Guavas on the Ground

It’s one of those cool, damp, dreary days that I might find delightful, if I was walking on the Cornwall coast.

Botallack Mines, Cornwall

However, when I am in my back yard, I only get inspired to return to the house and make a cup of tea. The garden is beautiful but overgrown. Any motivation to perform some maintenance is diminished by the combination of overcast sky, drizzle, and wind. Even so, I would be completely remiss, if I did not at least go outside to see if there were any olives ready to be harvested.

Olive tree

It has been nearly three weeks since I salted some ripe olives, and they are curing nicely.

Salt-cured olives

Although most of the olives on the tree are still too green, I was pleased to see that the guavas are falling. This was an unexpected surprise. I collected a good load of them, but left most of the smaller ones on the ground for now. Picking them up is just one more task to do on a sunnier day. In the meantime, there are some ants crawling about, trying to figure out if there is a meal here that is worth their effort.


10 ways to find joy

Perhaps if I woke up each morning to a view of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, I would not be looking for ways to increase the joy in my life.  Who knows?  Although it is very small, I do have a beautiful backyard garden.  All of the labor I put into maintaining it is more than worth it.  Good things may occasionally come our way, but more often than not they result from the effort we expend and the choices we make.  And just maybe, sometimes we face roadblocks, only because we don’t realize we can take them down.

Someone I know has struggled most of her life with anger management.  We have all run across one of those people, who allows the pressure to build inside until he or she has an outburst.  The recipient of the resulting tirade becomes doubly despised: first, for holding unsavory views or having irritating personality traits, and secondly, for possessing the uncanny and oddly self-destructive ability to deliberately “push the buttons” of the explosive acquaintance or relative.

Everyone experiences anger and needs to release it from time to time.  I may have learned a little about how to express it in a temperate way.  However, I have had more success with minimizing it, which is more effective than trying to rein it in. Here is a list of 10 things I do.

  1. Every day, at least once, I count my blessings.  The older I get, the more often I do this. 
  1. Monday through Friday I start my day reading an inspirational message from a Christian friend who lives in Tennessee.  His daily missives include prayers, trivia, inspiring quotes, humor, and details of his life.  I always discover a bit of wisdom or something that makes me laugh.  There are books and online sources that provide daily inspirational readings.
  1. Five years ago, I turned off the television.  The news media peddles anger and fear.  Find truth by believing what you see in the world with your own eyes.  I can stream entertainment, but a good book, a long walk, or meeting with friends is more rewarding.  Splurge now and again and go to the theater.
  1. I smile.  When was a young woman, I often wore an angry or unhappy mask.  Not anymore.  Strangers sense my good mood and the unexpected payback enriches me more than I deserve.
  1. I try to look my best whenever I leave the house, even if it is just for a 15-minute walk in the neighborhood.  You might be surprised at how many people notice and approach me to say so. This happens in parks, parking lots, grocery stores, airports, and on city streets.
  1. Every morning I do 10 minutes of strenuous exercise.  It’s difficult, but I feel great for the rest of the day.
  1. If I’m home for a meal, I always sit at the dining room table and eat off of pretty dishes.  Most evenings, I dine by candlelight.  Every day I have fresh fruit and vegetables and a little dark chocolate.
  1. At least once a week, I have a lunch date with a friend. My friendships are a treasure.
  1. I treat strangers kindly. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I generally receive more from this than anything I give. 
  1. My mature years allow me to be forthright with positive thoughts or feelings. I like to tell the person I am with how much he or she has impressed me.

The more I clear out bad feelings, the more room I have for good ones.  A balance in emotions is inevitable, but anger does not need to be in the equation.  My aim is to find joy.  One of the blessings of joy is that it is infectious.

The opposite of joy is sorrow.  As joy increases, so may sorrow.  But sorrow is not destructive.  Someone’s sorrow has no power to hurt another human being.  It’s one of life’s paradoxes that having known sorrow, we may more fully experience the moments of joy.

Cream Tea, Just Because

Devon Cream Tea
Devon Cream Tea
©2020 Roxane Gilbert

What is Cream Tea? Cream tea refers to a tradition in Devon and Cornwall of serving afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream, and jam.

Although I would never refuse a freshly made scone served Cornish style, when it comes to cream tea, I am securely in the Devon camp: the cream goes on the scone with the jam on top. (In the Cornish tradition the jam is spread on the scone and a spoonful of cream is put on top of that.)

If you are in the United Kingdom, your local market may sell Devon or Cornish clotted cream. Those of us in the United States may be able to buy packaged clotted cream at the supermarket, from a gourmet grocer, or online. It’s a decent, pricey substitute for the fresh product.

Fortunately, clotted cream is very easy to make at home. The tricky part is tracking down a supply of heavy cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. If the cream is ultra-pasteurized, it is not going to separate. There is a dairy near me that sells it. If there are no such purveyors in your vicinity, you may do well to check for cream from an organic dairy.

Homemade Clotted Cream:
Preheat your oven to 170°F or 80°C.
Pour a pint of heavy cream into a tempered glass baking pan. Use a large enough pan so that the cream is no more than two-inches deep. Thinner is better. Bake it for 12 hours. A yellow or brownish crust will form at the top. This is okay.

Remove the baked cream from the oven and refrigerate it for at least eight hours or overnight. Pierce the crust and tip the pan to drain the liquid into a glass. Set this aside to use for making scones, or use it in your coffee or tea.

Stir the thickened cream together with the crusty top. It may be lumpy. Store it in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to one week. This makes enough clotted cream for about eight scones.

Easy, right?