Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Anna Sultana’s Welsh Pancakes (Crempog) and the Full Worm Moon

Happy Saint David's Day!
Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus is Happy Saint David's Day in Welsh.

March first is a very special day for Paul and me.
No, we’re not Welsh.
We don’t have any Welsh relatives or friends, as far as I know.
It’s just that, a couple of times, a few years ago, we made some big changes in our lives at this time.

In 1975 we moved from our house in Vancouver, British Columbia to an apartment in Winnipeg.
On March 1, 1978 we moved into our first little house on the prairie.
As we'd lived in two apartments in this city, it was our third home in Winnipeg.
So Paul and I stroll down a few memory lanes on March 1.

Oh, about St. David of Wales…
He was an aristocrat from West Wales who lived in the sixth century.
In his honour many wear either a daffodil or a leek, or display the flag of St. David, which is a yellow cross on a black background.
St. David appreciated the impact of doing the little things in life.
One of his sayings: A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark. 
He was a saint, not a Rhodes scholar.

Since Malta was part of the British empire until 1964, there were a lot of British recipes that became quite popular on our islands.
One such recipe is Welsh pancakes, also known as Ffroes, or Welsh crempog.

Crempog is a small thick pancake resembling a Scotch pancake and is similar to the French crèpe and the English crumpet.
Wales has a history of baking on a bakestone, a large round portable flatstone. 
The flagstone was replaced by a metal plate known as a gradell (griddle), which appeared among the list of objects made by 13th century blacksmiths in the Laws of Hywel Dda.
Crempog is one of the oldest recipes in Wales.
They are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday and birthdays.
They also can be served as a nice simple dessert that goes well with a cup of tea.
Well, that’s how the Brits serve tea.
To do it Maltese style, serve the tea in a glass.

If you’d like to do something Welsh try reading this children’s song:
Modryb Elin Enog
Os gwelwch chi'n dda ga i grempog?
Cew chithau de a siwgr brown
A phwdin lond eich ffedog
Modryb Elin Enog
Mae 'ngheg i'n grimp am grempog
Mae Mam rhy dlawd i brynu blawd
A Sian yn rhy ddiog i nol y triog
A 'nhad yn rhy wael i weithio
Os gwelwch chi'n dda ga i grempog

Before you go to Google translate, here's the song in English:
Auntie Elin Enog
Please may I have a pancake?
You can have tea and brown sugar
And your apron full of pudding
Auntie Elin Enog
My mouth is parched for pancakes
My mum is too poor to buy flour
And Sian is too lazy to get the treacle
And my father's too sick to work
Please may I have a pancake?

Maybe I should've left out the translation...


If you don’t have buttermilk you can pour 2 ounces vinegar into a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 15 ounces. Let set a few minutes, stir, and use.

You can also add raisins or currants.

Crempoq can also be smothered with butter, and stacked in a pile. The stack can be sliced like a cake. This was served for Welsh birthdays. The wedges are also eaten as a teatime treat.

Welsh Pancakes also freeze well.

If you’d like to provide a bit of variety, you could also make

                        Welsh Pancakes

Serves 4 to 8

Place in a large bowl
2 Cups flour   

Heat in a medium saucepan
15 ounces buttermilk
2 Tablespoons butter
Stir until the butter melts.
Gradually pour the milk and butter mixture into the the flour and beat well.  
Leave the mixture to stand for at least 30 minutes (2 hours is better). 

Combine in a small bowl
1/2 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a medium bowl
2 eggs
Beat well.
Stir  in
1 Tablespoon vinegar
the sugar, baking soda, and salt mixture
Pour this mixture into the flour and milk mixture.
Beat well to form a smooth batter. 

Heavily grease a griddle, frying pan or a cast iron bakestone and heat well.
Drop the batter, a tablespoon at a time, onto the heated surface.
Cook over a moderate heat until golden brown on both sides. 
Remove and keep the pancakes warm.
Continue this method until all the batter is used up.

Spread butter on each pancake, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and eat while warm. 
You can also top the pancakes with jam, sliced banana, golden syrup, currants, powdered sugar or a chocolate drizzle.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

March 1 - As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. For this reason, the March full moon is often known as the Full Worm Moon.

Northern Native American tribes knew this moon as the Full Crow Moon when the cawing of crows signalled the end of winter. They also used Full Crust Moon because the snow cover became crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

The Dakota Sioux named it Moon When Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is a Colonial American variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon. It was considered to be the last full moon of winter.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anna Sultana’s Fish Chowder, Lent, and the Winter Circle

Wednesday was quite a busy day.
It was both Valentine’s Day and the first day of Lent.

As Valentine’s Day celebrates love, I think that even the Pope would understand the importance of celebrating properly with your nearest and dearest.
Let’s not forget that St. Paul is known to have said that the greatest virtue is love.
Surely he would've said that it would be a sin to ignore SAINT Valentine’s Day.

And then there was Chinese New Year on Friday.
As your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the whole year it was important to set the right tone for the next 12 months.
Joy is better than gloom, especially when you’re going to affect how a whole year is going to be.
So, of course, it was your duty to celebrate that day.

But now we’re looking at Lent.
Oh, well, that can include delicious food, too.
This post has recipes for Traditional Maltese food for Lent and Easter.
Lent is about penance, not self abuse.


As soup is always best the second day, why not double the recipe?
You can have a second meal set for another day.

This soup works best with fish that has a bit of heft, such as cod, salmon or haddock.
If you’re using a fish that has bones and you're worried about the bones, you can remove the fish after it’s been cooked and pass through a sieve or whirr in a blender.
The bones in canned fish are safe to eat and don't have to be removed.
Perfect for when you're in a rush.
And who isn't?

To vary the flavour, you can chop 2 or 3 slices of bacon, and fry them instead of melting the butter.
Or you can fry the bacon pieces in the butter.
If you want the soup to have a even more richness, you can use 2 Cups cream instead of milk, or 1 Cup each of the milk and cream.

If you’d like a few other fish soup recipes, you could try

                        Fish Chowder 

Serves 6

Finely chop
1 onion
3 potatoes 
1 carrot
1 stalk celery

In a dutch oven melt
2 Tablespoons butter
the finely chopped vegetables
Cook over a low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
2 Cups water
Cover and simmer until the vegetables are almost done, about 15 minutes.

Clean and cut into pieces
1 pound fish

Stir in
2 Cups milk
the prepared fish
1 Cup corn
Simmer until the fish is done. 
This could take 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon the texture of the fish.
The fish should flake and be opaque.

Add, according to your taste, about
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Serve hot with crackers or toast.

Bruschetta would also go nicely with this soup.
It toasts just as well if you use the broiler.

About the sky, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

February 22  - The waxing gibbous Moon will be in the constellation Taurus the Bull. The “eye” of the Bull, the star Aldebaran, will be to the right of the Moon. Orion will be right below them.

February 23 - First Quarter Moon, 3:09 a.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.

February 24 - Look for the large waxing gibbous Moon inside the “Winter Circle,” a very large asterism that we sometimes call the Winter Hexagon.  

February 26 - the waxing gibbous moon will be located in front of Gemini, the Twins, Pollux and Castor.

February 27 - the Moon is at perigee, 9:47 a.m., its closest point to Earth in its orbit.

There’s no full Moon listed in this month’s post - normally, you’d see February’s full Snow Moon. To make up for it, we’ll have another double-Moon month in March!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Anna Sultana’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Broth / Happy Valentine’s Day and Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Well, we in Manitoba are still soldiering through a very cold February and facing at least another month or two of winter.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday.
That should bring a bit of warmth to everyone’s life.
This post has links for Romantic Dinners for Two, as well as the recipe for Anna Sultana's Lava Cakes.

About the Kung Hei Fat Choy…
Friday is the start of Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dog.
It has a few weeks' worth of traditions to ensure you’ll have a great year. 
Remember… your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.

It’s nice to celebrate, but that’s going to take a bit of change, and everyone wants to eat today, tomorrow and the day after.
Time to make a big pot of soup.
Chicken soup is comfort food… economical comfort food.
I mean, who hasn’t felt loved and comforted while enjoying a bowl of this old favourite.
And if someone has the sniffles, it’s a miracle cure for what ails you.


Use whatever smallish pasta you have on hand.
Stars are nice, if you have them.
Broken spaghetti will remind the kiddies of the boxed mix.
Sometimes kids get into a mood and just want something they’ve had before.

You can also use 3/4 Cup rice.
Stir in, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is soft.

Want to make Ma’s chicken broth? 
It’s easy, just takes a bit of time, and won’t work if you’re in a rush to serve a pot of soup today.

1 stewing hen
Set aside the liver and the heart.

Chop into roughly the same spoon-sized chunks
1 large carrot
1 onion
1 celery stalk
2 potatoes

In a large pot place
the cleaned hen
the chopped vegetables
8 Cups water
1 bouillon cube
the hen's liver and heart
Simmer until the hen is cooked, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the hen from the broth.
Remove the skin, bone the chicken and cut the meat into pieces.
Strain out the vegetables and discard.

Oh, the liver and the heart are optional.
Also sometimes they just aren’t packed with the hen. 
Don’t confront the store clerk and ask what he did with them.
Take my word for it. Please.

                        Chicken Soup 

Serves 8

Cut up
4 boneless raw chicken breasts
Set aside.

Place in a large pot
1 Cup carrots, chopped
1 Cup celery, chopped
the cut up chicken breasts

4 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups water

Over medium high heat bring the liquid to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in
1 Cup pasta
Simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the pasta.
Serve hot.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Anna Sultana’s Pea Soup, Maltese Style, and the Partial Solar Eclipse

We’ve been having very cold weather for the past six weeks here in Manitoba.
Last winter was a bit warmer, but we had a lot more snow - 103 cm compared to this year’s 41 cm.
Well, you win some, you lose some.

Whether we’re dealing with cold or snow, winter is the time for making soup.
Ah, hurrah for soup… 
it’s warming, economical and makes use of all those bits and pieces we usually have sitting in our fridges.

Next week we’’ll be celebrating Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada's biggest winter festival.
There’ll be lots to see and do, as well as lots of good French Canadian food to enjoy.
One of the items definitely on the menu will be Pea Soup.

Pea soup is a recipe that’s enjoyed in Malta, too. 

I’ve already posted the recipe for 

Another similar soup is 
This post also has links for other soup recipes.


After the bone has cooled a bit, scoop out the softened marrow and stir it into the liquid. This adds a bit more nutrition and flavour to the broth.

                        Pea Soup 

Serves 6

Place in a large pot
A ham bone with some meat on it
1 1/2 Cups split peas, cleaned
6 to 8 Cups cold water
You want to have enough water to cover the bone and peas.
Bring to a boil and skim off foam.

3 Cups raw potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Reduce heat, simmer 3 hours. Check that the peas are tender.
Remove the bone from the soup and place it on a cutting board.
Cut off the bits of meat and chop the larger pieces.

Stir in
the chopped ham
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
Test flavour and adjust seasoning.
Heat and serve with bread.
Garlic toast adds a nice touch.

About the sky, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

February 9 - Look to the southeast at 4:30 a.m. local time, where you’ll see a wide crescent Moon, about one-quarter of the way up from the horizon. Sitting about 4° to the Moon’s lower right is Mars, which rises more than 4 1/2 hours ahead of the Sun. Mars crosses over from the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion into Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder on Feb. 7th, then passes a little more than 5° north of its rival, the ruddy star Antares, on the 10th.
In mid-February, first-magnitude Mars is 143 million miles from the Earth. But it will appear to more than quadruple in size when it makes its closest approach to Earth in nearly 15 years at the end of July!

February 11 - Look to the southeast before the Sun comes up to see the small waning crescent Moon very close to the planet Saturn.
The Moon at apogee at 9:24 a.m., it’s farthest point from Earth in its orbit.
As dawn breaks, look low in the southeast sky where you’ll see the Moon, now a delicately thin crescent, hovering a couple of degrees directly above the planet Saturn. The ringed planet rises in the southeast before dawn, about 40 minutes before first light early in the month, and 1 3/4 hours before dawn breaks by month’s end. Don’t confuse Saturn with either Mars or the bright star Antares, both nearly 30° to its west (upper right) in the morning twilight.

February 15 - New Moon at 4:05 p.m. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye. At the time of the New Moon, 4:05 p.m., there is a partial solar eclipse that comes with it. But unless you plan on doing some extensive traveling, don’t count on viewing it. This eclipse most definitely favours Antarctica, as most of that icy continent will be swept by the Moon’s penumbral shadow. Parts of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and the southernmost tip of Brazil will also see the Moon partially occult the Sun’s disk.