Woot! Woot! Easter Team Gathering Day and I’m very busy running around setting up the house for the coming “invasion”!
         We are expecting 18 people tonight; former, current and prospective Team Members, committee members, Chris Belle (who will be celebrating the Eucharist for us) and even one or two spouses of committee members.
         The living room is set up, with prep for the Eucharist too and yesterday I made a giant pot of Vegetarian Chilli. Jessica has kindly offered to bake cornbread and everyone else is bringing either salad or desserts. I’m also preparing a big punchbowl of Lime-Mint Ade, which should go down well with the chilli.
        This week I baked 48 Jamaican Patties and 3 dozen orange coconut macaroons for the Retreat and during the coming week hope to make White Chilli and after that hold off on the last few “make ahead” items until we are closer to July.
          Easter Monday, which was technically a holiday (from CTM work anyway 😊) I used the day to defrost the two big chest freezers and take inventory, especially focusing on arranging all the bags and containers of Retreat food into separate sections of the freezers. That day I also hauled out the stove and fridge and gave both of them a good clean as well as sweeping out dust and washing down the walls and floor behind where they usually stand.
          Tuesday Brett came and we had such a nice visit! We sat talking at the table for so long after lunch that I had to bring Wil’s bed into the dining room as he was quite confused as to why we were still sitting there! Brett will be travelling to many countries over the next three months so I got to hear all his plans and of course he was very interested to hear all about Day Camps. As I mentioned in a previous post, a Team will be going, this summer, to the Parish near Victoria BC where he is an honorary assistant so we talked a lot about that particular Day Camp too! After Brett left my next spring-cleaning task was to oil all the butcher-block kitchen counters. Normally this means leaving them untouched for 24 hours before a final polishing but due to very nasty and intense rain all day Wednesday it took almost 48 hours before I could use them again or put back any of the small appliances that normally sit on them! Of course being me, I had also planned to bake the Jamaican Patties & Macaroons on Wednesday, which proved to be an insane idea since the only usable flat surfaces were the kitchen table and the stovetop AGH!!! That day I didn’t finish cleaning up and packaging everything until well into the evening but it was worth the mess to have that last really huge baking job for the Team Retreat completed.
         Thursday I met with Jessica over lunch to discuss all things “Day Camps”. Later in April we will be doing the big inventory of all the Team Supplies and beginning to pack the Team Duffle Bags. Jessica is also the noble soul who assembles the vitally important TEAM LEADERS BINDERS! So she will be working here at the office with me quite a bit over the next month or so. Last year at this time she was also preparing for her wedding so at least this year there isn’t that added level of stress!
Finally, yesterday Jillian and I had our regular Friday Lunch together and again, besides catching up on “life” over the past two weeks (as since she did not come on Good Friday) we also discussed all sorts of important Day Camp business and I was delighted when she agreed to help out with the song recording session coming up in early May. Yay!! 😊 We had been looking for a guitarist for weeks so it is a huge relief to have someone in place.
          Well I need to get busy putting out boot trays (yes we still need them here as today is cold and windy with more wet snow forecast for this evening) and mixing up the limeade, but before I get to those jobs, we need a recipe. For lunch with Jillian yesterday I made Pho. I had only tried it once before but it was so good that I enjoyed the leftovers for dinner last evening and plan to make it again later in the month when we have our next Miyazaki night!
It is a little complicated but a lot of the prep work can be done in advance so it can come together quickly at mealtime. Do try it!
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 5 slices of fresh gingerroot, bruised
  • 8oz, boneless skinless chicken breast
    7 cups chicken broth
  • 6 scallions, 3 cut in 2”chunks, 3 thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and bruised
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves 
  • 8oz. rice noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts or sunflower sprouts
  • 1 lemon or lime cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp. cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. Asian fish sauce
Place the whole spices in a large saucepan and toast for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the ginger slices, scallion chunks, garlic and chicken broth, bring to the boil and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and strain the broth through a fine sieve. Shred the chicken.  Return the broth to a clean pan and add the sugar and fish sauce. Bring to the boil. Divide the rice noodles between 4 large soup bowls, ladle an equal quantity of the hot broth into each bowl and top with the chicken, carrot and sprouts. Garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lemon. Serve immediately. Serves 4 generously!
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