Friday, June 29, 2012

Moon Flowers

Have you ever experienced Moon Flowers?  At least that is what we call them - don't know their actual botanical name.  I have this sweet little patch at the edge of our back patio and every evening at dusk their cheery faces unfold right before your eyes - they are so amazing!  During the day the flowers die off but there are always many fresh buds just waiting to open that evening.

I'm always trying to capture this event with my camera - I set the stove timer for 9:10 p.m. and then run to the back to see if it's happening.  If it hasn't started yet the timer has been turned off and I get distracted with something else and once again miss getting it on video - ugh!

Finally, last weekend on a very warm evening I "caught it".  I had over 80 blooms on this particular evening (more than I've ever had)! So now it's taken me a whole week to finally figure out how to upload the video.  I tried everything and finally managed to upload this short 23 seconds to my facebook page.  I still don't know how to get it onto my blog but have "linked" it below. I sure am computer illiterate when it comes to this techie stuff!

Hope this link works for you.......

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Asparagus Salad for Canada Day

Can you see it? Canada Day is just around the corner!  For my American friends - the 4th of July is almost within sight as well.

This is one of our favourite long weekends to work around home, invite in some friends, watch some fireworks displays, and just relax a wee bit.
The field work is done, the crops are growing nicely, even though rain is much needed.

There is still plenty of fresh Ontario asparagus to be found in local markets and this salad features its crisp and tender goodness!

Asparagus Salad (adapted from Mairlyn Smith's book "Healthy Starts Here"
1 bundle fresh Asparagus - washed and trimmed
1/2 Red Pepper - diced
6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts - well drained and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley - I used 3-4 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil - EVO
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. grainy Dijon mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste (I also added 1/4 tsp. sea salt)
1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Steam asparagus spears till tender crisp and bright green.  Immediately drain and plung spears into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the nice green colour.  Drain.
Whisk the dressing in the bottom of a mixing bowl.  Toss in the pepper, artichoke hearts and parsley.  Chop the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces - leaving the heads intact.  Add the asparagus and gently toss.  Chill in fridge till serving time.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

RHUBY TUESDAY'S Rhubarb Rhelish

The Rhubarb season is quickly coming to an end - sigh!  Does anyone out there know how to slow down the seasons???  Time is flying by so quickly - maybe it's my old age causing this phenomenon?

Well, seems like this is the last chance to preserve some of that Rhubarb goodness in the form of relish.  This relish tastes amazing on pork sausage and "dresses up" the simplest Canada Day hot dog!

We have made this "rhelish" for our annual Rhubarb and Rhummage "RhuBBQ".  I know that's a lot of H's and spell check is doing a lot of red underlining, but it's such fun!

Give this relish a try - your taste buds will thank you!

Rhubarb Relish

8 Cups diced Rhubarb
4 Cups chopped onion
3 Cups white vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt
2 lbs. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. celery salt
Combine all ingredients in a large kettle and boil gently, uncovered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until fairly thick, stirring occasionally.  Read your latest magazine while you are hovering over it.  Taste and add extra sugar, vinegar or salt if needed.  Spoon into hot sterilized small jars and seal.  This makes approx. 6 Cups.

Till next time ...... remember that Summer's song sings itself!  Can you tell that I love summer?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mom's Potato Salad

Nothing tastes more like summer then Mom's Potato Salad!
The thing I remember the most
about this salad is the way she
dressed it up and the special bowl she served it in.
She loved to make her food look appetizing
and, oh boy, it was always so delicious.
After I was first married, I tried to
make my potato salad taste like hers.
Even though I used her dressing recipe,
there was something different.
Finally, I figured it out - she sauted the onions
just until soft and transparent....this totally
gave it that "mom" flavour.

Another "trick" I learned from someone who does
a lot of catering and makes a wonderful
potato salad is - quarter the potatoes and
boil till tender - leaving the skins on.
When fork tender, drain and cool slightly.
Peel the potatoes while still warm - the skins
slide right off!!!
No wasted potato and it's so much faster to peel.

Mom’s Potato Salad

This is exactly how she wrote out the recipe:

4 Cups Vinegar (3/4 Cup vinegar and fill rest of cup with water)
4 Cups Boiling Water
4 Eggs – beaten
4 Cups White Sugar
8 Dessert Spoons of Flour
2 tsp. salt
Boil ½ the recipe if you like but it will keep a long time in frig.
Boil until thick – when done add butter (size of an egg).
Cut boiled potatoes as you like them.  Add cold hard boiled eggs, celery, cream, all-purpose seasoning, and prepared mustard.  Add onions – onions may be fried in butter before.  Sauce may be heated before to put on potatoes.  Trim with parsley and carrots on top.

I used 5 lbs. potatoes, 7 hard boiled eggs, 1 sweet onion - sauted, 2 celery sticks finely chopped, parsley, chopped radishes, and 1/2 of the dressing recipe.  Instead of adding cream to the dressing, I added about 1 Cup of mayonnaise, some dillweed, salt and pepper (instead of the all-purpose seasoning), and a generous squirt of prepared mustard.  This makes enough for at least 12-15 people!

Mom always garnished the top of the salad with hard boiled eggs, finely grated carrot, chopped parsley, chopped celery with their tender leaves, and radishes.  Paprika was always sprinkled on the egg slices. I wish I had taken a picture of how she put it together but it sort of resembled this one.

Till next time ..... enjoy the first weekend of summer!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Time to start your Rumtopf!!!!

Happy first day of Summer!  It's strawberry season here in SW Ontario and time to start the first layer of Rumtopf!!!!

Rumtopf (Rumpot) is a great German tradition where you add fruit, sugar, and rum as each fruit comes into season - let is soak in the Rum goodness and enjoy as a topping for ice-cream, custard, pudding or cheesecake in 6 months time!

The recipe = weigh the fruit and add an equal weight of sugar.  Let stand for 1 hour or until the sugar begins to draw juice and dissolve.  I used 3 cups of washed, hulled and halved strawberries and 1 1/2 Cups of sugar to start the first layer.  Put  the fruit, sugar mixture into your Rumtopf jar or a crock and add enough rum (amber rum is best although I used white rum this time) or brandy to cover the fruit by approx. 1 inch.

I will be adding cherries, black raspberries (not too many as they are quite "seedy"), currants, lots of peaches, blueberries (even if they make everything blue), plums, pears and grapes as they come into season!  At the very end I will add slices of pineapple and some pomegranite berries.  Always add sugar to the fruit (approx. 1/2 Cup per Cup of fruit) and keep topping with Rum as needed to keep fruit under the liquid.  Do not stir - let the fruit sit in layers.  You can also add a few slices of orange and cinnamon sticks at the very end if desired.

Cover the jar/crock with cellophane wrap and/or a lid and store in a cool place (i.e. fruit cellar or basement) after adding each fruit of the season.

This is such a treat during the Christmas season!  Who said Christmas on this first day of summer????

Till next time - enjoying Summa Summa Summa!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"RHUBY TUESDAY'S" Rhubarb Ice Cream

Homemade Rhubarb Ice Cream!

Do you like homemade ice cream?  We LOVE it and have been making plain vanilla bean ice cream for some time.  I have never tried Rhubarb Ice Cream but in the spirit of Rhuby Tuesdays and Summer....I had to try it!  I'm glad I did - it's really good.  It makes a small batch and I think next time I will double the recipe and even make it a bit thinner by adding more milk.

Here is the slightly modified recipe:

Rhubarb Ice Cream
The recipe says that it serves 8 - not! (maybe 4 - in our family).
3 1/2 Cups Rhubarb - Diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Cup Sugar - divided
3 large Egg yolks
2/3 Cup Whole Milk - I used 1 %
1 Cup Whipping Cream
1 tsp. vanilla
In saucepan, combine the rhubarb and 3/4 Cup sugar.  Cover and cook over low heat until rhubarb releases its juices (about 5 minutes).  Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until most of the water has evaporated and it has a soft jam consistency (approx. 20 minutes).  Watch closely as it can stick and burn easily at this stage.  Transfer to a bowl.
Whisk the egg yolks lightly in a seperate bowl.  Bring to a boil, gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks.  Return to sauce pan and cook over low heat - stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of spoon.  Using a fine sieve, strain mixture into the stewed rhubarb.  Add the Cup of whipping cream to the rhubarb.  Chill for at least 2 hours.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Note - I tried to skip the step to cook the milk and egg yolks "custard" in a saucepan and instead cooked it in the microwave.  It didn't work - the eggs curdled and I had to start over.  You need the constant stirring over the low heat to achieve the smooth custard.

Till next time ......... stay cool and make some homemade Ice Cream - it's going to be a hot week and summa arrives tomorrow!  You won't regret it :).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Love, Vows and Rock & Roll

"Love, Vows and Rock & Roll" was the couple's theme for their wedding this past weekend.

We were privileged guests at this, our daughter's best  friend's wedding on Lake Muskoka.  The vows took place in a quaint little village church on this sunny and warm afternoon.

Everything about this wedding was beautiful and fun - from vintage cars to whisk away the wedding party, to the most beautiful bride and handsome groom, to the delicious wedding feast, followed by the most amazing Rock and Roll Concert we've been to in a long while!!

Of course, one of the best parts of this wedding was that we got to see our girl and her guy!!!  They flew in from Alberta to take part in this special day.  It was fun to catch up with them and to see how much fun they were having with all their wonderful friends.  

These ladies have been friends forever and will be forever friends.  Many were in the wedding party and many were guests. It was so nice to see all "the girls" together again.  Just love you all!!!  It was so nice to meet some of their parents for the first time as well.  

The concert by The Julian Taylor Band
was superb and so much fun!

There was even a great performance
by the groom and the bride's brother!

Till next time ........ thanks Jenny and Ian for inviting us to celebrate with you.  It was a blast!!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Poppy of Thistleton

Our Best Little Pal Poppy
is 14 years old today
That's 72 in human Years!!!!

She's still such a pup
even though her hearing isn't so good
She has the sweetest personality a doggie could have
and always looking for treats!

Happy Birthday Pops.....our beloved Cairn Terrier!

Today would have been my mom's 96th birthday and it's also my brother Ken's birthday.
UPDATE - Just received the wonderful news that Laine is a big sister today!!!  Congrats to Scott and Nikki on the birth of their wee one - it's a girl!!!!
The 13th of June really IS a special day!

Poppy's favourite Treats (besides any table scraps she can find):

Puppy’s Golden Cheese Dreams
3 Cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup shredded cheese
1 Egg – beaten
1 Cup milk
In large mixing bowl combine flour and garlic powder.  Make a well in flour and gradually stir in the oil, cheese, beaten egg and milk until well blended.  Knead dough on floured surface for 3-4 minutes.  Roll out dough to ½“ thick.  Use bone shaped cookie cutter and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

Till next time ............ I'll be baking a batch of doggie treats!!!

This is how they turned out - Poppy loved them - but then again she loves anything!!!!
Her tail waggeth at lightning speed!
Up she goes - now "give me that cookie already"!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'RHUBY TUESDAY'S" Rhubarb and Rhummage

The beginning of June, for the past 4 years,
has been marked by our church's 

Private yard sales were set up throughout
the village.

At the country church:

The "Rhuby Cafe" served up their famous
Rhubarb Dumplings
Maple Sour Cream Scones with Homemade Rhubarb Jam
and Devonshire Cream
Rhubarb Cheesecake garnished with Strawberries
Delicious Rhubarb Pie
and Free Coffee or Tea 
all for a $3.00 donation

The ever popular Bake Sale Table offered
Rhubarb Tarts, Rhubarb Muffins, A huge variety of Pies,
Cookies, Cupcakes, Muffins, Squares, to mention a few.
This year there were even some wonderful homemade
Rhubarb preserves (Relish and Jams) for sale!

The piles of fresh Rhubarb were sold for $3/generous bundle.

There was a large table of used books
Even some old cookbooks - yes - I purchased yet 
another cookbook!
Our own church's cookbook was also for sale.

The wee ones had their little faces painted with
delightful designs, the Junior Youth sold
candy kabobs, and of course there were
barrel train rides between the showers.

Free popcorn and Rhu-BBQed Hot Dogs
with fried onions and Rhubarb Relish
were delicious treats for all who came!

The Rhumble Seat Rhummage Sale wasn't
as well attended although
there were a few hardy folks who braved the weather!

Greenwood Hills Folk Band entertained guests
with their musical talents and joined in on the fun.

In spite of the cool rainy weather, a good
time was had by all!

A huge thanks to all the tireless volunteers who made this happen!

"For the Love of Rhubarb"

All proceeds will be used for Mission's Outreach.

Till next time ....... reflecting on this year's sale and planning for next year's event!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Geronimo II

What seems like a life-time ago (25 years or so - that IS almost a lifetime!), I was fortunate enough to take a few folk art painting courses.  Needless to say, I was immediately hooked and found myself painting late into the night - creating primitive looking works of folk art.

I was asked by a local antique dealer if I would consider painting a carving that he had acquired from a carver in Quebec.  This was quite a challenge ... and well before the days of Google where you could look up Tobacco Store Indian and see many samples of how to paint such a carving.  I used to watch and rewatch episodes of the sitcom "Cheers" to view the large Indian carving on that show!

Eventually I had enough courage to give it a go and it turned out not too bad - or at least I thought so.  It was soon after that a very talented and creative friend and I decided to take an adventure of our own and drive to Quebec to pick up our own wood carvings to paint - after all I had learned how to paint a loon, lol.  Boy, we were so naive but little did we know that this would eventually lead us to opening our own little country store/studio for 7 wonderful and eventful years!  We learned so much about running a retail business and even made a bit of money to show for it.  I remember calculating how many ducks etc. that I would have to sell in order to buy something for myself.  Also, there were a few years that everyone on my Christmas list got a Canada Goose or Duck carving whether they wanted one or not.

Small 3 ft. Carving

We made yearly trips to our favourite carver and one year my partner had enough nerve to bring home a 6 foot high Indian carving!!!  We strapped him on the roof of the car and headed home - what a sight to see.  I'll never forget how shocked we were when someone came by our little store and wanted to buy him.  We had, after-all, put a price tag on "Joe" but never expected to sell him.

Well, as the story goes - we each painted many more of these tall fellows - it never ceased to amaze us that they sold.

There was one, however,  that I just couldn't bring myself to sell - I loved his flared headdress and after all these years have never gotten around to painting him.  In fact, I like him just the way he is.

To this day, he stands proudly in my back sun porch, guarding the back yard and reminding me of "the good old days" when I was the co-owner of a neat little country store called NOAH'S ARK STUDIO!!!

Geronimo II

Till next time .............. thankful for one of the many interesting experiences I have had in my lifetime!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Great Scape

Today was the day for "scaping" the garlic
in the garden!
I have about 120 garlic plants this year 
and when the curly scapes appear
you need to break them off so that
the garlic bulb develops properly.
The scape is actually the garlic's blossom.
These little wonders are absolutely 
delicious as a stir fry!
They are also delicious simply sauted and
seasoned with browned butter and lemon juice. 

As the farmer finished mowing the lawn
I started chopping and making
the stir fry sauce.

The scapes were chopped into 2-3 inch 
pieces, 3 heads of baby bok choy
were washed and chopped (keeping the leaf
ends seperate from the stalk), the sweet onion
was sliced, 3 carrots were thinly sliced and some
mushrooms and red pepper prepared
for the stir fry.

Stir Fry Sauce:
This is my favourite "brown" sauce for stir frying.
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
2 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Heat the wok for 30 seconds, add some oil and swirl it around the pan.  Add all the chopped veggies except the Bok Choy leaves.  Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir fry for 3-4 minutes, add rest of the sauce and the Bok Choy leaves and heat till leaves are nicely wilted and veggies are heated through.

Serve with rice or noodles.  We BBQ'd some delicious smoked pork chops to add to the meal tonight and Poppy was happy for the bones.  She knows when we BBQ chops that she'll get a treat!

GARLIC SCAPES ARE GREAT and they are in season right now!

Today we want to wish a very happy birthday
to our future son-in-law, Patrick, 
and to our sister-in-law, Linda.
Hope you are both having a fantastic day!  

Till next time ......... be happy and enjoy some garlic scapes!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"RHUBY TUESDAY'S" Jammin' Session

Left = Candied Ginger Rhubarb Jam
Right = Fresh Ginger Root Rhubarb Jam

When we were visiting in Ottawa last Fall we stopped at a charming little scone shop called "The Scone Witch" and had Lemon Poppy Scones with Ginger/Rhubarb Jam - it was so delicious!

I went on a hunting spree for such a jam recipe and found two.  I like them both though they are quite different.

Then I started looking for the perfect Lemon Poppy Scone Recipe.  Of course I found it on Lovella's blog from The Mennonite Girls Can Cook site.  Here is the link and no need to look any further.
These scones are delicious and the perfect combination to any jam but I especially like them with these Ginger/Rhubarb jams.

Candied Ginger Rhubarb Jam:
An old recipe with no added pectin.
4 Cups diced fresh rhubarb
3 Cups Sugar
3 Tbsp. finely chopped candied ginger
2 Tbsp. lemon juice - 1/2 lemon and I also added the zest of this 1/2 lemon
Red food colouring if desired for colour - I did not add this.
Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a large sauce pan.  Stir and let stand for 20 minutes till sugar is moistened by the juice.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until thick and clear.  Skim off foam and add colouring if using.  Ladle into sterilized jars and seal.  Makes approx. 1 1/2 Cups of jam.

Ginger Rhubarb Jam
8 Cups fresh or frozen chopped Rhubarb
2 Cups Sugar
1/3 Cup minced fresh ginger root
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract) - I used the vanilla bean that we purchased in Mexico this past winter!
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced to approx. 6 Cups (30 min. to 1 hr. of simmering).  Remove vanilla bean - split it in half and scrape the middle of the bean back into the jam.  Test the jam on a chilled saucer to see if it's thick enough.  If not, cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.  The recipe suggested that you can thicken it by using a pkg. of pectin but I found it did not need this at all.  Ladle into sterilized jars and seal.  Makes approx. 5 cups of jam.

This is how the one with fresh ginger turned out - notice the tiny brown flecks of the vanilla bean in this jam.  This turned out with a nice velvet texture.  It has less sugar and a lovely sharpness from the fresh ginger.

Here is the one with the candied ginger.  It's quite yummy too and cooks up quickly.  I think this is my favourite!

Aww - now for a cup of Hazelnut Coffee with whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon to go with another scone - someone has to test them all - right? Oye!

I'm going to have to do some serious walking
after these treats!

Till next time ..... going for long walks ;)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Teddy Bear's Picnic

These three bears were made by my aunt Viola
about 63 years ago!!!

Today was our family Picnic - our Teddy Bear's Picnic!  I've always wanted to go to a Teddy Bear's Picnic!! The weather was unpredictable so we were fortunate to have the option to have our picnic indoors. We made our own sunshine today!

It was a lot of fun .... the food, as always, was delicious.  There were some fun things on the laden table such as a huge chocolate chip cookie with a bear face on it, "ants on a log" snacks, "bears at the beach" cupcakes, and more! We sang the Teddy Bear's Picnic Song (or a least we tried to sing it - not quite as well as Anne Murray does it). Thanks to everyone for bringing your favourite bears - it was a blast!

After dinner the children had fun whacking the pinata, playing in the nearby playground, blowing bubbles, and just hanging out with their cousins and second cousins while us adults enjoyed being together, watching as the "grandchildren" played and getting caught up with our nieces and nephews lives.  It was fun giving the bears their ribbon awards. A great day in spite of the weather!

Clay arrived late but he had a good excuse!  His ball team won the tournament AGAIN and he won "Most Valuable Player".  Way to go Clay!!  So proud of you.

Robin report
Look who's moving out of the nest.......
It was getting much too crowded anyway!  They are fully feathered now and ready to "fly the coop"!!!  I've been talking to them every day and they aren't as afraid of me as they used to be.  I wonder.......will they come back as adults and try nesting in the same spot????

Here is the corn/bean salad I took to the picnic.  It's one of my favourites and adapted from my friend Karen's recipe:

1 Can Black Beans - drained and rinsed
2 sm. Cans corn - drained
1/2 Cup chopped parsley
1 Red Pepper - diced (can use green pepper as well)
1/4 Chopped Chives
1-2 basil leaves - chopped
1/4 Cup chopped Sweet Onion (or green onions)
4 Tbsp. Oil (I used grape seed and olive oil)
6 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Soya Sauce
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper

We like to eat this salad as a side dish or as a filling on Tostito's Multi-Grain Scoops!

Till next time ..... it's stopped raining now and there's a beautiful sunset - sigh!

Monday's Mood

  Today my mood matches the weather! Might it be because it is Monday, dreary, rainy and cold? Is it because the "naked lady'' ...