Friday, April 25, 2014

A great little biscuit - no butter required!

Some days a weeknight dinner needs a “little something”...

Chili, a hearty soup, an old-fashioned stew are all wonderful comfort foods. Adding some hot biscuits on the side makes a good meal great.

The best part about this recipe is that it doesn't use butter. (I hate cutting in butter!) Instead, it uses vegetable oil (canola, corn oil, whatever...). It also uses less oil than most recipes you find when you google - a modification I've made after trying a number of recipes over the years. Using oil speeds up the preparation. These biscuits are ready before the oven's warmed up! 

A Great Little Biscuit

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk

Add to dry ingredients and hand stir just until combined.
Turn out onto a floured surface.
With floured hands, gently pat out (3/4 inch thick).
Cut out round biscuits, triangles or squares.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºF (ungreased cookie sheet).

Note: If you wish, add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup raisins, craisins or grated cheese. Makes about one dozen biscuits.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Apple Pancake! A treat from the "Pancake House" (Winnipeg)

"Pancake House" Apple Pancake

Aaahhh! The benefits of decluttering!

It's a bit like Christmas around here... I'm finding all kinds of things, including this clipping I cut out of the Winnipeg Free Press a number of years ago. 

We've tried this treat twice and I've now recorded it in my “book”, so it's an official “keeper”.

As a recipe, it gets a number of checkmarks. First, I generally have all the ingredients on hand! It's quick to assemble and throw in the oven. And, paired with some sausages, it's something a little different for breakfast or brunch.

Pancake House” Apple Pancake

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven (400ºF); melt butter in a large, glass pie plate.
Swirl butter around plate to grease.

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 thinly sliced, peeled apple

Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over melted butter.
Arrange apple slices on top.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix batter ingredients and pour over apple.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (puffy, deep golden brown).
Loosen edge of pancake and turn upside down on plate.
Serves 3-4 if used as a side.

Notes: I have not tried this, but it says you can triple the recipe. Use a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another Little Bonbons Project...Bunnies and Owls

Two of my little grandbabies are having birthdays soon. It's ever so much fun shopping for little people!

I decided to make my own cards and found some sweet (and free!) patterns for a little bunny and an owl at Love the Bluebird. Scroll down the page to find the picture links for the patterns on the right side of the page. There's also a pumpkin.

Made with my teeny tiny crochet hook and Little Bonbons cotton yarn, they are about 2 1/4 inches long, quick to make and perfect for a scrapbooking or card project. Note, I changed the bunny's tail so it would be flat: Make a magic ring and then 10 single crochet stitches (almost the same as the owl's eye).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kids Read: Michael Morpurgo and Michael Rosen

Our monthly KidLit meeting last week was great fun, in fact, a particularly good time!

By the way...

The book passed on to me for this month was Outlaw by Michael Morpurgo, author of Warhorse. The story of Robin Hood, it was a very entertaining read and I would highly recommend it to any young person about 9ish to 12 years old who is interested in adventure, historical fiction, etc. You can read Michael Morpurgo's summary on his website.

But back to our meeting...

Each month we have a theme, usually chosen by the host. This month was “Poetry”. Everyone brought something to share.

I chose Michael Rosen. I don't think I've ever run into a kid who is not familiar with We're Going on a Bear Hunt! (Oh, that's a great book to read to a little one!) Here's a link featuring Michael reading this book.

I landed on Michael Rosen by accident, however. I didn't know this fellow was so funny. I wish I'd realized this when I was teaching. His poetry is free verse and he has quite a few on YouTube. So entertaining to watch as Michael is a real performance artist. You NEED to google a few:

In the meantime, here's a sample poem of Michael's...

Where Broccoli Comes From

Not many people know
That broccoli grows in the armpits
Of very big green men
Who live in the forest
And brave broccoli cutters
Go deep into the forests
And they creep up on the
very big green men.
They wait for the
very big green men
to fall asleep
and the broccoli cutters
get out their great big broccoli razors
and they shave the armpits
of the very big green men.
And that's where broccoli comes from.
Not many people know that.
Just thought I'd let you know.

Share that next time you serve broccoli...
Gross stuff, but kids love it!

Happy Reading,

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zone 3 Gardening - 7 Helpful Alberta Websites

Planning to garden this weekend?  We have some major landscaping projects to tackle this spring.  Here are some of the most useful Alberta sites I've discovered.

...from a few years ago.  

This is an absolutely amazing site created by the Oldman Watershed Council's Urban Team. Their goal “is to demonstrate the beauty and benefits of having a xeriscaped garden in southern Alberta. Xeriscaped yards utilize native and drought-tolerant plants that naturally thrive in the dry prairie environment that we depend upon, requiring less water, pesticides and fertilizers. They allow homeowners to enjoy a beautiful landscape at home that requires less maintenance, and can conserve water and protect water quality.”

Their home page will link you to information about xeriscaping. Be sure to read the detailed article by the Lethbridge couple who completely redid their front yard – amazing!

Best of all is the section, “Native Plants”. Scroll down to find the PDF entitled, 50 Best Plants for Prairie Urban Gardens in Southern Alberta. Each plant has a brief description and a photograph. For more details about each plant, see the additional links on the “Native Plants” page: Perennials, Flowers, Trees, Shrubs, Grasses and Groundcovers.

This is Ann Van de Reep's Calgary garden design and consulting business website. I've bookmarked a great article on ornamental grasses

Ann also has an excellent page outlining Calgary gardens you can visit for ideas.

Sue's blog is very easy to read. She has a considerable amount of information on planning your garden. A Calgary gardener herself, she also has a landscape design and consulting business. Each week during the gardening season, Sue posts her Weekly Plant Pick. Check out her Top Twenty Plant Picks for 2013 as well as her Top Twenty for Twenty Twelve. Good photographs and clear descriptions.

Making the most of Alberta's growing season” is the focus of Pat's website. I especially liked her page on Lawn Care – crabgrass, quackgrass, clover, fairy rings, dandelions and chickweed. That's my lawn! Nice to see someone who doesn't think a jug of chemicals is the best solution.

Bylands Nursery Ltd. has a very detailed list of creeping junipers that I've printed out for reference.

Here's a landscaper from Red Deer with some strong opinions. Read his article, “Ten Best and Ten Worst Shrubs for Central Alberta”.

An amateur gardener but someone who dearly loves her Edmonton garden. She has a great photo record of shade loving plants.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Car Seat Blanket - a perfect knitting project for a new baby!

It's always a good feeling to finish a project!

This baby blanket project was a “good one” for so many reasons. It was an easy pattern, no concentration required – perfect for times when I was watching TV or chatting with someone. I could pick it up and put it down easily – no “now where was I in the pattern” thoughts. And as a car seat blanket, it was smaller in scale, so easy enough to pack along in my bag.

A car seat blanket? Yes! Smaller than usual baby blankets that might typically be 30 – 36 inches, this little blanket is just right for tucking neatly around a tiny one in an infant car seat. There's no extra blanket dragging on the ground and it's small enough to pack away into a diaper bag.

I followed Joan's directions at Laws of Knitting for Box Stitch Preemie Baby Blanket, using US 10 (6 mm) needles and knitting two strands of yarn instead of one. 

Instead of 60 stitches, I cast on 66 and knit until I had an 18 x 22 inch blanket. A large ball of (Loops and Threads) Snuggly Wuggly Big! (947 yards / 866 m) was enough for this project plus a newborn sweater. 

The colour is Raindrops – white with tiny flecks of blue and green. I quite liked the way this yarn worked up in the blanket. If I were to do it again, however, I'd use the coordinating solid blue or green for the sweater.

Have a great weekend!