Friday, May 31, 2013

High Five Vegetarian Chili - only 5 ingredients and it assembles in under 5 minutes!

Sometimes supper has to be quick to put together...
... look after itself...
... be ready to go...
... be able to wait.

This meal was like that.  And it was pretty good. : )

Five ingredients assembled in under five minutes!  

I put last night's dinner in the crock pot, but you could just let it simmer on top of the stove for 10 or 15 minutes if you're making it at the last minute.  

It would be good to take along on a camping trip.  One pot cooking!

Vegetarian Chili
(serves four)

1 pkg. Yves Italian Veggie Ground Round
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 can (19 oz./540 ml) mixed beans
1 can (398 ml) diced tomatoes

Saute the Veggie Ground Round and onion.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes on top of stove.
Cook on low in crock pot for 4-6 hours.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Norwex - Vegetable and Fruit Cloth

Have you ever attended a Norwex party?

Home parties are usually "not my thing".  I enjoy the food and company, but what if I don't really want to buy something? There's always that feeling of obligation...

Anyway, several years ago, I DID attend a Norwex home party and picked up this little item - sure glad I did.  It's for cleaning vegetables and fruits without chemicals.  This youtube video tells you all about it.  My cloth has had a lot of use and is still in great shape so a few weeks ago, when there was another party, I picked up a couple more to give to my daughters.

Just thought I'd share,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Cat Came Back...Pumpkin Muffins

Remember the Awesome Banana Muffins from a couple of weeks ago?

Awesome Banana Muffins
from Cat Can Cook
Catherine (Cat Can Cook) pointed out that you can make a number of versions, including carrot, oatmeal, applesauce, pumpkin and cranberry.  She also explained how to prep and store the dry ingredients as a Basic Dry Muffin Mix.  (Handy!!)

Yesterday, I tried her pumpkin version (scroll down to bottom of post)...
Pumpkin Muffins
from Cat Can Cook

Again, great results!  Moist, easy and quick to whip up.

Both versions would be a good choice if you have to make muffins ahead of time.  

Happy Baking!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Smile!! It's Saturday!!

Here's a smile (or two) to start your morning!

First, from Newfoundland, a short clip of a goat... on top of a horse.  I gather there are four horses on the farm and they all love doing this.  Go figure!

Next up, Nancy Rose, a professional photographer, has a slide show of some of her favourite shots of the American Red Squirrels that live in her backyard.  

Last, but not least, Naheed Nenshi, Calgary's Mayor, reading aloud Pete the Cat - I Love My White Shoes - a great book presented with style and flair!!  If I could have one of those dinner parties where you get to pick your guests, Mayor Nenshi would definitely be invited.  He seems like quite a character!

Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Canada's 30x30 Nature Challenge

If you check out David Suzuki's website, you'll find information on Canada's 30x30 Nature Challenge.  

Basically, it's a challenge during the month of May to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days OUTSIDE...

...experiencing and enjoying NATURE.

That's a good thing.

From the website, here are some reasons how and why a little "up close and personal" time spent with Mother Nature can contribute to our good health.

See you outside,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Unscented Honey Creme



sometime soon...

before too long...

I'll have a chance to visit Calgary.

To be more specific, I'll have a chance to revisit The Beehive, a neat little store in Kensington where I can buy some more Unscented Honey Creme.

This is seriously good stuff!  If you have dry skin, if your legs, feet, hands, elbows are flaky and itchy, try this product.  It'll make a difference.

In my humble (totally unsolicited) opinion,

The Beehive, CALGARY

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Translator required...

Weighing in...
Tucked in my basement is a box of my mother's British cookbooks from the late forties and early fifties. For someone who enjoys reading through old cookbooks just as much as reading a novel, these books have provided good entertainment.  

I'm a bit hesitant to try some of the recipes, however.  

Believe me, I'm tempted!  

In the biscuit section alone, there are choices I've never heard of or tried before... Shrewsbury, Grantham and Parkin.


It's a language issue.

"A knob of dripping added during cooking..."
"After draining, add a nut of margarine..."
"Add one gill cold water..."

A knob of dripping?  A nut of margarine?  A gill of water?

"Add three shell eggs."

Don't all eggs have shells?

"Top and tail the young beans, and string if necessary, 
but do not cut them up."

Excuse me, but if I'm topping, tailing and stringing, those beans are bound to get cut up a little!

"Self-raising flour may be used for Short Crust, 
especially when fats are short weight."

Short crust?  Short weight?  

Translator needed.  Please apply!

If you're in the kitchen today, happy cooking!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Life in a Canadian prairie garden...plant, bush and tree suggestions

Hot, windy and dry...that's typical for us.  Here on the Canadian prairie, we've gone straight from winter to summer.  I think we had spring, but I must have blinked.

Last weekend was our first real chance to get out in the garden.  It's a wild place...voles, deer, porcupine, bush bunnies.  And we live in the middle of a city!!  

Flowering Almond
To live in our garden, a plant needs to be tough, able to fend off wildlife and willing to accept a certain amount of neglect that comes with living in a garden owned by two busy people.

Right now our Flowering Almonds are showing off.  The blooms come first before they leaf out. These bushes grow quickly to about 6-8 feet high but can be trimmed back to either a small bush or turned into a wild hedge along a fence line.   A neighbour planted some around his fence line over 25 years ago and they still look great.  

Dwarf Korean Lilac, Spirea and Day Lilies
Next month our Dwarf Korean Lilacs will shine.  This picture is from a couple of years ago.  The variety we have has very tiny leaves and delicate flowers that don't look messy like a regular lilac.  The three lilacs here have been allowed to grow and seem to have reached their maximum size of about 8 feet high by 8 feet wide.  We have another one in a planter that has been trimmed into a round ball - totally different effect, but equally nice.

Did you notice the Day Lilies in front of the lilacs?  I love the contrast their leaves provide and enjoy the flowers during the summer.  They get going early, fill in quickly and are easy to separate and move around to other parts of the garden.

Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding Hearts are another personal favourite.  We have both pink and white.  With so much shade in our garden now, they do very well.  They seem to pop up everywhere, but they transplant easily and don't need any attention.

What will we add to our garden this year?  Our local garden centre had three good suggestions!

1.  Muckle Plum:  blooms early (pink blossoms), hardy, rarely needs pruning and grows to about 12-15 feet.

2.  Spring Snow Ornamental Crabapple:  fast growing with white blooms but no apples!  (That's a bonus - we have a crabapple already that leaves a real mess all over our patio!)

3.  Robin Hill Serviceberry: pretty white blooms with fruit in July.

Happy Planting!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Tea? Bake some Maraschino Cherry & Almond Muffins!

Happy Mother's Day!

Having someone over for a Mother's Day afternoon tea?

This little "pretty in pink" muffin made with almonds and maraschino cherries would fit the bill.  

Today's recipe is from Muffins - a Cookbook (1982) by Joan Bidinosti and Marilyn Wearring, two Ontario mothers and great cooks.  Good news!  A quick search indicated that this book is still available (used) on Amazon.

Maraschino Cherry Muffins
Maraschino Cherry Muffins

3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Beat together.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Sift in dry ingredients; add cherries/nuts.
Stir to blend.
Fill muffin cups and bake at 375°F.
(25 min. for large; 17 minutes for small)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Crocheted Baby Blanket and a Helpful Website

Here's what I'm currently working on... a baby blanket for a special little girl expected any day!  

A friend showed me one she'd made and passed along some very old, photocopied instructions. Thank goodness I had my friend's blanket to study as I didn't understand the pattern instructions at all!  

Basically, you work the green and the white yarn at the same time so it creates a white on green pattern on one side and a green on white pattern on the reverse side.  The two row pattern repeat is very simple, so it's a great project to work on while watching TV or listening to the radio.  A "work in progress", I'm still thinking about how I'll finish off the border.  When I'm done, I'll share again and give more specific directions.

In the meantime, if you're teaching yourself how to crochet (or, like me, relearning!!), here's a website you might find handy and want to bookmark.  

Annie's Crafts sells crochet, knitting and quilting patterns and supplies.  They are also a source for kits, etc. for other crafts such as card making, beading, cross-stitch, etc.

Very useful to me, however, is their "how-to" section with clear pictures, directions and videos.  I've referred to the crochet and knitting pages and found them very helpful.  

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 10, 2013

#98 That CAT really CAN COOK.... Banana Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
from Cat Can Cook

Looking for an easy, moist and VERY tasty banana muffin recipe?

Head over to Catherine Robertson's website, Cat Can Cook.  

Catherine's Awesome Banana Muffin Recipe is exactly that - awesome!  It's not complicated and there's only a half cup of sugar.  I added chocolate chips to this batch and also baked them an extra five minutes, but otherwise just followed the recipe as directed.

Even better, Catherine explains how to prep and store the dry ingredients (Basic Dry Muffin Mix), then have the mix handy to make a variety of other muffins: carrot, oatmeal, applesauce, pumpkin and cranberry.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When life gives you lemons... Summertime Lemonade (sugar reduced)

No worries!

But, if you have a whole bag of lemons...

and it's 27 ° C outside...

then you NEED to make lemonade!

Normally, when on my own, I'll add a splash of lemon juice to a glass of either plain or sparkling water.  I've even experimented with some other water options.

But, "traditional lemonade"?  Hmmmm...

After reading numerous recipes and this excellent article at The Kitchen, I thought there has to be a less sweet option.  A ratio of 1 cup sugar to six cups of liquid is A LOT of sugar!  I did like the suggestion for adding ginger though.  Here's my version.  Hope you like it.

Summertime Lemonade
(reduced sugar)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons thinly sliced ginger

Boil for two minutes. Cool.

juice from 3 lemons (about 1 cup)
6 cups water

Add to syrup mixture.  
Stir and chill.
Stir well before serving.

Today's quote...

Summer is like a fresh glass of lemonade.
You want to drink it fast, but you want it to last forever.
- Susan Gale


Saturday, May 4, 2013

# 97 Kid Play: Food Colouring Activities

Now, today's websites have one common ingredient... 

Food colouring!

A bit messy, true, but take it all outside and enjoy the moment.  Your kidlets will have a great time.

Here are three posts to check out...

First, at The Mother Huddle, see what you can do with vinegar, baking soda and food colouring.  

Next, visit Easie Peasie and learn how to make some beautifully coloured, homemade finger paint.  Again, you only need common kitchen ingredients.

Last, but not least, at Momma's Fun World, there's a list with directions for 45 more activities you can try with food colouring.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Our First Crocus

Has spring finally arrived?  

Our first crocus...  

Usually these little guys pop up sometime late March.  In fact we used to tell our youngest that these were her birthday flowers.

Today's May 3rd!  Sheesh!

Better late than never...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Roasted Pepper Sauce

For some reason (okay, it was a lack of organization and planning ahead), I had an unusually large number of peppers lurking in the bottom of the fridge.  

I say lurking because some of them were beginning to look a little "long in the tooth" and threatening to turn mean and ugly.

Now, although the recipe below looks pretty "official" with exact measurements, this sauce really isn't like that.  

Lots of peppers?  Yes.  I avoided green as I felt that would muddy the colour of my sauce.  

Onions?  Garlic? A couple of tomatoes?  Yes, sir.  Absolutely required.  

But don't stop there!  If you have a couple of carrots, or half a butternut squash, or some ribs of celery... Why not toss them in as well?

Roasted Pepper Sauce

5 peppers (yellow, orange and/or red)
1/3 onion
1/2 red onion
1/3 cup celery
2 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Wash and chop vegetables into chunks.
Toss in oil, then scatter on large baking pan.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Greek seasoning.
Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
In small batches, puree in blender.
Simmer in a pot on the stove until ready to serve.

Maggie's Roasted Pepper Sauce

Yum!  We had some of this sauce for lunch, poured over angel hair pasta nests filled with lemon pepper tuna.  

Still some left, hmmmm.....

...might fill a casserole dish with chicken breasts and veggies, pour the remaining sauce  over top and throw it in the oven for an easy supper tomorrow night.  Any other suggestions?