I originally planned to make them all pink. When I bought the construction paper for the bodices, it came in a package of 5 colours. So I went about finding tissue paper, ribbon and sprinkles in the same colours. Little did I know that the girls would completely mix and match all the colours! We had pink skirts with yellow bodices. We had blue front skirts with green back skirts and pink bodices! It was wild and wonderful.
Last year about the same time my neighbour, Verdella, brought me some of her flat pie. I had never heard of flat pie! She makes the best pastry and the fresh apples sliced and seasoned to perfection make this a real treat for me. Don't tell anyone, but I ate the entire piece the minute she walked out the door!
I love Meredith. She has such a joie de vivre. It is always a wonderful day in Meredith's life. It is so refreshing.
But, I have a confession. It was none of those wonderful qualities of personality or riverside location that originally caught my undivided attention. It was her bay tree.
The first time I knew that bay trees grew in Canada was on this very first visit to Meredith's. Scott picked a bunch of leaves and we went back to the city to make a lovely lamb roast laid upon a bed of fresh bay leaves. I have always since been so envious. I would love to go out my front door and pick a handful of bay leaves.
Look at these lovely bouquet garni! Meredith has made these with a labour of love and I am one lucky recipient of this gift. They are so adorable! They are so more adorable than the almost identical bouquet garni that I purchased in Paris at La Grande Epicerie. I now feel a little ridiculous to have saved these 'petit cher bouquet garni' from Paris. They are dry and, well, lifeless, in comparison to the wonderfully fresh bundles from Meredith.
I planted the carrots and did not thin the planting. Now that it is fall, it is time to dig up everything. To my delight I had a lot of these tiny little carrots! I have always wanted to make candied carrots for decorating carrot cupcakes iced with cream cheese frosting.
Each carrot is between 1 and 2 inches long. I washed and cleaned them and then I painstakingly peeled each little one. I think I have about 3 dozen.
The first step is to blanch them in salted water. This is necessary so that the cell structure will change and accept the sugar in replacement for the water in the carrot. But you don't want to cook them either. This is truly 'cooking by braille'. I guessed at a short blanching time and drained them and then shocked them in ice water.
I made a heavy sugar syrup of water and sugar. I boiled the miniature carrots in this syrup for two or three minutes and turned off the heat. I let them sit in the sugar syrup for 2 days. After 2 days, I added another 1/2 cup of sugar and heated them again. When the new sugar was dissolved and the syrup was bubbling, I turned off the heat and let them sit in the sugar syrup for 3 days. During this time the water in the carrots is being replaced with sugar through osmosis.
After this, I warmed them so the sugar syrup was thin. I removed the little carrots and dried them on a cake rack for one day. Now they are arranged in layers separated by parchment paper in an airtight container. I will keep them in my cold room until I use them in two weeks for my cupcakes at the market.
Everyone is asking how they taste! That did not even cross my mind! I was only thinking of appearances. So I just ate one. It tastes faintly of carrot in a jellied candy kind of way. The green part was just as candied as the orange part. Very pleasant.
She was so sweet. " It was great meeting you, too. I had a great time hanging out in your kitchen and breaking the rules by tasting some of your delicious treats. Thanks."
It was nice to have a leisurely day in my kitchen. I pulled out the salmon that was in my freezer and made salmon cakes with black beans for appetizers.