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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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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en! 2008

ghost

Ghosts and gremlins are running amuck at Mom's Cafe today so you will be seeing a few weird things going on. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you! Don't worry as soon things will be back to normal with a few fresh new additions and a few stale deletions. A few tricks & treats here and there should soon put things right with a little help from the gnomes. Meanwhile I'm in the kitchen cooking up a few goodies that you can't hand out for Hallowe'en anymore like popcorn balls, candy apples, homemade fudge and homemade cookies. Oldest grandbaby might learn how to bob for apples tomorrow. I know it is a day late but what the heck.

Have a safe and happy Hallowe'en!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mango Chutney

I am on a definite roll with the success of trying new home canned products. This year alone at least six new home canned products have found their way into my pantry, all of them receiving my family's seal of approval. A lot of this comes from being able to assess a recipe and know first if the ingredients are the right match and second knowing whether or not the product can be safely canned.

I was browsing through one of my canning books when a recipe caught my eye. It was for mango chutney and something about it just begged for me to try it. Chutneys are similar to salsas except they have a rich, smooth, mellow, sweet-sour taste whereas salsas tend to have a fresh, lively flavour. They compliment spicy and strong flavoured foods. The texture ranges from chunky to smooth while their spiciness ranges from mild to hot. Apples and onions are the base ingredients in traditional chutneys but sometimes dates or raisins are added as well.

Mangos & Gingerroot

Cases of mangoes were on sale last week for $7.99. The problem was we knew were away Tuesday through Thursday then Friday through Sunday but the sale for mangoes ended Thursday. So I had my husband pick up a case of slightly under ripe mango then put it in the pantry where it is both cool and dark where I hoped they would be fine until I could get them processed. Four of twelve mangoes went to the kids, two for each set of parents of the grandbabies. Apparently youngest grandbaby age 6 months loves mangoes!

Pictured are the mangoes and gingerroot. One thing I really don't like about produce bought in the grocery store are those stupid stickers on every piece of fruit. Honestly! They are a pain to remove and certainly not very environmentally friendly. An easier solution would be to teach the staff to recognize the various types of produce just like they did in the old days!

Prep

Mangoes have a large, flat, whitish pit so they are a bit more difficult to prepare. When quartered the mango flesh needs to be cut away from the pit because it does not peel off freely. It is a bit messy. A step-by-step method for preparing mangoes can be found here or use any method that get the desired results. One mango will yield about 1 cup of prepared fruit.

Gingerroot has a thin bark type covering. Peel this away to use for this recipe. Slice the peeled gingerroot into thin slices then slice again to form thin slivers. Cut across the slivers to form finely chopped pieces of gingerroot.

The mango chutney smelled heavenly and looked beautiful while it was cooking. It affirmed my suspicions that this would be a keeper recipe!

Mango Chutney

Pictured are 4 - 250 ml (half-pint) jars of mango chutney packed in the cutest, squatty Ball jars as well as enough left over for tomorrow night's dinner. I have to tell you I love fancy canning jars but I only have a few. The reason being is some of these fancy jars are not really all that practical or economical. Still I will buy a 4 pack of fancy jars just to try them out. Sometimes I will buy more but that won't be the case with these Platinum Ball jars. Sure they are cute but I could only get four jars in the BWB canner. There wasn't even enough room to add a regular 250 ml jar! This makes these jars suitable for mainly small batch canning at best. The replacement platinum lids are more expensive than the normal gold ones so the next time I use these jars they will be getting regular wide mouth lids. Since they are so squatty you don't get a really good view of the product but they will look nice on the table without having to pour into a bowl. Finally they are more expensive but they really are eye catching for gift giving.

Mango Chutney
source: Topp, E. and Howard, M. Small-Batch Preserving. 2001. Richmond Hill, Ontario. Pp. 218.
modifications: by myself October 30, 2008

3 medium cooking apples
2 large mangoes
½ medium sweet red pepper
1½ c organic granulated sugar
1 c finely chopped Spanish onion
½ c Sultana raisins
½ c white vinegar
¼ c finely chopped gingerroot
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt

Peel, core and chop apples. Peel and chop mangoes. Chop pepper and finely chop onion and gingerroot. Place all in a large saucepan. Add raisins, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the mixture is thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and seasonings. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars leaving ½ - inch headspace. Wipe rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process 250 ml (half-pint) jars 10 minutes or 500 ml (pint) jars 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner.

Yield: 1.25 L (5 cups)


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moving Day Pizza

After a very busy week arriving home late Thursday night we were on the go again on Friday. The nice thing about this traveling is we knew we would be staying at the home of parents of oldest grandbaby for two nights. Saturday was a family affair helping parents of youngest grandbaby move into their first purchased home. Whenever we get together as a family there is always good food!

Friday night we enjoyed homemade Philly cheesestakes and home canned coleslaw. I have to tell you I am really impressed with the home canned coleslaw! We mixed in Miracle Whip® so the result was very close to our favourite homemade creamy coleslaw. Even oldest grandbaby loved it!

Pizza Nova

Something about moving always says pizza and beer. Well, we got the pizza and it was really good! We got three large pizzas from Pizza Nova. This is a chain pizza restaurant in Ontario and Québec originating in Toronto, Ontario in 1963 that has grown to 120 locations. One taste of their pizza and you can see why!

The Portobellissimo (1) was topped with fresh Portobello mushrooms, hot Soppressata, and Asiago cheese. This was a definite hit! The Asiago cheese was different yet made for a very tasty pizza. The second pizza (2) was topped with pepperoni, mushrooms and bacon. The Deluxe (3) was topped with pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, green peppers, bacon, sliced tomatoes and Spanish onions. I really like this pizza. All had the classic tomato sauce. I really liked the Deluxe but then I also liked the Portobellissimo so will be making both of these versions at home.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Michigan Casino Bus Trip

This has really been a year of first for us with respect to travelling. New to us was staying at a bed & breakfast and renting a condo instead of a motel during our travels to Florida earlier this year. Both were very enjoyable and we are planning to do the same the next time we visit Florida. Both were cost saving as far as breakfasts and snacks. Breakfast was included with the bed & breakfast as was happy hour. We could have cooked all of our meals as the condo (major cost savings) but we didn't. Still we saved on food by making breakfast and lunch at the condo then eating out for dinner.

On Saturday (18th) we were offered the opportunity to go on a bus trip (3 days, 2 nights) that would stop at four casinos in Michigan. Dinner was included for Tuesday and Wednesday while breakfast was included for Wednesday and Thursday. The only meals we had to buy was lunch on Tuesday and dinner on Thursday. Other perks including motel rooms for Tuesday and Wednesday nights made this an excellent deal! We were off on another adventure :)

Wendy's®

We left the house early Tuesday morning to drive to the pre-determined bus pick-up location. Neither of us are huge breakfast people especially that early so we had our travel mugs filled at Timmy's aka Tim Hortons®. My husband got an extra large black while I got an extra large double double. There were 48 of us on board plus our tour guide and bus driver. The first stop was in West Branch, Michigan (I-75) where there were a few restaurants to choose from. The majority went to Elias Brothers Restaurant but we went to the Wendy's® next door. It was nice and slow which meant no line-ups for the washrooms! We only had 45 minutes which meant not wandering too far off either.

Wendy's® is one of the few fast food restaurants I don't mind on the rare occasion. Two things I really dislike about fast food restaurants are the quality of food and the vast amounts of garbage they produce. My husband ordered a double original cheese burger combo while I ordered a large chili and baked potato with sour cream and chives. We split the cola that came with his combo but between the two of us drank less than half. My choices were healthier than his yet checking Calorie Count from About.com I still was not happy with the amount of sodium or fat in the chili. Honestly if you eat fairly healthy for the majority of your meals your body can handle the occasional fast food meal if absolutely necessary.

Dinner Buffet (Kewadin)

Our first casino stop was at Kewadin Shores in St. Ignace, Michigan but were were not there long enough to eat. The evening meal was a nice buffet at Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie. In comparison to Las Vegas casino buffets this was small but it was more than adequate. The food was quite good!

We start many of our evening meals with soup or salad. The salad bar would rival many Las Vegas casino buffets. There was a large selection of very fresh produce, dressings, toppings and salad extras. My salad consisted of a bed of iceberg lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, stuffed olives, carrots and hot peppers topped with low fat Thousand Island dressing, shredded cheese and sunflower seeds. My dinner was roasted turkey with cranberries, cod, green beans broccoli stir fry and potatoes (upper right). It looks like a lot but I never eat the breading on fish and the potatoes were left on the plate with the breading as they were too heavily spiced. I also only make one trip to the buffet and don't get dessert. My husband's dinner was very similar given the selection although he had cream of mushroom soup instead of a salad.

One neat thing about buffets is the cooking equipment. I simply had to take a picture of this beautiful wok filled with stir fry. The smell was wonderful so I lingered a while taking pictures and talking with the chefs. That is how you get some of their secretes! My husband finished off with cherry pie and ice cream for dessert. Michigan is famous for its sour cherry pie and it is a must have for those who like desserts!

Breakfast Buffet (Kewadin, Sault Ste. Marie)

The following morning we ate at the breakfast buffet at Kewadin (Sault Ste. Marie) before heading back to Kewadin Shores (St Ignace). The breakfast buffet included coffee and orange juice along with hot and cold breakfast offerings. It was smaller than the dinner buffet but again the food was quite good.

We ate as close to the bus departure time as possible more in keeping with our schedule. Departure time was 10 AM for Kewadin (Sault Ste. Marie) for a short period of time. We left there for Turtle Creek Casino in Traverse City, Michigan for the afternoon finally arriving a Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown, Michigan where we would be eating our evening meal and staying the night.

Leelanau Sands Casino had a very, very small soup and salad bar or you could order off of a very limited menu. We didn't mind this ourselves as soup and salad makes a rather nice meal. [There were a lot of complaints from others though.] They had a chili that was a bit different than what I make. It had black turtle beans and white beans instead of kidney beans as well a chunks of beef and tomato. There was a nice bite to this chili as well. With both texture and flavouring considerably different from my normal chili, this will be one dish I try duplicating at home. The following morning we had an included continental breakfast then it was back to Turtle Creek. We shared a nice BLT with chips from the deli mid afternoon but I forgot to take a picture.

Ponderosa Steakhouse

When my husband and I were dating Ponderosa Steakhouse was the place to go so when they said we would stop in West Bank on the way back at Ponderosa I though it would be a bit of a trip down memory lane. Others went elsewhere including the nearby Walmart but we decided to forego shopping and eat knowing it would be quite late when we got home.

I have to tell you I'm disappointed in the new decor. Gone are the wooden tables and wooden beamed ceilings but the food is still good. I order the all-you-can-eat steak special instead of the buffet which was pretty close to the same price. It came with soup or salad, choice of potato and bread. My husband ordered the seafood platter (pictured). It came with shrimp, coconut shrimp and fish on a bed of rice with choice of potato, soup or salad and bread. The presentation for the seafood platter was nice. What I forgot about Ponderosa is their potatoes are automatically topped with butter (?) and sour cream if you ask for it and they are wrapped in foil. I really don't like either.

We learned a lot by travelling this way. First you are on a schedule so you do need to follow that. There are no side trips or impromptu stops. You are very limited as to what food will be offered. In this case it was the restaurants that the bus could easily stop at en route. Time limitations meant you really could only go to whatever restaurant was very close by. Once stopped for the night you had the option of eating the meal that came with the package or paying for a cab and finding a restaurant that may or may not have been better (not really worth it). So if you go on this type of trip do consider both the time limitations and food choices. This is really the time to go with the flow as well especially when it comes to food.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Pizza at the Hockey Game

My apologies for not being around much last week. Seriously since last Saturday (18th) night when all of a sudden the following week was booked solid the only cooking we did was grilling burgers Sunday night for company, canning raspberry jam and applesauce Monday and heating chili from the freezer for Monday night's dinner. Tuesday through Thursday we were on a casino bus tip then Friday left to visit our kids (two couples, two grandbabies) and help parents to youngest grandbaby move into their newly purchased home. Unlike other trips I blog about the food was really not the highlight. It was good food but not spectacular. I thought I would start with the food from the hockey game then highlight some of the foods we enjoyed the rest of the week. Thursday's post will be about mangos so be sure to visit for that one.

Little Caesars® Pizza

My husband loves hockey especially following his favourite team, the Detroit Red Wings. When we go to the games he simply must Little Caesars® Pizza! He will start talking about it before we leave the house. He will mention it at least once on the long journey there. Then as soon as we are in the area he grabs my hand and pulls me through the crowd just to get to the long line waiting for pizza. Little Caesars® Pizza is an American pizza chain founded by Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners of the Detroit Red Wings, in 1959. It is now recognized for being the world's largest in take-out pizza.

The Pizza

Here is the coveted pizza! It is a ham, mushroom and pepperoni pizza for $13.75. Seriously I don't think this is not all that special as pizzas go. Personally I find it just a bit too greasy for my liking. I can't even figure out why my husband insists on getting one but he does. It must be something with sitting the hot pizza box on your knees then watching the pre-game warm-up. I'm beyond even asking why but rather into the accepting stage of this is apparently the end all, be all fare for a hockey game.

Ok, I do really need to say something nice about the pizza. It is rather decently priced and I do like the sauce. The topping are more than adequate and it does go down nicely with a large adult brew. So there you have it. This is our standard hockey fare. Oh and I did get a lovely picture of a little guy holding another standard fare, the hot dog, complete with a whole lot of ketchup but I'll share that at another point when I have nothing cooking related to blog about :)


Friday, October 24, 2008

End of Season Applesauce

Autumn just wouldn't be the same without apples. I mentioned in a previous that you can never have enough apples. That's true unless you will be away for a few days and you have apples won't keep. Such was the case on Monday. Saturday I had intended to make applesauce but a last minute change of plans had us going to a hockey game. Just before that a friend called and wanted to know if we would be interested in a three day bus tour Tuesday through Thursday. We accepted and since we already had plans for Friday through Sunday (26th). Sunday (19th) we had company so canning was put on the back burner. Suddenly the only canning day would be Monday. Monday I rushed to get both raspberry jam and applesauce made while packing and making last minute travel plans.

Apples

While any apple is an eating apple not all are good cooking apples. I like to stock-up on the cooking apples first because a good portion of these will be preserved in some manner. I keep apples in the pantry where it is cool and dark most of the time. They are in wire bins that help with air circulation and prevent moisture build-up. Still one over ripe apple is enough to hasten the others ripening. I gathered up the rest of the L-star, Wealthy and Greenings apples to turn into applesauce leaving the Crispin and Northern Spy apples for another day.

Did you know that storing apples at room temperature will cause them to ripen a good three times faster than those stored at a cooler temperature? Store apples in a cool, dark location preferably a root cellar or in small amounts in the crisper of the refrigerator.

Applesauce

When I started making Monday's batch of applesauce I fully intended to add a few spices something I rarely do. I like using applesauce in cooking and baking so prefer it plain with no sugar or spices added. After running the cooked apple quarters through the food mill, I tasted the sauce. This is something that many forget to do and that is with anything that comes out of your kitchen - always taste before serving or preserving! It's a good thing I follow this piece of advice I learned as a young bride.

The sauce was nicely flavoured with good depth. It needed nothing else to add to the wonderful flavour and in fact would have been quite lovely turned into apple butter but I didn't have time for that. The yield was 5 - 500 ml (pint) jars canned and 500 ml (pint) container for the freezer. Applesauce does freeze nicely and while canning is my preferred method to save freezer space, freezing gives perfectly good results. Simply pack into freezer containers leaving ½ - inch headspace and freeze. To use, thaw in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Low Sugar Raspberry Jam

Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits. Unfortunately they tend to be expensive because they are so delicate. One of our neighbours has a raspberry patch so I stop by their fruit stand quite often. With so many things going on in the canning kettle, I forgot all about late season raspberries. My husband surprised me with 2 pints of these delectable berries so I decided to turn them into low sugar jam.

Low Sugar Raspberry Jam

Raspberry jam is the ultimate! Spread on a slice of lightly buttered toast it is a taste sensation sure to please on a wintery morning.

Standard pectin recipes call for a lot of white sugar without being able to substitute. I like being able to substitute sweeteners as a start and I like reducing white sugar where I can. The problem is with jams and jellies the standard pectin requires large amounts of sugar to gel. Pomona's pectin does not need sugar to gel but instead uses calcium water. What this means is I can make a much fruitier tasting jam using a lot less sugar.

I put the jam up in 125 ml jars. These are just so adorable! The 500 ml jar shows how tiny and cute these little jars are. They are the perfect size jar for gift baskets. Two pints gave a yield of 5 - 125 ml (half-pint) jars.

Raspberry Jam

1½ c prepared raspberries
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1½ tsp calcium water
1 tsp Pomona's pectin
1½ c granulated sugar
½ c water

Wash the raspberries. Mash. Combine the raspberries with lemon juice and calcium water in a saucepan. In a separate bowl combine sugar and pectin stirring well. Bring the raspberries to a boil and boil 1 minutes. Pour the water into the sugar mix. Stir well. Pour into the raspberry mix. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims. Adjust two piece caps. Process in boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Seafood Cocktail Sauce (home canned)

A lot of people have the impression that home canning is all about saving money but in reality that couldn't be further from the truth. Oh sure the cost of canning is very important which is why I often bring up the economics of canning but that's not the real reason for canning, rather a pleasant side effect. It really is about putting wholesome, healthy foods in your pantry that are not laden with excess salt, sugar, preservatives and other harmful additives or contaminants. At the same time home canners are able to put custom made foods tailored to their family's tastes as well as unique products on their pantry shelves. This is one of the best reasons to can because these are products you cannot buy in the grocery stores.

Seafood Cocktail Sauce

I think we have all been at the point where we need seafood cocktail sauce but don't have time for a special trip to the grocery store so we pull out commercially made ketchup and mix in some horseradish sauce. It works in a pinch but commercially made ketchup contains high fructose corn syrup something that is on my hit list of ingredients to avoid. I came across a recipe in Bernardin's, Tomatoes Canning & Speciality Recipes for home made seafood cocktail sauce suitable for canning. Immediately I thought this would be a nice product to have on the pantry shelves put first I tweaked the recipe.

Pictured are 7 - 250 ml (half pints) of seafood cocktail sauce as well as almost and eighth jar. The sauce looks quite pretty in the jars! Notice the plastic storage cap on this jar. I use these for storing partial jars of home canned food in the refrigerator. Oh and don't you think the short, wide mouth jars are simply adorable? I only have about a dozen so might have to put a request for more on my Christmas list if they can be found. I haven't seen them in the stores here for quite some time.

I made a few modifications to the recipe so the following recipe is the one I created and used. This is a recipe you could make year round if you can find good tasting paste tomatoes. I have to tell you one taste is enough that you won't go back to store bought seafood cocktail sauce and you will never want to use that old ketchup trick. This sauce is amazing wonderful! I honestly cannot believe how flavourful the sauce is. It has a nice amount of zip.

Seafood Cocktail Sauce

6½ c prepared tomatoes
2 c prepared horseradish
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c organic granulated sugar
½ c white vinegar
1 tsp pickling salt
½ c tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground mustard
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp black pepper

Wash tomatoes. Run through a food strainer to remove seeds and skin. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil gently until reduced by half. Stir in all of the ingredients except the horseradish. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the horseradish. Mix well. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars leaving ½ - inch headspace. Wipe the rim. Adjust two piece lids. Process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: about 7 - 125 ml (half pint) jars

Shrimp

I was rather pleased that there was almost a full jar of the seafood cocktail sauce left-over for the refrigerator. We've been quite busy the past couple of weeks so I wanted a nice, relaxing yet pampering dinner. The left-over seafood cocktail sauce determined the appetizer.

You just can't go wrong with shrimp for an appetizer. If we were having company I would have lined the plate with leaf lettuce or used individual shrimp bowls but my husband was more interested in getting to the shrimp rather than presentation. The seafood cocktail sauce was a definite hit with my husband. This will be one sauce that I will be making again.

T-bone Steaks

It was a pleasant fall afternoon, perfect for grilling. We grill year round both indoors and outdoors but still the colder weather means more cooking is being done indoors. As the tantalizing aroma of the grill filled the air I couldn't help think of the cold days to come that will soon turn the sparkling water a duller tone.

Dinner was grilled T-bone steaks served with a steamed potato and carrot mix, sautéed onions and sautéed mushrooms. A simple garden salad completed the meal. My husband's steak was grilled to rare then smothered with sautéed mushrooms and onions. He managed to side step the carrots in the steamed vegetable mix. My steak was grilled medium rare.

Carrots and potatoes are a nice pairing whether left in chunks or mashed. I use this combination quite often. When mashed with a little chicken stock they are a nice low fat side. To add a bit of a different twist I will add in cabbage then mash. I think the mix is better hand mashed to give more texture but an electric hand mixer can be used for a smoother texture. So if you are bored of the same plain mashed potatoes try adding carrots and/or cabbage. You will be pleasantly surprised!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Home Canned Coleslaw

Each year I look for a few new home canned products to add to the pantry. These products tend to start out as test batches. For one reason or another they catch my attention. These tend to be specialty products. A test batch is simply 3 or 4 jars of a product that will not sit on the pantry shelf long. In most cases a jar will be opened after the 24 hour waiting period to ensure the seal. It is then taste tested by my most discriminating critics aka my family. Once I get their input I start tweaking the recipe or in some cases decided not to make that product again.

I visited the blog of a member on one of the forums I read. She had pictures of the coleslaw she had canned. After asking a few questions I decided this was something I had to try. Cabbage is so cheap right now that even if we decided we didn't like it I would be out about $1.20 total assuming the product would not be useable for something else which is highly unlikely.

I printed off the recipe then immediately started tweaking. Our favourite coleslaw recipe is creamy coleslaw so I decided to tweak towards that but leave the carrots in to give a slightly different product.

Prep work for coleslaw is minimal when using the KitchenAid® stand mixer slicer/shredder attachment. I cut the cabbage and carrots into chunks small enough to fit in the hopper and hand diced the onions (1). Shredding took only a few minutes using the coarse shredder cone on setting 4 (2). One complaint I read about this attachment was "it is messy". I did not find it to be messy at all. Sure there were a few escaped shredded pieces but when gathered up they amounted to less than a teaspoon full so that really isn't bad. After the shredding the onions were mixed in along with the salt (3). The vegetables were then left for 45 minutes.

Home Canned Coleslaw

Pictured are four test jars of home canned coleslaw. Essentially this is a pickled cabbage. When opened the coleslaw can be used as is or mixed with mayonnaise/MiracleWhip® or mixed with an oil based dressing such as Italian dressing. For that reason I eliminated a couple of ingredients and reduced the sugar. A taste test before ladling into the jars said I was on the right track. So far this looks like a two thumbs up. Don't expect this coleslaw to be identical to fresh made but it is a good substitute.

If you do not have a KitchenAid® stand mixer with shedder/slicer attachment use a food processor to make quick work of the shredding.

Home Canned Coleslaw

1.4 kg (3 lb) cabbage
2 large carrots
1 medium onion
1 tsp pickling salt
2 c white vinegar
1½ c granulated sugar
2 tsp celery seed

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove core. Wash carrots. Cut cabbage and carrots into chunks that will fit into the hopper for shredding. Shred cabbage and carrots. Fine dice the onion. Mix the onions into the shredded cabbage and carrrots. Mix in the pickling salt. Mix well, cover and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and celery seed in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Cool slightly. Pour into vegetables and mix well. Ladle the coleslaw mixture into hot, sterilized jars. Adjust two piece lids. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner.

To serve: Use as is or drain then stir in salad dressing of your choice or mayonnaise.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Home Canned Pears

This time of year local produce is abundant and inexpensive. I made a trip to my favourite farm market last Wednesday. There was so much to choose from! The deep oranges, reds, yellows mixed with shades of green echoed the changing colours on the trees. The beautiful aroma of the various fruits and vegetables tantalized the taste buds. I could have stayed there all day!

Purchases

Pictured are the day's purchase from the farm market with the exception of the two oranges that I bought at the grocery store on the way home. I needed those for another recipe. As I walked through the farm market I mentally thought about what I was going to make with each item added to the counter. It's a small market with no shopping carts so purchases go onto the counter to be rung up when you're finished selecting.

The weather was cool so leeks were needed for a large pot of potato and leek soup. Cabbages were cheap and since I wanted to try a new cabbage recipe (see tomorrow's post) two went onto the counter. Two winter squash and a pumpkin were must haves. Bartlett pears and Crispin (Mutsu) apples were added because you can never have too many apples. Topping off the purchases were sweet potatoes, sweet pepper. tomatoes and apple cider. I plan on making mulled apple cider with the cider, always a wonderful fall beverage that not only tastes good but makes the house smell wonderful!

Home Canned Pears

Fruit is extremely easy to can and because it is processed using a boiling water bath canner (BWB) you can take advantage of fruit savings as they become available. The nice thing about canning fruit is you can do as many jars as you want or have fruit to fill. This means if you can easily adjust the number of jars canned to meet your needs. Another nice thing about canning fruit is you add various spices and/or alcohol (eg. brandy) for a unique product.

I canned 5 - 500 ml (pint) jars of plain Bartlett pears using a thin syrup. The syrup can be adjusted to medium or heavy and you can substitute the sugar with either corn syrup or honey. Both substitutions will give a different flavour to the finished product. Do not use artificial sweeteners for canning fruits. Yellow Bartlett pears are better for canning than other varieties but you cannot use them fully ripened as they will be too soft. Use under ripe Bartlett pears instead. Approximately .57 kg (1¼ lb of pears) will be needed per 2 - 500 ml (pint) or 1 - L (quart) or for an easy estimation 8 large pears should yield about 5 - 500 ml (pint) jars of finished product.

Method: Wash, peel and core the pears. Cut into desired size. Place in a bowl with water and about 1 tbsp lemon juice to prevent browning. Make desired syrup* (see below). Add spices if desired. Bring the syrup to a boil. Pack the pear slices into hot, sterilized jars leaving ½ headspace. Pour hot syrup over the pears leaving ½ headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process 500 ml (pint) 20 minutes, 1 L (quart) 25 minutes in boiling water bath canner.

Syrups for Canning:

  • thin - 1 c sugar, 2 c water; yield 2.5 c syrup
  • medium - 1.5 c sugar, 2 c water; yield 2.75 c syrup
  • thick - 2.25 c sugar, 2 c water; yield 3.25 c syrup
  • substitute up to ½ the white sugar with corn syrup or honey if desired or ¼ the white sugar with maple syrup
Multiply the proportions as required for the number of jars you are using. As a guide I doubled the thin syrup for the 5 - 500 ml (pint) jars for 5 c of syrup but only used about 4¼ of it.


Friday, October 17, 2008

A Brilliant Award!

I was quite shocked and surprised to surf onto Tahtimbo's blog Everyday Living to find he had awarded me the Brilliant Award!


This is quite an honour! I can't believe someone thinks my blog is brilliant! Thank-you so very much for bestowing this award on my blog. It gives me great pleasure to hear that others enjoy my blog. My family and friends deserve this award as well for being my willing taste testers and putting up with my many, many food photo shoots. My readers also deserve this award for making this blog more by reading, commenting, offering suggestions and just being there. Thank-you everyone!

Please take a moment to stop by Tahtimbo's blog and say hi. Tahtimbo is a stay-at-home dad in Idaho, USA who has a wonderful sense of humour. His blog is well worth the read so settle back with a nice hot cup of cocoa and few homemade cookies. I'm sure you will enjoy his entries as much as I do.


The rules for this award are:

  • Create a post and choose 7 or more blogs that you find brilliant in either their content, design, or both.
  • Link to the person who presents the award to you
  • Show the names and links to those you pass the award to.
  • Leave a comment on their site to let them know that they have won an award
I would like to award the following bloggers for the Brilliant Award. I hope they accept they accept the award and proudly display it on their blogs:



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taste of Summer Pasta

I'm in a serious funk not so much in terms of cooking but physically. The weekend was lovely with beautiful weather and an abundance of family and friends as we celebrated our Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving (Canadian) is always celebrated the second Monday of October somewhat earlier than the American Thanksgiving. That means we quite often end up with beautiful weather. Today the weather turned cooler with dropping temperatures and threatening rain. Despite a trip to the farm market and coming home loaded with goodies my body just didn't want to co-operate.

Taste of Summer Pasta

My husband went golfing trying to squeeze the last bit out of the nice weather and since he was not going to be home for dinner I decided a taste of summer was in order. Remember that pasta sauce I recently canned? Well I had a little left over, just enough to freeze for a serving. Looking at my purchases I decided to add as many fresh chopped vegetables as a topping. The end result was a wonderful, low fat, budget stretching, vegetarian meal that took me less that 15 minutes to put together. Now I used my homemade sauce but you could simulate this dish using a store bought sauce

Method: Cook angel hair pasta to al dente. Drain. Top with hot pasta sauce and chopped vegetables (tomatoes, onion, celery, green pepper). Serve with a side salad and dinner roll.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008


Happy Thanksgiving


Friday, October 10, 2008

Cabbage Rolls Revisited

The tomato harvest ended here this past week so local tomatoes are still available in the grocery stores and some farm markets. Local cabbage is in season meaning beautiful large heads of cabbage at rock bottom prices. It's time to make sauerkraut and cabbage soup as well as enjoy cabbage simply sautéed in butter or boiled. Cabbage boiled with potatoes then mashed eliminates the need for adding milk or other fats so it can be a good, low calorie addition. There is no doubt that cabbage is a budget stretching vegetable. Store a few heads of unwrapped cabbage in a root cellar or refrigerator at 5-8ºC (41-46ºF) for fresh eating. With the cooler weather this is a perfect combination for cabbage rolls! The oven will add a little heat to the house as well.

Cabbage Rolls

I first wrote about cabbage rolls last May. This is such an easy and economic casserole to make especially if you make it when both local tomatoes and cabbage are available.

In terms of economics, 7 large cabbage rolls cost me the price of half of the cabbage (about 29¢), the cheese (about $2), electricity (about 31¢). ground beef ($1.49) and rice* (about 39¢) for a total of $4.48 or 64¢ per serving. That puts this casserole well into the budget stretching and frugal meals categories. If you do not grow your own tomatoes the price will increase by the cost of the tomatoes and sauce divided by 7 that should add at most $1.98 to the total cost or 28¢ per serving still falling into the frugal and budget stretching range.

The best thing about cabbage rolls aside of how good they taste is they freeze nicely! What I do is make up a few tin foil trays but you can use regular casserole pans. The trays are made exactly as you would for cooking but instead of putting in the oven I top with a sheet of wax paper then tinfoil and seal well. Then I label and put in the freezer.

To reheat: Remove the tinfoil and wax paper. Replace the tinfoil loosely. Bake at 350ºF until the cabbage rolls are warmed through and cheese bubbles. Serve and enjoy.

* 1 lb uncooked rice = 2.5 cups


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Small Batch Canning Method & Two Recipes

I will be doing a bit of small batch canning over the next couple of weeks along with my normal canning. At some point a dedicated home canner or even a novice is going to do a bit of small batch canning. There are three main reasons for this but there may be others. First, small batch canning can include test batch canning. In this case the home canner is purposely canning one or two jars to be opened within a day or so to see if this is a product he or she would like to can more of. Second, small batch canning is an ideal way to use up small amounts of some produce either as it becomes available or end of season gardening. The third reason is there are some products that are nice to have on hand but won't use a lot of (eg. dilly beans).

In general small batch canning batches:

  • are packed into 250 ml (half pints) or 125 ml (½ c) jars
  • are processed using a boiling water bath (BWB) canner
  • are usually 1 L or 4 cups total batch
  • are usually specialty food products
Small batch canning of pressure canned processed foods is possible but is normally done as part of a another canning batch using the same processing time. The reason for this is running a pressure canner for anything less than at least a half load is rather energy inefficient.

Modified Rack

When water bath canning you do not need a special pot. All you need is a pot deep enough to cover the filled jars when sitting on the rack by a minimum of 1 inch. The other requirement is it needs a lid. A normal water bath canner will hold 7 - 500 ml (pint) jars or 6 - L (quart) jars. A rack is necessary to keep the glass jars from coming into contact with the canner bottom.

Small batch canning requires a smaller water bath canner that can easily be made using a stock pot with a lid and a cake cooling rack or canning jar rings. I have three stock pots ranging from 24 cm to 28.5 cm diameter that all double as water bath canners. I found a cooling rack that fit nicely in the middle sized stock pot but for the others I use canning jar rings. These can be joined together with wire or left as is if you are only going to use that sized pot for a load or two.

Pickled Hot Peppers & Tango Preserves

Small batch canning requires that you be extremely prepared with all ingredients ready to use. The reason for this is in most cases you will run a few small batches of different products back to back to save on re-heating the water. At the same time a lot of small batch canning recipes are shorter period processing times so you have a shorter period in which to work.

I decided to process the rest of the jalapano peppers today along with tomato tango preserves. Both look beautiful in the jars! Both are wonderful products to have on your pantry shelves. The rich and aromatic tomato tango preserves would be nice to do a double batch. I modified the original recipe to use Pomona's pectin to make it low-sugar. These preserves would be perfect for baking chicken or pork in.

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers
source: Topp, E. and Howard, M., Small-Batch Preserving. 2001. Pp. 157.
modifications: by myself

1 c cider vinegar
¼ c water
1 tbsp local honey
2 tsp pickling spice
½ tsp Kosher salt
1 large clove garlic cut in half
8 large jalapeño peppers

Wash peppers. Wearing gloves, cut the tops off of the peppers. Slice lengthwise and remove seeds and pith. Slice thinly. Cut the garlic clove in half. Combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Pack one slice of garlic and jalapeño peppers in hot, sterilized jars leaving ½ - inch headspace. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the peppers leaving ½ - inch headspace. Wipe the rim. Adjust the two piece lids. Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes for 125 ml (half-pint) jars.

Yield: 2 - 125 ml (half-pint) jars

Tomato Tango Preserves
source: Bernardin, Tomatoes Canning & Specialty Recipes. 2000. Pp.54.
modified: by myself to be low sugar and use Pomona pectin

3 c chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp calcium water
1½ c organic sugar
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2¼ tsp Promona's pectin

Wash, peel and seed tomatoes. Combine the tomatoes with lemon juice and calcium water in a large sauce pan mixing well. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate mixing bowl. Bring the tomato mixture to a boil. Stir in the dry ingredients, mix well and return to boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process 5 minutes for 125 ml jars.

Yield: 3 - 125 ml jars


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Depression Cooking with Clara

I stumbled upon a few videos on YouTube for Depression era cooking. Clara, aged 91 shares a few of her recipes from the Depression. These really are old fashioned, down home cooking using what you have on hand something many families are struggling to do today. It is surprising how a few simple ingredients can make a substantial meal. I will note with her videos is that they are salt heavy so right off the bat I would just greatly reduce the salt. They are also starch rich but will go far with on empty bellies. She also mentions growing a garden to save with food costs.



Monday, October 06, 2008

Traditional Stewed Tomatoes

If you have been reading this blog you will know that the majority of tomato products that I put up are something other than plain tomatoes. One reason for this is to stock my pantry with convenient, ready-to-use homemade products. This ends up saving me both time and money through-out the year. It also maximizes my use of mason jars as well as freezer space for those tomato products I freeze. Instead of using three mason jars to can individual components for a sauce, I can use one mason jar by canning the finished sauce something that is important when finding storage room for a year or more worth of home canned products. This also makes good economic sense as the number of times the canner is run is greatly reduced as well as the number of jars and lids needed. Each lid costs 8¢ (or more depending on the source) which doesn't sound like a lot but averaging a little over 1,000 jars that works out to $80 so every time I can reduce the number of lids used is ultimately a savings. Each time run the canner costs about 31¢ so running it less saves not only money but reduces my carbon footprint.

Why am I stressing the economics of canning? Home canning can save you a substantial amount of money on your food budget even if you do not grow your own produce. For example using my free source of tomatoes which compares to home grown, 9 hampers averaging 14 - 500 ml jars is 126 jars of finished product at a cost of $10.08 for lids, $2.79 for electricity and about $8 (likely less) for miscellaneous ingredients or about 17¢ per 500 ml jar. This is considerably cheaper than even the dollar store! Even though the products are so cheap there is always ways to reduce the costs and every time you reduce the cost that's money in your pocket!

Why am I stressing being eco-friendly when canning? Canning is very eco-friendly. I have jars that are 30 years old or older still in use. Think of how many tin cans that has saved over that period of time. This year I will hit very close to the 1,500 jar mark for a yearly total. In one year that means I will have not used that same amount in tins cans! Just with that I have greatly reduced our household carbon footprint but because the jars are re-usable they continue to reduce our carbon footprint. To reduce further always run the canner at full capacity (not always possible) at the lowest setting to maintain proper pressure and where ever possible use a pressure canner instead of a boiling water bath canner especially for tomato products.

Traditional Stewed Tomatoes

Traditional stewed tomatoes are a must have pantry item! You can used them as a base for soups, stews and casseroles. Pictured are 3 litres and on 500 ml jar of stewed tomatoes. More jars of stewed tomatoes will join these in my pantry shortly. They are very easy to make.

Traditional Stewed Tomatoes
source:
Bernardin, Tomatoes Canning & Specialty Recipes. 2000. Pp. 60

16 c prepared tomatoes
1 c chopped celery
½ c chopped onion
¼ c chopped green pepper
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried basil

Wash, peel and chop the tomatoes. Prepare the other ingredients. Mix all together in large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Remove any air pockets. Wipe rim. Process at 10 lb pressure for 20 minutes (L jars) or 15 minutes (500 ml jars) at altitudes below 1,000 feet above sea level. Adjust for altitude if necessary (chart here).


Saturday, October 04, 2008

More Tomatoes: Creole Sauce and Salsa

Yesterday I canned up the eighth hamper of tomatoes. Three words I really hate when it comes to processing tomatoes are: wash, peel and seed. I don't mind washing but peel and seed? That's a lot of work when the tomatoes are smaller paste tomatoes. The problem is for some sauces where a food mill (strainer) is not used, seeding is a necessary evil. These tend to be the chunky and specialty sauces. Removing the seeds is not just for aesthetics. The seeds are surrounded by moisture rich, gelatinous goo in the locular sacs. Removing this moisture reduces the cook time keeping the tomato pieces intact which gives the characteristic texture to chunky tomato sauces. At the same time removing the seeds and gelatinous goo removes a lot of flavour which is compensated by adding other aromatic vegetables, herbs and seasonings.

Creole Sauce & Salsa

Everyone thinks a hamper (⅝ bushel) of tomatoes gives a lot of product but it really doesn't. I'm averaging 14 - 500 ml (pints) jars of finished product per hamper or 7 - L (quarts). Soups and juices give a higher yield whereas long cook sauces give a lower yield. To put that in perspective a hamper will yield 14 - 500 ml jars of pasta sauce or just a little over enough to use one per month. In reality we use pasta sauce at least once weekly meaning I need to put up at least 52 jars but more like 104 (almost 9 cases) of just various pasta sauces. Then there are the specialty sauces. They are more work but are definitely worth it!

Pictured is Creole sauce (1) and Salsa (2) that used up one hamper of tomatoes. The small amount of left-overs went into the fridge to be used within the next day or two. Both of these are considered specialty sauces. Like any aromatic sauce, these sauces tend to be better after the flavours meld. Unlike many of the other tomato products, specialty sauces are processed using a boiling water bath (BWB) canner.

Creole sauce is a spicy Southern sauce that is perfect for baking and barbequing chicken or fish. This is what I would consider a quick start sauce Chicken, fish or shrimp as well as celery, sweet peppers, onion and garlic is added to the sauce then served on a bed of rice.

Creole Sauce
source: Bernardin, Tomatoes Canning & Speciality Recipes, 2000. Pp. 56
11 c prepared tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c green onion, chopped
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Wash, seed and chop the tomatoes. Measure into a large stockpot. Chop green pepper and onion and add to stockpot. Ad remaining ingredients to stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil then boil gently for 40 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rim. Adjust 2 piece lids. Process 20 minutes (250 ml/half pints) in boiling water bath canner.

Yield: about 9 - 250 ml jars


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Apples

Home canning has to be one of the biggest budget stretching things you can do to reduce your food budget. It means growing your own and following the harvest/sales but trust me just in terms of financial savings you will be well ahead. Your pantry will be over flowing and your family will be eating healthy meals thanks to your home canned goodies that cost a fraction of store bought.

Switching gears when home canning during harvest season is the norm because several different fruits and vegetables will be in season at the same time. In season now are Ontario: tomatoes, apples, pears, plums, onions, potatoes, rutabagas, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkins and winter squashes. Ontario corn, peaches and nectarines are just ending so may still be available in some areas. This means I will be doing a lot of switching gears over the next couple of weeks. Last week I processed 6 hampers of tomatoes with 5½ of the hampers run through the food mill for various smooth sauces. Let me tell you I was sure feeling that so really welcomed the break to visit the kids with the exception of those in Wisconsin at the home of parents to oldest grandbaby. While the guys went golfing the girls including the grandbabies went to the apple orchard.

Purchases

I adore visiting orchards! Most of the ones I frequent have U-pick as well as some type of store where you can buy already picked. They tend to be apple only, apple/pear or peach and almost all of them have local grown produce as well. What is important to realize when shopping orchards is they don't all offer the same variety of produce for various reasons. One variety may grow better than another in that location (climate) or one variety may be a better seller (economics) and one variety may offer better pest/disease resistance (economics) over other varieties.

I like going to Chudleigh's Farm for apples when in the GTA area. They are home to the famous apple blossom that I still haven't duplicated simply because I got side tracked by other things but I promise that I will put it on the top my list of things to do. I can get a couple of apple varieties at Chudleigh's that I can't get at home. Mind you I am mainly looking for cooking apples. Two of these varieties are Greenings and Wealthy. I am not happy with their prices that are considerably higher that what I pay at home but to get that particular variety I have to pay the price. All of their apples are similarly priced. At home I can easily get a bushel of apples for well under the price Chudleigh's charges. At the same time when we visit the kids I bring a 10 lb bag of L-star apples that are harder to find outside our area. I bought a 10 lb bag ($3.95) of L-stars for making applesauce.

Cooking Apples

Pictured from left to right is L-star, Greenings and Wealthy apples. Immediately the differences are size and colour. All are cooking apples but have different characteristics so are better used for one product over another.

L-star apples are beautiful saucing apples. They are very flavourful with a good tartness but what makes them perfect saucing apples is they thicken up just by puréeing. There is no need to add any sugar or cook down the sauce. This apple is definitely the star for making apple sauce! They are a bit smaller this year averaging about 6.5 cm (2.75 in).

Greenings apples remind me of what Granny Smith apples used to be. They have a nice green peel with a tart flavour and firm texture. They are a nice pie apple but also can be used for sauce. If using for sauce a bit of sugar or honey can be added. They are averaging about 7.5 cm (3 in) this year.

Wealthy apples are a combination in texture and flavour between L-star and Greenings. They are averaging just slightly smaller than Greenlings this year. They are a good saucing apple and are suitable for other cooking uses but will tend to break-down more.

Peeling

We eat a lot of apples but the vast majority of the apples I processed are not peeled. The reason for this is the peel adds both nutrients and fiber (when left in the finished product). The peel also adds flavour and colour to the finished product. For that reason I have a cheap apple peeler bought through Avon.

Ok, I didn't spend a lot on my apple peeler but it takes the pressure off my wrists. I will have to replace it as the suction cups do not want to work on the new tile. If you have a lot of apples to peel, an apple peeler is a must for speeding up the process. Don't toss those apple peels! They can be used to make homemade liquid pectin or juice.

Pie Fillings & Applesauce

I wrote before about apple pie filling and applesauce so nothing has really changed. Pictured are "Wealthy" apple pie filling (1), L-star applesauce (2)and "Greenings" apple pie filling (3). Recipes can be found clicking the links.

A general rule of thumb is 10 lb of apples will yield about 6 - 500 ml (pint) jars of apple pie filling or apple sauce. Wealthy is a nice cooking apple with a lot of flavour and it is quite firm so I was disappointed with the results of the apple pie filling (1). Clearly the apples broke down a bit more than the Greenings (2). That doesn't mean the apple pie filling made with Wealthy apples is unusable but it will be reserved for tarts and fillings where slices are not as important. I do not flavour or add sugar to my apple sauces because we prefer the taste of apple only and because I like to cook with applesauce. What you will notice is my apple sauces range from a very pale creamy white to a very pink depending on the apples used. This colour comes from the peelings. Not only does it add character it adds flavour. My basic method for making applesauce never varies. I wash the apples then quarter. They go into a large stock pot with about an inch of water. I cook and stir until all of the apples are cooked then put them through the food mill. The hot applesauce is then processed.

Thursday I am back to processing tomatoes so watch for a few new recipes. I will still be processing more apples as I need a year's supply. Most will be as sauce or pie filling but some will be dehydrated. I will be doing at least one batch of Apple Maple Jam as it is perfect for cooking with. Watch this blog for more ways that I use up my apple preserves.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Two Easy Low Cost Freezer Meals & Inspiration from Take-Out

I'm in the middle of processing tomatoes so am relying on both my pantry and freezer stores for quick yet tasty meals. We left last Friday to visit the kids and celebrate our Canadian Thanksgiving (October 13, 2008) early. I was already feeling the effects of using the manual food mill so much so the break was very much appreciated. After a lovely trip to Cudleigh's for apples, a stop at the plant nursery, a wonderful turkey dinner and two nights away we made our way back home with my husband sniffling and complaining of a sore throat. The weather had turned cold then has been raining on and off since so getting tomatoes just wasn't going to happen.

Noodles with Mushroom Sauce

We arrived home late Sunday afternoon leaving not a lot of time to do a lot of cooking for dinner. My husband gets cravings for comfort food when he isn't feeling well so it was no surprise when he wanted noodles with mushroom sauce. This is a very simple yet comforting dish consisting of four ingredients. I like adding fresh parsley as a garnish so technically it is five.

I pulled a container of homemade mushroom soup and pound of ground beef from the freezer to thaw then chopped up a Spanish onion while the ground beef was browning. Raw onions are good for any respiratory ailments. I cooked the extra broad egg noodles until they were al dente, drained then stirred in the mushroom soup, onions and ground beef. I garnished with fresh parsley which is also eaten to provide additional Vitamin C something the body needs any time but more so when not feeling well.

Always freeze left-over soups as they can often form the basis of a quick, low cost meal. Almost all homemade soups freeze nicely. Those with noodles tend to freeze well but noodles can become soggy or fall apart when reheated depending on how they are reheated. A way around this is to slightly under cook pasta in soups that will be frozen but this is unavoidable for left-overs. Cream based homemade soups will show some signs of separation. This is fine. Simply stir the soup well when reheating.

Breaded Porkchops

Pictured are my husband's famous breaded pork chops paired with oven baked potatoes and home canned green beans. By Monday night my husband was feeling pretty tough but still able wanting more of the solid types of comfort food. I pulled two of his breaded pork chops from the freezer. These were left-over from the last time we had them and I have to admit this is the first time I tried freezing. What I did was allow the cooked, breaded pork chops to cool then froze. To re-heat I put in the oven at 350ºF along with whole potatoes for about 40 minutes. This warmed the pork chops through nicely.

Whenever you are cooking always keep in mind that you can put up a bit in the freezer at least enough for a quick start for a meal. A real time saver is having pre-cooked meat ready to use in the freezer. Simply add vegetables and there you have a nice meal with almost no effort.

Harvey's Original

By far the vast majority of the hamburgers we eat are homemade usually grilled. Awhile ago I made and entry titled Burger with an Attitude inspired by Harvey's original cheeseburger with the works. This is one of the very few fast food restaurants I will eat the food. Harvey's is a Canadian fast food franchise available only in Canada but not Canada wide (only in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec) specializing in grilled burgers, fresh cut French fries and it uses Canadian ingredients as much as possible. Their first location opened in Richmond Hill, Ontario in 1959. When you go into a Harvey's, they ask you the number of patties then you stand in front of the toppings offering so you can build your burger the way you want it.

My husband stopped at Harvey's Tuesday night mainly because with him not feeling well he wanted fast, comfort food. Now we live about a half hour from the closest Harvey's or any other fast food place for that matter. Fast food simply does not travel all that well. Still it was nice to taste the burger that was inspiration for one of our favorite and fantastic homemade burgers. I should also mention that their fries were the inspiration for my home cut home fries.

If you find you really enjoy a fast food item look for copycat recipes. It's surprising what's out there as far as recipes. If you can't find an actual copycat recipe then bring one of those food items home and take it apart if you can. It might take a little tweaking but chances are you will be able to come up with something very similar if not a bit better and likely for a lower price. So do give it a try.