The Memory Hoarder

“We are not defined or limited by the things which we own but we do cherish certain belongings and the pleasure they bring to our lives.”  – Julia Cameron

Nana never liked to part ways with her things. So when a purge of Tremont began, old remnants and rusty casualties naturally became meaningful to me. Little interest was shown in the random things my heart had grown attached to. I think the purge was cathartic for my Mum who had for years wanted to let go of many of the things that lay around Tremont while Nana still had a say.

My salvages? A rusting Salter scale that was really not quite as old as it looked (due to the relentless salt air), an aluminum food cover we used to wear like a helmet, Papa’s old Smith Corona typewriter keys, an old Band-aid tin (that I now keep plasters in), an old copper bell that resembles The Queen (although I am not sure which one), and Nana’s old thread that you also see at the top of my blog. All these items had become aged by good use, weather and time.

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What hold did these things have over me anyways? I mean, they were not magic, unless you read my story about the helmet. I do think one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Hence my attraction to thrift stores. Seriously, who really likes to take pictures of curated junk as I have in the photo at the top of this post? I know it is a little loopy. I will admit that much.

To make sense of my memory hoarding condition, I mean, disposition, I read a book, Time Warped about our relationship with time by Claudia Hammond. In it she looks at why sometimes it feels like time is frozen, while at other times it feels like it is going at lightning speed. Our brains are so intricate and precious. They can store events, or hide them from us. Why is it that some of us can remember more than others? When I chat with my older sister about some of the experiences we collectively shared together, sometimes she remembers, other times she has no recollection even though I can see every detail crystal clear. This famous quote shared in Hammond’s book put my memory hoarding at ease:

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward” – Winston Churchill

I believe the future, although unknown, can be just as beautiful as where I have been. So I am trying to be forward thinking. In a way, I am using these childhood memories to remember the future. And if these tangible treasures find another home or end up amongst the shelves of a thrift store, I know it will not be tragic. They are just things and gratefully, I am not a hoarder. It is the memories that I feel attached to.

To balance my tendency to look back, I keep a peaceful Buddha and an old rusty typewriter in my garden to remind me to be present. If Buddha could whisper to me I have a feeling he might say something like: Stop thinking so much, Rachel, we only ever have today.

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[Photo: Rachel Bursey]

I get it. But I also believe daydreaming is important to help bridge the way. That’s what the typewriter is for. There is nothing wrong with thinking the best is not only now but is also yet to come. It gives us hope. Me at least. Enlightenment stories are abound if we are willing to look for them.

The Memory Hoarder by loopylocks

[Drawing: Hannah Bursey]

This line drawing is a portrait of me, created by my eldest over the Christmas holidays. According to her, it was “not very good” but I could see that she had captured my essence in an honest way… my unruly hair, sitting perched slightly forward, with my leg tucked under for comfort. Thinking about everything, as usual. © 2017 by Hannah Bursey. All rights reserved.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt

The first time I had poppy seeds was in a lemon cake mix Nana made for tea time. I had never seen a cake so yellow before. It was so moist and lovely that there was no way to remove it from memory.

There is nothing wrong with getting a little help from time to time. While I can make a cake from scratch, I happen to love a good shortcut. Like store bought cake mix for example. If you can take it to the next level by adding a personal spin, it feels pat on the back worthy. And since you did not start from scratch, if the results are less than stellar, you can always blame the mix… haha.

Most cake mix hacks ask for a package of pudding mix but for the love of life, I never seem to remember to buy that extra box. So I figured the yogurt would be a healthier stand in to add moisture. I also love poppy seeds and while we are at it, anything with coconut. So that’s it. No magic. In fact, this is a no brainer. To sooth my sense of cheating guilt, I add some real lemon zest (I usually store in my freezer) and then tell myself that this is more than good enough. This recipe is pretty darn delicious, moist and tasty.

This hack uses a box of lemon cake mix. A few tweaks, a favourite plate and you have yourself the perfect bundt for this time of year. This pan is from Wilton and serves as many slices or slivers as you feel you can squeeze out of it.

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“Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt” by loopylocks
Makes 1 bundt cake to serve 8 – 10 people

Ingredients:
1   box of lemon cake mix
1/2 C   unsweetened shredded coconut
2 T   poppy seeds
4   eggs
1/2 C   canola or vegetable oil
1 C   2% plain yogurt
1-2 tsp fresh lemon zest (optional)

Directions:
Set oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer with the flat paddle, add the dry ingredients – cake mix, coconut, poppy seeds. Stir to combine. Add the eggs, oil, yogurt and optional lemon zest. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Then turn to medium-high speed and blend for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and pour into a pre-sprayed bundt pan.

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Bake for 40 minutes in the middle of the oven. When you remove the cake it should look a bit like this.

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Cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a favourite plate. Once completely cool, you can dust it with icing sugar. Any guilt about not being a Martha Stewart/Pinterest prodigy is gone by this point. Just saying. Plus, if you plate it on something that makes you happy, or better yet, add some Cadbury Eggs at Easter, then all is good in the world again. Enjoy!

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This beautiful “flying fish” plate is by Maggie Bell in Barbados.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

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Poppy Easter Lemon Bundt Cake

 

 

Easy Taco Night Seasoning

Taco Night Made Easy by loopylocks

I have bought pre-made taco seasoning for years. It is relatively inexpensive and easy. No thought or fuss involved. Until one night I forgot to buy some just as I was chopping up the veggies. So I opted to look one up online and make it myself. I was missing several dry ingredients and too salty but it turned out good enough that everyone was a happy camper. So on my next grocery store visit I made sure I got all the vitals and vouched never to buy the packaged stuff again. It is healthier and cheaper too. At a glance, this is all you need. It may look like a lot but most of these spices you likely already have on hand. I store all my dried herbs in my freezer to help keep their freshness.

Easy Taco Night Seasoning by loopylocks

“Easy Taco Night Seasoning” by loopylocks
Makes a single serving (enough for about 1-2 pounds of meat of your choice)

Ingredients:
1 T Chili powder
1/2 T flour (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes (optional)

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and use as you normally would the store bought seasoning. I alternate between either ground beef or ground turkey (as pictured). To make your own taco night dinner: finely chop and saute a small white onion in one tablespoon of canola oil for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Add meat and brown thoroughly, about 4-5 minutes. Add taco seasoning and combine well throughout. Add 1/2 cup water, stir and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving so sauce can thicken.

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I like to use smoked paprika for added flavour but regular paprika is fine. I generally use this amount of seasoning on up to 2 pounds. You can always add up to an extra 1/4 cup of water if you find it too thick for 2 pounds. I use flour but you can opt for corn starch if you prefer. The water in the cooking of the meat helps to not only distribute the flavour and soften the meat as it simmers but it also helps the sauce to thicken.

I tell myself each time I mix this seasoning up that I am going to make a big batch and just store it in the freezer. But then I go about my business and just make up enough for that night’s dinner. Old habits die hard I guess. Plus it is kind of fun to measure the spices out like you are making magic!

One of the beauties of taco night is that each person can build their own based on likes or dislikes. Keeps complaints at bay, that’s for sure. If our eldest, currently experimenting with being a vegan, was home from university, she would eat this with black beans or brown lentils instead. Our youngest will only entertain meat, cheese and cucumbers. Either way, these two extremes are happy. And while we like the crunch of taco shells, they are a bit on the messy side so we prefer tortilla flaps and make soft tacos, with chips on the side. The visual on the dinner table is art worthy.

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My all time favourite ingredient that is missing in this is avocados. Did not have any when we ate this glorious dinner. You know something, avocados are funny fruits. They are either not ripe enough, or become overripe in the course of one day. Most of mine end up in the freezer for smoothies. In their absence, nothing makes up for a missing ingredient like pepper sauce. Take your pick. I don’t like to play favourites here but if you are ever able to get your hands on some Delish Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce with Cucumber I highly recommend it. Nothing wrong with Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce either. Enjoy!