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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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Olive Oil for Dipping Breads

I can remember years ago when my Mom would buy the new wonder spread called margarine.  Previous to that it was sold uncoloured and came with a capsule to mix in to get the creamy yellow but really a bright, fake butter look.  I have never, ever liked margarine.  Margarine is made from a low quality, chemically extracted, refined vegetable oil that loses it's natural Vitamin E through heat processing.  It also contains colourants and additives.  I don't like the taste, the texture or the fact it is not a whole food so we use butter or olive oil in our home for cooking, baking or as a spread.

olive oil dipping bowl

We don't eat a lot of sandwiches but most sandwiches we do eat do not have butter used as a spread.  I often serve homemade French, French sourdough or sourdough bread with olive oil for dipping.  It is healthier than margarine with a lot more flavour.  The oil can be left plain, seasoned with herbs or you can stir in pesto or sun dried tomatoes.

The choice of olive oil is important.  The darker the oil the stronger the flavour.  I prefer a cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil with it's light, fruity flavour for this purpose.  Pictured is the sourdough bread with olive oil dipping bowl I made for dinner.  The olive oil was seasoned lightly with dried oregano and thyme the served with sourdough bread.

Some are tempted to make up extra of the seasoned olive oil.  Don't do this especially if using fresh herbs or fresh garlic as there is a risk of botulism.  The toxin that causes botulism is colourless, odourless, and tasteless.  The amount of size of a pin head can make you quite sick or result in death.  Make only the amount of seasoned olive oil that you will use for that meal.  Discard any left-over seasoned olive oil.  In this case the frugal choice is discarding the left-over oil rather than risking a potential food borne illness.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kitchen Quick Tips - Caramelizing Onions

kitchen quick tips

Sprinkle a little sugar over cut onions just as they start sweating when caramelizing for enhanced colour and flavour.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Loaded Tater Tots at Hooter's

Pub grub food can seldom be considered healthy food but on occasion it can be part of an other wise healthy diet.  Pub food is usually high in sodium and fat.  It's meant to keep you in the pub/bar longer which translates into drinking more.  Pubs and sports bars usually have televisions for the same reason.  The reason for this is the real money is made on the alcoholic beverages so the longer they keep you there the more money they make.

loaded tater tots at Hooter's
During our last visit to Hooter's one of the guys ordered loaded tater tots as an appetizer.  This appetizer is very much pub grub food but not one that I have seen before.  The closest I've seen that resemble the loaded tater tots is the Irish fries at Murphy Inn Restaurant in Lexington, Michigan.  The only difference between the two appetizers is using tater tots in place of French fries.  This would be a very easy dish to duplicate at home and it could be made a bit healthier than the restaurant version.

I'm not a huge fan of frozen potato products (eg. French fries, hash browns) especially the pre-formed ones like hash brown patties and tater tots.  However,  kids tend to like the hash brown patties and tater tots because they look like those served at fast food restaurants.

To make a healthier version of loaded tater tots:  Check the labels when buying as some brands have less sodium and fat than others.  Choose the brand with the lowest sodium and fat content.  Bake rather than fry the tater tots on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet with no additional oil.   Drain the baked tater tots on paper toweling to remove any excess fat.  Do not sprinkle on any extra salt.  Make a béchamel sauce (white sauce) using skim or 2% milk.  Stir in low fat cheddar cheese to create the cheese sauce.  Substitute low fat or no fat sour cream to further reduce the fat content.  Use portion control as well.  The appetizer as pictured was meant for one person.  It was more than enough for two!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Flat Bottom Taco Shells

I have a rather well stocked kitchen at our vacation home but nowhere as well stocked as my home kitchen.  In this case rather than stocking with equipment to make specialty items, it is a bit more frugal to buy certain specialty items.  One of these specialty items is taco shells simply because it would not be frugal for me to buy a nice deep fryer, taco shell form and oil to serve tacos about three times a year if that at our vacation home.  While I do bring a few jars of my homemade salsa and taco sauce when we drive down, I can't bring enough to last much more than a couple of trips and the way we fly I can't bring any.

Old El Paso flat bottom taco shell kit
Instead I rely on Old El Paso taco dinner kits.  I really like Old El Paso in general if I have to buy anything taco related.  I've had good luck with this General Mills brand.  I think it was one of the first taco brands on the market ages ago shortly after Taco Bell opened in Canada.

Old El Paso is now offering taco shells and taco kits made with whole grain corn.  The Stand and 'N Stuff dinner kit is a fairly new product.  The neat thing is you don't need a taco holder to keep the taco shells upright while loading them.  The taco shells are flat on the bottom so they stand up on the plate without further support!

flat bottom tacos
I made my standard beef tacos supreme loaded with beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream and shredded cheese along with taco sauce and salsa.  Normally I add sliced black olives but didn't have any and didn't feel like slipping to the store for some.  I have to admit I don't deviate much from beef tacos when making tacos but Life Made Delicious has more recipes if you don't want to use beef.  Next time I am going to try their easy chicken ranch taco recipe.  It does sound quite yummy and definitely something that would be easy to make at our vacation home.  I like that the recipe uses a rotisserie chicken that will keep a bit of heat out of our vacation home kitchen while saving me a bit of time!  I will likely use left-over roasted chicken though at home while using rotisserie chicken at the vacation home.  I will report back when I make them.  I'm sure they will be delicious!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New York Strip Steaks on Charcoal Grill

My husband and I are steak lovers!  Our criteria is the meat must be organic, hormone free beef, it must be cut thick and the steaks must be grilled to perfection.  The best grilled steaks are those grilled on charcoal.  Yes, you can get good results on a natural gas or propane grill and suitable results on an electric grill but the best tasting steaks are those grilled on charcoal.

New York strip steaks on charcoal grill
Our new outdoor grill has charcoal and propane compartments.  I would hazard a guess that the charcoal compartment will get a lot more use than the propane one.  Grilling with charcoal takes a bit more planning and effort.  Unlike grilling with natural gas or propane, grilling with charcoal takes about 15 minutes to get the coals covered with grey ash suitable for the proper temperature for grilling.  The temperature on our grill can be determined by the temperature gauge but it is good to know the hand test to judge the temperature as well.  Once the coals are ready for grilling it may be necessary to move them around to get a suitable even grilling surface.  When the coals are ready with an even grilling surface, grill the steaks as normal.  You can create a nice grill cross-hatch mark by turning the steaks a quarter turn once the first hatch mark is created.  Flip the steak then repeat for lovely cross-hatch mark on the other side.  When grilling steaks do not flip more than once and do not ever, ever, ever puncture the meat at that will cause the steak to dry out while losing flavour.  Oh and the steaks tasted every bit as good as they looked!  Simply divine...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peameal Bacon Buns Tray

There are times in the kitchen where saving both time and energy is much appreciated.  So it was during our recent move.  The thing is you have to eat and I like food presented nicely but with the kitchen and dining areas in semi-chaos mode I decided to take a couple of short cuts.  Peameal bacon is one of my favourite quick cook meats.  Not only is it tasty, it is lower in fat and calories than regular bacon.

peameal bacon buns tray
I had left-over peameal bacon roast from my first day cooking with natural gas.  Well, I really shouldn't say my first day cooking with natural gas as I grew up cooking with natural gas and one house we rented eons ago had a natural gas range, but it has been a very long time since I have cooked with natural gas.

I cut part of the left-over roast in half then sliced it so it would fit on the store bought dinner rolls.  Then I cut pre-sliced Swiss cheese in half and added thinly sliced iceberg lettuce to the tray.  Not pictured is the honey mustard and Miracle Whip that was served on the side.  This was a quick to prepare snack tray that used minimal kitchen resources at lunchtime during the move.  It was a very quick clean-up as well, something I really appreciated!  I repeated the peameal bacon tray the following day but on a larger scale for entertaining.  The guys really enjoyed it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kitchen Quick Tips - Flavoured Cream Cheese

kitchen quick tips

Kick your cooking up a notch by using flavoured cream cheese anywhere you would use plain cream cheese. You can get sweet (fruits) or savoury (onion, herbs, etc.) flavoured cream cheeses for the same price as plain cream cheese and they are now available in store brands for greater savings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roasted Chicken in Gas Oven

Over the next couple of months I will seriously be putting my new gas range through it's paces!  My rule of thumb is whenever switching to a different cooking fuel is to revert to the tried and true recipes.  The reason for this is with a tried and true recipe or dish I know exactly what the results should be.  Using tried and true gives me a gauge to measure the performance of the new cooking fuel against.

Now I am not exactly new to cooking with natural gas.  I grew up knowing nothing else and one of the houses we rented before becoming homeowners had a natural gas built-in range.  While it is not exactly natural gas, over the years I have learned to cook on propane burners in our RV and the side burners of outdoor grills.  Really, I am rediscovering natural gas and adapting my cooking style.

roasted chicken in gas oven
Roasted chicken is an absolute culinary delight!  I always roast it with stuffing usually in the clay baker.  The sad thing is here in beautiful Ontario, Canada the pictured chicken cost us just over $12.  In the meantime we could have bought a rotisserie chicken from Walmart for $5.  Go figure!  The problem is unless I am in a real hurry or have a specific dish to make, I don't buy rotisserie chicken even though they are one frugal meat choice for dinner.

I soaked my clay baker in water for 15 minutes then stuffed the chicken with homemade dressing using homemade poultry seasoning.  I put a few pats of butter on the chicken then sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and Himalayan pink salt.  I roasted the chicken until golden brown and juices ran clear in a natural gas oven.  I was very pleased with the results!  If anything cooking with gas does give nicer results than cooking with electricity.  The chicken was tender and juicy, roasted to golden perfection.  Despite the cost I will be roasting chicken a bit more often in the future.  Isn't it scrumptious looking?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Cooking Memories

Frugal Kitchens 101

The resources for recipes are practically endless but I have an admission to make.  I don't think I have ever followed a recipe as written.  Believe me I do have some wonderful, handwritten, handed dow through the generations recipes yet I still don't follow them exactly.  My foster Mom was 59 when I was born and shortly after I came to live with her, she lost her husband.  Our household consisted of my Mom, my foster sister, myself and the copious turnover of children taken in on an emergency basis for the Children's Aid.  My Mom was an amazing cook being raise as one of thirteen on a farm.  She knew how to can and cook, and she did it very well without the use of recipes.  All her recipes were in her head!  When she was diagnosed with diabetes her cooking suddenly stopped and then a few years later Alzheimer's took all the recipes in her head..

I have fond memories of watching her toss this and that into a pot or mixing bowl then waiting with anticipation for the finished dish or fresh batch of cookies.  One year, I helped her fill the freezers with homemade cookies to be donated to the needy as part of the Christmas care packs.  Oh my gosh, the cookies she could make just from her head!  I honestly don't recall her having any cookbooks other that a very old Betty Crocker's cookbook.  She bought one for me when I got married.  I am very much like her when it comes to cooking.  Oh sure there are all kinds of great recipes out there but as Michael Smith says the best recipe is cooking without a recipe.

Our grandchildren are very much at home in the kitchen.  The kids are teaching them how to read recipes, an excellent way to teach the little ones fractions and addition.  At the same time I have to chuckle a little when I see them teach the grandkids it's ok to put your own spin on a recipe to make it uniquely yours.  The words of culinary wisdom from my Mom are now teaching another generation.  It is priceless to watch!  I think she would be very proud to see these little ones cooking without a recipe, experimenting and really getting to know the ingredients.  That's what cooking is all about - not recipes, but rather knowing your ingredients and what you can and can't do with them.  It is amazing what you can cook with simple, inexpensive ingredients without using a recipe.  This is a fundamental skill of any frugal kitchen!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Hot Mama is Cooking With Gas!

Here in beautiful Ontario, Canada we have several choices of cooking fuel - wood, charcoal, butane, propane, natural gas and electricity (hydro).  Some are experimenting with solar cooking as well but that really is only somewhat dependable during the summer months.  I've cooked with all of these cooking fuels.  By far the most common cooking fuels in residential homes is wood (Northern areas), electricity, natural gas and propane.  Availability of a cooking fuel can be restricted by location.  For example there are no natural gas mains in some rural areas so you must use electricity, propane or wood.  Apartment buildings in urban centres generally do not have the option for natural gas and many won't allow any type of outdoor grill on balconies.  If you do have an option, aside of owning your own woodlot or having access to free firewood, natural gas is the cheapest cooking fuel coming in at about the third of the cost of electricity.  Ontario has gone to TOU pricing which means you are paying more during high periods of use that translates into paying more to cook breakfast and dinner.  The beauty of natural aside of the low cost is natural gas appliances operate even if the hydro is disrupted so you can still cook.

Whirlpool Gold dishwasher and stove
My last kitchen range was a Jenn-Air slide-in model with every bell and whistle available.  I had the smooth and coil cartridges, the big pot burner,  and the grill.  It was an absolutely gorgeous stove but just would not stand up to heavy duty canning.  I was adamant about switching to a gas stove for this house.

I chose a Whirlpool Gold 30-inch free standing gas range (model# GFG461LVB) with continue burner grates.  It is 5 burner range with self-cleaning oven and extra features.  Unfortunately it does not go below 170ºF so I will not be using the stove for dehydrating, something I could do with the Jenn-Air. 

Pictured also is my new Whirlpool Gold Quiet Partner dishwasher (model# GU2475XTVB1).  All of the controls are hidden when the door is closed.  My husband had a dickens of a time getting the old dishwasher out because the previous owner installed the floor in a manner that prevented sliding the dishwasher out.  They did leave a lot of extra tiles so there should be some of the marble tiles in the garage that we will cut to fit at the base of the dishwasher then install the kick plate.  The dishwasher runs like a dream!

banana loaf
The very first thing I did with the gas range was boil water in the tea kettle.  It was sophisticated but gave me an idea of how to work the controls.  To turn on the burners, the control is set to ignite where the electronic igniter creates a spark to light the burner.  During a power outage a match can be used to manually light the burners or oven.  Once the burner is lit, the control is turned from ignite to desired setting.

Banana bread is one of our favourites so what better way to test the performance of a new oven than with a tried and true recipe?  The bread came out quite lovely, nicely browned although just a bit darker than I would like so I will adjust the baking time when I make it again.  Other than that I have no complaints.  There was a good rise even though I was baking potatoes and a peameal bacon roast at the same time.

Greek salad
We eat a lot of salads but that is not always reflected in this blog where I show the entée only unless I make a special salad.  By far my favourite salad this summer is Greek salad.  I'm not sure why but I'm finding it a bit more interesting than the standard garden salad.  Don't get me wrong as there are lots of ways to jazz up a garden salad and the toppings are endless but the Green salad is just easy to make with a clean, refreshing flavour.  It isn't heavy like Caesar salad can be yet the feta cheese provides extra protein and calcium.  And the feta is a nice change from cheddar cheese.  Next up will be experimenting with blue cheese.  That should be interesting!

peameal bacon roast
I baked the peameal bacon roast and baked potatoes in the oven along with the banana bread.  I cooked the carrots on the gas stove top.   The results were excellent!

What is really nice is I can now cook meals at a third of the price of using electricity.  When the TOU pricing came out I struggled to figure out an easy solution.  I used the outside grill as per normal but there were those days I really needed an alternative.  Now I can relax and cook exactly what I want without worrying about the TOU pricing for hydro.  At the same time I know I can always cook even if the hydro is out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our New Outdoor Charcoal - Gas Combo Grill

Grilling has always been a fundamental way of cooking for us.  I don't recall a time of ever going without one.  One of our first purchases as newlyweds was an outdoor charcoal grill.  It was a simple, assemble it yourself round grill with a half shell hood.  We've had full sized grills for the house, firepits with grates, and table-top grills for camping.  When we bought our first house we splurged and bought a propane grill.  We continued to use propane and occasionally charcoal until we went to a natural gas grill when we moved to a semi-rural location.  Our next move was to a rural location where we continued to use a natural gas grill.   Natural gas makes a lot of sense for an outdoor grill as there is no worry about running out of fuel.  This move was to a urban location so we opted to go with a dual fuel outdoor grill.  It's a real beauty!

Nexgrill Charcoal and Gas Combo Grill
Of note, each grill fuel (eg. wood, charcoal, natural gas, propane) have pros and cons.   Grilling using wood or charcoal takes a bit more effort but the results are well worth it.  Charcoal is the preferred fuel for steaks and burgers!  My husband prefers propane over natural gas as propane burns hotter giving better grilling results.  I spotted the Nexgrill charcoal - gas combo grill in the Canadian Tire flyer a couple of months ago.  He bought that model the same day, brought it home where it sat in the crate in the garage until we moved it to the new house where it sat in the crate on the deck for a week and a half before there was enough of a break in the rain to put it together.  About half-way through the assembly process it decided to rain again but he was able to finish the assembly the following morning.

This model has 36,000 total BTU on the propane side (larger hood).  The smaller hood is charcoal with an adjustable charcoal tray.  There is an electronic ignition on the propane side.  Rather that use lighter fluid (environmentally unfriendly) he opted for an electric charcoal starter that starts the charcoal to red hot in about 8 minutes with the fire ready to cook on when the charcoal is nearly covered with grey ash (about 20 minutes).  Each grill compartment is equipped with a thermometer gauge.  The top is stainless steel that will prevent some of the rusting issues we've experienced with previous outdoor grills.  There is no side burner with this grill

pork loin chops cooking on the grill
As with any change in cooking fuel, I relied on tried and true for the first meal.  The reason being is there is a bit of an adjustment in cooking times with propane running hotter than natural gas.  We've been grilling mainly with natural gas for the past almost 10 years so know we will have to reduce the grilling time for propane.

Pictured are the pork loin chops in the propane grill compartment with camp style potatoes and niblet corn.  The grill performed nicely, much as expected running a bit hotter than natural gas.  We experienced no problems at all.  I can't wait to try the charcoal grill compartment!

Our simple meal was cooked to perfection with beautiful grill marks on the pork loin chops.  A little Diana's sauce and black bean salsa (a generous gift from our guests that night) finished off the chops.  We enjoyed the meal with our friends at the dining area of the deck.  It was a wonderful meal spent with good company.  I'm sure there will be many more to come so I'd best get working on dealing with mosquitoes!

The mosquitoes are bad in the evenings here but what we have found worse are the yellow jackets attracted by the ripening peaches.  My husband was stung on his palm while assembling the outdoor grill and I was stung the same day on the palm side of a finger while picking a peach.  The yellow jackets were swarming the peach trees, doing considerable damage.  I knocked the damaged fruit from the tree, picked what I could and within a day the yellow jackets were gone.  They never did bother the pear tree.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kitchen Quick Tips - Easy Bacon Bits

kitchen quick tips

Take one full pound of bacon the cut across the strips to form small about half inch pieces.  Fry until crisp, stirring to keep pieces separated.  Drain and reserve grease.  Cool then put into zipper style freezer bag.  Freeze bacon pieces and use as needed.  Freeze bacon grease to use in cooking as needed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Sneak Peak at My New Kitchen

We have been essentially living between two houses for the past fourteen days.  Today is the last day of ownership of our old house so basically the only thing left to do there is remove the last of the boxes and vacuum.  We signed all the papers yesterday and gave our lawyer the key so tomorrow we officially own our new house!  Here's a sneak peak at my new kitchen. 

deck off the kitchen
There is a large raised deck off the kitchen.  Out of sight to the left is a spacious area for our outdoor dining area.  There is a gate at the top of the stairs that will be quite helpful in keeping the grandkids safe and sound.  We have a second, smaller deck on one side of the pool that we don't intend on putting an eating area on.  The new dual fuel (charcoal/propane) grill sat in the box in the intended spot for the first week.  We could not get it put together due to daily rain, rather heavy at times.  Then we finally had a break in the weather so my husband started putting it together but about half-way through it rained again.  Thankfully the next day was clear enough he was able to finish the assembly.  We grill pork loin chops on it that night (more on that later). 

breakfast bar
We decided on a stand alone breakfast bar.  Originally it came with the two bar stools.  I ordered two more that currently at the furniture shop waiting for us to pick up.  I hung one of the paintings from our collection of original paintings from a local artist.  His work is amazing!  The beautiful, realistic, mesmerizing landscapes draw you into them.  We have four of them at home each bought when we moved into a new house.  We never bought one or even hung the ones we had at our last house, perhaps an premonition neither of us bonded to the house.

The stainless steel kitchen cart is temporarily in the kitchen.  I really like it as the cart holds a lot of stuff but both of us agree the cart does not really suit the kitchen so we will likely move it down into the games room.  We are debating adding a base cabinet to match our cabinets tiled on top to use as a side server but may just buy a server.  That's up in the air.

long counter with stove and dishwasher
The long branch of the counter has double sinks, dishwasher, stove and microwave.  It will see the most changes in the kitchen.  I'm not sure whether or not I will be putting anything above the cabinets so that is just temporary.  We are putting in a garburator on one of the sinks.  The existing dilapidated White-Westinghouse dishwasher has already been replaced with an energy efficient Whirlpool Gold Quiet Partner (model# GU2475XTVB1).  The new Whirlpool Gold free-standing gas range (model# GFG461LVB) blocked part of the patio doors to the deck since Sep. 2 but was fully installed this morning.  The dishwasher was a royal pain to replace and the range was a very tight fit but things look rather good now.  Obviously the previous owners did not consider that appliance need to be changed out from time to time!  The floor is marble tiled.

I really didn't like the gold knobs on the cabinets so have replaced them with smoked mirror finished knobs.  The range hood needs to be replaced.  The microwave oven doesn't match so one of our kids offered to trade their black one for our white one.  The walk-in 10' x 11' pantry holding freezers, small appliances, food and other culinary equipment is downstairs so I'm getting my exercise!  A friend of ours is custom making a shelf with lighting to run just above where the tile ends in the centre of the cabinets.  It will be used for cookbooks, something I will very much appreciate.

short counter with refrigerator
The short side of the cabinets ends at the refrigerator (Maytag 26 cu. ft, model# MZD2666KEB).  There is the entrance from the dining and living room to the kitchen to the left of the fridge.  The refrigerator was left with the house as part of the real estate deal.  It is only a couple of years old and still had the protective plastic on the controls.

Originally we wanted to take out part of this wall to create an open concept dining/living room with kitchen and breakfast bar but it is a load bearing wall and it would involve a massive amount of work.  Besides I love the marble tiled floor so don't want to damage it.  We are considering turning part of the deck into a three season room but haven't made any definite plans.

In total there are three dining areas in the house - the dining room that is open to the living room, the breakfast bar and the deck for a total seating for 15.  We have further seating for 30 in the games room on the lower level as well as our full sized, white Whirlpool side-by-side from the old house.  So it will be a wonderful home for entertaining with the first larger event this weekend.  I have a lot to do to get ready for that!  I hope you like my new kitchen and enjoy the foods I prepare in it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Large Marg at Big Chief Drive-in Restaurant in Wallaceburg, Ontario)

Have you ever watched Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with host Guy Fieri on Foodnetwork?  He shares the neatest little eateries he had discovered on his travels.  These are the types of eateries we love discovering when we travel as well.  Often the outside of the restaurant is non-discript and you might even be tempted to pass it by except the filled parking lot gives a beckoning come-on in a sit a spell because we serve great food.  While some have table service others have a counter were food is ordered then picked up at the counter when your number is called.  Some offer outdoor seating of some type, usually wooden picnic tables.   Some even have drive-in dining!

Big Chief Drive-in-Restaurant is located at 5001 Dufferin Ave (Old 40 Highway) just outside of Wallaceburg, Ontario.  It is a unique little restaurant offering drive-in and limited eat-in dining.  At one time they had a waitress who took your order from the comforts of your car but now you go in and order at the counter then pick up your food when your number is called.  You can sit in the drive-in stalls to eat bringing back a bit of dining nostalgia.  They are famous for their Large Marg burger consisting of a full pound beef patty, cheese, bacon and onion rings on a giant bun.  Rumour has it that the burger was named after the owner's ex-girlfriend who was large (and in charge) and while most things are best left unsaid about her she left one positive memory...the recipe for her favourate burger.  . If you eat the whole burger, you get your picture taken to be added to their hall of fame along with other brave souls who conquered the Large Marge! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shrimp Penne Rustica

We are in the midst of chaos here between me being sick and the move.  We started moving into our new home on September 1 while I was still experiencing a rather horrid allergic reaction to an antibiotic I was prescribed for an internal infection.  The antibiotic also affected my appetite so even though I knew I needed to eat, I couldn't.  While my stove and outdoor grill were still hooked up at our old house most of my cooking equipment was at the new house but the new stove and outdoor grill were not hooked up.  Essentially we have been living between two houses, neither fully functional.  My husband made the executive decision that our dinner meals would be eaten out until my stove at the new house was hooked up (tomorrow!) and we have done that with the exception of a lovely Italian roast I made in the slow cooker.  He's making headway getting the outdoor grill assembled but rain is causing delays.  I'm anxious to get back into the kitchen, cooking up a storm!

We went to Crabby Joe's for dinner with friends and the kids couple of nights ago.  Their food is good and the prices not bad, averaging $14 per entée.  I ordered a Greek salad because I still didn't feel like eating.  It was quite good but I couldn't finish it.  One of the kids ordered shrimp penne rustica.  The dish consisted of tender shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and seasoned tomatoes, with penne in a light olive oil and herb sauce topped with toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese.  I took a bite and oh my gosh it was delicious!  Now this pasta dish would be ever so easy to duplicate at home.  As soon as things settle down I going to work on a clone recipe.  I can see this dish quickly becoming a family favourite!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Kitchen Quick Tips - Meringue

kitchen quick tips

Keep meringue from shrinking on pies by spreading the meringue to the pie shell sealing all around.  Form your peaks with the back of a spoon then bake.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Burger with Onion Rings

Pub grub is about as down to earth eating as you can get.  True it might not always be the healthiest for you but it really is the precursor of fast food.  It is the ultimate in comfort food though because it is finger food.  Think burgers, fries, onion rings, and that type of thing.  Some pubs have added things like endless bowls of popcorn or peanuts or nachos but for the most part pub grub is about the same.  The offerings are local fare varying region to region but still it's pub grub.

burger with onion rings
Steis's Village Inn in  Lexington, Michigan is very much pub grub but with a twist that brings family dining into the mix.  While pub grub is the main choice of fare during the dinner hour there is a larger menu to choose from.

My husband ordered the bacon cheeseburger with onion rings.  The burger came piled high with deep fried onion rings, very much pub grub style.  It was served with barbeque sauce for dipping.  The burger was according to my husband quite delicious!  It would be an easy burger to duplicate at home with deep fried onion rings and a homemade burger pattie.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Colossal Move

By now you have likely figured out our move has not gone exactly according to plan given the lack of posts.  I've been between two houses with internet at one but not the other.  Then we had one of our grandkids over the weekend so I had time for online at the old house while the kid's shows were on but that's it.  I haven't been doing a lot of cooking.  Between not feeling well and the move, cooking seems to have gone to the back burner.  I have a brand new gas range I am dying to try out and tell you about.  It should be hooked up this week.  My husband still has to put together the dual fuel outdoor grill.  The pantry and freezers are moved.  Oh and I have fancy new real high speed internet so that should help with my blogging.  I can't wait to get cooking with my new gas range and dual fuel outdoor grill.  Oh and I have three peach trees and and pear tree so watch for more of those recipes. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Kitchen Quick Tips - Frothing Milk

kitchen quick tips

Frothed milk is used for specialty tea and coffee drinks.  Skim milk froths better than 2% or whole milk.  It makes a stiffer foam without adding the fat of whole milk.  Whole milk makes a richer but higher fat froth.