Sunday, January 28, 2007

L is for...

I stole this theme from Dephal, who stole it from Leanne. Then I stole this explanation from Dephal: "The idea is you get a letter, and then list 10 things that begin with that letter that have significance to your life. If any of you want to play, just email me or leave me a comment, and I'll send you your letter." Dephal gave me L. I was grateful she didn't give me X or Z!

L is for...

LOSERS I am a loser-magnet. ;) If I sit down on a bus or a subway car or in a movie theatre or in a waiting room or ANYWHERE public, and there is an empty seat next to me, someone annoying / incredibly smelly / screaming into their cell phone / picking their nose and eating it / leaking loud country music from their iPod earphones / bent on world destruction will sit down next to me, even if there are 153 other empty seats nearby. Even my husband admits that I am a loser-magnet, or sometimes we call it "idiot magnet." It's a fact. There must be something about me that makes people feel safe sitting next to me. How unfortunate. I need some sort of evil makeover.

LETTERS I have always loved letter-writing. Long before computers and email, I had penpals. My longest running penpal (which must be a defunct term these days), now friend, is Lisa. We started writing when she was 15 and I was 16. She lived in small-town Massachusetts at the time, and I was was living in Toronto (where I grew up in deepest, darkest Scarberia.) Lisa saw my name in a penpal newsletter mailed around the world, and decided to give me a try. This year will mark our 27th (!) year of writing, although now of course we e-mail. We have gotten together in person many times now. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and is married herself, with four beautiful kids. I still do write the odd letter by hand, and it's a bit sad that it's going the way of the dinosaur. I used to pride myself on my stationery collection.

LITERATURE I love to read. I love to write. I have Rubbermaid boxes full of my journals. I've had the odd tiny thing in print here and there, and I still intend to write a book at some point (but I guess a lot of people say that, eh? But I always do what I say I'm going to do, eventually!) As a child, I always intended to be a writer, then I got side-tracked and got my Bachelor of Music. Then I realized that the life of a classical clarinetist was not for me, so I went to graphic design school, but I continued reading voraciously, and writing regularly. Now I am illustrating a book, so we're getting there! I'll get to see my name on the cover of a book at last.

I love literature, high-brow, low-brow and in between. I read every night before bed at the very least. I often fall asleep with the book in my hands, and my husband must gingerly remove my glasses, and gently take the book away. He's very good at doing that without waking me up.

As a kid, I would go to the library and dream of my name being on the spine of a book. I have to work on fulfilling that dream, as I am not getting any younger. Which brings me to...

LIBRARIES I love libraries!! I love librarians. I feel sorry for them when they are abused by the public, like when idiots put disgusting things in book-return slots, or scream at them about fines, or give them a hard time over anything. (By the way: don't FRIGGING WRITE OR DRAW OR HIGHLIGHT in library books! If you want to scrawl all over a book, go frigging buy one! GEEZ!) A library is a beautiful place. At any given point I have at least 15 books out of the library. The best thing that ever happened was when libraries put their catalogues on the Internet. I just sit here and reserve all the books I want. I often check books out that I am thinking of buying (like cookbooks, etc), to see if I really want to lay down the cash for them. ... Back in Abbotsford, BC, I adored the little old library near us. I was on a first-name basis with many of the librarians, and took them chocolates at Christmas and when we were moving. They were a great bunch, and I miss them. Now we go to the main library in Ottawa, or rather, my husband usually does. I reserve the books, and he picks them up for me once a week. There isn't a good library any closer than that, at least, not an English-language one. I do read books and magazines in French, but most of my reading is in English. Here's to libraries and librarians!

LOONS ... and all birds! I adore bird-watching. I have several feeder stations set up around our house. I'm not much of a "trek out with the spotting scope" birdwatcher, although I am envious of those who are. But I love to watch birds whenever I have a chance, even if it's a passing glimpse out a window. We have seen some spectacular birds on our trips in southeast Asia and central American, but North American birds are plenty wonderful too. I have a real soft spot for the loons. When we lived in Nova Scotia, in winter we would see common loons on the saltwater bay our house was situated on. Here I have seen them on the many lakes nearby, particularly when we are out kayaking. There's nothing like the call of a loon... eerily beautiful. And of course, many people have called ME a loon, so no it's wonder I have an affinity for them.

LAVENDER Which is my segue into: I love gardening, and the favourite thing in all my gardens is always my herb garden, which is generally awash in several types of lavender. There are many things I love doing in life: reading, writing, drawing, rug-hooking, knitting, walking... but gardening is the thing that I can do for ten hours a day without ever looking at a clock. I am never more in the moment than when I am in my garden, working away, Even pulling weeds is therapeutic for me. I could not live if I couldn't get my hands into the soil regularly.

I sometimes wonder where this intense love of gardening came from; my Mum couldn't be bothered with it at all. My Dad used to make very nice flower and veg beds, but when my parents split up, he moved to an apartment where he lived until the end of his life. He did, however, always grow a few tomatoes and some flowers on his little balcony, in wooden planter boxes he'd made myself. And my paternal grandfather was described on my Dad's birth certificate as a "landscape gardener" although really he was good at laying paving stones and so on. ... I am glad that we have winter here so that I can get a few months rest from yard work, because I do need that, but come January I'm getting out the seed catalogues and looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt once again. My nails are always, not surprisingly, short. I spend a lot of time scrubbing dirt off my hands in the spring and summer.

LEAVING ... home, that is! Travel is one of the best things my hubby and I do together. We have a particular fondness for southeast Asia. I will never tire of seeing new places, even here in my own province. Leaving home and going out into the wide world has broadened my mind and taught me more than I'd ever imagined it would. It has made me (I think) more compassionate, and I have become very aware of the huge footprint we North Americans in particular are leaving on the world, to the detriment of people in poorer countries. The more I travel, the more I believe in my favourite quote: "Live simply, so that others may simply live." I am by no means there yet, but I'm working on it.

My life list of countries visited: Barbados, Grenada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, England, Germany, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and of course many places in the US (Hawaii, California, Alaska, Washington, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and Wisconsin) and Canada, which we've driven across twice. I reeeeeeally want to visit the Canadian north. I would like to visit a new country every year for the rest of my life. That would be lovely!

LEARNING I always loved school, was a total "browner" bookworm keener geek straight-A student, and while I don't want to go back to school per se (as in university or anything like that), I never want to stop learning. I do not want to become some old fart whose universe is TV-watching, shopping, sleeping and eating and perhaps farting. If I keep learning, I figure I'll stop my brain from withering into a useless, dried-out hockey puck of grey matter. (Having said that, I SUPPOSE some people find hockey pucks useful!) I want to keep my mind open, and prevent myself from turning into a conservative old codger.

Right now, I am taking French lessons to improve my French, which is definitely taxing my poor middle-aged brain. There are many things I still want to learn: how to keep bees, how to spin wool, how to keep chickens, sheep and llamas, how to read tarot cards better than I already do (which is not very well!), how to cross-country ski and skate better, how to speak a little Sinhala before we visit Sri Lanka again... I want to keep learning until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.

LAZINESS I have an innate fear of laziness! I think that's because both of my parents got on my case constantly about not being lazy when I was a kid. In my house, the worse thing you could be was LAZY. As a result, I find it nearly impossible to sit around doing absolutely nothing without it invoking guilt, which is probably not the best thing. I admire my husband's ability to relax completely, sleep in late and move around like a sloth. He's hard-working when it matters, but he has a wonderfully relaxed way about him that I will never have. I have no doubt he will live to be 129 years old because he has so much quality down-time (which probably shouldn't be called laziness, but I mean lazy in a nice way here.) If I am not doing something, I feel a sense of guilt that is quite ridiculous. I think I really need to learn to be a bit more lazy, without feeling bad about it. It will make me a healthier person.

LOVE Seems a little too obvious (doesn't everyone write "L is for love"?), but love is very important to me. What would my life be worth if I couldn't love and be loved? The most painful part of love, in my opinion, is losing someone dear to you, but I think that loving is worth every bit of that inevitable pain. I don't know how I could get through life without the love of my husband; he is my friend, my rock, my biggest fan. He has been through so much with me, and he appreciates my twisted sense of humour and, er, interesting moods. He is devoted, loving, intelligent, gentle and quietly funny, and he makes a damn fine cup of tea. I love him!

The love of friends, the love of family, the love of pets... how could we manage without love? And of course, we must love ourselves. If you can't love yourself, how can you love anyone else?

I love my "little brothers"! Twice my hubby and I have been matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Big Couple to "Little" brothers, both of whom now tower over me, and are really young men, no longer boys. They are so different from one another, but I love them both and I don't think they will ever realize how much joy they have brought into our lives. I wish them much love and happiness. One of my "littles" is having a particularly difficult adolescence right now. The road has never been easy for him and he has many things working against him. I hope that he learns to love himself and see all that we see in him. Right now, he does not. Our other little is also bright and wonderful, and he has the strong love of his family, but he had a very rough start in life, and was saved when he adopted. His mother is a powerful force of love in his life.

Then there are the animals in my life, the beloved pets I love so much, past and present. Pets give so much and ask for so little! And wild animals: I love them and appreciate them and wish them lives free of harm from humans. Not so easy when we are polluting and ravaging this beautiful planet beyond belief.

I will never forget the love of my parents. I lost my Dad (Jim) when I was 28 and my Mum (Phyllis) when I was 33. They died on the exact same day, five years apart, both in their early 60s, far too soon. My parents weren't perfect, but I have never doubted their love for me. As an only child, I sometimes feel quite alone in the world without them.

And hey, I love you people who take the time to read my blog and rack up the numbers on that counter. Thanks, people!

Yes, love is definitely the most important "L" of all. But right now, what I would love most is... another cuppa tea!

(This is the loving legacy my loving English/Irish parents lovingly left me: early-onset tea addiction, a sincere love of potatoes, periodic hankerings for fish and chips, an understanding of the wicked pleasure of fried bread, weekly use of HP Sauce, a great Shepherd's pie recipe, and a shameful need to watch Coronation Street on a regular basis.)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Score! And this and that...

My wonderful friend Eileen sent me a box of novelty yarn yesterday! I don't think she knew beforehand how much I love this stuff. What a great surprise. Eileen is the most generous person I know, and when we moved to BC, she made us feel so welcome, and went out of her way to show us around our new community and introduce us to people. She has always been someone you can count on. We miss her and her beau Gary a lot. We have to make them visit Quebec, although perhaps not right now (it was -29C last night. I don't think Eileen would approve!) Eileen is more a 35C type of gal, not MINUS 35 C.

Eileen works part-time at Michael's craft store. I am wildly jealous of her employee discount! Thank you Eileen, for such a wonderful surprise. I love getting parcels in the mail.

On another note, I woke up the other morning worrying about Steve Irwin's daughter, Bindi Sue. I have no idea why, since I don't even know her. I just get the sense that she is not taking the time she needs to grieve the loss of her Dad. Why I would wake up with this on my mind, I have no clue. Perhaps I have been watching too much TV lately.

On another note, definitely NOT related to Bindi Sue, there is erotic poetry on our fridge. A while back, the hubby got me a set of that magnetic poetry stuff, in the "Erotic" category. I also have "dog" poetry from my friend Phyllis, but I am thinking that mixing the two categories would result in some sort of literary bestiality, so I will do my best to avoid that.

I did not crack open the erotic poetry box until we moved here, simply because I lived in fear of my in-laws seeing rude and suggestive words on our fridge. They would not approve. But since they are now several hundred kilometres away, and we have no kids who might be affected, we have taken the plunge. I will take care to clear the fridge before the next visit of the 'rents!

First, the freezer door. I would hasten to add that much of what is on our fridge is on the side, and much of what is on our fridge was not purchased by me, especially the rude and bizarre stuf. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I have a twisted sense of humour. No indeed. Of course, my friends KNOW I have a twisted sense of humour, and thus they buy me these things:

The "tea" magnet says everything you need to know about my motto for living. The cat magnet frames a pic of our dear, recently-departed Mashka. The fridge is a cheap thing we bought for this rental house we're living in. I want fancy-schmancy kitchen appliances when we buy our farm. Until we moved here, I never knew you could buy a dishwasher for $199!

These are cat-butt magnets (and a hairball magnet.) Now, why would anyone buy me these? Gee, I wonder. Plus I got a cat-butt air freshener for Christmas as well. I sense a theme. I in fact now own TWO cat-butt air fresheners (which smell like hyacinth, not poo), given to me by TWO different friends. These magnets were given by a third friend. I think my friends all know me a little too well.

Here is the current erotic poetry. Can you guess which one of us wrote it?

Finally, here is a very bored cat who thinks the fruit basket is a cat basket. He is bored because it has been too cold for him to go outside to his kitty palace. He looks slightly pissed off at being disturbed by the camerawoman:

"I vant to be alone!"

I think I've said enough for one day, and I truly hope all the "erotic" words in the post don't attract porn spammers. Goodness!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


By the way, I figured out the "Another day, another dose of darlingness". I am a little slow. That phrase was in one of my own posts about baby robins last spring. Duh!

But now, WOODPECKERS! Yesterday, being unspeakably cold, brought out every bird under the sun. They were going nuts at the feeders. I took some less-than-fantastic photos through our bedroom window.

Here we have Mr. Handsome Devil (unless it's the girl; I can't tell in this shot) hairy woodpecker on the suet feeder, and the "This photo doesn't do it justice" northern flicker on the ground, eating the suet bits Mr. Handsome Devil is dropping on the ground:

But is gets better. The pileated woodpecker showed up right outside the window. He was giving himself (herself?) a very nice preening:

Suddenly, the hairy woodpecker makes an appearance. They surprised each other as the hairy rounded the tree. The blue jay watched from below:

Then the hairy went further up the tree. They seemed to be scolding each other:

This was the highlight of my day! Yes, you may think me pathetic but I thought it was amazing to see woodpecker-o-rama right outside the window. Too bad my pictures weren't better.

There were some interesting prints in the snow under the big feeder. I think some of the birds were having trouble in the deep snow:

And now, back to your fabulously exciting lives! It's considerably warmer today, and we are getting more snow tonight and tomorrow. Yesssss! The Weather Gods are at last smiling upon my winter-deprived self.

Another day, another dose of darlingness...

Someone explain to my feeble non-techno-savvy mind how my blog ended up listed here, with the tag line "Another day, another dose of darlingness"

I have to say, I thought my hubster was the only one who thinks I am darling!

I'm just please I didn't end up on the directory of bullsh*t!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oh yes, it's winter!

Oh my, I do so love interesting weather! I really missed the extremes when I was living in BC, although that said, those poor west coast saps are getting hammered this season. Figures that doesn't happen until I leave! They simply aren't equipped to deal with that much snow. Here the roads are plowed almost instantly after a snowfall. I am quite impressed. I can't get a family doctor in Quebec, but man, those potholed roads sure are clear of snow!

Of course the most "interesting" weather event I have lived through thus far was Hurricane Juan, which hit Nova Scotia in 2003. We lived in Prospect Village at the time, which was well and truly hammered. We were lucky only to have some damage to our dock. The eye of the storm passed directly over our house. I can still remember that vividly. My husband SLEPT THROUGH IT while I huddled by a radio with a cat and a candle.

But back to today. When I got up this morning, it was -34C at 7 am, or -29 F, according to my outdoor thermometer. This is what cold looks like. I love the pinkish glow in the early morning sky:

My first hint that it was unusually cold was the ice on the insides of our windows:

Julius the cat, being no idiot, knows what to do when it's this cold:

And when you've had enough stretching and napping, there's always eating:

(The fountain/feeding get-up was brought home by Daddy one day.)

Zoë doesn't have a particularly good opinion of cold weather either. Fortunately she has plenty of fat reserves to keep her warm (but she is losing weight on her new post-Mashka diet/exercise regime):

Yes, I think perhaps I shall forgo my walk today and join Julius on the couch! But I am so happy to have winter weather to whine about again. Yaaaay!

Monday, January 15, 2007

The driveway

It looks short, but it ain't...

The snow seems to have stopped for now. I love it! Winter is here at last. I spent about 75 minutes shovelling to the end of our driveway today (hey Wendy, it was a good workout!) This photo gives you no sense of how frigging long our driveway is, nor how wide it is up by the house. Tomorrow I will have to shovel what passes for our road, which from our driveway up to the main road is a steep hill about 100 feet long. The city doesn't plow it, alas.

I am hoping the Tractor Fairy comes to plow it out, as happened the last time we had a largish amount of snow. This is some guy I don't know from Adam who miraculously cleared the snow from our roadway using a tractor with a plow blade. My goal in life is to own a vehicle with a plow blade, to go with the farm we intend to buy.

If the Tractor Fairy doesn't show up soon, I am screwed. I have to go out tomorrow night so I'll have another date with the shovel tomorrow afternoon.

The Husband (who, as I mentioned, was supposed to have lined up a snowplowing service by now) is conveniently hiding in Cape Breton until Thursday, well away from our collection of snow shovels. He is lucky it is his birthday Friday, or he would be a DEAD MAN when he got home.

Cardinal sighting

Yes, I know that cardinals are hardly rare around here, but I hadn't seen any since I lived in Ontario in 1998. Thus I was thrilled late last week when this guy showed up at my feeder. He was back this morning, and I have for you two not-so-hot pictures, shot through my office window in a driving snowstorm this morning.

One of us, the one who has not buggered off to Sydney, Cape Breton on business for four days and left his wife alone with a plastic snowshovel, (and who has still not lined up someone to plough out our dang driveway/roadway) will be shovelling the 300-foot driveway/roadway today so that one of us, the one not in Nova Scotia on business until Thursday, can get the car out of the driveway this week!

But the cardinal is beautiful! I never get tired of watching the birds.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Wait, this isn't winter. This is a chickadee at the feeder last weekend. Note the GRASS, not snow in the background.

Here's another one. They are so damn cute!

But this morning, voila! Winter in the front yard:

Winter in the backyard:

Winter on the lake down the road:

All they have been talking about on CBC radio this week is how there has been no winter in Canada this year (unless you're one of the poor saps in BC!) But apparently the tide is finally turning and starting Sunday, we are going to be getting cold temps across the country, and some more snow here in the Outaouais! I am glad. I moved here from BC for the SNOW, fer cryin' out loud. I have snowshoes and skates and cross-country skis to purchase... yeessh!

Happy weekend to all, and stay warm wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yummy bread!

I now make my own bread every week, and right now, this is the one recipe I have mastered! :) I really like it and it freezes well. Freezing it also stops my husband from eating the entire loaf in 48 hours. The recipe that follows is from my Canadian Living Cookbook, but it's also on the Canadian Living website. I have a loaf rising as I write.

Making bread doesn't really involve a lot of labour. I work at home, so it's easy for me to be around while the bread is doing its rising thing. I really enjoy making bread and find the kneading bit soothing. I have a breadmaker but I have never been able to get a satifactory loaf out of it.

I am still searching for a good whole wheat bread recipe. I am not a terribly skilled breadmaker, although I am improving, so the ones I have tried tend to come out as inedible bricks.

Canadian Living recipes are great and very foolproof. I think they have a very thorough test kitchen.


Country Seed Bread
General Category : Breads (Loaves, Buns, Rolls)
Food Group : Grains
Preparation Method : Bake
Other Criteria : CL Cooks
When bread machines first became popular a few years ago, The Canadian Living Test Kitchen got busy adapting recipes. Very easy to make in the machine – and almost as easy by hand – this loaf is nutty, chewy and just plain good.


• 2 cups (500 mL) All-purpose flour (approx)

• 1 cup (250 mL) Whole wheat flour

• 1/4 cup (50 mL) Flaxseeds

• 2 tbsp (25 mL) Sesame seeds

• 1 tbsp (15 mL) Poppy seeds

• 2 tsp (10 mL) Quick-rising (instant) dry yeast

• 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) very warm Water

• 2 tbsp (25 mL) Liquid honey

• 2 tbsp (25 mL) Vegetable oil

• 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) Salt

In large bowl, stir together all-purpose and whole wheat flours, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and yeast. In small bowl, whisk water, honey, oil and salt; stir into flour mixture to make sticky dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for about 8 minutes or until still slightly sticky and dough springs back when pressed in centre, adding up to 1/4 cup (50 mL) more all-purpose flour as necessary. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1-1/4 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently pull into 11- x 8-inch (28 x 20 cm) rectangle. Starting at narrow end, roll up into cylinder; press seam to seal. Place, seam side down, in greased 8- x 4-inch (1.5 L) loaf pan. Cover with towel; let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk and about 3/4 inch (2 cm) above rim of pan.

Brush top with water. With serrated knife, make 1-inch (2.5 cm) deep cut lengthwise along top of loaf. Bake in centre of 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF (180ºC); bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pan; let cool on rack.

More Information
Bread Machine Method:
Into pan of 1-1/2- to 2-lb (750 g to 1 kg) machine, add (in order) water, honey, oil, salt, all-purpose and whole wheat flours, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and yeast. (Do not let yeast touch liquid.) Choose appropriate setting (whole wheat, powdered milk). Let loaf cool on rack.

Nutritional information
Per slice: about 172 cal, 5 g pro, 5 g total fat (trace sat. fat), 28 g carb, 3 g fibre, 0 mg chol, 292 mg sodium. % RDI: 3% calcium, 14% iron, 25% folate

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Miscellaneous photos

I finally cleaned up all the crap on the desktop of my Mac, and I bring to you some of the photos I found. It is possible I have posted some of these before, but I have a 14-second memory, so if they are already on this blog, I am oblivious to that fact!

Mashka and Zoë in a cat sandwich! March, 2006:

Me and my dog Chelsea, fall 1989. Yes, I did knit that sweater! Chelsea was just two years old here. She died in August 2003.

Me talking back to my friend Phyllis' dog, Ginger, who obviously thought I was deranged:

After we moved to BC, we had to stay at the Sutton Place for a month at the government's (G's employer) expense. Such hardship. Our dog Tara (1992 - 2006) was with us and she got a LOT of attention, particularly from the doormen, who lavished her with love and dog cookies. Here she is, abusing the couch in our suite.

She wasn't allowed on the furniture. Can you tell?

Gordon and his babies, Mashka and Zoë, December 2005. This was before Mashka was diagnosed with kidney failure. She was still nicely plump.

There ya go. Happy New Year! My resolution this year is to lose NO MORE PETS!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Caramelized Pear Trifle with Champagne Sabayon

Last year at Christmas, I posted pics of Gordon with this trifle that he fashioned with his own two masculine, somewhat hairy hands. We've made it at least twice, but alas, not this Christmas. That could have something to do with the fact that our trifle set is in storage along with 7,000 lbs of other belongings that apparently we are living quite nicely without but paying a fair sum to store until we find a house to buy (which begs the question... why are we keeping stuff we can apparently live without?)

Anyhoo, by popular request I am posting the recipe, which I got out of some long-lost Canadian Living magazine a few years back. Canadian Living recipes are, in my opinion, very good and very well tested! Enjoy.

(Sadly, we were fresh out of edible gold flakes when Gordon made the trifle photographed above, so we used the green and pink balls we had on hand. A tad lurid, but you must admit, it looks very festive. Yes, this trifle is the trollop of desserts!)

Caramelized Pear Trifle with Champagne Sabayon

Makes 12 servings.

8 pears (Bartlett or Packham), about 3 lb (1.75 kg)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (50 mL)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (150 mL)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (25 mL)
1 loaf pound cake (298 g)

3 tablespoons pear eau-de-vie (Poire William) or pear brandy* (50 mL)
1 1/3 cups whipping cream (325 mL)

Champagne Sabayon
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar (150 mL)
1/2 cup Champagne or sparkling white wine (125 mL)

Edible gold flakes

Peel, quarter and core pears. Cut each quarter into 4 slices.

In large skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the pears and sprinkle with half the brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring gently with wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pears are golden and spoon leaves trail that fills in slowly when drawn across bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

Repeat with remaining pears, butter, brown sugar and lemon juice. Let cool.

(Make ahead: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.)

Fill large bowl with ice-cold water; set aside.

In heatproof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, Champagne and eau-de-vie; set over saucepan of simmering water. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture is doubled in volume and thick enough to leave trail when whisk is lifted, about 10 minutes.

Immerse bottom of bowl in bowl of cold water; whisk sabayon constantly, until cold, about 10 minutes.

Whip cream until soft peaks form; fold into sabayon. Place plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Set aside 10 of the pear slices.

Cut pound cake in half lengthwise; cut cross-wise into _ inch (1 cm) slices.

Line bottom of 12 cup (3 L) glass trifle or serving bowl with half of the cake slices. Ladle half of the reserved pear liquid over cake. Layer half of the pears over the top, then half of the sabayon. Repeat layers.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 6 hours or for up to 24 hours.

Arranged reserved pear slices on trifle; sprinkle with gold flakes (if using).

*TIP: If you don't have any eau-de-vie or pear brandy, substitute regular brandy or pear nectar.

Per Serving: about 415 cal; 4 g protein, 22g total fat (10 g sat. fat), 52 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 194 mg cholesterol, 119 mg sodium. %RDI: 7% calcium, 10% iron, 21% vitamin A, 7% vitamin C, 15% folate.