Sunday, 12 June 2011
Our little indoor garden is flourishing. The amount of money we've saved by eating onion greens, parsley, and chillies from the garden instead fo buying them at the store will pay for the whole garden over the course of the year. We had our first 'harvest' a few weeks ago when our mint & basil mint required cutting back. I dutifully stripped the plants of their leaves and then simmered them with water & sugar (2 scant cups sugar, 1c water, 1 packed cup mint) until the sugar was disolved and the mint wilted. Then I strained it into a delightfuly old-fashioned [sterilized] cordial bottle and voila, mint syrup. In answer to the question "ok, but what do you do with the mint syrup", we used our first batch up in cocktails. It goes great in Jamaican rum punch (kind of like a mojito) and also makes a refreshing mint soda (syrup, soda water, and a splash or two of citrus). I think it could also be used over summer berries or in fruit salad, but the rum punch was popular enough that it didn't make it that long:
Monday, 6 June 2011
After our weekend in Bristol, David resumed his crazy work schedule and I began preparing in earnest for my family's visit and Easter. The weeks flew by, as work was busy and the evenings were filled with spring cleaning (for me) and research (for David). Needing a break and an excuse to enjoy the spring sunshine we managed an afternoon away in the fens one weekend. We walked to Fen Ditton, picnicking on the way (cocktail sausages & boiled quail eggs ftw), shared a jug of Pimms at The Plough, and spent time searching for broken bits of pottery & stone facades in a plowed field. We also found a ditch that ran off from the river, and as we walked along it the rustling noises alerted us to the presence of wildlife. We were expecting birds but after no few moments of watching discovered that the noises were being made by water rats (water voles to be more accurate)! We had a nice Wind in the Willows moment and stayed to watch them for a bit, then went home and googled pictures of them to confirm that they are much cuter than regular rats.
|delicious picnic lunch|
|old graves at St Mary's, Fen Ditton|
The overall grind of work meant a busier end to Lent than I like, with little time left for meditation. We found an escape to this predicament by attending a penitential service at Our Lady and the English Martyrs. This year I am learning the benefit of actually scheduling time for retreats. By pencilling in time for contemplation and by going out of the house on a retreat it is harder to become distracted. It was a peaceful evening and I could approach Easter with a proper spirit.
After the calm, the storm. Or, if not quite a storm, a last bit of flurry of work and then suddenly it was Maundy Thursday and we were at Mass. Meanwhile my family were somewhere in the air over North America. That night I broke one of our house rules and took the 'phone into the bedroom and left the ringer on. 7:30am and the phone rang: "I kept waiting but I couldn't contain myself any longer. WE'RE IN LONDON! Bus is leaving in 20 minutes". A long few hours later my family arrived. Mum unloaded plunderous treats from Canada, namely cheezies and BBQ sauce. Then Dave & I dragged dad off to the Good Friday service while the others napped. In the evening we took them to their first (of many) English pub dinners at the Mitre, followed by The Hobbit. Jet lag claimed them all by intermission and only dad remained to catch the last acts of the play, which he mostly slept through.
On Holy Saturday I took everyone into town to go exploring/shopping. We had a great time and in the evening we had our traditional Easter weekend dinner of pseudo-Mennonite food. There was no Easter Vigil at our church this year as, for some reason, neither Queens nor Caius wanted us to light a fire in the courtyard. On Sunday we went to the Easter service at Fisher House: Queens and then enjoyed a warm, sunny walk around Cambridge and back home. Mum and I spent the afternoon making Easter dinner. It was so great to have a mum-cooked meal this holiday! I had purchased a free range turkey from the butchers and it was definitely the best turkey we've ever had. I had also tried my hand at making paska in my bread machine. The result wasn't as good as regular paska but it went down well with the boys at any rate. We were joined by our friend Mike, who had flown into Cambridge that day from Colorado. I was impressed that he managed to fight off jetlag long enough to have supper with us. He came bearing butterfinger chocolate bars and American BBQ sauce, making me one happy lady. It was such a lovely Easter, and it was so great to be together as a family for it.
|first taste of Cornish pasties|
|Easter Sunday on the Cam|