Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Salt of the Earth

Salt of the Earth 



So I got a wee little spoon today at the antique market. It is actually for my "salt" collection.

During a difficult season of life a wonderful friend gave me a box of Sea Salt Flakes and a lovely card encouraging me to continue being "salt of the earth". It meant so much to me. I bought my first little salt container and displayed some of that beautiful salt to be a reminder to me of what I was to aspire to but also to encourage me that someone saw that in my life despite the turmoil around me. It blessed me immensely. I've added a little to my collection and each time I do it's a time to remember the love expressed to me, the encouragement and the mandate to be salt of the earth to someone else.
(Smoked Sea Salt, Red Wine Infused Sea Salt,
Flaked Sea Salt , Cyprus Black Lava Mediterranean Sea Salt)

Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rolling !

Rolling ! 

"Rolling !"
The call goes out and the set goes quiet.  My mind once again locked in the moment.

The boys have been doing on and off background work now for the last 3 years.  Mostly tv shows and mini-series.  Nothing too serious, just some limited exposure to life behind the scenes. They earn a little cash, meet up with friends who may be working the same day.  Sometimes the day is very long, the food can range from wonderful to horrible and holding can be spacious or tight. It all depends on the particular day or scene.

At the beginning of the summer we were asked to consider a new role as a "Stand In" in an upcoming major film. The pay was great, the commitment overwhelming, the content questionable at best. It seemed a comfortable resignation when production thought M's hair was too short , or not just right for the part.  We were however, then asked to stand in one week.  That first day they fell in love with M and the casting director approached us about traveling the following week with them for filming. 

In the end there was nothing to consider as I have four other children at home and a husband who works shift work. It was simply out of the question to abandon the entire family on a whim.  They were able to find another stand in to fill in and  the following week M was invited back to set. At that point we had been offered the role again but ultimately agreed to go on a two week commitment basis - forgoing some of the added financial benefits but maintaining a level of scheduling freedom.

For several weeks M's role kicked into high gear. He was fully invested on set and they loved him. He built relationships with the crew and other stand ins , and even hit it off with his main character counterpart ! If you don't know what a stand in's role is it is simply a person who looks similar to the actor who stands in while lighting and cameras are being adjusted. They can also be used as photo doubles in filming long shots from behind where the character himself is not fully in view.
This is actually a surprisingly big role. Much time is spent on set measuring angles and location of where the actor will stand. When the actor arrives, the stand in steps out and is replaced by the actor.

Some of the big challenges we faced were the amount of traveling to different locations , childcare for the other children, time away from family and my spouse and call times as well as the overall lack of productivity on my part during long periods of sitting with M. Call times are very general and can change at any time. Occasionally , a call time would only come in from my agent/production after my son was in bed. We might have to wake up at 5am to travel to set or be on set until after midnight.  Because of my son's age he was able to work an 8 hour shift, plus a one hour lunch and if needed, two hours of overtime.  That's eleven hours, plus travel to different cities. One day I spent 16 hours between set and travel !



Being on set is all about "hurry up and wait".  You can sit for hours. Sometimes in complete silence depending on where you are being held. Sometimes you are sitting outdoors in the varying weather conditions. In any event, there is no reasonable expectation of being able to do anything on any given day but wait. On this set our ears would be tuned to hear the familiar "Second Team!" , which meant M would quickly get himself to the scene for directions. "Rolling" or "Quiet on the set" meant not a sound until you hear "Cut". 

We learned all the lingo  and enjoyed the perks of the kraft truck and on many days there was time to enjoy the surroundings. Toronto gave us a chance to be safely in the night life of the big city.
Elmira gave us a serene and peaceful setting of Amish life, complete with horse and buggies.
We went to Elora Conservation and at lunch break went swimming in the gorge and roamed a bit through the woods. 

For me it was wonderful to see my nervous pre-teen come into his own. Find a place where he was confident, owned his role and was able to step out into independence to a level a few years ago I worried I would never see.  He truly formed bonds with everyone he met.  He found ways to get some school work done.  He would work long , long days and still come home and deliver his newspaper route and help with chores. 

As I write this we are heading into a week of break time. A time to work on a big job I have for my own small business. But also for me a time to reflect on where we are going from here.
There is a month left to taping - at least.  At this point we are going to be in Toronto in studio for the remainder of it. This is a lot of travel time.  As homeschoolers I need to reset our home to ensure the success of our school year. As a small business owner I need to align myself for the busy Christmas season. As a mother I need to invest in my other children who have sacrificed their summer too and all their regular sports and music lessons. As a wife, I need to nurture my husband who has been forced to fill in a gap while maintaining his own hectic shift work schedule.

There is no doubt that our season has come to an end. Thus far the content has been fine but it is a horror film and I am aware that the studio portion will be more than I would endorse. A genre I struggled to even participate in to this point. 

The only remaining thing to do is notify my agent who asked that I reserve my decision to next week. I know she is hoping the break will refresh us. But I am confident that there is only one right choice to make going forward. I know production , and my agent, will be disappointed but ultimately I have six people counting on life returning to it's normal rhythm. 

The official facebook page photo
In a world of technology and pokemon catching I feel so blessed that he applied himself to his studies
In beautiful Elmira at the historical Kissing Bridge

Headed into Toronto in the afternoon

The sun's gone down and we are still on set !
One of the tighter holding areas... Hamilton
The Kraft truck -
Elora Conservation - kids went for a swim during their lunch hour
One of my favourite pictures,  this kid has definitely found his confidence
Heading back to set in the back of the pick up - even the drivers were like an extended family.
Core group of boys that spent the summer together on set. Fabulous kids !









 




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Finding Ground

Finding Ground


Just about a year ago I wrote a deeply personal post about being Insecure . At that time I was struggling to gain confidence in my new culinary world. Scared to death of being a little fish in a big pond.

This past year continued with it's own challenges  to overcome. Though I went into this season a little battered , I also went in a little stronger. The things that knocked me off my feet last year were lessons. I'm slowly learning that though God isn't changing everything around me He is equipping me. I say this even on the heels of some more profoundly difficult times for my personal life.

I wrote in my private journal about the therapy I often found in the cooking process. How it was a reminder to me that I could take piles of sugar and flour and make them into something beautiful. And if I can do that with such simple things, surely God can take the "piles" of stuff in my life and make something beautiful of it too. I reflect on this a lot , actually.

With the CCFCC President
One of the things that most scared me was associating myself with professional chefs. I so desperately wanted to be around people who could inspire me and just glean from their experience but I was also paralyzed by the fear that they would not find me worthy enough.

I'm so glad I took the chance. I would not have believed it last year if anyone had told me but I not only joined the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCFCC) but last week,  I attended their annual conference.

They were friendly and welcoming - but taught me quickly that I had to put aside my low self esteem if I was to fit in. I had to be proud of what I do, confident in my skills and training and confident in the way I spoke and held myself.  Yes... who knew - the cure to insecurity would be confidence and assuredness.  Well, fake it 'till you make it , anyway !

I don't know where this year will lead. Many days I still feel a sense of hopelessness.
But I'm learning who I am. And who I am can't be taken from me by my circumstances, other people or even my own state of mind. God is molding me. Preparing me. Creating me into something good.
He takes the stuff in my life that seems random and carefully works it together to make something beautiful.
And every time I cook, I remember.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I wonder, as a ramble, if everyone feels the way I do.
If everyone at some point anyway, stands in the middle of their world and just looks at the rest of life going on. Alone.  Visible, yet invisible. Like you are screaming at the top of your lungs but there's not a sound and people just keep on moving. Wrapped up in their business and their troubles that go unnoticed, too.

Or,  I wonder if I've been standing knee deep in disaster and everyone has always seen that except me. Oblivious to the sinking sand I'm in, clueless that I'm slowly drowning. It's just part of my identity that people aren't even shocked by because it just has always been that way.

It's a strange place. I don't know whether to accept it, fight it, embrace it. My place that is in this world.

I go from choking down anxiety until I literally feel the pain radiate from my heart into my lungs and then through my body - to cautious laughter but never reckless abandon.  I keep it carefully measured. I have found that the very best mask is a smile. Though I'm sure I must look like a fool no one really seems to notice that everything in me is whispering "just die to self".  Because if I can achieve that, if I can really hand myself over, nothing can shake me the way that it does.

It's all too complicated now to unwind. I believe in healing and total restoration on the other side of eternity and I doubt it is worth the effort to even try it here. It is worth it to pursue the eternal. It all just hinges on that, doesn't it ? Which makes us really all equals both here and there. Each of us fighting to survive in a world we don't even belong in to achieve the same reward, the same status, the same glory.

And in that I find my value, my purpose, my freedom.... myself.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Quick & Easy Pie Crust ?

There is a quick and easy pie crust recipe going around on facebook lately. I'm busily setting up my entry as two pies bake in the oven.

I warn you in advance. I am a skeptic. I refuse to use the oil. Instead, I opted to make one with butter and one with coconut oil.

I was taught that the success or failure of a pie pastry depends on how the fat and flour are mixed and how the gluten is developed.

A flaky pie dough is created when you cut the fat into the flour making tiny particles. When the liquid is added the flour absorbs it and develops some gluten. When you roll out the dough, the little bits of fat and moistened flour and flatten and become flakes separated by the layers of fat. Thus it is important to have really cold fat that won't melt when you handle it and why for me, I opt to use a fat that is in a solid form.
Experience tells me that this cannot possibly be a flaky pie dough.

That's ok. Flaky dough is better suited for the top of a pie anyway so I'm crossing my fingers that this will come out as a decent mealy pie dough. Better suited for custard filled pies because it won't absorb much liquid.

So that's the theory lesson on pie dough.

Let's get started.
I made a Cranberry Custard Pie and a Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Pie.



Substitute any fat but keep your proportions the same
Here's your recipe :
Easy Pie Dough


1.5c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
1/2c oil
3.5 TBS milk

Mix ingredients in pie plate (fork & fingers).Pat and press out into the pie plate. If no filling is added , prick crust with fork.
Bake 375, 15 minutes
Work fat into flour , try not to over handle it !

Press down into pan
Vent it by pricking it with a fork

Cranberry Custard Pie ingredients
Want to make the Cranberry Custard Pie ?

Pulse in blender or chop up 12 ounces of cranberries and add 3/4c sugar and lemon zest.
Spread mixture into cooled crust - I used the coconut oil crust for this one.

Whisk together 2 eggs, 2/3c heavy cream, 1/4c sugar and pour over top.

Bake until set, about 45 minutes.



Pour in the custard !
Here are the Results 

Not thrilled with the filling itself but of the two pie crusts this one had a more pleasant flavour. A mealy dough which tasted more like shortbread than pastry. Non offensive but missed the mark.


This cranberry custard was delicious and the only reason I just kept on eating. The texture was inconsistent and it didn't even hold it's shape. It had a terrible mouth feel as a result and I wouldn't recommend using coconut oil with this recipe if you decide to use it for convenience.

Overall , I did not like the recipe. If I were going to simplify my life with a one dish , press in , easy crust, I would go with a graham crust.

Let me know if you have better luck !



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cooking Without 2

Cooking Without 2


Last time I made an entry on Cooking Without I had 3 days before grocery day/pay day.
Today is 5 days before grocery day. That is a tricky spot for sure.
I was blessed again with visiting friends this week - another family of 5 children. I shopped a day early in case they saw my empty fridge and thought their visit was a burden.  But it's a tight summer and I hope that this isn't the new normal for us.  We recently over extended ourselves with the purchase of a trailer. Now before anyone gives me a pay-in-full speech give me a few minutes on this soap box. 



My oldest is to be 14 this summer and very actively involved now in Cadets, Youth Group, Quizzing Team. In May, he was home ONE weekend with us - he is away at a training and fitness testing day as I write this. He is transitioning towards independence , which we completely support. But our seasons are limited and thus we count that cost as we incur another bill payment. An investment in the family relationships , memories and shared experiences. And so we pay, and we pay the price without regret.

But there's also reality. There's no open fridge policy - I kid you not, they will never be filled. The appetite of a teenage boy is insatiable. And I feel a bit like Neighbourhood Watch or Crime Stoppers as I police any sign of activity in the kitchen!

So I rummaged through the pantry for ingredients that would not be missed any time soon to make something-  some expression of love (YES , food is love). Found three dented old cans inherited from a donation my father had brought me from a closing food bank he was involved with. Blessed treasure. 

(Simply blend pineapple with coconut milk , pour into molds 3/4 full. Add some fruit and freeze. )

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Insecure

Insecure

This past year. Oh wow. I just stop there and stare at those three words. There is so much more in those three words than I could dare to write about. A year of growth and heartache, defeat and conquest. The rattling of my life.
If I gained any ground in life, any success it was by grace. I'm still walking through the fog some days. Not seeing where the path is leading or even the direction I'm headed.
So I've tried to stick to the basics. The fundamental truths of what I chose to base my beliefs, my thoughts, attitudes, ambitions on.
And here I am. At the long haul of my oldest son's home education. Watching him evolve into a man entrusted with his own choices and consequences. Four younger ones trailing close behind in succession.
A newly defining relationship with my spouse. With emotional luggage neatly packed but not quite discarded.
A paper of achievement , a supportive following, and a desire to be more to their souls than just a food provider. To have a full sized impact on a part time hour.
Wanting to chase dreams and hold tight to goals.
How far do I run in each direction before one gives way to the other. Because, I'm not really sure I want one more than the other.
When I hold back, is it the fear? Because I haven't yet began to define The Fear to you. 
Funny thing about stuff like fear is that they tend to disappear in the light but I would rather hide it in the dark.
I think I might be close to letting one go - you see, for all that people may say to me about the cooking I really don't feel worthy or successful. I struggle a lot with how I measure up. I have what I think is an amazing chance to be part of a group of chefs. Network, learn and share with people who share this in common with me. But I don't want to go. I'm paralyzed by the fear that I don't reach their standard. They are executive chefs of corporations. I am a housewife. Never shamed me before but somehow going out into a man's world (and 90% are in fact, men) makes me feel ever so inadequate.
I try to rationalize that the worst that can happen is I will embarrass myself the first night and never go back. But what if I don't ? What if it's the best opportunity this day is providing and I miss it ? I'm not talking job opportunity. I'm talking the chance to learn and share an interest. To be a part of something unconnected to my life that still connects me to life. A shoot off the branch . New growth.