Friday, November 29, 2013

Stay Calm and Begin


It's begun....
Came home from work at noon,
started cleaning the bay window area,
that's where I always start!
Set up the tree,
Sorted out the mini lights
half of which were not working....
Added a few new strings.

Thoroughly (as in dusting
and washing windows, vacuuming,
and straightening all things)
cleaned the living room
and now the sun is already setting.

The tree still needs to be "trimmed"
plus all other things -  but,
It's begun ....

Are you starting your Christmas decorating this weekend?
The hardest part is to Start!



I'm beginning to get into the Christmas Spirit.
The lists have begun too!

Till next time ..... have a great weekend, put on the Christmas music, burn some incense and stay calm!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pesto Sun-dried Tomato Cheese Torta

This cheese loaf appetizer
is a family favourite.
I first tasted this at my
nephew's wedding - made by his mom,
my sister-in-law Charlene!
She's a great cook
and always comes up with the best recipes!

This is a keeper ....



Cheese Mixture:
250 g feta cheese crumbled
1/2 lb butter cut into pieces (I use ¼ lb. butter and 150 g soft unripened goat cheese instead)
250 g cream cheese - softened
2 cloves garlic
few drops of hot sauce
Combine in food processor or whip with electric mixer until creamy.


Layer Ingredients:
1/2 Cup pine nuts roasted
2/3 Cup minced sun-dried tomatoes (pat oil off if using oil packed)
1 Cup Basil Pesto - or less (I just used enough to "dollop" it onto the layers).

To assemble, line 4-5 Cup bowl or loaf pan with plastic wrap (mold it tight to the container leaving lots hanging over the edge), sprinkle with the pine nuts first then spread on some pesto, then ½ the sun-dried tomatoes. Cover with half the cheese mixture, remaining pesto and tomatoes then remaining cheese mixture. Fold over plastic wrap and press down gently to compact layers, refrigerate to chill and set. When ready to serve, invert onto platter, remove plastic wrap and serve with sliced baguette or crackers.


 Warning - this makes a very large
appetizer so sometimes I cut the recipe
in half and make
smaller individual ones
molded in custard cups.

Warning #2 - if your food processor
is 40+ years old and it begins to smoke
while mixing this - you may need a new one.
Just saying ....




Happy Thanksgiving to all 
those celebrating this week!
May we all pause to give thanks
wherever we may be,
before the Christmas season hustle and bustle begins!



Till next time ..... are you dreading the Christmas frenzie or do you look forward to the hustle and bustle?






Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Years Young


30 short years ago
this little sweetheart/ray of sunshine
 came into our lives.

She is the apple of our eyes,
the icing on our cake,
the answer to our prayers,
and the best thing that ever happened to us!!!

These 30 years have been the best
years of our lives and
the next 30 promise to be the best of yours too!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
and
BLESSINGS
to our wee Bex....

Love you lots and lots!







Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soapifying


For a long time,
I've been wanting to learn how to make soap,
but the process of using caustic lye had me afraid to try it!
It all sounded so complicated and
I didn't even know where to buy lye and needed to get
a better kitchen scale before even considering to
attempt this process.

This Fall while visiting our friends in Kentucky,
I was gifted with a beautiful piece of  handmade/handcut
soap and this got me going - finally!


I well remember my mom making a huge cast iron kettle
full of homemade soap. She used rendered lard and
fat drippings that she saved throughout the year.
Nothing cleaned the laundry like this soap!
I had the house to myself for the evening so
I gathered up the ingredients
and tools:





The Oils and Fats
9.6 oz. of Vegetable Shortening
9.6 oz. Olive Oil
6.4 oz. Lard
6.4 oz. Coconut Oil













An old Crock Pot,
a digital scale,
and a Stick Blender












The "flavourings":
1/2 Cup Oatmeal - ground fine
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 oz. of Lavender Essential Oil
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon













The "scarey stuff"
4.463 oz. Lye crystals - eek!
12.16 oz. distilled water
(I used RO water from our tap)
Oh - and don't forget the 
rubber gloves!!










The "fancy" molds
Real molds are expensive!

O.K. - now I'm ready to start....







Melt the fat on low


Mix the scary stuff into the water
(caution - never add water to lye - always
lye to water)
I opted to mix this outside on the deck remembering
to lean back from it to not breath in the fumes.
This get's hot so be careful.
You should wear goggles as well as rubber gloves.
I don't have goggles but those who know me know 
that I have some cool kitchen glasses which sufficed.


Turn crock pot off and
blend with stick blender till
mixture traces (is thick like pudding and leaves a trace when stirred)
This takes about 10 minutes.



Cook on low - stirring on occasion
till the mixture looks like thick, waxy,
mashed potatoes (takes about 1 hour).
The temperature of the mixture will
be close to 200F when soapified!
You can use a PH strip test which
should read around 7 but I didn't have
one so I did the Zap on the Tongue test
to see if it was finished.
The smell of this soap as it cooked
reminded me of mom's soap!






Turn the crock pot off
and stir in the flavours.
Oh - now it smells really good!
This is where you can get really 
creative with different scents,
colorants and additives.
The combinations could be 
endless and fun to try!






Now it's ready to "glob" into
the fancy molds.
Tap them sharply
on the table or floor to make sure 
all the soap settles into the mold.

Cool and wait patiently (3 hrs. or overnight)
till the soap cools completely and hardens,
before removing from the mold.

WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART!


A piece scraped from the crock pot - it really is soap!


While I waited I went outside and rescued our
patio furniture from the crazy high winds we've
had here in the last couple of days - nothing compared
to our friends to the South - such devastation!!




I can only hope that all my blog friends from
Indiana and Illinois are O.K.!!!
Praying for all who have experienced this devastation.



Till next time ...... have you ever made scarey homemade soap?  I think I could get into this.....


First attempt at making Oatmeal, Honey, Cinnamon and Lavender Soap



Monday, November 4, 2013

The Great Escape

The Mad Dash Great Escape!!

You'll probably think we've gone mad
but we drove all the way to Winnipeg
last week and picked up our little "new to us" RV trailer.



The planning and scheming has begun
for trips and travels.

Along the way I snapped some pictures,
mostly while in transit,
as we dashed Escaped through
4 states, 2 provinces,
and along the beautiful shores of
Lake Michigan and Superior,
and then back again.


Our faithful GPS "Gertie" took us
through sleet and snow and rain
Stopping only to gas up, eat a little,
sleep and washroom breaks - Whew!




We travelled over amazing bridges and saw
beautiful fall colours, and thankfully not too many deer
(live ones - that is)! Couldn't believe the carnage
we saw along the interstate highways - so sad.




We could see that hunting
season is in full swing - they sold "bait"
along side the fuel - who knew that hunting
was such a big deal - eek!


As you can imagine,
we were so glad to arrive home again,
safe and sound and The Farmer
was elated to see that the soy bean crop
had been harvested and not lost as was feared.
It's all good.....
It was worth the drive to Winnipeg!!!





Till next time ...... dreaming of future travels and vacations.  Let the fun begin.....