Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brought to you by the number 29!

The 29th of February comes but once every 4 years! It's a bonus day for sure. There's lots of lore about this rare day and most of the traditions belong to the Irish and the Scottish.  It made me want to make something Irish - what could be better then Shepherd's Pie on this 29th day?

This is a simple and ALWAYS delicious Shepherd's Pie recipe.  Take a leap and make it for your leap day supper.

Shepherd's Pie
I almost always make a double batch of this.
2 Cups ground beef - I used ground Turkey
2 Tbsp. Chopped Onion
Salt and Pepper to taste (I added a bit of sage as well to the Turkey)
Garlic - crushed and added to the cooked meat
2 Cups mashed potatoes
19 oz. can creamed corn
1 egg beaten for egg wash
Cook meat with onion.  Drain and season.  Add crushed garlic - stir and put into 9 X 9 casserole dish (or larger one if making a double batch).
Spread a can of cream style corn on top of meat.
Mash the potatoes with some butter and warm milk and layer it on top of the corn layer.
Brush beaten egg on top of the potato layer.  
Bake for 29 (or 30) minutes at 375 degrees or until bubbly and golden.

The Stratford Festival Theatre had a promotion on
for a few hours last evening where you could buy
theatre tickets for a mere $29 each if you booked for the shows on the 29th of each month this season! What a great idea! Of course, I just had to do it and I got them!!!!  So, on the 29th of May, June, July, August and Sept. we'll be enjoying a live show in Stratford and feeling rather smug!

Till next time ..... enjoy your Leap Day!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yorkshire Pudding

I've always wanted to try making
Yorkshire Pudding
and today was the perfect day to try it!
It's a stormy Saturday and I had an urge to
put a lovely Beef Roast in the
I haven't made a beef roast in a very long time
We are trying not to eat so much meat
and especially red meat!
But, today I splurged and, oh, it smelled so good and 
turned out lovely!
The pudding turned out fine too - although I can see
that I need a bit more practice with it!
Someday I hope to travel to England and
have a proper Yorkshire Pudding!

Simple on hand ingredients!
This recipe will make approx. 24 puddings.
4 eggs
Equal amount of milk (not skimmed) - approx. 1 1/4 Cups
Equal amount of flour - approx. 1 1/4 Cups
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
Break eggs into a measuring cup.  Measure equal amounts of flour and of milk.  Mix flour and salt and pepper.  Beat eggs and milk together and then add it to the flour mixture.  Mix just until smooth.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  Put 1/2 tsp. lard into each mold of two 12 cup muffin tins.  Heat the muffin tins and lard in a preheated 375 degree oven for 2-3 minutes or until very hot (not smoking).  Remove and quickly pour batter into each hot and greased cup to 1/3 full. Bake immediately for 30 minutes or until puffed and browned.  Puddings should be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle - they shrink a bit when they come out of the oven.  Serve them warm!

Smothered in gravy - these are a wonderful addition to your
favourite Roast Beef dinner!

Till next time ........  I need to clean up my messy kitchen - I think I am the messiest cook ever!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Half batch of Cheddar Bay Biscuits

The other night I made these biscuits to go with Ellen's (from my favourite blog - Mennonite Girls Can Cook) Chicken Zharkovia. If you've never made these biscuits - you must!
These biscuits go well with stews and seafood dinners.
They are addictive - be warned!

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

These recipes are adapted from a recipe:

2 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
¼ tsp. salt
*Note – if using Homemade Quick Mix as in recipe below, replace first 5 ingredients with 2 ½ Cups baking mix.
¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ Cup butter – cold
1 ¼ Cups grated cheddar cheese
½ Cup sour cream
1 ¼ Cups milk
Place first 5 ingredients or Quick Mix in a large bowl.  Add cayenne pepper and garlic powder.  Work in the butter with a pastry blender.  Stir in the cheese and then add the sour cream and milk.  Scoop the biscuit dough out by big spoonsful (approx. 20)  and drop into a greased 9 X 13 baking dish.
6 Tbsp. butter – melted
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. parsley
Dash of salt
Melt butter.  Stir in garlic powder, parsley, and salt.  Spoon half of topping over unbaked biscuits.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  After removing biscuits from the oven, spoon the remaining topping over them.
Note - I often make a half batch of these since there usually are only two of us eating them!

Homemade Quick Mix

Make your own quick mix!  It’s as fast and easy as using store bought Bisquick – only better because it’s homemade.
5 Cups all-purpose Flour (may substitute 1-2 Cups whole grain flour as part of the mix)
¼ Cup sugar
¼ Cup Baking Powder
1¼ tsps. Cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
Combine in a large bowl – I use a whisk to blend the ingredients well.  I like to make this mix in 5 Cup batches because that fits easily into my mixing bowl – you can double or triple this recipe as well.  Store as you would flour, in an airtight container/canister.  If you expect to be storing it for an extended period (months), you may wish to put into baggies and freeze.
How to use:  Per 1 Cup Quick Mix – cut in ¼ Cup shortening or butter and add 1/3 Cup milk or buttermilk.  Knead dough lightly, roll out on floured surface and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 450 F for 10-12 minutes.  Or, use unrolled dough to drop into boiling soup for dumplings.

Till next time........the weekend is just around the corner - can you see it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hurray Hard!

We did a lot of hard hurrying yesterday
at our curling club's annual Bonspiel

We had so much fun.
Our team won the first round
Lost the second round
Came in third overall.

There was great homemade food for lunch and dinner
prepared by
some of the curler's wives
 and wonderful prizes for everyone.
Thanks to the Milverton Curling Club for another
very successful day!

Till next time.........chillaxing today on Family Day (or President's Day for my US friends)!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rustic Dutch Oven Bread

Mix up a batch tonight and bake this delicious rustic loaf of bread for supper tomorrow!  It's the easiest bread I've ever made and "needs no kneading" .  You just mix up a few simple ingredients and then 12 or more hours later you bake it in a dutch oven.  It's super easy!!!

It's originally from a New York Times video on-line that shows you step by step how to do it.  The recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which was adapted from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery (via Mark Bittman at New York Times). This link appeared on my friend of a friend's blog called As Ink Remains - it's a blog about fashion and trends etc.

You will want to make this recipe often!

Rustic Dutch Oven Bread

3 Cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ Cups tepid water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or extra flour for dusting – I just used flour
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, and stir until dough is combined and very sticky (using your fingers to mix). Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest/rise at least 12 hours and preferably longer, at room temperature.
The dough will be ready once it has pretty much doubled in bulk. It will look bubbly and sticky.

Preheat the oven to 500°F (yes - that's a hot oven) and put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron or Pyrex) into oven as it heats.
Scrape dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle with a little more flour, pat it and fold it over onto itself two to three times to form a semi-round shape.

Place dough, seam side down, onto floured surface and dust with a bit more flour, cornmeal or wheat bran.
When oven is ready, carefully remove very hot pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and flip it into the pot, seam side up.  It will look a bit rough on top and that’s O.K.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake it for an additional 10-15 minutes until nicely browned and cracked looking.  Remove loaf from dutch oven and let cool slightly on a cooling rack – slice, slather with butter and make it a meal with some special cheese and a nice bottle of red wine or with some delicious homemade soup.

Till next time ....... bake one of these delicious loaves soon!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Meat and Potato Quiche

This potato crusted quiche is savoury and delicious.  I've made it many times and it's a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks - "More-with-Less Cookbook" by Doris Janzen Longacre.  This is one of my first cookbooks.  It was published in 1976 and is one of the best reference cookbooks I have.  It contains many handy charts, equivalents and substitution suggestions,  and metric conversion tables, has simple, thrifty and hearty recipes!  My book is worn and tattered from shoving it in and out of my library.  A much loved and used cookbook!

Quiche is an Alsace Lorraine area traditional dish.  My Amish ancestors came directly from that area to Canada in the mid 1800s.  I enjoy all forms of quiche but this is the one I make most often.  My cookbook practically automatically falls open on page 158!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare the potato crust:
3 Cups coarsely shredded raw potato
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Press evenly into 9" pie pan and shape into a pie crust shape.  Bake for 15 minutes until just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven.

While the crust is baking, assemble the filling ingredients to be layered onto slightly baked potato crust:

1 Cup grated Swiss or Cheddar Cheese - I usually use Cheddar
3/4 Cup cooked diced chicken, ham, or browned sausage - ham is my favourite
1/4 Cup chopped onion
I also like to add 1/4 Cup chopped Red Pepper

This is how my mom taught me to chop an onion. With a serrated knife cut criss-crosses about half way into a peeled onion - then turn it sideways and slice to get perfectly finely chopped onion!

Now layer the cheese, meat, chopped onion and red pepper into the quiche crust.

In a bowl, beat together:
2 Eggs
1 Cup Evaporated or rich milk - I use Half and Half cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Pour the egg mixture over the layers and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley.


Pop the quiche back into the hot oven and bake for
30 minutes or until lightly browned and knife inserted 
1" from edge comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes
before cutting into wedges.

Serve this with a crisp lettuce salad or fruit salad.  

This is for supper tonight when Lion J comes home from the Milverton Snow Fest - and yes, we have fresh fallen snow today just in time for the event!!!!

Till next time ....... have a wonderful FAMILY DAY WEEKEND!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

If Life Hands You Over-Ripe Bananas ....

Make Banana Bran Chocolate Chip Muffins!

I've been making these for more than 25 years.  It's a favourite and I can almost make them in my sleep ;). They create a great aroma to wake up to - that is, for the rest of the family.   Here's the easy peasy recipe:

1/2 Cup butter
3/4 Cup sugar
2 Eggs
1 Cup mashed bananas
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Natural Bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
Mix butter and sugar.  Mix in the eggs lightly.  Stir in the mashed bananas.  Combine the dry ingredients and stir lightly into the wet mixture just until everything is moistened - do not over mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into buttered muffin tins.  Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.  This recipe makes a perfect dozen.  They freeze well too.

Now make a cup of coffee and enjoy.........

Till next time..........have a lovely Monday.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pizza Twists

We love homemade pizzas and this is a delicious

I found this recipe some years ago and I still use the dough recipe from this to make regular pizzas as well.  Sometimes I make 4 twists with half the dough and then freeze the rest of the dough for a regular pizza to be made at a later date.

Pizza Twists

A delicious twisted meat roll!  Substitute roasted veggies for a vegetarian version.

1 ½ Cups warm water
1 tsp. yeast – I used a rounded tsp.
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1/3 Cup olive oil
4 Cups Flour – approx.
In large bowl combine water, yeast, sugar and salt – let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir in the oil then a cup of flour at a time – continue adding flour, stirring with heavy spoon (or use Kitchen Aide with dough hook).  Knead in more flour as needed to get a smooth elastic dough.  Let dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled (approx. 1 hr.).  Punch dough down, knead a bit and divide in half.  Roll half the dough on floured surface, into a 9 X 12 rectangle.  Cut into 4 sections (from the 12 in. side).
Filling (can be varied according to your preferences):
8 oz. Ricotta Cheese – don’t substitute the Ricotta – it’s really good!
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz. sausage, cooked, crumbled – I don’t always use this but it IS good when you do!
4 oz. sliced pepperoni
I also like to add some chopped onion, chopped green or red pepper and chopped mushrooms to the filling.
Using filling in order listed above – layer on down the center of dough strips – don’t overfill.
Twist half the strip from one end and then the other half from the other end – then push together for a nice twisted roll.  This takes a bit of practice but it doesn't have to look pretty!  Repeat with other strips, placing them on a parchment lined bake sheet.  Repeat with other half of dough – making 8 twisted rolls. 
Brush tops of rolls with Olive Oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, Italian herbs, crushed red pepper.  Let rolls rise again for 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 375 for approx. 20-25 min. till nicely browned.  Serve with a favourite dipping sauce (i.e. marinara, pizza, or even ranch).  THESE ARE SO WORTH THE EFFORT!!

Till next time.......enjoy a twist!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine Party Memories

One of the advantages of being the one
who is willing to take home the 
boxes and bags of "stuff" from your
parent's things is
you find the most wonderful memories!
My dad had carefully kept some of his
school mates Valentine Greeting Cards!
These were from the mid to late 20's I believe
as he was born in 1916 and was
probably around 8-10 years 
old when he received these.

I can imagine their fun Valentine Day Parties
where classmates would exchange cards,
there would be treats of heart shaped cookies, popcorn,
and candy.

I vaguely remember our school Valentines Day Parties.
The classroom was decorated with pink and red 
construction paper hearts.  Crepe paper streamers and
a large, beautifully decorated box with a
small opening on top where we put our
 Valentine cards in.
At some point throughout the party, that box was
opened and the cards where
It was always such fun to see how many cards
you got and from whom!

I wish I had kept some of those cards the way
my Dad did!
They would have been the 60's style
There goes that number again!

What are your Valentine Day School Party memories?

Wishing you all a fantastic pre-Valentine weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Mennonite Girl Presents.....

Recently I came across an early 1980's collection
of "The Mennonite Girl Presents" children's cookbooks
 written by
Isaac R. Horst, a local Mennonite Historian.
These books are so delightful and 
my co-worker, when she was just 9 years old, was given
"The Little Mother's Cook Book"
by her Grandmother in 1986.
She remembers baking with her Grandmother,
using her own little rolling pin - what fun!
The illustrations and little words of advice
are so sweet throughout these books.

I think this little cookbook collection is absolutely precious
and written with such love.
I wish I owned every copy but thankfully I 
can borrow them from the College Library where I work,
if I want to
 leaf through, read, and maybe even follow a recipe 
for dinner or a snack!

Maybe Becky's little rolling pin, lovingly made by HER Grandpa, will be
used by a little one - cookin' with Gram someday!

Till next time....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Remembering Mom's Creamed Cabbage

When we were on vacation recently we were served a shrimp dish with delicious cooked cabbage as a side.  This cabbage dish had onions and pineapple in it and was so delicious.  It reminded me of my mothers cabbage recipe.  I tried to replicate the recipe with pineapple, a splash of red wine vinegar, and shallots to go with my fried chicken the other evening - it was good but still needs a bit of tweeking.  I'll keep working on that.                                                                                                                                                          

Mom's Creamed Cabbage...

This is how she wrote it on the back of a July 1964 Calendar page:

“put a little lard in kettle – little onion and a little water.  Put in cabbage.  Cook about 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 spoon flour on and some sugar, a little cream and about 1 small Tbsp. vinegar.”
Love how she wrote out her recipes - just the way she talked :)!

How do you like your cabbage cooked?

60 + 60 + 60 = Fun!

Me, Doreen and Jean
On the weekend we had such a fun time at an Anniversary/Birthday Party for our cousins (my first cousin Doreen and H's first cousin Laverne).  They served up an amazing delicious turkey and all the trimmings meal to almost 200 friends, neighbours, and relatives!  It was so much fun reminiscing those year's gone by.  Their children and in-laws performed a wonderful little program, complete with a slide show of their parent's married life on the farm, some great singing, and heartfelt speeches!  We had a wonderful time.

Doreen, myself and our cousin Jean grew up together and were born less then 3 months apart.  We were photographed when we were two or three years old and have taken pictures of the three of us many times since.

It made me pull out that original picture (just for fun).  Love those winter outfits!!!

Here we are once again................sans hats and coats.........almost 60 years later and super blessed!

Thanks for a great party Doreen and Laverne.........another memory made!

Till next time - the year of the 6-0 continues.

"For you are indeed God, and your words are truth; and you have promised me these good things' so do as you have promised! Bless me and my family forever!" 2 Samuel 7:28-29   

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Coastal" Pad Thai

Yesterday was the day I finally went "to the coast" to get my hair cut!
I needed it soooo bad.
My hairdresser and friend, Joanne, has been cutting my hair
for over half my life (and you all know how long THAT is).
She moved to "the coast" of Lake Huron some years ago and I
followed her there.  It's about an hour and 30 minute drive
for me, but so worth it.
We always have a wonderful visit and I really like
what she does with my limp and fine head of hair.
In the summer months I try to go an hour early
and hang out at the beach for a bit.
We have many things in common these days as
her daughter is also getting married this fall.
Our conversations are uplifting and enjoyable - as we solve the world's  
and our personal problems :).
On the way home I sometimes stop to pick up a 
few groceries and for some reason have been
making a habit of picking up fresh bean sprouts
and then whipping up a batch of pad thai for
supper that evening.
It's becoming a tradition for my after hair cut meal.
I cheat a little though, by using A Taste of Thai sauce!
Just follow the directions on the package and add
a few more things that you like:
We like to add mushrooms, garlic, red peppers, etc.

Oops, forgot to sprinkle some peanuts on before taking the picture!

Thanks Joanne for another great hair cut and visit!  

Till next time...... hugs!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount
I am thankful that
turning 6-0 has given me pause to think!
I have tried to be a positive person all my life.
Maybe too much so as I tried to please everyone around me
while not being true to myself!
I have held onto bitter regrets and feelings far too long.
I have also had many, many blessings that perhaps have
gone unrecognized as such.
It struck me some years ago
 when visiting the area where
Jesus preached that wonderful sermon on the mount,
where He gave 8 beautiful beatitudes to live by.
The promises He gave for each of these "attitudes"
gives me much hope and
I like to think of them as my personal "Be Attitudes".....

Be Poor in Spirit - stay humble
Be Mournful and Compassionate
Be Meek
Be Hungry and Thirsty for the Word
Be Merciful
Be Pure of Heart
Be a Peacemaker
Be Challenged and Persecuted for the sake of my Faith

I have added some "Rosella" ones too:

Be Positive and Happy - look on the bright side of things
Be Grateful
Be Original - speak the truth
Be Involved - help make this world a better place
Be Creative - make a crazy quilt in this lifetime
Be a Friend - treasure loved ones and stay in touch
Be Healthy and Fit - walk, go to the gym, eat right
Be Beautiful from the Inside Out - have a warm and open heart
Be a Mom and Wife
Be Clean - declutter
Be Still - stop to smell the roses
Be Lighthearted - accept those things that cannot be changed/make lemon aide
Be Generous - practice hospitality
Be On Time - avoid procrastination

Some of my favourite quotes are:
We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.  ~Author Unknown
Bloom where you are planted ~Author Unknown

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside ....Matthew 5:1

Till next time........workin' on my be attitudes!


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