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Verses from my Kitchen: April 2011

April 30, 2011

Pavlova Two Ways: Vanilla-Scented Strawberry and Raspberry Compote with Crushed Pistachios

It's amazing how long a regular work weeks feels following a week cut short from a holiday. The standard five day work week, normally so ingrained in all of us that our internal clock goes off at 5pm sharp on Fridays, feels instead like an eternity. By the time I pull in my driveway Friday night, I feel like raising the flag and surrendering.

Thank goodness for weekends.
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April 28, 2011

Strawberry & Mint Granita

These last two days have been wonderful. One thing cascading down after the other, like a life-sized game of dominoes. The weather, finally exhausted after months of cold wind and bursts of storms, has settled in, relaxed and shown herself in the form of warm days filled with bright sunshine.

The temperature has risen methodically and substantially in recent days and the windows in our homes and cars, long ago closed and practically stuck after prolonged periods in that position, have been opened up for all that fresh air to push over us.

Also, after a week that felt like an eternity, my wife is finally back home. I waited patiently and eagerly at the airport for her through delays, but nothing was going to deflate my mood. When she finally came through the sliding doors it was like seeing the sun over the morning landscape. It was a sight for sore eyes and it was refreshing as the vision washed over me.
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April 24, 2011

Lemon & Herb Roasted Chicken

I was staring up at the moon last night as it took its familiar place in the sheet of black canvas overhead. It was full and bright and lit up half the neighbourhood with her glow. And I was thinking about my wife and wondering if she was looking at the same moon from a thousand miles away.

Ever since I've known her, my wife always points up at the moon whenever we're outside at dark. She'll comment on how big and beautiful it is and she'll say it's a thing her mom and her have in common. No matter where in the world she is, that's the one common thread that keeps them bound together. 

So with my wife away this week and the common occurrences no longer common, I stick close to familiarity wherever I can find it. And I relish the chance to do the things we normally do because it keeps her close, at least it feels that way. And before bed each night I look over at the plump pillow that normally holds her shape and smile as a stream of light from the moon shines through the window and keeps me company.

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April 21, 2011

Savoury Bacon & Corn Muffins with Aged Canadian Cheddar

I remember way back to a time when I was just a kid. I was young and small and the pencil marks that adorned the wall had a new line that indicated I was taller than a few weeks previous. I had probably grown but a finger or so but I was adamant it was time for another measurement. And I remember boldly exclaiming, "I'm a big boy now, mom!" Little did I know.

I cherish those memories and remember them as vividly as new ones created recently. I remember thinking how big I was yet still needed a boost when I dragged one of the kitchen chairs over by the counter to watch my mom work. Rinsing and prepping and cooking all under my watchful eyes. She would reach down and pick me up under my arms and fling me on the chair. And I would sit there and watch and watch until my attention span took me somewhere else, doing something else.

Off I went.
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April 19, 2011

Apple & Sweet Potato Cakes with Poached Egg and Sweet Mustard Sauce

The weekend's last hurrah. Sunday. Usually my favourite day of the week. Normally. This day was different than all those other ones, masking a truth I didn't want to face. Instead of the routines I've grown to love and expect, I was faced with change. And sadness. 

Sunday shows all her beauty up front, no pretense whatsoever. It is what it always is. The dark black-blue sky doesn't greet me because I sleep with the night a bit longer on this day. The coffee machine isn't set to auto the night before, because I don't know when I'll rise and greet the day. The one consistent part about Sunday is her attitude. Care-free and unhurried. Vulnerable.

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April 16, 2011

Raspberry Soufflé

The work day and week has ended and it's Friday night. I'm driving up my street to the house on the left and my spot on the right side of the driveway. It's familiar. It's home. As soon as my key smoothly slides into the door it's as if I'm unlocking the weekend and lifting the weight of the world off my shoulders. Be gone.

Some people despise routines. I, on the other hand, love that familiar tone. Sure, it's nice to break free and try new things and be spontaneous, but it's also nice knowing what's happening without having to ask. Like Friday nights in my kitchen and dinner with my wife. It's the small stuff that matters to me. A thousand days worth of small stuff that fills up my memory and fuels me. All those yesterdays.
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April 13, 2011

Rosemary & Dijon Pork with Arugula Salad

Tuesday. I gingerly slide out of bed when the sky is painted midnight black. The landscape has been washed in hues unrecogniable without the help of light. It feels like I slept two hours, even though that's not the case. By the time I'm ready to leave, lunch packed and coffee in hand, the roosters at rural farms are stretching. This is the beginning. 

This is the day of the week when time is a major issue. The day speeds along and I play catch up. I'm always a step behind and a faded memory waiting to happen. When I finally walk through the door at night I'm hungry and it's late. Sound familiar? We all face days like this. Long days and late nights and hungry. Starving.

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April 11, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Asparagus Tartar

Sunday. Thank goodness for days like this. The alarm clock stashed away for another day, the coffee set to start later than usual and the calendar is empty. Blank. I usually put an X across these days because they're meant for slowing down and catching up. I take a zen-like approach to the day and do things when I feel like doing them. Simple Sundays.

We have our routines on weekends. Simple routines. They stay constant by changing. Coffee and pastry made the day before and talks about life and dreams. Both kinds. And when the morning light opens up for the day, I head to the market and shop. Groceries, fresh herbs and produce. Sunday love.
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April 8, 2011

Spiced Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

April is caught in the revolving door between warm days and cold nights, looking for an identity to cling to and take home. The bitter early mornings of winter have been ushered aside as the sun takes its post earlier each day. The afternoon warmth beats down harder and longer after a long hiatus and climbs into the early evenings alongside us. And brings hope.

We love everything about this time of year. The long walks with our dog after work, which change in length and appearance depending on the weather. The photo shoots at dawn and the way the sun dances on the horizon, just out of reach. And cooking and eating in the natural light. We spend the better part of winter locked in her grasp and stuck inside that the first chance to get out is welcomed with open arms. 
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April 5, 2011

Homemade Gnocchi with Blush Sauce

Sunday night settles in on us slowly. It`s a day that feels like a visit from family, relaxed and comfortable and unassuming. It's the one day of the week that has its own identity and mood. The stress of the week slowly trickles off our shoulders with each passing hour as we breathe in and breathe out. Exhale and escape. I'm reminded of the freedom that awaits me whenever I greet the light of the day. 

We wake up a bit later than the other days and I fight back the morning as the covers hold on tighter. I can see my wife dreaming, the beautiful sunshine splashing on her face. It`s really the perfect way to start the morning. Late, relaxed and without plans pulling at us. I need just a shot of coffee to help get the day started.

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April 2, 2011

Poached Egg Sandwich with Spinach, Tomatoes, Bacon and Parmesan

The alarm clock shot music through our room at 6 a.m. this morning, as if it was released from a cannon. It was too loud, too forgettable and persistent, fighting back every time I hit that large snooze button. I fought it. The song won.

My wife and I had a shoot to wake up for, hence the early wake-up call on a normally relaxed Saturday morning. She hurried off to start the coffee and pack the cameras as I drifted in and out of sleep for a few more minutes. A little bit longer. It was a losing battle but I was set on knocking out a few more zzz's. The alarm clock played the villain once again. 
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