Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Over the past few weeks, I've been pondering the paradox that isolation is. 

On the one hand, we are physically separated from our families, friends and usual activities and those who live alone must be hugely affected. It is so hard for some of us. 

On the other hand, if we are lucky enough to be connected to the rest of the world via the internet, we have been able to connect through Facetime, Skype and Zoom, learning new communication skills that can change our small worlds. 

We have been invited into homes of musicians, entertainers, chefs, gardeners and others in a way that is new and strangely comforting. Even churches are conducting worship from the living rooms and music rooms of congregants, a really intimate way to connect in a time of great dis-connection.

Performances and masterclasses from kitchens, family rooms and gardens. A few of the groups I've enjoyed on YouTube or Instagram TV: 

This list doesn't even include the hikers, authors, book bloggers and photographers I keep up with, unbeknownst to them. 😉 They enrich my small life. Keep in mind that I do not watch TV or movies - but these occupy a great deal of time and it may be hard to turn it all off if/when I eventually get busier.

Today, though, I want to share this exquisite piece of music recorded by Voces8. Recorded pre-pandemic, it's one of many tracks that the group has released from their recent album to help get us all through this trying time. The oboist here has that incredible and noteworthy ability of circular breathing. 

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, J.S. Bach, one of the most perfect pieces ever composed and performed here with perfection. No paradox involved!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Important Information About Chocolate Chip Cookies

Many of us, at least those of us who, pre-Covid-19, already had flour in the pantry or who managed to score some at the grocery store, have been baking more often. Guilty!

One of the historical favourites in our family? Chocolate chip cookies. Yours too?

Recently the DoubleTree Hotel chain in a fit of generosity released the recipe for their famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, baked daily and offered to incoming guests. Are they really better than our old recipe? Must find out!

At our house, we load on the chocolate but omit the walnuts.

Note that the baker weighs his ingredients - this might be a secret tip 😉😜 Although the provided recipe doesn't supply weight, I started to add them below but ran into trouble, realizing that American, Canadian and European conversions are all quite different so decided to let you do it yourself if you want.

Double Tree Signature Cookie Recipe
Makes 26 Cookies

1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 2/3 cups Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl.

With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don't overmix.

Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 

Preheat oven to 300F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and centre is still soft.  

Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.

Cook's note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there's no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and centre is still soft.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Wintergatan Marble Machine

Wintergatan is a Swedish band whose members specialize in unusual instruments. The Marble Machine is one of them. 

Interested to know more? Check out the band's Wikipedia entry

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rewilding the Landscape


This video presents the British project by Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex to change the type of agriculture from one driven by farmers using fences, fertilizers and current agricultural practices into one that allows the land to revert naturally to a wild state, having mixed livestock, cattle, horses, pigs and deer cohabiting and roaming the entire property, with open access to forests, streams and grassland. 

It seems a very brave thing to do, given how farmers live with so little profit from their land. I'm sure there are differing opinions about the project and downsides to it not mentioned in the video but I still wonder if this could be a model for future sustainable agriculture and the recovering of our beautiful planet from over- and mismanagement by humans.

If you are as enthusiastic about this project as I am, you might want to watch other videos here: Knepp Rewilding Project.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

To Parents:

I saw this on Twitter last week and thought it was a good thing to be reminded of.