Friday, March 30, 2012

Onion Skin Dyed Easter Eggs




When we were kids
Easter was one of our favourite holidays!
I have four brothers and three sisters.
We would carefully place our winter hats and toques
on the sofa that took up one wall in the dining room
On Easter morning, our eight hats were filled with
chocolate goodies, skipping ropes, rubber balls and
"bunny eggs"

Before the big day
we would dye some eggs with the
traditional pastel colour tabs, water and vinegar
in a row of tea cups
We dunked the hard boiled eggs in
and out of the colours until the desired colour was achieved.
But, mother (aka the Easter Bunny)
 dyed some special "bunny eggs"
as she called them, with
the brown onion skins she had been saving
for a few months before Easter!
These were the eggs that, in later years, she used for
the grandchildren's outdoor Easter Egg Hunt 
They make a beautiful addition to
the Easter Decor.

I haven't made "bunny eggs" for quite a few years
but wanted to try them again
this year.
I also wanted to try doing a design on these eggs
by pressing parsley and celery leaves against
the eggs before wrapping them in the
onion skins, to create a batik effect.
I learned about doing this from one of the cooks
of Croatian decent who works at the college.



I love how they turned out!!






I think I'll save the onion skin water and make another batch!!!



Till next time ........... enjoying the season and remembering the reason!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quinoa Salad

The sun on the Forsythia
was so pretty in the morning
I can't remember it looking
quite so full as this year.

The Spring air gives me a
much needed lift
I feel energized and calm
all at the same time.

I took my camera and went to take
my week three picture 
of the Rhubarb in the garden
Wow - it's growing by leaps and bounds
and I can't wait to make my first 
Rhubarb Pie!!

Rhubarb at week three




All the new growth of things
all around here
makes me want to start fresh too
and to step up my
fitness and healthy eating
rountine!







I decided to make a super healthy Quinoa Salad
tonight for supper.
This recipe comes from one of Becky's best 
friends - and we affectionately
call it "Giller's Quinoa Salad"
I made a double batch and
It's going to come in really handy this
upcoming busy weekend!



Quinoa Salad:
1 Cup Quinoa - well scrubbed and rinsed
2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup fresh parsley or cilantro - chopped
2 Cup Celery - chopped
1/2 red pepper - chopped
1/4 Cups Pecans or walnuts - lightly toasted and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
I also added some chopped chives that are already growing in my herb bed.
Dressing:
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Flax Seed Oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Quinoa must be rinsed well - otherwise it may have a bitter taste.  In a bowl of water, grind the grain between your hands for 2 minutes.  Drain and discard the rinse water (my sieve was a bit too coarse so I lined it with a small piece of cheesecloth for draining).  In a sauce pan, bring water to a boil.  Add the Quinoa, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  It looks opague with a white squiggley/circular vein and is softened when cooked.
Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and toast the nuts.  Whisk the dressing ingredients.  When grain has cooled slightly, stir in the vegetables, nuts and dressing.  I added the crushed garlic while the Quinoa was still hot which helps to mellow the garlic flavour.  Allow the salad to rest for at least an hour before serving to let the flavours combine.
This salad can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.  Add beans, lentils, fish or chicken to make it a main dish.
Note - I almost always double this recipe.  It keeps well in the fridge for up to 4-5 days and is a handy salad to pack as a lunch for work.

Till next time ........... enjoying Spring and savouring healthy foods.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Tent Mission's Supper

On Saturday evening we were treated to an authentic Palestinian meal at our church's Missions Supper!  It was an amazing meal, shared with a group of Palestinian refugees that have been in Canada for approximately two years.  It all started when my husband and I were introduced to these lovely folks about 1 1/2 years ago.  The Mennonite churches in our area have sponsored many of these refugees and our church was very interested in doing the same.  We met a family who had come with their two very young children and a teenage brother of the father.  They were in need of sponsors for another brother who had remained in Iraq to look out for a grandmother and aunt.  He had to flee after awhile because his life was being threatened and now was in limbo somewhere in Syria - which we all know is a very dangerous place to be at this time!  With the Canadian embassy closed there, everything has seemingly come to a stand still.  We were hoping that this young man would be here by now to celebrate this meal with us and his worried family!

The whole evening was so interesting, we learned a lot from Omar the older brother, who speaks English very well.  He told us some of the harrowing stories of their lives over the past 5 years and we cannot even imagine what their young lives have experienced.  Omar has a friend who just recently opened a restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario and was happy to provide the meal for this event.

We picked up Omar and drove to Hamilton to pick up the meal that was being prepared for us.  The new restaurant is called "The Tent" in memory of how they had been living in the refugee camps!  What an appropriate name for their restaurant!  They even have "tent booths" in which to eat your meal.



We met the chef, Mamdoo (not sure if I've spelled that correctly) and piled all the trays of food in the back of our truck and off we went to set it all up at the church.

As we arrived, the ladies had put up a comforter in the atrium.  We were all encouraged to put in some "prayer knots" for Ali, the young man we are waiting to welcome to Canada!  Omar put in a few knots as well.  This comforter will be given to Ali when he finally arrives.


Once all the guests arrived and the food was placed on the banquet table, we were greeted, seated and ready to enjoy a delicious meal!




We had BBQ chicken served on a delicious bed of rice that had vegetables and raisins, three kinds of pastries stuffed with spinach, beef, and thyme, Baba Ghanoush, Hummus, Fattoush Salad, Tabouleh, and Pistachio Baklava - Mmmmmm - it was awesome!  The food committee did a great job of serving the meal!


After the meal, Omar and his brother Asem gave us a bit of background of their plight and showed a few pictures of the camps they stayed in.  It was all very sobering and we were amazed at how much their young lives had already experienced.



Our prayers are for their brother Ali who remains in Syria, trying to stay alive and out of danger.  Our hope is that he too will join his family here in Canada very soon!

Omar, his wife Nadia, and Osom
Till next time.......praying for Ali.......

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ShooFly Cake





ShooFly Cake!
This is an "old" favourite recipe that comes
from a friend in Pennsylvania.
She and her husband and two very young children
lived upstairs in our duplex in 1975.
We were only married for a couple of years then
and I was not very experienced at baking.
This recipe was easy to follow and it turned out 
every time.
It smells heavenly as it bakes!
I haven't made it for many years but am so 
glad to have rediscovered this delicious moist cake.
I'm not so fond of Shoofly Pie but this recipe
takes the cake!
Thanks Janet from PA.....




ShooFly Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
4 Cups Flour
1 lb. Brown Sugar (approx. 1 3/4 Cups packed)
1 Cup Butter or Margarine
1 Cup Molasses
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Cups boiling Water
With a pastry blender crumb together the flour, brown sugar and butter - set aside and reserve 1 1/2 Cups of the crumbs.
In large mixing bowl, combine the molasses, baking soda and boiling water.  The soda will make it foamy.  Add the flour crumbs to this mixture (all except the reserved 1 1/2 Cups).  Beat with mixer till smooth and pour into a 9 X 13 (large) cake pan.  Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick tester comes our clean.


Serve with maple syrup and ice-cream - Mmmmm.  Another way we like to eat it is with or in a glass of milk!

Did you know that Molasses is a very healthy natural sweetener?  It is a staple in the kitchens of Newfoundland (especially with Toutons a.k.a. Lassy Toutons). It was widely used as a health tonic in years gone by.

Till next time..........enjoy some lassy cake!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Full Day of Spring!

This first day of Spring is unbelievable!
The temperature soared to 24C
I came home from work to a 
beautiful display of blooming daffodils
and
I went to the garden to take my weekly picture of
the Rhubarb patch and there are leaves on
the plants.
This is more like the middle of April not March!

Rhubarb - Week Two

We made a large salad
topped it with some pan seared brie wedges
and took it outside on the patio to eat.
The fields are drying off at an alarming rate
and H groomed the lawn today!
Wow.....I'm not sure I'm ready for this.


Pan Seared Brie Cheese Wedges:
There isn't really a recipe for this - you just make it.  Cut Brie disc into wedges, dip each wedge into an egg wash, then into bread crumbs and fry gently in butter.  Makes a yummy "crouton" for your favourite salad!

Till next time - enjoy, enjoy, enjoy this awesome weather while it lasts!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ireland 2011
We shall ne'er forget thee
Thy beautiful people
and 
breathtaking scenery!
Tis' the day to celebrate 
St. Patrick's Day
and
that we shall!


The beef brisket and cabbage
have been purchased
and will be made tomorrow
in memory of our
special trip and your special day!
My only wish is that 
Our Sweet Becky and her Handsome Patrick
were here to celebrate with us!

Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!



The recipe for "Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage":
4 1/2 lbs. corned beef brisket
2 medium onions - quartered
1 head cabbage - cut into small wedges
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. vinegar (I used Cider Vinegar)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Cups water
Combine ingredients in crock pot with cabbage wedges on top (I also put in large chunks of carrot and added them with the cabbage wedges after 4 1/2 hours of cooking on high).
Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours (or on high for 6-7 hours)
Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes.


I shall rise early, load the crock pot, invite some friends to dinner, clean the house, make some dessert (yet to be decided), go for a walk, bake a fresh loaf of Irish Brown Soda Bread, whip up some garlic mashed potatoes and enjoy St. Patrick's Day!!!!!  I know I'm not Irish but this will be fun indeed!

Till next time ............... Shamrock Kisses to all!





Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Signs of Spring

Sure signs of Spring
are when 
you step outside to a frosty sunny 
morning and 
Breath the crisp air deep into your lungs

See a robin hopping on the lane way

 Notice that the 
pussy willows are ready to be snipped!



The
sight of rhubarb
peeking out it's little red heads!

Rhubarb - week one

And get back to your
Yoga Class routine!

It's all good!



Till next time - enjoy these days of wonder and renewal.......

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Brown Soda Bread





Last June while visiting Ireland we stayed at a wonderful B & B that served freshly baked homemade Irish Soda Bread each morning.  We felt so at home there and enjoyed this amazing bread with delicious scrambled eggs and smoked salmon served artisically shaped into a cone and garnished with a fresh flower and chives each morning (there were many other choices, but this is the one I had each of the 3 mornings we stayed there).  Also on the breakfast buffet were such things as stewed rhubarb (much to my surprise), yogurt, cereals, fresh fruit, choices of juice - you get the picture....it was an awesome breakfast table.  The other thing I loved was the Bodum coffee pot at each table - what a treat!

The baker in the kitchen who was also our host, willingly shared his recipes!  This is the one I like the best.  Some baking hints his wife passed on to me were:
- use "coarse" flour (less refined) if you can find it (I found some at the health food store)
- handle it as little as possible but don't panic
- these breads take practice and they never look the same twice (I'm still practicing but so far they've always looked nice and were delicious).

Ingredients:
1/2 pint buttermilk (or more depending on your flour - I think I used about 1 1/2 Cups)
4 oz. plain flour
4 oz. wholemeal flour
1 large handful of Natural Bran Flakes
1 large handful of oat flakes (porridge oats)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda (they call it Bread Soda or Bicarbonate of Soda)



Preheat oven to 475F or to 9 if using a gas oven (should you be so lucky!)
Sieve Plain flour and soda into a large bowl
Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix well with hands (lifting to introduce air).
Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk (start with 1 cup and add more if needed to make a dough that's a little on the wet side) stirring it together with a fork.
Sprinke some coarse flour on a flat baking tray (I used a pie plate)
Gather the wet (sloppy) mixture as best you can and put onto the centre of the floured baking tray or floured surface.


Do not handle too much, cut a cross in the cake and scatter lightly a bit of coarse flour over it.  Lift onto baking tray.



Place in middle of preheated oven.
Bake for 45 (30 if using convection) minutes, use a palate knife to release and tap on the underside - it should sound a bit hollow.  Cool standing up.  Serve it warm with your favourite jam or honey!


We will never forget our fabulous trip to Ireland and are especially remembering it during this week of St. Patrick's Day.


An old Irish saying.....

"So throw on some green,
cook up some corned beef and cabbage
with a side of homemade Irish Soda Bread"


Till next time.........might have to make me some corned beef and cabbage to go with this bread!




Monday, March 12, 2012

First of Five!

About 4 years ago my 3 sisters and I decided to use some of my mother's estate monies to buy ourselves a new/portable/user friendly sewing machine.  That day after we had made our purchases we felt that our mom was smiling down on us.  She loved to sew, especially sewing quilt tops.  My aunties and her would have a quilt set up in their living rooms at least once during the winter months.  What fun they had going to each other's homes, quilting, and sharing delicious lunches and teas.

My machine, however, has sat pretty much idle since the day I purchased it.  I finally "bit the bullet" and signed up for a quilting class!!!

It took me awhile on the weekend to cut the fabric, figure out how to thread my machine (not as user friendly as I remembered when purchasing it), and finding all my sewing equipment.

But here I am, tonight was my first class of 5.  We finished 4 blocks (I can't believe I did it).  It's a beginners class and we will be learning how to piece several different block patterns - just the thing I need to get my sewing confidence going again!  Tonight's pattern is the pinwheel design.  I hope the fabric colours I picked are going to work out in the end.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.



Till next time........enjoying a cuppa mint tea!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rösti (Swiss Fried Potatoes)

Growing up in a large family,
potatoes were a staple in our diet.
Mom and Dad grew huge patches
of spuds 
and kept them all winter long in the 
root cellar.

Some time ago we ate at a Swiss Restaurant
and they served a huge platter of Rösti.
I wasn't surprised that this reminded me of
my Swiss Mennonite roots and
how "fried potatoes" regularly
appeared on the family supper table at home.
Mother simply fried the, left-over from a previous meal,
cooked potatoes with a bit of salt and pepper and sometimes
some diced onion.
And, of course, this was fried with lard as was almost
everything in those days!
The well seasoned cast iron frying pan was the utensil of choice for
making this "stir fry" version!

The Rösti is basically the same thing except that
the potato/onion (and sometimes bits of bacon) are 
pressed into a "cake" and cooked in a hot buttered frying pan for approx.
10 minutes on each side until crispy brown and 
served in wedges.

I made this to go with our fried eggs and sausage for breakfast
this morning.
I need a bit more practice to keep the potatoes pressed into a 
round disc but they were very tasty!
Of course, a cast iron frying pan and some lard might have
made them turn out a bit better?

I love rediscovering simple hearty recipes that remind me of home. 

A recipe I found on-line:
6 Potatoes - cooked till tender and peeled
1 onion - finely chopped
4 sliced Bacon - finely chopped (optional)
1/4 Cup butter or lard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grate potatoes coarsely, add onions and bacon.  Heat fat in skillet, add potato mixture and lightly pat mixture into a round cake with spatula.
Fry over low heat until underside is crusty and well browned.  Flip over and fry gently until second side is also crusty (about 10 min. on each side).  Turn out onto a heated platter, cut into wedges and serve.  Simple as that!


Next I would like to try the "Spanish" version of a hearty potato dish called Spanish Tortilla. 

What are some of your favourite international versions/experiences of traditional potato dishes?

Till next time..... cookin' up some spuds!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The End of an Era



So many old "century bank barns"
are no longer in use and 
are being dismantled



When I saw two of these lovely old buildings
coming down right in our neighbourhood,
I grabbed the camera to capture some
photos of those amazing exposed
structures.

I always feel so small when I stand in
the barn and look up at the rafters
I love the lingering smell of sweet hay,
the streams of dusty sunlight shining 
through the gaps in the barn boards.

It makes me remember how sad my father
felt when our barn was taken down 
many years ago
It was his livelihood and identity as a farmer.
Though he knew it was no longer needed
and that it would be replaced
by new and modern buildings in the future.

It is the end of an era!



Till next time .......... lets remember and appreciate these great old barns!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie


I've been making 1 "green" smoothie a day this week following the challenge by

http://www.thehealthyginger.com/blog/

I LOVE these smoothies and today's was no exception!  There aren't any recipes - just do it!

1/2 banana
scoop of frozen blueberries
splash of carrot juice
some fresh pineapple
1 kiwi
1/2 field cucumber
Handful of frozen Kale
Fat free yogurt
and a sprinkle of Cinnamon

Deliciousness..............so easy and so healthy!



Till next time - here's to healthy glowing skin!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

30 Years Ago .......


Dad
30 years have gone since we said our goodbyes
You slipped away unexpectedly during that dreary March night
We didn't have a chance to tell you how much we love you.
You were a man of God, a progressive farmer, 
a loving husband, father and grandfather
respected by all who knew you.
You were too young (only 62 years old) to die,
Mother was too young to be a widow
Your grandchildren would have loved you so!
You are sorely missed at weddings, birthdays, family
gatherings

You would be so proud of your youngest son and daughter-in-law
 who capably took over the dairy farm
Of their two children - one who married just last year and has a wee
one of their own (and one on the way)!

Of your twin sons who both married wonderful women and
have very successful careers - one a teacher,
the other - owning a successful construction company,
and lovely children - one with a daughter and son and 
the other with a daughter.

of your eldest daughter, and her husband, who holds the family together
with her kindness and sense of family,
her success as a professional nurse,
of her two sons, the only two you got to know and love.
 Both with successful careers at home and abroad
Your eldest grandson who is now married

Your youngest daughter who along with her wonderful husband, keeps us all upbeat
and gave you three wonderful grandchildren
one who married just last summer!

Of your eldest son who is wise and still has a love for the farm you
helped him to establish
You would love his beautiful daughter who will marry this Fall.

Mother is getting very confused these days and has
vivid memories of you - I believe you are with her every day!


Thank you for how you taught your children
 the value of working hard,
being responsible and independent
Thank you for teaching us all to love the Lord
and to be ready for that unexpected hour.

You were a wonderful father-in-law to me
We miss you and will never forget you
We have so much to tell you when on that beautiful day we shall meet again!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lion or Lamb - that is the question?


Will March come in like a Lion or a Lamb????

I'm hoping for a Lion - so it goes out like a Lamb
How I long for Spring....

I found some "different" seeds at a little
country store the other week
and am anxious to
start the growing season.
It's fun to try new things each year in the garden.

I remember my mom starting her 
tomato plants indoors during March break.
I used to do it too, but never had much luck
since I don't have a good old hot-bed like she did
I've been thinking of setting one up but until then,
I'll buy my plants right from some of the
local greenhouses in the Spring - that seems to work 
best for me now!

Am I rushing it too much? Perhaps!


Here's hoping for a Lion..........Rooooaaaarrrr - bring it on!



Till next time ........ think Spring.