Category Archives: Christmas

My Christmas Meat Pie Story

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free-vector-beautiful-christmas-tree-vector_025000_3‘Twas the day to make meat pies, the onions were sliced.
The ground pork was sizzling, the mushrooms were diced.
When, what to my family’s surprise should appear,
But me in an apron and snorkel mask gear!

Cyber-confessions: With Christmas looming large on the horizon, I look forward to our annual meat-pie-making ceremony. It always signifies the start of the holidays for our family. And at this ripe old age, I must confess into the blogosphere that I can’t cook. Never could. Never would. Never wanted to. But in an idiot savant kind of way – I can cook a fabulous French Canadian tourtiere (meat pie).

Practice makes perfect-pie: The truth is, I’ve had exactly 25 years experience making this one dish every Christmas. It all started in December 1991. So I should be good at it by now, with tons of beef, pork and mushrooms under my belt. Well, not literally you understand or my dress size would outnumber my age. But I digress…

Back to the pies: When I say I can’t cook, I mean I can’t cook anything that doesn’t appeal to a child under the age of ten. Over the years, I managed to make all the simple standards; enough to keep my daughter fed and the Children’s Aid from my door.

Soufflé or sauté: But when it came to dinner parties and trying recipes that required any skill at all – I didn’t know flambé from flamenco! Eating-out or catering-in was always the wisest choice back then. During my working years, Hubsey often threatened to turn our kitchen into a library. He said the wasted space taken up by the stove and cooking areas could be put to better use. I thought it was a brilliant idea, but alas he never followed through.

Hungry motivation: And so over the years it came to pass, that for reasons of pure self-preservation, Hubsey decided to take over the kitchen reins and I gladly relinquished my apron. Well it wasn’t really an apron – I never had one of those. It was more of a long silk shirt that fluttered elegantly as I wafted through the kitchen to top up my glass of wine.

Perfect pair: Now back to Hubsey’s foray into cooking. I’m happy to report that he’s done an admirable job at this cooking thing and over the years has developed into a very creative and adventurous chef. So I continue to sit back in my post retirement years; bib tucked firmly in place and my knife and fork at the ready – eager to sample anything he gets the urge to create. We make quite a team! He loves to cook and I…don’t!

Keep out: Now back to my meat pie story again. Hubsey doesn’t get involved. This is the one dish he leaves to me and my daughter to prepare and wisely stays out of the kitchen. He knows it’s been a bumpy road to get me to this exalted state of meat-pie-cooking-nirvana and he doesn’t want to upset the delicate balance of this rare mother-daughter cooking achievement. How well he remembers the first time we tried this recipe. What a disaster! But in my defense, the snorkel masks were my idea and they did help with the onions.

Check it out: Years ago I wrote an article about that first tourtiere-cooking experience. It was published in several magazine and newspaper publications and you can check out a-toast-to-tourtierehere. And for those of you who find your mouth-watering curiosity too much to bear – click here for my toutiere-recipe

I’ve passed this recipe on to scores of people over the past 25 years – with rave reviews by all. This truly is the best holiday meat pie ever. And if I can make it…well, you know the drill.

Now away I must fly like the down of a thistle.
I think I just heard my stove-timer-thing whistle.
So let me exclaim as I blog out of sight,
“It took me 2 decades…but I got it right!”

picejuxsjMerry Christmas to all and to all a good bite!

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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The Red Angel

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I need to tell you a story:   

Prologue: The other day, I sat in the lobby of my condo building waiting for Hubsey to pick me up at the front door. As I sat on the bench, I admired the beautiful Christmas decorations all around me. A team of dedicated volunteers take time out of their lives every year to do this, and it truly is spectacular…inviting and festive to all residents and visitors who come through the lobby.

Main character: An elderly woman I didn’t know was sitting beside me, and I commented on how beautiful everything looked. She harumphed and said, “I hate that red angel on the top of the tree.”

The lines in the woman’s face deepened as she glared at the angel and added, “They should have put a white one, or a gold one, but not that cheap looking thing! It ruins everything!”

Point of view: Now the tree had to be 15 feet high, so from where I was sitting I had to really squint to see the details of this monstrosity she was talking about. But what I saw was a beautiful angel in a red velvet dress trimmed with white fur, sporting a set of magical feathery white wings. She was beautiful and angelic as angels should be, and simply perfect for the treetop.

Motivation: I thought about this woman for the rest of the day…I’m still thinking about her. Why was she so unhappy with this red angel and how could it possibly “ruin everything” as she said. And while I know deep down it wasn’t about the angel at all, I can’t help but wonder  what made her see the little red angel in that particular way?

Perhaps her children don’t call at Christmas?
Perhaps she deals with pain every waking moment?
Perhaps her shoes were too tight?
Perhaps Santa has forgotten her too many times?
Perhaps she is lonely?
Perhaps her father was a nasty drunk every Christmas?
Perhaps all her old friends have died?
Perhaps she has outlived her money?
Perhaps the colour red makes her see red?
Perhaps she was simply constipated?

Epilogue: Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we see the world from where we sit…together with all our glory and carbuncles. And our view is distorted by the amount of baggage we choose to drag along behind us.  Life’s a bitch, there’s no doubt about that! It’s how we deal with the successes, failures and challenges that defines how we see life’s ever changing landscape.

Serendipity: Coincidentally, someone tweeted this picture recently, which I would like to share with you. I don’t know the tweeter, so I apologize if I am using the picture without permission, whoever you are. But it’s a great message and if I knew who the woman was that I met in the lobby, I would stick it under her door. It’s never too late to see the beautiful red angels in our lives.

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See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

 

 

 

 

 

At Christmas…

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Well folks, it’s been quite a year of world disasters, the usual corruption in politics and enough nasty Rob Ford antics to make my ears bleed. Seriously!

So as we turn our thoughts to gentler things at this time of year, I struggle to put all this behind me and think kinder thoughts of my fellow man. And in so doing, I am reminded of this beloved Christmas poem by Edgar Albert Guest.

You will have to forgive me because I posted the same poem last year, and the year before. But  it’s very simply the perfect Christmas reading. Everyone should have this one bred in the bone.

And at the bottom of this post, you will find a quirky little toast for your Christmas dinner, sure to cause a few giggles around the turkey.

                             At Christmas

                        (Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
Then he’s thinking more of others than he thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.

When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service that is prompted by his heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labours when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.
I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.

Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is open wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost what God sent him here to be.

                                       =====

Now I’ll leave you something else I’ve borrowed – this time from Victoria Farm, which airs on the BBC.  Cheers!

Old Victorian Toast

Here’s a toast to them as we love,
And a toast to them as loves us.
And here’s to them, who loves them,
Who loves those, who loves those,
Who loves them, that loves us.

Only the sober can say it and only the drunk can understand it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!

See you between the lines.

Pat Skene

A Gift of Rhyme at Christmastime

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My boomer rantz are on a break,
It’s Christmastime for heaven’s sake!
So as I bid you all adieu,
Read on to find my gift to you and you and you and you…

Here we are again:
Another exciting Christmas season has arrived. Oh I know it’s a man-made circus of retail insanity, but there’s so much more bubbling beneath the surface if we look close enough; nice big fat juicy bubbles – like kindness, generosity, good cheer and family traditions. Most people are softer and more forgiving during the holidays, and that in itself is worth all the effort that goes into celebrating this magical time of year. 

I have 2 little rhyming gifts for you before I hit the eggnog. The first one is for the kids in your life, and the next one below it is for you.

                THE  PERFECT  PRESENT
                          by Pat Skene            

It was early Christmas morning when I tiptoed out of bed.
Did Santa get my letter? Was my present in his sled?

The strangest looking package lay beneath the Christmas tree.
It said, With Love, From Santa! Could this present be for me?

Well I’m older than my brother and the baby is too small.
I think a package of this size should be for someone tall.

The gift was wrapped with holes poked through, and tied with silver twine.
I read the tag – To Jonathan – this present must be mine!

But suddenly, the package moved! I saw it sure enough.
Two big brown eyes peeked out at me. Oh my! I heard, “Ruff-ruff.”

It jumped out of the wrapping, and then knocked down the tree.
It chewed the Christmas paper up and wagged its tail at me.

I loved the furry little face. Its coat was white and brown.
It pulled on my pajama strings and made my pants fall down.

In came my brother Sammy with my baby sister Sue.
They saw my perfect present and they both yelled out, “Yahoo!”

When Mom and Dad came down the stairs, the room was quite a sight.
They said, “It looks like Santa Claus has had a busy night.”

So Santa read my letter and he knew just what to bring me,
But I wonder how he got my Christmas puppy down the chimney?

                            MERRY CHRISTMAS KIDS!
——————————————————————————————–

And now my favourite Christmas reading. I’m sure Edgar wouldn’t mind my re-gifting this one:

                                                   AT CHRISTMAS

                                       (Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

          A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
          He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
          Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,
          And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
          He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
          When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.

          When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
          He is keener for the service that is prompted by the heart.
          All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
          And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
          Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
          That at Christmas he is almost what God wanted him to be.

          If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
          Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
          I’d not catch him at his labors when his thoughts are all of pelf,
          On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.
          I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
          But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.

          Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
          There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,
          But at Christmas kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
          And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is opened wide.
          Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
          That at Christmas man is almost what God sent him here to be.

 Here’s to peace and happiness from me and mine to you and yours. 
 Pat Skene

Christmas at Squabble Rock

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It’s hard to rant about anything at this joyous time of year. But if I were to have rantz in my pantz about anything, it would be the fact that some people now register for Christmas gifts – just like for a wedding! Are you kidding me!

Anyway, all that nonsense aside, I wanted to thank you for riding along with me on this new blogging adventure. And as a token of my appreciation, I tried to send a slice of my delicious Christmas tourtiere to each one of you, complete with a jar of Hubsey’s homemade peach chutney. But the shipment was stopped at the blogosphere border by the Duke of URL. He advised me that it was not an approved food item for entry into cyberspace. Sorry about that.

So all I can give you is a story. Happy Reading and Merry Christmas! Read the rest of this entry