. It’s been a long time and I didn’t really do it on purpose. I hope you’re still there (leave a comment to tell me you are!). I have been away from my home and a little out of my element for the last four months, but I am happy to happy to be back home and back to B&B!

Today’s picture is one I shot from the car when J and I were driving back into Nova Scotia – you can see these windmills as soon as you cross the border from New Brunswick. Once we saw them, we knew we were almost home. More on that soon!

Making Peace with the Past


Last week I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Atlantic National Event in Halifax.  Survivors of the Canadian government’s residential school program, which ran roughly from the 1870’s to the 1990’s, came forward to give their accounts.

To give you a bit of a background, the Residential School program was created with the intention of assimilating First Nations people into European-Canadian society.  The residential school system separated children from their parents, taking them away to boarding schools in an effort to distance them from their cultures.  The children were forced to speak only English and were beaten (or worse) if they did not comply or made attempts to escape. This effort to force assimilation has been described as “cultural genocide”.  The stated goals of the residential schools were to “civilize” the Aboriginal people.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was entrusted with the mandate of bringing the truth about what happened in these schools to light, as well as passing on these truths to all Canadians. According to the TRC’s website, there are an estimated 80,000 former residential school students living today.  In addition to this, the TRC notes that the impact of these schools is ongoing and has been a contributing factor with regards to many of the current social issues experienced by First Nations in Canada.

In my experience, Canadian media seems to focus much more on the social problems in First Nations communities than on the historical factors that have either caused or contributed to these problems. Now that I have learned a bit more of the story, I feel as though the narrative I’ve been fed about these communities is incomplete and entirely one-sided.

Last week I was able to experience the inter-generational impact of the residential school program.  I sat down and listened to survivors and their children talk about how they have been affected. I heard stories about people who were beaten and molested merely for daring to speak their own language.  I also heard accounts from the children of survivors who are unable to speak the language of their community and who have also been affected by the psychological impact that this type of treatment had on their parents. Not surprisingly, these effects are being passed on even to the third generation.

While it brings me hope that Canada is doing what it can to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and attempting to bring about reconciliation, what strikes me most deeply is how long, arduous, and painful this process will be.  At best, it may take another three generations before the effects subside.  Also, as the TRC has acknowledged, we will have to find a place to fit Justice in between Truth and Reconciliation, perhaps even as a bridge between the two.

A while back, I wrote about about becoming a contributor to society and about inheriting the mistakes of previous generations. Coming to terms with and addressing the effects of the residential school program is a classic example. As a new generation of Canadians, we must do our best to guard against the reoccurence of such tragedies. You can go here to read more about the residential school program and the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Cabot Trailing


Our vacation to the Cabot Trail was rather impromptu.   In fact, we only decided to go the night before when we saw that we would be getting a few  days of sunshine (this has been pretty rare this month). We left with our tent and some blankets, still not sure whether we would camp or check out some bed and breakfasts along the trail.


On the ride up, we stopped for some lunch in New Glasgow.  If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend stopping at Baked.  It is a cute little place with some scrumptious food.



Our first night there, we set up camp in an area along the trail called Ingonish and went looking for a place to have dinner.  We ended up at a pub called the “Thirsty Hiker”.  We weren’t really expecting much when we walked in but we were simply grateful to have found a place that was open past 9.  To my surprise though, that night turned out to be one which neither of us will never forget.  We  met and were invited to join a Cape Bretonian family that was gathered for a wedding happening two days later. We sat with the parents of the bride, uncles and cousins.  They taught us all about the island of Cape Breton, its history, its people’s and its culture.  J and I loved every second of it.  In between stories they sang along with the performer (who was singing some Celtic folk songs). We were in awe of how they knew every song seeing as we had never heard any of them.  The whole atmosphere felt magical, maybe because it was so unexpected.  We felt like we were in a different world and yet we hadn’t even left the country.  What fascinated us the most was how this little island (which is a part of Nova Scotia) has managed to blend and preserve its Scottish, Irish and Acadian roots so nicely.  One side of the island is more Scottish and Irish (creating a general blend of Celtic culture) and the other side is completely Acadian (the descendents of the initial French settlers).  That night we were on the Celtic side (hence the music), and the next day we would be continuing along our journey towards the Acadian side.


Our friends told us all about the history of the Acadian people and how they were expelled from the island in the 1750s because of their culture.  Anyone choosing to stay had to assimilate rather quickly.  In fact, our friend told us that one of his ancestors was named “Jeune” (French for “Young”) and that in an effort to assimilate, she changed her name to “Young” and completely stopped speaking French.  It was terribly sad to hear about how these people had been treated, and even sadder that this is barely talked about today.  J and I had heard parts of this story here and there but had never really put everything together.  Interesting fact – when the Acadians were literally shipped off of the island , many of them wound up in Louisiana. We learned that the word “Cajun” actually comes from the word “Acadian”. Fascinating stuff!  Only much later did some of them start to return to the Maritimes.

We left the next day with a much greater appreciation of the people and history of Cape Breton and felt more ready to see the Acadian side of the island. As we drove through many little fisherman villages, we admired the beauty of the land, but both agreed that it was the interaction of the people with their land that really spoke to us.  As a side note, the soundtrack to our trip was the Peter, Bjorn and John album “Gimme some”.  I recommend giving it a listen.

It was amazing to arrive to the other side and hear the Acadian French mixed in with English where the day before we had just heard Gaelic.

On our last day there we took a break from driving to relax. We went on a whale watching tour, saw some whales – and even spotted a moose!   We also went to check out a beach near our camp site and spent a few hours relaxing and reading on the beach (I am reading Teta, Mother and Me and am really enjoying it).  We felt like we had our own private beach because we were literally all alone there with our books (for anyone planning a trip there, this beach was called “Petit Étang”).  Once we had enough sun, we decided to go for a swim.  We had the option between the Ocean and a lake but chose the latter because it was warmer.   Our experience in the lake added to the serendipity of our day because since it was fairly shallow and not too big we actually decided to walk all the way to the other end. WE WALKED ACROSS THE LAKE! At the other end was lush, untouched natural beauty.  We were in a valley surrounded by trees and mountains and just as we thought it couldn’t get any better, an eagle perched itself on one of the trees nearby.  We stood there watching the eagle and admiring the scenery for quite some time.  Neither of us had ever seen a bald eagle before.  We went home that night and grilled some turkey sausages and roasted some marshmallows and counted our blessings.  What a special little vacation this was.

We made it!


Since my last post we left Ottawa, drove through 4 provinces, and made it to Halifax – our new home.

Our trip over was long but a lot of fun.   For a long time I’ve felt like it was almost wrong to have seen so little of my own country.  Making the drive fulfilled that desire to see what the rest of Canada looked like.  Though you can’t really get much of a taste for how the rest of the country lives by quickly driving through the cities and towns, I still feel as though I’ve gotten a little sampling of what’s out there.  Sort of like flipping through a magazine before going back to read the content. I hope to get to see more soon.

Another major highlight of the trip was that I got to drive a UHAUL truck for the very first time.  I absolutely loved it. I felt like I was queen of the road!

For J and I, this move is a big one.  It is our first time moving away to a new and strange new place by ourselves and it is also our first time being home owners.  To add to this, we sort of kind of bought our place without having actually seen it in person (we did our due diligence, but still).  You can imagine the build up to finally getting to see it in person when we arrived.  Thankfully, we absolutely love our new place and are so excited for the life we are going to build here.  I’ll post pictures once everything is up and ready.

Our first few nights in Halifax were met with much rain.  In fact, within only a few hours of being here we took out the rain jackets that we were advised to buy before coming out here.   Here we are in our new snazzy matching jackets.

We experienced what was apparently one of the biggest rain/thunderstorms that Halifax has ever gotten.  We’re finding that the weather here is very different from what we know coming from Toronto/Ottawa.  The weather here generally just seems to be more temperate – which is fine for us.  We are told to expect a little less heat in the summers and a little less cold in the winters.  Sounds good to me.  They are forecasting lots of sunshine for tomorrow – so we plan on taking advantage of that and enjoying our very first Saturday in Halifax!  Happy week-end all – wherever you may be!

 

Yoga on the hill and some thoughts about freedom and rules..


One of my favourite activities from this summer has been Wednesday lunchtime yoga classes on Parliament Hill. This definitely needs to be added to the list of things that I will miss about Ottawa. Not only does it feel so awesome to be outside at lunchtime with a crowd of 500 odd people doing yoga on the grass (such a different feeling from a studio floor!), but the idea of being right in front of our nation’s parliament is so inspiring. I love being there because I feel like I am a part of something great. I also love that while we are taking part in our yoga class, others are on Parliament hill with placards protesting whatever the cause of that day might be. I have traveled to parts of the world where you could get arrested for just taking a walk in front of the country’s house of government, and as a result I have come to appreciate the freedoms in Canada that others may take for granted.

What I find most amazing though is that the very thing that allows our citizens to be so free is the very thing that restricts us: the rule of law. It is so interesting that, in the end, what creates order and freedom are rules.  If you think about a country in which there are no rules or laws, you will quickly realize that what that country’s citizens have is the very opposite of freedom. This is a widely recognized principle in politics, and yet it seems that so many of us have such a hard time recognizing this idea in our personal lives.

For instance, when I tell people that my faith is an important part of my life, I often get comments along the line of “that’s nice, but I don’t believe in following so many rules”. I find this ironic, because I believe that it is those very rules that have given me freedom in my personal life. In the same way that citizens of democratic and law abiding countries have been able to experience greater freedom than those under lawless regimes, the limits and boundaries created by the faith that I ascribe to are also what have allowed me to feel free. I think that so many of us are resistant to a deeper faith that requires some sort of commitment to rules because we don’t want to limit ourselves in this way. I would argue, however, that that the key to our liberation and emancipation as individuals might actually reside in allowing ourselves to be open to the boundaries and rules created by a higher order.

How about you? Do you feel as though the rules and laws in your life have actually helped to liberate you in a strange sort of way?