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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.
  • [March 19, 2020] - Effective Mar 17, this blog will no longer accept advertising. The reason is very simple. If I like a product, I will promote it without compensation. If I don't like a product, I will have no problem saying so.
  • [March 17, 2020] - A return to blogging! Stay tuned for new tips, resources and all things food related.
  • [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! [Update: 4ever Recap appears to be out of business.]

Popular Posts

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Braised Beef Ribs

I was looking through the very full freezers to find something a bit different for a summer meal when the temperatures took a bit of a dip even though the humidex was still quite high.  One package of beef was labeled as braising ribs so I thought that would work well.  Instead of using the slow cooker or conventional oven I braised the ribs in the countertop roaster.  This small kitchen appliance gives the same results as a conventional oven without heating up the kitchen reduces our carbon foot print on high humidex days where using the natural gas grill is not as desirable.

braised beef ribs
Braising means to cook in liquid usually long and slow.  This method is best used for cheaper, less tender cuts of meat.  I placed the ribs on a bed of sliced Spanish onion then poured 2 cups of water over the ribs.  After sprinkling with a little Montreal Steak Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce, I set the roaster to 110ºC (250ºF) for about 2 hours.  Then I stirred in 3 tins of condensed mushroom soup and the potato chunks.  I increased the temperature to 175ºC (350ºF) and let cook for an hour. 

The meat was nice and tender, fall off the bone.  It was a bit fattier than I would have liked but the fat helped keep the meat tender as well.  The mushroom soup formed a simple yet tasty gravy for the potatoes.  I served with a side of steam broccoli.  The meal took on more of a comfort meal which is surprising as we really needed it.  The weather was wearing very thin on us with high temperature and humidity combined with violent storms.  A little comfort food was needed!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cheese & Mushroom Stuffed Meatloaf

During the summer months we are used to hot and humid weather.  However the weather has been rather unpredictable this year.  A couple of days ago the weather turned cool so I took advantage of that to make meatloaf.  Meatloaf in the summer is great hot on cooler nights but slices nicely for sandwiches the next day.  It also freezes nicely for later use for sandwiches or wraps. 

cheese and mushroom stuffed meatlaof
I seldom use an actual loaf pan for meatloaf.  I hand forming into a baking pan which results in oblong cuts or I use a deeper (about 8" x 9" x 4")  but smaller baking pan.  I made a basic meatloaf base consisting of lean ground beef, mustard, eggs, ketchup, seasonings and bread crumbs.  Then I pressed ¾of the mixture into the pan pushing up the sides to form a type of shell.  Once the shell was formed I filled with raw spinach, sautéed onions and bacon pieces, and provolone cheese.  When the well was stuffed I topped with the remaining ¼ of the meat mixture forming a top.  I baked the meatloaf at 180ºC (350ºF) for about 45 minutes.

Meatloaf stuffed with cheese oozes its rich, yummy goodness so I've never had it cut neatly.  We cut meatloaf cooked in the wider baking dishes into squares rather slices.  This makes for a nice substantial piece of meatloaf easily topped with sauce and big enough to appreciate the stuffing.  I served the meatloaf with oven baked russet potatoes and sautéed, garden fresh zucchini with spanish onions in butter.  The zucchini was picked from the garden moments before doing the sautée!  This is the way I like to have fresh vegetables when the garden is producing.  This is very much a summertime comfort meal on the cooler days.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kitchen Quick Tips - Kitchen Garbage

kitchen quick tips

Keep a spray bottle of ammonia near the outside kitchen garbage can.  Spray the with the ammonia to keep animals away.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Popcorn Popper

Popcorn has been a  favourite snack right from our dating days.  It's inexpensive and easy to make.  I made popcorn for years using a pot on the stove and occasionally we'd buy a Jiffy Pop to use when camping.  I bought an air popper popcorn maker that made making popcorn easier but noiser.  Much later we discovered microwave popcorn.  I used to pick-up a large box of microwave popcorn at Sam's Club but then discovered the potential health risks associated with microwave popcorn so I switched to a Whirley popper.  I really like my Whirley popper and it did a wonderful job until the gear mechanism on the lid broke.  My immediate thought was to buy another Whirley popper but then I found this little beauty.

Cuisinart® EasyPop™ Popcorn Maker PCM-1800RSA
I liked both the design and functional features of the Cuisinart® EasyPop™ Popcorn Maker PCM-1800RSA at Sam's Club for $25.71 (pictured) so decided to try it.  A new Whirley popper would have cost me $25.19 plus shipping.  The EasyPop™ has all the benefits of a Whirley pop without any of the work.  You simply put the popping plate onto the base then place the bowl on top that doubles as a serving bowl later.  The bowl has vents on the top to keep the popcorn tender and crispy just like the Whirley pop.  When the corn is finished popping you can place the cap over the vents then invert bowl with popping plate.  The popping plate is quite hot so should be returned to the base to allow cooling.  The popcorn in the bowl can then be seasoned and served in the bowl or poured into another serving bowl.  The bowl, lid and popping plate are dishwasher safe.  A measuring cup (not pictured) is included for easy measuring of the popcorn.

popping plate
The EasyPop™ has a stirring mechanism similar to a Whirley popper except it is motorized.  The popping plate has a non-stick surface.  It is fully immersible and dishwasher-safe.  The popping plate itself locks into place on the base.  If the popping plate is not properly positioned the unit will not operate.  You add the desired amount of oil and popcorn then place the inverted bowl into position on top of the popping plate and turn the unit on.  Unlike hot air poppers the EasyPop™ is quiet.  The main noise is the corn popping.  This popcorn maker makes up to 10 cups of popcorn in under 5 minutes.  It uses 550 W almost a quarter of the energy used by most large stove elements (2000 W).  I like that this small appliance will save money while giving me the same great results.

fresh popped corn
The seasoning possibilites for popcorn are endless.  By far our favourite seasoning is simply butter and salt so that is how I flavoured the first batch of popcorn made with the EasyPop™.  The results were as good as the Whirley popper.  The popcorn was tender and crisp.

The popcorn maker came with an instruction and recipe booklet.  Some of the recipes sound quite interesting - southwestern popcorn, wasabi popcorn, pesto popcorn and even chocolate popcorn!  I will post various popcorn creations as I make them. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Using My First Marketmore Cucumber

The garden is starting to produce nicely!  Like many home gardeners I await rather impatiently for the garden beds to start producing.  Patience is not my strong suit so it has been sorely tested this year with the 2 largest beds planted late followed by the 2 newest beds planted even later.  While most of the planting was within the range of local farmer's planting their crops I missed out on the cold weather crops.  I didn't plant those because I knew we would be away for a couple of weeks checking out our vacation home. So the garden is now producing :)

marketmore cucumber
I picked a marketmore cucumber last week and it sure was a beauty coming in at just over 9½- inches.  The diameter was a little over 2 - inches.  This is a thick, straight cucumber that matures in about 60 days.  The vine is laden with cucumbers so I can see a lot of fresh eating as well as a batch or two of sweet relish in the future.

Part of the satisfaction of growing your own fruits and vegetables aside from knowing they were grown organically is freshness.  When the garden is producing I quite often make a mental note of what is ready for picking during my morning garden check.  Then I try to work that produce into that evening's meal, picking moments before prep is needed.  That way I get the freshest possible produce.  I also note any produce that is in excess for preserving picking for freshest possible.

marketmore cucumber sliced
This is my first year growing marketmore cucumber but rest assured it will not be my last.  I will definitely be saving a few seeds from this excellent performer!  The cucumber was nice and straight with good diameter.  I sliced it in half them peeled and sliced into beautiful, fresh smelling slices.  I repeated with the other half.  The cucumber taste and aroma was just delightful!

The marketmore cucumber is ideal for slicing and fresh eating.  It also lends itself well for making quick summer refrigerator pickles.  If you are interested in growing marketmore you won't be disappointed.  It is a very good performer free of most cucumber plant problems.

chicken wing dinner
Summer meals need to be a bit lighter especially in calories simply because our bodies don't need all the heavy calories for the cold winter months.  Our summer meals tend to reflect that usually with more of an emphasis on raw foods.  We've had a period of several hot, humid days with rather nasty thunderstorms late afternoon through the evening, not really ideal grilling weather.  I took advantage of a break in the hot, humid weather to make sweet & sour chicken wings with Basmati rice for dinner.  Rather than have a full side salad I used cucumber slices instead.  This was a nice, simple, light meal accented by the cucumber slices. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Making Your Own Seasoning Blends

Frugal Kitchens 101

Seasoning blends are often used in place of measuring out individual portions of herbs and spices.  This saves a bit of time in the kitchen.  The food industry would have us believe that the only way to get these seasoning blends is to buy their expensive packets and fancy glass bottles.  They use terms like secret blend of herbs and spices and on the actual ingredient list will list as spices rather than identify what herbs and spices are in the blend.  Restaurants often refer to seasoning blends as their house blend.  The reality is the seasoning blends were made by someone at some time.  The blend became popular so to market the blend it suddenly became secret.  Quite often the secret ingredient is sugar.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses how you can make your own seasoning blends and save money too!

A few things to consider:

  • Store bought seasoning blends are expensive.  Consider poultry seasoning and New Beau Monde seasoning.  The fancy glass bottles of each will cost somewhere in the $3 range.  A packet of poultry seasoning that you can pour into your own container will cost about $2.   The homemade blend of New Beau Monde seasoning costs about 20¢ while the poultry seasoning costs about 10¢ using home dried herbs and 40¢ using dried herbs bought in bulk.  Clearly there is a substantial savings in making your own seasoning blends.
  • Many store bought seasoning blends contain additives and preservatives.  Common additives are monosodium glutamate (MSG), silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), modified corn starch, citric acid and sulphites.
  • Store bought basic salt blends are expensive.  These include onion, garlic and celery.  Each will cost in the $3 range for a small 3 oz bottle yet can easily be made for about 30¢ per 8 oz at home.
  • Making your own seasoning blends is not time consuming.  In most cases seasoning blends can be made in 5 minutes or less depending on the number of ingredients used.
  • Find seasoning blend recipes is quite easy.  You can bet if the seasoning blend exists so too does a clone recipe.  Some Chefs even include their house blends in their cookbooks.  The nice thing about this is you can tweak the recipe to your tastes.
Here are the basics you will need to make a wide variety of seasonings.  While the list looks lengthy and expensive it isn't.   Most of the herbs mentioned as well as the vegetables can be grown at home then dried to use as needed.  If you need to purchase them the best prices for dried herbs, spices, seeds and salts can be found a bulk food stores.  The prices are quite inexpensive when purchased this way.  For example I recently paid 14¢ for enough bay leaves to fill a 500 ml (pint) mason jar, 30¢ for dill seed (filled 4 oz spice bottle) and 27¢ for fennel seed (filled 4 oz spice bottle) at the bulk food store.  This is the number one place to buy dried herbs and spices because you buy the amount you need not the size the food industry packages them in.  The second cheapes way to buy dried herbs and spices is online through sites like  You will pay shipping but will still save money.  The third cheapest is buying herbs and spices in packets that can be poured into your own container.  Grocery stores have a limited selection of these and places like World Market have a wider selection quite reasonably priced.  Vegetable powders are quite easily made at home by drying the desired vegetable purée then powdering it in the blender.
  • basic herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bayleaf (whole, powdered), garlic, savory, cumin, lavender, dill (seeds, weed), fennel (seeds), basil
  • basic spices - pepper (white, ground, peppercorns), cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cloves, cardamon
  • basic seeds - mustard (whole, ground), poppy, celery
  • basic salts - sea (Mediterrean, Himilyan, Alaea Hawaiian), Kosher, pickling, iodized (not recommended)
  • basic powdered/dehydrated fruits/vegetables - chili, onion, tomato, carrot, mushroom, zucchini, cayenne, Spanish paprika, lime, lemon, celery

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Strawberry Mango Jam

I mentioned in yesterday's post that  of the local grocery stores had strawberries on for 99¢ per pound last week.  While they were not local berries and they were packaged in 4 lb clam shell packages (not my favourite packaging) the price was good enough to pick up some.  This is one thing to keep in mind when canning.  Local produce is always preferred but don't overlook good deals on produce not grown locally like bananas, mangos, kiwis and mandarin oranges. 

strawberry mango jam
This has been the year of the mango so far.  As I was making jam that day I thought strawberries and mango would make a nice a combination for jam.  The nice thing about making combination jams is there really is no set amount for each fruit used as long as they add up to the total amount of desired fruit.  In this case I wanted 4 cups total in berries to give a yield of 2 - 500 ml jars of jam with just a little leftover.  It's always best to make just a little extra of the test jam to be sure there is enough jam to fill 2 full jars which is my prefered number for test batches of jams.  A test batch is just that.  I'm looking for flavour, gelling, textures and appearance as well as how well received the jam is before making a larger batch.

The strawberry mango jam did not disappoint.  The next time I make it I will add a bit of vanilla to make the flavours sparkle.  The jam gelled nicely so the pectin and calcium water do not need to be adjusted.  The jam has a nice appearance and wonderful flavour.

Strawberry Mango Jam

3 c prepared strawberries
1 c mango, diced
2 c organic sugar
¼ c preservative free lemon juice
2 tsp Pomona's pectin
2 tsp calcium water

Wash and hull the strawberries.   Chop in food processor measuring out 3 cups.    Pour prepared strawberries into large saucepan.  Dice mango and measure out 1 cup.  Mix mango into the strawberries.  Mix in lemon juice and calcium water.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and pectin well.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.  Return to a low boil cooking and stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Ladle into hot jars.  Secure the two piece lids.  Process in BWB canner for 10 minutes or adjusted timing according to altitude adjustment chart for your altitude.

Yield: 2 - 500 ml (pint) jars

*Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin.  Do not substitute with other powdered pectins in this recipe.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Strawberry season ended here about 3 weeks ago.  For many including myself that means in the short span of about 10 days to 2 weeks, strawberries were the main focus.  Last week one of the local grocery stores had strawberries on for 99¢ per pound.  While they were not local berries the price was good enough to pick up some.  I bought 2 - 4 lb clam shell packets of these strawberries.  When it comes to canning local is always best but a good deal like this should not be overlooked.

strawberry vanilla jam
The strawberries were huge!  Even the local strawberries this year were huge which really is not the best strawberry jam berries.  The best berries for strawberry jams are the small, sweet ones.  Homemade strawberry jam is wonderful, a true delight.  However homemade strawberry jam can take on the gourmet touch by adding just that little bit of extra.  In this case I added 100% pure vanilla that just pairs so nicely with the strawberry flavour.  This is a family favourite!

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

4 c prepared strawberries
2 c organic sugar
¼ c preservative free lemon juice
2 tsp Pomona's pectin
2 tsp calcium water
1 tsp 100% pure vanilla

Wash and hull the strawberries.   Chop in food processor measuring out 4 cups.    Pour prepared strawberries into large saucepan.  Mix in lemon juice and calcium water.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and pectin well.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.  Return to a low boil cooking and stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool 5 minutes.  Stir in vanilla.  Ladle into hot jars.  Secure the two piece lids.  Process in BWB canner for 10 minutes or adjusted timing according to altitude adjustment chart for your altitude.

Yield: 2 - 500 ml (pint) jars

*Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin.  Do not substitute with other powdered pectins in this recipe.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Watermelon Jam

Watermelon is a wonderful summer treat that is often overlooked when preserving.  However, watermelon can be used to make wine, jam, jelly, frozen in cubes for smoothies and dried as chunks or purée for homemade fruit roll-ups.  Once the sweet flesh of the watermelon is used the rinds can be pickled.  Watermelons tend to be quite inexpensive if you don't grow them.  New seedless varieties lend themselves nicely to all of these applications.  One watermelon will yield about a gallon bag of cubes for freezing, 3 - 500 ml (pint) jars of jam and about 4 - 500 ml (pint) jars of watermelon rind pickles.  Drying watermelon takes a bit longer due to the higher water content but is well worth doing.  The end result is a delicious natural candy!  There is very little waste when preserving watermelon.

Over the years I have tinkered with making watermelon jam.  My first attempt was edible but too sweet because it used regular pectin and 7 c of sugar!  It never did gel up nicely so was used for an ice cream topping.  It has been quite some time since I have used regular pectin.  Instead I use Pomona's pectin which is a low methoxy pectin that does not depend on sugar for gelling.  My watermelon jam experiments have been considerably more encouraging using this pection while avoiding the long cook methods of old.

Pictured is this the first of year's watermelon jam experiments that gave a yield of 3 - 500 ml (pint) jars.  I ran 3 different jams that day so in comparison once the jars cooled the watermelon jam was still a bit runnier than desired but with Pomona's pectin it can take a few days for the jam to tighten right up.  The following day the jam had gelled more so the result is a thin spread that would be good as is or as a thicker topping for cream cheese or ice cream.   I suspect it will thicken up a bit more yet. 

Watermelon Jam

4 c prepared watermelon
2 c organic sugar
¼ c organic, preservative free lemon juice
2 tsp Pomona's pectin*
2 tsp calcium water

Wash the outside of the watermelon.  Cut into quarters then cut each quarter into 1 - inch pieces.  Cut flesh from the rind reserving the rind if making pickles.  Chop watermelon in food processor measuring out 4 cups.    Pour prepared watermelon into large saucepan.  Mix in lemon juice and calcium water.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and pectin well.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.  Return to a low boil cooking and stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Ladle into hot jars.  Secure the two piece lids.  Process in BWB canner for 10 minutes or adjusted timing according to altitude adjustment chart for your altitude (please see canning information tab).

Yield: 3 - 500 ml (pint) jars

*Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin.  Do not substitute with other powdered pectins in this recipe.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kitchen Quick Tips - Ginger Root

kitchen quick tips

Peel the entire ginger root and freeze.  Grate as needed and return the remainder to the freezer.  The ginger will stay fresh for several months this way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two Quick and Easy Summer Sandwiches

When the summer temperature soar and the air is heavy with humidity we don't feel like eating heavy meals.  Sandwiches are perfect for this type of weather because they are quite portable and they don't heat up the kitchen.  They are also quite versatile using any bread and filling you want ranging from cold to hot, plain to fancy and everything in between.

ham pocket
Pita aka pocket bread are ideal for making quick sandwiches.  Pitas are are a bit lighter in calories coming in at 160 calories per pita compared to 2 slices of bread averaging 185 calories.  However, a half pita is sufficient for one large sandwich so that reduces the bread component of the sandwich to 80 calories.  Pitas are also a bit lower in carbohydrates coming in at 10% compared to 12% of sliced bread.  In short pitas are a bit healthier for you.

I stuffed a half of whole wheat pita with red leaf lettuce, sliced ham, red onions, and tomatoes.  I used  new beau monde vegetable dip in place of mayonnaise for a bit more flavour.  Dips aren't just for dipping.  I often use them in sandwiches.  Dips make a good mayonnaise replacement because they are thick and creamy but many have refreshing, light flavours to brighten up any sandwich.

ham provolone panini
A sandwich press is ideal for making hot sandwiches during the heat of the summer without heating up the kitchen.  The nice thing is there is very little clean-up using a sandwich press either.  Not only do you reduce the heat from cooking but also from the clean-up so it is a summer time win/win.  It's quick and easy as well so this is one small appliance that comes in quite handy during the summer months.

I made this delightful ham and provolone panini for lunch.  I spred the bread slices with new beau monde vegetable dip to add a bit more pizzaz then layered the cheese and meat.  I served the panini with dill pickle spears.  Just look at those lovely grill marks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade Kosher Dill Pickles (video)

Jams and pickles are processed using a boiling water bath (BWB) canner all you really need is a stock pot tall enough to cover the jars by 1 - inch, a rack in the bottom, mason jars and 2-piece snap lids.  The equipment is very inexpensive and chances are you already have the pot.  However,  I often run across the question of how to preserve foods like jams and pickles without the necessary canning equipment.  In this case turn to your freezer and refrigerator.  One of our family favourite pickles that I make every year is freezer pickles.  I recently came across this video showing how to make Kosher dill pickles in the refrigerator that I am planning on trying as soon as my pickling cucumbers are ready in the garden.  What is nice about this is the recipe is per jar so you can tailor it to fit your needs making one or two jars as the cucumbers become available.  I will post my results later.  I've written out the recipe for you below the video.  Kirby is a variety of cucumber.  Don't worry if you don't have Kirby as any pickling cucumber will work in this recipe.

Homemade Kosher Dill Pickles
source: video
note: recipe is per quart jar of pickles

5 pickle sized Kirby cucumbers, quartered
9 oz water
5 oz white vinegar (5% acetic acid)
¼ tsp sugar
2 dill heads and stems
1 lg clove garlic
1 small onion (golf ball size)
1 tbsp Kosher salt
handful peppercorns
handful mustard seed

Wash and quarter or slice cucumbers as desired or you can leave them whole.  Chop onion and place in container.  Add sugar, garlic, salt, peppercorns and mustard seed.  Add chopped dill.  Tightly pack pickles into container.  Pour vinegar and water into sauce pan.  Bring to to just barely a boil.   Pour over cucumbers to cover.  Place the lid on the container.  Let sit for one day then refrigerate.  The pickles will be ready to eat in 10 days but the longer they sit the more dill flavour they will have.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Pomona's Pectin

Frugal Kitchens 101

We seldom use jams as spreads but rather as fillings, meat/poultry/fish glazes, an ingredient, topper and condiments.  Most of the jams I make are created by me.  I use Pomona's pectin which is a low methoxy pectin that I use to make gourmet syle low sugar jams.  I actually like making jams and jellies using local honey or maple syrup.  The flavour is amazing!  I can't do this using regular pectin that requires sugar for the gel.  Pomona's pectin (no affiliation or compensation) gives me clean, consistent results allowing me the flexibility when making jams and jellies.  At the same time it cost me money on the pectin alone and when making low sugar jams on the cost of sugar too.  From a canning perspective this is one of my most frugal additions to my canning repetoir.  Here's why:

  • storage  - Unlike other pectins, Pomona's pectin is shelf stable with no expiry date making it the ideal emergency preparedness product. It will consistently gel without fail.  Regular pectins (eg. Certo, SureJel) have an expiry date usually about a year from purchase after which time the gelling properties diminish or even fail.
  • flexibility - Pomona's pectin allows you to easily make test batches of jam using as little as a cup of fruit.  This is particularly useful when trying new combinations, testing for gelling and flavour.  In addition to this Pomona's pectin does not rely on sugar for gelling but rather calcium water.  Monocalcium phosphate is included with Pomona's pectin to make the solution as needed.  What this means is any sweetener can be used including honey, maple syrup and artificial sweeteners.  It should be noted that sugar in jams using regular pectins also plays the role as a bulk filler adding texture.  You can certainly use the same amount of sugar if desired while still having the flexibility of using Pomona's pectin and white sugar is the cheapest of the sweeteners.  However, Pomona's pectin allows you to experiment with other sweeteners. 
  • cost - Pomona's pectin costs $48 per pound bought directly from them and that includes shipping.  One pound gives a yield of 128 tsp at a cost of 37.5¢ per tsp.  A normal sized batch of strawberry jam using regular pectin gives a yield of 4 - 500 ml (pint) jars with the pectin portion costing approximately $2.49 to $2.79 (powdered, liquid).  To make the same sized batch using Pomona's pectin you would need 4 tsp at a cost of $1.50 so for each 4 - 500 ml batch of jam you save at least $1.  That doesn't seem like a lot of money but factor in the cost over 10 batches of jam or more.  
  • not corn based -  Regular pectin actually has trace amounts of corn in it something I learned from a member on one of the groups I frequent who is dealing with a severe corn allergy.  The problem with corn is it is found in some form in a wide range of foods including regular pectin.  Pomona's pectin is citrus based with no trace amounts of corn making it a safe product for those with corn allergies or insensitivities. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Best of Chef at Home Cookbook by Chef Michael Smith

The Best of Chef at Home Cookbook by Chef Michael Smith
My Newest Cookbook

It is no secret that Michael Smith is my favourite Canadian chef! I watch his shows almost daily, taping those I can't watch to catch up when I can.  I follow him on Twitter.  I just love his cooking syle - cooking without a recipe!  I have yet to try one of his recipes that I can't add my own touch to.  That is what a recipe is all about.  A recipe is a spring board, a starting point to take it from that point and make it your own.   Chef Michael continues to be a wonderful inspiration in my cooking!

A couple of months ago, Chef Michael was in Toronto and gosh did I ever debate going to that dinner.  It was $125 a plate but with travel costs and more than likely staying overnight the true cost would have been closer to $500.  At any rate I did do a lot of debating about it.  I now have a very good reason to attend the next time I get an opportunity.  You see, I now need his autograph!

I like to thank our kids gifted me with a copy of The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith.  What a wonderful and very thoughtful gift!  I am seriously in Seventh Heaven here!  This will be one of those cookbooks that I read from cover to cover.  I can't wait to try out several of the recipes so will post as I do.  Stay tuned because you will be hearing a lot more about this cookbook.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Pectin Added Mango Marmalade

A couple of years ago I discovered mangos made a very nice chutney that has since become one of the must makes each year.  Mangos were recently on sale here (case of 14 for $3.99) so I took advantage of that to make mango chutney and mango jam and fresh eating.  I decided to look for another mango canning recipe to try.

no pectin added mango marmalade
In order to make all of these great mango products it is important to know  how to cut a mango. This method will greatly reduce the prep time and frustration dealing with the large pit in the mango.  Mangos have a lovely sweet-tart flavour quite different from peaches that they are often likened to. They have quickly become one of my favourite fruits to use for canning. 

Most of the jams and jellies I make are created by me using Pomona's pectin (low methoxy pectin).  This allows me to use whatever sweetener I want so all of the recipes using this pectin are low sugar or use another sweetener like honey.  There are a few jams and jellies in the archives using regular pectin (eg. Certo, SureJel).  Mango Marmalade is the first of no pectin added jams.  No pectin added jams have a longer cook time reducing while cooking the syrup portion created by the sugar to a stage where it gels.  Longer cooked jams have a unique flavour that can't be duplicated using pectin added, short cook times much the same that freezer jams have a different flavour because they have not been cooked.  This tropica marmalade is simply delightful.  It's so easy to make you will want to do a couple of batches.  It will be wonderful served over cream cheese as an appetizer!

No Pectin Added Mango Marmalade
modified from: Ellie Toop and Margaret Howard, Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, 2001. Pp. 90.

2 lemons
2 c water
2 mangos
2 c organic sugar

Wash then cut the lemons in half and slice thinly.  Place lemons and water in medium sized non-aluminum saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and cook stirring occasionally for 25 minutes.  Add mangos and sugar.  Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.  Test for gel*.  Ladle into hot jars.  Wipe rim.  Adjust 2 - piece lids.  Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Remove from canner and allow to cool undisturbed for 24 hours.  Test for seal then label and store.

Yield: 3 - 250 ml jars

* Dip a spoon into the marmalade to coat.  Let cool.  When it forms a gel the marmalade is ready to jar.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Low Sugar Mixed Berry Jam

Each year I experiment trying new canning recipes in addition to my tried and tested recipes.  Quite often I end up finding one or more recipes that can be added to my ever growing list of tried and tested recipes.  It's nice to be able to new products to the pantry shelves!

mixed berry jam
It is common practice in canning to lower the cost while increasing the yield of a product by combining lower priced or more abundant produce with higher priced or less abundant produce.  This practice helps to use up the garden's bounty as well.  Mixed berry jams are great for using up the last of the season berries of one type while berries of another type are in season.  It is a good way to get the flavour of higher priced berries like raspberries while stretching the jam yield by adding less expensive berries.  One of the local grocery stores had strawberries on for 99¢ per lb as well as blueberries and blackberries on for $1.47 per pint.  Local raspberries are in season now going for $2.25 per pint.  A small batch of jam using the more expensive berries would cost $5.58 to $10 for 5 - 250 ml (half pint) jars.  Mixing the berries to make a mixed berry jam that includes the cheaper strawberries reduces the cost while giving the same yield.  Mixing the berries is not all about cost savings though.  Mixing the berries gives a wonderfully, full bodied jam full of flavour.  This jams is simply delightful!

Low Sugar Mixed Berry Jam
source:  Garden Gnome

4 c mixed berries*, crushed
2 c organic sugar
2 tsp Pomona's pectin**
2 tsp calcium water

Wash and prepare the berries.  Measure 4 cups of prepared berries.   Place the berries into a large saucepan.  Stir in calcium water.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and pectin well.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.  Return to a low boil cooking and stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Ladle into hot jars.  Secure the two piece lids.  Process in BWB canner for 10 minutes or adjusted timing according to altitude adjustment chart for your altitude.
Yield: 5 - 250 ml (half-pint) jars

* I used about 1 cup each of black berries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
** Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin.  Do not substitute with other powdered pectins in this recipe

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kitchen Quick Tips - Cutting Cake

kitchen quick tips

Use dental floss to cut a cake in half horizontally for a neater cut.  Simply wrap the thread around the sides of the cake making sure it is centred then cross the ends and pull together to slice the cake into two layers.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Deep Fried Frog Legs

Earlier this year I posted about an  all you can eat perch and frog legs dinner.  I have been on a quest to secure a local source for frog legs so I can cook them at home.  After a bit of finagling our local butcher shop is now carrying them.  They are not quite as big and they are frozen but I suspect in most areas here in Ontario the frog legs will be frozen unless you catch and prepare them yourself.  DH paid $5.49 for 4 nice sized frog legs so in terms of cost they are in the low to mid-range of other seafood.

raw and coated frog legs
Frog legs come in pairs cut just above the hips of the frog.  The meat should look clean, glistening and tenuous (1).  There should be very little prep other than coating them as desired then deep frying.  I used Cabela's Down Home Fish Fry Cajun as a dry coating for the frog legs (2).  I fried the frog legs at 180ºC (350ºF) until golden brown.

frog leg meal
Friday nights tend to be red meat free here.  When the kids were younger it was either fish & chips or homemade pizza.  Now we are empty nesters it tends to be seafood usually as date night but sometimes cooked at home.  The frog legs were part of a seafood dinner cooked at home last Friday.  The frog legs and homemade French fries were deep fried while the lightly coated cod was pan fried.  Accompanying the meal was a fresh tossed garden salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing and fresh picked raspberries with vanilla yogurt.

The frog legs did not disappoint!  The coating was not exactly the same as the coating used on the all-you-can-eat meal but it was good.  The nice thing is the frog legs are not really expensive so I can do a bit of experimenting to get the coating just the way I want it.  I like the little bite the Cajun coating gave but next time I think I will try a wet coating to see how that turns out.  All in all I'm quite pleased with my first attempt at cooking frog legs at home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Beau Monde Marinated Chicken

Of the two beau monde seasonings mentioned in Saturday's post the New Beau Monde seasoning is the most versatile.  very easy and inexpensive to make at home .  New beau monde seasoning can be used for seasoning meats, fish, poultry, dips and marinades where it flavours nicely without overpowering.   It can even be used for adding a bit of extra flavour to coatings for fish and other deep fried foods. 

beau monde marinated chicken breasts
Following my theme of using beau monde seasoning I decided a marinade with new beau monde seasoning. The marinade I made is Asian inspired.  It is very dark and flavourful marinade.  That is reflected in the end result of the meat.  I used chicken breasts that really took on the colour of the marinade nicely.  What was quite noticeable was the marinated chicken breasts took on a plumb but tight skinned appearance.  In hind sight though a little fresh ginger would have been a nice addition and next time I will increase the new beau monde seasoning by half.

New Beau Monde Marinade
source:  Garden Gnome

½ c soy sauce
1 c water
½ Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
8 c Grace's browning
1 tsp new beau monde seasoning

Combine ingredients.  Pour over chicken, beef or pork.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.

beau monde marinated chicken meal
I baked the marinated chicken breasts with the potatoes at 180ºC (350ºF) for 40 minutes in the new nami coated baking dish.  Then I removed the chicken breasts to rest before slicing.  Slicing the chicken revealed the juicy, tender white meat with the outer layer darkened by the marinade.  It was a lovely contrast!  I served the chicken with the baked potatoes, home canned wax beans, and tomatoes on a bed of iceberg lettuce with new beau monte dip

The chicken marinated with the new beau monde marinade was as tasty as it looked.  It had good flavour with great eye appeal.  This would be a great way to do chicken for wraps.  The chicken could also be used for a chicken Caesar salad.  The marinade definitely would give good results with pork tenderloin!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Is Organic Food Worth It?

Frugal Kitchens 101

Organic has become the new buzzword in food over the past decade.  The reality is well before organic became a marketing buzzword, many recognized the importance of eating organically produced foods. Organic foods cost more because they are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.  The use of machinery is kept to a bare minimum to avoid contaminating the soil and in fact to be certified organic in some areas machinery cannot be used on the farms where the produce is grown.  Produce grown organically is more labour intensive and subject to a lower yield due to loss through plant diseases and insect damage.  Organic foods tend to be higher priced as a direct result of growing organically.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 addresses the issue of whether organic food is worth the extra cost.

Organic produce is free from synthetic pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer residues and are not genetically modified (GMO).  Organic meat products are free of animal by-product feed, antibiotics and hormones.  There has been a growing concern as to the negative side effects these residues have on the body.  It is better to avoid consuming them.  There are twelve produce items known as the dirty dozen.  These items have thin skin with no protective layer so synthetic residues can penetrate through the entire fruit or vegetable.  They are: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes1.  These fruits and vegetables should always be purchased organic.  There are 15 fruits and vegetables that are known as the clean 15.  These fruits and vegetables have a thicker skin or protective layer that prevents synthetic pesticides and fertilizers from penetrating the entire food.  They are: onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato and honeydew melon2.

In my opinion the price of organic food is worth.  How do you find organic produce and other foods?  There are several available sources for organic foods.  They include:

  • Grow an organic garden yourself and extend that growing greens, herbs and other fruits and vegetables indoor through the winter months.
  • Shop organic fruit and vegetable stands for fresh produce.
  • Take advantage of organic U-picks where picking the produce yourself is cheaper.
  • Organic is the marketing buzzword so many grocery stores now have an organic foods aisle for dried (flours, cereals, grains, pastas), canned (fruits, vegetables, condiments) and bottled (fruits, vegetables, juices) foods.  Quite often organic produce is marked with some type of sign in the produce section however if it isn't check the little produce code stickers.  If the number starts with a 9 it is organic. 
  • Shop specialty stores (bulk food stores, health food stores) for dried foods like cereals and grains.  Some health food stores also carry refrigerator items.
  • Buy local honey directly from the beekeeper.
  • Buy organic meats directly from a farmer that raises organically or buy certified organic meats in the grocery store.  Buy organic, free range chickens and eggs again either directly from the farmer or certified in the grocery stores.  In some municipalities it is possible to raise your own backyard chickens giving you a good source of fresh organic eggs.
  • Many organic items such as jams, jellies, herbs, cheeses, seafood and much more can be ordered online and delivered right to your door.
  • Ask at the health food store and organic stands where to find other organic growers in your area. 
  • Do a Google search for organic growers in your area.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Beau Monde Vegetable Dip

Yesterday I wrote about two very different beau monde seasonings.  The first is a rich, warm, spicy and aromatic blend originally made by Old World Seasonings.  It is no longer being made.  The clone recipe is Old Beau Monde Seasoning.  The second is a lightly seasoned blend known as New Beau Monde seasoning.  It is a clone of the Spice Islands Beau Monde seasoning blend.  These beau monde blends are not interchangeable.

Homemade dips are very easy to make and they are less expensive than store bought.  You can  create unique dips that you can't buy too.  The base ingredients I use for dips include cream or cottage chees, sour cream and mayonnaise or MiracleWhip® salad dressing.

I used the mason jar blender method to make New Beau Monde Dip.  This dip has a light, creamy flavour that pairs nicely with crudites.  It would also be a good dip for chips. I would be tempted to stir in a tablespoon of finely chopped red or yellow sweet peppers as well.

New Beau Monde Dip

½ c cottage cheese
½ c sour cream
⅓ c MiracleWhip® salad dressing
1 tbsp minced red onion
½ tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp new beau monde seasoning

Place all the ingredients except onion and parsley into blender.  Blend well.  Stir in parsley and onion.  Chill 30 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beau Monde Seasoning Mixes

I make a lot of my own spice and herb blends which means not only am I on the lookout for common blends I'm also looking for those that aren't quite so common.  One day I was looking for recipes and came across a recipe calling for Beau Monde Seasoning blend.  Beau Monde is French for Beautiful World.  Now with a name like that how could I not try this seasoning blend?  A bit of research found that there are actually two versions of this seasoning blends and they are not interchangeable!  Most newer recipes calling for Beau Monde seasoning don't take into account there are two versions of this seasoning blend so unless specified use the New Beau Monde seasoning blend.  I decided to make a batch of each so will post recipes using each as I use them. 

old beau monde seasoning blend
Old Beau Monde Seasoning Blend is a spicy, warm blend suitable for poultry, beef, fish, vegetables, sauces and dips.  It was originally made by Old World Seasonings but is no longer available.   It smelled wonderful making the blend!  This blend adds a warm, spicy, aromatic, bolder note than the new beau monde version that follows below.  I also think it would be a bit overpowering for fish and dips so use sparingly to get the flavour you want. 

Old Beau Monde Seasoning Blend
source: unknown

1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp ground bay leaf
1 tbsp ground allspice
 2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp celery seed
2 tbsp ground white pepper

Combine the ingredients and mix well. Pour into a container to use as desired.

new beau monde seasoning blend
New Beau Monde Seasoning differs radically from Old Beau Monde Seasoning.  This is the beau monde seasoning that was originally put out by Spice Islands and used mainly for dips and sauces.  It is light enough to be used for some fishes as well.

New Beau Monde Seaoning
source: Garden Gnome

1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp celery seed
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp organic sugar

Mix the ingredients together.  Pour into spice jar to use as desired.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Seafood Lettuce Wraps

Ontario has been under a heat wave since Sunday and it is not predicted to end until this Friday.  Preparing a no-cook or minimal-cook meal is always important on days like this to minimize any heat in house.  If you are using air conditioning cooking taxes it more and if you don't have air condition extra heat and humidity from cooking does not help.  Tuesday (July 6) it was really too hot to even grill.  I decided on a minimal-cook meal.

seafood lettuce wraps
Dinner consisted of seafood lettuce wraps, peeled pre-cooked frozen shrimp and deviled eggs.   The only thing that required cooking were the eggs for deviled eggs and egg salad for lunch the following day.   The method for cooking hard boiled eggs that I use requires only bringing the water to a boil with the eggs cooking to perfection it the covered pan during the sitting period.    It was a light, refreshing meal for a hot summer evening.

Seafood Lettuce Wraps

1 can (5 oz/142 g) solid white albacore tuna
1 can (4 oz/120 g) chunk crab meat
4 - inch piece of English cucumber, chopped
2 tbsp green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp celery seed
⅓ - ½ c MiracleWhip® salad dressing
1 leaf of lettuce per wrap*

Prepare cucumber, green pepper and red onion.  Place in mixing bowl.  Add celery seed.  Drain tuna and crab meat. Pour the tuna and crab meat into the vegetables mixing well.   Add the desired amount of MiracleWhip® to get a nice spoonable mixture that isn't too runny.  Cover and chill the seafood mixture for about 20 minutes.  Wash and pat dry lettuce leaves. Spoon seafood mixture into the centre of each lettuce leaf.  Roll up the lettuce wrap style.  Cut in half then serve.
Yield: 4 - 6 wraps

*Leaf lettuce is idea for wraps but iceberg lettuce works well to, giving a bit of a refreshing crunch to the wrap.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Kitchen Quick Tips - Salt/Pepper

kitchen quick tips

Make an all-in-one salt and pepper shaker by placing 1 part pepper to 6 parts salt in an old spice bottle shaker.  Shake well before using.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mango Chutney and Low Sugar Mango Jam

One of the local grocery stores recently had a case of mangos on sale for $3.99.  Each case contained 14 mangos.  From a canning perspective this was a great sale for making a few mango based products for the pantry shelves.  Each home canned mango product use 2 to 4 mangos so a case will give a yield of 3 to 7 seven products for a total count of about 30 - 250 ml jars.  Mangos are quite easy to prepare for canning as well.  I recently posted a how to cut a mango video for those who don't know how to cut mangos.  This easy method makes the prep work for canning mangos muss free and very quick. 

mango chutney and mango jam
A couple of years ago I made  mango chutney pictured to the left.  It quickly became an annual  canning must make.  Our favourite way to use mango chutney is  chicken with mango chutney. This year I decided to make mango jam pictured to the right as a new pantry product.

I make a wide variety of jams and jellies yet the vast majority of them are not used as spreads.  Instead jams and jellies tend to be used as glazes for meats, condiments for meats and fish, cookie and pastry fillings, and appetizers.  The mango jam has such a pretty colour so I immediately thought it would pair nicely with cream cheese for appetizers.  I think it will make an excellent tasting glaze for ham and chicken as well.

Mango Jam

4 c mangos, chopped
1½ c orange juice
2 c organic sugar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp Pomona's pectin*
4 tsp calcium water

Prepare the mangos then place into large saucepan with the orange juice and calcium water.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, nutmeg and pectin well.  Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.  Return to a low boil cooking and stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Ladle into hot jars.  Secure the two piece lids.  Process in BWB canner for 10 minutes or adjusted timing according to altitude adjustment chart for your altitude.
Yield: 4 - 250 ml (half-pint) jars

*Pomona's pectin is a low methoxy pectin.  Do not substitute with other powdered pectins in this recipe.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Maple Glazed Salmon (2)

Salmon is one of our favourite fish so we have it fairly often.  I was buying salmon steaks from M & M Meat Stores when it was on sale but NoFrills® is now carrying Highliner wild Pacific salmon fillets.  There are 4 fillets in a package for $5.97.  This is just enough fish for a dinner for two although most times we end up with one fillet leftover.

baked maple glazed salmon
I previously posted a maple glazed salmon recipe.  I modified that recipe to make the glaze for this maple glaze by adding 3 tbsp of butter.  Butter has a wonderful, rich flavour that pairs nicely with fish.  Butter also adds moisture to fish when it is cooking so it just seemed appropriate adding butter to the original glaze.  I kept the baking temperature at 180ºC (350ºF) then baked with the glaze for 20 minutes uncovered.

The addition of the butter added both flavour and moisture so the fillets were quite tasty.  I served the salmon fillets with Basmati rice and home canned wax beans.  It was a simple yet tasty meal.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Rice

Frugal Kitchens 101

Rice has been a staple in many countries and is the most commonly consumed grain in the world, second only in North America to wheat.  In general rices tend to be a very inexpensive starch, certainly less expensive than potatoes.  In comparison to wheat an 8 kg bag of long grain rice cost me $6.99 but has the potential to make almost 4 times that amount with little more than water making rice an extremely frugal starch choice.  Currently rices in my pantry include: Basmati, brown Basmati, Arborio, white long grain, Jasmine, Calrose and Thai sweet rice.   This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on rice and why it is a frugal choice as a side or ingredient.

  • price - Rice regardless of the variety is quite inexpensive, even less expensive than potatoes.  In general plain long grain white rice is the cheapest but even more expensive short grain varieties and converted rices.  White rice has been stripped of most of it's nutrients so a more frugal choice is brown rice that has a higher nutrition value yet the price is fairly close to that of white rice.  My experience has been that rice regardless of the variety seldom goes on sale but the nice thing is the price of larger bags of rice tends to stay fairly consistent.  An initial outlay of about $30 will give you enough rice to feed a family of 4 for well over a year!
  • storage - Most rices keep well in cool, dry locations for years.  The exception to this is brown rices that have more rice oil in them so they can become rancid but that problem can be solved by storing the rice in the freezer or refrigerator.  Buy rice in bulk in large sized packages then store in a cool, dark location in metal or heavy plastic bins to protect from water and/or rodent damage.
  • versatility - Rice can be used as a meat/soup extender, appetizer, side dish, salad, basic ingredient, or base for a dessert.  Leftover rice reheats nicely and it can be frozen for later use if desired.  Leftover rice can also be tossed into soups and stews. 
  • easy cooking - Rice can be cooked on the stove with nothing more than a saucepan with lid or in the microwave over or a rice maker.  I personally prefer a rice maker for convenience.  Uncooked rice can also be added to casseroles, soups, meatballs and similar dishes where it will cook along with the other ingredients.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Nami Coated Baking Dish Test

My husband is every bit the foodie that I am so that makes things a bit interesting around here.  He is just as likely to spot a new kitchen gadget or bring home a new kitchen item as I am.  What I find most interesting about this is neither of us are into gimmicky kitchen items.  The things we buy for the kitchen tend to fit specific and mainly utilitarian needs.  This is a good thing because it helps to keep kitchen clutter to a minimum.  A few years ago when silicone bakeware became the range I bought 2 pieces, a loaf pan and a round cake pan.  It immediately became apparent that a baking sheet was needed in order to use either.  Still I was not head over hills in love with the silicone bakeware.  I later added a silicone muffin pan with rack.  The rack stabilized the muffin pan eliminating the need for using a baking sheet.  Then I discovered silicone baking sheets.  My first one was from Canadian Tire.  It was a bright neon green and stained horribly the first use.  I had better luck with Silpat® silicone baking sheets that so far haven't stained.  Well, my husband spotted a non-stick glass baking dish when we were grocery shopping so we bought it ($14.99).

nami coated baking dish
I wrote a longer article about this baking dish on my homemaking blog.  The Nami coating is silicon-based, environmentally friendly and has anti-bacterial properties.  The coating give a frosted appearance to the glass.  The downside is the baking dish has to be hand washed and metal utensils will scratch the coating affecting the appearance but not performance of the dish.  I decided to test this baking dish with homemade shake & bake chicken. I normally cook the coated chicken on a silicone baking sheet in a sided metal baking sheet. The chicken is precisely what caused the horrible staining on my first silicone baking sheet so I thought it would be a good test as to this baking dish performance. 

I coated the chicken as per normal then placed the pieces into the baking pan.  Unlike using the Silpat® where the juices from the chicken get in between the baking sheet and silicone sheet the juices stayed in the baking dish.  The juices were very much like au jus so my husband used this on his baked potato.  As far as performance this non-stick glass baking dish gets two thumbs up.  It gives the best of silicone without the downsides of silicone bakeware.  Clean-up was actually less of a mess than using the Silpat® lined baking sheet.  Unlike regular glass bakeware this baking dish required only a light scrapping with a spatula then washing in hot, soapy water with no soaking at all!  There was no discolouration of the coating either.  The next test for this baking dish will be scalloped potatoes.  Anytime I make scalloped potatoes the baking dish has to be soaked before washing so this will be another good test.  I'll report back on the results.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Lemon Loaf

Quick loaves are about as close to making muffins as you can get except they are cooked in a loaf pan then sliced.  The beauty of these loaves is they are quick to make.  Quite often quick loaves use basic pantry staples as well so it is easy to whip up a loaf for any occasion.  Essentially all that is required is mixing the batter, pouring into the loaf pan then baking. Quick loaves can be savory or even rather plain to be used as the bread component for dinner or they can be sweet or semi-sweet to be used as a breakfast, tea or snack bread.

lemon loaf
My husband was going over to one of the guys for a card game.  As is customary for these types of events I made something for him to take.  I made a lemon loaf that I thought would go over well.  The loaf is sweet but not too sweet and the glaze adds a lovely lemony flavour without being too sweet.  Lemon loaf is an excellent breakfast or tea bread not as sweet as a pound cake but lots of refreshing flavour!

Lemon Loaf
modified from: Jean Paré, Company's Coming Muffins & More. 1983. Pp. 60

½c butter
1 c organic sugar
2 eggs
½ c half & half
1½ c unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp lemon zest

¼ c organic sugar
juice of one lemon

Cream butter, sugar and 1 egg.  Beat in second egg then blend in half & half.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and zest.  Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.  Spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 180ºC (350ºF) for 1 hour or until centre tests done with toothpick.  Combine lemon juice and sugar in small saucepan.  Heat and stir to dissolve sugar.  Remove from oven and evenly pour glaze over loaf.  Cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Place on serving tray for slicing.

Friday, July 02, 2010


I've mentioned on this blog a few times that we support a local sports team that sells boxed meat packages as a fund raiser.  While we tend to support local community fund raisers I am always interested in those that sell food.  This particular fund raiser is rather interesting in that we buy one or more boxes of prepared meat like kabobs.  We pay for it then get a voucher for the number of boxes we bought.  We then have until the end of August to pick up our boxes of meat.  It works out well for us while supporting a worthy cause.

My husband tends to be the one that makes the boxed meat choices because they catch him at the office.  This year one of the boxed meats was pol-kabobs.  Pol-kabobs are made locally from marinated and breaded pork sirloin roast on a skewer.  They are fully cooked so just need heating to serve.  Each box contains 26 pieces.    The pol-kabobs can be heated in the microwave, oven or on the grill.

Thursday night's dinner was one of those put together, rummage through the pantry and freezer with no real plan in mind meals.   We were gearing up for our Canada Day celebrations so kept the meal the night before simple.  We used up a box of breaded fish sticks and some of the pol-kabobs cooked in the oven then paired them with homemade French fries.  The end result was a rather nice, simple meal.  The pol-kabobs were surprisingly very meaty and filling.  They were just a bit different from our normal fare too so that was nice.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Kitchen Quick Tips - Sparkly Stainless Steel

kitchen quick tips

Stainless steel can show water spots that are unsightly.  I wipe these away with a little rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth to get a sparkly finish.