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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.
  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Yogurt

We go through a lot of plain yogurt. I eat it daily and we cook with plain yogurt as well. I like making my own yogurt so I always have a ready supply on hand. It is really super easy to make. I use an old Salton Yogurt Maker that has 5 individual cup but there are other ways to do it.


Scalding Milk

One of the first steps is to scald the milk. That means bring it to a boil "without" scorching. Immediately remove it from the heat and allow to cool to the proper temperature or if you have a yogurt thermometer to the "add starter" temperature. Be careful when you do this step as it takes little time for milk to burn giving either lumps or an off taste to your yogurt. I use 2% milk. Once the milk has been scalded, I ladle out a little into a cup then stir in about 2 tbsp of instant milk powder. This gives a richness without adding a lot of fat. Then about 2 tbsp of plain yogurt either store bought with active bacteria or ideally from the last batch is added to the milk when the temperature is correct. The 5 oz cups are loaded then placed in the yogurt maker and left for at least 10 hours.

In the Cup

I like my yogurt sharp. Sharp is the only way I can describe it but to me it gives a bit of a tingle to the tongue. While my husband likes adding a little fruit to his yougurt I prefer it plain. He stirs in frozen fruit and eats it that way. The 5 oz cups of my yogurt maker are just perfect single serving size.

Rich Creamy Yogurt

Rich and creamy with just the right amought of tartness makes the best yogurt in my opinion. It also needs a nice mouth feel and for that reason I am always looking for how the yougurt spoons. The best yogurt keeps it shape on the spoon.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wraps

Wraps are the perfect lunch sandwich. I keep strips of grilled chicken and roasted turkey breast in the freezer to make our favourite wraps. Fresh picked garden greens and herbs are one of our favourite toppings. I have been experimenting with flavoured tortillas so we've had some interesting combinations.

Grilled Chicken Wrap
I used a sundried tomato and basil tortilla to make this wrap.
Grilled Chicken Wrap Toppings

It was topped with a little mayonnaise, chinese mustard leaves, chives, basil, tomatoes, a little Catellina dressing and cheddar cheese. I am anxiously waiting for our first ripe tomatoes from the garden. While this tomato looked ok it had almost no flavour. The chinese mustard gave the wrap a nice zing that went well with the other flavours. The basil brought out the hint of basil in the tortilla.

Grilled Chicken Wrap

Once all the toppings were on, the tortilla was folded to form the wrap. I find the mayonnaise helps with the folding process. I fold up the two ends along the narrow part of the toppings towards the centre. Then I take one open side and fold it over the topping pulling the toppings in tightly. Finally, I finish rolling the wrap. I like cutting the wraps in the middle on a bit of a diagonal for a nice presentation.

Roasted Turkey Wrap
This wrap was made using a pesto garlic tortilla.
Roasted Turkey Wrap

The toppings were mayonnaise, romain lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. I made a platter of these for a get together we were hosting. They were a huge success!


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Canned Pineapple

I bought a couple of pineapples the other day so decided to can one. I don't use a lot of canned pineapple but I do like to keep some on hand just in case.

Canned Pineapple

I used the recipe from the Ball Blue Book. The prepared pineapple was simmered in a light syrup until tender then hot packed in hot jars leaving 1/2" headspace. The jars were processed for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. The yield was 4 pints.

I think the pineapple looks beautiful in the jars. I think I will pick up a couple more pineapples to can up.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A&W Coney Sauce Clone Recipe

When I was barely old enough to drive I got my first job at A&W. I only worked there the summer but that is where I met the love of my life. Next year we will celebrate our 30th anniversary of wedded bliss. A&W gave us another treat, the famous coney sauce.

This sauce was made on site by the owners. It is not to be confused with coney island sauce. The best I can describe it as is a make-shift chili style sauce but it isn't to be eaten as a chili. They used to put it on fries or hot dogs. They were very secretive of the recipe but I think I've cloned it rather well. Made correctly it will knock your socks off if eaten by itself but is just perfect with French fries! It freezes well so you can make a large batch then freeze in meal size portions.

Coney sauce starts out with a pound of lean ground beef. Back then it was actually their fat laden burger patties. Brown the ground beef with one finely chopped onion. Drain then pour in 2 tins of Campbell's tomato soup with about a half can of water. The soup is important because that is exactly what they used. Now here is where the fun part starts and I'm sorry I simply don't have measurements as I go by taste. I'm estimating the amounts to give you an idea.

coney sauce cookingConey Sauce Cooking

Next comes the seasonings. Add about 1 tbsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Add about 1 tsp celery salt and paprika. Add cayenne pepper to taste. The sauce should have a real bite to it. Allow the sauce to simmer until thick. I think the sauce tastes better if it ages for at least a day. My husband can immediately tell if the sauce is freshly made.  It really needs a bit of time to meld the flavours together. 


coney sauce on friesConey Sauce on French Fries

Serve the sauce on French fries for a real taste sensation. As I mentioned above, the sauce was originally served on fries or hot dogs. It is delicious!  We very seldom eat hot dogs so I can't attest to taste of that combination but it was a very popular combination at the A&W we worked at. Talk about wonderful memories!


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In the Kitchen

I've been rather busy in the garden and we've been away on and off so there hasn't been a lot of cooking going on. Last night I made a pasta casserole that came out tasty. It came close to the taste of lasagne without all the work. That doesn't mean the kitchen has been idle.

Strawberries are in season here. I have June bearing strawberries that I've been picking since June 8. I was averaging 2 qts per day from the patch but now it has dwindled down to 1 quart. I suspect within a day or two they will be finished.


Strawberries

I made stawberry and strawberry/rhubarb jams as well as froze some. We've eaten strawberries daily since they started. I'm going to dry a couple of quarts as well using the smaller berries.

The herbs have really sprouted with the abnormal heat. Some of the herbs needed trimming and there was no point wasting the trimmings so I dried and froze them. As always my chives do quite nicely. I prefer to freeze chives.
Bon App├ętit!  

Garden Gnome
©2006-2012

Chives

The only prep for freezing chives is to wash, dry and chop into the desired sized pieces. I freeze in a zip loc container that makes it easy to use as needed. In the winter chives are a welcomed addition to baked potatoes! Chives can be dried as well and I always do up jar of dried chives. In my experience, the taste of frozen chives comes closer to that of fresh than dried but dried chives are handy for soups and stews.

I grow three varieties of oregano. The golden oregano needed a good trimming. I prefer fresh oregano for my tomato sauces but still freeze and dry some for the winter months when I don't have a large supply of fresh. Oregano is a must have herb for several of my sauces. Even though I can a lot of tomato sauces I still make fresh tomato sauce during the winter. I like knowing my oregano hasn't been sitting on the shelf somewhere for who knows how long.

Golden Oregano

Golden oregano as with most herbs dries nicely. As with most herbs I prefer fresh and use it that way as much as possible. The dried result is like most dried herbs but the flavour is excellent.


Golden Oregano Dried

I ended up with about 2 cups of dried oregano so that wasn't bad for the first trimming. I also dried lemon balm. I use fresh lemon balm for cooking, teas and iced teas. It is especially good with fish or chicken either grilled or coated. I love the little zip it gives especially when coupled with fresh lemons or limes. Dried lemon balm can be used in much the same way. It is an almost must have dried herb for coated chicken! I've been experimenting a lot with lemon balm. I think it would make a lovely lemony herbed jelly so am going to try a small batch the next time I clip it back.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family so it is especially nice paired with mint in iced teas. However you have to be careful where you plant lemon balm as it is very invasive! I planted mine in the main herb bed. Now I'm picking out a lot of little plants so have decided to move it to another spot at some point soon. The weather has been unseasonably warm so now is not a good time to move it.

With the hot weather most of my lettuces have bolted with the exception of the romain that is threatening to bolt and the red lettuce. We are still eating Chinese mustard even though it has bolted. I like the sharp, peppery flavour and it doesn't seem to get bitter like some lettuces do after they bolt. I'd love to be able to preserve lettuce but haven't found and adequate way.

Romain Lettuce

I cut one head of romaine this morning so we'll have a nice salad with dinner. I also cut a bit of red lettuce and some Chinese mustard. My favourite way of storing lettuce is not in the fridge. I plant a lot of lettuce so have a lot. I like cutting, washing then put the cut end in water and leave on the counter. This way the lettuce is "in your face" so to speak encouraging everyone to eat more of it. Leaf lettuce will keep a couple of days or more this way with the larger lettuces lasting longer. Lettuce is a normal part of our daily diet often several times a day.

My peas have started producing. Today I harvested enough edible snow peas for two good sized stir fries. At the rate they are going I'll be able to freeze some for winter.

Peas

The other peas are progressing nicely as well. I've picked about a handful of pods with nice large peas numbering around 6 per pod. Peas are so sweet eaten raw. Of the 48 pea plants most of the pickings will be eaten fresh or froze although I may try one small batch of canned peas.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Herbs & Berries

I've been busy doing up strawberries. My patch was producing about 2 qt of berries each day since the 8th. Today the yield is down a little and the berries are smaller. At the same time some herbs needed trimming back and there's no point wasting the trimmings.

In the kitchen this week:
- strawberry jam
- strawberry rhubarb jam
- dried herbs: lemon balm, sage, golden oregano
- frozen herbs: chives

Father's Day Menu: grilled steaks, salad, grilled potatoes, green beans, fresh strawberries.