Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our Straw House

Well this last weekend was a blur of activity but I think the results speak for themselves. To the left is a picture of our house as it looked on friday morning. At the end of my writing is a picture of our house as it looked Sunday evening.

I am absolutely in love with my new "straw" house. (That is the name of the colour we painted it - we thought we should rename it something more romantic - Tuscan Sunrise is the most recent suggestion.) I think it makes such a huge difference. It is so much more cheerful and I think it also looks newer and even maybe a tad higher quality if that is possible.

It is hard to tell from the final photo but there is black on the frame around the glass on the front door. Our next project is to buy new lights for the exterior of the house - they will be black as well. I am going to spray the bracket for the hanging basket black and I think I will pick up some large black pots for either side of the garage door.

We still haven't decided on the garage door. I saw a house recently that had painted the block insets on their garage door the same colour as the house. Made it kind of fade into the house a bit more. I want the focus to be on the front entrance not on the garage door. Always a work in progress.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nature's Wonder

The first nasturtium's of this year's crop have opened up in all their glory. Such a simple plant with extraordinary colour and their pepper leaves and flowers go so well in a mixed green salad, isn't nature wonderful. These little guys
are planted in the herb bed,
right along side the chicken
coop. The chickens have
been having a grand ole time
picking at their leaves
through the fence. I am
hoping to weave them up the
fence to give the chickens a
little more shade and keep
the plants from taking over
the herb bed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Self Portrait July 25, 2007

My first selfportrait. The challenge for the month is about your connection to one of the elements (earth, water, fire, air). I decided to start with water and the first thing that came to mind was the pond at our front entrance. Dipping my toes in the water where my pet goldfish enjoy their days. It seemed like a statement of contentment and intouch with nature.

Upon reflection of this photo I can see that it shows my reluctance to show more then the bare minimum required. The toenails that need to be shaped and polished a reflection on how my life is right now. So many things that need to be done but haven't been - a lack of self maintenance going on.

On an interesting note, this moment of pause at the pondside while I awaited for the fish to approach my toes gave the opportunity to discover a baby goldfish.

Soon-to-be mumma

No not I but my dear little girl in the backyard has chosen to devote her time to warming 15 eggs (not all hers I might add) for the next couple of weeks. Do you think she was thinking about how many little mouths that is to feed or little bodies that want to run, explore and see the world. Her ambition amazes me. To think I am still wavering on just having one or two to watch over. No selfishness on her part that's for sure. Truly amazing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weighty Issues

Today is more about how I am feeling about myself. I am tired and I am cranky about the extra 10 I have gained since getting married. I just don't like the overtight jeans, you know those damn rolls at your waist and around the bra straps....grrr.

So...I have a goal. I am going to be back at 125 lbs by our wedding anniversay - October 1.
It may be pushing it a little but isn't that what it's all about.

The reward - a trip to the spa. Not sure which one or for what treatment. I'll have the next 2 1/2 months to figure it out as I work on taking it off.

To explore myself for lack of better words I have decided to try this challenge http://selfportraitchallenge.net .

First task is to buy a camera. Then start getting creative.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sage Cream Cheese

1/4 cup fresh sage
1 clove garlic
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 Tbsp frozen lemonade concentrate

Finely chop sage and garlic. Blend together with cream cheese and lemonade concentrate. Chill atleast overnight for best flavour. Can also be done in food processor to chop the sage finer and make a greener spread.

Had this with the sage cornmeal biscuits. Very good - love the garlic zip. I'm thinking it would be really good stuffed into chicken breasts with some mushrooms.

Sage Cornmeal Biscuits

Makes 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp fresh sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Combine first five ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened. On floured surface roll until 3/4" and cut into 2" pieces. Place on ungreased sheet and bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

MMmm yummy. I had these for my Sunday lunch topped with sage cream cheese. Need I say more.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Remington's Chicken Salad Maison

Servings: 6

1 Tbsp oj concentrate
4 Tbsp mayo
white pepper
4 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 ribs diced celery
1/2 medium diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 head shredded lettuce
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup toasted cashews
Grapes, strawberries or other fresh fruit for garnish


Blend oj and mayo in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add in chicken, celery, onion, garlic.

Divide lettuce among plates. Place chicken mixture on top. Top with oranges and cashews. Garnish with desired fruit(s).

This was last night's dinner. Thankful it is an easy meal to make as in the middle of mixing together the oj and mayo my glass bowl exploded. After mopping up the entire kitchen and thanking my lucky stars that I wasn't hurt I quickly mixed up another batch and we were ready to eat in less then 10. The garlic definately makes all the difference in this sauce so don't skip it or it will be too bland.


Servings: 28


6 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup cashew pieces
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup coconut
1 cup rye flakes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups honey
1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 225F
Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl.
Heat honey and oil until warm, remove from heat and add vanilla.
Pour liquids over dry and mix thoroughly until evenly coated.
Spread onto baking sheets and baking for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hour
Allow to cool completely, add dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, banana chips if desired.
Store in airtight container.

Granola, summer's yummiest breakfast. Add some yogurt and some fresh sliced fruit and you have a fast, nutritious and delicious meal.

I made this last night as I was making dinner. So simple and so much better then store bought. I think I am going to try adding some spices next time. Cinnamon, poudre douce or maybe even something different like allspice. I think I'll play with some of the different variations - less oat flakes and add in some other options - kamut, barley, etc. I might try decreasing the honey slightly and try adding in a little brown sugar just to see what that does to the flavour. Although I think I like the idea of using honey for my sweetener - have to think about that one. I also have heard of decreasing the honey by 1/2 cup and using some apple or orange juice - I think I'll try that one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

BBQ Shrimp Pizza

Servings 4

1 - 10 oz can pizza dough
1/2 cup honey flavoured bbq sauce
1/2 lb shrimp, cooked and peeled
2 Tbsp sliced black olives
2 Tbsp purple onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese

Pat pizza dough into pan. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spread with bbq sauce. Top with shrimp, olives, onion, cheese. Return to oven and bake 8-10 minutes.

Per serving - 342 cal

Okay so this is a fav in our house - why? - well Andy likes it and I like that - especially as it contains seafood which we don't eat enough of as Andy isn't a huge fan. I keep trying new recipes though and everytime I find one he likes I jump at the chance to make it again. In our house this recipe has changed somewhat and usually looks something like this

bbq sauce (plain or garlic) mixed with honey
onion - yellow, red or green
peppers - green, red, yellow or orange
black olives - on my third of pizza
cheese - mozza, cheddar or monteray

Last night was a scorcher so we cooked pizza on the bbq. Heat it up to 425 with burners on one side turned off. Throw pizza on the turned off side and cook until hot and bubbly. Yummy! Served with bean salad and a green salad featuring my first mesclun mix pickings of the year. I sure do love how a little bit of greens from the garden can make such a flavour difference to a salad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bean Salad

Servings: 10
From: Allrecipes.com


1 - 14 oz can green beans
1 - 14 oz can wax beans
1 - 15 oz can red kidney beans
1 - 15 oz garbanzo beans
1 - 15 oz can black beans
1 - red onion, chopped
1 - green pepper, chopped
3/4 cup - red wine vinegar
3/4 cup - white sugar
3/4 cup - vegetable oil
3/4 tsp - ground dry mustard
1/2 tsp - dried tarragon
1 1/2 tsp - dried cilantro


In a large bowl, layer the beans, onion and green pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard, tarragon and cilantro. Cook and sir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour over bean mixture. Stir until all ingredients are coated. This is best if it is left to marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator, and stirred occasionally.

So above is the original recipe. I made it (with a couple of changes) last night to take with us over to our friends (Kathryn and Leif) for dinner. When posting this I discovered a couple of variations I am going to try. Below is my most current favourite version. I am going to try it with corn, celery and green onion added the next time I make it. I think I may also increase the tarragon, decrease the cilantro, delete the romano beans, add a green pepper and allow the dressing to cool before pouring over the beans.


1 can green beans
1 can wax beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can romano beans
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro

As a side note I had a wonderful visit with my dear friend Kathryn. We had a favourite and easy meal of burgers, sliced veggies, chips, bean salad and chilled iced tea. It was a great way to finish what otherwise was an extremely long and hot day - there is nothing like catching up with dear friends and seeing how their children have grown and their homes have changed. It is amazing how busy our lives get and how infrequently we seem to get together. Kath and Leif have developed this great sand play area for the boys, it even has a slide that goes from the deck down to the sand area.

I am thankful for wonderful friends like Kathryn and Leif, for a husband that changes his work schedule so we can get together with our friends and for chilled iced tea.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Crisp Chewy Meringues

From: French Food at Home by Laura Calder

Makes: 16


4 egg whites
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavouring)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch


1. Whip the whites and salt into peaks, add the vanilla, and continue beating to stiff peaks. Stir the cream of tartar into the regular sugar and whisk into the whites very gradually, a spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and the sugar has dissolved. Sift together the icing sugar and cornstarch. Sift over the meringue and gently fold until fully incorporated.

2. Pipe or spoon the meringues onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 225F until cream-coloured and crisp on top when tapped, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Remove from oven. Cool on the trays. Store in air-tight container.

Okay, so two entries for one day but then I kind of have a special reason. Last night when I got home there was a parcel on my doorstep. Inside the parcel was a copy of French Food at Home by Laura Calder. I won this book from the recipe club at foodtv.ca. So I thought I would post a copy of the recipe we made and the posting I sent in that I won with.

The posting:

From Sonja who used fresh eggs from her very own chickens:I decided to try the recipe exactly as written and made note of the suggestions by others (very sterile bowl, don't open the door, etc). This was my first attempt at meringues so I figured I better pay attention! The directions were easy to follow and I had no problem whipping them up to stiff peaks despite it being a humid day. I didn't have parchment paper but used my silicone baking sheets and they came off with no problems. I was scared to open the door too soon and they probably could have come out right at the 1 hour mark (I took out at 1 hr 15 min) but they were a very light cream colour just like the picture. The meringues definitely lived up to its crisp chewy name. I took them to a family dinner, and we tried them with a lime curd and with a chilled rhubarb/strawberry sauce with just a touch of sugar and poudre douce. The unanimous decision was that the meringues were a keeper (seconds were had by many), and requests to bring them by anytime and for the recipe were made.


Servings: 6
From: The New Family Cookbook for People with Diabetes


1/2 cup finely cut bulgur
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 fresh tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp canola or corn oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper


Soak the bulgur in 1 cup boiled water for 1/2 hour. Drain well.

Place the bulgur in a large bowl and add the parsley, onion and tomato; mix well.

Combine the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Add to salad; toss lightly to coat the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

Nutrional: 122 Calories, 7 gram fat, 13 gram carb, 2 gram protein

My little piece: Ahh, the pungent, earthy and fresh taste of this salad is enough to get anyone excited. This is my lunch today - I prepared it last night as I was cooking dinner. I used fresh Italian parsley out of my herb bed (my birthday gift this year from my husband). Todays variance from the recipe was to try lime juice instead of lemon and I often switch out the type of onion used - today it is red onion. I am also using grapeseed oil today for something different.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Flap Jack-o' Lanterns

If your kids like pumpkin pie, they'll flip over these tasty pancakes.

Makes 20 pancakes


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
3 Tbsp melted butter plus 1 Tbsp for frying
1/2 cup cooked and mashed pumpkin (fresh or canned)


Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add 3 Tbsp of melted butter and the pumpkin to the wet ingredients and whisk together.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (a few lumps are okey).

Heat remaining butter on a griddle over medium-high heat. Por 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. When flapjacks bubble on top, flip and cook until brown on the other side.

A comment or two: This weekend I had my two nieces over for a visit. They are 6 and 5. One of the requests I had for breakfast was flapjacks. Though I made them plain flapjacks it brought to mind this recipe which I love and would have made for them if they weren't such a fussy lot. I have every intention of raising my future children (if I am so lucky) on this version. I think I will continue to play with it by perhaps adding in some buckwheat and/or wholewheat flour.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mimi's Giant Whole-Wheat Banana-Strawberry Muffins

"A healthier version of a favorite breakfast treat! Bananas and strawberries lend a natural sweetness to these delicious and moist muffins."

Original recipe yield:
12 giant muffins
Prep Time 15 Min
Cook Time 20 Min
Ready In 35 Min

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, mashed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup frozen sliced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Grease 12 large muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups until completely filled.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins.

Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213 Total Fat: 5.9g Cholesterol: 35mg
Sodium: 123mg Total Carbs: 38.2g Dietary Fiber: 4g Protein: 4.2g

My findings: This was a simple and easy recipe to make. I liked the idea of using all whole wheat to up the fibre and perhaps the nutritional value. I almost always substitute apple sauce for most of the oil in a baking recipe such as this so it was nice that the recipe came that way already. I used frozen bananas that I defrosted and then squished in a ziplock bag. I think next time I will try replacing the cinnamon with a lesser amount of allspice or poudre douce and see if it brings out the strawberry flavour more. Also the "giant" part of the name is not true if you make 12 muffins - more an average sized muffin.

What's it all about...

Today I thought I should decide what my site should be about. What is worthy of taking up space. I think I have come up with a couple of ideas of what I would like to share. I am sure over time this will vary; however, it is a good place to start.

1. Ponderings - that one interesting thought that came to mind today or a quote that I thought uttered truth and should not be forgotten

2. Experiments in cooking and baking - I love to cook and to bake and to share the recipes I have tried would be a fun documentary. Plus it would be my very own on-line cookbook

3. Pictures of things I have made, done, experienced, etc

4. Knowledge - in a pursuit to learn atleast one new thing a day this would be a great place to document what that new thing was

5. Greatful things - to appreciate what I have and to be aware of the little things in life

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The first entry....

I have always felt that having a blog site means that you have something important to say or share with the world. You have accomplished something or perhaps have some insight or expertise to share with others. I didn't and don't feel like I really have any of the above and therefore did not feel like I should be privileged enough to take up space on this thing they call the internet. Why should I use up server space out there somewhere...but, alas, I have chosen to join the masses and have my very own place. Perhaps just to have a place to journalize my doings, share my experiences, my learnings, my trials. Whether it will impact anyone out there I know not but in sharing myself perhaps I open myself to new things and that perhaps is the most important part.

Today I am greatful for mochas and a husband that loves me.