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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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Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Catching Up from Chrismas

One of the best parts about Christmas aside of family is the wonderful abundance of food. It is everywhere! There's all kinds of foods that only seem to come out at holidays. I've done minimal cooking yet am surrounded by an excess of food so needed to preserve. At the same time I wanted a couple of lighter dishes because a lot of the holiday meals this time of year are rich and heavy.

Kibby

One of our Christmas traditions is kibby. Traditionally this is made with lamb but our family makes it with thrice ground extra lean ground steak. The meat is always fresh ground the day of making it. This is very important because the majority of it is eaten raw usually served in pita bread with a little olive oil and cumin. Making kibby is more of a knack so I don't have an actual recipe. It is passed down from mother to daughter or daughter-in-law in our family. I used 5 lb of meat to make the kibby this year. The following evening I baked it as kibby will not keep longer than a day. Because it is so lean I pour a bit of olive oil over the meat before baking. After baking I let the meat cool then slice thin and freeze.

Vacuum Sealed

Our traditional meat for Christmas dinner is turkey with all the fixings. This year's turkey was 22 pounds served with stuffing, gravy, fancy mashed potatoes, home canned green beans and home frozen corn nibblets. I didn't make an official dessert because there were so many cookies and sweets already out on trays. Despite nine for that meal there were a lot of left-overs. I left enough out for snacking and dinner the following day then packaged up the rest for the freezer. I ended up with a good sized turkey breast (1), turkey in gravy (2) and turkey slices (3) so that isn't too bad. I also vacuum sealed the kibby slices (4). Vacuum sealing is really the way to go but if you've been reading this blog you already know that.

Turkey Stock

Turkey stock is a given anytime I roast a turkey. Again I don't have an actual recipe.

[Method] What I do is put the carcass in a large stock pot then cover with water. I add a couple of carrots and celery stocks cut into large chunks along with a large unpeeled onion cut in half. Then I bring it to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 3 hours. The resulting is then either canned or froze.

This turkey stock batch resulted in 9 L of stock. Doing the math that works out to 15 cents per litre so to all those who ask if cooking from scratch or canning is worth it, my cost says definitely. Homemade also can be salt and preservative free so you end up with a better quality product. Now, many foods look wonderful in the jar but most stocks aren't. There will be a bit of a fat layer and more of one if you don't defat. However by carefully pouring the stock you can eliminate any of this fat.

Garlic Pasta with Shrimp

I've been doing rather simple meals to break up the monotony of turkey. I've posted how I make garlic pasta with shrimp before. This time I took advantage of extra shrimp on hand for the holidays. So the shrimp was larger but the effect was the same. Garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley flakes and served with a tossed salad it was a delightful change from some of the heavier holiday meals.

What I did differently this time was to purposely cook and season enough angle hair pasta for left-overs for the following night's meal. Purposely creating left-overs sounds different but I do this quite a bit because the planned left-overs give me a basis another meal. To me this simply makes good sense.

Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti pie is oh so simple to make! All you need is left-over spaghetti or in my case angel hair pasta and something to fill it with. Basically you end up making the pasta into a crust. Cut into wedges for a lovely presentation. I used garlic buttered pasta for this pie but you could plain pasta. A bit of butter will help.

The end result is a wonderful dish that is served in wedges. I used home canned barbeque pork topping home canned green beans. Then I topped with home canned mushrooms and three cheeses. This really is a simple meal that just doesn't taste simple.

Method: Beat two eggs and blend into the pasta. Form the pasta into a nest coming up the sides of a round baking dish. Fill as desired (see above). Bake then cut into wedges and enjoy.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies & Glazed Chicken

I decided to finish up my Christmas cookie baking today as I will have little time tomorrow. The two most requested cookies for Christmas are shortbread and peanut butter which suits me just fine. So I start off with a few fancier cookies for entertaining and finish off with the shortbread and peanut butter signaling the end to my holiday cookie baking.

I made a batch each of Classic and Gingerbread Spritz cookies this morning. This afternoon I made large batches (10 dozen each) of shortbread and peanut butter cookies. What really helps when making larger batches is my KitchenAid® stand mixer. Don't get me wrong as it makes short work of smaller batches but I really appreciate how well the KitchenAid® stand mixer works for larger batches.

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies

A cookie press is ideal for making several dozen cookies in a short amount of time. If you haven't tried a cookie press you will be pleasantly surprised. They are easy to use and practically fool proof. The smaller yet nicely shaped cookies are a delight.

Now if I made gingerbread cookies my family would make the expected ohs and ahs then ask for peanut butter cookies. However, gingerbread is a Christmas tradition so I make gingerbread and gingerbread spritz cookies. Our family enjoys both and I'm sure you will too.

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies
source: Manual for Wilton Cookie Master™ Plus, downloaded from http://www.wilton.com

1 c butter, softened
⅔ c dark brown sugar
1 egg
3 c unbleached flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 375°F (350°F convection). Cream butter, egg and sugar using KitchenAid® stand mixer on setting 6. Stir together flour, salt and spices in separate bowl. Gradually
add to creamed mixture, mixing on setting 4 to make smooth dough. Do not chill. Shape dough into small logs and place in Cookie Max™. Using desired disk, press shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges; remove cookies from
sheet. Cool on rack.
Makes 6-7 dozen cookies

My Notes: The gingerbread spritz dough is a bit stiffer than the classic dough so expect a bit more resistance when pressing the cookies. The resulting cookies are not quite as spicy as other gingerbread cookies.

Glazed Chicken

During the busy holiday season I like to keep the meals rather simple. This past week boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale so we took advantage of that. Last night's dinner was a very simple and frugal meal made under 30 minutes. I served the chicken with home canned green beans and baked potatoes topped with a little butter and chopped parsley.

Method: Place 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium hot pan. Sear on both sides. Season with lemon pepper or seasoning of your choice. Continue cooking 5 minutes on medium. Pour in 1½ c chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking at a simmer 10 minutes. Add a good dash of Worcestershire sauce and about 1/2 tsp browning. Mix a cornstarch slurry. Slowly pour into the liquid in the pan and cook just until thickened. Stir the chicken to coat with the glaze. There will not be a lot of glaze, just enough to give a nice coating with a little extra.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Divinity aka Pink Clouds

Of all the holidays, cookies and candies seem to be in high demand. They are great for gift giving and holiday entertaining. It not like I don't make cookies though out the year but for Christmas, I tend to go all out with familiar family favourites as well as new recipes. However, the Christmas season is the main candy making time for me.

Pink Clouds

Divinity is a lovely, melt in your mouth treat. I've made it many times. This was the first time I used the KitchenAid® stand mixer to make divinity. I turned my attention away from the mixer for one second so ended up with a slightly thicker mixture but the candy still tastes great so I've named them pink clouds. One of our kids who is my official taste tester this season has given them the seal of approval.

Divinity (Pink Clouds)
source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1972. Pp. 79.
modified: by author

2½ c granulated sugar
½ c light corn syrup
½ c water
¼ tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp pure white vanilla
1/2 c chopped nut (optional)
food colouring (optional)

Cook the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to hard-ball stage (260ºF) stirring only until the sugar dissolves. When the temperature reaches 250ºF, beat 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form on setting 8 of KitchenAid® stand mixer. When the syrup reaches 260ºF, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream. Continue whisking on setting 8 for 1 minute. Add vanilla and food colour. Reduce to setting 4 for 20 minutes (KitchenAid® manual) [my note: This is too long! It really only took about 5 minutes as per original recipe]. Stir in nuts if desired. Drop candy mixture onto wax paper. Swirl top.
Makes 40

My notes: Even though this candy works well if over beat, ideally you want to beat just to the point where the candy loses it's sheen not dry as the KitchenAid® manual indicates. Then work quickly to form the candy.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Orange & Cranberry Jellies, Shortbread Cookies, Parmesan Chicken

The kitchen continues to be a busy place, filling the house with mouthwatering, tantalizing smells. I've been busy making holiday treats for the upcoming entertaining as well as gift giving. You would think with all the canning I do that I could take a couple of weeks off during the holidays. I could and I have but sometimes the spirit just moves me. So it is this year.

Orange and Cranberry Jellies

Homemade jams and jellies are ideal gifts from the heart, sure to please. Yesterday I made orange and cranberry jellies. Both of these jellies are used as condiments. The orange jelly goes nicely with whitefish, cod and haddock while cranberry jelly pairs with poultry. Both jellies can also be used as glazes by themselves or in combination with other ingredients.

Jelly making is quite easy and can be done year round using either homemade or purchased juices. What causes the jelly to gel is pectin. Many are familiar with pectins such as Certo® which relies on sugar to gel. This tends to make jellies almost too sweet to be used as condiments. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin that relies on calcium instead of sugar to gel. This means considerably less sugar or alternate sweetener is needed. In fact jams and jellies can be made with no sugar using this pectin! Pomona's Pectin can be ordered online from their website as well as purchased in some health food stores. Don't let the price scare you as per batch this pectin works out to be a lot cheaper than other pectins and it keeps indefinitely. This combined with the reduced amount of sugar used make the end product less expensive than jellies made with other pectins. The nice thing about using this pectin is you can easily create your own recipes. The basic directions and recipes can be found on Pomona's website. My recipes and method follow.

Cranberry Jelly

4 c prepared cranberry juice
4 tbsp lemon juice*
1 c sugar
4 tsp Pomona's pectin
4 tsp calcium water

Orange Jelly

3 1/2 c prepared orange juice with pulp
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 tsp Pomona's pectin
3/4 c sugar (can substitute ½ c honey)
3 1/2 tsp calcium water

Method:
Measure prepared juice into a large saucepan. Add lemon juice (optional for both) and calcium water. Stir well. Measure sugar or cold honey into a bowl then thoroughly mix the proper amount of pectin powder into the sugar or honey. Bring the juice to a boil. Add the pectin-honey or pectin-sugar and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes or until the pectin is dissolved. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust 2 piece lids. Process in boiling water bath 5 minutes. Let jars cool. Check for seal. Label and store.

Note: The pectin does not fully gel until the jelly in completely cooled.

*Lemon juice is required for low acid juices and fruits. I used it to increase the tartness a little.

Wilton Push 'n Print

The vast majority of the cookies I make are not decorated. They are simply cookies usually peanut butter or shortbread. Fancier cookies are sugar or spritz. I tend to avoid rolled cookies not because I can't make them just because they always seem like more work even though they aren't and because I don't care for the icing and decorating. Well, grandmas are supposed to make neat cookies with decorations and icing so I'm biting the bullet.

I found this rather interesting gadget from Wilton. Their products are quite lovely to work with so I bought it figuring I could have decorated cookies without all the extra sweet of icing. I also thought they would make very interesting cookies for ice cream sandwiches. Basically the ring cuts the round cookie shape then you press down on the plunger which presses a design into the cookie. It's dishwasher safe, easy to use and inexpensive.

Shortbread Cookies

I have a favourite shortbread cookie recipe that I've used for years. It takes three ingredients only (click shortbread link above). The Push 'n Print came with a shortbread recipe so I decided to try it instead.

This recipe looked a lot different and I have to admit being doubtful over using egg yolks. The dough was almost finicky to work with but that is to be expected with any high butter dough. The Push 'n Print was very easy to use and as you can see resulted in nicely decorated cookies. One of my kids thinks I should still add icing but I'll do a batch of sugar cookies with icing instead. The cookies pair nicely with Tim Hortons® English Toffee Coffee!

Shortbread Cookies
source: Wilton Push 'n Print insert, modified method by author

1 ½ c softened butter
1 c granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp pure white vanilla extract
4 c unbleached flour

Cream butter, sugar and salt in KitchenAid® stand mixer setting 3. Mix in eggs and vanilla on setting 3. Mix in flour. [Wilton says to divide dough in half then refrigerate at least 2 hours. I omitted this step which is likely why the dough was a little harder to handle.] Preheat oven to 350ºF convection (177ºC convection). Roll dough ¼ inch thick. Cut dough then with cutting still in place press the plunger to imprint. Carefully transfer cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet leaving 1 inch in between. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool completely.
Yield: about 2 doz [My yield was 3 dozen.]

Parmesan Chicken

The kitchen is a whirlwind of activity this time of year and more so as holiday activities draw closer. We have parties and entertaining every day Dec. 22 to 26 with us hosting three. That means cookies, candies, appetizers and meals so the kitchen is quite busy. This is where simple easy to prepare meals come in handy but that doesn't mean they have to be boring.

Sunday's dinner was baked Parmesan chicken in roasted tomato sauce (home canned) served with hot buttered egg noodles and salad. [I apologize for the glare on the picture. These are my new plates and are proving a tad difficult to get good pictures without a glare. I'm working on it!] Prep time for this meal was minimal.

Method: Sear 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a hot fry pan. Place into a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ chopped small onion. Pour a 500 ml (2 c) jar of roasted tomato sauce or store bought sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle about grated 1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Cook egg noodles. Drain. Stir with butter. Sprinkle fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano on noodles. Garnish with parsley.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buttery Peanut Brittle and Eye of Round Roast

The Christmas season is always filled with a wonderful assortment of foods! The tantalizing aromas of cookies baking wafts through the house. Bowls of oranges and nuts join the never empty fruit bowl. Jars of homemade candies are added to the pantry ready to refill the candy bowl as needed.

Buttery Peanut Brittle

Homemade candy is perfect for gift giving. Buttery peanut brittle is a Christmas favourite. I seldom make it any other time of the year. The rich, buttery candy is sure to please. It's very easy to make too so be sure to make a lot.

Buttery Peanut Brittle
2 c granulated sugar
1 c light corn syrup
½ c water
1 c butter
2 c roasted peanuts
1 tsp baking soda

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a large sauce pan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. When the syrup boils, stir in the butter. Stir frequently after the mixture reaches 230ºF (110ºC). Stir in the nuts when the temperature reaches the soft crack stage (280ºF/138ºC). Stir constantly until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage (305ºF/152ºC). Remove from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. Pour onto two cookie sheets. Allow to cool. Loosen from pans as soon as possible. Break into pieces. Store in an air tight container.
Yield: 2 ½ pounds.

Eye of Round Roast

Roast beef is the perfect cold weather meal! I slow roasted an eye of round roast topped with sliced onions, Worcestershire sauce and Diana sauce (original flavour) at 250ºF (120ºC) for 4 hours. I increased the temperature to 350ºF (177ºC) for the last 10 minutes of cooking. The result was a tender, medium rare, nicely browned roast (1). I served the roast with golden potatoes (2). Golden potatoes are rich and creamy while being low fat.

Method: Wash and peel potatoes. Cut into cubes. Wash and peel two large carrots. Cut into chunks. Combine potatoes, carrots, two cloves garlic and one half chopped onion. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are tender. Drain. Pour about 1 cup of defatted chicken stock. Mash to desired consistency.

The left-over roast beef was refrigerated over night then thinly sliced (3) and divided into three equal amounts. Two of the amounts were vacuum sealed for freezing (4) with the rest used for sandwiches.

Grilled Cheese & Roast Beef Sandwich

During the busy holiday season it is nice to rely on simpler meals as well. Roast beef slices between two slices of Ziggy's Internationale® medium cheddar cheese on 7 Grain bread then toasted makes for a tasty and quick meal. I don't actually grill these sandwiches. What I do is assemble them the butter the two outer sides then toast on each side on medium heat in a non-stick fry pan until golden brown and the cheese in melted. Actual cheese slices rather than American processed cheese gives a nicer result. Serve with a bowl of steamy, homemade tomato soup for a frugal, comforting winter meal.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Mini Cheesecake Delights

Christmas is fast approaching as is the birthday party we are hosting for grandbaby's first birthday. That means I'm depending on some tried and true appetizers/dessert type snacks as well as trying out a few new ones. At the same time I am relying on no fuss, comfort meals. I know everyone is looking for new Christmas treat ideas to try so the Mini Cheesecake Delights are presented first.

Mini Cheesecake Delights

I picked up a bag of Hershey's® New York Cheesecake Kisses for the Christmas candy dish. On the back of the package was a recipe I thought would do nicely for entertaining. These decedent little treats are simply a delight! There is a bit more to the recipe so plan a little extra time but trust me these mini cheesecakes

The recipe as printed on the package was not as clear as it should be. I've modified the instructions for clarity. I substituted vanilla sugar* for the granulated sugar. I used ½ c of butter instead of ¼ c butter and ¼ c shortening. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract. I also substituted the Hershey's® Special Dark Chocolate using Ghirardelli Chocolate instead.

Mini Cheesecakes Delights

dough:
½ c butter
½ c vanilla sugar
1 egg
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp Ghirardelli Chocolate
1 c unbleached flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt

filling:
1 package (8 oz) softened cream cheese
¼ c vanilla sugar
1 egg

garnish:
24 Hershey's® New York Cheesecake Kisses

Preheat oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Line mini (1¾ inch) muffin cups with paper liners. Beat the butter until fluffy using KitchenAid® stand mixer on setting 3. Beat in sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Blend into butter mixture gradually. Drop a heaping teaspoonful of the dough into each prepared muffin cup. Push the dough up the sides with the back of a spoon to form a crater. Proceed with the filling.

Beat the cream and sugar on setting 3. Beat in the egg, vanilla and salt. Fill the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheesecake is just set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top each cheesecake with a Hershey's® New York Cheesecake Kisses

*vanilla sugar: Place one whole vanilla bean in a 500 ml (pint) mason jar. Cover with granulated white sugar


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tomato & Wild Rice Soup and Wonton Appetizers

Quite often people will ask what I do with all my home canned foods. For some of the foods, the use is fairly obvious but I think many are surprised by some of the more novel ways I use my preserves. One of my goals as a busy mom has always been to create home made convenience foods. These are canned, frozen or dried home made foods that are meant to help put quick but healthy meals on the table.

Tomato & Wild Rice Soup

Soup is always one of my first choices for a quick meal. I can up several jars of various soups that can be simply heated and served along with a few soups that are similar to commercial concentrated soups so need milk or water added. The concentrated soups are nice by themselves but are also nice with rice, noodles or barley added. These ingredients do not can well at home so are best left out then added later.

Tuesday I started with on 500 ml jar of tomato soup then added almost 500 ml of 2% milk and about 2 cups of left over organic wild rice mix. I warmed this to the boiling point on medium heat stirring often then reduced the heat and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes. A simple sprinkle of dried parsley served as the garnish. This was a nice, flavourful soup that used up left over rice. The basic tomato soup recipe is lovely and quite easy to make. If you don't can, do consider making a batch of this soup and freezing it. You certainly won't regret it!

Wonton Appetizers

We are hosting at least four larger events (more than 20 people) this month. That has left me with doing a bit of experimenting for appetizers. So I'm flipping through a magazine and came across wonton appetizers. Immediately I thought I could easily use any filling I wanted and the wonton wrappers. I figured I could make them sweet and dessert like or savory meal like tid bits. This was a trial run but got very good reviews from my most demanding critics, my family. These appetizers will be appearing at our first major event this weekend. I'm going to do this as a method instead of a recipe because honestly you could fill these cups with anything!

Method: Lightly spray regular sized muffin tins. Push one wonton wrapper into each hole. Do not try to make these look perfect. I simply pushed them into the hole and smoothed the bottom just a little. Bake at 177º C (350ºF) for 5 minutes or until wontons are turning golden brown on edges. Do not over bake. Spoon filling* into cups then bake another 5 to 7 minutes.

* Filling: I mixed 4 oz cream cheese, about ½ c home canned salsa and 1/2 c home canned seasoned ground beef together then spooned into the wrappers. Then I topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Canning Green Beans

Asparagus, Yellow Wax Beans,
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans, Herb Glazed Carrots, Corn
Natalie made a comment on yesterday's entry requesting* a write-up on canning green beans that included both the method and tips. Pictured are asparagus, yellow wax beans (1) and Kentucky Wonder pole beans (2) harvested from my garden at our previous house. I'm not canning beans at the moment but will if I find them for a good price. If you've been following this blog you already know I didn't have a vegetable garden this year so had to depend on purchased produce with the exception of tomatoes. When canning produce from your garden it is always a good idea to can more than you think will be needed. My goal is two year supply. This gives a bit of protection against a less than ideal growing season the following year reducing the amount of produce you have to purchase. When canning purchased produce based on seasonal availability or sales, I aim for a one year supply. Of course when the opportunity presents itself, I always try to take advantage of it.

* If you have a request for a particular dish/food or method, please leave a comment. I can't make any promises but if I've made the dish/food or know how to, I will try to help you out with a more detailed write-up. I may even try out a requested dish if I haven't made it then give my feedback.

Canning beans either string or wax is rather straight forward. As produce goes, there isn't a lot of prep work for canning. Wash the beans and trim ends. Remove the string. Cut into about 1 - inch pieces. Beans can be either hot pack or raw pack. I prefer raw packing as I think the beans have a better texture. The processing times are the same for either method. Pay particular attention to the headspace requirement as anything less than 1 - inch will cause the lids to buckle and the jars to loose liquid. Salt is an option and can be omitted entirely if desired.

To hot pack: Place the beans in a large stock pot. Cover with water. Boil the beans 5 minutes then fill hot, sterilized jars leaving 1 - inch headspace. Add salt if desired, 1 tsp per 1 L (quart) or 1/2 tsp per 500 ml jar (pint). Cover with the boiling cooking liquid leaving 1 - inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rim. Adjust the two piece lids. Process 500 ml (pints) for 20 minutes and 1 L (quarts) for 25 minutes at 10 lb pressure**.

To raw pack: Boil water. Pack the raw beans tightly into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1 - inch headspace. Add salt if desired, 1 tsp per 1 L (quart) or 1/2 tsp per 500 ml jar (pint). Cover with the boiling water. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rim. Adjust the two piece lids. Process 500 ml (pints) for 20 minutes and 1 L (quarts) for 25 minutes at 10 lb pressure**.

**Processing time is for weighted gauge pressure canner at 0 - 1,000 feet above sea level. Be sure to adjust is you are above this altitude. Use 11 lb pressure if you have a dial gauge and adjust for altitude if necessary.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Tilapia & Butter Tart Squares

Well, the best laid plans tend to go astray and so it was this past weekend. We travelled with the intentions of staying at the home of one of our kids Saturday night and then visiting another on Sunday. Mother Nature kicked in and cut our plans short so I didn't get the cooking done at their houses that I had planned. I managed to make raisin bread before grandbaby tuckered me out. What a total sweetheart grandbaby is! The storm hit overnight and by morning with the threat worsening weather we made the decision to head home early. It was a good thing as it took us an hour and half longer to get home due to road conditions.

Tilapia

We eat a fair amount of local fish but also enjoy fish from other sources. Tilapia is a very mild tasting fish to the point that there is almost no taste. Many chefs find this mildness a flaw but for those who want the benefits of eating fish without a strong fish flavour, tilapia is ideal. I find myself siding with the chefs so tilapia is not often served.

The mild flavour of tilapia lends itself well to a variety of seasonings but I wanted to highlight the mildness. I pan fried the tilapia fillets in grapeseed oil and seasoned lightly with lemon pepper. The sides were a long grain/wild rice blend cooked in chicken stock and home canned green beans. The meal was light but filling.


Butter Tart Squares

Anyone who knows me or who reads this blog will know that desserts are not my strong suit. We don't include desserts as a normal part of our dinners. From time to time, I splurge and make a dessert. Tonight's dessert was butter tart squares. Butter tarts are a Canadian treat, a staple of Canadian pioneer cooking. They are of Canadian origin. The ingredients are simple staples found in every pantry. So when I came across this recipe for butter tart squares I had to try it to see how close it came to actual butter tarts.

This picture really doesn't do justice to the squares. The squares are made in two steps and I used the KitchenAid® stand mixer for both. The topping forms a thin crust. Now this dessert is oh so sweet! Anyone with a sweet tooth will be in seventh heaven eating this.

Butter Tart Squares

1 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
1/3 c butter

2 eggs
1 1/2 c lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 c melted butter
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c dark raisins
1/2 c chopped nuts

Combine first 3 ingredients until crumbly. Press into a greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Mix the remaining ingredients well. Place on top of crust and bake for 25 minutes or until set and browned. Place on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Perch & Pickerel Fish Fry


Perch & Pickerel Fish Fry
November 30, 2007

I've quite busy in the kitchen the past week catching up on the basics like making yogurt and peameal bacon as well as freezing several pounds of acorn squash, rutabagas and sweet potatoes. On the canning front, I canned six 500 ml jars of homemade spaghetti meat sauce and the same amount of carrots. Wednesday I experimented with pressure cooking pork hocks to make a tasty soup with dumplings but it needs a bit more tweaking before I write about it. Thursday's dinner was home canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches made with real cheddar cheese. So even though there was a lot going on there wasn't a lot to write about. Last night a group of us went to an all you can fish fry fund raiser.

Food events are always a lot of fun and this was no exception! This fish fry was part of a series of food events put on by this group. The setting was a small hall in a very rural area about a forty minute drive away. The fish did not disappoint. I really should have labelled the fish. The pickerel was deep fried (top) or pan fried (right) and the perch (middle) was pan fried. Sides included French fries, corn, peas & carrots and coleslaw. There were cheese, raw vegetable and gerkin platters. The choice of drinks ranged from alcoholic to non-alcoholic. Afterwards there were two meat draws and it was some really nice looking cuts of beef. One from our group won tow T-bone steaks. These were a good inch and a half thick! So if you get a chance, do check out the smaller food events in your area. They tend to be excellent value for your dollar. Most are quite good and an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

We are off shortly to visit a couple of our kids and babysit grandbaby :) so will be gone for the weekend. I'll be doing a little cooking while away with a couple of special things planned so be sure to check back Monday.