October is slipping through our fingers very quickly. Socially, we are already booking into November which never ceases to amaze me. Blogs are filling the virtual world with comforting fall recipes, halloween decorations and stories. My dear friend Kelly (a fellow Canadian who recently moved to California , the delightful writer and creative genius of Inspired Edibles) made a comment on my last spooky story about a haunted house tour in London she participated in several years ago and that reminded me of my own haunting experience in the UK. So I would like to continue with the Spooky Story series on my humble blog (to be honest, I had no idea I had so many of them!) Please pardon the photos in this post of our trip to the UK, they were before digital cameras and I simply took an iPhone photo of them for this post!
It was about 4 years into our marriage and JT and I were vacationing in the UK; we rented a car and drove from town to town from the south-west to the south-east culminating our adventure in London for a few days (as a side note: we saw the Queen Mother speed along in her Rolls Royce while we were walking to Buckingham Palace). We specifically chose to stay in old mansions and guest houses on this trip, it was not only budget friendly but it also was much more fun than the large international hotels.
One such town was Bibury which is a quaint little picturesque town in the heart of the Cotswolds. We stayed at a very large, very old manor house Bibury Court Hotel, incidentally the same manor house that JT and his dear Mom stayed in several years earlier. “The hotel is found on the edge of the famous village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England” taken verbatim from their website!
On these holidays, one of the things JT really loves to do is visit old castles and there were plenty of them in England; of course his favourite part of the castle was always the dungeon! As you can well imagine, my young self was not thrilled at such prospects, but as a good young wife, I accompanied him through many a dungeon throughout England and each one gave me the willies — some worse than others.
After our visit to Warwick Castle, I was particularly spooked. Not sure why, but as soon as I entered the very ghoulish dungeon I had an uneasy feeling and some very cold air wafted over me (of course, dungeons are cold and damp so that wasn’t entirely unusual). The uneasy feeling was so overwhelming that I was unable to spend more than a second in the dungeon and we had to cut our time short. We retreated to our lovely manor house on the edge of town.
We rented a lovely room which was pleasantly decorated and reasonably spacious for the time. But the view was something to be desired, particularly by someone who was recently spooked by dungeon spirits; our room over looked the grave yard (cue scary music). JT was nice enough to see if there was another room facing a different direction but sadly they were fully booked so we were stuck. I said it didn’t bother me, but you know it did.
We had a lovely dinner in the converted restaurant coach house and an after dinner drink in the quaint little bar tucked in beneath the grand old staircase in the manor house. And then it was time to retire. I tried not to think of the old cemetery, but it weighed heavily on my mind.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep but it wasn’t a restful sleep. As I lay curled up on the comfy bed, snuggled under the generous duvet, the large windows facing the grave yard at the foot of the bed flung themselves open and the curtains wafted menacingly in the cold fall winds sending a chill throughout the room. But it wasn’t just wind blowing in; there were ghosts…lots of them. Apparently that is the moment I jumped out of bed and screamed to shut the windows. Of course, the windows were not open and nor were there cold winds nor ghosts blowing in. Occasionally, when I am stressed I talk in my sleep and the only way to console me is to agree and remedy, however ridiculous it may be. JT learned this lesson with the bed spiders (sorry Chgo John, that’s a whole other story). So JT simply got up and pretended to whisk out the ghosts, close the windows and lock them down tight, explaining what he was doing along the way. That seemed to be good enough for me and I was able to continue my sleep with the consolation that the grave yard and ghosts were on the other side of the locked windows. The next morning, JT took quite the delight in telling me the story but I had no recollection!
I’m sure it was the heavy, meat laden meal I had that night which no doubt contributed to my restless night; had I chosen something lighter, such as vegetarian Paella, I may not have had such vivid dreams of ghosts and grave yards!
Seafood Paella with Salmon Chorizo
Original recipe from Matiz La Bomba Paella Rice on back of bag. This particular bag of rice was a beautiful gift from our biscotti neighbour, wasn’t that thoughtful? This was only the second time I made this dish the authentic way on top of the stove. Nothing was even remotely over cooked!
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 1 tsp saffron
- approximately 650 g of seafood, I used Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Salmon and Cod
- 1 Salmon Chorizo (for recipe, please click here)
- 4 cups vegetable or fish broth, warmed
- 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (I used unsalted)
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1/4 c green peas
- 1/4 c sweet corn
- 3/4 cup of La Bomba Pealla Rice
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- About 1 hour to 1 day prior tocooking the Paella, add the saffron to the white wine and refrigerate.
- In a Paella Pan, on medium heat, add 2 tbsp EVOO and sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes and white wine saffron mix and simmer for another 5 minutes. This is the Sofrito.
- Add La Bomba rice and stir until the rice is thoroughly covered with the Sofrito.
- Slowly add the broth to the paella, moving the rice around gently until it is evenly distributed throughout the pan. The instructions indicate not to stir the rice after this point.
- After about 10 minutes of simmering, add your selection of seafood into the mixture, evenly distributing and gently burying it within the rice. After 15 minutes, add the peas and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Once the broth has been completely absorbed, remove from heat and cover with a lid or aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Serve in the Paella pan garnished with lemon and lime wedges (which I forgot!).
I thought you might enjoy some photos from the Thanksgiving weekend in Muskoka: