Monday, May 19, 2014

Kit 'n Kaboodle

This weekend,we discovered a wonderful family
that has been practically living in our back yard
for the past approx. 5-6 weeks!

The farmer rigged up a "blind" on our old
garden arbour and we were able to get some
great shots of these little fox kits.

So far we've counted 5 kits.

Here is a video clip we took last evening.
Watch closely near the end
and in the background to see mamma fox

What a privilege to witness this

Guess what we'll be doing over the next little while?

Aren't they so cute??

Till next time ......... Happy Victoria Day.   And to my friends South of the border - have a wonderful week!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lemons in a Bottle

Some time ago
I was privileged to attend an Italian
cooking school class
and had a taste of Homemade Limoncello.
I was inspired to try to make my own
and today was the day to bottled it.
It's in the freezer ... bring on Summa'
Can't wait to try some of this lemony goodness - maybe this
coming long weekend?

Here is the recipe I used:

15 lemons - thick skinned and scrubbed/washed
2 750 ml. bottles Vodka
4 Cups sugar
5 Cups filtered water
Zest the lemons (I used my vegetable peeler) being careful there is no white pith on the peel. Place the peel into a large glass jar. Add the vodka, put lid on jar and let it "steep" at room temperature for at least 10 to 40 days (in cool dark place). I set the jar in my basement. Now the challenge is to know what to do with the peeled lemons!? I juiced them and froze the juice for future lemon-aid or maybe a lemon pie or two!!
After the 10-40 day period, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan. Boil gently for 5-7 minutes. Cool the syrup before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Cover the jar again and allow this mixture to rest for another 10-40 days. 
After the rest period, strain the Limoncello through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or a moistened coffee filter. Discard the lemon peel. Pour the Limoncello into glass bottles, seal tightly and store in your freezer.
Serve ice cold from the freezer in frozen shot glasses or on the rocks. A nice little treat after a great meal. This liqueur can also be used in mixed drinks or spritzers.

Do you have anything special planned
for this upcoming long weekend?

Till next time ......enjoying this long awaited Spring of 2014!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Braised Red Cabbage

I have a spare fridge in the garage
(which I LOVE having, by the way) and
there was a beautiful Red Cabbage out
there that I had almost forgotten
about till the other night we were 
served this delicious power food with
our meal at a local restaurant.

We love cabbage in most any form,
slaw, Nappa cabbage salad, cabbage rolls,
red, green, cooked, braised, etc.

This is how I cook
this versatile red beauty:

1/2 Red Cabbage - quartered and chopped
1/2 Onion - chopped
1 apple peeled and diced - optional
2 cloves garlic - crushed and chopped
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds - optional
Squeeze of lemon juice - 1 Tbsp.
3/4 Cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in sauce pan. Add and sauté/sweat
the onion and garlic over medium heat till
Add in the cabbage, lemon and caraway - toss and 
cook till cabbage has wilted - approx. 5 min.
Add the broth, apple, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Cover and reduce heat to low - simmer for approx. 15
minutes stirring occasionally.
Serve warm as a side dish to your
favourite meal.

I "googled" the health benefits
of Red Cabbage (click on this link) and this is 
what I learned!

#2 is my favourite:
 It is a brain food!
"It is full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with mental function and concentration. These nutrients also prevent nerve damage, improving your defense against Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Red cabbage has the highest amount of these power nutrients."

I need all the help I can get!!!

Schnitzel, Noodles and Red Cabbage

Till next time ..... what's your favourite brain food?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stalking the Wild Leeks

Every Spring my dad would go back to 
the "home farm" where he grew up
and find his favourite patch of wild leeks!
Those pungent smelling,
full flavoured "bush onions" or "ramps"
as they are sometimes called.
He loved to eat them raw, wrapped in
a buttered slice of fresh bread.
These potent little bulbs are known to
hold powerful medicinal properties,
the lingering odour is very real!!!

It's a beautiful thing!

The dog tooth violets are blooming too - so pretty!

It was a great day to stalk through the bush
and see it come alive!

Here's to good health!!!

Till next time - I'll let you know how the smelly healthy soup turns out.....

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Canning for RVing

Look who came out to play!!!
We are getting so excited to finally start
using our little Escape Trailer.
Our "maiden voyage" is planned
3 weeks hence
and we're getting ready.

Spring is coming - slow but sure.
I can almost hear the rhubarb growing...

The Lady's Mantle
doesn't seem to mind
all this rain we've 
been having.

Always the first to bloom
is this old fashioned
lung wort from my
friend Ruth!

So back to camping...

In preparation for this summer's
fun I've been starting to gather
things for the trailer and thinking
about food preparations.
It's been SO long since we've done
any camping and that was usually in a 
tent, with a canoe and primitive
cooking utensils.

Because of the convenience of having
canned foods I got busy this weekend
and canned some pork sausage to take
with us on the road.

Have you ever home canned meat?
My mom always canned pork sausage,
beef chunks and whole chickens.
Freezer space was at a premium back in the day
for a family of 10
and home canned meat was a delicious
and convenient alternative to frozen meat.

I have read many recipes on Google
which all say you must use a pressure cooker 
in order for safely canning meat.
I'm positive that my mom did not have
a pressure cooker and no one ever
got sick from eating her delicious canned meats.

However, this may be a concern and I just
may have to invest in a pressure cooker 
for future meat canning.

I simply cold packed some
sterilized jars with the
smoked sausage (if using
fresh unsmoked - it's best to
fry it or bake it in the oven for a bit)
Once the jars were packed
I put some sterilized and warm
snap lids on and
placed them in the canner
that was filled with cold water.

Steam jars for 2 hours (start timing after water comes to a full boil).  Note – 10 lbs. unlinked bulk sausage makes 7 quart jars which fits nicely into a canner.

I actually did up approx. 14 lbs. into 7 pint size jars - perfect size
 for two hungry campers,
plus 4 quart jars for larger

After letting the jars cool
slightly and checking that
they have sealed,
I turned them upside down
to ensure the meat is
perfectly sealed in it's own
juices and fat.

To serve, simply remove the sausages and their juices from the jar and heat in a frying pan or brown on the bbq – it’s fast, easy and delicious.  I always discard the lard that forms in the jar but mother would save this fat for making her homemade soap.  

I have used this method for Chicken and Beef as well - increasing the processing time to 3 hours.
Label your jars with date of canning and try to use up within 12 to 18 months.

My SIL Pat has canned salmon, moose and venison
meats this way with great success as well. 
My brother is an avid hunter and fisherman
and she is a great and adventurous cook.

Till next time ............. do you like to camp and what are your favourite camping meals?

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