Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Barley Flour: Pancakes, Crepes and Muffins

Guess what's new on my pantry shelf.

Barley flour.

I didn't realize until the other day that barley is Canada's 3rd largest crop after wheat and canola and more barley is grown in Alberta than any other province.  

Even better, barley is GOOD for you.  Health Canada recently approved a health claim linking the consumption of barley beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre, to reduced blood cholesterol.  Barley also has insoluble fibre, important for healthy intestinal function.

I love barley as a whole grain in beef and barley soup or as a side dish, but I've never used barley flour.  After listening to Julie van Rosendaal on the Calgary Eyeopener, I was eager to try.
I gather barley flour can be successfully substituted for other flours in recipes using baking powder.  (You'll have trouble getting top results, however, in yeast recipes.)

I experimented first with my crepe recipe - very pleased and I'd definitely do this again, especially if using a savoury filling.

I also tried substituting barley flour in my corn muffin recipe.  Turned out great!  I could detect a slight difference in taste from my usual version, but certainly no difference in texture or rising action.  

Finally, I tried the pancake recipe on the back of the barley flour package.  Good results, but take care not to use too high a heat as they seem to need longer to cook completely through.  

Week-ender Barley Pancakes
(Hamilton's Barley flour)

2 cups Hamilton's Barley Flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine dry ingredients.

1 egg (whisked) plus enough milk to make 2 cups liquid

Combine with dry ingredients.
Ladle onto a hot, greased skillet and flip when bubbles appear and edges appear dry.

Next up?  Barley flour chocolate chip cookies.... : )

From the kitchen,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Saturday Morning Western Canada Food Blog Tour

I love Saturday morning.

No alarm clock.  The whole weekend still ahead.  Breakfast in bed. Some extra time to cruise around on the Internet before the day starts!  Currently in my Bookmarks Bar, I have a number of food blogs I've been following recently.  

Would you like to go on a trip?  Follow me!

A Western Canada Food Blog Tour

Starting on Vancouver Island in Victoria, British Columbia, visit the Family Feedbag, a young mother of two little boys.  Lots of tasty things to eat PLUS recipes for baby food.

Next, take a ferry over to British Columbia's largest city, Vancouver.  Meet Melissa at Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach. In addition to sharing great ideas about food, Melissa is a freelance web/graphic designer at Fine Lime Designs.  You can see some of her work in the portfolio section. 

Head east to Alberta.  Two great sites to visit here: Clockwork Lemon and A Canadian Foodie.  Stephanie and Valerie are both involved in Cheesepalooza, making their own cheese!

Last stop, say hello to Renee at SweetSugarBean in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  She's a chef for a catering company with a love of photography and cooking with fresh, local ingredients.

Hope you enjoyed the trip!

Have a great weekend,

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Sweaters

We're anxiously waiting for a phone call and my bag is packed!

Grandchild #2 is expected in the next few weeks so my knitting needles have been busy!

This first sweater was made some time ago, but it's so tiny!  It's been passed along already and the expectant parents have been given strict instructions to take it to the hospital - probably won't fit after the first week!

I finished this second sweater a few days ago and just sewed on the buttons.  It's a free pattern by Carol Barenys who has an excellent website featuring free baby patterns, including ones for preemies.

A few notes about this little outfit...

The sweater pattern is the "Preemie Cardigan".  Since we're expecting someone a little bigger, I used size 3 and 6 needles instead of 2 and 4.  Measuring under the armpits, it is 16 inches around.  I used Bernat Softee Baby yarn.

The little hat is the "Tiny Baby Cap" (size: "Small Baby").

Next up?  A very pretty (and really easy!) crocheted baby blanket...  

Sitting by the phone,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


My Noddy Plate...

It's been a week...

...a LONG week, a hard week, a "Don't ever do this to your kids!" week...

We've been helping my father downsize (from a house he's lived in since the 60's) to a great little condo.  He's happy with the move and settling in well AND we're all very happy with the fact that he's now living close to my sister.

But, oh my!  

The furniture had been moved and the essential, important "stuff" transferred BUT, after 45 years, so much was left behind.  

Oh, my... oh, my... oh, my...

Here's what we learned from the experience.  

1. Ahead of time, lay out on paper ALL the things that need to be done. That way, everyone is on the same page. We didn't accomplish everything on our list, but we knew the direction we were headed.  

2. Take time to prepare.  Bring along pencils, Sharpies, masking tape, sticky notes, scissors, tape measure (Will this fit in the new place?), garbage bags, extra-strength bags, boxes, shredder, screwdriver and other tools.  The list goes on, but take time to brainstorm what you might need.  Take multiples so you're not all hunting for the one Sharpie!  Don't assume you'll be able to find any of these things in the house.  Keep these items in one spot.  

3. Think of you and your workers.  Do you have water bottles, coffee, food?  Pace yourselves.  Take frequent breaks.  If you're tired, you'll get sloppy as you sort.

4. Work in teams.  Being able to chat, tease, and encourage each other helps!  As the key team, my sister and I sorted the important items and made decisions.  As we entered each room, we had three bags (paper recycling, plastic recycling, garbage) plus a box each for "keep".  Kids were standing by to remove bags to "exit" points.  

5. Have appropriate jobs lined up for other teams.  Use your master list of "things to be done" to help you.  Some people helping us couldn't do the sorting but they were able to help in other, important ways.  My son-in-law and nephew removed picture hooks and patched cracks in preparation for painting.  My husband and brother-in-law did some important minor repairs.  Nobody felt they didn't have a valuable job.

6. Give everyone a "My Stuff" corner.  Everyone had a corner somewhere to put items they wanted to keep.  My corner grew into half a room (My name is Maggie.  I am a hoarder...).  It was easier and quicker, however, to put things in my corner as "maybe" items.  At the end of our stay, I cut the pile by two thirds.  (Knowing it had to fit in my car helped!)

7. Determine exit points.  This hallway for bags of garbage, this room for the "donate" pile, etc.

8. Organize vehicles.  Someone needs to methodically remove full carloads to the recycling centre, thrift stores, new location, etc.  Before the big day (or week, sigh), determine where these places are located and when they're open.  What are the "rules" for that community's recycling?  What will you do with all those bags of garbage?

9. If the senior is involved in the clearing out, be sensitive.  No groaning, no complaining. No comments when you find three lawnmowers (two not working) under the deck. Even if you can sit comfortably on the floor while eating your pizza lunch, keep back a chair and small table (for sorting "stuff") for anyone elderly. Find a central location to position the senior.  If there are questions,  he or she is easy to locate.  Have one person partner the senior,  bringing small piles of paper over to sort and taking away paper and items to the appropriate exit spot.  Watch for signs of the senior growing tired.  Take breaks.  Naps if needed.  Or, take the senior with you for the drive if you're taking plastic and paper to the recycling. (No trips to donation centres - it's hard to see your stuff being given away, even if you made the decision.)

10. Wait!  It's your turn! The story's not over.  When you take home a carload of mementoes, take every box OUT of the car and place it just inside the front door!  Over the next few days, work through each box.  DO NOT stash boxes in the basement, attic or garage.  : ) 

Did I mention the "DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR KIDS!" part?   

We've started to declutter our own place.

My name is Maggie.

I am a hoarder...

Have a great day,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

# 96 Chili Dip - Easy, Fast and Only Two Ingredients!!

Sometimes it's about easy and FAST!!  We hosted a birthday last Sunday afternoon.  

Good time and good friends... : )  

Mingling around and nibbling... : )

I tried this little dip - two ingredients and my trusty mixer as my sidekick - took no time at all to whip up.

Make Ahead Chili Dip

Chili Dip

1 can Stagg Vegetable Garden Four-Bean Chili
1 8-ounce package cream cheese (low fat), softened

Mix well.  Beat the cream cheese for 30 seconds before adding the chili.

Bonus!  I made this the day before along with some Mexican Caviar... nice to have things tucked away in the fridge ready to go!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lemon Bars

We had a great time Saturday night at a potluck supper...nicely done steaks and a huge variety of salads and desserts.  Yum!

Christine was there and she brought her Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing.  It's a favourite of mine and one of the first recipes I ever posted.  

I brought a plate of goodies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares (super easy, super quick, super good) and some Lemon Bars.  

The Lemon Bar recipe was one I clipped out of the newspaper sometime in the distant past - not even sure which paper!  I rediscovered it when I tidied out a very messy kitchen drawer recently.

Lemon Bars

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour

In mixer, beat butter.
Add sugar and beat well. 
Beat in flour until crumbly.
Press into bottom of an ungreased 8x8 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes (golden brown).

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Combine filling ingredients in mixer.
Beat for two minutes.
Pour filling over baked crust.
Bake 20 minutes (lightly browned and centre set).
Cool on wire rack.
Sift powdered sugar on top and cut into bars.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Yesterday, my sister-in-law sent me this photograph of her garden in British Columbia.  

There was just one word in the subject heading...


Yes.  Sigh.

Meanwhile, where I live, our forecast reads...


According to Dave Phillips of Environment Canada (Calgary CBC morning show)...

...we should still expect 16% of our yearly snow AFTER mid-April.
...80% of the time May has snow.
...25% of the time June has snow.
...we have had snow every month of the year.  TRUE...know a girl married in August.  There was a beautiful snowfall that day.

A little rhyme Dave shared...
'Till April's dead,
Don't change a thread.

Although, he changed it to...
'Till April's dead,
Don't change a tread.

As in keep on your snow tires.  Sigh (again).

Looking forward to spring!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Magic Bullet Adventures! Sunshine Muffins

Sunshine Muffins
Winners (Best of Bridge Series)

It's been a Magic Bullet Fest around here this week. : )

First, smoothies...

Then an Almost Makes Itself Omelet, page 52 of my new Magic Bullet 10 Second Recipes book.  Hmmm.... basically, you just blend up your eggs and the extras you plan to add. 

Sorry!  I think I prefer my cheese in a nice gooey layer rather than blended in as Magic Bullet suggests.  Just saying...

Today I made Sunshine Muffins with the blender accessory.   Love that recipe - page 28 of Winners (1984) from the Best of Bridge series, but it's also online if you'd like to try it.  I blended the orange, egg and oil plus 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup water (since I didn't have orange juice) and then threw it in the mixer with the dry ingredients.  Easy peasy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Switching Up the Water Bottle Routine

Yesterday I was sent a link to an article, 5 Ways to Make Drinking Water More Exciting.  

I'm always nagging myself about drinking more water.  How about you?  Two of the ways are already in my personal "recipe" box - sparkling water, sometimes mixed with fruit juice, and adding a splash of lemon juice to either plain or sparkling water.

The article had some new ideas so I decided to experiment.

Here are my official test results!!

Mug #1: I switched up the citrus theme with slices of orange.  Pleasant, but I still prefer lemon.  

Mug #2: Adding sliced apples seemed interesting.  Also pleasant, but if you try this, timing is everything.  Leave the apples in too long and they turn an unappetizing brown.

Mug #3 : I love herbal tea and peppermint tea is a particular favourite!  Tasty?  It was okay; a hot mug of peppermint tea IMHO is far better.
Mug #4 : This one I would definitely repeat!!  Made with Lemon Ginger (my current favourite tea), a few slices of lemon and two small slices of ginger, it was a winner.  

Not surprised that Mug #4 was my "personal pick".  Have you ever had a mug of hot lemon ginger tea?  Add boiling water to the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a tablespoon of honey and about an inch worth of grated ginger.  Delicious!  The lemon and honey slide down nice and easy, but be prepared for the ginger kick!!  If you feel a cold coming on, try this as your first line of defence.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Smoothie Experiments

So, I have a new toy...

On the weekend I purchased a Magic Bullet...Deluxe!!

I admit, a bit of an impulse purchase, but we're heading into "smoothie" season and my blender had bit the dust.

Wanting just a basic "blend and drink" smoothie machine, I first checked Canadian Tire, but then I upgraded for about five dollars more and picked up my Deluxe version at Costco.  

Why not a new blender?  The smallness of the Magic Bullet was appealing as I have limited counter space.

I tried two experiments today...a traditional smoothie...pretty, pink, tasty...

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1/2 banana
2 strawberries
1/4 cup raspberry yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice

Blend.  Drink.

I also tried a veggie smoothie...not so pretty, lumpy, and very brown... : ( 

IT WAS TASTY, HOWEVER, and definitely healthy, but I realize now, choosing colours carefully is an important aspect of making a smoothie!!

Veggie Smoothie, Version #1
(probably never to be repeated again, but a lesson learned)

1/2 cup last night's salad with light vinaigrette
(spinach, daikon, craisins, cabbage slaw)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup orange juice

Blend.  Drink.

So, who has a tasty veggie smoothie recipe (that's not quite so brown!!!) to share?

Happy Monday,