Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gifts from the Compost....

Sometimes ya get lucky... sometimes it's an onion or some sort of brassica, maybe a tomato... or even a suprise pumpkin.. the compost pile often offers some suprises... for me this year.. a small crop of wee red potatoes.... mmmmmm spuds... well for a lot of people it's mmmm spuds.. i'm not one of them, but i make an exception for little potatoes!! Tinier the better.. mmmmgood....
so back to how i got the little potatoes... a friend has been saving me weeds, grass clippings and other assorted 'goodies'.... one such bag of goodies way back in June was a bunch of old potatoes... on the compost they went with all the other treasures... a generous helping of several inches of soil and the compost pile was left to it's own devices....not a drop of water was spared to it.. the sun beating down relentlessly for weeks... and still those potatoes sprouted and grew tall and eventually flowered and died back down to earth..... the other day i went out to pile up more goodies and unearthed a small potato, upon rifling through old decomposed leaves and bits of hay.. more potatoes... an ice cream bucket full.... not bad for neglect!!

mmm dinner comprised of fresh green beans, frenched and sauteed with red pepper, hot habanero pepper and garlic, tomatoes sliced and alternated with Mozzarella cheese and chopped basil, lightly drizzled with olive oil...

and because several family members including me are sick... today's fair is turkey soup
with new potatoes......

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Pie...

not my first pie, but grandbaby's first pie... after making all that Apple Pie Filling i had some leftover.. so last night i made up some pie dough, made a few pies.. and had some leftover dough... grandbaby is still sick but getting bored already.. the perfect time to get a couple of life lessons under her belt.. making a pie!!!

There wasn't quite enough dough left to make a double (bottom and top) crust pie, but certainly enough for 2 small deep dish applie pies...
the dough recipe i use is great.. a 'never fail' good till the last drop (err roll) type of crust.. originally comes off one of the shortening packages.. even my mother used this recipe... she once told me she could never make pies and one of her older friends took pity on her and told her the secret ;) shhhhhhhh... anyways.. my mother was an awesome home cook and made the best blueberry pies your mouth could drool over.. and a mouth watering grated apple pie....

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 lb tenderflake lard
1 egg stirred slightly
1 tablespoon vinegar
7/8 cup ice cold water (approximate)

Stir the flour and salt together.
Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the shortening is in pea size pieces.
In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar.
Add enough cold water to make one cup.
Stir the liquid into the flour mixture, adding just enough to make the dough cling together.
Stir the water in with a wooden spoon until mixed thoroughly, then gather the dough into a ball, and separate into 6 portions.
Cover and refrigerate for one hour, you can chill overnite, covered, providing you leave it at room temp for 15 mins before rolling.
Lightly flour surface and roll into circles, then pat the dough into pie pans, following pie recipes. Be careful not to stretch the dough.

we peeled and cut up the apples, put them into 2 little baking dishes.. sprinkled the apples with a mixture of approx 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 tbsps of flour, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/8 tsp of allspice...

she rolled out the leftover pastry dough into 2 circles, cut them to fit each dish..
baked them for 45 mins in a 350F. oven...

TADA!!!!!!!! all done

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to School bugs....

Mmmmhmmmm... the bugs are rampant in the schools.. once again..... a cold or flu we're not sure of but grandbaby will be here drinking ginger tea, lemon and honey... we'll have a tea party... watch movies, drink tea and maybe even do some sewing.... the wee one has decided that she likes all the pretty patterns my Pfaff machine will do... on the other hand i am hoping that she'll like to sew enough to maybe make a small quilt... there is a method in my madness of allowing her to play all she wants on it!

Day before yesterday.... i made Apple Pie Filling... very very tasty, but a definite pain to make.. i've not decided whether or not it's worth the work.. maybe just peeling apples and freezing them would be better.. but thought i'd give the recipe a try...

Canned Apple Pie Filling

4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 pounds apples (peeled, cored and sliced)

in a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice

Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace
Fill jars with hot syrup, and gently remove air bubbles with a knife (or small spatula)
Put sterilized lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes

it was extremely messy to put the hot syrup into the jars, and yes i had to use the spatula to remove the air pockets out...

a mistake i made was using my pressure canner, 5 lbs/5 mins.. it made the apples too mushy.. but it really is delicious.. and i think my 'mistake' can be a great filling for something like a 'date' square, instead it would be an apple pie square... or a nice warm dollop on top of a dish of ice cream...mmm the possiblities are endless..

yesterday i got an unexpected gift of a huge bucket of Pears and equally huge bucket full of Apples.... windfalls and odd shapes, but FREE... YAY for FREE...

i made Pear Ginger Chutney.. a new recipe which i found online at another great little/not so little blog by the name of Chow Times .. it's a great site from Vancouver B.C. lots of foodie delights, great pics, good info...
i won't retype out the recipe as it's in Chow Times complete with great photos of the steps..
over the years i've made a lot of different types of chutneys this one has a great flavour i thought, heavy on the ginger.. i'm not keen on the texture, not enough chunks and i had trouble reducing it, in order for it to thicken..but all in all.. yummy!

Pear Ginger Chutney to the left, a jar of Apple Pie Filling to the right... and no it's not the only jar i made ;)

unless i have a reason to make another post, this will be my last posting of the Summer of 2009, tomorrow will be Fall... Autumnal Equinox Sep 22 2009 5:18 PM EDT... good bye Summer, i will miss your warmth and sunny disposition, your flowery scents and your visual kalediscope...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tomato and Zucchini Casserole......

Last night's dinner started with a 'what can i do with the rest of this tomato'.. and ended up a very scrumptious veggie casserole dish... i'd picked the rest of my ripe tomatoes the other day and there was one very large and bruised Bull Heart Tomato that i'd put aside and thought i could maybe utilize in a sandwich.. well it was looking a bit 'tired' last night, i'd not a thought to what to make for dinner... hmmm what to do... i love to cook with no plan, just an evolutionary process... i sliced the tomato and had a huge amount, i had a leftover piece of zucchini which i decided should be sliced as well...the leftover beans... a carrot....some peppers.....
hmm the makings of a lasagna...
which is exactly what i made, minus the pasta....

Tomato Zucchini Casserole

1 very large tomato or several medium sized sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 or 2 zucchini sliced 1/4 inch thick
put aside


1 onion and 2 garlic cloves chopped
chopped peppers ( i had red and green and one little hot fellow)
hulled scarlet runner beans (actual beans!) and sliced green beans (all leftovers from canning the day before)
1 julienned carrot (made with my new torture device)
1 can of sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 pint of home preserved whole tomatoes
1/2 pint of home preserved tomato sauce
a bunch of fresh basil and oregano (chopped)
simmer until beans are almost cooked

1 lb of grated Mozzarella cheeze
1 lb of sliced cream cheese
1 cup grated parmasean

in a casserole dish put a small amount of sauce and add a layer of zucchini, layer of mozzarella and cream cheese, layer of tomatoes, layer of mozzarella cream cheese, just as you would to make lasagna... ending with a topping of of the 3 cheeses... bake 350 till brown and bubbling
about 3/4 of an hr...

my 'recipe' is approximate.. such is life when you make do... isn't it grand!!!

speaking of grand..... a couple of days ago grandbaby (the littlest one) had her 10th birthday
i think the family covered all the bases.. she got a fish tank with 3 fish, beta and 2 goldfish, a couple of hoodies, a 'camo' vest, a bug observation jar, a crystal making kit, an outdoor microscope kit and a couple of computer games for the upcoming wintertime...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Billions of Beans......

well not really... but certainly feels like it... after the peak crop, then a mass heat wave again, they stalled and didn't do anything... then UTOH.... mass produced more again!! From my 6 Scarlet Runner Beans and my 3 x 3 patch of Bush Beans I picked 2 gallons of beans and I also picked most of the rest of my tomatoes and the very last of my made me feel sad that the season is ending already.... was a great year for a lot of crops even tho it was hot and dry...

so back to beans, beans and more beans!!! I have all these beans and I wanted to french them... a small order or so i thought... tedious slicing of beans, or Bean Frencher... hmmm

I went in search of the elusive Bean Frencher... apparently not in this community.. i'm actually suprised .. they had little plastic things, and bigger rotating cutters... but not one lousy Bean Frencher.... so i managed to find a hand Julienne 'peeler' that looked like that link... not a bad tool after i stopped bleeding... it maked a delightful equidistant pattern on my thumb.. could be used as a torture tool i'm sure....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Aunty Pasto how I love you....

well not really Aunty ... but Antipasto... mmmmm delicious... and something i don't often make either... it's not cheap to make, but ohhhh sooooo yummy!!!! When my children were in their teens, I'd stock the shelves with a double recipe, usually approximately 18 quarts... and long before winter was over, so was the Antipasto...they ate it with everything.. but usually a box of crackers and a pint of antipasto, they were happy happy.... this year i made only a single batch and sent 3 quarts to each household.. and 3 for me... if i hadn't run out of jars, i probably would have made another batch... the season isn't over yet, so you never know!! I don't put in the Tuna or Shrimp and the girls even requested that i don't...


4 lbs of Cauliflower
600 ml jar pickled onions (approximately 1 pint)
1 quart dill pickles
2 cans green beans
2 cans yellow beans
2 lbs green peppers
2 lbs red peppers
5 tins sliced mushrooms
1 big bottle green olives
1 tin black olives
2 tins chunk Tuna
1 tin shrimp
2 kegs of ketchup (or the big tin)
1 1/2 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cup olive oil

Mix ketchup, vinegar and oil in a BIG pot, cook over medium heat.
Chop everything else coarsely and gradually add to ketchup mixture... (drain beans and mushrooms)
Mix well and heat to boiling...
Bottle and process 20 minutes Hot Water Bath or Pressure Can 5lbs/5 mins (according to manufacters directions!!)
yum yum is all i gotta say.....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Relish the thought.....

of Corn, Red Pepper and Onion relish.... mmm i say! I did up 7 1/2 pints of it... was the old "i need to use up these corn cobs and oh i have some red peppers left over" trick... those thoughts get me into more trouble, but at least it was tasty trouble, and very pretty to look at.. will give a nice brightness to my rows of jars in the 'larder' (oh i wish i actually had a larder)...
because it's a relish i wasn't too worried about mucking with the recipe so i used up all the corn, plus some frozen i had and 2 onions and some of the red peppers and tossed in a couple of green ones from my garden...this is the basic recipe i used... just the corn and pepper quantities aren't the same as the recipe below.. but pretty close...i also added a bit more vinegar and touch more sugar to make the liquid be enough for the veggies...and i left out the flour the original recipe called for...

Corn and Pepper Relish

5 cups (1.25 L)corn kernels
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) finely chopped onions
1 cup (250 mL) each diced sweet red and green pepper
hot sauce or dried chilli peppers to suit your taste
2 cups (500 mL) white vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) granulated_sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) each salt and dry mustard
2 tsp (10 mL) celery_seeds
1 tsp (2 mL) turmeric

In large Dutch oven or saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, celery seeds, turmeric and hot pepper sauce to boil. Stir in corn, onions and celery; reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until softened, about 20 minutes.

Add Peppers and stir gently, heat till boiling....

Fill hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Cover with heated prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. (i used pressure canner according to directions... 5 lb/5 mins... )

I finally got out into the garden this morning.. it's getting that 'fall' ugly stage.. i've noted that the finches have eaten most of my brassica seeds... i was hoping for some volunteers next spring... every year i've had volunteers come up in the spring... but i'm sure enough seeds have fallen to the ground to at least get a few... i've started to pull out a few things, and will rake the hay off the potatoes and might get around to digging some up.. i'm not expecting much of a harvest, but enough to have a few meals....the aphids are in heaven... they've decided that my brussel sprouts are delicious.. and my newly planted kale.. grrrr .. i think a soap and pepper spray is in order tomorrow!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Biscuits" and Visitors......

I've been rather busy the past few days... had some very dear old friends come and stay... i don't have very much room in my kitchen, it's basically a one person kitchen! Mealtimes i like to keep very simple, visiting is more important i think!! BUT.... yummy things from the kitchen just makes a visit divine! One of my secret 'weapons' is a pre-mix that i make... its a fakery... shhhh don't tell Bisquick...... i've used several different methods.. sometimes i will add a cup of powdered milk to the Biscuit Mix... it doesn't seem to make that much difference to the flavour, and if you don't have it... no worries! Some recipes will call for a bit of sugar to the mix, but i think i get enough sugar from other sources so i don't bother adding it....

Biscuit Mix

10 cups flour
heaping 1/3 cup of baking powder
1 tablespoon salt ( optional in my kitchen)
2 cups of shortening ( i used crisco butter flavoured)

mix the flour, baking powder and salt together... cut in the shortening... i used a pastry cutter, and then my hands to make the shortening mix in really well with the flour...

put in a large container with a tight fitting lid ( i have large glass jars) and store.... on your shelf!! no fridge, no freezer... can't beat that... if you live in a hot humid area, the fridge would be wise... anyways... it will keep on your shelf for months(1 to 6 months) but i doubt it will last that long...
its a very useful product as it's multipurpose.. biscuits, pancakes, waffles, cobbler toppings, casserole or chilli toppings, dumplings...

while my guests were here, i roasted a large chicken, after the first meal, i cooked up the bones and made Chicken garden soup, using up a pint jar of my tomato sauce and fresh veggies from the garden... and of course.. BISCUITS!


2 1/2 cups biscuit mix
1/3 cup of powdered milk (optional)
mixed together


2/3 cup of water

mix till just moistened, gently knead several times, roll out or pat out 1 inch thick, cut out with cookie cutter... place on ungreased cookie sheet.. bake 10-14 mins at 450F (golden brown)

the next morning i decided that something sweet to go with the coffee was in order... mmmm
Cinnamon Rolls...

Cinnamon Dried Fruit Rolls

2 1/2 cups Biscuit Mix
1/3 powdered milk
mixed together

2/3 cup water

mix till just moistened, knead gently several times... roll out on flour dusted surface, 1/2 inch thick.... spread butter or margarine over the dough... sprinkle generously with brown sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon, add a generous amount of chopped dried fruit (i used whole raisins, cranberries and blueberries).. roll up like a jelly roll... cut into 12 slices... place cut side down in a greased pan.... bake 400F for approximately 20 mins (golden brown)
i don't bother to glaze them like cinnamon rolls.. i like them just the way they are... hot with a good cup of coffee or steaming cup of tea... mmmmm good!

If you need recipes go to the Betty Crocker website and type in Bisquick in their search engine and you'll find a ton of them... i don't bother... the only differences between recipes is an addition of egg, more or less liquid, additions of herbs or spices... it's only limited by your imagination!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From the other side....

I'm making this post because i felt it should be heard... its a letter to a Father, from a Son.....


a good man who made some bad choices.
he was always there for me when i needed it
I knew he cared. and he always made sure i knew it
but sometimes people dig a hole they never really make it out of.

he died so young. with so much left to see in the world.
like his son and daughter grow into adults.
and become parents

it feels weird to think. that ill never see that smile again.
i wont hear your voice,
or laugh at your jokes when your being dumb.

there was so much left i wanted to tell you and do with you.
and now i never will.

i want more than anything to be with you right now. and see you that last time.
hear you tell me that everythings gonna be alright.
because that the one thing you always had.
hope that things would get better eventually.

and you were right. things are alot better now
your in a better place. somewhere where you can escape your addiction. and be yourself again. the man i lost to drugs years ago.

i will see you again someday dad. i dont know where or when/.
but ive still got some things left to do down here.
so until than, i will be thinking of you.

because no matter what happens. your still my dad. and i still love you

Happy birthday dad. i hope wherever you are, your enjoying it.

the young man who wrote that letter was just turning 16, when the father was murdered, and in the news reports was just a 'homeless man'..... they forgot to mention he was also a father and loved...
the young man posted this on Facebook on the anniversary and birthday of his father...i asked him if he minded if i posted it on my blog, and he said he wanted people to read it, to understand he wasn't just a homeless man...

i see 'homeless' folks often these days, for whatever reason they are on the streets, all of them have a history, a story, a life..

sometimes we forget....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Balconies and Beets...

My friend Lori has only a balcony garden and it is very lovely!! On that balcony she has/had a very large tomato!! The variety only gets orange, never red, and she made daughter and I sandwiches with her cucumbers and the orange tomatoes.. yummmm!! Tomatoes are her specialty but she also had a very large basil plant which she generously gave me some and a few herbs... a few very healthy blueberry bushes but mostly a lot of chairs, a few tables... and an awesome view of Lake Cowichan...

the tomato weighed in at a 21 Oz... no Guiness World record.. but not too shabby either!!

the tomato guardian...

the 'other' use for a toilet....

on our return trip daughter showed me a place that has quite a few Blue Elderberry bushes, so we might go and pick some later this week... my last few days have been filled with beets and more beets..... and did i mention Pickled Beets.... i'm truly a glutton for punishment, i canned 20lbs or 13 quarts of sliced pickled beets and went and got another 10 lbs of them this afternoon... daughter said 'can never get enough Pickled Beets'... soooo

my Pickled Beet recipe was from Great Grandma Wilson... so i was hesitant to give it out.. but then again.. we should share more so here it is...

for 5 lbs (approx) of beets

Clean and simmer beets for approx 30 minutes (till just fork tender on the outside)

put in cold water (will help the skins to come off) rub or push the skin off with your fingers, they 'should' come pretty clean...

if the beets are small ( size of a large marble) i usually will can whole, and if bigger will slice them up...

combine the following and boil for 5 mins

2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. of salt

i put the sliced or whole beets in sterilized jars, pour in the boiling syrup, put the lids on and process... either water bath or pressure cooker according to manufacturer.. for myself, i have a presto canner and it's 5lbs for 5 mins...
in other recipes people will put in cloves or cinnamon or pickling spices but we like them 'plain jane' the best....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinglehopper and Hunte Corporation...

this is more a rant than a ramble!! I just watched a CBC documentary (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for those who might not know) How Not to Buy a Puppy on purchasing purebred puppies in 'reputable' pet stores.. the pet stores maybe reputable but the Hunte Corporation where they purchase the puppies from is a company who is nothing more than a puppy warehouse, they collect puppies and ship them out to petstores... i'm hoping my american readers will be able to see the link.. i've found when i'm south of the border (in America) i can't get most Canadian t.v. links, and vice versa when i'm north of the border! ( so much for freedom of the internet) Dinglehopper is a Pomeranian who was featured in the documentary and has two Blogs... The Life of Dinglehopper the Pomeranian and Dinglehopper

Anyways thats my rant for the week ;) i watch my 2 'heinz 57' 4 legged children romp and play, i thank my lucky stars that i'm with them and that they now are healthy and charges were both 'rescues'... one as a young puppy, who'd had surgery but an infection (came home as a foster 'child')... mmm 3 1/2 yrs ago! and the other who'd been removed from his home because of a broken 'unfixed' leg and was slated to have it amputated....also came home as a foster 'child' at 10 months..... fortunately a Veterinarian Specialist from Victoria B.C. was able to repair it with a rod.. and today 2 yrs later, he runs and plays with 4 legs :D life is good!!!

Home again, home again....

the puppies are both happy happy, freedom again, i'm listening to the neighbour's rooster crowing and the ravens welcomed me back with a caw and a fly over... back to reality!
Our last couple of dinners in Yachats were delicious!! All the veggies our friends shared with us were chopped up and nothing went to waste... daughter and i made a delicious stirfry of zucchini, beans, beet greens, peppers.. we baked all the little squash and roasted the beets with rosemary, thyme and a bit of olive oil... and the best..... i made a huge container of Salsa with the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion.. unfortunately i did need to buy the cilantro and a couple of limes ... we snacked on salsa and chips all the way home...

a long 14 hr day... 9 on the road, 2 waiting for the ferry and almost 3 on the ferry....and only 1 semi serious mishap.. not bad for 4 people, 2 dogs and 2 cars! My daughter's car got beaten up on the freeway, by a piece of particle board... i was ahead of her, saw the board, couldn't avoid it, and i gather that after i drove over it, the wind caught it and lifted it... right into her bumper... at in rush hour traffic at 70 mphs there is no avoiding objects.... anyways.. the angels were with her and only the bumper was seriously injured... off to the insurance adjusters today... sighhhh

waiting for the ferry to leave!!

My garden.... oh dear... it's amazing what almost 2 weeks away can do... even with watering, there's been no substantial rainfall and everything is looking very dry and yesss... fallish... where does the time go, just seems like i planted a few weeks ago... i'm sooo not ready for fall! after making an 'inspection' of the garden... the pole beans that had taken forever to grow, finally a few beans, the purple bush beans are stalled and the beans don't look much bigger than when i left, the swiss chard looks like it's just waiting for the rainy season, the scarlet runners have a LOT of beans.... mmm what shall i make! the tomatoes did very well but look terrible... our season just isn't long enough!! the peppers are turning red and the cilantro has gone to seed!!! my little 'reemay greenhouse' is looking very sad... there must have been a good wind while i was gone, it's askew , ripped and looking very bedraggled!
i forgot to take a picture of all my tomatoes that i picked this morning! there are more in the freezer at daughter's house (next batch)! am making tomato paste... mmm tomorrow it should be ready for canning!