Monday, April 30, 2012

Persistence Pays Off

We tried to discourage it
That messy nest on the front porch again
We noticed signs of building
put some obstacles in her chosen spots


but
her persistence paid off
and today while we were away at work
she was busy 
and look what appeared!!!!
Right in the middle of the pansies
12 inches away from the front door!
A perfect, amazing nest.



I guess if I was a robin 
I would choose that spot as well
I don't have the heart to 
tear it down.


Till next time.........we'll be using the side door?




Saturday, April 28, 2012

BBQ Rib Roast



BBQ'd ribs is one of our favourite meals
Today I made it for our busy Saturday
early supper
We weeded and mulched the flower gardens all morning
and afternoon whilst the ribs roasted
in the oven!
The recipe for this is adapted from one 
I have had for many years from my sis Evelyn!
My husband once told me to throw
away all my other rib recipes and just 
always make this one - so I guess it's the one 
I'll always make?  It is an easy - fall off the bone - recipe!

BBQ SAUCE:
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. celery salt (or celery seed)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup vinegar
1 Cup ketchup (great way to use up the "almost" empty bottle)
2 Cups hot water
2-3 cloves garlic - crushed
1/4 tsp. pepper
Mix the above ingredients and pour over the ribs.  Bake covered at 350F for 3 hours (basting occasionally).  Uncover and broil a bit in the last 5 minutes, if needed, to get a nice glazed coating.  Enjoy with your favourite side dishes and treat your best little pal with at least one bone :).




After dinner we treated the birthday boy to 
one of the most moving films I've seen in a long while
at the Princess Theatre
"Monsier Lazhar"
It's a must see, awarding winning
Canadian Film!
 I still have a lump in my throat!


Till next time..........heating up the sauna to sooth these old aching muscles - too much gardening for one day!



Friday, April 27, 2012

Maple Chiffon Birthday Cake




Another milestone in the family - my husband's 62nd birthday is today!  I decided to make one of my favourite cakes for the occasion.  This recipe comes from my sister-in-law Charlene who is a fabulous cook.  Some of my best recipes come from her kitchen!  This cake is easy to make and always seems to  turn out - in spite of me.  The biggest problem for me is figuring out how to "hang" the cake after it comes out of the oven!

Maple Chiffon Cake


2 Cups Cake and Pastry Flour
1½ Cups White Sugar
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt
½ Cup Oil
6 Egg yolks
¾ Cup cold water
2 tsp. Maple Flavouring








6 Egg whites and ½ tsp. Cream of Tartar – beaten till stiff peaks form.  I did this with my KitchenAid - love that machine!

Beat ingredients and then fold in the beaten egg whites.
Pour into an ungreased  tube cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and hang upside down for 1 hour until completely cooled.  This is easier said than done!  I always forget to get something ready to invert it on so this time I was ready - a wine bottle!  Well guess what, the hole in the top of the tube cake pan was too small so I held it upside down and called for help!  Finally we figured out that it could be inverted onto a wine glass.  Not ideal since we had to walk lightly around the kitchen stove for the next hour as to not topple the cake.

Does anyone out there have a great tip or an invention on how to successfully hang a Chiffon Cake????
Do I need to go out and buy a new tube cake pan that has those little legs on it???  There must be a way.
Hmm - looks like a modern Ikea lamp!

When cake has completely cooled, run a knife around edge of cake and remove from pan.

Maple Icing:
¼ Cup Butter – softened
1 lb. Icing Sugar
1 Egg - beaten
¼ Cup milk or cream
1 tsp. Maple Flavouring
Garnish with toasted pecan pieces - optional



Till next time ........... happy birthday to all the April 27thers - you know who you are!!




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Staff Appreciation Week



It's Staff Appreciation Week
and we celebrated on Monday!
A nice way to start the week.
A nice diversion to a cold and really windy day!
Our boss treated us to a tour of a brand new
exhibit of the 
World Famous Stratford Festival Theatre
AND a visit to the local famous 
Chocolatier - Rheo Thompson's Chocolates
all in the City of Stratford!
April 23rd - right on the day -  was the birthdate
and death date
of William Shakespeare himself
so
it seemed appropriate to make this our destination.

After our "whirl wind" tour we travelled a few miles North 
of the City 
and landed at our farm for cake and ice-cream
and a warm cup of coffee!
It was cozy with 25 people in a small farm house
but everyone found a spot somewhere to relax.

It was a fun afternoon spent with 
a really great bunch of co-workers!


Today I took some pictures of the Rhubarb progress - Week 7
It's coming along and I simply can't wait to make my first pie.
Maybe by Mother's Day I'll be able to pick some?

Rhubarb - at 7 weeks

My red tulips are in full bloom

Saturday, April 21, 2012

33 Years Ago Today!


Then - aerial photo
Today, April 21/12


33 years ago today
we made an agreement
on the back of an April 1979
calendar
to buy our home, our farm!!!

The agreement was written out twice on the
back
of the calendar page.

It was cut in half and each 
party kept one half as the official 
"buying of the farm"
Can you believe that!!!  No Real Estate
Agent needed!




We had always admired this
100 acre farm
with it's perfect location just down the road
from H's family dairy farm.
We loved how it was set back from the road
and liked the way the buildings were placed.

One day we "dropped" in to see the bachelor
owner and told him if he ever 
thought of selling his place, 
we would love if he would contact us first, 
never thinking this would happen.
This was the farm where he grew up on
and he had no plans to leave it!
Well, what do you know, but he met a woman!
She was recently widowed and had
her own farm!
To make a long story short, he called us!!!!
We had no doubts that this was the place for us
(even though at the time, interest rates were double
digits and rising daily which made for some
major "pacing" while making mortgage arrangements).

My father-in-law was thrilled and helped us
buy this humble place.

We have made many changes in the past 33 years but
it felt like home right from the start!

We even have the very old deeds to the farm, dated as far back as
1904, 1924, and 1932!





How very blessed we have been
to call this our home for 33 years!

Rhubarb at 6 weeks!
It's been growing here well over 33 years.......

Till next time ........... hoping for another decade here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

5 of 5

My almost finished quilt top



Tonight was the last night for the quilting classes that I've been taking.  We had 5 classes and tonight we finished sewing together the blocks and borders.  I was a bit behind so didn't get my outer border done - will have to finish that on my own!  There were 3 of us taking the class and we all ended our last class at different stages.  It was such fun and I met 3 wonderful women and learned so much!




Nancy working with gorgeous fabric
Suzanne was our hero - she finished her's tonight!
Loretta - our fearless leader!

Till next time .......will leave the sewing on my dining room table so that I am encouraged to finish it! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crunchy Broccoli Salad




This salad is my "go to" take away salad for pot-lucks or family gatherings.  It is easy and the homemade dressing is what makes it extra delicious!


If you know me - you know I love special dishes.
This bowl was given to me by my Mom and it's usually the bowl I use for this salad.





Custard Dressing:
1 Egg plus 1 egg yolk - lightly beaten
1/2 Cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 Cup vinegar
1/4 Cup water
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
I use a 4 Cup glass measuring cup to "cook" this sauce in the microwave (you can make this in a sauce pan on the stove as well).  Whisk the eggs, add the sugar, cornstarch, and mustard - whisk together lightly.  Slowly whisk in the vinegar and water.  Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes pausing often to stir.  Cook till thickened.  Remove from heat or microwave and stir in the butter till melted.  Stir in the mayonnaise and chill.
Salad:
4 Cups broccoli cut into small bite size pieces (I like to use 2 Cups broccoli and 2 Cups cauliflower)
1/2 Cup plumped raisins - optional (I sometimes add a handful of dried cranberries instead)
2 Cups fresh mushrooms - chopped
1/2 medium red onion - sliced or diced
Just before serving - mix the dressing with the vegetables, mushrooms, onions and raisins.
Garnish:
6 slices cooked bacon - crumbled or diced
1-2 cans mandarin oranges - well drained
1/2 slivered almonds - toasted or I like to use salted cashews as well.


Today is Sunday and we are rejoicing because it is raining - much needed!

Till next time .......... have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Favourite Lasagna

I just made my favourite lasagna recipe today for our annual Curling Pot-luck and Annual Meeting.  It makes a very large casserole and is perfect for this type of occasion.

There were only two spoons full left by the end of the evening.

I nervously gave my first report as the new treasurer for the club - glad that's done for now.






This recipe comes from the 1973 edition of the Ontario Mennonite Relief Sale Cookbook.  As you can see, this is one of the most "splattered", "browned" and used pages in this two-ring book!  I have pencil marked it with notes and recipe adjustments.

Here is my version:
1 1/2 lbs. extra-lean hamburger
1 lrg. onion
1 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. oregano
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. garlic salt (or 1-2 garlic cloves -crushed)
salt and pepper to taste
Add above to the meat as you brown it. Take off grease after the meat is browned.
Add to browned meat:
1 qt. tomatoes - or 20 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
1 large tin tomato paste - 11 oz. can
Simmer for 45 minutes
While meat is simmering make a cheese sauce and boil the lasagna noodles.
Cheese Sauce:
4 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion - chopped
4 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cups Milk
1 Cup old cheddar cheese -grated
Saute onion in butter for a bit.  Add flour and salt. Cook on medium low heat till bubbly and then slowly whisk in the milk.  Cook till nice and thickened.  Stir in the cheese till melted.  Set aside.
Note - sometimes I substitute this cheese sauce with a large container of cottage cheese mixed with 2 slightly beaten eggs.  I like the cheese sauce the best, however.




Noodles:
10 wide noodles or twice what will cover your pan - I always make a few more than this.
Cook noodles in salted water for approx. 14 minutes - stirring so they don't stick together or to the bottom of the pan.  When cooked, drain, add a little oil and rinse with cold water.
Assemble the Lasagna:
Oil the bottom of your pan lightly.
Layer one layer of noodles and ladle 1/2 of the meat sauce on top of the noodles.
Pour all of the cheese sauce onto the meat layer.
Place two layers of noodles over cheese sauce and ladle rest of meat sauce over top.
Put grated mozzarella cheese over top of meat sauce - 1 500g pkg. grated. 
Can be covered with foil wrap and frozen at this stage or baked right away at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 - 2 hours (till nice and bubbly and hot).  Be sure to thaw the frozen casserole before baking or put in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour before increasing the heat.  I always oil the foil so it doesn't stick to the cheese while baking and it's nice to take the foil off for the last 15 minutes or so to slightly brown the cheese.

Many times I cut this recipe in half as it makes such a large batch!
The contributor of this recipe to the Relief Sale Cookbook makes a note at the bottom "This is a good dish for hungry snowmobilers" - love notes like that!

Oh and by the way, I checked my rhubarb again today - Week 5 - and it's hardly grown this past week.  It has been so cold again and last night I ran out to cover it with an old hay bale -  as the snow flew sideways!  Not enough snow to cover the ground but still snow - just saying!

Rhubarb - Week 5
Till next time ........... longing for warm days again.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lamb Chops

We've always wanted to try grilling lamb chops and tonight we finely did it!  They were really delicious little morsels and I think we just might make these again sometime!

The recipe was given to us by a very friendly local gentleman we met while visiting Victoria, B.C.  We met him randomly outside a seafood shop and started talking about food - go figure!  He happened to have some of his favourite recipes in his vehicle and was willing to share some with us!

Thanks Ken!




Metchosins’ Lamb Chops

Ken wrote on the top of this recipe "The only way Lamb tastes any better than this is to go to Greece and have a Greek Style Lamb Grill, out in the olive groves"!!!!
Thick cut Lamb Chops – fat trimmed (3/person)
Mix merinade in a large plastic bag:
1/3 Cup Greek Seasoning
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic - I used garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Rosemary - I used fresh chopped Rosemary
Add the chops – shaking to coat
Add ¼ Cup Olive Oil and shake again.
Collapse bag, seal and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.


Remove from fridge approx. one hour before grilling – to bring them back to room temperature.
Grill over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side.  "If you are the type of person who likes their meat well done, give yourself a treat and try it while it is still very pink and juicey" - Ken's advice!


Remove from grill and tent with foil for 3-4 minutes before serving.


We served these with a side of grilled root vegetables (yellow beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, quartered red peppers).  While the veggies roasted we nibbled on some mixed marinated olives, fresh baked slabs of Rustic Dutch Oven Bread, and raw vegetables.



This was a memorable Easter Sunday Supper!

Till next time .................don't be afraid to try these!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Airing the Quilts




Today is sunny and crisp - the perfect day to air my antique quilts.  The first one is very old and was my husband's Grandmother's.  I thinks it's absolutely beautiful!  The second one called "bridal bouquet" was hand pieced by a 90 year old lady in 1945 - she charged my mom $2 for the piecing!  You can't even buy thread for that anymore!  Someone else hand quilted it for $7 - can you imagine?!!




This is the quilt that I'm working on right now.  There are three squares in this beginner's "sampler" quilt.  Not sure what the patterns are called (I think the one on the top right is called Flying Geese).  I will try to find out at my next class.  It's a lot of fun and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.
Total cost for class and fabric (including HST) = $96.20!!!!   EEK - just a tad more then my Mom's!

At least I'm relearning how to use my relatively new machine and it may spark a renewed interest in sewing.  Who knows?





Just made a quick lunch - nothing is better then a simple salmon salad sandwich, with arugula, pea sprouts, pickles and sliced veggies on a busy Saturday!  I think I'll leave the dishes, the sewing where it is and head outside to do a bit of digging in the flower beds - the sun is calling me outside.  Might have to get out of my PJs first though - smile!

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday - my heart is full of joy!






Have an amazing blessed Easter!



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homemade Mustard

Homemade mustard is a traditional sauce that we always serve with roasted ham or as a spread on cold cut meats in sandwiches.  It's an "old" recipe that my mother and her mother (my grandma) made.  I don't know how far back the recipe goes but it's still a favourite in our family!  I made this batch for our family potluck Easter dinner which is on Friday!  I know that my sister-in-law is making the ham - she is hosting the dinner and goes all out with all the trimmings and buttery scalloped potatoes - it's always absolutely delicious.  The rest of us bring salads and lots and lots of desserts!!!!  I'll try to take a few pictures to post later.



Homemade Mustard:
2 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
3 tsp. dry mustard
6 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1 Cup Vinegar
1 Cup Water - divided

Mom's Method (before Microwaves):
Mix eggs, sugar, cornstarch, mustard, turmeric, salt and 1/2 Cup of the water.
In a sauce pan, bring the other 1/2 Cup of water and the vinegar to a boil.  Whisk the egg mixture slowly into the hot liquid.  Cook over medium heat till nicely thickened.

My Method (since the dawn of Microwaves):
In an 8 Cup Pyrex dish whisk the eggs, add the dry ingredients and whisk gently into the eggs.  Slowly stir in the water and the vinegar (all of it) and microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Stir and return to microwave for another 3 - 4 minutes pausing it to stir every 30 - 45 seconds till smooth and thickened.  I like to add a dollop (about 2 Tbsp.) of butter right after removing it from the microwave.  Mix the butter in till melted.
To avoid a skin from forming while cooling - put a piece of plastic wrap right down onto the mustard surface.
When cool - store in a sealed glass container in the fridge.  It will last for 1-2 weeks.

I love to have some of this mustard on hand to mix into my potato salad dressing - it adds a wonderful flavour to the salad.

This mustard is sometimes called "funeral mustard" because the Mennonite Churches in our area are known for serving this mustard sauce with cold cuts, fresh bread, cheese, pickles, celery and carrot sticks, and cupcakes as a simple meal at funerals.


Notice the cheerful kitchen towel (bottom right photo)!  It was a surprise gift from a very special blogger friend - thank you Kathy!!!

Here is my Rhubarb week four picture - it's growing by leaps and bounds!!

Rhubarb at four weeks!
Till next time - have a wonderful Easter Weekend.  Don't eat too much, remember the reason for this holiest of days, stop and smell the Easter lilies, and embrace all the love of family and friends!

Hugs.........