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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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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Chicken Prep for Bulk Cooking Session



Following up to yesterday's post, I have everything made (except canning the stock) with pictures and recipes. The problem is there are a lot of pictures so I thought instead of making one huge entry, I would break it down into a few entries. I started with 2.92 kg of chicken breasts with skins and bones. For those not into metric 1 kg is about 2.5 pounds. This gave me eight lovely chicken breasts with skin and bones. The problem is for the majority of what I wanted to make, the skin and bones would have to be removed. Note, I said removed not tossed unless of course you toss them into the stock pot, which is what I did.

There is a trick for removing both skin and bones from chicken or any other meat. Start with a sharp knife. Removing skin is fairly easy. Just pull with your fingers on a loose spot, slip your knife in and cut the connecting tissue holding the skin. It will come off very easily. In the middle picture you will see me holding the knife at an angle. This is how I remove the bones from chicken breasts and fish. A fillet knife helps but once you get a hang of it a regular paring knife will work. Cut a slit between the flesh and bone. Now, hold the flesh in one hand with slight tension while making sharp cuts along the bone. You will be left with the fillet ready to prepare as desired. Once you have done this and seen how easy it is to do, you will no longer pay the higher prices for boneless/skinless chicken breasts.

Tomorrow's entry will be: Lemon Pepper Chicken and preparing chicken for the freezer. Watch for Chicken and Dumplings on Tuesday. The recipe and picture for chicken stock is in the archive.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bulk Cooking - $12 Worth of Chicken

This blog turned one year old today. I can't believe it has been that long! I'm very stressed today so am cooking up a storm. I can't promise you any recipes or pictures tonight but they will be on the blog tomorrow and the next day or two. I might have to break them down into a couple of entries. The theme will be chicken.

Chicken breasts with skin and bone in on are sale so I couldn't resist. It will be a few days of processing chicken but not back to back. Today's and overlapping tomorrow for the canning session was $12 for the chicken breasts. That was for eight good sized chicken breasts so I decided to break them up into three dishes (5 meals), wraps (3 meals), one snack (Rachel Ray's Chicken Poppers) and homecanned chicken stock. I'd say that isn't bad for the price. I'll more than likely do another two or three sessions.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli has to be one of my favourite vegetables. It has a lot of health benefits including cancer fighting properties, lowering the risk of stroke or heart attack and protecting against anemia. Honestly this is one vegetable I could eat every day of the week! Raw or cooked, broccoli just has it happening. I love it simply steamed with a little butter as a side dish or snack but also use it as an ingredient in a lot of dishes. What I don't like is overcooked broccoli aka mush.

Cream of Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Cream of broccoli and cheese soup is a very easy to make soup and versatile at the same time. Leave out the cheese for a simple but flavourful cream of broccoli soup. Both are filling, unpretentious comfort foods. Serve as the main course or as a side.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
recipe by: Garden Gnome

2 sm heads broccoli, washed and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 sm onion, chopped fine
3 tbsp butter
2 c beef stock
4 c vegetable stock
2 c milk
3 c half & half cream
sea salt & pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese* (optional)
flour slurry ( 2 tbsp flour mixed with water to pouring consistency)

Prepare the vegetables. Sauté the onions and garlic in butter in a large saucepan until onions are translucent. Stir in broccoli and stocks. Bring to a boil and let cook until broccoli is tender. Stir in salt, pepper, milk, cream and *(cheese if desired). Heat. Blend about a quarter of the soup with a stick blender and stir into the remaining soup. Thicken with flour slurry if desired.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Slowcooker (Crockpot) Pork Shoulder Roast

I've mentioned in other entries that I am not a huge fan of crockpots even though I have two. They are mainly used during bulk cooking sessions. With the house being on the market I decided to do a few more meals in the crockpots for a couple of reasons. These include having a ready to eat meal without a lot of mess since for some obscene reason people insist on viewing the house during the dinner hour. The side effects are the house smells wonderful and if needbe a short delay doesn't mean a burnt dinner. But I think what it is also providing is nice homecooked meals consistent with our lifestyle or in short giving us comfort food to help ease the stress.

Crockpot Pork Shoulder Roast

Normally I like cooking pork shoulder roast in the oven but I knew the day was going to be hectic so hauled out the crockpot. I knew I would be away for the morning but the house was pretty much ready for showing. This was so easy!

Method: I placed a frozen pork shoulder roast in the crockpot, added about 1/2 c of water then tossed in a medium onion chopped and set the crockpot to low. That was about 8 am in the morning. I had no idea what sides I was going to serve but already had an idea for the sauce. When I got home about 2:30 pm I poured in 3/4 of a bottle of Dianna Sauce® Original Flavour over the roast then let it continue cooking. About 1/2 hour before serving, I thickened the juices with a little flour slurrey (flour mixed with water to a runny consistency).

Serving Suggestion: This meat literally melts in your mouth, it is so tender! I served it with balsmatic rice, homecanned green beans and a tossed salad. Left overs are ideal for sandwiches the following day.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sirloin Strip Steaks


Don't you wish you had smell-a-vision?

Fresh Cut Sirloin Steaks

My husband likes to cut our steaks just before cooking. He insists on the steaks being left at room temperature as well before grilling. Steaks should be thick for good grilling so his rule of thumb is about an inch thick. This piece of sirloin was cut into six generous steaks.

He doesn't like to add seasonings, marinates or sauces when he grills the steak. His reasoning for this is he wants the full flavour of the steak. I will admit to liking a little Montréal Steak spice on my steak but have mended my ways much to his relief!



Medium Rare

The secret to a good grilled steak is a hot grill and patience. Resist that temptation to flip the steak! Do not flip it. Place it on the hot grill then wait. Do not puncture it in any way. Allow the steak to grill on one side until the grill marks are well defined. Flip the steak and repeat until the steak gives a bit under touch. Remove from grill and let rest.

Steak grilled this way really doesn't need any seasoning. You will get nice juicy, melt in your mouth steak with the full flavour of steak. There is no need to mask it with steak sauce or seasonings. That's not to say you can't use them if you choose but sometimes undressed is best! Serve with baked potatoes and a salad for a lovely well rounded meal.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Gingerbread

Desserts can be a challenge sometimes because we often look to create something quite complicated. However, simplicity is often the key and so it is with many quick cakes. I call them quick cakes because all you do is mix and pour. Ingredients are normally what you have on hand so whipping up one of these cakes is easy. Toppings tend to be as simple as the cake itself. But don't let that fool you. Simplicity does not mean lack of flavour or eye appeal. Gingerbread is one of my favourite quick cakes.

Gingerbread

There is just something comforting and down right homey feeling about smelling gingerbread baking. This recipe is so easy. All you have to do is measure the ingredients, mix together then bake. It could not get much easier than that! I like using a decorative can pan for this cake because just before serving I use a very simple icing sugar glaze over the cake.

Gingerbread
source: Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Pp. 180 with modifications by Garden Gnome

2 1/4 c unbleached flour
1/3 c organic sugar
1 c dark molasses
3/4 c hot water
1/2 c shortening
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour a square 9x9x2 inch square pan or similar volume decorative baking pan. If using a silicone pan greasing can be omitted. Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Blend on low speed about a half minute until ingredients are mixed. Increase speed to medium then blend for 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into the pan. Bake 50 minutes or until the centre tests clean with a toothpick. Serve warm with whipped cream or applesauce.
Serves 8

My Notes: I serve this cake with a simple icing sugar glaze. Mix icing sugar into 3 tbsp milk until the consistency is similar to sour cream. Drizzle over the cake for a nice presentation.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fellow Bloggers on BlogExplosion

I have had a space for rent on my blog through BlogExplosion. Everytime I try to accept an offer, I get an error message "An error occured while trying to accept the offer. Please try again." I want everyone to know I'm not snubbing them and I have notified BlogExplosion of the problem


Creamy Carrot Soup

Homemade soups are nutritious, easy to make and very versatile. This is one area of cooking where your creativity can shine. Aside of not being laden with salt, sugar or preservatives homemade soups are far superior in flavour, in my opinion. An added bonus is homemade soup is generally considerably cheaper than store bought. I made creamy carrot soup so lets consider the cost.

If cream of carrot soup were available in the stores it would like cost 79¢ to $1.29 per 10 ounce can and since it would be more of a specialty soup somewhat like bean and bacon, it likely wouldn't go on sale. Cost per ounce would range from 7¢ to 9¢. My homemade version using fresh ingredients, purchased carrots and the more expensive cream came out to 4¢ per ounce. It would be less expensive if using carrots from your garden and omitting the cream.

Creamy Carrot Soup

Like all soups I make, I seldom use a recipe from another source. I prefer to create my own soups and record what and how I used ingredients in my cooking journal. That way if the dish was a hit, I can repeat or tweak as needed. The following recipe is a reflection of that. As always, use it as a starting point then add your own touches for something uniquely yours.

All cream soups start out with a vegetable(s), stock, seasonings but might not necessarily contain cream. Seasonings can include herbs, spices, aromatic vegetables. Creamy carrot soup is rich and creamy with a natural light sweetness. Garnished with sour cream and parsley, it makes for a nice presentation.

Creamy Carrot Soup
recipe by: Garden Gnome

3 lb carrots
4 c turkey stock
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp butter
2 c milk
2 c heavy cream
kosher or sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
sour cream
parsley, chopped
flour slurry (optional)

Prepare vegetables. Sauté onions until translucent and lightly caramelized in 2 tbsp of the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in carrots, celery, turkey stock and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs. Purée the mixture using a stick blender. Return to medium heat. Stir in milk, cream and remaining butter. When heated through stir in flour slurry if a thicker consistency is desired. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped parsley.

My Notes: The fat content in this soup can be reduced by using low fat or skim milk and eliminating the cream. If you do that, you will likely want to use the flour slurry to thicken the soup.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Ultimate Hot Dog

My husband called yesterday inquiring as to what was for dinner. It was mid-morning so I hadn't decided on anything yet. He said he would make dinner but wouldn't tell me what. He brought home Schneiders Juicy Jumbos® 100% beef weiners and fancy sausage buns. He must have had a craving as we seldom have hot dogs even during the main outdoor grilling season.

The Ultimate Hot Dog

The method of cooking this hot dog is as important as the toppings. This hot dog was made using colby cheese but you could substitute another cheese of your choice other than processed cheese slices. The hot dog was then topped with homemade relish and homemade ketchup. Again, if you don't make these products, you can substitute with your normal product.

Ultimate Hot Dogs

6 Schneiders Juicy Jumbos® 100% beef weiners
6 sausage buns
1 onion, chopped
colby cheese, cut into thin 1 inch wide slices

Sauté onions until translucent and lightly carmelized. Heat indoor (or outdoor) grill and fry pan. If you don't have an grill, toast the buns in the same pan you fry the buns in. Slice the weiners lenghtwise but not fully through just so them open hinge like. Place in heated fry pan and fry without oil until warmed through and lightly browned. Turn over, place the cheese on the cut side of the weiners then put a lid on just until cheese is melted. At the same time, open the buns and place face down on indoor grill. Leave buns until toasted and grill marks show. Place the weiner with cheese on the bun. Cover with the onions. Top with condiments if desired.
Serves 4-6


Monday, April 16, 2007

Maple Glazed Salmon

You will notice a few changes to my blog today. Some of you may have seen several different and sometimes weird changes as I worked with the template. More changes are planned as soon as I get a couple of changes to actually work as they should. Thanks for your patience during the construction.

Salmon is one of the most nutritious fish you can eat. It is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids and low in calories and saturated fats. Salmon is also a good source of niacin and vitamin B-12. We have salmon quite often not only for it's health benefits but because we find it very flavourful and easy to prepare.

In keeping with our weekend fish theme, Sunday's dinner was maple glazed salmon served with basmati rice and homecanned green beans. Wild rice or a wild rice mixture is also a perfect side dish for salmon prepared this way. Other side dishes like steamed potatoes go well with maple glased salmon.

Maple Glazed Salmon

The flavour of pure maple syrup melds nicely with wild salmon. Maple glazed salmon is quick and easy to make. Salmon fillets are a good choice for this dish.

Maple Glazed Salmon

2 5oz wild salmon fillets
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh or dried parsley chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Wisk maple syrup and mustard together. Pour half into a baking dish. Place salmon skin side down into the mixture. Pour the other half of the syrup mixture over the salmon. Bake until fish is firm when pushed in centre. Do not over bake. Remove from baking dish and garnish with parsley.
Serves 2


More Construction



I'll be making several changes today as you have already noticed. Sorry for the inconvenience. Sometime throughout the day I will post the Maple Glazed Salmon I made for dinner last night.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fish & Chips (Perch)

We decided on a fish themed weekend. Eating fish I had caught the previous year then froze is always a treat. It is always a very frugal, simple and and laid back meal.

Fish & Chips

We eat a lot of fish but seldom fish & chips. I have to admit that I am not a real French fry fan. Give me a baked potato any day and I'm happy or of heavily coated fish. Saturday's dinner was lightly coated pan fried perch.

I used a deep fryer for the fries on the fries setting. These were store bought crinkle cut fries served with a simple fry dip or malt vinegar.

Fry Dip1 c Miracle Whip®
1 - 2 tsp prepared mustard

Blend just enough mustard into the Miracle Whip® to make the mixture buttery yellow. Spoon into individual dipping bowls or into a squirt bottle for serving.

Perch
Method: Perch fillets are small but is very easy to prepare. If fresh caught clean the fish and proceed with the coating. If fresh caught then frozen, thaw and proceed with the coating. There are commercial fish coatings available or you can make your own usning a little flour and Old Bay Seasoning or seasonings of your choice. The coating should only be mildly seasoned so as to not overpower the perch. If you want a little more crunch, stir in a little cornmeal. For this meal, I did not use the cornmeal.

The tricks to frying perch are: oil, pan and timing. For best results use a good quality vegetable oil. I like peanut or grapeseed oil for this purpose but other multipurpose vegetable oils will work too. To coat the fish, place the fish in the coating mix, jiggle to coat then turn and repeat. For best results use a cast iron pan. Heat the oil until it splatters when a small drop of water is dropped into it. Place the coated fish into the pan. When that side is golden brown, carefully turn over using tongs. Since this is a small fillet, keep a close eye on it. You want it lightly golden brown and not over cooked.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Sirloin Tip Meatloaf

Back by popular demand is my old template. I would like to spiff up the background and header so over the next few days you will see a few changes. So if you notice any weird things going on, it's just me playing with the template. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Ok, who the heck would make meatloaf using sirloin tip? Well, sometimes when you don't have much choice that's what you do. My husband picked up fresh, twice ground sirloin tip for kibby late the Thursday afternoon before Good Friday. He bought extra because the weekend was already slated for a lot of visitors and since one batch was going to a family gathering, he thought I would make one for those coming to the house. Along with all the Easter gatherings, our first grandbaby was baptized Easter Sunday. I would have ground the meat myself but with everything else going on (house sale), I was runny on empty.

We eat kibby raw so whatever is not consumed that day is baked then sliced for sandwiches. However, I found myself with about 2 lb of twice ground raw sirloin that need to be used and not a whole lot of energy to be creative. The problem is once frozen it can't be used for kibby and there was no way I was going to let this meat go to waste.

Sirloin Tip Meatloaf

We get the sirloin tip will as much fat as possible cut off because we eat it raw. Normally I mix in shredded vegetables for my regular meatloaf but I wanted this meatloaf to give firm slices when cooled. We seldom buy lunchmeat because I routinely slice meat and freeze it for making sandwiches later.

The following list of ingredients is just a guideline but close in amounts I used.

Sirloin Tip Meatloaf

2 lb twice ground sirloin tip
2 eggs
2 1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp tomato powder
1 tbsp carrot powder
1 tbsp zucchini powder
1 tbsp mushroom powder
1/2 c Heinz 57
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustand
2 good splashes of Lea & Perrins Worchestershire sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Mix the ingredients together then place in a loaf pan. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until centre is cooked through.


Sliced

This meatloaf gives firm slices when cooled. Of course we had some of it for dinner that night served with a tossed salad, baked potato and sauteed mushrooms. After dinner, I allowed the meatloaf to cool enough to put in the refrigerator. This is a bit of an aside. Up until recently I always had a fridge with metal racks. The new fridge has glass shelving so I'm a bit concerned over thermal shock at putting something too warm on them. So I set the pan on a folded tea towel just in case.

Once the remaining meatloaf was fully cooled, I sliced it thinly. It isn't as thin as what you would get at a deli but then the thickness is just right for a hearty sandwich. It has a wonderful flavour that will go just perfect with beefsteak tomatoes! I'm getting hungry just thinking of a slice of this meatloaf, a slice of beefsteak tomatoes, fresh garden greens, a couple rings of onions, a bit of mayo and mustard all sandwiched between fresh 12 grain bread.

Vacuum Sealed

Garden goodies are awhile away so beefsteak tomatoes are just a dream. From the looks of it, I will more than likely be planting in containers and move them but there is a chance of early possession which means the garden will continue as normal. I mentioned that I routinely make sandwich slices from whatever meat I cook.

I don't have a meat slicer but that may change in the new house if all goes well. What I do is cool the meat thoroughly. I find it best to let the meat cool overnight in the fridge. Then I cut into slices about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick depending on the meat. I like to vacuum seal the slices for freezing. With drier meats like most meatloaves, turkey, and chicken there is no need to flash freeze before vacuum sealing. For moister meats like ham, I place then in the vacuum sealer bag then into the freezer. Once semi-frozen, I vacuum seal them.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Homemade Beef Stew

With the house being listed and already shown, I've decided this is a good time to haul out my slowcookers. Life is already busy and it just got busier. Besides a meal cooking in the slowcooker fills the house with yummy smells. This just dawned on me when unexpectedly yesterday a couple wanted to see the house right this minute and since they were from out of town I figured the real estate agent should go ahead and show it. I had put stew in the crockpot for dinner so it was cooking as the house was being shown. The house smelled good and the three of them were pretty close to staying for dinner.

Beef Stew

Like soups, my stews tend to vary with what I have on hand. I don't measure but rather do a toss in thing. I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of crockpots even though I have two. They are used for stews, pulled meat, hot apple cider and sometimes chili. They are used more during bulk cooking sessions.

My beef stew always starts out with about two and a half pounds of stew beef, olive oil, potatoes, carrots, onion, corn, fresh mushrooms, bay leaf, Montreal Steak spice and Worchestershire sauce. From there any vegetable is fair game and I have even added kidney beans to stew. I added rutabegga to this stew. So while there is no actual recipe, here is the method.

Method - Brown the stew beef in olive oil in a large frypan. Sprinkle a little Montreal steak spice over the browned beef. Pour the beef mixture into the crockpot. Splash 2-3 good dashes of Worchestershire sauce on top of the beef. Stir in prepared vegetables (bite size) and bay leaf. Pour in water or beef stock just until you can see it. Set the crockpot to low and leave it alone for about 8 hours. If adding greens like broccoli add just before thickening. For thickening use a flour slurry seasoned with salt and pepper 15 minutes before the stew should is ready to serve.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hearty Ham & Bean Soup

As mentioned in my previous entry, my family knows ham and bean soup is on the menu the day after having baked ham. I slice most of the ham from the bone. The portion going into the soup is sliced about a half inch thick then cubed. The rest is thin sliced for sandwiches. Some of the slices are used over the following few days while the rest are froze for later use.

Hearty Ham & Bean Soup

Homemade soups are easy to make and fill the tummy very inexpensively. They are an ideal way to use up left-overs. Like most of my homemade soups, I don't really follow a recipe so the measurements in the following recipe are more of a guideline.

This hearty ham and been soup is thick and filling, just perfect for a cold winter's meal.

Hearty Ham & Bean Soup

900 g package navy beans
water to cover

1 large ham bone
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 c ham, diced
salt to taste

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Put beans in a large stockpot. Add ham bone and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Stir in vegetables and ham. Continue simmering until beans are tender. Salt to taste if desired. Remove ham bone. Remove about 4 c of the soup mixture. Blend with a stick blender and stir back into the soup mixture.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Simple Glazed Ham

Ham just seems to be the meat of choice for Easter. I consider ham a frugal meat choice especially if it is a bone in. The meat is low fat and the bone makes an excellent bean soup. My family knows after ham comes bean soup and ham sandwiches. Ham can be froze in either cubes or slices. It can also be home canned.

Simple Glazed Ham

There is a wide variety of glazes for hams and while I've made many of the more complicated ones, I decided to use a simple glaze for this ham. This is a bone in ham about 10 lbs. I roasted it at 350ºF for about 45 minutes. The glaze was simply 1/2 c honey and 1 tsp dijon mustard wisked together then brushed over the ham and allowed to roast about 15 minutes then a quick baste over. The result was a nice, tender ham with just a hint of honey. Sometimes less is more as in this case.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chicken & Pasta Dinner

Sometimes the toss-it-together and see what happens meals just work. I think everyone has some type of version of these meals. Our new granddaughter now just 3 months old has been visiting, helping (ok her mom aka my daughter) me get the house in order for the perspective buyers. We spent a good portion of Wednesday decluttering and organizing. So when dinner came close I casually mentioned that I'm trying to make that meals use up ingredients from the freezer and canning rack. Honestly, the less stuff we have to move the better. Then the fun started!

Chicken & Pasta

Looking around we came up with a package of Italian pasta, homecanned mushrooms, homecanned roasted tomato sauce, frozen peas and frozen chicken legs. Lemon pepper and fresh grated parmesan cheese looked like it would work too. And thus the meal was in the works.

I fried the chicken in a little olive oil and seasoned it with lemon pepper then drained. At the same time the pasta was cooking until el dente. Once the chicken was cooked, I drained it then returned to the pan, poured in the frozen peas and mushrooms. Then I drained the pasta and put into a large bowl. The pasta was mixed with a pint of roasted tomato sauce then added to the chicken and vegetable mix. Topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, the meal was quite delicious, just what we needed - good old fashion home cooking, nothing fancy but soothing after a day well spent!

Oh and I should mention, once again meals are about family. Between the three of us we managed to put a good meal on the table using what was on hand but the family bonding time was the best. At 3 months my grand daughter is being well acquainted with the kitchen!


Please Excuse the Construction


Hi everyone! Please excuse the changes as I do a little updating on my blog. It's official! The offer for the new house has been accepted and ours is up for sale privately pending two offers until 9 am Monday when it is officially listed through the real estate. As long as the chain reaction isn't broken we are moving the end of May. As you know, my current kitchen is pink and that was reflected in my old blog template. Since I have no idea what the new kitchen, providing all goes well, will be I have changed templates for the transition.

I'll be updating with our Easter feast. Tomorrow we visit one side who despite the snow and cold weather today are still planning on grilling. Our family get together is Saturday. Sunday our new grandbaby will be baptized so that should be a busy day.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fresh Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb pie is one of my husband's favourite pies. He insists on eating it warm from the oven! Rhubarb pie is best made using freshly picked rhubarb.

Rhubarb Pie

The crust for this rhubarb pie is the standard pastry (my favourite pastry) from an earlier entry. It is a tender, flaky pastry suitable for every pie. I prefer deep dish pies so this pie was 2 1/4" deep and 10" diameter.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie

pastry for 10 inch two crust pie
1 3/4 c organic sugar
1/2 c unbleached flour
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
5 c fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp butter

Pre-heat oven to 425ºF. Prepare pastry. Mix sugar, flour, orange peel and rhubarb together making sure the rhubarb is well coated. Pour into prepared pastry-lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust and seal edge. Poke holes in the top crust with a fork. Cover the edge with a strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessiving browing. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the crust.

Enjoy!

Garden Gnome
©2007


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is just breaking the ground in my garden so I thought it would be a good time to make a few entries on this fruit. This is one of the easiest and almost trouble free fruits to grow. I think it lives on abuse! The more you pick, the bigger the patch will get. Our family enjoys rhubarb several ways. I have to be sure to pick quickly when the kids are around as they will break of a stem and eat it as is.

On that note, rhubarb leaves contain about 0.5% oxalic acid and should not be consumed raw or cooked. The only part of the plant that should be consumed is the stem. Young children should be closely supervised in the garden to prevent accidental poisoning. Rhubarb leaves are toxic to domestic and farm animals so do not feed them to goats or pigs.

Fresh Rhubarb

Rhubarb is best picked after the dew is off the leaves. As always when harvesting any fruit or vegetable from your garden, do a clean pick. Remove any damaged fruit or vegetable at the same time. Both these methods will help to prevent unwanted pests and disease.

I don't like letting rhubarb stems get too thick. A stem diameter just a little bigger than my thumb is perfect but I will often cut smaller ones if I need to make up enough for whatever I'm making. I remove the leaves as I cut each stem. Once washed, the lower cut end of the stem can be placed in cold water to keep fresh until you are ready to use them. However, rhubarb is best canned shortly after picking.

Canned Rhubarb

Rhubarb can be canned or frozen and I do both. Canned rhubarb is a nice convenience food because it is right ready to use as is or made into sauce. It is an ideal ice cream topper. Rhubarb can be canned as a sauce or in chunks.

These are my last two jars of canned rhubarb from 2006. They won't last long so I am happy to see the rhubarb breaking ground.

Canning Rhubarb

2 pounds rhubarb per quart
1/2 - 1 c organic granulated sugar per quart

Wash the stalks and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Stir in the sugar to coat the pieces and let stand 4 hours in the refrigerator. Place the mixture into a large saucepot. Slowly bring to a boil. Boil 30 seconds. Pack the hot rhubarb and syrups into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles, adjust the caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner for either quarts or pints.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Guest Blogger


Please welcome my guest blogger for the week Frederick Otilius who was born in Alaska and moved to New York City in 1994. I've chatted with him on BlogExplosion a few times. His blog, New York Nitty-Gritty is home to unique views of New York City. If you have a chance to stop by and say hi, I'm sure he would appreciate it.