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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

For Your Information

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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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts on Nutrition & an Appetizer Recipe

Please humour me as I just got some fantastic news regarding this blog but want to wait until everything if finalized before announcing anything. I promise to release all information shortly. So today I'm going to just highlight a little about nutrition and I hope not in a preachy way. Don't worry near the end is a wonderful little appetizer I found in Food & Drink but modified by me. It is a nice, light appetizer that should please most tastes.

Here's my theories on nutrition. First I want my readers to know I have never had a weight problem and given my metabolism likely never will. However, I do use foods for their healing properties and I firmly believe that proper nutrition is paramount. Food serious does heal the mind and sould. This topic is on my mind having returned from Las Vegas and needing to get our routine back in order. Hopefully, that is as preachy as this entry will get.

My dietary style is I don't do diets. I'm sorry but I have other things to worry about in life. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy who likely eats more red meat than he should when we eat out. When my kids were young and right from birth I kept anything white from them. That meant white sugar, white flour and white rice. My kids were in kindergarden before they were ever exposed to sweets and guess what even now as young adult they don't like them. I also had the philosophy that a kid will not intentionally starve themseves so as long as good food is available . I figured if they had healthy coices they would eat when hungry so mealtimes have never been problematic for us. Unlike some any food was fair game in the house while the kids were growing up and still is. There are fruit and vegetable bowls everywhere and the biggest problem is keeping them well stocked. What you won't find in our home is the heavily processed, commercially prepared conveience or fast foods. I think if I had to really describe our family diet it would be vegetable, fruit and grain based with a lot of good quality fish, meats and poultry. Since I do a lot of home preserving you won't find very many of those government nutritional labels in our home.

I will mention four books that I do enjoy for their nutrition content: Healing Foods by Pratricia Husman and Judith Benn Hurley, Book of Food Counts by Dr. Art Urlene, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and The Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald.

Well, that is my bit on nutrition. There is no doubt we fit into the suggested guidelines of healthy eating the majority of times but there are days we stray.

Here's the healthy appetizer:


Cucumber Cups

This is a nice refreshing appetizer, easy to make, low fat and sure to please.

Ingredients:

1 English syle seedless cucumber
1 6 oz tin tuna packed in water
1-2 tbsp Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely chopped onions
finesly chopped chives (optional)
handful of mesclun mix
homemade raspberry viniagarette (optional)

Wash and dry the mesclun mix. Place it on the serving dish. Drizzle lightly with the vinaiagarette. Wash the cucumber and remove both ends. Cut into 2 1/2" pieces. Carefully remove the center of the cucumber with a small spoon leaving about 1/2" for the bottom forming cups. Set aside. Drain the tuna and stir in onions and Miracle Whip or mayonnaise. Add chives or other herbs as desired. Spoon this mixture into the cucumber cups. Place the filled cups on the lettuce base.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pork & Beans and Old Fashioned Vermont Beans

Beans are one of the easiest and most economical things to can especially when you buy your beans on sale or in bulk. Better still is the flavour of homecanned beans of any kind. I like keeping a good stock of home canned pork & beans, old fashioned vermont beans and kidney beans but can other beans to have on hand too. The nice thing is beans can be canned anytime of the year. I'm down to my last four jars of pork & beans so will be canning up a batch this week. The picture is from the last batch.

home canned pork and beans
Pork & Beans

Pork & Beans
source: Jean Paré, Company's Coming Preserves, 1994. Pp.112

3 lb dried navy beans
water to cover well

1 1/2 lb ham, diced
1/2 c onion flakes
2 c ketchup
1/2 c molasses
2 tsp coarse pickling salt

Soak beans in lots of vvater oVernight in large heavy saucepan. Drain next mornig.Cover with water again. Bring to a boil, stirring on medium heat. Cover. Cook about 1 hour until tender too soft. Bite into a bean to check if cooked. Stir often while

Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Return to a boil. Pour into jars to 1 - inch (2.5 cm) of top. Secure lids. Process in pressure canner 10 pounds pressure for 80 minutes per pint, 100 minutes per quart. Makes 10 pints or or 5 quarts.

Note: for a different spin, reduce ketchup to 1 3/4 c and add 1/2 c maple syrup (aka Old Vermont Beans)


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bugs & Hamburger Soup

The day started out with very good intentions then quickly esculated to unneeded complications. But I did finish one large batch of a hamburger soup that will give us a couple of quick meals and a few meals in the freezer to help get through the next week.

Unidentified Bugs

Because of a rodent problem 99% of my dried foods are vacuum sealed in mason jars. I had exactly 6 bags of food in an upper cabinet that I didn't bother vacuum sealing because I knew I would be using them within a very short period of time and the chances of rodents getting up there are slim to none. What I didn't bank on was bugs!

It started innocently enough as I wanted to get my beans ready for sprouting. On the very back of the cabinet was what looked like a blotch of instant yeast. So my husband looked, deemed it dust, wiped it off and there you go. Except, I pulled out the only plastic bin I have in the cabinets. It held the 7 bags of of food: rice noodles, pot barley, bulger, couscous, gourmet wild rice, adzuki beans and balsami rice. Of those only the pot barley had been opened then secured with an elastichw ile the adzuki beans were in a zipper bag. Then I saw a lot more of the dust except it was moving! I don't know what these bugs were but I was not impressed at having to clean out an entire cabinet. The only thing that appears to have been affected was the barley so I don't know if they came in with the barley but I suspect so since it is a fairly new bag. At any rate, the new rule in our house is all dried foods will be vacuum sealed in mason jars.


We really need comfort, home cooking right now so I decided to whip up a batch of this thick soup. I've been making this dish ever since the kids were knee high to a grasshopper and it is a family favourite. What to call this dish has always been a question. My family refers to it as Mommy's Surprise and they likely aren't too far off. This is one of my home made versions of hamburg helper so anything is fair game including beans and barley. I'm making a 15 quart batch as I'm typing this entry. I'll keep enough in the fridge for a couple of meals and freeze the rest.

Hamburger Soup aka Mommy's Surprise

As mentioned this is one of our favourite, most requested meal during the winter. Don't let the picture fool you, there is 15 quarts of yummy soup in that pot. This dish freezes nicely even though it has noodles in it. We like it served with grated cheddar cheese on top and homemade sourdough (recipe will be posted shortly). This really is pantry cooking at it's best. The result is awesome, family friendly and can be made with ingredients from your pantry or freezer.

This is a method rather than a recipe but you could likely formulate a recipe from it. The base is always the same:

2 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 qt vegetable stock
2 med onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 qts stewed tomatoes

First brown the ground beef and drain. Pour that into a large stock pot and add the other ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add about 4 oz of tomato paste and 2 quarts of water.

Now here is where it gets fun and you can raid the fridge, freezer or pantry to your heart's content. Note, if using left-overs, frozen or canned vegetables proceed as following if using fresh add every thing at once.

vegetables of choice: our favourites are - corn, garden peas, green beans, potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini and carrots
beans: optional but kidney and lima beans are quite nice, use homecanned or commercial for quick cooking
herbs: chives and thyme are nice, or use a bayleaf then remove before serving
pasta*: toss in a couple of handfuls of broad egg noodles

*substitute rice or barley for the pasta or if you want add those too

Sorry I can't be more specific. I don't measure but simply toss much like many of our family favourites. For those who have read through my blog, you will immediately know that is my style.


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Friday, January 26, 2007

Getting Back to Normal - Bran Muffins, Sourdough Starter and more

If you read my journey blog you will see our waterbed mattress sprung a leak in the early morning of the 15th so we had little sleep that night followed by a busy day of last minute prep and travelling. Once arriving in Las Vegas we enjoyed a whirlwind of activity along with way too much food and drink coupled with minimal sleep. We arrived home over fed and exhausted to snow and cold, a kid needing an immediate tooth extraction, an almost empty fridge, no energy and sleeping on a temporary air mattress in the waterbed frame. Yesterday my husband picked up a loaf of bread, milk and eggs on his way home. We had a simple meal of grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches since neither of us were even hungry! Today, he ordered a new mattress, extra long queen for the bed. During the vacation we had a chance to talk and decided to forego another waterbed mattress but use the waterbed frame if possible.

We discovered a couple of dishes I'd like to duplicate at home but for now the first step is getting things back to normal. That means I need the basics up and running. These include: sourdough starter, yogurts, breads and quick breakfast options. My first step was to get the sourdough starter going along with the yogurt. Now normally these should not be made at the same time nor should bread or yogurt be made at the same time as the yeast and bacteria compete for resources. Ultimately one or both will fail. My solution was to get the sourdough starter (yeast) going then move to another warm room. While the yeast can be distributed throughout the house with the forced air heating, it shouldn't be in large enough quantities to cause the yogurt (bacteria) to fail especially when the starter is fresh. That is why I decided to make a fresh batch instead of thawing starter. With those two important ingredients in the making, I decided to make a batch of six week bran muffins. I omitted the raisins for the first batch but will stir in fruit as needed. Tomorrow is bread day as the yogurt will be ready for the fridge and it won't interfer with the sourdough starter.

Bran Muffins

Whole grain muffins and breads are a must after a vacation simply because they help cleanse your body. One of the easiest ways is to include a whole grain muffin with your breakfast. I decided on the recipe from Jean Paré simply because it gives a large batch of muffin batter that will take a little pressure off of me for the next couple of weeks. The batter is a good one to keep on hand for quick muffins anytime. Customize the recipe by substituting cranraisins or frozen blueberries for raisins just before baking.

Six Week Bran Muffins
source: Jean Paré, Company's Coming, Muffins & More, 1983. Pp. 31

Store batter in refrigerator. Bake a fresh supply every day if you like.

4 c Bran flakes cereal
2 c All bran cereal
2 c Boiling water

1 c Butter or margarine
1 1/2 c Granulated sugar
1 1/2 c Packed brown sugar
4 Eggs

4 c Buttermilk
1/4 c Molasses (optional)

5 c All purpose flour
2 tbsp Baking soda
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
2 c Raisins

In large bowl put cereals and boiling water. Let stand.

In mixing bowl cream butter and sugars together. Beat in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Mix in buttermilk. Add molasses. Stir in cereal mixture.

In another bowl put flour, soda, baking powder, salt and raisins. Mix thoroughly. Add to batter. Stir to combine. Store in refrigerator. It will keep for six weeks. As required, fill greased muffin cups % full. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan after 5 minutes.

Variation: Brans may be switched to use 2 cups (500 mL) bran flakes and 4 cups (1 L) all bran cereal. Or you may use natural bran to replace one cereal.

Note: cranraisins, frozen cranberries or frozen blueberries make a lovely substitute for raisins.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Back From Vacation



Golden Nugget Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada

We spent our winter vacation in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our home base was the wonderful Golden Nugget Casino on Fremont Street. This entry focuses on some of my impressions of food in Las Vegas. I'll give more highlights of our trip on my journey blog. Normally I take pictures of our meals but this trip was a little different so I took fewer pictures of food and more of everything else. So this report is more chat.

The choice for food in Las Vegas ranges the full gamut. One of the very first things anyone equates with Las Vegas is the buffet. By all means the buffet is standard fare at just about every casino. The quality of the food ranges from adequate to superb with prices from very inexpensive to moderate. The buffets at the Las Vegas Hilton and Orleans Las Vegas Hotel and Casino are quite good however most of the buffets in Las Vegas are more than adequate. While we do enjoy the buffets, we love finding great meals. Since the vast majority if not all of our meals are comped courtesy of the various casinos, we enjoy a wide variety of foods while on vacation. Breakfast specials are available at The Golden Gate Casino and Binion's. The Golden Gate Casino is the smallest and most historic casino on Fremont Street. It serves a wonderful breakfast with extra savings if you are an early riser. Binion's serves a breakfast special with a slice of ham the size of a dinner plate The California Hotel & Casino serves a wonderful prime rib dinner complete with salad bar and dessert for $5.99. Their mahi mahi and butterfish are a nice change from red meat. No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a stop at Ellis Island Casino & Brewery for their $4.95 steak special. Don't let the price fool you as this steak is anything but cheap and at 12 oz is sure to please. This is a special you have to ask for as it does not appear on the menu. Be sure to try their beer while there. For a nice late evening snack on Fremont Street stop by the Chicago Brewing Company at The Four Queens Hotel & Casino for deep dish pizza and award winning micro-brews. A four piece pizza costs about $8.95. The micro-brews can be bought as samplers of full glass size. If you are interested in buffets, the Fremont Hotel & Casino seafood buffet is a must go to. While on Fremont Street be sure to stay for the Viva Vision show of the Fremont Street Experience. This is a must see spectacular!

The Golden Nugget has two restaurants we enjoy, Lillie's Noodle House and Carson Street Cafe. Carson Street Cafe has a open sidewalk-style cafe feel for enjoying people watching while dining on American and International foods. Expect to spend about $25 or more per person at the Carson Street Cafe and about triple that at Lillie's Noodle House.


General Tso's Chicken

We enjoyed a lovely meal at Lillie's Noodle House that included several authetic dishes. One of the dishes pictured here was General Tso's Chicken. I've never made this dish myself so wanted to try an authentic recipe before trying to make it myself. I'll be spend a bit of time looking for a recipe to duplicate this dish at home.

This restaurant is a little higher priced but the food, experience and service are well worth it. Our waiter took time to explain the food tastes better when using chop sticks and even showed us how to use them. The comp was for $150 of which we used almost the full amount plus gratituity.

One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of food in Las Vegas. The portions if anything are too big! While buffets give good value for your money there is a tendency to over indulge so expect to increase your excercise routine when you get home. It's a small price to pay!


Monday, January 15, 2007

On Vacation



January 16 - 25, 2006
See You Soon!


Saturday, January 13, 2007

FoodSaver® VS2480 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer

Dazey Seal-A-Meal® came on the market in the 1960's. While it did not vacuum seal foods, it was and is still a very effective way to seal foods in bags. The bags were boilable increasing the convience for busy cooks. I have one of these sealers that is still in use. Food sealers evolved to include vacuuming capabilities. The food is placed in special bags then the air is removed eliminating freezer burn and extending storage times. If I recall correctly, the original Tilia was first marketed on television. On the heels of the popularity of these appliances several companies came out with less expensive vacuum sealers. I have a DCI that is one such vacuum sealer. It does a nice job sealing and a reasonable job of vacuuming. It is still in use but more for sealing than vacuuming. With the y2K scare the popularity of the food sealers gained momentum as people stored more foods. However, I think two of the main factors driving the renewed popularity of the vacuum sealers is the increasing cost of food coupled with the decreasing cost of the vacuum sealers. Uncertain job security and recent natural disasters have certainly played as factors in the increasing popularity of these appliances. At such low prices, the pay back for a vacuum sealer can easily be as short as a month! It is one of the most important appliances I have in my kitchen.

FoodSaver® VS2480 Advanced Design

An appliance has to really impress me in terms of quality, design and function before I will endorse it. I bought a different brand of vacuum sealer in August but less than three months, the drip tray cracked and it decided to function only sporatically so I took it back. I now have a FoodSaver® Advanced Design VS2480 purchased from Sam's Club for $108.99 US. It came with the vacuum appliance, two canisters (one shown), an attachment hose and the larger of the mason jar sealers. I bought the standard mason jar sealer separately for $8.98 at a kitchen outlet. I also bought three additional canisters in various sizes and have three of different brand. This FoodSaver® is very easy to use. I use the roll bag material, pre-made bags, canisters and mason jars.

Vacuum Sealed Bags

Pictured here is left-over turkey and stuffing from Thanksgiving. These packs were froze to be enjoyed later for a quick to put together meal. The re-heated turkey can be seen in the previous entry on pantry cooking.

Specialized channel bags are used for the FoodSaver® appliance. The channels are designed to aid with the quick removal of air. To vacuum seal in bags, simply place the food in the bag leaving 3-inches of space at the top. Place the top in the sealing channel then shut and lock the lid of the vacuum sealer. Press vacuum and seal. The motor will shut off when the vacuum in achieved. Remove the bag when the seal indicator light goes off. Once vacuum sealed the food is then ready for the freezer, refrigerator or pantry shelf depending on the food. When vacuum sealing soups or liquids freeze first then seal. Moist foods like meats and fish should be flash froze first then vacuum sealed.

Now one of the biggest complaints most users have with the bags is the cost. There are three ways to reduce this cost. First are the canisters specifically made for the vacuum appliance or you can modify the adapter to be used with other brands. From other comments the canisters are a case of you either love them or hate them. I love them for short term storage in the refrigerator but where they really excell is for saving dried and crushable foods like left-over homemade bread. Since homemade bread is preservative free it simply doesn't keep well but in a canister it will keep two to three days longer. That can be a real plus! Second, the mason jar sealers are worth their weight in gold as far as saving money on bags. Mason jars can be bought used at yard sales or resale stores and can be used over and over as can the lids. The best thing about sealing dried foods in mason jars aside of the fresh aspect is this keeps insects and rodents out of your food. The final way you can save on the bags is to buy online through other sources than the manufacturer's website. I found bags on an eBay store that ended up being excellent bags and considerably cheaper. The for me works out to be 10¢ less per bag when factoring in the shipping bringing the cost very close to that of the brand name zipper freezer bags. While I have no affiliation with this store other than being a very happy repeat customer so recommend them when I can.

Cheese Vacuum Sealed

We have been experimenting with cheeses. Now cheeses can be relatively expensive so vacuum sealing just makes sense. Freshness and flavour are preserved considerably longer than using other methods. This eliminates hard spots, molding and cross contamination of flavours.

This is one application where I will open and use some of the cheese then reseal the bag. While the bags are washable and re-useable unless used for meats and poultry, I seldom do this. Most of the bags I use are for freezing meats, poultry and cheeses.

Sealed Mason Jar

A vast majority of my dried foods, herbs and spices are sealed in mason jars. The glass eliminates rodent problems! This is a standard mouth mason jar that has been vacuum sealed to keep the bay leaves fresh. To seal, one end of the attachment hose is placed into the standard mason jar sealer and the other end is attached into the port on the vacuum sealer. If you look near the top you will see the end in the vacuum sealer port. The food is placed in the mason jar and the lid is centred. Then the standard mason jar sealer is placed over the lid with a slight push down and the vacuum sealer is turned on at the canister setting. The motor stops automatically when all air is removed from the canister creating a vacuum. Remove the attachment hose from the jar sealer. You will hear a slight air release but that is fine. Remove the jar sealer and the mason jar lid is now sealed tight. Place a ring on the lid and store.

Note: Vacuum sealing mason jars is not a substitute for heat canning methods. Vacuum sealing mason jars is meant for dried food or refrigerator storage.

Canisters

Canisters have a special top similar to the mason jar sealer. Simply place the food in the canister leaving at least 1-inch headspace. Place the lid on the canister. Attach one end of the attachment hose in the port of the lid and the other end in the attachment port on the appliance. Lock then press canister. The motor will stop when the canister is vacuum sealed. Remove the attachment hose from the lid and store the food. To unseal press the grey release button. They can be resealed if needed. The canisters are ideal for crushables like cereals, crackers, cookies and bread. The canister are for refrigerator or cabinet use only. The bottoms are top rack dishwasher safe but lids should be wiped only with a damp wash cloth.

The recommendation is to keep the FoodSaver® on your counter for easy use. However, this is not practical in smaller kitchens. This is an appliance that will see daily use, often many times throughout the day so having it in a place easily accessible is a benefit. Mine sits on top of a small chest freezer when not in use. Another good space for this appliance when not in use in smaller kitchens is on top of the refrigerator. At any rate, you will not regret keeping FoodSaver® within easy reach!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Glazed Carrots & Pantry Cooking

We leave on the 16th for our winter vacation and will return on the 25th. With the new grandbaby and everything else going on I decided to rely as much as possible on pantry and freezer cooking. I want the fridge as empty as possible when we leave so that means no new food coming in if at all possible. This is one reason that I keep a multitude of ready to use homemade meals in my freezers. In fact just this past weekend I was able to put a lasagne together without even going to the grocery store and it was all homemade other than the noodles. All was from the freezer and pantry so that was pretty nice. I think the only way I could have improved was to have it ready to go in the freezer which is what I usually do.

What I hadn't planned on doing was canning however the opportunity presented itself through a very generous gift of just over sixteen pounds of fresh carrots. I could not let this opportunity pass by so decided to can a few jars of herb glazed and plain carrots. A nice bowl of buttered carrots for the fridge sounded enticing too.

Buttered & Canned Carrots

The instructions for canning plain carrots are in the blog archives. Still, I can't help showing today's session off as they look so nice in the jars. I ended up with eight pints of plain carrots and a good amount of buttered carrots.

Buttered carrots are simply boiled or steamed carrot coins, drained then salt and butter added while still hot and allowed to cool. I make these any chance I get then keep them in the fridge for a quick side. They warm-up in the microwave easily. They also vacuum seal well in boilable bags for freezing. I have dressed them up by stirring in honey and rosemary.

Herb Glazed Carrots

Glazed carrots are always a nice treat to have on hand. I like adding herbs to mine instead of leaving them plain. For this batch I made three using dried rosemary and three with dried parsley. The amount of each herb used was 1/2 teaspoon. If you want a thicker sauce just heat and thicken with a cornstarch slurry. I find a bit of butter when reheating just gives the right flavour too.

Glazed Carrots
Source: Ball Blue Book, 2005. Pp. 75

6 1/2 pounds carrots
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice

Wash and peel carrots. Wash again. Cut carrots into 3 inch pieces. Slice thicker ends in half lengthwise. Combine brown sugar,
water and orange juice in a saucepot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Keep syrup hot. Pack carrots tightly into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup over carrots, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two- piece caps. Process pints and quarts 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.


Pantry Meal

As mentioned previously I'm cooking from pantry and freezers only without buying anything if possible. Last night's pantry cooking included from the freezer fancy potatoes, turkey slices sauteed mushrooms and from the canning rack a jar of home grown green beans. It wasn't a fancy meal but it was healthy, home cooked and quick to prepare. I really enjoy meals like these especially when things are busy so I keep a lot of pre-cooked ready-to-use homemade dishes on hand. I like to flash freeze then vacuum seal.

There is just enough turkey left-over to make a creamed turkey casserole for tomorrow night's dinner. It's a really easy comfort meal to make, one I got from my mother in law. I cook the rice in turkey stock then stir in homemade mushroom soup from the freezer but you can use canned mushroom soup if you wish. Then I stir in left-over turkey pieces, frozen peas and a little milk. The casserole is topped with a bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese then baked. This is a quick and very economical meal to make. Rich and creamy...true comfort food!


Friday, January 05, 2007

Lasagne

We are doing a road trip late this afternoon to visit the kids and new grandbaby so I decided to take a lasagne.

My lasagnes are based on two things, lots of cheese and my homemade meat sauce that was shown in an earlier blog entry. Because I'm playing with cheeses at the moment, this lasage has the following cheeses: emmentale, asaigo, parmesan reggiano, extra sharp cheddar, mild cheddar and fresh mozzarella.

This picture was taken just before the final layer. You will notice this lasagne is not made in a traditional lasagne pan but that is for a reason. I used a large disposable roasting pan and since I only had oval ones on hand that had to do. The reason I decided to do this is I wanted lots of left-overs for the kids. They need a break with a new baby and lasagne freezes and re-heats nicely so it is the perfect meal to take.

My method for lasagne is layer of sauce, layer of cheese, layer of noodles. Cheeses may vary and normally the first layer has a light topping of cottage cheese on it but I was out and wasn't going to drive to town for cottage cheese! I also often add a layer of spinach or swiss chard but not today. Once all the layers are in place as seen here, I add a final layer of grated cheeses. Since we are traveling two and a half hours I decided to cover with parchment paper then tin foil. It will go into a hot/cold insulated bag then cooked when we get there for a later dinner. My husband thought I should cook it here then put into the bag for transport but I really think that is just too iffy.

If I'm not too much into grandma mode, I'll post a picture of the lasagne cut when we get back. This is a very short trip but we wanted to see the kids before we fly out on the sixteenth and this was the best weekend. I'll likely be back up there this coming week as he goes back to work so an extra pair of helping hands might come in handy.

Garden Gnome
© 2007

PS. I promise the blog will get back to normal shortly just as soon as things settle down a bit.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

After Christmas Chit Chat

My kitchen has had a bit of a rest with the new grandbaby. She is doing well and we are enjoying out new roles as grandparents. We have determined that she is very photogenic! The digital cameras are getting a real work-out and pictures have been making the rounds via email.

January is obviously going to be a lower cooking month with the traveling and our fast approaching winter vacation. We were out shopping preparing for the vacation today so stocked up on more cheeses. I thought I would share some of the neat food related gifts I got for Christmas.

There is always an element of truth in humour and one can accuse our kids of not having a sense of humour when poking a little fun at their parents. I can immediately find the truth in the figurine for my husband. Years ago he was trimming a large pine tree in our front yard when the saw kicked back but hit his wedding band saving his finger. The hospital had to cut the ring off but other than a scare, he was fine. I'm not sure where the truth is in my figurine yet and the adorable now adult child isn't spilling the beans. These cute figurines are being put out by TLC.

I collect hot sauces so this gift makes a nice addition to my collection. The ingredients are water, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, habanero peppers, hone, lemon juice, sugar, Kosher salt, corstarch, granulated garlic and red pepper. That is a table weight poker chip hanging on the lid. It comes in a whiskey flask completing the theme. Their website, Texas Hold'em Hot Sauce is rather cute playing on the poker theme. They say this is a real Chili Head hot sauce according to their site. I can't wait to try this hot sauce! I'm the Chili Head while my husband is the serious poker player. He definitely is not a Chili Head!



I had ordered a copy of this cookbook online back the first week of October. By mid-December it still hadn't showed up so the company refunded my money despite their horrible customer service. Somehow my husband found this cookbook online and had it here in time for Christmas. Obviously the second company has considerably better customer service than the first. I am absolutely thrilled! This cookbook fits right in with my ancestry, genealogy and love for cooking. I can't wait to start trying out some of the recipes.

A Taste of Quebec was published in 1990. The author Julian Armstrong is food editor of The Montreal Gazette, the largest English-language newspaper in Québec. The recipes are divided into the Québec regions with a brief description of each region. Historical notes and stories are included along the margins. As cookbooks go there are few colour pictures of the recipes.

Cookbooks are a very popular Christmas gift in our family. One of my kids gave me this cookbook published in 2004. This is the second cookbook I have written by Emeril Lagasse, the first being Prime Time Live published in 2001.

This cookbook is geared to cooking for a crowd with recipes serving 8 to 10 people. I like that the focus is on comfort foods so am looking forward to trying some of these recipes.


Monday, January 01, 2007