When I was a kid, I used to visit every business in my small town about this time of year and collect free calendars. I must admit this habit has not waned into my adult years. In fact, just last week I visited four different businesses on my weekly assignment rounds and picked up a few dandies.
At my house you will see calendars tacked up in every room, on almost every wall, because I use them for different purposes besides just checking to see what day it is. For instance the one in the kitchen marks off the day of the month when the Culligan man changes the water tank; the one in the bedroom denotes paydays; the calendar in the bathroom is used to mark off days when I get plowed out and the calendars hanging in the barn are used for livestock purposes like the date I placed eggs in an incubator or when a flock of young hens starts laying.
I also like the pictures on these freebies. I picked up one calendar from a local feed store featuring photos of farm animals; one calendar is graced with pictures of gorgeous floral arrangements; and another one from a local hardware store entitled “Dream Home Calendar,” depicts floor plans and pictures of homes. So these time markers also serve as changing art masterpieces.
When I pick up a new calendar I also like leafing through it so I can get a glimpse of what is ahead. In a way it’s like looking into the future. For instance, did you know that this year July 4 will fall on a Wednesday? That Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday, and Easter is April 8. These are good dates to know.
There is one particular calendar in my collection though, that is particularly charming. It’s entitled “World Scenes with Recipes.” In all my years of calendar collecting I have never seen one like it. In fact, I am so intrigued by not only the beautiful photographs of the exotic places featured, but I have also featured several of the recipes from it in this week’s column, including the country where they originated. These are really fascinating.
Take for instance “Aji de Gallina,” a chicken stew recipe from Peru. The picture accompanying this dish is a gorgeous, an expansive view of the Andes Mountains. Then there is a type of salad called “Tabbouleh” which originates in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The photo with this recipe depicts Jumeirah Beach complete with palm trees and little curtain gazebos awaiting visitors.
Perhaps the photo I like the most though, is the one of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe in Scotland. When I first laid eyes on it something pulled within me, like dèjà vu. Perhaps it is because my ancestors came from this part of the world but the ancient crumbling castle reflected in the still waters of the loch is very compelling. It makes me want to go there and feel the castle’s gray stones for myself and dip my fingers gently into the water. Included on that page is a recipe for a “Cloutie Dumpling” a very interesting concoction which I have also included.
However, I’m glad we’re only a little way into the new year, which means there is still plenty of calendar collecting ahead. And while my collection is growing, there are a few places in my humble abode that have bare tacks waiting for new additions. You just never know what might need marking off in the future.
Aji de Gallina-Peru
4 lb. chicken, boiled and shredded
(reserve the stock)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 hot chili peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 loaf bread
1/4 lb. chopped pecans
4 ozs. Grated parmesan cheese
1 can evaporated milk
4 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup black olives
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sautè the onion, garlic, chili peppers, and salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until onions are golden. Soak the bread in 2 cups of the reserved stock and then puree. Add to the saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the chopped pecans, grated cheese and chicken pieces. Continue cooking until the mixture has a thick creamy texture. About 5 minutes before serving, add the evaporated milk and continue cooking on low heat. Garnish with the eggs and olives.
1/2 cup fine bulgur
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 cup boiling water
2 cups finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley (about 3 bunches)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Stir together bulgur and 1 tablespoon oil in a heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing on bulgur to remove any excess fluid. Transfer bulgur to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients, including 2 tablespoons oil, until well combined.
4 ozs. shredded margarine
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 rounded tsp. baking powder
8 ozs. raisins
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp. light corn syrup
2 eggs, beaten
2 to 4 Tbs. buttermilk
Sift the flour and rub in the margarine in a large mixing bowl. Add the other dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Make a well in the center and add the syrup and eggs and mix well. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft but firm batter. Dip a clean cloth in boiling water and four it well when it is cool enough to handle. Add the pudding mixture, then tie the top shut, making sure there is enough room for expansion. Place a saucer or plate in the bottom of a saucepan and stand the dumpling in the cloth on top. Cover with boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 hours. Turn out the dumpling and serve hot with custard or cold with cream.