November 9, 2014

Upside Down Peach Cake + Secrets.


I've taken to visiting our neighbor, Mr. Williams*, on Saturday afternoons. While he says he is content in spending his days with the company of his dog, the weekly visit from his son and occasional phone call from the other, I get the feeling he enjoys our visits as much as I do. He likes to tell me stories about his years in the army, anecdotes about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to beam with pride while talking about his brilliant dog, who is usually eyeing me from her spot on the couch next to him, and to tell me about how 'the Lord has been good' to him. 

When our visits first began, I thought it would do us both some good to have regular visits. I yearned to hear stories and listen to his advice. And for him, I thought a distraction from his daily routine might be nice. I can't say I didn't know I would be changed during our visits. Yet I didn't expect it to be in the form of spiritual encouragement. 

It feeds my soul to hear his testimony and encourages me in my own journey. Every once in a while he'll tell me to keep on in my faith. "Keep the faith, lassie," he'll tell me. "Don't forsake the good Lord, because He won't forget you." 

Yesterday after our visit he ambled over to his freezer and pulled out package after package of frozen fruit plates. A local program brings him food every week. Every week they bring seven plates with three slices of peach and half of a pear. 

"I can't eat all of these," he says. "They're good for making upside down cakes and things." He put about eight plates in a bag and swore me to secrecy. I am not allowed to tell anyone that he is giving me fruit plates. 

But here I am telling you. But it's okay. Wanna know why? Because today I'm sending the fruit right back. Not all of it at once, but cake by cake. I've decided there's a good reason he's sent fruit. He needs to eat it. So, I took his suggestion and made upside down peach cake. 

I haven't told him it's vegan. He'd probably give me an exasperated speech about how underweight I am (I am perfectly on weight, thank you very much) and it's certainly due to the silliness of not eating any meat or dairy. So this post is full of secrets. You don't tell anyone that he is giving away fruit plates, nor that the cake I made is vegan. Deal? I'm trusting you, Internet!

 *names changed to protect the innocent

Upside Down Peach Cake - Vegan

adapted to vegan from | Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) sliced peaches in juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp ground oatmeal
  • Directions


    1. Drain peaches, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Pat peaches dry. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and reserved peach juice. Spread into a 9-in. round baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cut peach slices in half lengthwise; arrange in a single layer over brown sugar mixture.
    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and remaining butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Spoon over peaches. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings

October 25, 2014

For Love's Sake: Mr. Scott

There is something about love stories that seems to feed our souls in a way other stories can't. Perhaps we don't even notice our need for them, but part of our souls crave the hope that they offer. 
The thing with true love stories is that they don't worry about catering to what others will deem cool, unique or romantic. They don't worry about what will sell. They just are. 
Some are corny, some bland, some sweet, some intense, some end happily and others not so much. This is what makes them enduring to me. This is what makes them cool, unique and romantic. 
This post is part of a collection of love stories that I have encountered in my life. Please, for love's sake, read, listen and, if moved to do so, spread the love around with others.
 
Enjoy :)



"I came to Canada after the war, and found a job on the freight trains," says Mr. Scott a 94-year old veteran who lives quietly in an Abbotsford neighborhood in British Columbia. "But one day my superintendent called me in to his office, and told me to put on my good suit because they were putting me on the passenger car that day."

From the station in Vancouver, Mr. Scott boarded a CN passenger train headed to Blue River, BC, and back again. "I had to make myself acquainted with the passengers in the day coach," says Mr. Scott. "I had to know where they were getting off so I could open the doors for them and put the stool on the ground for them to step on, and get their baggage for them."

On the way back to the West Coast, Mr. Scott was walking through the car collecting tickets and saying 'hello' when he bumped into Rachel, a striking brunette on her way to Victoria, BC.

"My first impression of her–oh I can't really tell how I felt about her," laughs Mr. Scott. "I just felt like I would love to have that girl be with me for the rest of my life. This is the girl for me if I can get her."

Upon informing her and her friend that the train wouldn't be making it to Victoria, Mr. Scott asked if they had a place to stay in Vancouver. When they answered to the contrary, Mr. Scott told them about a hotel he knew close to the station. The same hotel at which he would, coincidentally, be staying that night.

"Somehow I rather knew I wanted to know a little more about this girl," says Mr. Scott. "Something seemed to tell me. I don't know what it is, but there always seems to be something that tells you."

The next morning Mr. Scott took Rachel and her friend to the the bus station. He left with her address in Ottawa tucked into his pocket, but without expectations of ever seeing her again.

"In the meantime, I was on a freight going up to Boston Bar," says Mr. Scott. "When we got there the rain came down in buckets. I got soaked to the skin and got pleurisy. So that was the end of my days on the railroad."

After leaving the railroad, Mr. Scott decided to return home to Scotland. However, in order to catch the boat to home, Mr. Scott first had to take the train across Canada. It was during that trip, on December 25, 1951, that Mr. Scott got off the train in Ottawa and made a surprise visit to Rachel.

"You can just imagine the look on her face," laughs Mr. Scott. Those moments together that Christmas morning marked their first date. "We just stayed at home, and talked to each other, and were happy to be with each other. That's all."

They spoke about his health, and Rachel was intent on helping him recover. "She took one look at me," says Mr. Scott, "and said, 'Oh boy, you really have been sick! I'll soon put the weight back on you when we get things straightened out.'"

He gave her his address in Scotland, and the two exchanged letters for months until Mr. Scott finally immigrated to Canada in 1952.

A previous experience with love made it difficult for him to consider marriage. "It was hard to say 'I do,'" says Mr. Scott, "because I was scared that she would treat me like the other one had. But she didn't; we stuck together. Fifty-seven years is pretty good."

Throughout those 57 years, Mr. and Mrs. Scott endured the birth of a stillborn son, unemployment and the other difficulties life tends to bring.

"It was getting to know each other's ways," says Mr. Scott, "which was a little bit hard at first, but it didn't take us very long to get over that. Love covers up a lot of things, doesn't it? It was love that kept us together. Love is very important. If there's no love, there's nothing." 

It has been five years since Mrs. Scott passed away, but Mr. Scott fondly remembers his wife and their time together. "She was a marvelous cook," says Mr. Scott. "She could cook anything. And she took care of the money. She took care of everything, and I had no qualms about that. That's what I miss. She was, well, she was tops."

As for the secret to a long-lasting and happy marriage, Mr. Scott says there is none. "It's a give and take. Sometimes more giving than taking. And that applies to both of you."

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