naked cranberry neighbour oatcakes

Okay. What is it with nekkid neighbours? On any given day, without fail, somebody out there searches for “naked neighbour” and comes to my site.

The only thing on my site that’s searched for more often is “cranberry oatcakes”.

The reason that “naked neighbours” brings searchers to my blog is that I have neighbours who, when the weather is warm, live largely outside in direct eye view of my desk. They’re loud, and apparently unaware of the fact that other people can see and hear them. I even designed a header just for them! I kinda stopped writing about them though, it felt kinda icky.

Recently, my exceedingly handsome and handy husband put a new outlet into the south wall of my office, which allowed me to move my desk. I don’t have to look at the Next-to-Naked-Neighbours now. I try not to, I really do. They still don’t seem to grasp  the idea of window treatments, and I can tell you with a fairly high degree of accuracy what kind of orange juice he takes out of the fridge at night… when he opens it and the room is bathed in fridge-light, I can’t help but be able to see, if chance puts me in view of it. I love my sun room/office, but I avoid it at night so I don’t have to see them, and I avoid it on warm days because  I may hear their overly-loud cell phone conversations, smell their cigarette smoke, or (no, pleeeeease no!) hear those immortal words screeched from husband to wife in the driveway: “HEY?!  YOU ON THE TOY-LET?”

Actually, I kind of ignore that side of the house, now, to be honest. They recently cut down a lot of the foliage and trees in-between our houses, so in order to feel private, I have to look the other way. They built a giant addition that lacks symmetry; it’s not my business.

I understand them, sort of. They’re really involved in improving their property, and their house. They’re building, and really industrious. They probably don’t really think about my house, and the fact that they’ve made it almost impossible for me to not see into theirs. Maybe they’re bitching about me too, who knows? I want them to have some privacy, so I can have some. That requires that I not look over there, and that maybe I’ll have to just not look in that direction. It’s what we do, when we live in close proximity, right?

My blind eye is turned.

But really, I digress.

As interesting as they are, they aren’t the point. What I want to know is this:

Why, in the name of all that’s in a birthday suit, do so many people Google “naked neighbours” so often? Even more to the point: why, when there are about 2,270,000 results in 0.27 seconds (I checked) for that phrase, do they click-through to little ‘ole Box 761? I’m not even on the first page of searches!!

It’s very strange, and I spend just a little time each day musing about it. The only thing that really gives me hope is that Google has 271,000 hits for cranberry oatcakes.  It’s not 2

maybe I should be aiming for that intersection between the two?

million, but it’s a respectable number. I’m not sure what the demographic is of my readership, such as it is, but I’m pretty sure it’s more the oatcake crowd than the naked neighbour group.

Just FYI, here’s the post about oatcakes. They’re good. Really good. And FYI, I’m not at all anti-naked. I like naked. Just not in the adjoining yard, whilst smoking and arguing on the phone with power tools in hand. Or, like, without window treatments and getting an early evening OJ from the fridge.

It’s all about choices, really.

Cranberry Oatcakes

This recipe is especially for Silas.

I got the basic recipe from a lovely book called Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale (Nimbus). It’s a nice little book. I bought the book to give to my (step)mother as a gift and well, I started reading it. I’ll get her another copy one of these days.

For this recipe, I actually made a mistake while creating the first batch and it turned out so nicely it’s how I’m going to make it from now on…. the original recipe is called “Pictou County Oatcakes” but I don’t know if Pictou  Co. would accept them, with these changes.

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (can reduce to 1/2 cup — I did so on second batch)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • cranberries (I used frozen, because that’s all I have at the moment)

Combine the dry ingredients and cut in butter or shortening.  Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water and add, stirring continuously. Toss in the cranberries (I don’t bother measuring — just throw them in until it looks right).

Mold with hands and shape into a long, fairly dense, wedge (you might need to flour hands and board to help with this).  Slice off wedges and bake in 400°F oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

As I said, none of this is really specific. It’s not a dainty recipe that requires stringent measurements. Really, it’s oatmeal, right? You will be rewarded for your efforts, and your creativity… what about apple instead of cranberries? Yum. What about orange zest and OJ instead of water? Raspberries?

Comfort Food

Not that I feel much need for comfort, but the cooler temperatures and all-around Fall-y feeling has made me think of those foods that make me feel good. Stews, spicy soups, and that old fave – lasagna.

Lasagna used to be a special occasion food for us — it was what we always knew was waiting for us when we made the drive from Ontario to my Aunt’s in Massachusetts. We would clamber out of the Country Squire station wagon and go in through the breezeway to a kitchen that smelled delicious. It meant we were home, with our people.

Oh, there’s nothing better! Every time I make it, it’s different — some times I make spinach and feta the stars, other times it’s all about the tomatoes. Today’s was basic no-nonsense no-frills. Delish.

Tomatoes. Cheese. Pasta.

So. It’s not rocket science (though arguably just as useful).

  • 1 can whole tomatoes (whole is always better than diced, fyi)
  • 500 g container Cottage Cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • Parmesan (the real stuff, not the stinky Kraft stuff)
  • oven-ready lasagna noodles

That’s all, you say? Yes. If you want more, just add it in, but what you have listed above is all you need to make a delicious pan of lasagna.

Here’s what you do:

Break up the tomatoes and heat them (with the juice — that’s important). If you are so inclined, add herbs — Mr. 761 loves thyme in his sauce, I prefer cilantro or basil. Today I used just salt and pepper because I wanted to taste the tomato. Heat it up, and since you want it to be a bit “juicy”, add a bit of water if you want (about 1/2 cup). You need that little bit of watery-ness to help cook the pasta in the oven.

Once the sauce is heated, ladle enough into the bottom of a casserole pan so that it’s covered liberally. Place noodles side-by-side, without overlapping (usually it takes 3 of them, and then some little broken pieces at the long end). Take the cottage cheese and whisk in the two eggs with a fork. Ladle 1/2 of that mixture on top of the pasta, and roughly grate some Parmesan on top. Repeat until the pan is full.

The top layer should be noodle>sauce>grated cheese.

Pop it in a 375° oven for 45 minutes, covered with foil. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

Easy, right?

Some favorite variations: spinach and feta; tofu; italian sausage meat and ricotta…. really, make it whatever flavor you want. No matter what you put in it, you will be happy, and the left-0vers are even better than the first day!