Thursday, 14 December 2017

Widow's Endorphins: Thank You 25-Thousand Times!

Widow's Endorphins: Thank You 25-Thousand Times!: Another milestone in the brief history of my little blog, Widow's Endorphins:  WE has just reached 25-thousand views!  This re...

Thank You 25-Thousand Times!


Another milestone in the brief history of my little blog, Widow's Endorphins:  WE has just reached 25-thousand views!  This really should read:  WE have.  This is something that we have done together, dear readers.  I am grateful.





 Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Widow's Endorphins: Hanukkah and White Flowers

Widow's Endorphins: Hanukkah and White Flowers:   As the sun sets across land and sea, around the world tonight, candles are lit to mark the beginning of eight days of Hanukkah.  H...

Hanukkah and White Flowers

 

As the sun sets across land and sea, around the world tonight, candles are lit to mark the beginning of eight days of Hanukkah.  Hanukkah is Hebrew for "dedication", and the Jewish festival of light, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

In 168 BC, the new king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered all Jews to convert to worshipping Greek gods, or die.  His army marched into Jerusalem, and massacred thousands.  The temple became an altar to the Greek god, Zeus, and pigs were slaughtered within its walls. 

Jews turned to guerrilla warfare, to retake the desecrated temple.  When it came time to rededicate the temple, they only had enough oil to burn for a day.  It is called a miracle, that the oil burned for eight days, giving them time to get another supply of oil.  Hanukkah.  Dedication.  The burning of candles for eight days.  The festival of light.  


In warmer climates, white and blue flowers are often found in Jewish homes at Hanukkah.  The floral arrangements may include tall stems of bright white lilies and blue delphiniums, or an arrangement of white freesia with blue iris.  Summer's delphiniums and Spring irises are not readily available in Toronto at this time of year.  White lilies and white orchids, which are grown in greenhouses, are more easily found!


"They tried to kill us.  We won.  Let's eat!"  Food is a big part of Hanukkah, and foods fried in oil (are you picking up on the theme here?) are festive delicacies.  Potato latkes are found on most family tables - crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside.  What everyone looks forward to, are the sweet jellied donuts!  Delicious enough to have converted Zeus!

Happy Hanukkah!  


Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.
(That's my handpainted living room floor!)











Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Widow's Endorphins: Scottish Shortbread!

Widow's Endorphins: Scottish Shortbread!: Gibson House in North York, Toronto, is one of the city's living museums.  It's filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes ...

Scottish Shortbread!


Gibson House in North York, Toronto, is one of the city's living museums.  It's filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes of rural life in the 19th Century.  Throughout the year, you'll find costumed historical interpretors baking and serving scones for tea, making jam, baked apples, gingerbread men, even ice cream.  At Christmas time, they bake delicious Scottish shortbread, in honour of Scottish-born land surveyor, farmer, two time elected provincial politician, and rebel, David Gibson. 


The original Gibson House was burned to the ground, as punishment for Gibson's part in the rebellion of 1837.  Gibson and about 400 rebels, who supported William Lyon MacKenzie's call for democratic reforms, marched down Yonge Street all the way into Toronto, where, on December 7th, they fought the Battle of Montgomery's Tavern.  Armed with only pikes, and duck hunting rifles, they were up against 1,000 soldiers (and one cannon), and the battle was over in less than an hour.

When Sir Francis Bond Head gave the order to burn the house down, Mrs. Gibson managed to save a very large, and heavy grandfather clock.  Almost everything else was destroyed.  

She was lucky.  Many other wives' husbands were hanged for their part in the rebellion.  David Gibson fled (or was banished, depending on what your read), across the border to Lockport, New York, where he worked as an engineer on the Erie Canal.  Mrs. Gibson was able to freely come and go between New York,  and North York, to collect the rent on the land which her husband still owned.  When Queen Victoria learned the facts about the uprising, she pardoned the rebels, including David Gibson, who returned to North York in 1848.  

The present-day red brick Georgian Revival farmhouse was built in 1851, and is steps from the subway line, and Yonge Street (the world's longest street).  Step inside the house, and you will be transported 166 years back in time...    


It's been a mild beginning to Winter, here in Toronto.  Nevertheless, it is December, and the old farmhouse fireplace is warm and inviting.  The smell of wood smoke wafts through the house.  Although some food is prepared on the hearth, today's shortbread will be baked in ovens in the modern kitchen downstairs, so that the wood smoke doesn't overpower the buttery, sweet taste of the shortbread.    


I have the not-so-secret recipe for delicious Gibson House Shortbread.  It's been modified for our modern ovens, and measuring cups.  The Gibson household would likely have used teacups and teaspoons to measure all of the ingredients.  Our precise measuring spoons and pyrex measuring glass (in standard and metric) came about much later.  As in nearly all shortbread recipes, much of the final blending is done with your hands, including pressing the dough into a deep dish.

 



I love living museums for the way they bring history to life.  While Christmas at Gibson House is a simple affair, the big event is Hogmanay, the traditional ringing in of the New Year!  There'll be plenty of food, and great live music!  Leave room for shortbread.

Whether you explore a museum alone, or with the family, it's a great way to create memories, and perhaps start a tradition.  This holiday season, head out to a museum in your town or city, and make a little history of your own!  



Photographs Copyright of:  Ruth Adams, Widow's Endorphins Photographic Images Incorporated.

Monday, 27 November 2017