Sunday, August 29, 2010

MPM #17


Photo of my yummy apple pie by Blackstone Images

It's beginning to look a lot like Autumn around these parts... The days are getting shorter, the mornings are cool & crisp, and the leaves are just starting to turn the beautiful oranges and yellows that I love so much. Another sure sign is our apple tree - the fruit is plump and full and just the perfect size and shape for harvesting!

With a vacation pending, I decided to pick our tree this weekend. Five baskets later and now it's Sunday night and our freezer is full. Apple crisps, pies & tarts and I think I'm just about done processing for another year. I toyed with making fruit leather or dried apples but all the information I could get seemed to indicate a large need for a dehydrator - which I do not have! There is always apple sauce - I made tons of it the year TroubleMaker was born and he ate it all but doesn't seem as interested in it now so it would just sit in our larder waiting to be eaten! I'd rather pass the fruit on and share our harvest of organically grown tart green apples.

Here is our week at a glance!
August 30 to September 5
Monday Homemade Chicken Stew with Baking Powder Biscuits
Tuesday Tacos (this recipe is a link to 'make your own' recipe for taco seasoning mix) (we didn't eat this last week)
Wednesday (leftovers) Pulled Pork with Toasted Buns
Thursday Egg Wraps with Tater Tots
Friday Tuna Sandwiches and Soup
Saturday Ravioli from a Can!
Sunday Hamburgers & chips

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, bacon & eggs!

Cottage cheese with green onions, Grilled PB & Banana Sandwiches, Yogurt & fruit

Hope you have a great week and check out more Menu Plan Monday cooking and meal planning ideas over at Org Junkie!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

MPM # 16

TroubleMaker is sleeping on my husband's chest as I type this up - we got home earlier today from a fantastic four day camping trip to Elk Island National Park with my Dad & step Mom and all my siblings. The weather was cool but nice (save for the smoke that blew in from the raging forest fires in the neighbouring province) and we laughed and had so much fun... Both TroubleMaker and I said to my husband at different times while packing up this morning "I don't want to go home!"

I laughed so hard, the tears rolled down my cheeks and we ate until I thought I'd explode! We ran around and played like kids - and our kids (there are four grandchildren between the 5 of us kids) ran and screamed and played until they'd run in to the campsite in need of a drink. Then they were off again!

Sometime on Friday afternoon, we set up the badminton net and hilarity ensued. Our best was 31 consecutive hits - I was sure we'd get a Guinness Record if we tried long enough... But there doesn't appear to be a record for the number of times a team can hit a shuttlecock back and forth. Go figure!

Here is our week at a glance!
August 23 to August 29
Monday Fried Egg Sandwiches
Tuesday Perogies & Sausage
Wednesday Grilled Chicken & Corrie's Spanish Rice
Thursday Tacos (this recipe is a link to 'make your own' recipe for taco seasoning mix)
Friday Easy Hot Wings , Veggies & Dip, Coyote fritters
Saturday Honey Chipolte Ribs
Sunday Homemade Pizza with this crust
I add: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp of oregano or Italian Seasoning to yeast mixture - YUM!

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, bacon & eggs!

Hope you have a great week and check out more Menu Plan Monday cooking and meal planning ideas over at Org Junkie!

Corrie's Spanish Rice
I made this up one night when I became disgruntled with the sodium levels of most 'prepared' Spanish Rice mixes. We like "spicy" so tone it down as preferred by your taste.
1 green onion, sliced
2 tbsp celery leaves
1 can, no sodium diced tomatoes (further chopped with a pair of clean kitchen sheers)
1 cup water
2 tbsp Victorian Epicure Fruit Salsa spice
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups Instant Rice

Put first 7 ingredients in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add rice and let stand 5 minutes. Stir and let stand and additional 3 minutes or until tender.

Coyote Fritters
1 can whole kernel corn
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten

Drain corn, reserve the liquid. Add enough milk to the corn liquid to equal one cup. Stir together the dry ingredients. Combine egg, milk mixture and corn; add to the dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened. Carefully drip batter by the tablespoon full into hot oil. Fry for about two minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towel. Yield: about 14 fritters


Ok - I know I used this picture last week but it still has just as much impact for me today as it did when my Husband (Blackstone Images) first showed it to me. It is so amazing and I can't thank him enough for his hard work!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How does my garden grow?

I have a garden. It is a small garden – only measuring 22’x20’ (6.7m x 6.1m) – or about 440 square feet… When I think about it, my current garden is only a few square feet smaller than the apartment I had when I met my Husband.. I loved that apartment – it was probably my favourite of all the places I’ve lived… The only shortcoming was no garden!

But I digress… My little garden – it has fed us and it has starved us… Neither of which has anything to do with the garden itself but more to do with my lack of gardening skill. I remember when we bought the house – my husband was seriously worried… The new house had a vegetable garden, extensive (by our definition) flower gardens, plum, apple and crabapple trees. And I was not known for my ‘green thumb’. Our first year we hurried and put in a vegetable garden – we ate like kings! And the plum tree – oh my God, did we have plums. Tons of them… Enough to give several of my former co-workers a very upset stomach (from eating far too many ripe yellow plums)! And apples. So many apples our kitchen table has permanent damage (from a temper tantrum over pie crust) and if I’d had an axe that day, we would not longer have an apple tree.

This is one of the plants that mysteriously dissapeared a few years after we moved in... I think I dug it up one spring by mistake thinking it was a weed.

Our second year we had an issue with ants - they damaged the roots of several plants and then we used an all natural product on the hills but it seemed to have a weird effect on the soil and anything that grew in the affected area was stunted and shriveled. We did send our soil away for testing (I used to work for a major research facility that specialized in agriculture) but it was inconclusive and all the soil experts and agrarians assured us that nothing we applied would cause what we were seeing. Regardless, it affected our harvest the next two years. Which was ok – we dumped all our bins of compost on the garden and worked it into the soil. Then we got pregnant, had a baby and really weren’t ready to start gardening again until this year.

And it’s going well – save for the nearly 120 cubic litres of weeds TroubleMaker and I pulled out of the little vegetable patch three weeks ago… Needless to say, I’m a little embarrassed that our garden got so overran by weeds that it choked the cucumbers into extinction! We had a funny season here this year. Early in the spring, we were suffering draught conditions. Then it was cold – unseasonably cold and we couldn’t plant for fear of frost. By the time my Husband, his Mom and TroubleMaker seeded our garden it was the second week in June and we still had frost that nearly killed our four tomato plants! It then rained constantly and steadily for a month. It would just dry out enough to get into and it’d start raining again – hence the weeds that nearly took over.

But we’ve eaten from the garden. Two picks of peas (and another to come), green beans twice, a few carrots, new potatoes and enough dill to supply the most ambitious of picklers. I didn’t plant the dill; by the way, it’s a byproduct of living in an old part of town. Things just grow here, whether you plant them or not. Poppies - one of those things that just keep growing without any input from me...

Yes, that reminds me, we had a spinach salad too this year – but we didn’t plant it this year! Last year, we had spaghetti squash – it grew out of our compost.
Relatively speaking, we have amazing soil. The neighbourhood we’re in used to all be farm land so the dirt is supple and fertile. Things grow big and green and honestly, I don’t have to do too much to it. And this year, the credit really needs to go to my Husband and TroubleMaker – they made the garden the success it is!
We are thinking and planning of uprooting (haha) our little vegetable patch so we can build a new garage with apartment studio for Blackstone Images and for the most part, I was ok with that… until last night when I realized that it would be the end of my gardening. Sure, I’d already decided to dig up the few flowers I haven’t killed and put in vegetables, but my little patch of sunshine will be gone…

And I don’t know if I’m really ready for that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010



I love, love, love this picture. And what makes it even sweeter for me is twofold - first, being married to a photographer has its benefits - my Husband (Blackstone Images) took the picture... Second, I pickled all that produce! Granted, I did not grow the produce (I do have a garden - more on that later this week)... I did grow the sunflowers and the dill! Well, technically, they grew themselves but... Ya. Ok. My husband took the picture and he's totally awesome (and the picture is taken in front of our super fantastic pea patch).

I pickled five pounds of cucumbers, a pound of carrots and some yummy garlic (all of the produce was locally and organically grown)! I did cucumbers last year (or was it the year before?) but I've never done carrots or garlic but I love them and just had to try them out myself. I cannot wait to open them and eat them!

This weeks menu is mostly filler - we are heading out to Elk Island National Park this Thursday with my family - Dad, Mom #2 and all my siblings!

Here is our week at a glance!
August 16 to August 22
Monday Chicken Caesar Salad
Tuesday Crock pot Hamburger Casserole
Wednesday Tater Tot Casserole
Thursday *camping* - BBQ Hamburgers, chips
Friday *camping* - Open fire roasted smokies & baked beans
Saturday *camping* - BBQ Steak, Gramma's Potato Salad
Sunday Fish sticks & KD

My darling husband seems to be coping well with my recent lack of lunch time menus... He's been doing lots of good things - cottage cheese with onions & cucumbers, yogurt, cheese & crackers... There are always lots of yummy things in the fridge to eat and they are getting the hang of it!

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, bacon & eggs!

Hope you have a great week and check out more Menu Plan Monday cooking and meal planning ideas over at Org Junkie!

Basic Muffin Recipe (from a 1950's vintage Blue Ribbon Flour Cook book)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp melted fat
3/4 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients and add wet. Blend until just blended together. Add 3/4 cup lightly floured berries.

Pour unto greased muffin cups (I use liners). Bake at 400 F for 15 to 18 minutes. YIELD: 12 muffins

Gramma's Potato Salad
4 to 6 cups potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 cup celery, diced
2 or 3 green onions, chopped
4 to 6 eggs, diced (reserve one whole egg for the top)

3/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 tsp mustard
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp white vinegar

Combine dressing ingredients and let rest. Toss the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle dressing over top - reserving a small amount. Toss salad to combine. Slice one whole egg and garnish on top, coating each slice with a little of the reserved dressing to it doesn't dry out. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Refridgerate all day to allow flavours to mingle. Serve chilled.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Daily Bread...

A few days ago, I was flipping through a cook book I've owned for more than a dozen years. For many of those years, it was my 'staple' cook book but the other day, I found a recipe I don't ever recall seeing in it before. It was for Italian Cheese Bread. Now, I love homemade bread but generally, it's time consuming and tedious.

Yes, I have my dream Kitchen Aid Mixed (I love you Mixer - that's the rule of the Mixer - one must always say "I love you Mixer" whenever one speaks of the Mixer) with a dough hook but I don't like using it for 'hard tasks' because, well, I'm weird that way... But my lovely Mixer is another post... Back to the bread.

The day I found the bread recipe, I was too short on time to make it but today, having had a late afternoon meeting cancelled, I decided to sneak home and try this recipe! TroubleMaker drug his chair to the counter and we assembled the ingredients!

"Where was I?" I asked myself about a dozen times this afternoon while measuring the ingredients as I kept losing my place!

Forty five minutes later, we were almost ready to put the bread in the oven to rise. Now, had I been working alone, I would have had it together in about fifteen but I`ve learned that these extra minutes spent working with my son are the best (even if they are frustrating) so he has had a regular place in my kitchen whenever I cook.

Half an hour more and we preheated the oven and prepared to cook our bread!

Another 40 minutes and BOOM! Bread (and spaghetti with meat sauce - YUM!)... And I decide that the bread looked so good, it must be photographed... And thankfully, I married a photographer so with dinner on the back burner and the counter emptied of the usual household stuff, we had mini-shoot! And then, once we'd reassembled the kitchen and I sliced the bread, I called back to my husband and asked him to do it again so up came the cameras, reflectors and lights and we were re-shooting the bread...

The finished product was definitely worth it - but take a look for yourself...

Now, it was good but it could be better... Here is the recipe and below is what I'd do differently (and will do) next time...

Italian Cheese Bread

2-1/2 cups flour
2 pkgs yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine

2 eggs

2-3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pkg of dry salad dressing mix, like Salad n Dips Italian or Country Herb
1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Combine first 4 ingredients, mix well in large mixing bowl.

Heat milk, water and margarine well (until hot and margarine is melted). Stir to combine and add to dry ingredients. Add in two eggs and beat on low until well combined. Turn mixer to medium and continue to beat for 3 minutes. Add second amount of flour, one cup at a time until blended and dough is sticky.

Turn onto lightly floured surface and kneed gently. Cut into two pieces and shape into a two balls.

Grease a 12" bundt pan well. Sprinkle lightly with Sesame Seeds. Poke hole in one of the balls and fit into bundt pan.

Combine filling ingredients and put on top of dough in pan.

Poke hole in second ball and place on top of filling and first lot of dough.

Cover with greased wax paper and clean tea towel. Place in COLD oven with only the oven light on. Wait 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and preheat to 350 F. Put uncovered pan of bread in oven and bake 30minutes (or until done - bread should sound hollow when knocked). Turn onto wire rack to cool.

What I'll do differently...
The bread was good but a little 'heavy' and 'cakey' so I may try just putting it i bowl first, letting it rise and punching it down before forming. Also, it was a little short on flavour. Next time, I'd add the seasoning packet to the dry ingredients (first 4). I'd likely omit the butter in the filling too and just either add the cheese into the dry ingredients or put it in the middle as suggested.

The good news is it is quick and makes a nice addition to a pasta dinner. It also would be very good with a supper salad (like Chicken Caesar Salad). I hope you try it - original or modified!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Another 'quick' Sunday night post before I head off to bed. I start each week with intentions of publishing my other blog musings but I seem to run out of week before I get around to it! Perhaps I need to do some research about time management...

We attended a surprise birthday party Saturday night for our neighbour so I bumped the menu around - I was going to do the "Frog's BBQ Chicken" tonight but after a very lazy Sunday playing a make-shift round of "Mini Golf" in our basement with TroubleMaker, we opted for fish sticks and KD!

I'm so proud of our wee little vegetable garden! After some very long hours pulling weeds, it looks like we're going to have some yummy harvests afterall! We had a pick of peas and green beans (and a few carrots) last week and this week I'm going to dig up a hill of potatoes and see what's growing under there! I've got tons of dill growing (it grows like a like a weed everywhere in our neighbourhood) so I'm hoping I find a nice bunch of potatoes to smother with butter and dill!

Here is our week at a glance!
August 9 to August 15
Monday BBQ Chicken & new potatoes & fresh garden veggies
Tuesday Pork Chops & fried rice
Wednesday Spaghetti & meat sauce
Thursday Egg salad sandwiches & tossed salad
Friday Chicken Nuggets & fries
Saturday Homemade Pizza Night!
Sunday BBQ Meatloaf & BBQ Vegetable Medley

Still working on the lunch menus!

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, bacon & eggs!

Hope you have a great week and check out more Menu Plan Monday cooking and meal planning ideas over at Org Junkie!

Yummy Pork Chops
Credit to my Mom for this recipe... I've tried created my own breaded chop recipe but all were met with lukewarm reception from my Husband - Mom made us this last time we were at my Mom's and he loved them!
1 pkg Onion Soup Mix
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
2 eggs

Combine onions soup & bread crumbs, add additional seasonings as desired. Beat eggs til frothy, dip chops in eggs and dredge well in coating mix. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 375.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


TroubleMaker and I have spent the weekend at my Mom's with my Sister and my niece. Mom has made us some delicious meals (one of which inspired Saturday nights meal) and we made a wonderful trip on Saturday to our favourite place on earth... Jasper National Park

As always, it's so hard to know tomorrow we'll be packing up and heading back to the "Real World" but I am glad that I've had the chance to catch up and visit and plan my month's menus (well, almost)! And of course, see all the wonder that is the Rocky Mountains!

Here is our week at a glance!
August 2 to August 8
Monday What my sister used to call "Choose Your Own Adventure" night
Tuesday Tuna Casserole
Wednesday (leftovers) Chicken & Mushroom Linguine with Salad
Thursday Egg Salad sandwiches & Tossed Salad
Friday Hamburgers & Chips
Saturday BBQ Chicken with "Frog's BBQ Sauce" & Pasta Salad
Sunday Salmon Patties with Pasta Salad

Still working on the lunch menus!

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, bacon & eggs!

Hope you have a great week and check out more Menu Plan Monday cooking and meal planning ideas over at Org Junkie!

This recipe is one my Dad invented when I was a little girl - it was the 'sauce' of use for everything we barbequed. Although I have the recipe, I forgot one of it's prime uses was for the most delightful barbequed chicken. We used to raise our own chickens and the yummiest was a cut-up fryer seasoned lightly and placed on a cookie sheet, cooked until lightly browned and then cooked until finished (on low heat) being basted frequently and generously with lots of the Frog's BBQ Sauce! Enjoy!

Frog's BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup corn syrup
10 drops liquid smoke
7 drops Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup minced onion
generous 'sprinkles' of each of the following seasonings
season salt
garlic sea salt


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