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august1.foodpic.darcieIt wasn’t an easy decision when Sam and Ellie decided, along with Sam’s mother, that the best thing for all of them would be to buy a house with a granny flat.

Sam and Ellie had lived with family before, and it had left everyone involved with lingering resentments that they tried to cover up with pie and ice cream and careful skirting around topics that caused tension.

Esther was happy with her apartment, though.

After a long search, the house they found had a basement walk-out that was flooded in the mornings with sunlight and, if she stepped out onto her patio, right to where it met the grass, and leaned to the south, there was a view that couldn’t be beat.

Upstairs, Ellie was nervous about dinner.

On the day they’d all signed the legal documents, they’d agreed, as a family, that Wednesdays would be family dinner night. One night of the week when they’d plan a menu, divide it between them, then enjoy each other’s company around the table that had been an antique when Esther received it for her wedding 40 years earlier, and now occupied Ellie’s dining room.

This week, while Esther  had offered to make a roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire puddings, Ellie had wanted to do something special that both showed her mother-in-law that she was glad they lived so close now (because she wasn’t yet sure she was glad), and that built a bridge that would bring them together. Bridges could be built with food, she was sure of it. The Food Network and a hundred glossy magazines told her it was so.

And so, Ellie insisted that on this first family dinner night, she wanted to do everything. Just this time. Perhaps, she’d said, Esther could bring some veggies and dip to start things off.

Esther didn’t want to say anything. Certainly not that her feelings were hurt by being left in the produce aisle. And not that she thought Ellie had bitten off more than she could chew.

Over the decades, Esther had probably prepared a thousand family dinners, often for several dozens of people. And the one thing she knew for certain was that timing a dinner is something easier done when done together.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, when the Farmer’s Market opened, Esther quietly drove herself down the hill from their house, parked in the grassy lot next to all the tents, and spend a good two hours buying things she’d never known existed.

In her mesh handbag she had some fresh dill and parsley for her dip, along with a purple cauliflower, yellow baby carrots, and zucchini the size of her fingers. She stopped to eat a tray of little doughnuts, which she vowed to try making at home one day, then went on to stop at the grocery for a carton of sour cream.

Back at home, Ellie’s plans to shop after work, come home, and make a stuffed trout with steamed baby carrots, and creamy bruleed custards for dessert, had come as far as discovering that she should have unpacked her kitchen, and should have asked for a deboned fish with no scales.

Ellie didn’t even like fish. But she was a good cook. She’d just never had the chance to prove it to Esther.

When Ester came upstairs with her veggies, neatly cup up and arranged around a bowl of dip, she found Ellie scraping against the grain of a fish with a butter knife, sending silvery scales flying into her hair.

“Can I help?” Esther asked.

For a moment, Ellie stood frozen, hoping it would render her invisible.

And then, both women began to laugh. Just a little. It wasn’t exactly a bridge. But maybe a footing.

“You can learn new recipes from a magazine,” Esther said as Ellie tore out a recipe for homemade relish, which Esther set aside without reading. “But they cannot tell you how to cook. For that you need someone to teach.”

Ellie took a deep breath, and left the footing where it was.

Fresh Dill Dip          

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbs shallot, minced
4 Tbs fresh, finely chopped, dill weed
1 Tbs fresh, finely chopped, parsley leaves

flaked Kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, beat together mayonnaise and sour cream with a rubber spatula until combines. Gently fold in garlic and shallot, dill and parsley. Season to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour  to let flavours develop. Adjust seasoning.

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By the Bay
(July 2012)
On Wednesday, we drive towards the Bay of Fundy, en route from Halifax to Prince Edward Island.
After stopping to take pictures of salt-sanded outbuildings and fence lines, and wildly-growing wildflowers, we arrive at the Bay’s interpretive centre where we’re reminded to be aware of the shoreline at all times. “The volume of water that will return to the Bay over the next six hours is greater than than all the fresh water lakes and rivers on earth.”
Once outside with this information, I try to imagine what it means. But while my mind telescopes for perspective, I find there is none. It’s simply not possible to gain a sense of such volume.
And so we walk.
We walk down a tree- and berry-lined path.
We walk down and down an encasement of wooden stairs. We hop onto a rock and then down further still, onto another, then another. We step onto the ocean floor, where the high tide markers suddenly rise five stories above us.
I think to myself how it’s possible that, only hours ago, a whale swam through this very passage which is now bare enough to walk on while carrying a camera and a red plastic bucket we use to collect a few rocks, a few shells, and a possible fossil.
At sand level, I pick up tiny hermit crabs that reach around their shells to touch my thumb, then settle them back in their tide pools, wondering about life in such a dramatically cycling waterscape.
Above are knotted ropes that dangle from trees atop stone towers that will become islands by mid-afternoon: lifelines for anyone caught spelunking in sea caves, or simply caught daydreaming.
I find it’s impossible to not imagine being marooned atop one of these islands, and I take a mental inventory of things that ought to be in our backpack should we find ourselves climbing out of the tide to relative safety.
In truth, everything I think of would better fill a picnic basket. And later, as we continue to travel through Nova Scotia, across a corner of New Brunswick, and the circle drives of P.E.I., we’ll discover all the edible items we could ever want to be stranded with.
There will be fresh raspberries and blueberries, and every kind of vegetable, all sold roadside, by an honor system of taking what you want and leaving money in a wooden box.
We’ll discover a gouda farm and more ice cream stands per capita than seems reasonable, even to us. And we’ll find The Maroon Pig, a bakery in Georgetown where the once-mayor/maker-of-sea-glass-jewellery will send us for olive-studded focaccia. The kind of bread that might make a couple of foolish married people imagine an accidental picnic on one of Fundy’s tidal islands.
For now, though, it’s time to be on our way.
And so we walk back across the tidal flats, climb over one rock, then another and another. Up the wooden stairs and back to our rental car, where we set shoes caked with red mud to dry in the trunk, along with a few rocks, a few shells, and a possible fossil.
“Georgetown” Focaccia
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs active dry yeast
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp flaked kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
grape tomatoes and green olives
Proof yeast in water. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in olive oil.
In another bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
Add half of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir (with dough hook) on low, just to mix. Add remaining flour. Mix 3 minutes more. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 8 minutes.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise a second time. Shape into a ball, transfer to a clean bowl. Brush with olive oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Take dough from fridge an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 425F, with a baking stone set inside.
Spread parchment paper on a baking peel and pour dough onto paper. Brush with oil and top with olives and halved grape tomatoes and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Slide focaccia, along with paper, onto stone. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.

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Brioche Sticky Buns

March 1, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Set aside in a warm place, 10 minutes, until creamy.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, whisk together flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and eggs to flour. Mix on low until liquids are completely incorporated; 3 minutes.
With mixer on high, add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter is added, knead for 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a very large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out to 15×20-inches.
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a boarder of 1/2-inch. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle over sour cream. Roll up lengthwise.
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add syrups and beat until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom and sides of two 8x11x2-inch glass baking dishes. Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Arrange into pans.
Bake, with a cookie sheet below to catch drips, at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.

Second Breakfast:

Prairie Berry Clafoutis

December 1, 2010 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

I have a new favourite recipe and this is it!
by Amy Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast, a writer’s journey home for dinner
2 tbs butter
2 cups mixed Saskatchewan berries, fresh or frozen
(raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, sour cherries and, of course, saskatoons)
1 tbsp flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Heat the oven to 350F. In the oven, melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or large pie plate. Do not brown. Meanwhile, toss the berries with 1 tbsp of flour. In a blender or food processor, mix the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. With the blades running, gradually add the cup of flour and blend well. Pour the batter into the pan. Scatter the berries overtop. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the centre is set. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with icing sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Clafoutis is a French custard cake, much like a thick crepe, and makes a perfect brunch or dessert.


BLT Bread Salad

4 slices bacon, crumbled

3 slices day-old bread, cubed

(or equivalent artisan bread, cubed or sliced into thin fingers, as shown)

2 medium tomatoes

2 cups salad greens

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced


2 Tbs light mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

dash hot sauce

3 Tbs milk

flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Fry bacon until crisp, then remove with tongs to a paper towel. Add sliced garlic to bacon fat and distribute evenly around pan. Add bread and fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry on other (or all) side. Remove from pan.

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Place in a large salad bowl and squeeze lightly to release some of the juices.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over tomatoes and stir. Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, toss in bread.

Arrange salad greens on two large plates. Top with the tomato/bread mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.


Baked Potato Soup
flesh from 4 large baked potatoes
4 Tbs butter
2 medium leeks, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated cheddar
6 green onions, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, chopped
flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
sour cream
Scoop flesh from well-baked potatoes.
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks; sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes and 5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 10 minutes
Puree using an immersion blender. Thin with additional stock if needed.
Bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheddar, green onions, bacon and sour cream.

Afternoon Tea:

London Fog for one

3/4 cup hot water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbs vanilla syrup
Steep both tea bags in water for very strong tea. Meanwhile, froth milk with the steam attachment of an espresso machine (or heat and use a latte whip). Remove tea bags from tea. Add vanilla syrup and steamed milk, reserving froth for the top. Serve immediately, with crumb cake (next recipe).

Susanne Klassen’s Crumb cake recipe!

(contributed by Elsie K. Neufeld)

2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine (or butter, I suppose), softened.

Mix the above and reserve 3/4 -1 cup for “crumbs.”

Add 2 tsp BAKING SODA to 1 1/2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk). Whisk with a fork.
Pour into the dry mixture. Then beat 2 eggs and add. Turn on mixer. Beat until your intuition tells you to stop.

Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Top with reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 or so minutes.

Bakers’ notes: I wanted to keep Elsie’s mom’s recipe worded just the way it was. I used a different method, so include these few notes:

Whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup crumbs. Whisk baking soda into remaining crumbs.

Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to crumb mixture and bring together with a fork, until the consistency of muffin batter.

Pour into a buttered pan. Top with reserved crumbs. Bake until a tester comes out clean.


Chefhusband’s Ultimate Fried Egg Sandwich

March 30, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit


(makes 2)

4 slices artisan bread

4 fresh eggs

8 slices bacon, cooked, drippings reserved

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices sharp cheddar

2 tbs mayonnaise

herb salad

kosher salt, fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350F. Place a pan over med-high heat.

For each sandwich, butter one side of two slices of bread. Spread insides with mayo and place tomato slices on one side, cheese on the other. Season tomato with salt and pepper. Place bread, buttered side down, in skillet. After 30 seconds, transfer to oven to melt cheese.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tsp bacon drippings in a small pan. Crack in 2 eggs and fry over-easy, leaving the yolks runny.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer bread to a cutting board. Add eggs, bacon and a few greens. Assemble and slice in half. Serve immediately.



This is an old Mennonite recipe. Though I didn’t learn it from my Grandma Friesen, it still reminds me of her kitchen in Schoenfeld, Saskatchewan.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
4-5 cups flour
12 oz Farmers sausage (about 1 1/2 large)
Grease an 11 by 11 by 3-inch baking pan.
In a  small pot, scald milk by warming it over med-high heat until barely simmering. Allow to cool until it is warm but no longer hot (baby bottle temperature).
Meanwhile, proof yeast in water with sugar.
In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Stir in milk and yeast mixture.
Whisk salt into flour and add, one cup at a time into the wet mixture (whisking at first, then changing to a wooden spoon), until mixture is thick and slightly elastic. (It should be like a very heavy muffin batter, but not so thick or overworked that it becomes a dough).
Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces. Fold into batter.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

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Reblogged by NiceFatGurdie, in honour of Chefhusband, longsuffering lover of food.

Cynicalreview's Blog

A very special post by my celebrity guest blogger Cameron Power.

Everyone knows that chefs are angry people. They are self absorbed, self-centred, sadistic, narcissistic bastards who thrive on heaping their shit onto other people’s plates whilst mentally assaulting anybody who comes within earshot of their verbal tirades.  basically they are mean-spirited, spiteful and vicious, and that’s on a good day.

As someone who has been a chef for the last decade , from lowly dishwasher, to shit-kicking apprentice, to the highs of an executive chef, I have experienced enough of this career to feel qualified to ask, Why would anybody, and I mean anybody, choose this as a profession? Long hours, shocking pay, the mind numbing routine of sweating, bleeding and being degraded, and all for seemingly nothing. You get home and sleep for two hours before you have to wash and iron your uniform, sharpen your knives…

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Cream of Broccoli Soup

1/2 medium onion, diced
2 tbs butter
5 cups chopped broccoli florets
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in butter until translucent. Stir in broccoli. Add stock and simmer 15 to 30 minutes, until broccoli is very tender.
Transfer into a blender. Puree until smooth. Return to pot and heat gently. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cream.

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Thank you so much to everyone who entered by sharing their holiday food stories. Each one evocative of place and food. I loved every single one, whether long or short!

As there can only be one winner, the prize goes to Alice Gro and her story about eating tripe in France. She left both Susan and I hungry and laughing…though not necessarily for tripe.

Previously undiscosed: Alice also wrote the story about sailing into Bequia’s harbour and staying for the roti. So appropriate, given the setting of the novel! And Keiko Mori has given me permission to publish her name as the writer of the “Tea in the crypt” story.

So thank you again, and congratulations to Alice! I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address so I can send your copy of Susan M. Toy’s “Island in the Clouds.”

Meanwhile, here are the entries:

  1. Received by email, the first entry for the giveaway contest comes from Kamloops, B.C.:

    “I think it is marvellous to travel and get cooking ideas from where you have been.
    Recently I was in London where my granddaughter treated us to English Tea at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a wonderful experience and I laughingly say that “We had tea in the crypt”, because that is where the tearoom is.
    So I learned what a “tea” consists of and so on my return I have been able to treat my friends to cucumber, salmon and egg salad sandwiches (with the crusts removed), scones with strawberry jam and double Devon cream and meringues and cupcakes.I was delighted to find that I could buy the cream at Safeway that is actually from Devon.
    I was very surprised at how extremely delighted and thankful everyone was with the event. I actually made tea with loose tea and I think that it does make superior tea.
    So I told my friends that that was my souvenir for them as everything in England I found very costly.And, a gift that they do not have to put on a shelf and dust! It is when you go away that you realize how fortunate one is to live in Canada!
    The husband of one of my friends commented, “You are going to an English Tea at the home of a Japanese woman?” I am Canadian but my ancestry is Japanese.
    I have enjoyed your column and many of your recipes and stories of Mennonite life.
    Thank you,” (name withheld)

    *posted by Darcie*

  2. on July 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Replywhatlooksin

    Another entry!
    Marion Soames writes:
    We were sitting at a rustic picnic table enjoying first of the season radishes. I went to take a second bite of my radish and half (yes half) a worm was wiggling back at me. Never took a bite of a radish for the rest of the trip. Marion

  3. on July 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Replywhatlooksin

    And another by email!
    “Hi Darcie

    Well! Today’s Courier article whipped me back to the summer of 1994 at whip-lash speed! Six of us had picked up a 45′ sloop in St. Lucia and began a month long sail along the fragrant Windward Islands (St. Vincent, Granada, Cariacou, etc.) of the Caribbean. After an especially hard day of sailing, we found our anchorage for the night in the stunning little harbour of Bequia. I can still easily recall the brightly painted cottages along the shore, the warm humid tropical air, and steel drums easing the soft evening breezes.

    As it turned out our boat had some mechanical issues (as they always do), and we were obligated to spend several days at this anchorage. (Shucks!) Taking our little dinghy ashore we were accosted with the mouth watering scents of street food! Well, these tired, hungry salty dawgs could hardly restrain ourselves. After a saunter around the harbour, we all converged at the Roti stand. We discovered three types of rotis:
    1. Local (i.e. with bones – chicken necks, backs, and bits of dark meat
    2. Goat
    3. Boneless (for the “softies” i.e. tourists)
    I’ll admit we all opted for the third kind and all became Chicken Roti affectionados on the spot. Over the next couple of days, we seemed to find our way back to that Roti stand several more times – our on-board galley got little use at that anchorage.

    I’ve never tried to make roti back home, but you’ve inspired me to try, so this July, when some of the ship-mates from that trip come to town, I’ll surprise them (or try to!).

    So, Darcie, thanks for the memory, and the inspiration!”
    (name withheld)

  4. I should preface this anecdote with the comment that my husband and I have fairly eclectic and adventurous palates. In fact, my husband has stated that the only food he will not try is tripe.

    Some years ago we were travelling by car through Germany to Provence, France. Along the way we were enjoying the local foods and wines of the regions we passed through. With my Mennonite background I found my German was good enough to make pretty good choices in the restaurants. We entered France from Strasbourg and our first stop was the lovely city of Dijon.

    It was mid-afternoon, so we decided to stop for a snack and our first French wine at a lovely sun-dappled restaurant patio. “Leave it to me, “ I said when we were handed an all-French menu. After all, I had had one year of College French. With some confidence I selected a couple of “small plates” that I thought would go nicely with the red wine my husband ordered.

    When the first dish arrived – you guessed it! – it was a plate of tripe, beautifully napped in a golden Dijon sauce. Oh my! What a dilemma for the husband: abandon this incredibly delicious smelling tripe dish, or abandon his aversion? Well, we are foodies after all, and yes, we did hold our breaths and dip into this amazingly redolent dish. And yes, it was amazing! We tucked right in and then cleaned up the sauce with our crusty bread so there was nary a smear left on the plate.

    “Delicious”, we both sighed.

    Interestingly though, we have never eaten tripe since, and we never travel without our trusty IPod dictionary either!

  5. Hi Darcie,

    While recently on a Disney Cruise, my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and I spent an evening dining at the adult-only restaurant aboard the DISNEY MAGIC. I enjoyed a meal of roast beef, cooked to perfection and steamed vegetables that were delightful; but the best part of all was dessert. It was the most delicious, sweet and gooey, chocolate-filled tart I have ever devoured.

    Keri Michaud

  6. […] has been running a contest in her food column and over at her blogsite, Nice Fat Gurdie and there’s still another day to enter! You’ll win a copy of my book! Go to […]

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The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoffs morning. An ex-pat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesnt want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now hes the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, hes drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…

Part travelogue, part mystery, Island in the Clouds takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect…from the outside, anyway.

Island in the Clouds, the debut murder mystery (first in a trilogy) by my fellow-Humber grad Susan M. Toy, is fun in the sun. With shady characters, some murders, and an island that refuses to be what it seems.

In honour of her first book, Susan has allowed me to host a contest and give away a signed copy of Island in the Clouds. All you have to do it comment and tell me about your favourite vacation meal. It doesn’t have to be from a trip to the Caribbean, or an island destination. Just wherever you went and found an amazing, unforgettable dish, whether in a restaurant, from a food truck, on the docks…

For more on Island in the Clouds and the origins of this contest, check out this week’s food column in Kamloops This Week (also being published in the Okanagan Sunday and Prairie Post). But you don’t have to be a subscriber to enter the contest. Just sit back, have a read, then tell me about something you ate.

The best travel/food story wins!

If yours isn’t the winning entry, however, Island in the Clouds is available in print and as an e-book. For how to purchase, click on THIS LINK.

And enjoy!

(Contest closes July 16.)

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darcie friesen hossack

(March 2012)
It’s showtime.
Or very nearly.
When we arrive at Conrad Grebel University College and make our way into the dining room, the voices of 200 students rise and fall with laughter and conversation.
This is Community Supper. Every Wednesday, the room is reserved for exactly one hour. Dinner is prepared by Old Colony Mennonites ladies. There are rapid-fire campus announcements, followed by a twenty minute presentation.
“You’ve been briefed about our timeline?” I’m asked by tonight’s hostess.
“6:05 to 6:25, not a minute longer,” I affirm. The timeline, although not sacred, is inviolate. A part of the Wednesday ritual, and not to be messed with.
I like it, this adherence to social timing. Sixty minutes, and then, for better or worse, everyone breaks company, and no one is left stranded in the middle of a conversation trap.
First, though, there is dinner, and tonight’s menu features salmon.

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Um, gonna!

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Amy at afternoon popcorn snack, responsible for keeping me awake at nights thinking about her Lemon Almond Shortbread Bars, has nominated Nice Fat Gurdie for a One Lovely Blog Award! Thank you so much Amy! And to everyone checking out todays post, it’s a reblog of those shortbread squares. Enjoy your insomnia. I know I am 🙂

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