Wow! What a year. I promised I’d be back soon. I didn’t expect it to take quite this long. Welcome to 2020.
First. Badly Chopped Carrots and Everyday Dinners: Life as a Canadian in Rural Wales.
Who knew? What a wonderful, joyful, exhilarating launch back in September at the Aberystwyth University Arts Centre. Just about all my running buddies and longest standing friends showed up to celebrate AND bought books! Once again, thank you all.
I’ve heard that the book has captured interest and is selling in such far away places as Santa Barbara in California and Ottawa in Canada. And, I’ve also heard from Jacqueline Jeynes, my wonderful publisher, that there is a lovely review in Welsh Country magazine. So be sure to check it out.
Meanwhile, this past year has presented some ultimate challenges to my husband’s health which he has handled with immense dignity and equilibrium. Through it all, I have been thinking about, asking the question: What are the pivots to well-being? Yes, goals are important, with a focus on the future. They provide a sense of purpose, offer momentum. But equally important, powerful even, are humour and flexibility-in the moment. There is nothing like the gentle release from tension, the uplift of spirit that comes from a laugh or a smile in those quirky moments of life. Watching a blue tit blown sideways on the bird swing by gale force winds, but still managing to grab a peanut in his beak and go. And, yes, you may have plans for the day, the week, the year and circumstances get in the way. So you have to be flexible. You are required to draw on your creativity, imagination, resilience, determination, and so much more. What emerges is something altogether different from your original plans or goals, but equally or perhaps even more rewarding. Of course, we can never forget the power of compassion and connection. And, what has always kept me afloat in difficult times, even driven me, is finding an answer to the central question: What can I learn from this- now?.
So, I continue to train and to run-now. I did manage five or six 10K races this past year And thirty Park Runs. And I continue to paint. With the guidance of Karen Pearce, her inspiring creativity and endless patience, I am working on water right now. Karen and two or three of us from her group will be having an exhibition at Jay’s Gallery in Tregaron in July. Here are a couple of my paintings in progress, of the small ‘lake’ at Cors Caron, the Nature Reserve up the road.
Of course, I can’t leave you without mentioning …cooking! Rick Stein’s various journeys have now become our new favourite television series. Here is a variation on recipes from his book ‘The French Odyssey.
Rick Stein Influenced Seabass Fillets
I combined recipes for fried trout and hake en papillote from Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey.
4 seabass fillets
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 small carrots very finely chopped
1 leek finely sliced
100 + grams mushrooms quartered
1 rasher smoked back bacon chopped into about ½ inch pieces
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons butter
Oven 220 C/200 Fan/425F/
Saute bacon in butter until just cooked. Move to side of pan.
Saute carrots and leek until carrots are tender. Add mushrooms. Cook through.
Sprinkle fennel seeds on fish. Place fish fillets on bed of vegetables. Bake 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make beurre blanc.
50 grams shallots finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons dry white wine
6 tablespoons fish stock made with a fish stock cube
2 tablespoons double cream
175 grams cold unsalted butter cut in small dice. (Truthfully this is Rick’s suggestion. I used approximately 50 grams butter)
Simmer shallots, vinegar, wine and stock until reduced to 4 tablespoons. Add cream. Boil until reduced a little more. Lower heat. Gradually whisk in butter.
Serve with saffron potatoes.
Small peeled new potatoes in 900 ml chicken stock. Add a big pink of saffron threads. Simmer 15-20 minutes until tender.
I hope you enjoy!